Month: December 2015

If not me, then who? If not now, then when?

This blog title, extrapolated from quotes by Rabbi Hillel, (110 BCE – 10 CE) a famous Jewish religious leader, serves as the foundation of the Judeo-Christian belief in ethical reciprocity, or the “Golden Rule.” (You remember “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Or some such…) Those words challenge us today to think about the cascading atrocities erupting across the globe and remind us that individually and collectively, we have a moral, ethical, human responsibility to one another. From the comfort of our homes, with the distance of miles and oceans, it’s all too easy to leave ‘it’ to the next guy. It is all too easy to relax in our easy chairs, sip coffee or wine, shake our heads and point our fingers and not think about the millions of refugees stumbling across countries looking for somewhere safe to live.

We grumble aloud, jump on our soap boxes, shout out easy, one-dimentional solutions and over-simplify enormously complex problems, boiling them down to a simple matter of right or wrong, do or don’t. After all, it’s way easier to over-simplify huge, big problems, like crime, violence, drugs, poverty, immigration or the Middle East than it is to take the time and energy to learn about and try to grasp the complexities. It takes years of study to appreciate the centuries-long history of oppression and conflict; to understand what motivates these fights over water and land, oil and power, freedom and slavery, tyranny and justice.



Just Desserts

This year’s Republican Presidential Candidates are, to put it mildly, distasteful. As if ‘traditional’ conservative values isn’t off-putting enough, these folks have scooped up the most alienated, marginalized and narrow-minded citizens on our social continuum.

Pandering to these extremists has candidates clustering on the brink of disaster by preaching blatant racism, divisive regionalism, isolationism, and generalized war mongering. All this makes me long for the days of George H whose big campaign slogan was “watch my lips, no new taxes” or the days of George W who garbled the English language (We cannot let terrorists hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile”) and could never seem to get ‘nuclear’ right.

For the first time, in my admittedly long life, the campaign trail is crowded with people competing for the title of:  most outrageous, most offensive, most morally repugnant, most immature, most regressive, most extreme, most insulting and most uninformed. Although each candidate is unique, their collective rhetoric is stuffed with hatred disguised as religious fervor, generalized rejection of anyone who’s different and astounding illogicality. These candidates jump to conclusions, render pronouncements unsupported by rational thought, confuse feelings for facts and lack anything resembling a moral compass.



A Cup By Any Other Name

Have you heard about the coffee cup debacle? Apparently, there are some Christian devotees who are so delighted about their up and coming celebrations that they insist on having their holiday symbols plastered on every conceivable surface. Starbucks, I guess in an effort to be diverse, politically correct and avoid offending millions of non-Christian customers, decided to decorate their coffee cups this year simply with the color red. Sounds like a reasonable compromise, right? Wrong! It seems certain Christian leaders were offended because they wanted more than a plain red cup. More symbols, more decorations, more special recognition, more attention, more, more, more…

Perhaps they are so used to being the majority religion, they never stop to consider that other people have different religious practices and they may not relish Reindeer dancing across their coffee cups. It might interest them to know that there are some 4,200 religions in the world, that’s right folks not one, or five, but 4,200 and I’m sure a few little ones fell through the cracks on that last count. There are over fourteen classical world religions—those religions most often included in history of world religion surveys and studied in world religions classes are: Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism, Druidism, Wicca and some other Neo-pagan religions. Each of these religions has a different spiritual view, philosophy and flock of followers devoted to it.