The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

OLD FOLKS

Perhaps it was the fact that I was so devoted to my maternal grandmother but I have always preferred the company of people older than myself rather than those my own age.  After all, two sixteen year olds have only the perspective of life that they have gleaned in perhaps ten truly cognitive years – and that might be a stretch.  But a thirty year old to my then teen age mind, well that was someone who had really lived.  And a sixty year old.  A sixty year old to my thinking was a venerable shrine of living history.   I viewed elderly people as true treasures.

When I purchased my condo in Chicago I was in my mid-twenties and by far the youngest owner in the building.  Before I could complete the transaction, I had to appear before the condo board and get their approval.  The board had the reasonable responsibility of trying to make sure that new owners would observe the condo’s rules and would be an asset to the building and its owners.  Naturally, I approached this meeting with a great deal of gravity and seriousness and received the required imprimatur.  (While I chalked this up to my professional presentation and polite manner, as I learned later, this was a mere formality as a rejection meant that the association would have had to purchase the unit itself – and there was at that time no reserve fund to accomplish that).  Nevertheless, I took my approval as a reminder to be a good, polite and caring neighbor.

Several years went by and a few of my new neighbors urged me to run for election to the board.  I really didn’t have an inclination to do so as I was putting in eighty hour weeks at my business and didn’t want the distraction.  But after a considerable amount of arm twisting by one of them in particular I agreed to throw my name in the hat for one of the openings.  I prepared a brief resume so that the owners could have a more in depth look at my background and that was included with the bios of the other candidates.

The night of the annual meeting and election finally arrived.  There were three vacancies and six candidates for those positions.  And when the votes were finally tallied, I had come in dead last.  I must admit that while I was ambivalent about serving on the board, losing was rather irksome.  I thought to myself, “What have I done to offend people?”  My ego was bruised,  so when the friend who had pushed me into running came over to console me with the words, “Don’t feel bad – everyone loses the first time they run,” I didn’t accept that as graciously as I might.

Well, things have a way of working out.  I did not choose to participate as a candidate in the elections the following two years but thereafter, as a matter of self-interest, (I wasn’t happy about the way our funds were being spent), I decided on my own to seek office.  This resulted in my serving on the board for eighteen years, six of those as president.  One of my fellow board members was a man then in his late seventies.  I had gotten to know Harold and his wife Viola because of my work getting out the Republican vote in the precinct.  They were two of the very few registered Republicans to be found in the neighborhood.

The bio I had submitted had included the fact that I was one of the principals in an executive search business.  I had no idea what Harold had done for a living since he had summed up his life experience with the word, “Retired.”  But after our first board meeting, he approached me and said that he had devoted his life and his career to being the owner of an employment agency – so we definitely had something in common.  He offered to share some of the stories about his and his wife’s experiences running what, as it turned out, was the very first employment agency that received a license from the State of Illinois in Chicago – back in the 1940’s.

Originally, the employment agency business was dominated by companies that charged the applicant if they found him or her a position.  Later, as labor became more scarce and business expanded, employers began paying those fees.  But in the old days, it was customary for the employee to pay the agency that secured his employment – an amount that was dictated by the Bureau of Employment Agencies at 84% of the first month’s salary, payable in three monthly installments.  That was how Harold and Viola had built their business.  They had a specialty.  They placed domestic help.

Several months later I ran into Viola as I was leaving for work one morning.  She invited me to join Harold and her for dinner the following Saturday.  I gratefully accepted their invitation and rang their doorbell promptly at six thirty that night. We had a delightful dinner and although I offered to help clean up, Viola said that wouldn’t be necessary – she would take care of it.  Harold invited me to join him in the living room for a brandy.

As we sat on their comfortable sofa, I noticed that there were large volumes, at least thirty of them, on their library shelves.  Two of these volumes were on the coffee table.  Harold reached for one of these and said, “You might find this interesting.  I took pictures of all the people who Viola and I put to work.”

He reached for the first book and opened the cover.  There was a picture of a large black woman with a young, smiling Harold and Viola, their arms around her and a caption that read, “Jewel Samson – March 8, 1941 – Cook – Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Feingold, 538 North Dearborn Street.”  Page after page, book after book contained these pictures with the titles Washer Woman, Assistant Cook, Housekeeping, Driver and the names and addresses of their employers.  The pictures had one thing in common.  Every one of the new employees was black.

I was impressed at the sheer number of people for whom this couple had found employment.  And perhaps I was even more impressed that Harold had the presence of mind to document his many years in business in this manner.  I told him as much.

He said to me, “You know it was a struggle.  There were a lot of times that I wasn’t sure we would make it or be able to keep the doors open.  But somehow, something always happened and we got over the hump.  But you know what the biggest challenge was?  In those days, a lot of black folks didn’t trust “’ol Whitey’ as they used to phrase it.  So let me show you the pictures that saved our business.”

Harold got up from the couch and reached for a much smaller photo album.  He sat down next to me and opened the book.  On the first page was a picture of Harold as a child with his parents and on the second a picture of Viola and her family.  Despite their extremely light skin, both Harold and Viola were black.  I would never have guessed that, despite knowing them for quite a few years.

So Harold hung blown up copies of these two photos in his office and pointed them out to all new applicants who came by for job interviews.  That gained the trust of those who might have had qualms about working with a white-owned business.  And that business grew and prospered for more than thirty years until the couple retired.

Old folks.  You can learn a few things from them if you take the time.  They’ve been around.

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THE MOUTH THAT ROARED

“Glad tidings of great joy.”  That is the message of the Nativvity, preached from a thousand pulpits this Christmas.  But for at least one of our clergy, Jesse Jackson, Sr. there is never a holiday so solemn that he can’t refrain from preaching about the ethereal to offer his opinion on the mundane.  In his most recent foray, the Rev. Mr. Jackson decided to express his outrage at the “racist and anti-gay comments” that “Duck Dynasty” star, Phil Robertson made in his GQ interview.

Thanks to the controversy of Mr. Robertson’s remarks, there may only be a handful of people in the United States who have not seen one or more episodes of “Duck Dynasty.”  I am one of them.   If I want to watch reality television, I have only to step out on the streets and observe those who pass by.  At least that is unscripted.

I’m not certain how many of us read the GQ interview.  I have and would agree with those who found Mr. Robertson’s remarks to have been phrased in a less than poetic way.  But those are the remarks he made and considering his background as a backwoodsman I’m sure that he expressed himself in the way which is familiar to him.  That is hardly a reason for condemning the man.  If it were, Vice President Biden would be under a gag order.

For those of us who subscribe to a Christian ethos,as I presume the Rev. Mr. Jackson does, there is no reason nor does any of us have the right to condemn anyone else.  We leave that job to a higher authority.  Subsequent to the interview, Mr. Robertson made it quite clear that he personally condemned no one personally.  That is not his job.

What Jesse Jackson categorized as “anti-gay” remarks actually related to sexual activity outside the traditional marital relationship.  Mr. Jackson should be aware that the Bible does condemn all sexual activity other than between a husband and wife, whether that is between two men or two women or a man and woman who are not married.  We all transgress.  The Rev. Mr. Jackson is no exception, having fathered a child outside his marriage.  Hopefully he has mended his former ways.  But it is hard to listen to his condemnation of another on this subject and not have some reservations about his sincerity or the worth of his words.

Then there is the second issue, Mr. Robertson’s “racist” remarks.  As far as I could tell from the interview, Mr. Robertson merely described the condition and the attitudes of those blacks with whom he worked in the field.  Whether his interpretation of their condition was accurate or not, none of us can truly say.  But to categorize his belief that those blacks never expressed outrage at their conditions as being racist seems to be an overreach.

Racism – or for that matter – any form of prejudice is a horrible thing.  All of us should pity those who make it the central point of their worldview.  That includes Mr. Jackson and all others who profiteer by pitting one race against another.  People who truly oppose racism, as Mr. Jackson did back in the ‘60’s should be equally outraged when anyone is attacked solely on the basis of that person’s skin color.  Of course, back then, Mr. Jackson would not have attacked Phil Robertson for his position on homosexuality since he espoused exactly the same view..

Have we heard Mr. Jackson speak out about the “Knockout Game” in which predominantly black young hoodlums attack innocent, defenseless people and try to knock them unconscious with a single punch?  Have we heard him protest the fact that most of the victims have been Jews?  Has he spoken out about the tragic shooting murder last week of Brian Friedland in the Short Hills, NJ mall at the hands of four black thugs?  Of course, this most recent murder might have been the unfortunate result of a car jacking, nothing more.  But whenever a black is attacked by a white person, Mr. Jackson assumes that the motivating factor behind the attack is racism.  Why doesn’t the same logic apply when the roles of assailant and victim are reversed?

Over the years I’ve watched Jesse Jackson morph from a committed advocate for the disadvantaged to a purveyor of racism for the sake of personal gain and prestige.  That is perhaps the greatest tragedy – watching his perversion from a crusader to a succubus.

While his words once had meaning and his message had value, they are now little more than the vitriolic output of a mouth that once roared and whose passion once soared.  And there are fewer people of conscience who  bother to listen to him any more and worse, are embarrassed for him..

THE AGE OF ENTITLEMENT

Western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries had The Age of Enlightenment.  It was a time when great minds would hold court in the salons and set out their views on the political origins, birthright and future of mankind.

In 21st century America we have the Age of Entitlement.  We have enshrined a new god, technology and he is a jealous deity, consigning us to our subservient place as “users” as we absorb ourselves in texting and taking “selfies.”

Perhaps our parents and grandparents were too successful in their efforts to leave us with more than they had.  That was their goal and achieving it provided them with an endorsement of the fact that their lives had meaning.  Many of us in my generation did the same.  And we might have done just a little better than Mom and Dad.  In fact, we may have done a bit too well.

If familiarity breeds contempt, absence of want engenders complacency.  Those of us who are middle class have raised a generation that has lacked little and has even fewer aspirations.

My generation hoped that we would be able to attend college.  Today’s high school grads want to know which school has the best party atmosphere.  We hoped to get a decent job and rise through the ranks.  Today’s kids feel that they deserve to start at the top because they’re “special.”

As a child I remember my father telling me stories about how he had to walk fourteen miles one way to school in the dead of winter, barefoot – and when he got home he had to chop the firewood and stoke the furnace.  I realized that he took some poetic license in relating these sagas – but they did help me understand how much better I had it than he and his siblings.

Perhaps the greatest gift of growing up prior to our present technological era was that we had the ability to be adventurers and discoverers.  If we learned a lesson it was because we learned that lesson from our own experience, not as some footnote on an internet encyclopedic entry.

When I was presented with the mathematical concept of pi it was my introduction to irrational numbers.  My geometry teacher explained that it was most closely expressed as the ratio of 22/7 and that it never resolved itself in an even answer – which is, after all, the nature of irrational numbers.  I was determined to find out for myself.

I remember that evening taking out several sheets of paper and beginning the long division process.  As I recall, I took pi out to about five hundred places and there was no end in sight.  This fascinated me as I looked for some sort of repetitive sequences, but there were none.  And that got me thinking about that Euclid guy and how he had come up with this in the first place.

That sense of wonderment and inquiry is gone from our children’s life experience.  What it took me hours to achieve manually can be done by any of today’s grammar school kids’ hand-held devices in a second or less.  And while re-inventing the wheel is not a productive effort, I suspect that if their notepads responded to the question, “How much is 8 x 5?” with the answer 63, a significant number of our children would write that down, confident that they had responded to the question correctly.

There is no doubt that technology has, in large measure, been a boon and a benefit to mankind.  Well, of course, there is that whole “global warming” thing which would probably not be an issue if we all travelled by horse and buggy.  But reliance on technology and subservience to it are two different matters.

The thoughtful person cannot deny that technology is daily becoming more important in how we live our lives.  I have long argued that if the GPS satellites were suddenly to disappear, half of those making their way home from work would get lost.  And if we didn’t have our cell phones with us, we would not be able remotely to close our garage doors in the event we forgot, lock our houses or enable the NSA and who knows who else to track our movements.

Freed from the need to think on our own, we have willingly consigned that to whoever it is that creates the newest apps.  This naturally allows us a great deal more free time.  But to do what?  To tweet and text and post to Facebook?  To play video games?  Well, there needs to be something to fill the void with all that excess time on our hands.

It is hardly our children’s fault that they spend a lot of their time in mindless activity.  It is all they know and the world of technology is their world.  We should not be too critical if they have an expectation of reward without effort, because we have created that environment and raised them in it.  And we should not be surprised if we notice that little Suzie would rather play a game on her tablet than have a conversation with her family because it was, after all, her family that went out and purchased the latest and greatest in the world of tablets – that is until another version comes out next Christmas.

My father used to quip about how his mother, on giving him a brand new dress shirt would say, “Be careful when you wear that shirt.  I don’t want you getting any stains on it and be sure you don’t tear it.  Your younger brother is going to be wearing it in three years.”  Have you ever heard of a family giving a “hand-me-down” laptop to a younger sibling?

As we have in large measure abandoned the more difficult tasks of personal investigation and curiosity in favor of having ready-made answers handed to us, we have ushered in our Age of Entitlement – the freedom not to think; the freedom to have whatever we want; the freedom to do as we please.

But behind all those apps and conveniences without which we cannot imagine our lives there is someone who is the creator, the inventor and the thinker providing those to us.  And perhaps the next time we get ready to text one of our BFF’s about the latest goings on at the mall, a few of us might stop for a moment and wonder, “Who is it that is pushing our buttons?”

THE BULLY

Bullies have always existed and probably always will.  For whatever reason there are some who are so insecure that they must find someone whom they believe to be weaker than they to push around so that the bully can feel an importance that is born in cruelty rather than in conscience.

I knew a few bullies as a child and several more as an adult.  The pattern for the children was always the same – find a victim who was weaker or who was different from most – and launch attacks, physical or verbal – with the hope that their prey would cry or run away in fear.

The adults who were probably bullies as a child have changed their pattern of behavior – but only slightly.  They exhibit less physicality but more verbal abuse – particularly if their target was a different color or of a different ethnicity or different in any other way.

In order for the bully to take full pleasure in his torture it is important that he or she have an audience to appreciate him.  This gives him validation.  And usually those who gravitate in his circle are even weaker than he, gaining their own self-esteem by being in the presence of such a mighty person.

We are reading and hearing more about bullies – from how they harassed a young girl so badly that she took her own life – to a professional football player who left the Miami Dolphins because of his teammates’ incessant jeers and taunts.  So naturally, being the caring people whom we are, we will pass laws and stiffen penalties for those who engage in this blood sport.  And we will walk away from our legislative chambers with a smug sense that we have done our duty.

It does not surprise me that there seems to be more of this going around today than when I was a kid.  If there is one fundamental thing that ran through the bullies I knew as a child it was this – not one of them was ever courteous or thoughtful of others.  On the other hand their most noticeable characteristic was rude and loud behavior – as though to shout out to the world, “Hey, look at me.  I’m important.”

Perhaps they had to shout that loudly to quash the thoughts that ran through their self-absorbed minds that they were anything but important.  These were lonely, arrogant children who almost certainly grew into adults with the same deficiencies and longings to be needed.

It’s interesting that the two bullies who come to mind from my childhood were both from wealthy families, still they were latchkey kids – if you can call a very expensive co-operative apartment with twenty-four hour doormen on Park Avenue a ramshackle shack.  But their parents were both too involved in their own lives to pay much attention to their offspring.  They had nannies and cooks and servants, but they lacked the most essential elements that can turn a malleable child into a bully.  They lacked the love and attention and direction of their parents.

If bullying is on the rise it should surprise none of us.  What is left of the family unit is so distracted that it seems that staying together is more a matter of indifference than desire.  Obviously, there are many exceptions to that statement – but they are the exceptions rather than  the rule.

Passing a law to punish the effects of bullying is about as useful as trying to put a poached egg back into its broken shell.  Laws are punitive in nature rather than pro-active, and if we are to address the question of bullying effectively, we need to look at the cause rather than punish the result.

If a person has a good sense of his own self-worth, he or she is far less likely to become the subject of a bully’s malevolence.  The bully is essentially a coward and must find someone whom he believes is even weaker than he in order to achieve his goal of torment.  I know that in my case I was able to develop a reasonable sense of self-worth through the efforts and love of my parents and teachers.

I remember one particular incident when a kid who was three grades ahead of me began picking on one of my classmates – someone whom I really liked.  It was, of course, before Facebook.  Back in those days, the bully needed more guts than today and had to confront his victim face to face.

It began with little things like jostling my friend in the hallway.  And then there was tampering with his locker.  Nothing that you could really point your finger to as being threatening, but a pattern began to emerge and these little incidents became more frequent.  It began to wear on my friend and to have an effect on his performance in school.

I think that everyone in our class was aware of what was happening.  And we all were silent.  And it is in the silence of those who standby from which the bully gains strength.  But I’m sure my thoughts were much the same as my other classmates’.  “Better him than me.”  That is the statement of the ultimate coward.

Well, one day the bully got over exuberant and body checked my friend into a hallway.  Enough was enough.  I knew what he was doing was wrong.  And, more importantly, I knew that what I was doing – saying nothing – was just as wrong.  So I finally spoke out – in a loud voice and with a great deal of fear in my heart, “Hey, cut that out.”  My body was shaking as I expected to be the next one tossed against the wall.

What happened next surprised me.  This kid who was four years older than I looked stunned that anyone had stood up to him.  The best he could come back with was, “Yeah, you gonna make me?”

I don’t know where I came up with this but I said, “Maybe I’m not as big as you but with Timmy and me and our gang we can take you.  Now get out of here and leave us alone.”  And he left – and that was the end of Timmy’s being bullied by him.  I was never so scared in my life as when I uttered those words.  Neither Timmy nor I were fighters – and we didn’t have a gang.

As I thought about the recent episodes of bullying which made the news, I reflected back on a person who was the subject of a lot of sniggering when she tried to make a name for herself in the world of entertainment.  She wasn’t what most people would describe as attractive.  Sadly, most people make their judgments based on looks and if they don’t like what they see there, they never allow themselves the time to understand a person’s substance.

This Scottish lady’s name is Susan Boyle, and the video is a recording of her first performance on “Britain’s Got Talent.”  Fortunately, despite the audience’s and the judges’ initial reaction, Susan had the internal fortitude to stand in front of an audience and sing her song – fortunate both for her and for the world.

And that’s a lesson from which both bullies and their would be victims can learn.

THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE

There is nothing more annoying to me than when a woman uses the phrase, “It’s my body and my right to choose.”  It’s as though dragging out that old bromide is the absolute, indisputable debate clincher and there is no response possible once it has been uttered.

If you don’t think about it very deeply, that phrase could be something that is part of the mantra and foundation of libertarianism.  It would appear to be something that we should endorse, living in a country which was founded with the proclamation that we have the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In entering into one of these conversations, I always ask the individual whether this is a right that inures only to women or do men get to play on that same level playing field?  Since it would be very un-PC and sexist to restrict that right to only one gender, naturally the response that I get (after some hemming and hawing) is that it applies to everyone.

My follow up to that answer normally runs along the lines of, “So, you’re saying that the man who is a rapist and acts to fulfill the commands his mind is issuing and his body is able to accomplish is justified in doing what he does?  Or it’s okay for the mayor of San Diego  to grab women’s butts or breasts because he finds that satisfying?”

Since they haven’t really thought about the logical conclusion to their statement, I always receive a horrified look and a gushy, “You’d have to be nuts to believe that,” kind of response.  Implicit in their answer is the key to this entire issue.  That is, there are certain things which society deems “proper behavior” and others which it does not condone.

With all the headlines that are coming out of the Obamacare debacle, I find myself having more or these conversations than formerly.  Many of the women I know who voted for his second term did so because of “women’s issues”.  And I find that, if you’ll pardon the pun, to be very fertile ground for debate.

When someone identifies herself as “pro choice” I normally offer the following scenario.

A woman goes to a restaurant which has an extensive menu.  She might select the Lobster Newburg or order a garden salad for dinner.  She has freely  made a choice.  No one has looked over her shoulder or coerced her into selecting one entrée over another.  But if she chose the Newburg her bill is going to be higher than what she would have spent on the salad and she should be prepared to pay the price for it.

The one word that I find most lacking in the vocabulary of those who are “pro choice” is the word “wisely”.  Yes, we all have the power to choose and we all exercise that every day.  But to choose wisely, well that takes some thought and an admission that our decisions have consequences not only for us but for our society as well.

There is a reason that the word wisely is not a part of the “pro choice” lexicon.  This is not meant as a condemnation of anyone who holds that view who has arrived at her position on the subject in a thoughtful way.  Although I disagree with their position, I can respect the fact that they made it in an informed manner.

My statement is based on my observation of people who have gravitated to that position without thinking about all of its implications or who have merely adopted their view because all of their friends think the same way.  It is predicated on my observation of how they deal with their acquaintance and friendships.  These are merely my empirical observations – and I would be the first to admit that those are limited in number.

But, based on what I’ve seen, looking at the anecdotal evidence of how almost all  of them conduct their lives, I cannot escape the conclusion that most of those who are “pro choice” have adopted their outlook for one simple reason.

They simply do not believe they should be held accountable for their actions.

Fortunately for them, the United States currently has a government that shares that viewpoint as it demonstrates the exact same behavior on a daily basis.  But when people and their governments lose sight of their moral perspective, history teaches, in countless examples, that the end is very near at hand.

Like the house built over a sink hole, the abyss that will swallow us all may arrive at any moment.  Then there will be no more choices to make as the sands of time sweep us under the roiling earth – perhaps to be replaced with something wiser and better.

WHAT, ME BOTHER?

My instructor in debating emphasized I don’t know how many times, that engaging in “ad hominem” arguments was a major no-no.  In other words, it was appropriate – even desirable – to make counter arguments to those your opponent set forth – but it was not acceptable to say something like, “Well, I’m not surprised to hear you say that.  That’s just the kind of thing I would expect from someone as ugly as you.”

Those instructions really stuck with me.  Therefore, it is difficult for me to “attack” someone without feeling at least a small quiver of guilt that I might be engaging in that sort of argumentation.  Fortunately, I have been able to resolve this dilemma by substituting an “ad hominid” argument in place of the tabooed “ad hominem” one.

As you know, the family “Hominidae” includes both man and our fossil ancestors.  I am not sure if the classification covers Neanderthals – but for my purposes I’m going to include them as well.  (This is a modern day and I feel fully entitled to mold the facts to my liking just in case I ever want to apply for a position on the staff of “The New York Times”).

So, speaking of Neanderthals, as you probably know, Eliot Spitzer is running for the position of Comptroller of my birthplace, New York City.  It’s been five years since he resigned his position as governor over some minor, habitual inappropriateness with a stable of high end hookers.  Amazingly, his wife Silda has stuck with him during what must have been an extremely difficult time for her.

During Spitzer’s tenure as Attorney General, he mercilessly attacked both the New York Stock Exchange and the financial industry for their outrageous behavior.  (This, of course, included something that was really not his business – executive compensation).  Now considering his personal habit of dropping twenty grand for a night of pleasure with his sex partners, one has to wonder how he defines “excessive”.

But there is one thing that Mr. Spitzer has not done excessively.  That is take the time and exercise his responsibility to vote.  Yes, he was “so busy” last year around election time – flying to California to do a TV show – that he neither got around to procuring an absentee ballot nor did he show up personally on Election Day.

We all make mistakes and certainly an important public figure must have many demands on his time.  I presume that explains his similar failure to get out to vote on two previous occasions – in 2007 and 2003.  In his defense, he did cast a ballot in each election in which he was running for orifice office.

With what might be called a “checkered career,” it is hard to imagine what line of work Mr. Spitzer might next pursue should his bid to return to public office fail this November.  Perhaps he might want to team up with sexting star, Anthony Wiener, whose run for Mayor seems to have taken an abrupt turn for the worse with the revelation that long after he was “cured of his bad behavior,” new photos and messages have started to surface.

I can see the two of them working together as a comedy team, perhaps calling themselves, “Latke and Hamentash”.  I’m sure that the duo would play well to OWS – or any other group that includes Neanderthals in its membership.

alfredeneuman

AMERICA THE BABEL(ING)

Genesis 11:1-9 describes the familiar story of the Tower of Babel:

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel – because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

It has often been said that what differentiates people from other animals is our ability to communicate through speech.  Of course, it is not important that we can make speech but that that speech has meaning to our fellow human beings.  A Finn only fluent in Finnish can not communicate any more effectively with a Bantu who speaks only Bantu than an elephant can communicate with a wombat.

The new secular humanism that we find throughout American society today, in its efforts to establish itself as the new state religion, recognizes the importance that language plays in their efforts to divide and conquer.  It is my belief, for that reason, that in their role as pseudo-lord, they are making every effort to confuse Americans by attempting to make this nation into a polyglot country.

If we have any question that a common language serves to unify a people, we have to look no further than the example which China has set.  One of the key programs which the government of China imposed was that it recognized Mandarin as the official language of the country (guo yu).  While people could continue to speak the over one thousand different dialects that existed, they were forced to learn the official language.

In fact, the government went about the work of simplifying the characters in which Chinese had universally been written (although the spoken word was quite different from province to province) in order that more people would be able to learn to read it.

The United States has moved in exactly the opposite direction.  While we have no officially “ordained” language established by the Constitution, for over two hundred years, English was the “de facto” official language.  Immigrants who came to the country realized that they (or at least their children) had to learn it in order to have a chance of success in their new homeland.

In part, that was because signs, legal documents, election ballots, bank statements and virtually everything else that was of legal or financial importance were written in English and only in English.  There was no government pronouncement on English as our “official language”.  But neither was there any intervention on government’s part to alter the customs of the country which were well established.

That, of course, has changed dramatically.  The “progressive” agenda of the government has begun to play a serious role in how we Americans communicate with one another – or fail to do so.  The Justice Department believes that it has the right to dictate to local election districts in what language(s) they must print election materials including ballots to accommodate minority populations for whom English is not their primary language.

And businesses have, as a matter of self-interest rather than merely through government pressure (although there has been much of that as well), adopted that same technique.  We have all experienced calling a bank or utility and been told by the robotic menu to press “1” for English or “2” for Spanish.  This morning, my ATM offered me those two choices in which to continue my transaction.  (Why not Swahili)?

The man who invented Esperanto in the late 19th century, Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof realized that a common language was essential to establishing a common understanding between people who were diverse:

“The place where I was born and spent my childhood gave direction to all my future struggles. In Bialystok the inhabitants were divided into four distinct elements: Russians, Poles, Germans and Jews; each of these spoke their own language and looked on all the others as enemies. In such a town a sensitive nature feels more acutely than elsewhere the misery caused by language division and sees at every step that the diversity of languages is the first, or at least the most influential, basis for the separation of the human family into groups of enemies. I was brought up as an idealist; I was taught that all people were brothers, while outside in the street at every step I felt that there were no people, only Russians, Poles, Germans, Jews and so on. This was always a great torment to my infant mind.  Although many people may smile at such an ‘anguish for the world’ in a child, at that time I thought that ‘grown-ups’ were omnipotent.  So I often said to myself that when I grew up I would certainly destroy this evil.”

We really have to do little but sit down with a few days’ worth of news stories to understand the vision that Dr. Zamenhof had, even as a child.  The Zimmerman verdict is an obvious example.  Although in this case, those who are outraged at the outcome and those who support it mostly speak a version of English – but they are two separate and completely different languages.

Were I to sit down with those who are the most vocal and try to engage in a meaningful conversation, I know that I would have to select my words carefully.  That is not for fear of offense but in order to communicate with them.  I would have to try not to employ words that I learned past my grammar school education.

I suspect that if I had written and printed up this post in time for last week’s rallies and distributed it to those marching for “justice,” only a very small percentage would have been able to comprehend much of the vocabulary and an even smaller percentage would have understood the thrust of it.

That paragraph was not written with the intent to demean those who have been under-served by our “educational” system.  It was written to point out a harsh reality that unfortunately exists.  We have managed to “educate” several generations of an underclass that can only communicate with one another; that no intelligent business owner would hire; and that is lost in the mire of limited and garbled verbiage, unable to express their frustration other than through bursts of outrage.

“With all thy getting, get understanding.”  – Proverbs 4:7

There will never be understanding between people if we cannot comprehend what each of us is saying.  And our present policies, unfortunately, are designed to insure that we communicate by using sticks and stones rather than through a dispassionate conversation and a warm handshake.

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