I covered a George Floyd Protest Rally this week in our village. Some 300 people came together for a peaceful, and poignant, protest. There were prayers, songs, testimonies about racism… But the one thing that was missing was the acknowledgement that in small town (and suburban) America, many people have grown indifferent to the plight of those living in desperation (Black, whites, Hispanics, Asians…) in our inner cities — where a lot of this police violence, and violence in general, is happening. Racism among some police? Sure. But virtually all these police are functioning, day in and day out, in veritable war zones. So, of course, some police are going to develop things like varying degrees of PTSD, and so on — which will, at times, hinder their judgement. The onus, really, is on us. That is, those of us who myopically reach for more and more of the “American Dream,” (more money, more safety, more, well, everything), while forgetting about the people trapped often in a veritable Hell. Note: Our family intentionally moved to a hardscrabble area of Cleveland, Ohio (and the time the poorest city in the country) to do outreach work with the poor, along side a group of Catholic Workers. We saw this desperation, this pervasive climate of violence — and its across the board — first hand.
I just today wrote a newspaper article about this man who grew up not more than 15 miles south of here in the small town of Alger, Ohio. According to a Pittsburgh newspaper at the time he was playing, Raymond Brown could have played in the Major Leagues, if he had been allowed to. He wasn’t. What’s more, when he finished playing, he moved back to Dayton, Ohio, where he worked at a “biscuit company” for seven years before he died. His tombstone initially said nothing about baseball. However, after he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Dayton Daily News did a series of stories on him. Subsequently, an ad hoc citizens group did fundraising to get him a “fitting tombstone” with information about his baseball playing.
For Memorial Day this year, I interviewed two men. One was a local man who was a Marine and fought in Iraq right at the beginning of the war. A Christian, he was willing to lay down his life to free the Iraqi people from the iron fist and well-documented murderous, torturous ways of Saddam Hussein. He was two blocks from the iconic Iraqi War scene where, with much fanfare, Hussein’s statue in Baghdad was toppled. The other man is a local Mennonite and a Christian Peacemaker. He went to Columbia at the height of that bloody civil war to help displaced people stand up for their land rights, and so on. What’s more, he and others, were human shields for children, from this displaced group, as they walked to school each day. This man said the motto of the Christian Peacemaker is that: “We should be willing to die for our cause as much as a military person is willing to die for their cause.” You’d think Jesus would agree when He said: “No greater love has a man…” Our foreign policy revolves around this kind of ethos.
I just did a newspaper story about an Eagle Scout who, for his “Community Service Project,” raised $1,500 and, along with some other Troop members, put in six really nice statues of saints on the grounds around a local Catholic church. Each statue is accompanied with a small plaque capsulizing, in three short sentences, the particular saints ethos, if you will. For example: “St. Isadore is the patron saint of farmers and farm workers. He communed with God while walking behind his plow. An ordinary life can lead to holiness.” Or in my vernacular, St. Isadore was kinda/sorta a rural “average Joe” saint. And, frankly, this otherwise “average” Eagle Scout kid has a leg up on this ordinary sainthood thing as well.
It was reported today that Trump’s golf outings this first term have cost the tax payers $133 million (traveling costs, Secret Service detail, etc.), and counting. This far eclipses Obama’s golfing at the same point in his presidency. I, on the other hand, have played a few rounds at the Bluffton Golf Course ($20 a round). But I primarily chip in the backyard. What’s more, I don’t even need a Bluffton Police detail. Populist? With a capital P! [And that’s not P for “Par.”] LOL
I was doing some foreign relations research with this book last night. I was reading, specifically, about a 26-year bloody civil war in Sri Lanka. But I wasn’t looking at it in an isolated sense, but rather as it being emblematic of a template that has been playing out over and over, in various ways, worldwide, because of the modern phenomenon of “globalization.” The British colonized Sri Lanka in the early 1900s, primarily because they found the upland areas suitable for lucrative growing of coffee, tea and rubber plants. In turn, this greed fueled the importing of large numbers of Tamil workers from southern India. These people were turned into “indentured servants (read: slaves).” And they quickly became about 10% of the population in Sri Lanka. Time passed. In 1948, Colonial Sri Lanka ended. But the Tamil were now discriminated against by the majority Sinhalese government. This included several mass killings/genocide of the Tamil. The Tamil, in turn, formed a rebel group to fight the government. As mentioned at the outset, the civil war lasted 26 years, and as of 2009 there is a tenuous peace. Now here’s the kicker, and how it relates to, say, the U.S. We don’t go in and forcibly colonize these smaller, poorer countries, and plant a flag. No, we ‘plant’ corporations. We then pay sweatshop wages (read: slave labor). And the corporations work behind the scenes to pay governments for favorable tax rates, access to natural resources, and so on. We just don’t call it colonization. We call it doing business in a global market economy. This, in turn, continues to perpetuate poverty loops in these countries, continued class tensions, and a constellation of other sociological problems.
I was reading part of this book today. One excerpt: “As a world community, we are actually standing by while thousands of children die every day from water scarcity and water borne diseases. Some 6,000 children a day die from water related maladies.” This, more than anywhere, is in some of the more arid Third World countries. Meanwhile in the First World, in nations like America, we are forever watering our lawn simply because we want it as green as possible. We are wasting billions of dollars yearly on non-nutritional beverages (pop, sparkling water, beer…). We are taking 15 to 20 minute showers… And I could go on, and on, and… America would do well to lose most of the junk beverages, for one, and go to water rationing as well, until we develop more of a “water conservation habit.” In tandem, we would also do well to take the tremendous savings from this to mobilize, by a factor of 100, way more initiatives into these Third World countries to establish many more clean drinking water systems. “But God, when did we see you thirsty?” We’ll ask.
NASA is preparing for the Artemis Missions back, for one, to the moon. A “Star Date” news show today reported that, as part of these missions, millions of dollars were being spent to develop space equipment to look for water on the moon. The best they can determine, so far, is that the only water is frozen in deep craters on both poles and not easily accessible. Meanwhile, one billion people on this planet are without clean drinking water, and many die each year from water born disease. Trump is backing the Artemis thing. I wouldn’t. I’d take the money, and technological know how, and try to get efficient, clean drinking water systems to as many in the Third World as possible. See, these people are getting sick now. They are dying now. For more on what I’d do to help in the Third World, see our foreign policy…
Iran has continued to vex the international community with it’s ongoing nuclear program. The U.S., the European Union, and the UN Security Council established an “Iran Nuclear Deal,” with checks and balances on that country’s nuclear program, but Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the deal and went back to imposing sanctions on Iran. There has been ongoing “…suspected nuclear weapons research done in Iran.” To this point, specifically, America has 2,700 deployable nuclear weapons. Iran sees America as adversarial. Common sense says that, of course, Iran would be racing to develop nuclear weapons to protect itself. So… What if America started to ‘race’ toward nuclear disarmament, taking the savings and helping, way more, poorer countries, like: Iran? Do you think maybe God would honor this with a supernatural “missile defense system”? Maybe, huh.
I just interviewed a local park system “naturalist” who has a Masters Degree in Environmental Science from Iowa University. She said with those in the last two generations becoming increasingly unplugged, so to speak, from nature, many have developed what is now being referred to as: “Nature Deficit Disorder.” She said how this manifests in youth, among others, is with higher rates of obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder, depression… In fact, she continued, that in 2006 author Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, has sparked a, colloquially speaking, Back to the Woods Movement, if you will, with parents, teachers, church leaders… intentionally starting to help youth re-engage with nature in a much more prolific way. What’s more, besides the good it does for the kids’ psyches, and such, the kids, in turn, often “…fall in love with nature.” And once you love something, well, you’re more apt to want to save it. Our administration’s stance on the environment is right in line with all this, and holds out a tremendous amount of models we’ve researched across the country to affect a tremendous shift toward the spirit of the paradigm I talk about here.