While Democratic candidates are stumping in Iowa, I headed to Middle-Point, Ohio. Call it a hunch. While passing out campaign cards in the Fire House Pizza & Carry Out, one woman said she was impressed I was stumping in, of all places, her little hometown. I said I stump all over. She also said that Middle-Point isn’t the center of Ohio, but rather it is the geographic “middle-point” between Chicago and Pittsburgh on the railroad line. She also explained that the volunteer firefighters in the village were also volunteering all kinds of time to build a new firehouse there. Note: I picked up a local newspaper and read the high school students in the area had been involved with a month-long fundraising initiative to help outreach organizations involved with impacting human trafficking. Highly commendable.
I interviewed a local driving instructor today for a newspaper article. She noted that “distracted driving” was getting to be almost epidemic. I noted in the story that 33,000 people (and this doesn’t include the maiming, and so on.) die in traffic accidents every year now. That’s like a half full airliner going down every day in America! If that was happening, we’d close the skies. While nobody wants to admit it, because we’re pretty much all (except the Amish) addicted to motorized transportation, we have created these highly dangerous motorized traffic “patterns.” And not just dangerous in terms of accidents, but also dangerous in regard to an infrastructure that predominantly supports the burning of fossil fuels, helping to accelerate climate change to the nth degree. Time to obey the “YIELD” sign. And our position paper on transportation indicates how we’d tangibly go about shifting the transportation paradigm in this country. Quick.
My son had an away basketball game in Convoy, Ohio, the other night, so I went a bit early to stump. (It’s a low budget campaign, and I often try to combine these trips. Anyway…) This night I, in ad hoc fashion, found myself doing a bit of campaigning in Gibson’s Barnyard BBQ Restaurant. I passed on a campaign card to owner Thomas Gibson who, in turn, said he was “a politician too.” He’s a township trustee in the area. An affable sort, Mr. Gibson takes pride in his “family restaurant,” and in the work he’s doing for the township as well. People like him are the ones who form the real backbone of this country.
It’s time to stop beating around the bush(fire). This is what a significant part of Australia looks like right now. Climate change? Yes, on one level. But this, according to the Bible’s “Sea of fire” passage is what hell looks like all the time. A Vox News headline today: Australia is enduring a ‘hellish’ fire season. So… Down through the centuries God has, at times, used events in nature as harbingers. The fires are happening in a country known, in part, for the slogan: “Australia: No rules, just right.” The Ten Commandments are “rules.” God’s rules. If you have a society, a nation, a world… predominately not living by these rules anymore, countless souls become in grave danger of being lost, for eternity, in a “sea of fire.” Is God allowing these infernos to warn us, not just around one of the seven deadly sins of “gluttony” when it comes to our fossil fuel use, but about how all our sin — and it’s a lot these days — could end us up in a place even hotter than current Australia? ‘Fire for thought.’
Trump just tweeted that: “Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.” We, conversely, have more than 2,000 deployable nuclear weapons — aimed all over the world. What’s more, we have some 20,000 weaponized drones. In Pope Francis’s New Year’s Day talk, he said that all nuclear weapons are “immoral.” Period. We say we’d never “use” our nuclear weapons (sans, of course, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the Marshall Islands, years of underground testing…). Yet we are, in a very real sense, using our nuclear weapons now. That is, we’re using them to protect ourselves (in the extreme), while 24,000 people starve to death in the world every day, a billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water, billions of people live in deplorable slum conditions…
As mentioned in the previous post, I’m currently reading parts of a sociology college textbook written by James Henslin (the above is an outtake from the book). It notes that people in least industrialized countries live on less than $1,000 a year and children in these countries, consequently, often don’t go to school beyond the first couple grades. The other night I covered a Board of Education meeting. Agenda items included purchasing a new bus, some high school students taking a week-long “Ocean Focus” environmental class in the Florida Keys, and there was talk of the newest technology in the high school’s robotics class. Now… To be in line with the gospel message, industrialized countries should dial back some of this educational “upward ascent/extras/et al,” if you will, and take the savings, etc., and provide more for our brothers and sisters in these other countries. Our education, and foreign affairs, positions include some ways to do this.
Over the weekend, I was reading part of this college textbook on sociology. Under a section on “family,” it noted — among a lot of things — that half the inmates in U.S. jails had a father, mother, brother or sister who served time. As a mental health counselor, I consistently saw how one’s upbringing tremendously influenced them, for the good, or for the bad. St. John Paul II said the family is the lynchpin of society. Part of our platform revolves around “healing the family” in America. Especially since right now, we are bobbing in a sea of dysfunction.
Our son Jonathan’s high school soccer team made it to the State Championship game this season. They won four games in overtime in the playoffs to get there. It was quite an exciting run and reminiscent of the old Browns “Kardiac Kids,” who won eight games on the last possession. In the newspaper, I started calling Jonathan’s team the “Pulmonary Pirates.” (They lost in the Championship Game, which was played at the Columbus Crew Stadium.) Jonathan, who is a striker, and another boy on the team who plays defense, both were named 2nd Team All-State. Note: This was a trophy the boys won early on this season in an early weekend tournament.
I was reading parts of this book tonight. The first section was about slavery and the accounts are absolutely horrendous. Splitting families, torture, murder… Some 15 million people were displaced and slavery was called, in some circles, “…the trade of hell.” And besides all this, slavery opened the door, incrementally, to European colonization of Africa. And all this has bled down through the generations, without much in the way of equitable tangible amends. Our position paper on “Black Amends,” proposes just that.
My son and I stopped at the now world famous “Lehman’s” the other day. It’s in Kidron, Ohio. They sell everything: “human-powered.” That is, the store is patterned after what would be used, basically, in an Amish household, and on an Amish farm in general. No electricity needed, or wanted. They sell everything you need for a non-electric kitchen, as an example. Our western culture, in fact, in its quest for “convenience” at every level, has, in turn, become tremendously “energy gluttonous” — including in the kitchen. Electric blenders, dicers, slaw cutters… The world’s people, as a collective, have pumped 55 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the skies this last year, the most ever. Part of this emanates from our kitchens and all these electric appliances. Gluttony is a sin. And its time to dial all that back, so to speak, and, just as collectively, start patronizing the “Lehman’s” of the world. For the sake of averting more climate change — and for the sake of saving more souls.