This is a time that tries the souls of conscientious people. The greed, graft, and crookedness has become overwhelming. I don’t need to tell you about it; you see the daily parade of corrupted politicians, plutocrats and public figures tipping their hats and waving as they pass by. Each one of them makes makes the world a little crummier, like a filthy King Midas turning everything they touch into a stinking pile of shit.
Citizen outrage has no affect. Oh sure, the media carps and Congress holds hearings seemingly every week and the President blusters about being angry and business leaders assure us it’s just because of a few bad apples. But nothing helps. The parade of bought bureaucrats, environmental rapists, and philandering celebrities gets larger every day until now there seem to be more people in the parade than watching it.
These latest few weeks have seemed especially bad. I think it’s a combination of factors: the realization that Obama is truly just more of the same, BP has decimated a large part of the world’s ocean and will skip merrily away without paying, and the long hoped for economic “recovery” won’t include jobs for the unemployed. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to more people who just seem ready to give up. They were once optimistic and now have lost hope. They would throw in the towel, but like Charlie Brown once asked in one of the old Peanuts comic strips, “Where does one go to give up?” An older man I spoke with said he was ready to wave the white flag of surrender while shouting to the elite: “You win! I give up! You’ve fucked me out of my job and everything I had. Go ahead and destroy the world- I can’t stop you!”
A young Obama voter I talked to rationalized his new found apathy by saying, “For hundreds, maybe thousands of years the people who are evil have lost but each time. But they learned a little bit more about how to do better the next time. Now they’ve learned enough that they control pretty much everything including the media. Nothing we say or do makes any difference. If we march in the streets it doesn’t get reported, so why bother?” I wish I could say that I had a response other than to mutter a few platitudes.
Telling people to let a smile be their umbrella seems futile when the rainshower has turned into a hurricane.
But still I refuse to give up. Why?
Part of it is that I don’t want to give the bullies of the world the satisfaction of winning. For over half a century I’ve endured physical and emotional punches that many times should have taken me out. But they didn’t. And sometimes I came back and won. Also, I don’t want to give up just before I could have won. It’s sort of like when someone asked comedian Woody Allen, since he was miserable and didn’t believe in God or Heaven or Hell or much of anything, why didn’t he just kill himself? His answer was that he wouldn’t want to blow his brains out and then read in the newspaper that “they’d found something.”
The other part is that usually at my moment of deepest despair something happens to inspire me to go on. The latest example being this: A young lady came to Easter services at the Spiritual Center. She didn’t normally attend church and had never been to ours before. She had come that day mostly because a friend had let her know that our progressive congregation includes an outreach program for pets. We pray for them, we conduct Reiki healing for them, and they can even attend services. This young lady was distraught because her beloved 10-year-old cat had developed a large tumor over his right ear. The veterinarian urged immediate surgery, which had no guarantee of success in stemming the tide of what looked like spreading cancer. She was willing to try it but the operation was impossible because her near minimum wage salary didn’t allow her to afford the $700 cost (paid in advance).
I introduced her to our head of animal spiritual connection. To be brief, we all agreed to frequently pray for the cat’s healing while picturing in our minds the cat as totally healthy (this is based upon the philosophy called Religious Science). For two weeks, I set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day for this task.
Good news! Earlier this week I heard from the young lady. Her cat is completely well! I went over to see. I had stopped by a few weeks ago and saw for myself the walnut sized tumor on his head and his noticeably shaky state of health. Now the tumor is gone without a trace and the affectionate creature could not appear happier or healthier. He has a new lease on life. And in some ways, so have I.
He beat the odds and so can we. Good people working together can make a difference. Yes there are many bad people in our world who seek to fill us with fear so they can keep us down. They want us to be like children who are afraid of the Boogie Man. When you feel that fear, stop and remind yourself that the Boogie Man only has as much power as we give him because he isn’t real. If we refuse to believe in him then he evaporates into nothingness. When you see others in fear, remind them of the same. The Apostle, Paul urged us to “… not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) Transform your mind and the minds of people around you with positive and beautiful thoughts and the world will become better.
Perhaps the depth of despair which we find ourselves in will be the turning point toward better times, much like the old platitude says, “It is always darkest before the dawn.”
by Reverend Hothoneywater
The oil rig environmental catastrophe taking place in the gulf coast is a national disgrace. Add it to the list. Along with the coal miners recently killed by cave-ins. Also, tack on the soldiers dying for control of Middle East oil to the list. And then remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be this way. The United States could be doing a lot more to wean itself off these dirty and irreplaceable forms of energy.
Germany, for example, has set itself a goal of obtaining 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources such as solar and geothermal by 2050. I wouldn’t bet against them; they’ve just finished building a huge offshore wind farm as one of the steps along the path and, thanks to cash incentives to citizens for installing solar panels, cloudy Germany is the world’s #1 producer of solar electricity. And do you remember all that blather during the campaign when candidate Obama pledged to create green jobs? Well, Germany already has over a quarter million jobs in the renewable energy sector and realistically expects many more in the near future. Japan is determined not to be left behind, so they’ve put many incentives in place to drive the their clean energy industries, including putting solar cells on all their public schools by the year 2020. Even Spain has positioned itself as one of the leading nations in solar energy technology.
And yet here in America, if you watch the tv news you’ll often see representatives of our business & politics sit there and pooh-pooh the practicality of these renewable energy sources. The technology is unproven, unprofitable, and can’t possibly supply enough power to meet our American demands. They portray green energy as a myth believed in by either science fiction buffs or the pitifully gullible. Meanwhile, our only real choice is to drill baby drill.
The “no we can’t” crowd finds it in their best interest to keep us enslaved to Big Oil, at least until they find a way to control the Sun. But what America finds impossible - other nations are doing.
Take trains, for instance. And I wish I could. Back in the early 1970′s my mother took me on one of the last runs of a train that went from Dayton, Ohio to Richmond, Indiana about 50 miles away. She wanted me to see what it was like before the trains were all gone. Although trains are one of the most efficient ways to move people or freight, America gave up on them a long time ago. For many decades, the majority of America’s transportation funding has gone into building highways for ever increasing automobile traffic. Back in 1964, Japan started running its “bullet trains” at speeds of 130 mph and has been improving them ever since. China runs trains at 220 mph. Imagine sitting back comfortably and reading a book or taking a nap while you are carried to your destination at 220 miles an hour! Most every developed nation, and a number of the less-developed, has high speed rail service. The U.S. of A. has a grand total of 1 high-speed (150mph) rail line and most the time it operates at an average speed of 63 mph. And I’d say that 63 mph is about double the speed of any American train I’ve ever seen. But at least we’re starting to make some effort in this area, as the 2009 economic stimulus included a relative pittance of funding for “projects that support the development of intercity high speed rail service.”
President Truman first proposed American universal government health care in 1945, calling it “a definite public responsibility.” By 1964, President Johnson got Medicare passed so the government would provide for the medical needs of our senior citizens (and it worked so well that even Tea Baggers love this socialist program). Finally this year, President Obama squeezed through a bill that promised to sort of bring us closer to almost making sure most law-abiding Americans maybe have health insurance even if that still means they may not necessarily receive health care. I won’t go into a detailed description about how civilized nations have managed set-up workable universal health care systems. But here is an excellent documentary from PBS Frontline called, “Sick Around the World.” Watch it and weep for the American people.
I can almost hear some of you saying, “Well then, Parson, maybe we just don’t have the money for all those fine things they have in countries like France or Cuba. And that’s because we spend so darn much of our money helping the poor, and the workers, and the families here in the Homeland. And on top of that, we give away so much darn money to other countries.” Sorry to deflate your hot-air balloon, friend, but the facts show the U.S. is actually one of the stingiest nations with its own people and foreigners.
No, we’re not falling behind because we share so generously with the downtrodden. In fact, the cause of America’s slide is exactly the opposite. Much like the kingdom of Israel in the Old Testament Book of Amos, fabulous prosperity for the ruling class has not been tempered with compassion and justice for the poor. God sent the prophet, Amos, to call-out Israel’s rulers about the way they selfishly trampled on the less-fortunate. Then he warned them that their behavior would bring about the near total destruction of their powerful nation at the hands of their enemies. By the way – they didn’t listen.
I would certainly never claim to be a prophet, but I can tell you this: The United States has enjoyed more than 60 years as the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Unparalleled riches and power came our way. And it’s our national responsibility to use those riches wisely. Call it God or call it karma, but allowing millions of people to be exploited for the enrichment of a tiny greedy minority is a path to destruction of a powerful nation. Even a nation that has 5,113 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.
But as I said earlier in this essay: “It doesn’t have to be like this.”
by Reverend Hothoneywater, D.D.
Tiger Woods held a press conference today. And finally he’s learned to give the misty-eyed, choked-voice performance we’ve come to demand from our public idols who’ve shown they have feet-of-clay. I’m sure the heel and his corporate sponsors hoped to soon get back to building his lucrative “brand.” His mother was there and that is nice. But there was a fly in the ointment: His wife wasn’t at the event. I would think our national sense of closure demands she publicly forgive her hubby. Oh well perhaps she’ll do it later on some prime time tv interview show.
“Love-child” fatherer and all around heel John Edwards is still hanging in there, newswise. According to the tabloid and internet headlines he’s either beating-up his wife Elizabeth, he’s asked his mistress to marry him, he’s given his mistress a big diamond ring, I even saw a funny article claiming John and Tiger Woods are going to release a duets album. All I can say is: “Thank you, dear Lord, that John Edwards didn’t get elected President (even though I agreeed with most of his political rhetoric). Because the Puritans would now have us mired in in an unimaginable impeachment mess.”
Terry Hoskins, who isn’t near as famous or rich as Tiger or John Edwards, is from my neck of the woods (Dayton, Ohio). His story got some coverage when he bulldozed his house instead of letting a bank take it away. Terry got in a legal dispute with his brother which caused the IRS to put a lein on Terry’s carpet store. Because of the carpet store trouble, the bank saw an opportunity for profit and foreclosed on Terry’s house even though he had never missed a payment. This was because the house was “cross-collateralized” with the carpet store. Terry’s house was valued at $350,000 and he owed $160,000 to the bank. He says he had a buyer who would have bought the house for $170,000 but the bank wouldn’t let him sell because they said they will get more than that when they auction-off the house (did I mention that he hadn’t missed a payment?) He finally got so fed-up that he knocked the house down and says he may do the same thing with the carpet store. Do I understand his frustration? I help poor and middle-class people every day who are endlessly worked-over by the system. So yes I do.
Joseph Stack has briefly gained noteriety as the guy who flipped his wig and crashed a private plane into an IRS office building in Austin, Texas. Like Terry Hoskins (above) it appears he felt worked over by the system until he cracked. He was irrational and it’s tragic that he thought the solution was killing himself and 2 people in the target building and potentially many others. He left a last statement detailing what he felt drove him to this final act. Don’t let the spinmeisters tell you what he said. Read it yourself. Because I’m seeing opinions in the mainstream media and the web that attempt to spin him into…
a tax-hating teabagger – because he says the tax code is pretty much incomprehensible. (well, isn’t it?) and that the tax laws favor the rich and corrupt (well, don’t they?)
a commie – because he has quotes Karl Marx (although not admiringly) and takes some jabs at Capitalism and points out that the rich and well connected including the Church feed at the trough while ordinary people get screwed (do you doubt the truth of that?)
anti-government – because he felt America’s politicians didn’t care anything about an ordinary person like him and never pass laws that help ordinary people (do you think they do? If you do then give me an example from the last 30 years).
Joseph Andrew Stack – because it makes him sound scarier like Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, and other unbalanced murderers?
Stack like many of our citizens got beat-up by a system that – as George Carlin once put it – “threw them overboard thirty f—ing years ago.” Finally, he came unglued and killed people. He said he hoped his destructive act cause the American zombies to wake up and revolt. But it looks like the issues he tried to raise will be lost amid the government and corporate frenzie to pass the blame and whip us into fear so we’ll protect them from harm while they plunder us.
The Bible tells us, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so does a fool return to his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11) I don’t know whether you have ever witnessed the disgusting canine behavior of re-eating what was moments before regurgitated. But it puts me in mind of our foolish nation. The lessons of national fairness and compassion toward the elderly, children, laborers, the weak and downtrodden all are being forgotten. We are distracted by trivial events and misdirected into blaming the victims of an unworkable system. And so America revives the hateful meanness that we once rejected because it didn’t work.
In response to a posting called, “What Would Jesus Do About Obama,” on the Desertpeace blog, my good friend, ReverendHothoneywater made the following comment which I think is appropriate during another Christmas season filled with world-strife.
“Those who profess belief in Jesus and his teachings yet commit heartless and destructive acts are an embarrassment to true Christian faith. The misguided, loud-mouthed, & hateful stridency of these so-called Christians causes great harm to a world that cries-out for compassion. The phony-religious use God as a way to shackle rather than liberate their fellow human beings. You are correct, Jay, that they ignore Jesus’ teachings. But they do so at their peril. Jesus said, in Matthew 5:9 (the Sermon on the Mount), “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”
Many “fundamentalists” think they can participate in the most heinous acts and, simply by professing faith, still retain God’s favor. However, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is asked what must be done to gain eternal life. His answer is that one must 1) Love God… and 2) Love thy neighbor as thyself. He is then asked what is the definition of neighbor and his answer, known as “The Parable of the Good Samaritan,” illustrates that the term includes everyone.”