Leading Ethically Only is an educational outreach of Leadership Ethics Online (LEO). Essays range widely--from ethical analysis of the news, to ethical challenges to leaders in society, to personal reflections of an ethical nature. We welcome your thoughts and criticisms to make us better.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On Personal Responsibility: A CREED



John D. Willis

I am responsible for myself, to myself.

I am the only person holding the power to control me today.
No one else has that power.
I am responsible for controlling me today.
No one else is responsible.
I take all responsibility for my self-control, its effects on me and others, today.
No one else gets the praise or blame but me.

I am responsible for my thoughts.

I am the only person holding the power to control my thoughts today
No other person owns my thought process but me.
I am responsible to controlling my thoughts today.
No one starts or stops my thoughts but me.
I take all responsibility for my thoughts, their effects on me and others, today.
No one can make me healthy-minded but me.

I am responsible for my emotions.

I am the only person holding the power to control my emotions.
No person expresses or withholds my emotions but me.
I am responsible for controlling my emotions today.
No one affecting my emotions can control my emotions but me.
I take responsibility for my emotions, their effects on me and others, today.
No one can make my emotions work well except me.

I am responsible for my words.

I am the only person holding the power to control my mouth.
No other person opens my mouth or moves my lips but me.
I am responsible for controlling my tongue today.
No one holds back good words, or issues bad words but me.
I take responsibility for my words, their effects on others and me, today.
No one has my words today except me. 

I am responsible for my actions.

I am the only person holding the power to control my actions.
No other person makes me do anything but me. 
I am responsible for controlling my actions today.
No one prevents my good deeds, or does bad deeds but me.
I take all responsibility for my actions, their effects on others and me, today.
 No one else can do the good I can today but me.
I am responsible for me, all I am, and all I do.

I am alive today!
Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is uncertain.
I have a God-given purpose.
I am alive to think, say, and do all that pleases my Maker.
I have a brain and unique talents and skills.
I am the only person like me alive, so do my best.
I will see people today only I will see.
I am in their lives for good, never harm.
I will see opportunities no one else sees.
I must use them for good, never evil.
 I will remember my Maker today.
I need God's help for all these things.


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Albert Pike on Serving Ourselves, or Serving Others

I was reading a site that discussed collisions of bodies within the vacuum of space, and one of the authors had an interesting quote under his signature line. This quote's significance, and reflections on its author and his organization's positive moral effects, have generated this essay.
What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us.  What we have
done for others and the world remains and is immortal. Albert Pike
This quote stimulated considerable thought in me. I immediately thought of one of America's greatest charities, The Shriners Hospitals.  Readers unfamiliar with this network of health care institutions dedicated to the healing of children should go to the previous link. They also should visit the website of Shriners International, and an in-depth look at the organization available in .pdf, The Shriners Primer.

Now I will have more to say on Pike's quote, the Shriners Hospitals, and how these connect with today's challenges in America.  Before proceeding to these main points, I provide some background on why the quotation and Pike's name generated this essay.

Albert Pike, My Father, and Me

Pike was responsible for promoting and growing the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry into the global fraternity it is today.  My father, William Henry Willis, became a Scottish Rite Mason when he was in the Army, stationed at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  He attained the 32nd Degree and is a member in good standing today.  As a boy growing up in my home, I remember seeing Lodge publications arrive in the mail and my Dad reading them. I used to pick these up and read the articles. I once found a copy of Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma, a large and bulky tome, kept clean and safe in his dresser drawer when I was snooping around in my parents' bedroom, as children sometimes do.

Years later, I was a minister and ran across books and pamphlets written against Masonry and Pike in particular.  My curiosity was aroused because my Dad was a Mason.  His morality was impeccable.  His imprint on my moral and ethical formation was indelible.  So I found a copy of Pike's Morals and Dogma in a used bookstore and read for myself a man who shaped part of my father's values and character.  I still have that book.

Pike's Morals and Dogma intrigued me when I read it, or much of it.  I already had earned my PhD and was surprised by his intellectual complexity, his synthesis of Masonry, moral philosophy, and many structural elements drawn from the Bible and Christianity.  My reactions to what I read varied, between genuine admiration and inspiration, to wry detachment and bemusement.  He was a bold man, not prone to overweening care in his generalizations, which sometimes reflected his limitations in learning and his place in time, the nineteenth century.

As I read Pike, I began to understand my father from a different point of view.  My father had, without ever really saying much about it, embodied the best in Masonic values and practices in how he lived his life as a husband and father, worker and neighbor.  Things he had taught to my two brothers and me, requirements for being a good and moral person, principles he demanded we follow or be disciplined for disobeying, were Masonic rules.  Albert Pike had helped shape my father into the man I loved and love today.  In fact, I saw how my father's adherence to the best in Masonry had been infused into his own sons.

Honesty and integrity are values built into my nature, though I am human and have lapsed sometimes from embodying both as I should.  But when I read Pike, I realized that some of the Christians who had written lock, stock and barrel against Masonry, misrepresented some of it.  And I had experienced the best of it, mediated through my Dad.

A Quote From Morals and Dogma

In preparing for this essay, I found an online copy of Pike's book, and re-read parts of it.  Because my company, Leadership Ethics Online, teaches the value of ethics and leadership, I find it valuable and necessary to provide an illustrative quote from Morals and Dogma.
Masonry has its decalogue, which is a law to its Initiates. These are its Ten Commandments:

I. God is the Eternal, Omnipotent, Immutable WISDOM and Supreme INTELLIGENCE and Exhaustless Love.  Thou shalt adore, revere, and love Him!  Thou shalt honor Him by practicing the virtues!

II. Thy religion shall be, to do good because it is a pleasure to thee, and not merely because it is a duty.  That thou mayest become the friend of the wise man, thou shalt obey his precepts!  Thy soul is immortal ! Thou shalt do nothing to degrade it !

III. Thou shalt unceasingly war against vice!  Thou shalt not do unto others that which thou wouldst not wish them to do unto thee!  Thou shalt be submissive to thy fortunes, and keep burning the light of wisdom!

IV. Thou shalt honour thy parents!  Thou shalt pay respect and homage to the aged!  Thou shalt instruct the young!  Thou shalt protect and defend infancy and innocence!

V. Thou shalt cherish thy wife and thy children!  Thou shalt love thy country, and obey its laws!

VI. Thy friend shall be to thee a second self!  Misfortune shall not estrange thee from him!  Thou shalt do for his memory whatever thou wouldst do for him, if he were living!

VII. Thou shalt avoid and flee from insincere friendships!  Thou shalt in everything refrain from excess.  Thou shalt fear to be the cause of a stain on thy memory! 

VIII. Thou shalt allow no passions to become thy master!  Thou shalt make the passions of others profitable lessons to thyself!  Thou shalt be indulgent to error!

IX. Thou shalt hear much: Thou shalt speak little: Thou shalt act well!  Thou shalt forget injuries!  Thou shalt render good for evil!  Thou shalt not misuse either thy strength or thy superiority !

X. Thou shalt study to know men; that thereby thou mayest learn to know thyself!  Thou shalt ever seek after virtue!  Thou shalt be just!  Thou shalt avoid idleness!

But the great commandment of Masonry is this: "A new commandment give I unto you: that ye love one another! He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, remaineth still in the darkness."
Pike's closing "great commandment of Masonry," for anyone familiar with the New Testament, was a direct quote combining Jesus' words in the Gospel of John 13:34a, and those of the author of I John 2:9.

Pike's commandments speak for themselves: love for God; love for doing good in and of itself; war against vice and use of the Golden Rule; love for parents and the young; love for wife and family and country; love for friends and honor; aversion to "passions" or being driven by emotions, more listening and less talking but always doing well; and, studying human nature for the cultivation of virtue, justice, and a fruitful life of work.

Were I analyzing Pike's words for their origins, many references would come from the Bible.  At any rate, I have thought for a long time ago that Masonry's emphasis on taking personal responsibility for shaping and honing one's intellectual, moral, emotional, family, and social life--using the tools revealed by the Great Architect--was and is a good thing.

On Christianity's Opponents of Masonry

I was a Christian minister for a long time. I have seen many believers say they love God, yet harm themselves, their families, their workplaces, and society. I am a scholar and expert on two thousand years of Christians showing arrogance, hate, and abuse to those within and without their circle of faith.  Many do what St. Paul commanded must not be done.  They sin boldly because they are so sure of grace and forgiveness.  Read the Book of Romans, chapter 6, verses 1-2.

Such are the perky sinners who emblazon their bumpers with, "I'm not perfect! I'm just forgiven!" The world has enough of consciences dulled by delusions.  And people who glibly harm others, then expect easy forgiveness from God, have not read or at least learned much from Jesus.

Therefore, Christian critics who dismiss Masonry en masse show me two things. (1) They either are ignorant, or unjust. (2) In dismissing Masonry, they dismiss all its obvious and clear dependencies on Jesus' teachings and, to that extent, they discard Jesus' positive impacts within Masonry.

As with other haters, I could pray the worst of these critics first served notice on their fellow members' hypocrisies. But such a prayer would be wasted. They are so like the same Pharisees who trusted their own status before God was sound and implacable. Their idea of religion is to attack and tear down others, as if this elevates their own defective faith. What they cannot emulate or exceed threatens them, since it holds up a mirror to higher standards.

Reflecting on Albert Pike's Couplet

Let us return now to Albert Pike's famous couplet. "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal." You may discard everything else Pike ever did or said, if you would be unfair.  Yet his twenty-three words have provided generations of Masons with two motives:  (1) to limit and sacrifice self-interest and (2) to invest money, time, work, and talent "for others and the world."

These two independent clauses reveal and suggest much.  Perhaps a few paraphrases help.  Live for yourself and die alone...Invest in people, not things.  Jesus taught it is "more blessed to given than receive" (Acts 20:35).  Pike knew cause-and-effect.  One person doing good to another had effects creative, unpredictable, but all good.

More than eighty-one years after Pike, Edward Lorenz would write in 1972 of the "Butterfly Effect".  He showed how infinitesimally small events had unpredictable and even great effects, because of the interrelationships between things.  Pike did not need a mathematical model for his doctrine.  It was self-evident.

All human life is on a continuum, one generation giving birth to another.  In every generation are men and women, boys and girls, capable of (1) consuming and taking or (2) producing and giving.  The former harm themselves, ruin others, and start wars.  The latter help themselves become the best persons in mind, body, emotions, and morality they can--which leads to a life of giving to those around them, and for the next generation.

I know I love Pike's little couplet for its simple elegance and truth.  When you add to it his "Second Great Commandment of Masonry"--do good to others for pleasure, not duty--this is a powerful doctrine.  Many do good to others out of self-interests...recognition, reward, benefits, avoidance of punishment.  Yet I love that Pike commanded his fellow Masons to learn how to do good to others for its own sake, its pleasure in the doing of it.

That requires a purity of intention, an advancement in moral understanding, few today achieve.  To want to do good for others because your inner being has been cleared of its junk, because you have become so healthy all you can do to feel "normal and happy" is to love, now THAT is a fantastic way to be and live!  Pike taught that in this couplet, and in all of his "Ten Commandments" noted above.

Pike's Couplet Fulfilled:
Shriners Hospitals for Children

First, let us get something straight from the beginning.  Masons always have been involved in charitable work.  In my state alone, Masonic Homes of Kentucky has provided senior care since 1867.  So what I am about to say about the Shriners--who all must be Master Masons as a precondition for membership--must be placed within the context of Masonic charities as a whole.

For many Americans, their only image of a Shriner is an overweight old man wearing a fez topped with a tassel, an Americanized version of an Arabian outfit, and riding figure eights on either a very large Harley, or a miraculously teeny-tiny motorcycle, in a parade.  As for Shriners at convention, well, just like some religious conventions with thousands of preachers and priests, there always are a few who support the local trades, ending up arrested with their names in the papers.

For a better more truthful understanding, one is advised to go and see one of the fine hospitals for children created and sustained by Shriners. The Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of 22 medical centers around the United States, all dedicated to healing children.  I summarize below information drawn from The Shriners Primer, pages 14-15, which readers can download at that link.
  • 19 hospitals offer juvenile orthopedic care--spinal injuries, joints and muscle conditions, brittle bone disease, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy
  • 4 hospitals offer juvenile burn injuries care--acute, fresh burns; reconstructive and restorative surgeries for kids with healed burns; treatment for those with limited mobility due to scarring; and, help for kids with severe facial scarring and deformities caused by burns
  • 3 hospitals offer specialized spinal cord injuries care--long-term rehabilitation, intensive physical, occupational, and recreational therapies
  • In 2005, a cleft lip and palate program was initiated--lip and palate repair, nasal reconstruction, facial work and dental procedures, and audiological, speech, and psychological services
Jesus' disciples once shooed away the children, but the Master presented a child to them and said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven."  Generations ago in America, the Master Masons-Become-Also-Shriners decided to select suffering children for benevolence.  Now look at their legacy.

Hundreds of thousands of children have been healed.  I wish I had the exact numbers.  Millions of those children's immediate and extended families have been touched forever by what was done for their children.  I wish I had the numbers.  Tens and hundreds of millions more who knew those families--neighbors, coworkers, communities, and all organizations to which they belonged--have been touched forever by the healing and compassionate work of The Shriners Hospitals for Children.  There is no calculating those numbers.

Pike declared deeds done for others and the world would remain, and were immortal.  His Second Commandment required that good be done to others for pleasure, not duty.  Based on the achievements of the Master Masons-Become-Shriners, Pike surely taught the truth.

No one could sacrifice so much, give so much, work so hard, as the greatest Shriners have, unless they were driven by the desire to invest in little precious, damaged people.  The children were not captains of industry, who could reciprocate with a juicy deal.  The children were not political power brokers, who could open doors for billions in profits.  No.  Each little patient always has been and always will be, Every Mother's Child, Every Father's Child.

Personal Experience With Shriners' Compassion:
Two Events

Around 1985, I served as minister to the Orchard Street Christian Church on the South Side of Chicago.  On Halloween night, one of my young members, Kenny Bereta, was playing in some leaves piled alongside a residential street.  A teenage driver thought it would be funny to drive through the leaves.  Kenny's neck was broken in several places, with the spinal cord swelling and hurt.

His parents were uninsured.  Only one had a job.  On the way back from the ER, around 2 a.m., Kenny's mother looked at me and cried, "WHAT are we going to DO?"  I told her I didn't know, but the Lord knew, and I knew I was going to do something.  I wasn't the only one.

Kenny first was taken from one hospital to another, as bills mounted.  I raised $17,000 from the community, around $50K in today's money, so the family could have travel money, food, and pay their utilities.  Then one of my closest friends, the late James B. Wollesen, saw that Kenny was admitted to the Shriner Children's Hospital out on the West Side.  Jim was a 32-second Degree York Rite Mason, and a leader in the Eastern Star.

Kenny got the best surgeries, therapies, and care.  His parents were treated like royals.  And Jim and I got the pleasure of watching progress and healing.  About a year later, Kenny gingerly was helped back to the church, and we all applauded the great blessing.

During the past year, my 3-year old granddaughter was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a highly fatal tumor in her adrenal glands.  She was taken to Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville--where stands out on the sidewalk stands a Giant Shriner with a Little Child.  Isabella had surgery, is alive and spunky now, seems in remission, and we thank her physicians and the Lord for every healthy report.

Pike's Couplet and Our Era:
Americans Divided Today

Using Pike's two lines, then adding to them his "Ten Commandments of Masonry," we have seen small snapshots of how Masonic doctrine is ethical and moral.  We have seen too how that Masonic doctrine has been embodied in the wonderful work of the Shriners Hospitals for Children, as well as a 150 year old tradition in senior care.

Today, the United States of America has been split nearly down the middle along the lines of Pike's Couplet.

There are many among us who want to get all they can, while they can, from as many as they can.  These are our fellow Americans who are harming the rest of us.  Though their selfish living will only end when they are interred in the grave, the harms they are doing will live after them.  This is another, negative type of "immortality" not addressed by Pike.

Then there are many among us who believe, like Pike, that doing good for others and the world is an investment in life, people, and the future.  These are our fellow Americans who are sacrificing by working multiple jobs, volunteering at church and school and, yes, raising money for causes like the Shriners Hospitals for Children, or Kentucky's own WHAS Crusade for Children.  And I know many grandparents now who are spending out their savings, to save their children and grandchildren.

Thinking about Pike and his moral duties will lead to the next blog, a creed on Personal Responsibility. Hope you like it, and will pass it along. JDW

Monday, June 28, 2010

We Are Our Brother's and Sister's Keepers: Genesis 4:1-12

Cain Killed His Brother, Then Denied Responsibility

Read the text above.  Cain killed his brother, Abel, from jealous wrath.  God asked Cain, "Where is your brother?"  Cain lied, then asked, "Am I my brother's shamar?," which in Hebrew means keeper, observer, and preserver.  Cain disavowed he had any responsibility to watch out for his brother's protection, welfare, or preservation.  The question put to Cain was not because God did not know where Abel was.  The evidence of the murder already was known.  God told the fratricide, "What have you done?  Your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground."

The question was asked to see if Cain would take responsibility for what he had done.  He knew what he had done.  He feigned ignorance.  He answered he had no binding obligation to his brother.  Cain's punishment was two-fold.  (1) His labor was cursed.  His work no longer would provide food.  (2) He was forced to spend the rest of his life as a wanderer on the earth.  Having harmed his own family, Cain would find no permanence, only instability, for the rest of his days.

Are There Cains Among Us in America?

While no Americans intentionally murder their fellow citizens (though sending them to war on false pretenses wills them no good), the tradition of Cain is alive and well among us.

We have some citizens who intentionally have deprived millions of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  Like Cain, some taken away the means to live:  jobs, homes, savings, retirements.  They did this, like Cain, from focusing on themselves and what they wanted, rather than what was good for those they destroyed.  And their destruction has led to death for some.  From desperation, some of their victims have slain their own families then committed suicide.  Others have committed crimes to feed their families, and still more consider that option.

The heirs of Cain answer for their harms to their fellow Americans as he did, "Am I caretaker and overseer for their welfare?"  We have some wealthy citizens who truly believe they have no moral obligation towards any but themselves.  If questioned concerning their conduct, the only duty they allege they have is to keep their conduct within bounds so it is legal, and they are not subject to prosecution.  And because they have many kinds of attorneys, with wealth to pay them, the likelihood of ever being punished is very low.

Chief Justice Earl Warren:  No Cain

I recently came across an old biography on Earl Warren.  I have just started and probably will have more to say about what I learn there.  However, one thing I have learned about him applies to this essay.  Warren's father was a first-generation immigrant:  hardworking, thrifty, honest, and dedicated to his family.  He worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, which controlled California's politicians for years.

During the depression that followed the stock market crash of 1893, three million railroad workers were unemployed.  The Pullman Company in Chicago slashed workers' pay by 25%, leaving men $1 to feed their families for two weeks, after pay deductions to live in company-owned homes.  In May, 1894, 250,000 members of the American Railway Union (ARU) walked off the job to protest the firing of three members of a grievance committee.  Chicago was a railway hub and that strike shut down rail traffic.  The U.S. Attorney General said workers had taken the nation to the "ragged edge of anarchy."

The rail strike spread to California and Warren's father and 3,000 other workers for the Union Pacific and Sante Fe struck sometime around June.  Newspapers called their strike the "Debs Rebellion." Eugene Debs founded the ARU (and the International Labor Union) and was a socialist dedicated to fairer treatment of labor.  On July 3, federal troops of the First Regiment were called out to reopen the railroads in Los Angeles.  The railroad strike of 1894 eventually was broken, and all the strikers lost their jobs and were blacklisted.

Chief Justice Earl Warren's father and family had experienced what a powerful corporate oligarchy like the Union Pacific Railroad could do to workers.  Later in life, he saw how power and wealth often controlled the law and used it to harm the welfare of average people trying to survive.  Warren himself was an average law student, but he had a social conscience.

When he eventually sat on the Supreme Court, his biographer wrote he used a simple question to guide him in seeking good legal judgments for all Americans:  Is it fair?  The results were profound for American history.  The phrases, "separate is not equal...read him his rights...one man, one vote," never would have become common stock in our national vocabulary, without the work of the son of Norwegian immigrant, Methias Varran.  We know him as Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Some American Cains Use the Law

When I was a boy, I was raised by my parents to believe that a moral person also was "law-abiding."  Because we were farmers, the Willises tended to be socially and economically very conservative.  Yet I grew up during the 1960s and 1970s.  The Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam, Watergate, these events and more showed that some American laws needed change, and even one President abused his legal powers (though he was not punished).

When I worked for the Kentucky Commission for Human Rights--which enforces federal and state civil rights statutes--I decided to study the history of civil rights in America.  I knew more about the history of Europe, in which I earned my PhD, than American history.  Because any nation's laws reflect its morality, I focused only on the history of U.S. federal laws.

The history of American law is morally schizophrenic.  On the one hand, you will see the widest range of laws favoring a small minority's power to amass wealth at the expense of common people.  On the other hand, when that minority's abuses and harms became so extensive and finally intolerable that millions rose in domestic unrest, rebellion, and sedition, only then did the most sweeping legal reforms occur, to preserve the Republic.

In the most recent period of unrest leading to federal legislation, only millions of Americans taking to the street--under King's leadership peacefully, but after his death with many riots and violence--the Voting Rights Act and then the Civil Rights Act were stopgap measures to quell another civil war.  Even then in the South, millions kept Blacks under their thumbs wherever local law enforcement was inclined to maintain the status quo.

The history of federal laws regarding the Indian Nations, labor, the rights of women, food safety, monopolies and price-fixing, and hundreds more subject areas, only arose from millions of Americans harmed, not from an anterior moral conscience driving laws to answer Justice Warren's question, "What is fair?"  Money and profits have driven the first drafts of most American laws, with morality and people forcing the second drafts.

This is the nature of our American legal schizophrenia.  Violence against the masses incited violent opposition by the masses.  I first heard the statement, "We are a nation of laws," from the mouth of James Baker, Chief of Staff for President Ronald Reagan.  When the federal traffic controllers went on strike--with concerns that their overwork could lead to public safety risks--Reagan fired them all without negotiation.  This act sent chills down the spine of labor unions all across the nation.

Since that time, many American corporations took their labor needs to non-democratic and Communist nations, where no American labor laws apply.  U.S. laborers were incapable of cutting their hourly pay and benefits as low as Mexican or Chinese workers, unless they were willing to go back to the times in American history when all workers lived in company houses and bought everything from company stores.  Unions still exist, but many American industrial jobs, those which are on our shores, are for non-union enterprises.

We always have been "a nation of laws"; however, there is no doubt that today's serial American crises are not due to the Abels, but the Cains among us who answer as their ancestor did:  "Am I to oversee the welfare of my fellow Americans?  Do I have a moral duty to know where my family members are or what has happened to them, as a result of my conduct?"

The Golden Rule

Jesus famously extended the command, "Love your neighbor as yourself," originally given in the Book of Leviticus, chapter nineteen, verse 18.  The Hebrew word there, rea, means friend, companion, and neighbor.  Jesus, in his relationships with both fellow Jews and Gentiles, showed love for all people.

He recognized in his day there were some who amassed great wealth yet who did so at the expense of fellow countrymen.  The story of Lazarus, which appears in the Gospel of Luke, chapter sixteen, is worth citing.

Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, happily living in splendor every day.  A certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and earnestly desiring to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table.  The dogs were coming and licking his sores.
Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be comforted by Abraham.  And the rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, the rich man looked up, in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his care.  He cried out, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me!  Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool off my tongue!  I am in agony in this flame!"
But Abraham said, "Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things.  But now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony."  The rich man then begged Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to tell the rich man's family, so they might change and not suffer as he was.  Abraham answered, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they listen if someone rises from the dead."
The rich man in life had seen Lazarus devastated by poverty, hunger, and disease.  Yet opulence and self-interest made the rich man blind.  His attitude in life was precisely that of Cain's, "Am I my brother's keeper?  Am I obliged to oversee his welfare?"  Abraham's answer is my own.  We already have had enough religious teaching and commands to love the neighbor.  The Cains in our land are on their own and will earn interest in the next life on the lack of investments made in the Abels they harmed, whose blood spills now in the nation through suicides, domestic violence, and growing crime.

A final word from Jesus is not too much.  In the Gospel of Luke (6:24-25), Jesus said, "Woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.  Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep."

To the Abels among us, I say, there is an American tradition for legal change.  Do not resort to violence, and thereby use the method used to harm you.  But take heart and unite.  Change the laws through legal means.  It has been done before.  It can be done again, though there are Cains in Congress who will fight you to the end!

Monday, June 21, 2010

An Ethical Woman - Pam Platt's Reflections Regarding an Apology to Jimmy Carter

Pam Platt has written an article in Louisville's sole remaining newspaper, the Courier-Journal.  This fine thinker has offered a "belated apology" to former President Jimmy Carter, in the light of the current Gulf oil debacle.  I recommend that you read her wise words, to be found at that link, along with one of Carter's prophetic speeches on energy.

When he was in the White House, most of us did not appreciate his foresight and vision regarding energy, or our dependence on petroleum as a matter of national security.  He declared the "moral equivalent of war" on untying America's future to petroleum, or dependence on foreign suppliers.  We need that declaration of war again but, this time, for it to be waged and won.

Reading Pam's column made me remember how I viewed Jimmy Carter.  I was raised a Kentucky Democrat.  I personally liked Carter as a man, but the fuel shortage crisis during his term, the 20% interest rates, and the Iranian Revolution, crippled him for reelection.  I voted for Ronald Reagan.

Why I Voted for Reagan

There was one reason.  Regan said he was concerned with the national debt, at that time one trillion dollars.  Back in 1979, I saw that debt as a threat to national security.  When foreign investors hold U.S. Treasury notes, they can influence the White House and Congress, contrary to national interest.  That was true in 1979 and it is today.  The wealthy, corporations hold most Treasury bills, their hands weigh Reagan tripled the debt, and Congress soon voted itself a pay raise.

A secondary reason for my first vote for a Republican was a sense of frustration with President Jimmy Carter's "Rose Garden" foreign policy on the Iran hostage crisis.  He seemed vacillating and weak, unable to be strong in the face of the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution.  I liked Carter personally but felt America needed someone capable of stronger leadership. Khomeini released the hostages on the eve of Reagan's inauguration, showing his contempt for Jimmy Carter and, perhaps, a nod to Reagan's bellicosity.  Carter had tried negotiation.  Reagan threatened military action.

Once in office, Reagan became known as the Great Communicator.  His fatherly gravitas and patriotic language rallied all Americans.  I know I was impressed with his speeches and believability.  Most of us did not know that Reagan, TV actor and host to "Death Valley Days," spoke the sterling words put in his mouth by speechwriter, Peggy Noonan.  As far as his leadership, it would be years later we would learn, unlike Carter the Workaholic who read everything on everything, Regan's workdays were filled with naps.  Others in the White House would put before him what to sign, and his words to say before the public.  These are facts.

The Debt Increased:  Reagan and Bush

Under Reagan, the national debt was tripled, mainly through contracts to the military industrial complex and "Star Wars.  Taxes were slashed for corporations and the wealthy.  Federal regulations on business were loosened, with Reagan appealing to average Americans about the evils of "big government interfering in the lives of the people."  And the profits began to roll in for the wealthiest Americans.

David Stockman's "trickle down" economics--the propaganda that held "when the wealthy profit, the money runs downhill"--was a scam.  Stockman later wrote a book admitting that.  Corporate takeovers resulted in millions of firings for workers no longer needed in the "downsizings."  Millions of jobs began to flow to China.  The wealth from the Reagan years went into pockets not the People.  "Trickle Down" now has been called "Trickle On" the American middle class.

We just finished eight full years of former members of the Reagan White House--Cheney, Rumsfeld, and many others.  They were the brains who guided another Empty Suit who did their bidding.  September 11, 2001, was their perfect staging ground.  Reagan used the rhetoric of patriotism to unlock the Federal Treasury in Star Wars.  The War on Terror became the bullet-proof shield against blank checks for Bush and Cheney to feed Halliburton, the Carlyle Group, and other corporate friends with non-competitive contracts.

Like Reagan before, the Bush White House systematically reduced federal agencies tasked with corporate regulation.  The FBI's unit on corporate crime was stripped down and transferred to Homeland Security.  Tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations, and a tide of profits followed.  And for those who questioned the wide swathe cut into the U.S. Constitution, and the corporate feed trough, their patriotism was questioned.

Bush added to the national debt by nearly 30%.  The link shows every Republican administration added a net gain to our national debt, while every Democratic administration did not, at least to the present day.

Sen. McConnell, Stellar Partisan

Throughout the Bush years, Senator Mitch McConnell always stood behind the Empty Suit at every television appearance, smiling and nodding yes.  He was the perfect shill for all things Republican.  He was vocal to approve any Republican deficit spending, always "vital for national security" or "free market recovery."

When scandals appeared, he defended party leaders implicated.  He derided critics as unpatriotic and uncommitted to national security or our best interests.  When evidence of inproper or potentially illegal conduct piled up, he had nothing to say.  From the plan (or conspiracy) to start the Iraq War on false information presented to Congress and the American people, to such silliness as Harriet Myers's nomination to the Supreme Court, Mitch was the partisan.  But he never, ever was an Empty Suit.  No, he is apparently a brilliant Machiavellian.

Today he is the perfect hypocrite regarding deficit spending.  He leads every charge against deficit spending because it is not going into Republican pockets.  He repeatedly votes to deny unemployed Kentuckians extended benefits because "they are not paid for."  Every deficit package proposed by Democratic is "contributing to our deficit crisis" and "socialism" and "dangerous."  He speaks and votes as if his constituents back home are all wealthy and immune from unemployment.

Yet when he can, he still speaks up for the corporations.  After the Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to be a "victory for free speech."  Why?  Corporations now can donate any millions to their favored candidates.  If any reform candidate appears who is immune to bribery, they can flood the airwaves with misrepresentations, attack ads, and lies against him.  He who cannot be bought CAN be destroyed.  So the Supreme Court majority--all Republicans--helped "free speech" to keep incumbent lackeys in office.  And Mitch is one.

Pam Platt's Apology to Carter, and Mine

I too have hindsight on both Carter and my vote against him.  I have had decades now to reassess his Presidency and all his work since, from his building homes for Habitat for Humanity, to his untiring work for peace in the Middle East.  So I have composed my own apology, from the point of view of what I teach--ethical leadership.  If someone can get my humble words to him, please do.

Dear Mr. Carter,

I want to thank you for being an ethical leader throughout your life and career.  You have used your intelligence and gifts to improve the lives of others.  You truly model the Golden Rule.  You love your neighbor as much as you do yourself.  You take risks to do the right thing, regardless of political consequences, or attacks upon yourself and your reputation.

I voted against you back in 1979, for the reasons stated above.  I made a grave error.  The Republican Party has made much of moral issues--abortion, homosexuality, patriotism.  Yet when they have had power, they have shown an immoral disregard for what Mother Theresa called, "the poorest of the poor."  In fact, they have added millions to the rolls of the American poor.

I apologize to you, Sir, for having failed to understand or appreciate what you were doing when President.  I wish now I had voted for you again.

But I pledge to you now to do what I am doing--teaching principles of ethical leadership you yourself have modeled throughout your life.  You are a Christian.  Jesus said, "You will know the tree by its fruits."  Your fruits demonstrate bold  and innovative ideas, courage against unprincipled opposition, and finally, a positive outcome for people, from America and all over the world.

Teaching ethical leadership for me means supporting people who practice it, and opposing those who do not to the harm of others.  I am no partisan in this matter.

Democrat, Republican, or Independent, I will support any American in office, or seeking office, who loves the United States of America more than self-interest and reelection.  To any incumbent or candidate of any party willing to ignore or harm the American people out of partisan or ties to special interests, I pledge bold opposition.

May you, Mr. Carter, "live long and prosper," to use the words of Spock in Star Trek.  We are on a perilous journey now in America.  We need your leadership for as long as you're able!

John D. Willis

Pam Platt, Thank YOU!

It requires moral courage to say, "I'm sorry."  To use the public forum of a news column adds moral force to what you had to say.  Keep on using your precious place in the press, assured by the First Amendment, to uplift our thoughts and ennoble our efforts as Americans.  We need more like you, an exemplar of ethical leadership!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Revisiting the Ethics of Greed and Benevolence

I was going back into some earlier blogs to send to someone and found my entry on March 7, 2010 on the ethics of greed and benevolence. There were a number of things I made clearer and several added discussions. I hope you like what you see there. The link is:

The Ethics of Greed and Benevolence

Have a great day, and comment if you will!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

On the Constitutionality, Morality, and Consequences of the Senate Denying Help to the Unemployed

On June 16, 2010, in a 52-45 vote, the U.S. Senate voted down a bill that included extending unemployment benefits. Of the 52, 40 were Republicans and 12 were Democrats. Senator Ben Nelson (D - NB), who has a long history of concern for government spending, explained, "... this is not paid for, and that translates into deficit spending and adding to the debt. The American people are right. We've got to stop doing that."

Senator Mitch McConnell (D – KY) has used the identical phrase, “not paid for,” back in April, when he voted “no” against an unemployment benefits extension. Nelson has found McConnell, from my state, to be his ethics counselor.

For U.S. Senators to deny help for unemployed Americans is both an ethical and leadership issue. The reasons above are framed as a single issue: insufficient funds. If the Senators were accountants who consistently refused to approve any expense over available funds, the decision on June 16 would be reasonable. But they are not accountants. Neither are they consistent. In fact, they are complete hypocrites. Before and after this vote, the Senate has and will approve unfunded spending. When they do, they always explain, “This was necessary,” for whatever reason.

It is the purpose of this essay to state clearly how these 52 Senators have (1) openly breached their Oath of Office; (2) shown contempt for the U.S. Constitution; and, (3) knowingly created conditions for unemployed Americans potentially leading to domestic unrest and violence. While this essay will not be read by them, nor will it change anything, I feel it my ethical duty as a concerned and patriotic American still to write the truth as I see it.

Those Voting NO Are Against the Intentions of the U.S. Constitution

The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution reads,
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We the People are the three most important words in the U.S. Constitution. The People of the United States are the subject. The People of the United States wrote, ordained, and established the Constitution. Its purpose and power derive from them. The People elect the members of Congress to obey the Constitution. The People require them to swear or affirm their Oath of Office and allegiance to the Constitution. The People's Constitution includes impeachment for any member of Congress who breaches the Constitution.

The People will their government “form a more perfect Union.” But the Senators voting “NO” divided the Union. They willfully harmed millions of People who are unemployed through no fault of their own, who otherwise would be ineligible for unemployment benefits. The terms of unemployment law approved them eligible for help. Yet the Senators who refused help for the People and their children, knowingly driving them into poverty and more ruin. These Senators have divided those harmed by them against their own government’s Constitutional purpose to “form a more perfect Union.”

The People will their government to “establish Justice.” But the Senators voting “NO” created injustice. The Senate voted to give billions of dollars of the People’s money to help corporations in trouble. Unlike the unemployed eligible for benefits, the corporations were responsible for their crisis. Prior to the vote, the People expressed their opposition fully and clearly to reward malfeasance. Yet the Senate met in private and acted against the People’s will. These same corporations are responsible for the unemployment of the People. Yet when the Senators had opportunity to help the People harmed by corporations helped by the Senate, they denied help.

The Senators voting “NO” have created injustice. They helped corporations responsible for their crises. They refused help to American people unemployed as a result of corporations. They listened to corporations, but refused to listen to the People. They used the money of the People to help corporations against the will of the People. They denied to use the money of the People to help the People. Added to these injustices is insult. The Senators helped corporations in deficit spending, but harmed the People on the pretense deficit spending required the harm. These Senators are not only unjust. They hold the People in contempt to issue such a reason.

The People will their government “insure domestic Tranquility.” But the Senators voting “NO” ensure domestic unrest, and violence. The People cannot be tranquil or peaceful when their children’s stomachs are empty, or when they have no home to protect them against the elements. By denying the minimal help to the millions of People unemployed and eligible for benefits, the Senators drive them into poverty and despair.

Marie Antoinette did not say, as has been reported, “Let them eat cake” in regard to the poor French peasants calling for help. Yet that infamous phrase and its contempt for common people conveys the message some Americans may hear Senators voted to end the small unemployment checks. The Senators place no value on them or their children to do such a thing. They will not be disposed to tranquility, nor to have a tranquil response, when ordinarily patriotic and good Americans turn to any means possible to feed their starving children.

The People will their government “provide for the common defense.” But the Senators voting “NO” provide no defense, but show aggression, to the People they harm. Based on votes to help corporations, the Senators have shown whose interests they defend, even against the will of the People. The Senators understand, but rebuke, the definition of “common” by their selective assistance. The Senators use deficit spending for the alleged defense of people in Afghanistan and Iraq, but argue deficit spending is impossible for the common defense of their own People. The Senators love foreigners--who pay no taxes here, who did not write nor support the U.S. Constitution, some even opposed to its democratic principles--more than their own People of the United States of America.

The People will their government “promote the general Welfare.” But the Senators voting “NO” promote the final and complete destruction of millions of unemployed People, absenting an Act of God that miraculously feeds them. The Senators have proven willingness to feed billions of bailout dollars into the coffers of corporations, and billions more into the coffers of their favorite corporate contractors, all using the People’s money and deficit spending. The Senators are demonstrated to be inimical to the general welfare of the People, not advocates of it.

The People will their government to “secure the Blessings of Liberty.” But the Senators voting “NO” deny blessing and invoke cursing on unemployed People. Concerning liberty, by taking away the last remnant of financial support, the Senators effectively say to the unemployed, “You are free to fend for yourselves and your children.” Whatever freedom this is, is contemptible and despicable. The Senators themselves are not free, for they are the willing bondservants of the corporations whose every wish they fulfill. What the Senators have secured for themselves are the curses of the People harmed by them. Yes, the People will use the freedom they have to find some way to bless their children with a crust of bread. And, yes, the People, some of them at least, will use their freedom to remove from office the Senators and Representatives who are slaves to money and power.

Those Voting “NO” Have Breached Their Oath of Office

In their Oath of Office, Senators and Representatives swear or affirm before fellow countrymen, and pray to God, the following:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
Oaths spoken into the air, or signed by the hand, are only as meaningful and true as the character of those who take them. To swear or affirm anything is easy for a liar or immoral person, but difficult and solemn for one intending to keep its terms. Based on the conduct and voting records of many Senators and Representatives, they prove they are the former, not the latter.

I hope I have shown already that the Senators voting “NO” have not supported—but denied and contradicted--the principle purposes of the Constitution of the United States. However, the Oath of Office specifies too that the Constitution be “defended…against all enemies, foreign or domestic.” It is this sworn duty that is of great import for our times. I now devote two small sections on this critical part of the Oath.

Those Voting “NO”: Enemies of the Unemployed?

What does the word and its concept of “enemy” mean? I ask the reader to permit a generalization. In its most literal sense, an enemy is one who has ill will or who intends harm.

Now immediately we can say that the Senators who voted against unemployed People receiving help did not, we will pray to God, consciously will or intend harm to come to the People. In their own minds, what they intended, to aver back to Nelson’s statement, was to stop deficit spending with the Americans who “were right” in wanting deficit spending to end. This was the Senators’ avowed purpose.

There is a problem the Senators cannot avoid now. The term “enemy” is always used by the person who concludes some person, or even a corporation, for example, bears him or her ill will or intends harm. So regardless of their success in agreeing with some Americans, who mattered more to them, the Senators voted to create harm for millions of other Americans, who mattered less. This means the Senators who voted “NO” to helping millions of unemployed Americans practically and effectively made themselves “domestic enemies” to all they harmed.

The Senators have made themselves, in practical terms and regardless of all the words they will use to explain themselves, enemies of the People. There is no other way for People harmed by this vote to conclude anything else. Every Senator whose name appears on the list of the “NO” votes cast made himself or herself the very real and practical enemy of any constituents whose families are harmed. When people are harmed, it is they who track down the source of the harm. And when that source is a specific person whose specific act harmed them, they rightly ascribe the phrase, “This person is the enemy of my family and myself.”

Those Voting “YES” to Help Certain Corporations: Enemies of The People?

Corporations are, regardless of what the Roberts Supreme Court majority ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, not People who wrote and for whom the Constitution was established. Corporations are legal constructs, fictions created under law so their owners and shareholders can transact business. For-profit corporations have that one purpose, profit. All they do is aimed to increase profit and reduce expenses, or risk.

For-profit corporations are pecuniary, centrally concerned with money. They are amoral in nature. If they have in their mission statements moral or ethical operating principles, they exist because they are believed to add value for prospective customers. And stated moral or ethical principles need not be applied in practice, if profits are threatened. Let us completely divest ourselves of any illusions, or corporate propaganda, about the nature of for-profit corporations.

A brief note now on American history, which means I am interested in facts and not emotional arguments. Our history is perforated and punctuated throughout with for-profit corporations harmful to the People. In fact, for-profit corporations actually have killed, maimed, defrauded, and criminally abused millions of Americans.

Throughout the history of the production of food, pharmaceuticals, goods, machines, transportation, labor practices, in every area where American or foreign for-profit corporations have sought profits, millions of Americans have been harmed. Sickness, injury, and death, the suppression of workers' rights protected under the First Amendment, American corporations have shown they value the People only as means for profits.

For these factual reasons, every federal law and regulation on the books was enacted--always against the cries "Foul!" by for-profit corporations--to stop monopolies, sweat shops, child labor, price-fixing, health standards, workplace safety, and much more. The only reason these laws passed was that harms, suffering, and death, had grown so prevalent Congress feared a general social uprising greater and more pervasive than those when laws were passed. The People have required protection from for-profit corporations, organized individuals, willing to harm millions of their own countrymen, for money.

The very crises we have today ALL were preventable, ALL were, had the Congress and federal agencies under past White House administrations not reduced vigilance, staffs, and the will to prosecute evidence clearly in their possession. I say with vehemence that it is not corporations--but the Congress, the White House, and now, with one repetition after another--who bear the MAIN blame for not protecting The People from the suffering today. They had the history. They had the legal power. They had not the will to love the People as they loved themselves.

Our history shows some for-profit corporations are enemies of the People.

In our day, some for-profit corporations have harmed millions of American people. In every case, the harms were for profits. Millions of unemployed People were fired or permanently laid off as corporations went overseas for cheap labor. This is an illustration that profits, not moral aversion to human harm, drive for-profit corporations. The millions of Americans were harmed legally. We are a capitalist society. People still employed in for-profit corporations in this country are paid and retained for their profit value. We understand this. As many of my friends as I have left in the for-profit sector tell me, “It’s not personal. It’s just business.”

For-profit corporations who harmed millions of American people are like the Senators who voted “NO.” They have said of their harms, “I meant no harm. I did what was right. Harm was a consequence of my goal. I apologize.” We understand. And so long as their harms were legal—even if immoral and unethical, driving into poverty millions—Americans have no legal ground to complain. Oh, how for-profit corporations love their attorneys in all the fields for which they are paid well.

Let us return now to the Oath of Office and its concern that Senators (and Representatives who take the same Oath) “defend from enemies domestic and foreign.”

The People who wrote the Oath of Office did not mean only military enemies at home or abroad. They knew well the definition of “enemy” as someone who intends or does harm. Harm is not merely bullets and bombs. Harm also is economic. Throughout our history (and I apologize a little for preferring facts to fiction), our Founders knew money interests, profit interests, always worked to use the People for amoral purposes, to their harm. Thomas Jefferson fought a National Bank for that reason. He knew wealth and power could undermine democracy in America, just as wealth and power in all the nations of Europe had driven immigrants to these shores.

The Senators who voted “NO” against unemployed People voted “YES” to help for-profit corporations in financial crises. How did those amoral (and in some cases, immoral) corporations get in trouble? They engaged in business practices that harmed People. But their methods went out of control, and collapsed back on their heads. Nevertheless, all who voted “YES” to help those for-profit corporations still helped those proven and demonstrated enemies of the People.

The great irony, of course, and already stated before, is that millions of Americans are unemployed, and millions more will be unemployed, because of many for-profit corporations who are demonstrated enemies of the People. That the U.S. Senate had a majority of Senators who already helped the corporate enemies of the People (with the People’s money, and against their will), then doubly harms the People already stricken by their corporate enemies, is a mockery of the Oath of Office.

The Consequences of “YES” and “NO” Votes

The American People are basically good people. They are law-abiding people. They are proud of their Constitution and democratic institutions. Millions now have come to believe their elected officials in Washington have betrayed them and are their enemies. This is not really all that new. Nevertheless, people generally have not acted against the traitors they believe some Congress members are. But when bellies are empty, when homes are lost, when there are no jobs or means of government assistance, these conditions predict violence from some Americans. I will cite the work of a man no one longer reads, but which applies to my prediction.

In his book, Power and Innocence: a Search for the Sources of Violence (Norton 1972), the Harvard psychologist, Rollo May, tried to understand how and why some individuals in society become violent.
For violence has its breeding ground in impotence and apathy. True, aggression has been so often and so regularly escalated into violence that anyone's discouragement and fear of it can be understood. But what is not seen is that the state of powerlessness ... is the source of violence. As we make people powerless, we promote their violence rather than its control. Deeds of violence in our society are performed largely by those trying to establish their self-esteem, to defend their self-image, and to demonstrate they they, too, are significant.... Violence arises not out of superfluity of power but out of powerlessness. As Hannah Arendt has so well said, violence is the expression of impotence. (23)
An unemployed person in America is, because of how we have structured our society, for all practical purposes, impotent. The word, impotence, means lacking power. We are a capitalist society. The man or woman with the greatest wealth and possessions has power, and is recognized for it. There is a bitter twisting of the Golden Rule—“Love your neighbor as yourself”—“Who has the gold makes the rules.” But the one who has no gold is subject to the one who has it. Impotence leads to submission.

“As we make people powerless, we promote their violence rather than its control.”

The jobless in America knows they are powerless. They are at the mercy of a society built on earning, buying, and selling. Yet when they receive an unemployment check—and we absolutely must note many millions are jobless from employers who never paid into the unemployment syste—those few dollars are a little bit of monetary power. No, the petty little sum is not enough to do much with. But the unemployment check gives, in its own little way, a little bit of economic empowerment not to lose hope. When the Senators voted “no” to allow an extension for unemployment benefits, they disempowered millions more Americans from the little they had.

Economic power has shifted in America over the past decades. Less than ten percent, perhaps as little as five, are richer and more powerful. President Bush joked to a wealthy crowd, “You are my base.” Ninety percent or more are poorer. Of that ninety percent, how many have descended into the lowest depths of poverty and powerlessness. For many years, all Americans heard, “We are the last superpower on the planet.” Power, not people or compassion, our people have been conditioned to believe is our greatest claim to fame.

If Rollo May was correct, there should be no Senator, Representative, or President surprised when various sectors of powerless Americans—who blame their powerlessness on elected officials and the wealthy corporate elites who united in enmity against them—engage one of two kinds of violence.

In the French Revolution, mobs directly arrested and executed both the guilty and innocent they believed responsible for their oppression and poverty. In the election where the Nazi Party was put in power, Germans driven by the devastations of their Great Depression empowered a single man to overturn the struggling democratic Weimar Republic.

My closing suggestion is this. If the members of Congress love the People, then let them stop helping corporations at all, and let them start helping ALL Americans with hungry bellies in fear and despair. The basic instinct for survival, the basic instinct to protect one’s kin and brood, will overrule any propaganda and any law. Let us join together now, to use deficit spending where it matters most, before it is too late.

The power of impeachment, as the U.S. Constitution now dictates, is reserved only to members of Congress.  I know why the Founders did that.  Nevertheless, history has shown they were wrong in their judgment.  There should be a Constitutional Amendment that allows the People to impeach by referendum processes impossible for the Congress, Supreme Court, or U.S. military to stop.  This would ensure terms limits when We the People concluded Congress had become our enemies, or aided those who were.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thank God for Loving People

This blog is dedicated to all the people in the world, of all ages, creeds, religions, and nations, for every loving thought, word, and deed, you bring into the world. Most blogs follow the news and its negative subjects: the national debt, political corruption, conflicts. Today, however, I want to turn away from all the news items to focus on the millions of "just plain folks" who do one things well: they love their families, neighbors, and nation well.

Love in Every Color and Flavor

People who love come in every color and flavor. They are of all ages. They live in every time zone. Somewhere right now, some loving person is getting up in the morning, and another has put in a full day and is headed for bed. Neither of them speak the same language. They live in different nations. They live in different hemispheres. Some live north of the equator, and some south of it. But these people actually do speak the same language. It's the language of love.

They get up with a smile at the rising sun. They go through the day with a good attitude. They are just basically happy people, glad to be alive. Many of them hear the daily news, which presents 99% negative information. But these people just will not let some news editor's choices affect how they see they world.

They like being alive. They like talking to strangers on the bus and train. They like being polite to the cranky clerk, because they know it's tough working with the public. Though they are well familiar with all the negative, trashy, disgusting stuff going on, they simply choose NOT TO PARTICIPATE! They WANT to have a good day. They WANT to do what they can to help others have a good day. They like being alive and having the CHOICE to make a difference, their difference. So they do!

The really cool thing about these people is they are all over the world. They speak every language and dialect. They have all shades of skin color, from pearly white to ebony black. Some are strong as bulls. Others are weak and need help feeding themselves. Some are quick and others are slow learners. Some eat rice gruel and others eat steak. Some boil their dirty water and others drink boutique bottled water.

But all these people have the same thing in common. They wake up each day in good humor. They are positive forces wherever they go. They just naturally have good attitudes and thoughts. They just like putting their hands out to help others. When they see a really nasty character, they see someone who needs a hug not a slap. These are the Race of Lovers, and there are millions of them all over the world. Without them, the world would not be what it is.

Now There Are Some "Big People" Who Love Well

Now there are some "big name" people, like Dr. Phil on television, and thousands more who have earned their place to express their love and concern in big ways. Then there's that funny guy who had his "fifteen minutes of fame," Dr. Patch Adams and his Gesundheit Institute. And there's that Make-a-Wish Foundation. Where I live, there is a wonderful charity with an impeccable record, the WHAS Crusade for Children.  I've even heard of charities that bring dogs, cats, and all kinds of critters to old folks, just to give them something to love!

The very word, "charity," comes from the Latin word, caritas, which means love.  So charity is a great thing.  We need more of it.  That's precisely why Dr. Phil and many, many charities all over the world are popular.  Everybody wants to be understood.  Everybody wants to be helped.  Everybody wants to be loved. Everybody understands the language of love, which is why people donate to good causes.

One of the "down sides" of charities, however, is their costs.  Full-time staff, organizational costs, advertising costs, insurance costs, there's plenty of cost for an official charity.  OK, OK.  I'm not criticizing, just pointing out a fact.

That is why today's blog celebrates "the little people" and not the big names and organizations we all love.  If we had to depend on official organizations to spread every daily dose of love needed in the world, we would be in a mess!  There is NO organization that exists that can be everywhere all the time.  Which brings me back to the "little people" (translate that, you and me).

It's The "Little People" Who Spread the Most Love

In nations all over the world, there are people who are paid to do some pretty nasty jobs.  You name the nastiest job you know.  Yet it's completely true that many of the people who have these jobs also bring love with them in everything they do.  From the nurse assistant who switches out smelly bedpans, to the school janitor whose day is loaded down with cleaning up vomit from the latest cycle of viruses, there are folks who have some "dirty work."  Yet the truth is, nearly all these people bring love with them when they come on the job.  They love people.  They love doing a good job.  They are glad to be alive.  They bring love to what they do.

My younger daughter, Charissa, is one of these "little people."  Though she is absolutely beautiful, she enjoys helping people as a certified nurse assistant.  You name it, she's had to do it.  But the really great thing about her is that she constantly gets compliments from her patients and their families for one reason.  She loves people, she loves what she does.  She's one of the "little people" doing big things because of, you guessed it, LOVE.

It's the "little people" who respond to the emergencies and crises in our nation and world.  Who are the thousands who volunteer to go to sites of flood and drought, hurricane and earthquake, and much more?  We know thousands are there.  But we don't know their names.  And they did not go there to get their names in the newspapers or pictures on the television.  It was LOVE that brought them there.  And their love for strangers--got that?--strangers cost them time, money, energy, and sometimes, personal risk to their own lives.

I just love these "little people" who give the so-called "daily news" a BAD name.  Why?  Because the news never reports on these people enough.  The line, "NY Man Kills Family After Armed Robbery," just as easily could be, "11 Million NY Fathers Kissed Children Off to School After Fixing Them Breakfast."  The choice as to which is news is arbitrary.  Do we want to be reminded some people go crazy, or that millions of good people kiss their children off to school?  I don't know about you, but I would rather hear about the 11-million-to-1 shot........

Yes, it's the average person who keeps the world going with daily doses of love, doled out to whomever he or she meets.  Maybe it's the kid who put some extra candy in a pocket and passes it to others on the playground.  Maybe it's the CEO who orders bonus checks to everybody in the company who've been with the firm more than a year.  The stories of love are pretty much endless.  Why?  When love is in your heart, it just has to get out, and it will.

Now On My Hobbyhorse--the Religions in Conflict

If you've read many of my blogs, you know how concerned I am about religions gone amok. There are plenty of religious people in the world who seem preoccupied with either starting or keeping up some kind of conflict. I'm always concerned with the historically demonstrated fact that the masses can be swayed to do harm through their favorite religion.

But, HEY!, the truth is there are millions of good religious people all over the world--of every faith--who do not do all the bad stuff some of their brothers and sisters do. There are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, people of every faith who are utterly fantastic at everything they do BECAUSE OF their religious faith. These people love God. They love themselves as God's children. They love their families. They love their local community. They love their workplace. They love, love, love, BECAUSE they have a strong faith in God and dedication to pleasing both God and fellow human beings.

Now most readers know who Mother Theresa was. Most of the world knows who she was. She was a Catholic nun who founded the Sisters of Charity, whose main mission was to love and serve "the poorest of the poor." Now Mother Theresa could be pretty feisty and a little crusty at times, but her heart was sold out to loving all kinds of folks with absolutely a non-discriminating love. What an inspiration to people all over the world. THE WORLD LIKES TO RECOGNIZE LOVE!

Mohandas Gandhi said a profound truth to a Hindu man whose son had been killed by a Muslim, then who killed a Muslim child in retaliation but who felt he was "going to Hell" for his deed. Gandhi said, "I will tell you how to get out of Hell. Find an orphan. Raise him as your own. But be sure he is a Muslim, and raise him as one." I love that quote.

Jesus (Matthew 8:5-13) once was approached by a high-ranking Roman soldier requesting a healing for his sick servant. Jesus did not say, "Oh, darn! I'd like to, but you're not a Jew. I wish you had not talked with me, or that you are so close. The purity laws forbid this kind of contact. Bye." NOT!

And just think of all the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and other healers through the centuries who did same as Jesus--they just saw the need, loved the patient more than any religious credo, and then just loved the person! Sometimes I think that the most hateful religious people in the world really need to get deathly ill--or have their child deathly ill--only to be healed by some physician from the group they hate! And since we are discussing non-discriminatory love for people shared through medical professionals, we cannot fail to note Doctors Without Borders.

Transition to Action

Now we've thought about love in the world, and how many people all over the planet are loving others every day. Let's move from thinking to doing. A few simple suggestions for making this blog useful today.

(1) Think about your life. How loving are you?
(2) Think about someone you know who needs more love, then love that person.
(3) Give more love than worrying about getting more love, and love will come.
(4) Enter in the Comment Box below two things: (a) a person who has loved you and (b) an organization you think loves well.

Let's you and me, be more loving today. God help us to do that. AMEN