NFL players taking a knee to protest social injustice in the U.S. There is such a level of irony in that scenario I don’t think anything could best it. Is there social injustice in the U.S.? You bet there is. First and foremost is the injustice of economic imbalance, the predatory economic system running amok. There are those who, while most of the citizens simply worked at their jobs, working to keep their lives and communities on a stable footing, were busily working with the single-minded purpose to acquire more. Often stealthily, behind closed doors, working to see cronies obtain key political positions to shore up their single -minded purpose. Working to see laws passed to aid in the furtherance of their, by default or by design, malevolent advance. Always grasping for “more”. Using force, force of law, or sometimes simply force, to both create their path and protect their rear. All in the name of inordinate gain with very little, if any, return of substance to the public they feed upon.
Kind of like professional football. As a matter of fact, not kind of like, exactly like.
The NFL is quite possibly the number one mascot for the thinking, the spirit, that has created and maintains the economic imbalance in the U.S. They do a lot, quite possibly more than any other recognizable entity, to keep the spirit of “I got mine, too bad about you” alive and well. I can remember when street gangs wore NFL jackets as their “colors”. I can’t be the only one who saw the synchrony in that.
The NFL is a crude microcosm which exemplifies the spirit within the more sophisticated, unjust, macrocosm that some within the NFL’s ranks are protesting. And as such, this renders the NFL a de facto PR agent of that predatory system. Undoubtedly one of the most well known and effective PR agents of that system. The media coverage of the NFL plays to the minds of the young, and older folks alike. The media glorifies the greed rampant within the NFL and entices fans to lust after inordinate wealth. And it glorifies brute force in the process. The glorification of greed which is part and parcel of the reality of the NFL, helps white-wash greed everywhere. So, the irony of NFL players protesting the larger system’s injustices is, at the very least, ironic. Possibly even grotesquely so. But maybe it’s a start?
It’s happening all around the world. Once thriving oceans, seas, lakes, rivers are dying. People are experiencing various forms of cancer at unprecedented rates. Also hypothyroidism, diabetes, and other diseases are increasing in prevalence. Then there are the dis-eases often categorized as mental disorders: anxiety, depression, anger, and more. What do all these things have in common? All of these maladies, environmental and human, are either caused or exacerbated by one or more of the various forms of pollution which are rampant in our world today.
These forms of pollution include pollution of our water, air, earth, bodies, minds, and spirits. Many types of corporeal pollution are listed above. Regarding our minds and spirits, we are currently experiencing widespread pollution of human kind by greed, fear, hate and anger. It only takes picking up a newspaper to find instances of this pollution at work.
Who to blame, or is there anyone to blame? Do we always have to look for someone to blame? In this case, yes, there most definitely are people at the root of the problem.
One source; a company, a government, a religion, or other agency with financial or other special interests produces “X” amount of physical and/or mental/spiritual pollution, another company produces 2 times as much. Another company maybe only produces 1/2 as much. And all of them are saying that they do not produce enough pollution to be causing such problems. And all of them are right. And all of them are wrong. If you aren’t familiar with Aesop’s fable of the “The Crow and the Pitcher”, I hope you’ll read it. It explains a lot.
Regarding the environmental pollution, where is the E.P.A. in all of this? They’ve been busy repeatedly firing Dr. William Marcus and then repeatedly trying to defend that action in court. And I imagine other activities of similar ilk, all conducted behind closed doors. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Many believe that today, under the Trump administration, the fox has been put in charge of the henhouse at the E.P.A. (Personally I think that has effectively been the case for at least a few decades.)
Regarding the mental/spiritual pollution, what human agency is watching out for the common person? At this point, no one. We are pretty much on our own to decide what ideas, beliefs, we incorporate into our lives. Which, in order for us to retain our humanity, is as it should be. Free will is a wonderful thing. Yet, why are so many so quick, so willing to incorporate ideas filled with greed, hate, fear and anger? One reason, I believe, is because those are the ideas people are being repeatedly exposed to by, again, those with the reins of power around the world.
Around the world, we see people being led to embrace greed, hate, fear and anger en masse by those whom those people trust to tell them what’s happening in the world. Special interests have most definitely infected many of the media, schools, and religious institutions. I heard a proverb years ago that: “When interest enters in, truth flies out the window.” Again, it’s a matter of no one contributing source being the whole problem, and again, the fable of “The Crow and the Pitcher” tells the story.
Don’t we see what’s happening? Don’t we understand the real and potential problems associated with pollution? Don’t we, with all our technology, possess the means to prevent and correct such problems? The answer to all these questions is the same: “Yes we do”. However, there is another question and an answer which, together, underlie all these problems: Don’t those with the reins of power around the world possess the wisdom and will to value our planet’s ability to sustain life, and the myriad benefits of humankind cooperatively coexisting, more than the unbridled acquisition of power and material wealth? Unfortunately at this time, the answer to that question which we are seeing repeatedly demonstrated is: “No”.
Too many people want their stock dividends, too many CEO’s want their large bonuses, the power and influence of too many public offices are for sale. Amongst the common folk, apparently too many people are contributing to the culture of pollution with the purchases we make. To some extent we are at the mercy of those in control of production and marketing. However we should all be mindful of the impact our purchases have upon the burden of waste in the world. And, I would add, too many are too readily accepting the “reasoning” being put forward by those in power for why our natural resources and our treasuries are being managed in the way they are. And too many people are accepting the special interest driven “reasoning” being offered for why we should embrace greed and hold hate, fear and anger toward others.
I think at some point in the future when archeologists, quite possibly from another planet because Earthlings will have become extinct, look for the “whys” to the last great extinction event on Earth, they will find a direct causative chain of: human greed – pollution – willful ignoring and exacerbating of the problems – extinction.
Yet, around the world, little by little, people are waking up. So the last question is; will enough people be awake and taking corrective action before it is too late? It truly is a case of “United we stand, divided we fall.”
I am using the same artwork for this article as the last one because, well, it is just so appropriate. And I would rather think optimistically then post a picture of the pollution, and it’s effects, which we can all see without any great effort.
This is a “laundry list” of things which, if put into effect, would go a long way toward effectively stabilizing human culture, re-humanizing humanity, doing away with war, decreasing the prevalence of many illnesses, and making life worth living! None of these, except one (I won’t say which one), are my original ideas. They are from people who have studied the issues and weighed the related factors. As I have accumulated them over years I apologize that I do not cite the source. In the interest of brevity I have sometimes combined what were originally separate ideas but which dovetail nicely together.
A three day work week with a living wage.
Abolish the stock market. Keep companies in the hands of their founders and workers (employee ownership). Let the consumers decide via their purchases, or lack thereof, when a company’s product is no longer desired.
New ideas for products/companies can be financed via bank loans, personal loans or the sale of bonds. All at a reasonable rate of interest and able to be paid off.
Eliminate speculation in agricultural or any other products. This only artificially raises prices thereby fueling inflation. (Essentially do away with a “casino economy”.)
All industrial or other waste which poses a threat to the health of our environment must be discontinued or treated in such a fashion as to effectively neutralize any threat it may pose.
Legalize the production, sale and use of all natural substances which may be categorized as “drugs”. These include marijuana, coca, poppies and their derivatives. No prescription needed for these substances. In order to purchase these substances a person must have a card indicating they have completed an introductory class of at least 3 hrs. in duration about the potential dangers and benefits of each substance they wish to be allowed to purchase. Including tobacco and alcohol.
Re-institute regulations around the number of television stations, radio stations, newspapers and other media outlets that any one person or corporation may own.
Via regulations affecting banks, arms manufacturers and other government contractors, remove the the profit motive from war.
Make the dissemination of false and/or misleading information by elected and/or appointed government officials/employees a criminal offense (if it isn’t already) and enforce it.
Restrict election financing. Cap the dollar amount any one candidate can spend during an election campaign. Make it a felony with significant penalties for any person, corporation or foreign nation, or any agent thereof, to give donations, gifts, or make promises of future financial/material gain to any elected or appointed government official/employee. Or for any elected or appointed government official and/or employee to receive such donations or gifts.
Maintain and adequately fund community based (not private) and regulated police forces, fire departments, schools, parks, hospitals, ambulance/EMT services (universal healthcare) and other services. Such as concert and sports venues as a community desires and can support.
Income from concerts, sporting events, etc, above and beyond that used to pay workers, performers, athletes, etc., should go to public coffers and to fund public services and infrastructure.
Establish and enforce both a minimum and maximum personal income. The minimum income would insure basic housing, food and essentials for all. There could be some work requirement (public service) upon those receiving it. The maximum income would include income from all sources combined. This would be in force for all people regardless of profession. The maximum income should be no more than 7 times the minimum wage (not the minimum income which may be slightly less than the minimum wage).
While in a rough draft format, as mentioned above this is at least a partial “laundry list” of actions which, if instituted, would serve to stabilize and re-humanize our cultures and our world.
When a soldier fights, what are they fighting for? There is what they have in their minds and there is what the leaders who pay their wages, supply their guns and give the orders, have in their minds. Which set of ideas is actually going to determine the effect the events taking place will have in the world?
(Well, it didn’t take long for me to drift away from trying to post on Saturdays.) Anyway, I recently had cause to be researching the topic of “stewardship”. I think most people are familiar with the concept of stewardship, but maybe not. So to begin with, here is an excerpt from the Merriam-Webster Online definition:
“2 : the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”
That pretty much sums it up.
The first I can remember hearing anything about stewardship was when I was young and attending a Methodist church in the small Midwest town I grew up in. Stewardship was an important topic in that church. Probably the most well known Bible story relating to stewardship is the story of Joseph in Egypt. How Joseph, acting as a good servant, espousing good stewardship, was a blessing to the Egyptian people. You can read more about the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis beginning at chapter 37. The topic of stewardship was one that came up every now and then in the topics being presented.
That association of stewardship and religion led me to look to see what some other religions had to say on the topic. There is a lot that is written and discussed online around this topic related to various religions. However, there did clearly appear to be a consensus to be found among many of the world’s religions. Most of the information I have listed below are excerpts taken from the website “Religion Answers” although I often found similar quotes within other sources:
Within the Islamic faith we find: “The three most important principles of the Prophet’s philosophy of nature are based on the Quranic teachings and the concepts of tawhid (unity), khalifa (stewardship) and amana (trust).”
The Hindu teaching has this to say: “Stewardship is Right Conduct, what the Hindu calls dharma. Stewardship extends to water, to land, to animals, to food, to resources. Nature is Prakriti, Mother Earth is one of the Gods. Earth must be treated with respect.”
Buddhism: “Stewardship is management of the Earth and its resources in accord with the dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha. This includes respect for all forms of life. Stewardship scopes to include environmental ethics, obligation to future generations, risk, and development of technology.”
Sikhism: “The holy scriptures in Sikhism say God is the creator of all that exists., Man has a duty to care for the creation, The world reflects what is inside man – pollution, global warming, ecology disasters – all these reflect what is inside every man, woman and child.”
In the Old Testament:(This does not come from “Religion Answers.) I have to say this is one area of discussion that got a little blurry. It seems to be accepted that God gave man dominion over the Earth. The blurriness seems to be in how that may be interpreted from one place to another. Does “dominion” mean do what you will? That the Earth and it’s resources are here for our plunder? Or does it mean that the Earth belongs to humankind for our caretaking? For our stewardship in keeping with love for God and for one another? Big difference. I think (and hope) most conscientious, spiritually minded persons from both Judaism and Christianity regard it in the latter context.
From the New Testament: Titus 1:7 ESV : “For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,”
These are just a few examples. From what I’ve found Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Native American teachings, African native spiritual practices and Paganism all hold the value of respectfully and responsibly, if not lovingly, caring for the Earth and it’s resources. I have not researched every religion, however, from the pattern which clearly shows within the ones I’ve listed, good stewardship, especially of the Earth and it’s resources, has been a shared and cherished value within the religious traditions of most, if not all, people from all around the world for a long, long time.
Imagine, human beings from most, if not all, cultures and locations on the Earth, who have sought wisdom within our spiritual reality, have for centuries, if not millenia, held values consistent with one another about how we should revere and care for, how we should engage in good stewardship of, the Earth and it’s resources. Talk about common ground! What has happened to divert so much of humanity from this very common understanding of our role as stewards upon the Earth?
If humankind, around the world, were to in deed practice conscientious, responsible, loving stewardship of the Earth and it’s resources, keeping in mind that humankind itself may be thought of as another resource upon the Earth, imagine how wonderful this planet and the cultures we build upon it might be?
Fake news. It’s a term which we’ve encountered a lot the past couple years. However, as history attests, it’s not a new phenomenon. Fake news, or the reporting of fabrications as if they were real, is older than the invention of the printing press. It’s not that there aren’t reporters and media genuinely dedicated to bringing honest news of the world to the general population. It’s just that it seems a media with widespread customers who rely upon that media to know what’s going on in the world is apparently too readily manipulable a commodity for unscrupulous politicians and profiteers not to take advantage of.
Most of the time, in centuries past or the past several decades, it seems “fake news” is most often used to incite fear and conflict. Or to cover up the misdeeds of those powerful enough to manipulate the media to do so. A recent movie, “The Post”, memorializes the spirit of some who were willing to be politically incorrect, and more, in order to bring the truth to the public. Does that spirit still exist?
Just in my lifetime the shadow of unexplained realities around some horrendous events calls to question whether genuine, hardcore, investigative journalism, at least in the “mainstream media”, has become unfashionable, threatened, if not facing extinction. The Kennedy assassinations, Oklahoma City, 9/11. These are a few instances in which the media is used to repetitiously reassert highly suspect official stories. Those who do dare point out the inconsistencies are often dismissed with the label “conspiracy theorist”. What makes the difference between a “conspiracy theorist” and an award winning investigative journalist? Is it too often merely the willingness, or reluctance, of those who control “mainstream media” to report certain realities? We need a media which consistently places truth above politics.
For the next few weeks, months, years (?), I am going publish short commentaries on what’s happening in the world rather than longer essays. My goal is to publish one a week, on Saturday mornings. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read, “liked” and/or commented on articles on my blog!
A lot of (most?) people in the U.S. have played “Monopoly” at some time. The board game that’s designed to produce a winner and losers in an imaginary battle to acquire wealth. There is maneuvering for advantage, developing properties, lucky and unlucky roles of the dice. In the end someone bankrupts everyone else and owns it all. Then everyone can put the game away and head to the kitchen for snacks. That’s the part that’s missing in real life.
As in the game, in real life most (all?) people contribute in some way to building up and maintaining our communities. Most contribute throughout most of their lifetime. Building, serving, performing tasks meant to help keep the community vibrant. Unfortunately, these days it is happening within a system that is increasingly resembling the board game: designed to produce a relatively few big winners and lots of losers. Because we live in a finite system, there cannot be unbelievably extravagant winners without a whole lot of losers.
In the U.S. it hasn’t always been this way. Regulations against monopolies, a progressive tax system, wages and benefits people could thrive on, social safety nets and other safeguards kept the playing field more balanced; viable for the majority of, if not all, people. Then, those with more wealth began to find ways to manipulate the system. The regulations and safeguards which previously existed to protect the well-being of the whole have been, and are being, dismantled. This is leading to increasing economic imbalance with all the attendant debilitating effects on the general population that one can expect, even predict. We’re now seeing individuals with more wealth than millions of others. Others who have also been contributing.
The system needs repair. We need to restore lost safeguards. We need greater community mindedness. We need greater recognition of our inherent interdependence.
Update, 6/15/18: The best laid plans of mice and men and all that. I thought this was a good idea at the time, however, life has intervened and this plan for my blog did not materialize. I’m not quite sure what I’m doing in terms of blogging these days. I am certainly in a period of transition in my life. To everyone who has read my blog at some time, maybe “liked” it or commented; thank you! I hope to be more actively involved at some time in the future…