Hanok Village: History as Enterprise, Part II

2

March 11, 2019, Jeonju, South Korea-

As promised, I continue here with the second half of our little family’s tour of this blend of history and modern entrepreneurship.  It most closely reminds me of the Belgian city of Bruges, in that regard.

We felt the need for lunch, so we stopped at Kyodong Dok Kalbi, which offers a limited number of pibimbap dishes, along with a chopped, pressed and pre-cooked version of Kalbi (beef or pork ribs).   Their herbarium provides many of the key ingredients.

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Here, my Korean relatives observe the round of side dishes, which are essential in any true Korean meal. There are usually a few varieties of kimchi, steamed spinach, some small sardines, buckwheat noodles, and some cold pressed vegetable gelatin.  Miso (fermented soup) and a bowl of white rice accompany the meat.  We ate using chopsticks and a large spoon.

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Having eaten our fill of satisfying dok kalbi and “fixings”, we felt content as cherubim.

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So, we walked along the road that leads to a straw-roofed complex.  We came upon this irrigation stream, with various animals of the Oriental zodiac as conduits for the water.

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The fortunate woman has a husband who is willing to be her servant, at least on occasion.

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Jeonju is largely devoid of street murals, so this vertical rainbow was a sublime surprise.

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Many Korean families have at least a small garden plot.  This one is at a traditional Tea House, where we stopped for cups of medicinal herbal tea.

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It is the Tea House which sports the traditional “Jeobuk” straw roof.  The proprietress was surprised at the approach of a mixed group of Koreans and Americans, but was very gracious.

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To the east of Hanok, there lies a shanty area, climbing the hillside.  I took this photo from the Tea House grounds.  Later, we would get closer to the settlement, which lies across a divided highway.

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Here are the flowers of the cauliflower plant.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHere is a view of the Tea House’s main garden.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFor those wishing to sip their tea in an indoor setting, there is a silk-covered mat, on which one sits cross-legged.  The pearl-inlay chest is a common decor in many Korean homes.

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These yellow buttercups match their vase.

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This small shrine blesses the garden plants.

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Outside this small shrine is a depiction of one of the scenes from the Ten Ox-Herding Series, an allegory of one man’s quest for spiritual enlightenment.

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Here is a small Buddhist shrine.

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As we arrived at the edge of the highway, I looked across to the shanty, and spotted Edward Scissorhands.

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We left the heights and went back down to the main street of Hanok, passing this traditional pavilion, a gathering place in Jeoson days.

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Next, along the way, was the place where King Taejo was crowned first monarch of the Jeoson Dynasty.

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The coronation courtyard is graced by this stone wheel, dating from 1392.

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These stone lions guard the entrance to a nearby guest house.

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Thus ended our four-hour visit to Jeonju Hanok Village.  There is much more to this bustling district.  Perhaps a future visit will mean an overnight stay.

Feeling the need for some rejuvenation, we went to Damyang Spa Resort, about forty minutes north of the farmstead.  There, we experienced sauna, hot and cold waters, and I underwent a thorough treatment from an exfoliation specialist, a sort of masseur, who scrubbed me, head to toe, with a rough cloth, then rubbed cleansing oil.

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Hanok Village: History as Enterprise, Part 1

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March 11, 2019, Jeonju, South Korea-

After a  brief walk around the farmstead of  my hosts, Shin Dongwhon and Park Miwha (Many Korean women keep their maiden names, even in marriage), they, the new Mr. & Mrs. Boivin and I headed for Jeonju, the capital of Jeolla Buk-do (North Jeolla Province), famous for the hot pot, known as pibimbap (rice, mixed with vegetables, chopped meat and egg, then garnished with hot pepper sauce).  It is also well-known for maintaining historical buildings, as it is the birthplace of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897).  The dynasty was founded by General Yi Song-gye, who became King Taejo as a result. He and his heirs instilled a strong Confucian ethos into Korean culture.  They also built Korea’s legacy of distinct language and literature. King Taejo’s heirs included his fourth-born son, who became Sejong the Great.  King Sejong, one of the seminal figures of Korean history, was committed to universal education.  In order for the masses to become literate more easily and quickly, Sejong commissioned the development of a phonetic alphabet, Hangul, which is still commonly used today.  He also commissioned the development of movable type, about the same time as Johannes Gutenberg was developing a movable type printing press, in what is now Germany.

With all this rich history, I was surprised that the emphasis in Jeonju’s historic district was not so much on telling the tale as on showing the buildings as they were and on the selling of goods and services.  Of course, any living community has to strike a balance between legacy and functionality, as Salem, MA, San Juan Capistrano, CA, St. Augustine, FL, Heidelberg, DEU-and Gyongju- a living history city,  in eastern South Korea, have all done.

Here are some photos of the day’s festivities- first of the farmstead, then of Jeonju Hanok Village.  First,  here is the home to which I was welcomed.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The koi pond has some rather shy inhabitants.

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Building stones and ollas (for storing kimchi) are essential to any Korean farmstead.

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A newborn rabbit needed warmth and safety.  He is hidden in the shorn fur of one of his elders.

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The rooster and his ladies were in full voice, this morning.

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This is a row of pine windbreak.

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This is  a view of Mr. Shin’s field.

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There, to greet us and send us off, is “Buri” (Barley), the family porch dog.   Korean farm dogs are rarely, if ever, allowed inside the house.

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Now let’s have a look at the first set of photos  of Jeonju Hanok Village.  Below, is the Hanok Visitors’ Center.

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Yunhee and her parents, in front of commemorative stone.

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Our side of the coin.

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“It still could snow, this Spring.”  Here is a traditional Jeollabuk-do tiled roof.

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More traditional Jeollabuk-do tile-roofed houses. Many of these are Guest Houses.

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This is the Year of the Boar, in the Lunar New Year configuration.

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Traditional Chollabuk-do home, with walled courtyard and shrines.

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Here are hanbok, traditional Korean formal dress.

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Here is a more upscale version of the Chollabuk-do tiled roof.  It was probably the home of a wealthy merchant or minor official.

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A more modern variation of traditional water wheel.

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These traditional shirts are actually made of paper.  We visited a paper-making establishment and saw various products, made of durable paper.

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Yunhee is watching a traditional demon mask, made of heavy paper.

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Mrs. Park is demonstrating traditional grain milling.

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It was a little chilly for an outdoor lunch, so we admired the courtyard and moved on.

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Here are some household decorations that graced a merchant’s home, in the early 20th Century.

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Here is a hilltop pavilion, probably used as Confucian shrine.

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“Spring is on its way”, say the cherry blossoms.

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A heavy-duty community level water wheel.

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Commemorative stone, indicating road leading to Confucian shrine.

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There are a number of other photos to share, of this large historic district.  I will post these in the next installment.

 

These Lengthening Ties

4

March 11, 2019, Gyong-Meon, South Korea-

One of the questions I have been asked about the marriage of Aram and Yunhee is how I feel about my son marrying someone from another nation or culture.  (“Race” is left out of this, thankfully. )  My answer is very simple:  Aram has married a beautiful and highly intelligent young woman, who will bring great pride and joy to my family  We, in turn, will bring a great deal of the same to her equally distinguished family.

There was a time, even during our previous living in Korea, when language and cultural differences cast all manner of misunderstandings and suspicion upon even the strongest of work relationships and faith community affairs.  Slowly and carefully, we managed, by working together, to mitigate the worst of these.  Aram, being an infant and toddler at the time, was largely spared the relatively few insults and personal attacks that came our way-not just from more hidebound people in this society, but from equally narrow-minded people on the eastern shore of the Pacific as well.

My friendship with the Shin and Park families has been instantaneous.  There is none of the rancour or suspicion of the 1980’s and ’90’s to soil the life of the extended family.  The growing pains have eased, and we have found that there is an authentic human bond.

This is as Baha’u’llah intended, in calling for the spiritual unification of the entire planet- before other forms of unity are truly realized  This does not mean uniformity, which is the antithesis of true unity.  We families will long cherish each other, much as those who were previously set, within the bounds of American culture, have proven enduring.  It’s time for the next step forward, and the rising generations are leading the way.  I am gladly following that lead.

NEXT:  Chonju and its historical preservation

Their New Beginning

9

March 10, 2019, Guangju-

This city was once best known as place of uprising- against a second-level military regime, in the Spring of 1980.  Although the uprising was initially quashed, its target, President Chun Doo-hwan, never gained the level of power and stability he wanted, and eventually stepped down, on the last day of 1988.

Today, Guang-joo is a more peaceful place and was the scene of the consecration of the marriage of Aram Boivin and Yunhee Shin, my son and daughter-in-law.  Now they have established themselves as  a full-fledged unit.  At the nicely-appointed Sangmoo Ritz Wedding Hall, a reverent blend of Baha’i scripture and tasteful musical selections made for a lovely hour-long ceremony, cementing what was set in motion with their civil wedding, last November in Guam, which, being an American Territory, provided the U.S. marriage license that will just make things easier, when it comes time for them to return to the U.S.

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I gave a short speech, as father of the groom, but otherwise submitted to the instructions of the wedding planner, photographer and master of ceremonies,  I did get in a few photographs, prior to the ceremony.

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The above has Yunhee’s name written in Hangul (Korean script), with her family name first, then her given name.  The names of us parents are written above.

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The flower arrangements are from well-wishers. Below are random photos of Yunhee and Aram, in the lobby of the wedding hall.

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Another milestone has passed, yet with it, the duties of a father-in-law, and God willing, those of a grandparent, will fall to me. My family has now been extended across the Pacific and I have a feeling the blessings far outweigh the burdens.  We will enjoy the rest of this fine week together- tomorrow with Yunhee’s parents and the remainder of the week, divided between Busan and Jeju, the place of Aram’s birth and a well-established resort community.

Quantum Leaps and Recovery

3

March 9, 2019, Gyeom-myon, South Korea-

Friday, March 8, 2019 was the day that barely happened, in my world.  I crossed the International Date Line, right at Midnight, thus throwing me into- today.  We landed at  Seoul Incheon International Airport, about eight hours later.  Amazingly, I got a blessed seven hours of sleep , whilst on board the flying city that is a trans-oceanic flight.

The short hop to Busan, from Incheon, ended on a disconcerting note:  My checked luggage had been detained there, for some sort of “further inspection”.  I was assured that nothing was found amiss, and that the bags would be delivered to Aram’s in-laws’ address, which is where we will be staying, during and immediately after tomorrow’s wedding.

With that, I finished clearing Customs, at Gimhae International Airport, then joined Aram and Yunhee to head to their apartment in the Marine City section of the large port, South Korea’s second largest city.  I took a brief rest, and after catching up on the past several months, we sat down and planned the itinerary for the next several days.  I also caught up on life in the U.S., and learned, to my dismay, that my last surviving maternal uncle had passed away, not long before my flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles had departed.  I will miss his stories and the twinkle that was always in his eyes.

 

We set out for the lovely country home of Yunhee’s parents, arriving around 4 p.m.  The brief rest stop at Saman yielded these first photos of the Korean countryside.  This highway rest stop has many of the amenities associated with similar concourses in North America and  in Europe.  It also has a small exercise area, with rudimentary simple machines, for limbering.  The bridge connects nearby housing areas with the Rest Area, so that locals can walk and enjoy the shops and restaurants.  The covered shrine-like buildings are for people to enjoy picnic lunches or to just sit and meditate.

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Korea has changed much, since we last lived here as a family, in 1992.  I look forward to re-visiting some of the areas we treasured, and to see a few new places, as well.  Tomorrow, my beloved son and daughter-in-law will sanctify their civil marriage.  Stay tuned!

Quotidia Beget Adventure

4

March 7, 2019, Los Angeles-

Among the phenomena which might be overlooked, when one is en route to a special destination, is the landscape below an airplane circling for a safe landing.  Such was the case this evening, as our Sky West flight from Phoenix got cleared for landing at LAX.

This was the first time in memory that I had a window seat, and thus could look at the vast expanse of  territory that is the Los Angeles Basin.  With all that has been written, bantered and felt about LA and its smog, congestion and excess, the place as a whole is a marvel, when seen from 8,000 feet-especially at night.  Some SoCal-phobes will reply that a mess can’t be a marvel, but we know better.  One does not have to approve of  what is the current situation, to be amazed at how much humanity is packed into even such a vast area.

Prior to this, I put in a full day at work and was glad to leave my charges with a sense of accomplishment, leading up to the ten-week homestretch that follows Spring Break,  The shuttle van down to Phoenix was an equally smooth and quotidian process, with us arriving at Sky Harbor with time to spare.  Barrio Avion provided tender and spicy beef for my farewell burrito.

Two three-year-old boys, meeting by chance and becoming fast friends, provided the after-dinner entertainment.  G., a new older brother, very much appreciated the presence of J., his new friend.  Watching them play with miniature cars and trucks, hide and seek and get lectured by their respective fathers, for shaking the line stantions, that are used to separate groups of boarding passengers.  There was no lack of spirit with these two.  Indeed, my first encounter with G was his running up the aisle, momentarily unbeknownst to his parents.  I kept my distance, but also kept an eye on him, in case he made it clear to the TSA  area.  Mom was on scene, 30 seconds later, and brought him safely back to the gate lobby.  Then J and father showed up and more localized activity took over.

We landed at LAX, about fifteen minutes late.  I then embarked on a 1 1/4-mile walk, from the United terminal to the Asiana booths, at Tom Bradley International (AKA Terminal B).  I am in the shape to undertake such a luggage lug, but I wonder how disabled people are accommodated, with the City of Cars expecting everyone to walk, with no electric sidewalks and only the occasional elevator, along the labyrinth.

I made it, with the loudspeaker calling my name, four times, as the Koreans wanted to verify my new passport.  I heard them and felt their pain, eventually getting to show the document to the chief of security at Asiana and receiving his swift assistance, in getting through the line, to the check-in booth and onto the shuttle bus that brought us to the plane.  It was an East Asian style shuttle, meaning that a packer was on hand, to shout at and cajole us into cramming as tightly as possible.  I actually kind of miss those days, in Seoul and Jeju, though I must say young men are less prone to grab all the seats and make women and older men stand for the ride.  That is the one thing about the old days that never failed to get me rankled, especially when Penny was pregnant with Aram.

I’m on the plane now, seated with an elegant woman from Colombia and a Korean student, on Spring Break from her school in Arizona.  It’ll be a long, and I sense, restful, journey to Seoul.

The Blessings Outweigh….

2

March 2-5, 2019-

This past weekend brought the beginning of our Nineteen-Day Fast, abstaining from food and beverages between sunrise and sunset, March 2-20 (most years), for those in good health between the ages of 15-70.  This year’s Fast is a bit complex for me, due to travel that will interrupt the practice (Baha’u’llah excuses the traveler; women who are pregnant, nursing, or in their courses;  the seriously ill and those engaged in heavy physical work).

I made good use of the weekend, participating in a seed education program, with one of the community groups in which I’m involved:  Slow Food-Prescott.  I am no expert on seeds, but I can still help with set-up and breakdown of the hall.  I also re-learned a lot about plants- seeds, as opposed to spores, and the various aspects of germination.

Sunday brought me back to Phoenix, for a large music festival:  McDowell Mountain Music Festival, ironically not held in Scottsdale, but in downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park. Two Drum Circles and time with a vibrant and highly artistic friend made the whole event worth the drive.

There was a most diverse group sitting in on the drum circles.20190303_152300

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This English band, Maribou State, was giving the last performance of its current tour.  It was their first visit to Phoenix.

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My friend was very busy with hoop dancing, and had been at it for three days straight.

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I headed back to Prescott in a prudent manner, and have had a good couple of days at work, this week.  Today marked the eighth anniversary of Penny’s passing.  I stopped at the gravesite on Sunday, prior to attending the Music Festival.  I was thus able to properly mark our connection, with a vase of white carnations, which were her favourite flower, and time in quiet reflection.  She loved drumming and had great respect for hoop dancers, so my participation in the former and encouraging Pam and some young women in the latter, was an homage as well.

Most important, though, I have continued with two of our shared passions:  Educating special needs children and advocating wellness.  I have, if all goes well, two years after this, in full time education.  Wellness, though, will be part of my life until it’s time to head beyond.  Essential oils and living a healthy lifestyle are the foundation of my thriving.

In a few short days, I head to South Korea, for the formal wedding of Aram and Yunhee, a return to Jeju and renewing my ties to one of our blessed homes together.  The blessings always outweigh any hardships.

Eight Years

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March 5, 2019-

On that quiet morning,

your spirit filled our room.

I knew the life we shared

was about to end.

Your body,

ten miles away,

in a lonely hospice room.

was left behind,

and you traveled alone,

to the Placeless,

even as our son and I

were hastening towards

your somber abode.

With a swirl of wind,

dust and leaves,

you greeted us,

soaring upward,

in farewell.

Each of us embraced,

the still remains,

of the love of my life,

whilst comforted

in the knowledge

of suffering’s end.

 

Nineteen

6

March 2, 2019- 

I began my penultimate physical Fast today.  Once I reach the age of seventy, in November of next year,  abstinence from food and drink no longer is binding, and the Fast will bring additional spiritual duties.

For this year, though, I am following the course prescribed by Baha’u’llah:  When not traveling or engaged in arduous physical labour, I abstain from food and drink, from sunrise to sunset, from today through March 20.  Travel to and from Korea, in a few short days, will truncate the physical aspect of the Fast, with the spiritual duties remaining in place.

I have nineteen thoughts I wish to share:

  1. As stated yesterday, all life is sacred.
  2.  Those who, for whatever reason, don’t view their lives, or those of others, as sacred are to be embraced in their suffering-and not condemned, though they must be held to account for acts of violence.
  3. If someone takes me to task, even harshly, and I know that one is right, I need to be the change.
  4. No one has the individual right to strike another person, unless one is responsible for that other person’s well being, as a parent or guardian-and even then, the reason for the spanking is understood by the other and it is only used as a last resort.
  5. Even insects and arachnids should be captured and released outside, into a safe place, whenever possible.  They have their place in the scheme of things.
  6. There is no human trash. Some just need to be monitored more closely and held in firmer check.
  7. Education is a universal right.
  8. Food and beverages should be as free of contamination as is humanly possible.
  9. Fun is essential to the soul, though never had at another’s expense.
  10. Everyone’s legitimate work deserves respect.
  11. All prayers are heard by, and affect, the Universe.
  12. Time in nature is also essential to the soul.
  13. Love is the primary building block of the Universe.
  14. May I never walk away from a cry for help.
  15. A call for peace is the best sound that may escape one’s lips, first thing in the morning.
  16. The morning sun, the evening stars and moon are here to reassure us that there is always a force, greater than ourselves.
  17. When I am in a half-sleep, I communicate both with departed souls and with those who are in  my life, but who are not immediately present.
  18. Plants show an intelligence, in the way they propagate and in the way they seek what they need.
  19. God, the Divine, the Universe, the Infinite, the Eternal, reveals to us what we need and what we can comprehend, in the way of truth.  It has always been thus.

None of these are original thoughts, but they occur to me nonetheless and so I share.

 

The Fix-Its

5

March 1, 2019-

I am now less than a week from being with family again.  It will be a tonic for my soul.  Work has become difficult in some respects, which have nothing to do with my co-workers, our students or, for that matter, with me.  That is a subject, though, for another time.  Besides, I have never signed up for “easy”.

I want to consider a recent social and legislative trend that is deeply troubling.  Those who style themselves “Progressives” have embarked on a social engineering project, allowing people with scant medical knowledge to determine which newborn babies can live and which should die.

I am referring, of course, to the recently-enacted law in New York, which, conceivably, will allow someone to beat a pregnant spouse, or significant other, kill the fetus and get off scot-free-for the baby’s death.  Similar legislation has been proposed by a more conservative administration in Virginia, but I digress.

There are a host of alternatives to mass infanticide, with their bottom line being:  “All life is sacred, sanctified.  A fetus in late term, and a disabled, or otherwise “inconvenient” newborn, are just as entitled to life as any creature who walks the Earth.   Rather than open the door to unscrupulous medical entrepreneurs, consider:

Adoption is far preferable to butchery.  It may even be worthwhile to consider establishing nurturing centers, where the unwanted child could get a fair shake at life.  I am not talking about orphanages, in the conventional sense. A parent facing hard times would not have to relinquish all ties to a child.  I am talking about licensed facilities, carefully monitored and regulated, with staff who are highly trained in early child development, brain research and organic/plant-based/essential oils-based nutrition.  These are all things that many progressives, and more than a few conservatives, say they want to see in the world.   It is far preferable to fund such centers than to fund abortion clinics, whose “craft”, if you will, should be a very last resort-only in case of forcible incest or a severe health risk to the mother.  Rape victims, I would imagine, would be better served by a nurturing center, which could also be attached to a rape crisis center and thus provide services to the victimized mother.

I offer these thoughts, with a view towards stopping the stampede towards madness, which, sadly, even political moderates seem to be joining.