The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘compassion’

DIVERSITY

It was a late fall day as I waited for the elevator in our apartment building.  Several floors below from the open stairwell,  I could hear two of the tenants having a conversation and I realized that one of them was holding the door open.  If they didn’t finish their confab quickly, I ran the risk of being late for school.  Finally, I heard the door close and the gears begin to move the old elevator – but it was headed down to the lobby.  I would have to wait for its arrival there and then its return up nine floors for me to board.  I looked at my Mickey Mouse watch with the red plastic wrist strap and realized that I would have to hustle if I were going to keep my perfect on time record intact.

When I opened the building’s front door, I could see a gentle snow was falling.   I hadn’t gone two feet when a flake landed on the left lens of my glasses.  It seemed that eyewear was a magnet for snowlakes.  This had happened before – and I learned from an earlier experience that it was better to let the flake melt rather than trying to wipe it off with my sleeve.  So I semi-ran the two blocks to school trusting my familiarity with the route to get me there despite the waterfall through which I was looking.

I opened the school door with three minutes to spare and slowed down to the acceptable pace which we were supposed to use when we were in school and calmly walked up the flight of stairs to my classroom, passing the older kids who were stowing their outerwear in the lockers which were in the hallway.  It would be two years before I would have one of those – with my very own combination lock.  I was looking forward to being in fifth grade with all the priviliges that came with that achievement.

I opened my classroom door and saw that Mrs. Bounds was writing on the chalk board.  She turned and welcomed me with her usual warm, “Good morning.”  So I went to the rear where I hung my coat in the communal locker and took my seat.  We were starting the morning with math – one of my favorite subjects.  I was ready for a busy day of learning.

We had previously learned how to count by ones all the way to one thousand.  That was a heap of counting.  And my father, seeing how much I seemed to enjoy it said, “You know, you can count to one thousand by twos and threes and fours as well.”  I decided to take him up on this tidbit of information and I managed to count myself up to one thousand by twos.  Not to anyone’s surprise but mine, this took only one half as long as doing the same exercise by ones.  So I thought I would try threes.  And when I got finished, although this took even less time than twos, I thought I had done something wrong.  I got to 999 instead of my expected one thousand.  I couldn’t wait for my father to come home so that he could show me what I did wrong.  But then instead of just deciding to speak the numbers, I thought I would write them down to see if that made a difference.  It didn’t.  But I did get an interesting lesson on fractions which gave me a head start when we started learning about them later.  And I also learned that one thousand was not the end of all numbers.  That inspired me to count to two thousand, which I started doing that night.  But I fell asleep well short of my goal.

As Mrs. Bounds took attendance and we raised our hands when our name was called, I noticed that the small flurry of snow I had encountered on my way was growing in intensity.  In fact, it was falling quite hard.

Mrs. Bounds looked out the window and commented, “You know chidren, there are no two snowflakes that have ever fallen that are exactly alike.”  This statement had as much impact on me as learning that one thousand was not the top number.  And I believed Mrs. Bounds because she was originally from Canada where it snowed all the time – or so I believed.  While I was, of course, unfamiliar with the words millions or billions, after all it was third grade, I started thinking about how many snowflakes must have fallen since snow started falling.  And although I couldn’t express that unfathomably large number with a word, my mind reeled as I thought to myself, “That’s probably more snowflakes than there are stars in the sky on a clear night.  Way more.”  I was awestruck.

After one of the  Republican presidential debates, I caught an interview with the Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  I’m not sure if she’s related to the person who invented the Wasserman test to determine if a person is syphilitic, but I’m quite certain that she missed the science class in which she would have learned that standing in a pool of water through which an electric current is flowing is likely to have devestating effects on your coiffure – perhaps even beyond the ability of the finest hair stylist to cure.  If you’ve not already guessed, I’m not a big fan of hers.

Ms. Schultz went on her usual frontal assault about one of the earlier Republican debates, striking what I’m sure to her was the most damning condemnation in her claim that there was “no diversity” among the candidates.  Diversity is a very big talking point for the left.  But I wonder if those who espouse this principle really understand it – or, more importantly, really care about it.

Long before diversity became such a big PC bell ringer, I was introduced to it when I read some literature about how thousands of species were dying off in the South Amerian rainforests every day.  And I already knew that the Dodo and the Passenger Pigeon had gone extinct.  Well, of course, so did the dinosaurs.

But do we really want diversity?

Last year there was a huge brouhaha about those parents who did not want their children to receive a measles vaccination.  Rubella is a virus, as are ebola and polio and smallpox and our now most current virus poster child, zika.  Yet, apparently, humans would be very content if all of these viruses passed into oblivion.  Do they, as part of the ecosystem as much as are elephants and puppy dogs and snail darters and humans not have as much right to exist?  Wouldn’t fighting on behalf of these and other harmful viruses be advocating for diversity?

Several millenia ago, Christianity happened upon the scene.  One of the principles of that faith is that each person is unique and special.  I don’t see how you can get more diverse than uniqueness.  And, finally, science has caught up, confirming what religion has taught for centuries.  The proof of that is, of course, the fact that we now use DNA evidence either to exculpate or convict people of criminal activity – relying on our scientific understanding that each person’s DNA is unique. Who says religion and science can’t get along?

If we proceed from that standpoint of uniqueness, why then do we not view diversity within that framework?  Any crime against any other person should, in today’s context, be considered a hate crime or, at the least a crime against diversity.  That is true irrespective of whether either party is male or female, of the same or different races, whatever their religion and irrespective of sexual orientation – or whatever moniker we concoct further to divide, partition and pigeon hole ourselves.

And while we tend to focus on the negative and express real or imagined outrage when people act disrespectfully towards one another in any of the myriad way we express that, it might be useful to consider how our world might benefit if we actually embraced diversity in its truest sense and demonstrated that in simple acts of kindness or charity or, at the very least, in expressions of common courtesy to everyone we encounter.

The latest flare up in the war for diversity stems from North Carolina’s recently passed law regulating who may use which public facilities including bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.  Opponents of the law claim this will disenfranchise those few citizens who are trans-gendered, restricting them to using those facilities designated male or female and requiring them to use those which correspond to their genital equipment rather than their inner emotional sense of identity.  Proponents claim this will protect people from those who might be sexual predators.

Not meaning to sound dismissive of those who are trans-gendered, people with that condition represent, I suspect, a very small percentage, perhaps less than one percent, of our entire population.  Is it reasonable, by any logic, to inconvenience ninety-nine percent of the population to accommodate such a small minority?  And to ask a question, which I have never heard brought up in the debate, does that small minority have a responsibility to respect the vast majority’s concerns?  Isn’t that, after all, what a democracy is about?

It’s interesting to me that with the furor over this issue, I have heard the loudest voices coming from an amorphous collection of left wing people who themselves are not trans-gendered – but nothing from those who are trans-gendered themselves.  On the one hand I suppose one might look at these righteous crusaders as just that – people pursuing a magnanimous quest on behalf of the downtrodden.  On the other hand, one might argue that they believe the trans-gendered don’t have the verve, perspicacity or capability of speaking for themselves.

It always troubles me when there are those who, under the ageis of pure philosophical conviction, take up a cause and point out the injustices in society which are many and pervasive.  They, of course, are not affected themselves by the presumed inequity as they seek to wipe from the face of the earth any malevolent regulations or behavior.  So I thought to myself, what if we were to find a solution that would accommodate every person and see how that worked?

My solution is simple.  Just allow people of either sex to use whatever restroom facilities are handiest, irrespective of gender.  I suspect that within a week or so the outrage would be so loud that this issue would soon be buried in the footnotes of the annals of history.  But that’s just my opinion.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to this coming winter and hoping to catch a glimpse of the unique miracle of the diversity we find in snowflakes.  And, I anticipate just kicking back and chilling out.

Perhaps we might all benefit from that approach to viewing life.

 

 

 

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MOTHER KNOWS BEST – SOME THOUGHTS ON THANKSGIVING

It’s so long ago that I don’t remember the exact number but I think I had ten or twelve of them.  They were jigsaw puzzles but not of the type that we find today, cut from cardboard.  The frames were made of wood, perhaps 3/8″ thick.  The pieces were individually hand painted.  Each puzzle had, perhaps, fifteen pieces.  Naturally, they were fairly easy to do.

As a challenge, my parents would empty three or four puzzles at a time, mixing up the pieces.  This proved far more entertaining to me.  I could work on these for hours at a time, swapping in different puzzles and doing the same thing, mixing together four  new puzzles.

But eventually, my interest in doing the puzzles diminished since I had done them so many times.  They were consigned to the little closet in my room.  Their main function was to take up a fair amount of the limited space on the top shelf.

Several years went by and I hadn’t even thought about playing with these puzzles when my mother came in one day and said, “Honey, I was thinking.  You haven’t played with your puzzles for a long time and they’re not doing you or anyone else any good.  Why don’t we take them down to the N. Y. Home for Foundlings and give them to the children who live there?”

I didn’t know it lived within me but as soon as she had spoken those words, I suddenly felt as though the air had been sucked out of my body and one of mankind’s greatest enemies, selfishness, rose up and spoke on my behalf.

“I don’t want to give them away, Mommy.  I’ll play with them again.”  And I walked to the closet, stood on the little step stool and reached for the top puzzle which I promptly emptied on my desk just to prove my point to her.

My mother said, “Okay, dear if that’s the way you feel.”

When she left the room I breathed a sigh of relief.  I had held on to my puzzles and no one was going to take them away from me.  So I completed the puzzle which held no interest for me and returned it to its place in the closet.

No more was said of this as we approached the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was the Saturday before the big day and my mother asked if I would come with her to do some grocery shopping.  I was happy to tag along.

So we stopped at a couple of stores and purchased a few items.  Then we went and took a detour and ended up at the orphanage to which my mother had wanted me to donate my puzzles.  It was a fairly large building, rather grey and bleak both from the outside and, as I was to learn, equally as unspiring inside as well.

When we rang the bell a matronly lady came to the door.  She wore a simple dress and a cardigan sweater and her grey hair was knotted into a large bun at the back of her head.  Her hair reminded me of the yarn with which my mother knitted to make sweaters for the family.  You could have put quite a few of those knitting needles in that bun.

But she was warm and very friendly as my mother introduced herself and we quickly were brought in from the chill and entered the building’s lobby.  Apparently, this lady had been expecting us.  I didn’t know that my mother had called and asked if I might join the children in a “play date”.

I was ushered into the orphanage’s play room where there were seven or eight children involved in a variety of activities.  Several were playing Chutes and Ladders and other board games.  But there was one little boy who was working on a jigsaw puzzle.  I asked if I could join him and he agreed.  His name was Timmy.

So Timmy and I worked together to put the puzzle together.  It was one of those less expensive puzzles with quite a few pieces but made from cardboard.  I remember that the puzzle was of a German Shepherd, standing in a field.  We had almost all of the puzzle finished with only three or four pieces to go when I noticed that there were no more pieces.  That poor German Shepherd had no nose.  So I asked Timmy where the other pieces were.  He told me that they had been lost a long time ago and that we were finished with the puzzle.  I remember feeling bad for that German Shepherd.  How could he smell his dinner?

Timmy and I started on another puzzle.  This one was a picture of a sail boat on a lake.  We had just finished the frame and were starting to work on the insides when my mother came in and told me that we had to leave.  I said goodbye to my new friend and mom and I returned home.

I didn’t sleep well that night.  The thought of that poor noseless German Shepherd kept running through my mind.  And I felt sorry for Timmy and the other kids because they had to work on puzzles with missing pieces.  I remember running into my parents’ room and waking my mother with the urgent news that I had decided to give my puzzles to the kids at the orphanage.  Despite being awakened out of a deep sleep, I remember seeing a few tears well up in my mother’s eyes and she smiled with approval.  “We’ll talk about it in the morning, dear.”

After we returned from church, Grandma prepared a light lunch.  It was just enough to keep our stomachs from growling but not so much as to spoil the large Sunday dinner that she always made.  And when we had finished, mom asked if I would like to help her pack up the puzzles as dad was going to have to drive us over to the orphanage as they were too heavy to carry.

I got on the step stool and started handing them down to her.  She had gotten two cardboard boxes to put them in.  I remember looking at them somewhat wistfully, knowing that I would never see these old friends again.  Maybe I had made the wrong decision in giving them away.  But then I thought of Timmy and the other kids and the German Shepherd who had no nose and those thoughts vanished from  my thinking.

Dad picked up the two boxes and we headed toward the elevator.  When we got to the ground floor he put them on the floor and went to get the car which was parked several blocks away as mom and I guarded this bit of treasure.  When he returned, he left the car running, grabbed the boxes and the three of us headed to the orphanage.

We were lucky to find a space right outside the building.  Dad turned off the car’s engine, grabbed the two boxes and the three of us walked to the entrance.  I remember ringing the bell.

The same nice lady whom I had met the day before, greeted us and invited us inside.  She quickly led us to the game room and dad found a desk on which to place the two cartons of puzzles.  Timmy and several of the other kids who I saw the previous day were there.

“Timmy, I brought you some new puzzles.”

Timmy came over and eagerly started looking through the first box.  He reached in and pulled out one of them.  It was a silly puzzle, a duck riding a bicycle.

“Wow, these are neat!  And I’ll bet we won’t lose these pieces, they’re so big and heavy.”

It gave me a warm feeling to see the joy in his face.  And I was sure that would be shared by many of the other kids as they played with what once had been my very own jigsaw puzzles.

Despite the turmoil in which we find our world today, there is still reason to be grateful at Thanksgiving.  It goes beyond a day filled with football and a meal replete with over eating.  It comes down to something far simpler and yet far more profound.

We are fortunate that despite the tumult which wells around us, there are still people who are willing to show charity to strangers for no reason other than it gives them a warm feeling inside.  And if we ever lose that, we are much like that jigsaw puzzle that is missing a piece or two, the pieces that comprise the finest part of the human spirit.

Have a joyous Thanksgiving.

BUNNIES, BUSINESS AND BABIES

My first experience as an “animal rights activist,” although there was no such term at the time, came several weeks into my sophomore year in high school.  It was biology class and Mr. Donovan told us that the following week we were going to do a frog dissection.  I remember hearing that announcement and feeling that I was going to vomit.  The thought of dissecting a frog or anything else did not sit well with me.

I had spent many summers in Shandaken, NY with my grandmother.  Most of that time was consumed by playing in the Esopus River.  And a fair amount of that time was trying to catch bull frogs who were more elusive than I would have thought and watching their tadpole offspring swim near the shore.  Although I caught any number of frogs I never brought them back to our cabin.  After all, to my way of thinking, they had their tadpole kids to take care of.

After Mr. Donovan dropped this bomb in class, I debated what to do.  I knew that what I was not going to do was the dissection.  But before I did anything, I wanted to discuss this matter with my folks.  That was the subject of that evening’s dinner.  My parents advised me to speak with Mr. Donovan and explain my feelings, which I did.

Mr. Donovan was an MIT grad and a wonderful teacher.  He was an extremely heavyset man who was able to perspire on the coldest winter day but that never impeded his sense of humor or his attitude that making his subject “fun” would enable his students to become more interested in it.  And he was kind enough to listen to me and to excuse me from this exercise with the proviso that he would assign me as a “lab partner” to one of the other students and I would have to observe their dissection.  That seemed a reasonable compromise and I accepted his offer with gratitude.

When I finished college, one day an envelope was in my mailbox from an organization called, NAVS – the National Anti-Vivisection Society.  I read with a mixture of interest and horror about the experiments that were routinely conducted on laboratory animals.  Typically mice, rats and rabbits were the subjects of a variety of experiments, all of which were justified in the name of science and improving the lives of humans by developing new drugs which could combat human disease.  After reading the NAVS letter, I decided to become a Life Member but had to set the letter aside long enough for me to save up the hundred dollars to join at that level.

One of the tests which was routinely used was known as the LD-50.  “LD” stood for Lethal Dose – and the 50 referred to the concentration of a specific drug which, when administered to the animal subjects, resulted in only fifty percent of the subjects dying from the dosage.  That impressed me as barbarism at its fundamental level – irrespective of the purported good which these experiments were supposedly going to bring to humanity.

Other tests, primarily conducted on rabbits, involved putting drops in their eyes which typically would cause blindness.  There was no greater reason for the administration of these drugs than the development of cosmetics.  Somehow, blinding hundreds of thousands of bunnies so that we could develop new eye liners or blush was construed by those in the vanity business of cosmetics as sufficient justification for these acts of torture.  Thinking about this made me nauseous.

One of the basic premises of animal experimentation by researchers is that there is a trans-special relevance to the results that are obtained.  In other words, if there is “X” effect in rabbits there will be “X” effect in humans.  One of the drugs that was deemed safe was Thalidomide – manufactured by a West German pharmaceutical company.  It was extensively tested on rabbits and since it was virtually impossible to obtain the LD-50 level, it was deemed safe for humans.  Typically, it was prescribed for pregnant women to reduce the effects of morning sickness and as a mild sedative.

Thalidomide has since been described as “the worst disaster in pharmaceutical research.”  More than 10,000 children worldwide were born with serious birth defects including missing limbs as a result of their mothers’ taking this “safe” drug.  That was back in the late ‘50’s and early 60’s.  Subsequently, the FDA pulled its approval of the drug for use by pregnant women.

Thanks to high schools and medical schools there is a market for animal specimens.  For a mere $140 you can buy a preserved dog from Carolina Biological Supply Company (shipping included).  Presumably this will benefit those who go into veterinary medicine.  Notwithstanding, the photo below from the company’s list of products is disturbing to me.  In fact it makes my high school experience with frog dissection pale in comparison.

 

That there is a huge market for animal subjects for research is an undeniable fact.  And with the recent exposure of two separate Planned Parenthood’s doctors discussing how much it would cost for human fetal organs – well, should we be surprised?  But what should amaze is that when Hollywooders like Brad Pitt come out opposing the horrible conditions under which factory farm laying hens are kept they haven’t said a peep about PPF’s sale of human tissue.  And the silence is similarly deafening by those on the left who have no use whatever for business executives who make beaucoup bucks, hundreds or thousands of times the amount that the average Jane makes working for the same operation.

Enter Cecile Richards, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood.  Up until a few days ago you might not have heard of her.  But she has made the news by responding to the two videos of the undercover interviews with two of her staff doctors.  In essence, Ms. Richards claimed in response to the first video, that the fees for human body parts which Dr. Deborah Nucatola was discussing were merely “reimbursements” for the cost of shipping those specimens.  The second video suggests that narrative may lack some credibility.

What has yet to be brought up is that Ms. Richards received compensation for Planned Parenthood’s fiscal year ending June, 2013 in the amount of $523,616 according to IRS Form 990 which this “Not For Profit” organization filed.  So much for the glass ceiling to which American women are subjected.  And the year before, Ms. Richards earned $583,323.  Why the pay reduction?  That’s because Ms. Richards took time off from her duties at PP to campaign for President Obama’s re-election.

During the latter fiscal year, Planned Parenthood performed 333,369 reported abortions as part of their service to their female clients.  That represents nearly thirty percent  of all abortions performed in the United States.  Or to put it another way, each abortion performed by Planned Parenthood resulted in $1.57 per head (yes, I used that term purposely) in the way of compensation to Ms. Richards.

When I was a kid I often heard that if you were to take a fully grown human and reduce that person’s body to the base elements and chemicals of which it was composed, the value of those would amount to $.98.  So I guess that if you take an unborn 18 or 20 week old baby and slice and dice it up for a couple of hundred dollars – well I guess we’ll just attribute that to inflation – and lack of conscience.

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.

THE ATHEIST CASE FOR NIXMAS

Have you ever noticed that in the season prior to Christmas, people seem to be just a little bit nicer to each other than usual?  It’s something I’ve observed year after year – and I wistfully hope that the spirit of the season would continue throughout the entire year.  Sadly, it seems to evaporate as soon as the party noisemakers are blown and the last glass of champagne is consumed.

On a fundamental level, the story of Jesus’ birth should stir at least a twinge of emotion in all of us, whether or not you believe that He was born as Savior to redeem mankind from the sins with which we bind ourselves.  After all, here is a humble family who find refuge for the Nativity in a barn, surrounded by farm animals.  Nothing fancy, nothing splashy, nothing that would portend any great events yet to come.  Perhaps that, if nothing more, is the reason that many of us take the time to reflect on the beauty and mystery that is life – and causes us to be a little more generous, a bit more compassionate and just a smidgen more caring for our fellow men – at least for a few weeks.

Then, of course, those of us who are fortunate enough to have a roof over our head can enjoy the camaraderie of sharing meals with family and friends.  The smells of the season, whether those come from the cookies baking in the oven or the incense of the Midnight Vigil and celebration of the Liturgy of the Nativity, appeal to our sense of smell and the decorations and light displays excite our vision.  At least that is the case for some of us.

Then there are those who profess atheism as their religion of choice, while denying that they have any religious convictions.  Not to engage in a debate on the subject which might embroil us in little more than a semantic conversation, let’s stipulate that an atheist, at least in America, is entitled to hold and express her convictions just as are Jews, Muslims, Baha’i’s, Buddhists, Christians or anyone of any other religious conviction.  If an atheist wants her position to be respected, it seems natural that they would respect the positions of others whose views might differ from their own.  But that doesn’t seem to be the case, as the following billboards demonstrate:

 

 

 

American atheists generally direct their anti-religious message towards those of the their fellow citizens who are Christians, reserving their antipathy to members of other faiths with generalized derision in the belief in any God.  So why do those who believe that Jesus is Lord deserve their special attention?  This has puzzled me for many years so I thought that I would do a little research into the subject.

Samaritans Purse is a name with which you might have recently become familiar because of the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  They have sent and paid for the cost of providing medical practitioners to the area to help those who were ravaged by the disease – all because of the contributions they received from those who support their work.  Perhaps our atheist friends believe that they have simply not done enough.

We are all familiar with the bell ringer volunteers that the Salvation Army puts in front of our stores during the Christmas season.  During the Great Depression, the Salvation Army was the only charitable organization that freely gave out food to those in need.  In 2013, the Salvation Army provided assistance to 30 million Americans with services that ranged from providing food to individuals and families in need, veterans services, half-way houses, prison ministries and services to the elderly and shut ins.  Although my atheist friends must think I’m crazy, I never hesitate to drop a few dollars in those red kettles every time I pass by one.

I grew up with “Make Room For Daddy” and adored Danny Thomas who founded St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  Thomas loved kids and showed this by establishing this incredible hospital which is totally dependent on donations for its continued works as it does not charge any family for any of the services it provides to the children who come there to be treated for their complex and costly medical conditions.  Although Danny Thomas was a Maronite Catholic, St. Jude does not restrict its practice of free treatment to Catholic children in need but accepts all children as patients irrespective or religion or race.

Catholic Charities is probably the largest and best funded of all Christian charitable services.  It provides assistance by operating shelters for the homeless and abused women, services to immigrants including teaching English, nutrition through the Meals on Wheels program, companion programs for the elderly, just to name some of their activities.  Catholic Charities provides assistance to over 40 million Americans per year.

Despite these obvious good works, the atheists in American society continue their campaign to turn Christmas into Nixmas and spend their money putting up billboards and filing lawsuits, demanding that symbols of Christianity be removed from public display.  Personally, I think the money could be better spent – but that’s just one person’s opinion.

As I try to keep an open mind, should any of my readers who holds an atheist view of life be kind enough to provide me with the name of an atheist organization that actually spends its donations helping children, providing housing for the homeless, feeds the hungry or offers free medical treatment for those in need, I will be happy to make a contribution to their good work.  But irrespective of whether I hear from anyone with that information, let me take a moment to wish all readers, religious or otherwise, a Merry and Blessed Christmas, and a heart filled with charity.

COLOR BLIND

Chan’s Chinese Laundry & Dry Cleaning was a small store, about a ten minute walk from my apartment.  The proprietor, a lady who was in her mid-fifties when I first began bringing my clothes there was a Taiwanese woman who spoke very little, broken English. Her name was Chan Mei.  I used her services for a very long time.

When I say a long time it was over a period where I saw her son Peter grow from a toddler, playing in his play pen in the store; watch him grow old enough that he would help out with the ironing; graduate from the University of Illinois with a degree in electrical engineering; get married and have his first child, a daughter whom he named Doris.

After Doris was born I asked Peter how he had decided on her name, thinking this was perhaps a close approximation of a Chinese name.  He answered me, “She has no Chinese name.  We’re Americans, so she has an American name.  Besides, I like Doris Day and her movies.  She seems very nice and very happy.  I want my daughter to be very nice and very happy.”

Every Saturday between noon and twelve fifteen I would show up at Chan’s, armed with a bundle of soiled clothes and some wire hangers which I was returning so they could be reused and would pick up my clothes that had been expertly cleaned.  It got to the point when Mei was so used to my schedule that she always had my clothing up front shortly before noon so that I didn’t have to wait for her to find them among all the hanging clothes that were ready and waiting for pick up.

When my mother passed away, I left Chicago and spent four weeks in New York, dealing with all the things one has to do after a family death.  Needless to say, my last load of clothing languished in Chan’s until I returned to the Windy City.

When I came in that next Saturday, Mei sighed as though in relief and said, “I worry about you, Missee Juwanna.  I thinkee maybe something happen you – no see for long time.”  I explained what had occurred and the reason for my absence.  A look of great concern and sadness came over Mei’s face.

“You fatha die and now you motha die.  You orphan now.”

With that statement, Mei raised the wooden hinged board in the front counter that allowed access to the back of the store, came over to me and gave me a big hug.  “I be you motha now,” she said as the tears welled up in both our eyes.

After a few minutes in this embrace, Mei released me and before giving me my clothes which I could see waiting in their usual place, she said, “You waitee here.”  She went in the back of the store and I could hear oil sizzling in a wok.  About ten minutes later she came to the front of the store with a little plastic lined white Chinese food takeout box and presented me with my lunch.

I thought that was extremely sweet but was completely taken by surprise when the following Saturday I was again presented with a take out container.  That continued  every Saturday for the next twenty years.  This loving woman had voluntarily taken on this responsibility and never failed to deliver on her commitment.  When she finally returned to Taiwan at the age of 78 to take care of an older brother who’s wife had passed away, I could tell that Mei was concerned that I would be able to carry on without her.  But I assured her that I would be okay – and she hesitantly seemed to believe me.

About five years after Mei began making my Saturday meals, I walked in as usual and could see that she was very upset.  I asked her why she was so distraught.  She said, “Man come in and wavee gun at me – steal money.”  I was so angered that someone had stolen the little amount of money this woman had and who worked so hard to earn it, I was determined to do whatever I could to see that he was apprehended.

I asked Mei, “Was he tall or short; fat or thin; black or white?”  If I happened to see him while doing my Saturday shopping, I wanted to be able to flag down one of the police cars that regularly cruised the neighborhood.

Mei looked at me and said, “Missee Juwanna.  All you black and white people lookee same to me.”  I had to bite my cheek to prevent an involuntary smile from spreading across my face.  I did not want her to mistake my genuine amusement at her statement to be mis-interpreted for minimizing the seriousness of what had happened.

I thought about Mei and Chan’s Chinese Laundry & Dry Cleaning the other day because of what has been happening in Ferguson, MO.  I wondered to myself whether Ferguson had a Chinese laundry there.  And I asked myself, “If they did have a Chinese laundry in Ferguson, after all the protests, looting and rioting, is it still standing?”

WHILE OBAMA DAWDLES

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IMAGES ARE GRAPHIC

No reasonable person wants war. The ISIS extremists in Iraq, Syria and who knows wherever else are not reasonable. Their credo is to make war and exterminate anyone who does not subscribe to their beliefs.

When Obama came into office, the situation in Iraq was, at least, stable. His policy of trying to end the war, while admirable, has resulted in the holocausts that are happening today in that ancient land. This is a Commander in Chief who could screw up a one horse parade.

Several days ago was the fortieth anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation. While he had not committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” he had certainly overstepped the bounds of legality. He did the right thing. He resigned. The events that brought about RMN’s decision to step down from the highest office in the country were related not to public policy but to creating a mystique and ensuring that his “legacy” would be remembered. It has been.

The pictures below are real examples of brutality and sub-human behavior. If, with the limited air strikes and marginal amounts of “humanitarian aid” that have been forthcoming at the CIC’s direction, I hear one person talk about “income inequality,” a “war on women” or anything equally trivial during the next few months of the campaign, I’m fairly certain that I will retch. Those issues may be minor inconveniences. What is happening to minorities in Iraq is a tragedy.

Nixon did the right thing and resigned. Frankly, his offenses were minimal compared to the affronts to which Obama has subjected the Constitution, the nation and all Americans. Not only has he bankrupted the country financially, he has even more importantly eviscerated the moral ethos on which the country is based and abandoned our allies to fill an un-fillable vacuum which has resulted in the ISIS perversion to gain a strong foothold.

 

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A Syrian man beheaded in a brutal execution by ISIS

 

ISISgroupbeheading

A group execution by ISIS in Iraq

 

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A young girl executed by ISIS in Iraq

 

Mr. President.  I hope you enjoy your vacation.  I hear Martha’s Vineyard is very lovely this time of year.

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