Yes, and No

2

February 20, 2021-

One of my co-workers, yesterday, made the curious remark that everyone, from the age of two onward, is responsible for their actions. Yes, and no. A child needs to be taught right from wrong, from the time that receptive language can be processed. It is well to teach the child to not make excuses for one’s actions, also from the time he or she can act independently. However, to the extent that a child is dependent on parents or other adults, he or she is not entirely responsible for what happens in his/her life. This same person made the statement that the recently-retired president, a poster child for plausible denial, was a great leader. I will leave that statement to bathe in its own irony.

It is said that large amounts of money are needed, in order to bring this nation to full recovery from the pandemic-induced economic doldrums. Yes, and no. There are several groups deserving of cash infusions-among them: Workers being, or so to be, displaced by downsizing in the fossil fuel industry; workers suffering workforce cutbacks in the restaurant, hospitality and transportation industries; landlords facing economic hardship, due to the inability of renters to pay their monthly due; renters unable to pay their monthly due, owing to having been out of work; any combination of the above. There are also those, presently due to receive another stimulus check, who are not in as dire straits as the people mentioned above. (Disclosure: I am one of those in the latter group.) While we all could find a ready use for a stimulus check, at some point- and sooner, rather than later, the needs of the nation as a whole have to come first.

One of the codiciles in the American Recovery Plan is a minimum wage of $15 per hour. Yes, and no. Those at the bottom rung of the economic ladder deserve a living wage. It should be enough to allow the worker to pay a reasonable monthly rent and have enough left over, after bills are paid, to set aside savings (in fact, to follow Dave Ramsey’s advice, and “pay self first”, by setting the savings aside before paying any bills.) and to enjoy a reasonable quality of life. Such a Federal minimum wage should not, however, be buried in a fiscal stimulus package, which is supposed to be a one-off. It is worthy of being legislated and signed into law, in its own right. That such an occurrence is at all in doubt is the fault, not of the progressives who advocate it, but of the obstructionists who see their own greed stampede being interrupted.

Finally, at least for this post, there are those who call for education to be privatized. Yes, but mostly no. As a matter of fact, fiscal accountability, discipline and transparency, as many agents of the Internal Revenue Service could attest, is in woefully short supply, across all walks of life. I had to build these skills the hard way; yet many, using sleight of hand and kicking their debt cans down the road, have yet to build them at all. This applies to virtually all school systems, where adminstrative costs (including money spent on the services of Big Testing) siphon a huge chunk of the children’s money. Taxpayers, who provide the lion’s share of the funds available, rightfully expect that their assessments go to the legitimate learning of their children, grandchildren and neighbours. To the extent that charter schools can be the impetus for system-wide transparency and rectitude, long may they be part of the education scene. There is, however, no reason, save territoriality and a laconic mentality, that a public school district cannot do as much, if not more, for the good of our children than a private, or semi-private, institution,

Most coins have two sides, and some are cubes- or polyhedrons.

Duality

6

April 30, 2020-

Part II, of “HAL and Griff” will appear on Saturday’s blog.  In the meantime:

We have, as is Americans’ wont, reached the Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Everyone is right, in the confines of their own silos, and whoever dares caution someone not to call for the firing, arrest, or DEATH, of another human being, who happens to be either suspected of wrongdoing or is the focus of exposes of various levels of veracity, is an unctious waste of DNA in his/her own right.  This speaks volumes about those who stand in judgment.

A few thoughts, then, from my own humble and fallible mind:

We each have a dual nature- There are things about which we are self-centered and “freedom-loving” and there are things about which we are supremely giving and kind.

I believe in the sanctity of life-from the moment of conception, AND I believe it is a mother’s place to decide what is done with her body, hopefully choosing adoption over abortion, but her informed decision, nonetheless-and no one else’s.

I believe that a community can and should take the stance that the lives of everyone-richest to poorest, of all ethnicities, genders,  ages and sexual orientations, are sacred, as well.  I believe that respect for everyone’s sensibilities, with regard to health, is just common courtesy.  I also believe that no one should be deprived of livelihood, for an open-ended period of time.  Staggered shifts have been proposed for school children- the same could conceivably work  for those whose jobs preclude work from home.  Ditto for using common sense, with regard to spacing of people whose infection status is unknown.

We are also in a state of flux, which I know is scary for many.  Humanity has been at this juncture before, when barbarian hordes have invaded their homelands.  A micororganism is not a barbarian, so there is the all-too-human tendency to turn one’s perceived opponent into said barbarian.  This, to me, is valuable time wasted.

It’s time to wake up, gear up and stand up-for the raising of a truly shining humanity.

Anarchy

0

January 17, 2020-

This weekend is a respite from the urgent task I’ve accepted, albeit for probably not much more than the coming week, after all.  I spent the morning catching up on what’s happened here and further afield, over the past  several days.  I also spent an hour at Prescott College, reflecting the engaging presence of people who are on the cusp of adulthood.  I was there to offer a view of ordered life, that departs from the draconian and the decrepit.

When the small group of young women had left, I perused some of the literature which they had brought to the table.  Among the tracts was one on anarchy.  I was raised to think of anarchy as synonymous with chaos, and it can indeed be accompanied by such a state of affairs. Then again, chaos can also accompany too strict a social order, much as over-tightening the threads on a screw, or a fitted pipe, can strip the equipment.

Anarchy, as defined in this tract, eschews chaos.  It is, instead, defined as a state of complete internalization of responsibility for one’s actions. The advocates of such a community, while seemingly naive and idealistic, see a place where there is a total absence of egoism.  This is, of course, straight out of Thomas More’s “Utopia”, and would presage a complete transformation of the human spirit.

Baha’u’llah points out that there is no system, in the phenomenal world, where a need for order is obviated.  Order may be internally imposed, or be the result of external codes.  The goal, in any case, must be justice.

The anarchist will, of course, retort that externally-imposed codes fail to secure justice because, in the end, they serve one group of people over others.  Initially, that is difficult to avoid, with a truly equitable society coming only after a process of inclusivity, that requires a level of fairness to self and others, not seen on a wide social basis, as yet.

I’ve seen a few families, where child-rearing practices and relationships between adults are based on the true equitability and high level of personal responsibility advocated by the authors of this tract on anarchy.  These qualities are goals on which, I believe, anarchists of this school of thought and Baha’is can agree.  It will be a process that will take far longer to establish, however, than the time any of us now alive have left.  The initial steps, though, are well worth taking.  Internal codes of fairness, also known as conscientious mindsets, can be established.

“Be fair to yourself, and others”-Baha’u’llah

Power

11

May 23, 2019-

While I was exercising, this afternoon, a former student happened by the exercise room, accompanied by a couple of friends.  The three stood nearby and watched me, out of the corners of their eyes, whilst having an animated conversation.  This student impressed me, over the past two years, as one who has a wealth of personal power and has learned, early in life, how to nurture and exercise those strengths-physical,intellectual and interpersonal.

I’ve been thinking a fair amount, about the exercise of power, over the past few days.  Knowing what power actually is, helps greatly  in that exercise.  Some regard power as the ability to outshout, to cut other people off, to be “large and in charge”.  I see this in various levels of government, in the press and on broadcast media.  Some exercise their power by seeking to exclude others from work, from social events and even from living in a community.  Still others try to legislate or shame people who aren’t living in a manner they see fit, from doing what they regard as abominable or distasteful.

While this last is a  laudable response to crimes against children, vulnerable adults or animals, or to actions causing environmental havoc, it has been carried too far when it comes to prescribing what a person should or should not do with his/her own body.  In a nutshell, regarding the abortion issue and the childcare issue overall, I stand foursquare in favour of adoption/community parenting-and a much more rigourous set of standards for foster parenting, as well.  Those are topics for other posts, though.

Power comes from inside oneself.  It can, temporarily, be augmented by the use of a weapon, by obfuscation and sandbagging, or by outright lying.  Those, however, are bandaids- and we know that bandaids must be changed, daily, lest infection set in.

Power comes from within, and must be brought to account, each day.  It must be nurtured, through prayer and meditation.  It must be strengthened through mindfulness.  It must recognize the Source of all power.   It cannot be ascribed to others.  They, our parents, our elders, our steadfast friends, our leaders, our teachers can only nurture what is already present within each of us.  It is up to the individual to exercise and maintain her/his power.