The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

HANDS UP, PLEASE SHOOT

With the bad rap that the liberal left in America is generally heaping on the police in this country, it might be useful for the mainstream media to pay some attention to the hostage situation in Sydney, Australia which fortunately has been resolved with minimum injury.The alleged hostage taker, one Man Haron Monis has been captured and his captors released.

“Monis has long been on officials’ radar. Last year, he was sentenced to 300 hours of community service for writing offensive letters to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. He was later charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. Earlier this year, he was charged with the sexual assault of a woman in 2002. He has been out on bail on the charges.”  (AP – Kristen Gelineau).

While Australian authorities are downplaying the hostage taking as a “one-off” event, during the course of his occupying the Lindt Coffee Shop, apparently Monis forced several of the hostages to hold up the Islamic State flag within the store, inscribed on which is the Shahada, the first of Islam’s Five Pillars of Faith and required that other of the hostages stand in the window of the store with their hands up in the symbol of surrender.  Is this merely a matter of “shopping center violence” or is there something deeper going on here?

Fortunately, the police were successful in defusing the situation.  But I couldn’t help think, what if, (God forbid) this situation had occurred in the United States and Hillary Clinton were president (double God forbid).  Given her “enlightened and progressive” views and worldview and her recent statements, this situation might well have been handled in a different manner:

 

 

The fundamental problem of the left in characterizing the Ft. Hood shooting, the beheading of the innocent woman in Oklahoma and countless other tragedies is that if you refuse to recognize the reality of what your enemy is about, it is impossible to deal with defeating that enemy effectively.  This applies not only to radical Islamists but to the situation in our inner cities where black on black violence continues unabated and where the focus of the “race mongers” including President Obama and his Henchman in Chief,” Al Sharpton, want to deflect from the real problem and focus our attention on “police brutality” and racism.

I suspect that when the hostages in Sydney were rescued from their captor, thanks to the Aussie SWAT team that liberated them, they probably cried out, “Hands Up, Please Shoot – the hostage taker”

Islamic Flag in Sydney Hostage Siege Analyzed

 

 

 

ON TRUE CHARITY

When I first met Br. Thomas, OSF I was struck by the fact that he spoke infrequently and then only softly, but he listened avidly to each person who spoke and with a great intensity – as though that person’s words had the import of a final earthly utterance.  Perhaps that was natural for him or perhaps it was an acquired skill he had developed.  He had spent over twenty years ministering to those who came to the hospice that his Franciscan priory maintained for those who were dying.

I couldn’t imagine the strength of his and his brothers’ faith to be able to deal on a daily basis with those who came to that hospice – knowing that none of them had long to live and none would leave on their own.  Perhaps that is less a testament to his view of life than it is a statement about my shallowness of spirit.  This reverent man made me feel vey humble by his gentle, taciturn demeanor.

Those who minister without fanfare to the sick, the poor and the dying must hold a very special place in God’s love.  That the mendicant orders have been with us for centuries demonstrates that despite the contentious nature of so many of us, there are at least some who are willing to contribute to them so that they can carry out their much needed, good works.

Another order, The Little Sisters of the Poor which also maintains hospices, has been in the news lately because of their position regarding provisions of the ACA and their refusal to compromise their religious principles.  Like their brother Franciscans, their charity and care is not reserved to those who are Roman Catholic.  Their compassion is open to all those who are at their final moments, irrespective of creed or lack of one.

 

 

Deo gracias! Deo gracias!
Adam lay ibouden,
Bouden in a bond;
For thousand winter
Thought he not too long.
Deo gracias! Deo gracias!

And all was for an appil,
An appil that he tok,
As clerkès finden
Written in their book.
Deo gracias! Deo gracias!

Ne had the appil takè ben,
The appil takè ben,
Ne haddè never our lady
A ben hevenè quene.

Blessèd be the time
That appil takè was.
Therefore we moun singen.
Deo gracias! Deo gracias!

(Anonymous, 15th century)

At this time of year, most of us feel obligated (or if you prefer, inspired) to go out and buy presents for friends, loved ones, or ourselves.  I’ve tried to reign in the temptation to spend, spend and spend more by enacting a simple rule.  For every dollar that I spend on gifts (and I mostly now make my own rather than finding them on store shelves) I donate an equal amount to charities which truly represent the spirit of Christmas, not just at this season but throughout the year.  Nevertheless, there are some people for whom a store bought purchase seems most appropriate.

One of the sites which offers the shopper an opportunity to reduce her or his out of pocket costs is eBates.  The site allows a person to link through their site to over five hundred well known and more obscure internet retailers and earn rebates on their purchases which range between two percent and as much as fifty percent.  They also offer a program for members who refer new members in the amount of five dollars per referral.   My referral link is listed below:

http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=4cwCeH%2FFsKXfalPzt9zdgA%3D%3D&eeid=26471

If you are not familiar with the program, I encourage you to take a moment and review its features and benefits.

The reason for my making what is my first “commercial” appeal in nearly 900 posts is simple.  I will take any referral bonuses and combine them with my own contribution and donate those to The Little Sisters of the Poor – this being my designated charity for the year.  I hope you will contribute to that effort.  Or, if you’re already an eBates member, I’ve attached a link to their website so that you might read more about their good work and perhaps consider making a donation to them directly.

http://www.littlesistersofthepoor.org/

I wish all of my readers a blessed remainder of Advent and the joy of a wonderful Christmas.

MOTHER AND CHILD(REN)

Show me a picture of a canine mother and her pups and I can’t help but go, “Ooh.”  Show me a video of a golden retriever mom and her passel of pups playing in the snow and I melt.  I hope this brightens your day as much as it did mine.

 

THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS

What is a celebration without good music?  It’s rather like having an exquisitely prepared punch bowl, filled to the brim with a delightful sparkling beverage and no ladle to serve it.

The following piece, “O, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,” though not one of the traditional carols, is the inspiring and most famous composition of American, R. Fisher Boyce.  Though it is less than one hundred years old, perhaps you will add it to your play list and help it become one of your family’s traditional Christmas tunes.

Here it is performed in a jubilant, “revivalist style” arrangement by the consummate all male soprano group, Chanticleer.

‘Twas two weeks before Christmas
And all through the land,
Retailers had sent forth
Their own marching band.

To drum up some business
And stir by their call
Each consumer to duty,
”Come down to the mall.”

We’ve got oodles of goodies
On sale – there’s no trick,
For surely you must have
The latest knack knick.

It was made in a land
Far away quite exotic,
But sadly about it
There’s nothing erotic.

But well made we can say
In a positive light.
It surely will last
Through at least Christmas night.

If not that then buy this
We’ve got more than enough,
Of goods with no value
For stockings to stuff.

Forget that old message,
Peace, love and joy.
The message of Christmas
That’s merely a ploy.
The true story’s about
Finding just the right toy.

“I’ve no money, alas.”
”Not a problem,” they say.
We’ve figured a way
For this junk you may pay.

Just say, “Charge it.”
We will, .
Have no fear, take no fright.
As the interest mounts day by day
And night by night.

So came Kia and Honda,
Chrysler, Nissan and Ford.
Their mission was clear
They were all of accord.

Beemers, Benzes were there
Some quite old and some new.
Intent on their purpose
They knew what to do.

To ransack and pillage
And leave the store bare.
To spend and spend more,
That was their sole care.

No great thought had gone into
Their buys made that day.
Nor how much at last,
The cost they would pay.

So they dashed away,
Dashed away,
Dashed away all.
And over the land
Came a dark eerie pall.

For the message of Christmas
Of peace and of joy
Is not just a gizmo
Or latest fad toy.

If we ask ourselves why
War and hatred exist,
Perhaps we should go back,
Examine our list.

No more cars, games or trinkets,
Just some kindness and soul.
Would go a long way
To make the world whole.

THE WELCOME MAT

The Las Vegas Valley Water District has a motto, designed to remind us that each of us has the responsibility to conserve water.  “It’s A Desert Out There.”  The casual visitor to Las Vegas, had he been here last week, might have shaken his head incredulously at that slogan as we had a three day substantial rainfall.  It reminded me of being back in Chicago.

The rain continued for long periods of time throughout the day, would pause for perhaps ten minutes and then resume.  Because of the precipitation and the ominous and gloomy clouds which brought it, I decided to skip Gracie’s normal evening sojourn to the Dog Park and walk her through the neighborhood instead.  At least we could scurry home quickly should the downpour resume.

While Gracie is one quarter Golden Retriever, apparently the gene that accompanies fondness for water is missing from her DNA.  True, she does love to hit the fountain of the lawn sprinklers for a refreshing drink, but the stuff that falls from the skies doesn’t, in her estimation, have the same appeal.  Perhaps that is because the lawn sprinklers are a regular and predictable phenomenon – and rain is such a sporadic event.

In any case, we were meandering around the block and I happened to notice that, without exception, every home had a door mat at the front door.  And interestingly, most of those doormats had the word “Welcome” on them.  Gracie and I are the exception.  Our doormat says, “Please Wipe Your Paws.”  But for some reason, looking at these doormats caused me to think about both the issue of immigration and the allegations of police oppression which have become so rampant in some sectors of the media.

The United States accepts over a million people a year who want to immigrate to the country – more people than the rest of the countries of the world combined.  The process of gaining legal status here is onerous and rather Byzantine – but apparently enough people worldwide are willing to endure both the wait and the process to ensure that a continuous stream of newcomers arrives on American shores every year.

These people have a somewhat different view of life in America than some of us who are here legally by reason of birth.  I mean, who in his right mind would want to go to the trouble and expense of moving to a country where there was a high probability that when he got there he would be “oppressed” by those in law enforcement?  Basic logic would suggest that would be a place to avoid rather than one to which a person would seek admittance.

Now just because a person has a good heart and is welcoming to friends and guests, it does not follow that his kindliness would extend to everyone who presented himself at his door.  Most of us would probably call 911 if we saw a hooded man, brandishing a gun, rather than welcoming that person in for tea.  And while most of us who are here as a result of immigration reflect on our own and our forebears’ experience in coming to America and want to extend that same courtesy to others who are similarly motivated, that does not imply that we want to do so in an indiscriminate manner and open the door to anyone who presents himself.

If we look at the historical waves of immigration that occurred in America, we need to put in perspective that while we gratefully welcomed low wage people in the first and early part of the country’s second century, that in large measure reflected that the country and its infrastructure were under construction and needed those workers to build railroads and dig ditches for sewers.  Their arrival did not displace workers who were already here.  But the infrastructure, notwithstanding its deteriorating condition, and the railroads have been built.  No such need exists today.

Our manufacturing sector has greatly diminished and Wall St. no longer waits with baited breath to hear the U. S. Steel quarterly report as it did in the 1950’s.  Rather, the financial markets are moved by whether or not Google or Apple made their number for the most recent three month period.  Of the thirty stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average , only nine are purely involved in manufacturing and of those, two manufacture drugs.  The other twenty-one companies are primarily involved in providing services.

The problem with a stagnant, albeit slightly improving economy, is that those Americans who are at the bottom of the economic barrel face increased competition from illegal aliens (or if you prefer “undocumented people”) and nowhere is this more evident than within the inner city communities predominantly occupied by blacks.  That, at least in part, explains why the rate of unemployment among blacks consistently runs twice the “official” rate of unemployment – and among young black men runs twice that, nearing twenty-five percent.

If we truly want to face the issue of why there is unrest and despondency among certain groups of our population, racism is a convenient but dishonest explanation.  Let’s face it – the automobile dealer who is selling Ferraris doesn’t really care about the race of the person who buys his vehicle – and cares even less how that person obtained the cash to close the deal.  It isn’t a matter of race – rather it’s a matter of economics.  And the economic outlook for those in our inner cities is very bleak.

Riots and lootings solve nothing but in fact create additional problems for the business owners who are directly affected and potentially can lead to the arrest and incarceration of those who participate.  In truth, some of those who participate are simply out for ill-gotten gain – and any excuse will do to set them and their malicious intentions in motion.  Others probably have a sense of their own helplessness but see no path to extricate themselves from it.  And then there are some ideologues who believe that America is the most racist, despicable country in the world.

To those in the third category, remember that once there was a Berlin Wall – designed to keep the citizens of East Berlin from making their way to freedom.  America has no such barrier in place to prevent any willing person from leaving.  And there are countries which apparently are willing to give anyone, irrespective of background, an opportunity to start over.

The recent committal of five more Guantanamo detainees to Uruguay suggests that country might provide a more nurturing venue for them to spend the remainder of their lives.  And given the generous way in which our federal government spends taxpayer dollars, there’s probably a program in place to help facilitate their change of address.  Take advantage of the opportunity – please.

Via con Dios.

Once upon a time the height of sexual titillation was the “strip tease.”  That was when we were sexually repressed, believed the normal order in which life proceeded was courtship, marriage and then children and generally confined our sexual activities to the bedroom with the person who was our life partner.  As one person put it – “The strip tease is intended to tantalize but not to reveal all.  It leaves that to the imagination of the viewer.”  Things have changed – and arguably not for the better.

When I was in college, the focus was on trying to get an education.  While this was in the rebellious ‘60’s, getting laid was probably something that some of my fellow students hoped for (and in some cases were able to achieve), but it was not something in which the school participated through “educational” curricula on the subject.  Well, officially the University of Chicago is a school founded by a Baptist – John D. Rockefeller.   Perhaps that’s the explanation.

The recent “Rolling Stones” now discredited story about the female rape victim, Jackie at the University of Virginia, brought this to mind.  Rape is a dreadful crime.  As we know, it’s not about engaging in sex so much as it is about overwhelming the unwilling person, forcing him or her into doing something in which they do not want to be involved.  It is, in essence, an act of bullying – which like all bullying can carry with it both physical and psychological damage.  And that is something which all of us should find offensive and reprehensible.

We might have fewer rapes on our college campuses or elsewhere throughout the country if people simply applied the rule of common sense to the way in which we conducted ourselves.  Some of the things we could do or advise our children to do is to avoid places where excessive partying is expected to be the order of the evening; avoid excessive amounts of alcohol; don’t accept beverages from people whom you don’t know; have a companion with you who is looking out for you and for whom you are looking out; don’t smoke dope or take any pills while you’re out at the party.  While that will not eliminate the possibility of rape, following those simple rules might reduce the likelihood that it would occur.

But part of the problem I suspect, at least in some cases, is there can be a fine line between rape and consensual sex.  Naturally, if the “victim” willingly over drank and engaged in sex, buyer’s remorse might set in the following morning and perhaps the recollection of the events of the previous night might be blurred.  And part of the problem might be that while our colleges and universities are busily involved in investigating incidences of alleged rape on their campuses, many of them are promoting an agenda in which the lines between propriety and libertine behavior are aggressively blurred.  Allow me to offer a few examples.

To my recollection, during my time in college, I don’t recall anyone “streaking” the campus.  That might be because the weather in Chicago is cold and is well-described as having two seasons – winter and August.  But in some of our finer universities, not only is streaking commonplace – it’s evolved to the point of being an athletic event.  Among the schools that have nude athletes competing are Rice University; Williams College; the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill); Dartmouth College, to name only a few.

Without making a value judgment about public nudity, I think it is safe to say that if you are wearing no clothing or other accoutrements, it becomes more difficult to carry your Pagan Symbolism in Native American Basket Weaving syllabus to class along with your cell phone, your change and your lunch.  But nudity is merely the tip of the sexberg which circles our colleges’ ivy walls.  There’s “Sex Week.”  I’ve posted the calendar for Harvard University’s recently concluded 2014 Fall program below:

Sunday, November 2

Brown Girlz Do it Well: a Queer Diaspora Remix

2:00 pm, Ticknor Lounge

Join Harvard South Asian Association and SHEATH for a creative workshop by Dark Matter and a discussion on explore our own narratives of family, queerness, and diaspora. The intention is to situate our personal narratives within broader systems of racism, casteism, classism, islamophobia, and imperialism.

DARKMATTER is a trans south asian art and activist collaboration comprised of Janani and Aloo. Using poetry & polemic, tweet & tirade DM is committed to an art practice of gender self(ie)determination, racial justice, and movement building. DM has been invited to perform and facilitate workshops across the world. you can follow their antics at www.darkmatterrage.com or @darkmatterrage.

Monday, November 3

SEXY AND I KNOW IT: Sex Ed 101

5:00 pm, Sever 202

What’s an internal condom? How about a dental dam? If you’re looking for a sex-ed primer, this is the place to be. Sex educator Shira Cahn-Lipman will interactively teach us about the do’s and dont’s of safer sex practices in an inclusive way. All genders and sexualities are encouraged to join us for a primer or a refresher on how to safely enjoy sex!

Losing Your (Concept of) Virginity

6:00 – 7:30 pm, Harvard College Women’s Center (Canaday B basement)

This event aims to explore the myths, stigmas, and popular ideas surrounding virginity. Through documentary clips, activities, and group discussions, we will consider the historical context of virginity and its different social, political, personal, and religious meanings. All are welcome to attend and share their thoughts, though no sharing of personal experience is required, and no identities are assumed. Does virginity matter? How does a person lose their virginity? What does virginity really mean? And what does it mean to you?

Tuesday, November 4

What What in the Butt: Anal Sex 101

5:00 pm, Sever 113

Come learn everything about anal sex from the experts of Good Vibrations, a sex-positive store located right in Brookline! They will dispel myths about anal sex and give you insight into why people do it and how to do it well. They will cover a wide variety of topics, including: anal anatomy and the potential for pleasure for all genders; how to talk about it with a partner; basic preparation and hygiene; lubes, anal toys, and safer sex; anal penetration for beginners, and much more! Learn the facts about this exciting yet often misunderstood form of pleasure, find out the common mistakes people make, and get all your questions answered!

#SellingSexy – How our social culture is shaping the future of entertainment

8:00 pm, Sever 113

Cosponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students

Wednesday, November 5

#HearOurStories: A Digital Story Screening

7:00 pm, Fong Auditorium

An exciting event on sexual rights, social justice and young parenthood. In partnership with the UMass Amherst Hear Our Stories project, the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy and the Harvard College International Women’s Rights Collective are proud to host a youth-led screening of digital stories created by young mothers as part of Harvard Sex Week. This event will illuminate the multi-layered identities of young parents and intersection of issues faced by young people including violence, discrimination, and homelessness. Following the screening will be a panel with some of the young women who created the digital stories.

Cosponsored by the Harvard College International Women’s Rights Collective

Thursday, November 6

Sexual Health Career Panel

4:00 pm, Ticknor Lounge

The annual Sexual Health Career fair will highlight opportunities available to students for careers in sexual health, reproductive justice, BGLTQ advocacy, and other related fields. Come speak to representatives from a wide range of organizations, including the Aids Action Committee, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Planned Parenthood, and Global Protection Corps, and hear about summer internships and post-grad job opportunities. The event will feature a panel discussion on career paths in sexual health, followed by a meet & greet career fair. Hosted by SHARC (Sexual Health and Relationship Counselors) in partnership with Sex Week at Harvard.​

Cosponsored by Sexual Health And Relationship Counselors (SHARC)

Jungle Fever: On Exotification

6:00 pm, Ticknor Lounge

Have you ever said or heard the following?

I love [insert racial or ethnic group here] because they always [insert stereotype about said racial or ethnic group]!

If so, then you have either experienced or participated in exotification. Exotification means objectifying someone’s racial or ethnic identity, treating that identity–and that identity alone–as what defines them or makes them desirable. To learn more about exotification and its problematic nature, come to the exotification panel on November 6th from 6-8 pm in TIcknor Lounge.

Cosponsored by the Harvard Asian American Women’s Association, Latinas Unidas, and the Association of Black Harvard Women

Friday, November 7

Fifty Shades of False: Kink, Fantasy, and Fetish

4:30 pm, Sever 106

Fifty Shades of False: Kink, Fantasy, and Fetish will explore supposedly “taboo” topics in sexuality, namely the kinky. Munch, Harvard’s Kink and Alternative Sexuality group will run a presentation on kink through the lens of the ever popular Fifty Shades of Grey. This presentation will attempt to expose and attempt to correct inaccuracies in the book’s portrayal of kink.

Cosponsored by Harvard College Munch

Open Mic Night

8 pm, Dudley Co-Op

Join SHEATH and Speak Out Loud, Harvard’s only spoken word poetry group, at 8pm on Friday, November 7th for an open mic! Poetry, food, and friendly faces will populate this casual Sex Week event while providing an open and relaxed space to consider the other topics addressed throughout the week. Following the open mic will be the annual Sex Week party (more food!).

Cosponsored by Harvard College Speak Out Loud

Saturday, November 8

Love @ First Swipe: Online Hookup Culture

4:30 pm, Sever 113

Grindr? Tindr? whats the technique? whats the upside/downside?

Cosponsored by Harvard College Queer Students and Allies, CONTACT Peer Counseling, Response, and Sexual Health And Relationship Counselors (SHARC)

Given our younger generation’s liberation from society’s repressive view of healthy sexuality as evidenced in part by the contents of Harvard’s Sex Week program, it does give me pause to wonder why rape is such a problem for these kids.  After all, isn’t the rapist merely expressing her or himself in a way which is meaningful to that person?  Shouldn’t a permissive and inclusive society accept that person’s right to be that person?  Why all the noise about rape on campus – or elsewhere?  Bill Cosby, stand up and take a bow.

California has certainly got the vision since they are in the process of passing a law which would define a sexual relationship between a teacher and a student of at least fourteen years of age as being “consensual.”  Way to go California Teacher’s Union.  You certainly have the best interests of your young students at heart – preparing them well for a continuing education in our institutions of higher learning.

Now I realize some of my readers might consider our current views toward human sexual expression as being – may I use the word – perverted.  That just goes to show how old-fashioned you are – and you need to enroll in a class immediately which will help you evolve from your antediluvian views.  But even you, I think, will have to admit that there has been at least one positive development that has come out of our current sexual enlightenment.

We are all familiar with what was once considered a rather coarse expression,  “GO F*CK YOURSELF.”   Now there’s a college course that explains how to do that.

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