You say you want the REAL conversation about race? Really?

Every now and then, you read or hear something that absolutely requires a response! “White people say the purpose of talking about race is to some day end that conversation. Black people say it’s to some day get the real conversation started.” That opinion was from an article about Mike Tomlin. Okay, here’s the real conversation: chattel slavery, what the bible condemns as “man stealing”, is wrong and reprehensible. It’s wrong today in all the countries where it’s still practiced, it was wrong in all the countries, including ours, in which it was practiced. Slaveholders were worse off for it, if you really understand the economics and moral realities of slave dependency. Yet there is probably not an honest black person in our country whose forefathers were slaves from Africa, who wishes to be the person they would have been if slavery had never happened. Why do I say that? Simple: You would not exist if slavery didn’t happen. For instance, most slaves in the USA were stolen (tellin’ like it is!) from West Africa–mainly Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Senegambia, and Congo. So let’s say your great grandmother came from Ghana and your great grandfather from Congo, and they  met on a plantation in Virginia. Would they have ever met in Africa? Nope! So the person with your DNA–you–could not have existed No, that doesn’t make slavery right, but there it is! 
If by some impossible quirk of genetics or chance, if the “you” who exists today and the “you” who would have existed in Africa in whatever country your ancestors came from, were the same person, what would your life have been like? Do you even know where your ancestors came from? Would you trade your current existence for what your contemporaries in Africa are living? If not, shut up about America being racist, and follow the advice of Booker T. Washington–make yourself indispensable! If so, you have the following choices: keep doing whatever you are doing, which might include complaining about racism; emigrate to whatever country you wish you were from, and make a life there; be grateful for what you have and who you are, and bless your ancestors for their bearing up under suffering. Or, you can say “How dare you, whitey, tell me what to do!”
Now one more thing: Name a single group of people who have not suffered persecution or grievances somewhere. White people? Are you familiar with the tortures the Huguenots or the Protestants suffered at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church? How about the persecution of the Ainu, the indigenous white people of Japan? How about the white Bosnian Muslims at the hands of the Serbs? How about the 6 million Jews, most of whom were white Europeans, who were killed, and the countless more who were tortured and victims of horrendous medical experiments by Nazi Germany? You know what, all of those I mentioned went through equal or worse suffering and injustice than anything your ancestors went through. Should I start on what the Hutus did to the Tutsis in Rwanda, or to get more contemporary, what the Lendu are doing to the Hema in the Congocongo horror? Black on black cruelty, worse than anything white perpetrated on black. It’s called “man’s inhumanity to man”, the perpetration of evil, sin! Every age, everywhere, there’s no end until “every knee will bow” to Jesus, the true reconciler.
It’s time for you to shut the f–k up about slavery, racism and your oppression. That’s the real conversation about race you were waiting for! This isn’t a white or black issue, it’s the truth versus the grievance machine issue. Get over it. Reparations for slavery? Chris Rock did hilarious interviews with people about reparations, here. reparations In one interview, he gave a multiple choice exam. 1. I believe in reparations, here’s my check; 2. I am sorry about slavery, but it wasn’t my doing; 3. Kiss my white ass! I choose #2. I am innocent of slavery, and so are all my ancestors, who came here from Hungary and Poland, after their parents were gassed by Hitler! If that isn’t good enough for you, then I choose #3.
 Gary DeMar tells of former slave Frederick Douglass (1818–1895). When the slave owner of Douglass discovered that his wife was teaching his 12-year-old slave to read the Bible, he stopped her. “If he learns to read the Bible it will make him ever unfit to be a slave. In no time “he’ll be running away with himself.” DeMar continues: In his later years, Douglass reflected on that incident as the first antislavery lecture he had ever heard, and it inspired him to do anything he could to read more of the Bible. Eager to learn more about the Bible, Douglass recalled, “I have gathered scattered pages from this holy book, from the filthy street gutters of Baltimore, and washed and dried them, that in the moments of my leisure, I might get a word or two of wisdom from them.”Let the reader reflect upon the fact, that, in this Christian country, men and women are hiding from professors of religion, in barns, in the woods and fields, in order to learn to read the Holy Bible. Those dear souls, who came to my Sabbath school, came not because it was popular or reputable to attend such a place, for they came under the liability of having forty stripes laid on their naked backs. 
I fully expect that some reading this will call me a racist; so of course, I need to pull out my non-racist bonafides, right? Nope, the truth is, call me anything, but call me often, as Mae West used to croon. I just don’t care what you call me, but I want to finish by quoting Charlie Dates, a black pastor speaking at the MLK50 conference: Speaking about young Americans “fascinated with justice but they haven’t met the Author of righteousness.” “They are trying to get justice on the streets apart from understanding righteousness taught in our churches. And they will never find it.”

So sorry to bust your narrative, but

By now, I guess that just about the whole world–other than those suffering and dying in Syria, fleeing persecution in Myanmar,  rebuilding lives that ISIS destroyed in Iraq, starving in Venezuela (well, maybe not quite the whole world after all)–have read or heard about the incidence of “racism” at a Starbucks store in Philadelphia. The narrative that follows is predictable. I searched on the phrase “Philadelphia Starbucks incident” on both Google and Bing, and here are some of the headlines: 

  • Men Arrested At Philadelphia Starbucks Speak Out; Police Commissioner Apologizes. (NPR)
  • The two black men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last week say they were handcuffed within minutes of entering the store. (CNN)
  • Starbucks incident not about ‘unconscious bias.’ It is about racist behavior in America. (Chicago Tribune)

Scrolling through the search results I found pages of similar headlines, from sources as disparate as the Bangor Daily News and Yeshiva World News. In fact, no matter how many pages I scrolled through, all the headlines were the same narrative. I finally gave up looking for a different perspective. It has to be about racism! You know that Google and Bing (owned by Microsoft) are the two most popular search engines, and their algorithms decide which search results appear soonest. They apparently decree, there is only one narrative (unless you’re a racist, which you automatically must be if you are even trying to find another narrative). 

Then, I got an email from another news source, The Daily Wire, with this headline: The Facts Are In. The Real Story At Starbucks Is Entitlement, Not Racism. Oops, how did that get in there, you racist? For one thing, this writer, Matt Walsh, actually waited until he had verifiable facts. Here are a few: 

1) The 911 call placed by Holly (the manager), in which she says, very reasonably, “I have two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave.” This is significant because it confirms that the men were given the option to at least buy something and, incredibly, they refused.

2) Their own testimony, which they gave to “Good Morning America” on Thursday. According to their own version, they walked into the store, grabbed a table, and then asked to use the restroom. The manager told them that they had to buy something to use it. They declined, and went back to sit at the table without having purchased anything. She (the manager) approached them and offered to get them drinks or anything else they might want. They declined. They were asked to leave and they declined. The police came and asked them to leave and they declined. This is their own version.

When asked on “Good Morning America” how they would respond to people who say they broke the rules by loitering and not buying anything, their lawyer declared that Starbucks is a “place to meet.” In other words, they have decided that this private establishment is more like a camping ground or a public park. A person is entitled to take up seats in a busy restaurant without buying so much as a $2 coffee (a “tall” drip coffee is $1.64) in order to earn the privilege. The Starbucks CEO, who has spent all week cowering to the mob and throwing his innocent store manager under the bus, has now affirmed this interpretation. 

But this is not the only version of reality. According to NBC news: Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday and described their arrest. They said they went to Starbucks for a business meeting that they believed would change their lives. Nelson said he asked to use the restroom shortly after walking in and was told it was only for paying customers. The two men were waiting for a third person when a white store employee called 911 minutes later. “I was thinking, they can’t be here for us,” Robinson said of the police. “It didn’t really hit me what was going on, that it was real, till I was being double-locked with my hands behind my back.” Nelson and Robinson were arrested for trespassing. No charges were filed. Video of the incident went viral and ignited protests and calls for boycotts.

What really happened? Even days after, with videos of the arrest, interviews on GMA and other programs, there are still two narratives, two alternative versions of events. I will therefore apply my simple #1 question for how to act in life, and see where it leads: “If my action was multiplied by 1 million people, what would the likely consequences be?” With that question in mind, what DO YOU think the consequences would be of: If I were the manager, instead of escalating, I offered to buy them each a tall coffee so they could stay? If I were another customer, or the police, and made the same offer? What impact would such an offer have on the store, the company, other customers, the two men in question? 

Since it’s a theoretical question, your answer is really more about you than anything else. I would have made that offer, as manager, customer or as police….simply because I would hope to de-escalate the almost inevitable storm of….well, what happened. But it is possible the men would have cried racism (“how dare you imply that I can’t afford a cup of coffee”), or the other customers would have demanded the same treatment…I don’t know. Could there have been any other possible explanation of the behavior of the manager and/or the police? Why did the bathroom require an unlock code–every other Starbucks I have entered didn’t even have locking bathrooms. A police crime map shows 337 crimes committed in the immediate area of that store in the last 6 months: including 16 armed robberies, 170 thefts, 25 burglaries, 2 rapes and 7 aggravated assaults!

Here’s some things I do know: If I were meeting someone for a business meeting that would “change my life”, I would not want to call negative attention on myself nor dress like a slob (see image, above). Food and drink businesses DO expect patrons to spend money if they are taking tables from paying customers, and I have never had to be asked to buy something in order to earn a table–because I know that is merely my obligation. I have been to hundreds of Starbucks in dozens of cities, witnessed thousands of interactions between employees and customers, and not once have I seen any evidence of racism or even rudeness from the employees (yeah, have seen it from a few customers). While my observations do not meet the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard, I do believe they meet the “preponderance of evidence” standard. I have used their bathrooms numerous times before I bought anything, and no one even looked up. Ah, but you’re white, so none of that matters! Nah, that’s not it–the principle here is, you will always find what you are projecting on others! You will always find what you expect! That is nowhere truer than with human behavior.

So now Starbucks will close all their stores for half a day training on “unconscious racism”, at an estimated cost of around $18 million. In addition, “community leaders” are calling for Starbucks to build more stores in similar neighborhoods to “invest in the community.” I presume that somewhere in that plan, the stores are expected to be profitable. With more “customers” like Nelson and Robinson, there may not be very much investment in the community. After all, don’t we reap what we sow?

(Author’s note: On re-reading my blog, I notice I used the term “de-escalate”. Let’s be clear: The right thing to have done in this situation would have been for Nelson and Robinson to have been paying customers. The manager and the police did the “right thing” if that is defined by the law, but it wasn’t the smart thing. Given the tenor of the times we live in, the results of their right thing was predictable. Sometimes, it’s simply better to be smart than right. As for the two erstwhile “businessmen”, they were wrong! Does that make me racist?)

Oh, THAT white supremacy!

White supremacy…Uh, what’s that? Was that the thing that I was being punished for back in 1965, after spring break in Ft. Lauderdale when I was a freshman in college, and flaunted my melanin-challenged epidermis, only to suffer with a raging sunburn (all the way back to Michigan–by car, no less) on the back of my knees? For Ta-Nehisi (or is it Te-Nahisi) Coates, “white supremacy” is a kind of sediment, an accumulation of white crimes and black victimization, of whites plundering and blacks being plundered, a series of offenses deeply embedded in the American experience and American institutions “so that plunder has become an heirloom, an intelligence, a sentience, a default setting to which, likely to the end of our days, we must invariably return.” (Kevin Williamson, in National Review) Oh, THAT white supremacy! My bad! Even worse for me is, I am a beneficiary of a justice system rooted in white supremacy” — part of a long historical arc that has chattel slavery at one end and Williamsburg hipsters driving up rents in Brooklyn at the other (same author and article) since I have never been arrested or jailed! Okay, I have never committed a crime…..but let’s not quibble.

I love making lists–favorite books, movies, crimes against humanity–so to the latter let’s add to my melanin-deprived racism the following: Male, “Cisgender” (I think that’s supposed to mean that I “identify” as male while possessing both X and Y chromosomes in every cell, which is not okay, but would be if I instead had 2 X’s), Heterosexual, Christian, American North American US citizen, Military Veteran, not impoverished, not homeless….the list of crimes against humanity goes on. The only thing that redeems me is being disabled–the result of a stroke–but since the stroke was a random, recent event and not a long deteriorating arc or birth condition, I don’t get that many points for it.

Since I’m guilty of all this stuff, where do I start making reparations? How do I redress the wrongs against a person of melanin who was discriminated against, or a gender-nonconforming whatever, or a LGBTQ-XYZ who isn’t MCHCUMV? The task is daunting, so much so that I think instead I will just lean back in my La-Z-Boy, quaff a tumbler of  Southern Comfort, puff on a Monte Cristo, pick at my artisan lobster and collard greens salad, admire the view of my neighbor’s stained fence across the street from my $155,000 house that the bank lets me live in, and mentally send good thoughts and hugs to all the oppressed peoples upon whose necks my jackboots are accused of resting. 

By the way, since “whiteness” isn’t a thing but a continuum from “bright white” to various shades of “off-white” (a typical color chart classifies pearl, alabaster, eggshell, cream, cotton, bone, linen, chiffon, coconut, daisy, powder, frost, ivory, rice, parchment, porcelain and snow as “whites”), WHICH ONES ARE SUPREMACIST??? 

 

The sins of the father, or why you often get along better with your grandchildren than your children.

You have been a dedicated father, putting the welfare of your children (and your wife) before your own desires, yet your children don’t have a heart for what matters to you, but your grandchildren do? Why is that? “Your grandchildren haven’t grown up around your sins,” says a wise friend of mine.

But in order for that to matter, your children need to lean on their own self-righteousness.

Horatius Bonar quotes, understanding grace and being not self-deceived.

“There can be no grace when there is no sovereignty. Deny God’s right to choose whom He will and you deny His right to save whom He will. Deny His right to save whom He will and you deny that salvation is of grace. If salvation is made to hinge upon any merit or fitness in man, seen or foreseen, grace is at an end. God chooses us, not because He foresees that we would choose Him, or that we would believe, but for the very opposite reason. He chooses us just because He foresees that we would neither choose Him nor believe of ourselves at all. Election proceeds not upon foreseen faith in us, but upon foreseen unbelief.”

“Faith is rest, not toil. It is the giving up all the former weary efforts to do or feel something good, in order to induce God to love and pardon; and the calm reception of the truth so long rejected, that God is not waiting for any such inducements, but loves and pardons of His own goodwill, and is showing that goodwill to any sinner who will come to Him on such a footing, casting away his own poor performances or goodnesses, and relying implicitly upon the free love of Him who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.”

“Grace burst forth spontaneously from the bosom of eternal love and rested not until it had removed every impediment and found its way to the sinner’s side, swelling round him in full flow. Grace does away the distance between the sinner and God, which sin had created. Grace meets the sinner on the spot where he stands; grace approaches him just as he is. Grace does not wait till there is something to attract it nor till a good reason is found in the sinner for its flowing to him… It was free, sovereign grace when it first thought of the sinner; it was free grace when it found and laid hold of him; and it is free grace when it hands him up into glory.”

“’Man’s religion’ does not deal honestly, either with God or with himself. He is obliged to give a much better representation of himself than the case warrants. He is obliged to profess to be what he thinks he ought to be, and what he supposes God wishes him to be. He practices deceit upon his own conscience; and he tries to practice the same deceit upon God. The whole of man’s religion may be said to be founded upon this dishonest dealing. You are perplexed by the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and election. I wonder that any man believing in a God should be perplexed by these. For if there be a God, a King, eternal, immortal, and invisible, He cannot but be sovereign – and He cannot but do according to His own will and choose according to His own purpose. You may dislike these doctrines, but you can only get quit of them by denying altogether the existence of an infinitely wise, glorious, and powerful Being. God would not be God were He not thus absolutely sovereign in His present doings and His eternal pre-arrangements.” (My own note: What is “man’s religion?” It is believing what we want, what “feels right” to us, exercising our own “sovereign” right to impose our value system on God–to be the god of our own little system.)

A few more years shall roll, A few more seasons come;
And we shall be with those that rest, Asleep within the tomb.
A few more storms shall beat, On this wild rocky shore;
And we shall be where tempests cease, And surges swell no more.
A few more struggles here, A few more partings o’er,
A few more toils, a few more tears, And we shall weep no more.
Then, O my Lord, prepare, My soul for that blest day;
Oh, wash me in Thy precious blood, And take my sins away.” ~ Horatius Bonar

The existential threat matrix.

 

EXISTENTIAL THREATS
DEFINITIONS
1. LIKELIHOOD: not a prediction, but rather a projection of trends already happening (Alzheimer’s), or recent attempts, whether successful or not (cyber infrastructure attacks).
2. SERIOUSNESS: both the relative amount of damage to our security and the difficulty of and time required  to repair damage or return to status quo ante.
3. DEFENSIBILITY: relative cost, time and creativity to prevent the threat from escalating or causing damage.
THE THREATS IN ORDER OF SERIOUSNESS.
1. Electric grid/cyber infrastructure destruction due to EMP or cyber attacks.
2. Collapse of financial system due to unmanageable debt, extreme speculation or undermining of confidence.
3. Overwhelming of the U.S. economic viability due to Alzheimer’s and assorted dementias.
4. Islamic terrorism, including use of biological, nuclear and/or chemical WMD’s.
5. Transnational gangs and narco terrorism.
6. White supremacist gangs and domestic terrorism.
7. Our own Federal government becoming totalitarian.
THREATS IN ORDER OF LIKELIHOOD.
1. Electric grid/cyber infrastructure destruction due to EMP or cyber attacks.
2. Collapse of financial system due to unmanageable debt, extreme speculation or undermining of confidence.
3. Overwhelming of the U.S. economic viability due to Alzheimer’s and assorted dementias.
4. Islamic terrorism, including use of biological, nuclear and/or chemical WMD’s.
5. Transnational gangs and narco terrorism.
6. White supremacist gangs and domestic terrorism.
7. Our own Federal government becoming totalitarian.
THREATS IN ORDER OF DEFENSIBILITY.
1. Electric grid/cyber infrastructure destruction due to EMP or cyber attacks.
2. Collapse of financial system due to unmanageable debt, extreme speculation or undermining of confidence.
3. Overwhelming of the U.S. economic viability due to Alzheimer’s and assorted dementias.
4. Our own Federal government becoming totalitarian.
5. Transnational gangs and narco terrorism.
6. White supremacist gangs and domestic terrorism.
7. Islamic terrorism, including use of biological, nuclear and/or chemical WMD’s.

Do you notice the pattern here? If the number one threat is simultaneously the most serious, likely and defensible, and the authorities responsible for defending against the threat are doing their job, shouldn’t we feel decently secure? Who’s responsible for defending, and what have they done? The Federal government bears most of the responsibility for preventing an airborne E.M.P., which would be the most widespread and serious kind, delivered by a missile or long range bomber, as well as finding or stopping smuggled nuclear devices. Another government responsibility is “hardening” the electronics used by the military and by government entities, as well as preventing or fixing cyberattacks. Recently, the City of Atlanta was virtually held hostage for over a week by a ransomware attack. It isn’t very encouraging when you consider that this ransomware–SamSam–was identified in 2015 and is defensible, but….Atlanta also suffered a cyberattack in 2017, due also to “poor cybersecurity hygiene” i.e. not following their own procedures.

When it comes to the power grids (power plants, transformers, transmission lines), which are owned and operated by both government entities and private companies. At the beginning of the 20th century, over 4,000 individual electric utilities operated in isolation from each other. This inefficiency led to utilities connecting transmission systems. In 2018, there are 3 main “interconnections in the lower 48 states: Eastern Interconnection (east of Rocky Mtns., Texas Panhandle); Western Interconnection (Rockies west); Electric Reliability Council of Texas-ERCOT (most of Texas). There are still a myriad of issues preventing sufficient “hardening” of the grids against E.M.P. We have a ways to go, because there is no central authority, and many individual utilities can’t, or don’t want to bear the cost.

Another variation on this threat: Cutting of undersea cables that deliver internet service all over the world. Headlines: WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The presence of Russian submarines and spy ships near undersea cables carrying 95% of global Internet communications has U.S. officials concerned that Russia could be planning to sever the lines in periods of conflict, the New York Times reported on Sunday. Uh oh, better cram your binge-watching into this weekend….except, this headline is 3 years old (2015)! What has been done about this threat? I don’t know. New headline: The internet’s worst-case scenario finally happened in real life: An entire country was taken offline, and no one knows why. This one happened March 30, 2018! An entire country — Mauritania — was taken offline for two straight days due to an undersea internet cable cut. The 17,000-kilometre-long African Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable was severed on March 30, cutting off web access partially or totally to the residents of Sierra Leone and Mauritania. It also affected service in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Gambia, and Benin. The ACE cable connects 22 countries, from Africa to France.

I recommend you read Lights Out by Ted Koppel, or any number of articles. I need to go out and buy some cases of bottled water and MRE’s. How about you?

 

R U Offended? Do I care? (Hint: two letters, beginning with N).

I wrote my first blog post in September 2017, and have “published” 183 more since then. That’s more than enough material to offend……well, everyone who reads them. The kind of person who feels virtuous by taking up offenses for others–for instance, the prototypical white liberal who laments their white privilege by tithing 10% of their Facebook paycheck to Black Lives Matter– might even be offended by the title of my post. (Uh oh, with that sentence I probably offended some black people, Facebook employees, and white liberals). Perhaps I should quit while I’m not ahead…..or perhaps we should admit, it’s just too damn easy to get offended these days. That’s what happens when getting offended feels virtuous.

Giving offense is not my purpose though. I write my blog to show my children what’s going on in my head, to provoke debates with readers, and to make the time pass more quickly, leisure time being something I have entirely too much of. Let’s first understand the nature of offense itself. Coming from me, an attempt to explain offense is like a person with anorexia nervosa giving a lecture on how to avoid obesity. I have never said or thought to myself (or to anyone else) “I am offended” or “that offends me.” I must have been behind the proverbial door when the gene for being offended was given out. What, you say “there’s no gene for that?” There must be, it’s 2018, there’s a gene for everything! We just haven’t found it yet. But I digress.

Now for some ancient history. Back in 2014 Seb Pearce, a Melbourne-based web developer, created the New Age Bullshit Generator. You can find it here bs generator

Dedicated to the principle “Ridicule can be more persuasive than reason when it’s done right”, the lead-in for the generator goes like this:  “Namaste. Do you want to sell a New Age product and/or service? Tired of coming up with meaningless copy for your starry-eyed customers? Want to join the ranks of bestselling self-help authors? We can help. Just click and the truth will manifest. Click the Reionize electrons button at the top of the page to generate a full page of New Age poppycock.”

I included this topic because it is addressed to a group of people who, like me, claim to be beyond offense. I mean the ones who float rather than walk, hands tented in front of them in a gesture of universal peace, radiating perfect serenity…until jostled by some redneck lout in a wife-beater tshirt, who just came from a county fair, remnants of funnel cake still in his beard…well, you get the idea. Apparently, a lot of New Age types WERE offended at his generator, because they don’t like being mocked. Seb addresses their offense: “Lastly, to the people it offended: don’t worry. This is just a digital manifestation of the infinite being mocking itself through quantum pulses of energy. And who is the “I” who is offended, anyway?

Getting more rational, let’s delve into the nature of this thing called offense. Is offense an actual emotion, or is it an interpretation of a feeling such as anger? Neuroscientist Lisa Barrett wrote a book called How Emotions Are Made. (For you millennials, a book is like a video that isn’t animated–unless it’s been made into a movie–and is mostly words, rather than pictures–unless it’s graphic novel–the words are written rather than played–unless it’s been made into an audio book. Wow, that’s a lot of words trying to offend millennials). She was interviewed on TheVerge.com. This excerpt, in italics, teaches a crucial truth about offense: 

“I’m fascinated by the link between language and emotion. Are you saying that if we don’t have a word for an emotion, we can’t feel it? Here’s an example: you probably had experienced schadenfreude (pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune) without knowing the word, but your brain would have to work really hard to construct those concepts and make those emotions. You would take a long time to describe it. But if you know the word, if you hear the word often, then it becomes much more automatic, just like driving a car. It gets triggered more easily and you can feel it more easily.  Does understanding that emotions are constructed help us control them? It’s never going to be the case that it’s effortless and never the case that you can snap your fingers and just change how you feel. But learning new emotion words is good because you can learn to feel more subtle emotions, and that makes you better at regulating your emotions. For example, you can learn to distinguish between distress and discomfort. This is partly why mindfulness meditation is so useful to people who have chronic pain — it lets you separate out the physical discomfort from the distress.

I have, for a long time now, viewed the state of being offended as a choice, and a way that other people interpreted their emotion of anger. If someone intends to insult or offend, they can be critical of us personally or our behavior, critical of a group we are part of (white, male, citizen of USA, Christians for me) or critical of what we believe in. For my part, it doesn’t matter–none of it triggers anger. What is triggered is either curiosity (“Why would he think I would care about his opinion of me?”) if it’s a personal criticism, or humor (“He sure is plumbing the depths of his vocabulary to try to provoke a reaction.”) if he’s trying really hard. In fact, my non reaction often evokes anger in the other–bullies hate it when they don’t get a rise out of you. But the main thing is that I can learn about myself through criticism, so even before curiosity or humor, my initial reaction is “what about that is true?” Then, “should I change my behavior or attitude?”

I am going to give my friend Robert Andrews the final word on how to deal rightly when you have offended others (it is a waste of time to deal with those who are offending you): “It would appear to me that repentance and forgiveness are both for personal individual sins committed against personal individual persons, not national policies or decisions. Repentance, from breaking only real, live biblical injunctions, always comes first. If forgiveness is first without recognizing my sin in the conflict (even if it is simply “taking into account a wrong suffered” which true love does not do – 1 Corinthians 13:5) I get to be on the white horse – I am magnanimously forgiving your wicked sin. If I am truly repentant I am seeing the issue as “my fault,” I do not even “take into account a wrong suffered,”  because I am too busy rejoicing that my own sin is totally forgiven! Repentance is the cause, forgiveness is the naturally, spontaneously occurring result.” I say Amen.

 

 

Two nations founded on the idea of worship without persecution.

(Author’s note: This post, beginning with the featured image, is guaranteed to offend and anger many. Ask me if I care.) There are many nations on this earth in 2018. 193 are members of the U.N. The U stands for United. Talk about euphemisms…but I digress. Only 2 of those 193 were founded on an idea, the desire to worship without being persecuted. The rest of the nations are the result of conquest, wars, partition of other countries, revolutions and so forth. To say they were founded on an idea is not to say these people found uninhabited land somewhere, laid claim, settled on it and grew from there. Such would not be true of ANY modern nation. All nations displaced or absorbed indigenous peoples.

It is no surprise that these two nations are staunch allies, since their religions have the same origins. Bat-Ami Zucker wrote, in the Jewisharchives.org: The uniqueness of America’s relationship with Israel has drawn much attention. Even though their relationship has not been formalized, the two countries are bound together by a bond that in practice has been as strong as any alliance, written or unwritten. Fascinated by the tie between Israel and the United States, especially in view of the immense disparity “in size, power, and international role between the two countries,” many scholars have sought to examine its motivations. Similarities in the origins and history of the two countries stimulated American understanding, sympathy, and nostalgia. Its pioneering spirit was often compared with that of the American pioneers. For Americans, dedicated to the idea of achievement and progress, Israel’s accomplishments were seen as “little short of a miracle. Moreover, Israel’s economic success was seen as an example of what could be attained “through determination, hard work and application of modern technology.” 

As of April, 2018, the two countries have something else in common: Thousands of poor, unarmed people attempting to invade their borders “without bloodshed.” This is indeed a noble idea, and destined to fail. The “caravan” of 3,000-5,000 Hondurans (and probably assorted others from Central America) is heading for the U.S. and far more than that number of Gazans is trying to breach their border with Israel. Some things differ: The Gazans are claiming a “right of return” to lands that they and their ancestors left 70 years ago; the Hondurans say they want a safe place to live, which doesn’t give them any choice of direction other than north. The Gazans share their border with Israel; the Hondurans have to pass through Guatemala (as violent a mess as Honduras) and Mexico (also hardly a haven of peace) to even reach the border of the U.S. 

These things are similar: Neither group is getting over the border; while the majority of each group are peaceful and essentially are seeking a better life, it is all but certain that there are terrorists in their midst; neither group has expressed a desire to assimilate into the nation they are attempting to invade, nor are they likely to adopt the language and culture thereof. But the most glaring similarity between these groups is this: They have been victimized by their own people/government!

About 4 million Palestinian refugees live in Gaza, and the West Bank. Their ruling authorities have received billions in foreign aid, with what result? From Medialine, 2017: After the establishment in the mid-90s of autonomous Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza, many governments began providing the Palestinians with huge sums of foreign aid. The United States is the biggest of some 20-odd donors, followed by European bodies and states. Since 2008, the Palestinian economy has grown by a remarkable 64 percent, but the population still struggles with both high unemployment rates and is harmed by Israeli restrictions on trade in the West Bank and the blockade on the Gaza Strip. (author note: See below reasons for Israeli actions). “Today, the Palestinian Gross Domestic Product is some $8 billion annually, but living standards remain low as many lack the resources to create jobs and the skillsets to fill them.”

Where has most of the money gone? Rockets for Hamas to attack Israel, paying families of suicide bombers, rebuilding homes torn down by Israel in response to terrorism, and Swiss bank accounts for their “leadership”. (“The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has just discovered what every Palestinian child knows — that hundreds of millions of dollars had been embezzled during the era of Yasser Arafat.” The Gatestone Institute.)

The Hondurans were also victimized by corruption on the part of their “leadership”, which allowed the extreme violence of narco cartels to flourish. We all, including the U.S.A., get the government we deserve. However, despite all that, I would like to see my country have an effective vetting process for deserving refugees. The USA is large enough to accommodate AND assimilate large numbers of refugees who want to live better lives, learn our language, embrace our history and founding principles…E PLURIBUS UNUM after all (Remember Algore saying that was latin for diversity, i.e. from the one, many? Hey Al, it is latin, but translates to “from the many, one.”) We used to call it the “melting pot.”

Am I sympathetic to the plight of these refugees? Yes. Will it matter? No. They aren’t getting in. When fleeing the mess in their own countries a non-option, perhaps what is left for them is to clean up the mess within their own borders. That, or a non-future in new refugee camps outside their borders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White privilege and whining your way off the cliff.

(Apologies to Douglas Wilson for stealing his featured image. My lame excuse is that I laugh every time I think of it.) Okay, let’s get this out of the way. I am white–melanin-challenged, Caucasian–privileged to be born in the USA, privileged to have been exposed to and embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ, privileged to have the attitude of making myself indispensable in little ways as an antidote to whining. My heros are Booker T. Washington and, in the Bible, Joseph and Daniel, my anti-heroes are whiners. I have no sympathy for those who live by complaint–no matter their circumstances–as a substitute for finding tiny, incremental ways to better their circumstances and those around them. It really is “all about the attitude.” See Genesis 37:1-36 and Genesis 39:1-23 for a lesson in attitude!

Then there’s Mr. Washington:  Booker and John were sent to work alongside their stepfather packing salt into barrels. Nine-year-old Booker despised the work, but found one benefit of the job: he learned to recognize his numbers by taking note of those written on the sides of the salt barrels.

Like many former slaves during the post-Civil War era, Booker longed to learn how to read and write. He was thrilled when his mother gave him a spelling book and soon taught himself the alphabet. When a black school opened in a nearby community, Booker begged to go, but his stepfather refused, insisting that the family needed the money he brought in from the salt packing. Booker eventually found a way to attend school at night. When Booker was ten years old, his stepfather took him out of school and sent him to work in the nearby coal mines. Booker had been working there for nearly two years when an opportunity came along that would change his life for the better.

In 1868, 12-year-old Booker T. Washington found a job as a houseboy in the home of the wealthiest couple in Malden, General Lewis Ruffner, and his wife, Viola. Mrs. Ruffner was known for her high standards and strict manner. Washington, responsible for cleaning the house and other chores, worked hard to please his new employer. Mrs. Ruffner, a former teacher, recognized in Washington a sense of purpose and a commitment to improving himself. She allowed him to attend school for an hour a day.

Determined to continue his education, 16-year-old Washington left the Ruffner household in 1872 to attend Hampton Institute, a school for blacks in Virginia. After a journey of over 300 miles — traveled by train, stagecoach, and on foot — Washington arrived at Hampton Institute in October 1872. Miss Mackie, the principal at Hampton, was not entirely convinced that the young country boy deserved a place at her school. She asked Washington to clean and sweep a recitation room for her; he did the job so thoroughly that Miss Mackie pronounced him fit for admission. The lines in bold highlight his attitude within his circumstances.

Perhaps the best known example in our modern world of terrible circumstances, where decades of whining and billions in “aid” have only made things worse, is the Palestinians in Gaza. I already wrote a post about that. gaza The bottom line to whiners of the world is this: IF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES STINK AND YOU THINK YOU HAVE NO POWER, YOU STILL HAVE THE POWER TO SERVE WELL AND LIFT YOURSELF AND OTHERS A LITTLE. EVEN A LITTLE LEADS UPWARD; IF YOUR PATH HAS BEEN DOWNWARD, YOU CAN STILL BE A JOSEPH OR A BOOKER…EVEN A LITTLE.