There is, in the Autumn of the year, a sense that I have that is both true and false.
It is the sense that time is winding down that things are ending and time and flowers and leaves are fading and going away...
...and it somehow sometimes extends beyond the natural world to friendships and family (as if they weren't part of the natural world!)
this sense that time is slipping away and I'm we're powerless to stop it.
It is, of course, true.
But that truth is conditional and temporal.
Things are winding down some things are ending and that day is coming soon.
But other things are just starting.
Seeds are being blown on the wind carried and buried and going into hibernation to spring up again one day and that day, too, is coming soon.
New ideas are germinating new friendships are resting waiting to blossom
Old friendships will be reinvented and reimagined strengthened
Our own Selves are being reinvented and reminagined and that change is all Good
or can be.
Change is life.
This was Trump's throw-away line about
the fact, raised by Clinton, that he has paid no taxes in at least some
years. He was proud of being a multi-millionaire who contributed Zero
tax dollars. He thought it made him "smart."
Any society has
expenses we have to pay. We need our roads, infrastructure, police, fire
departments, trash pick up, schools, etc. We have to pay for these
things. And I fully understand not forcing those who are struggling to
help pay much (the poor already pay a disproportionate amount of their income in sales taxes...)
But for the rest of us, we have a social compact, an agreement to pay
for these common needs. To try to abuse rules to avoid paying our common
expenses, therefore, is not "smart," and certainly not good. And
certainly not if you are extravagantly wealthy!
It is greedy. It is self-centered. It is manipulative. It is petty. It is wrong.
And for such a person to boast about being a leech to run for public
office pretending to care about our country... Well, his actions belie
the point. You care about our nation, Mr Trump? Then show it! And one
way to start showing it is to pay your fair share! Release your taxes.
Pay back a reasonable amount of tax dollars that the rest of us had to
shoulder so you could buy yourself gold toilets.
Until you do
that, you're not smart. You don't care about the common good. You're
just a petty little cheating freeloader and this admission should
disqualify you, showing you to be fundamentally unfit for office.
Here's a video featuring photos and sounds from our family's recent trip to France and Spain.
We landed in Barcelona, Spain and spent several days there. This was probably my favorite part of the trip. There was just so much to see!
From there, we took a train across the south of France, stopping for a few days in Nice, on the Mediterranean Sea. Very nice. I found an amazing music store there (although too late in our trip to visit there very long, unfortunately) with a wide variety of vintage instruments... guitars, mandolins, hurdy gurdies (look it up...), violins, cellos, banjos... they had it all!
From there, we took the Eurail Train up to Paris for a few days there. Obviously, there is more there than one can see in a few days, but it was a nice sampling. We could see the Eiffel Tower from our room and spent a day visiting the area around it. We spent a few brief hours at the Louvre, took a trip to the catacombs and took a boat ride down the River Seine. Amazing.
From there, we Eurailed back down to Toulouse, France and visited nearby Montauban, where the Trabues are from! That was exciting for me. We are fortunate in having a detailed family record of our escape from France. It was after the Edict of Nantes had been revoked by King Louis XIV, which had allowed for some religious freedom. After it was revoked, Protestants were forced to recant of their heresy and adopt the Catholic faith. Failing that, they would be tortured, jailed and killed.
They came for Antoine Trabuc (how it was spelled then) and he wasn't home, so they threatened his wife with torture unless she recanted. She played the Woman Card and said, "I can't recant without my husband!" so they said they'd come for her and him the next day. They were going to tie her hair to a horse's tail and drag her through the city until she recanted or died!
Antoine got home and they skipped town - leaving all they had behind - leaving Montauban on the River Tarn. I sat at the edge of the Tarn and skipped stones across the surface. I also visited several Catholic churches, but no grudges seemed to be held.
From there, it was back to Barcelona for a couple of days before catching our flight home.
And we could do all of this because of our kids!
We've had a rough few years, taking care of my parents in their ailing years. The kids knew we hadn't had a real, extended and work-free vacation for a long time so they saved up their own money, made arrangements for everything and surprised us with the news back on Donna's birthday in February! They are only 20 and 25 years old, both working part time, with Sarah still being in college. They are some wonderful, hard-working kids (as are most kids I know these days, it seems) and we couldn't be more proud of them.
I pass that on not to brag (okay, maybe a little to brag), but mainly to just celebrate the kindness and goodness capable of people in the world today. As troubled as the world seems these days, acts of love and kindness still do happen and it's great to celebrate it when it does.
(The video is ten minutes long and may be more than anyone is interested in, but there it is, if you're interested...)
Someone recently raised concern about how the US was "spiraling out
of control" and in a dangerous place. I mentioned that the data does not
support that fear. We are all certainly concerned about the very public
violence that has been in the news recently, these acts are truly
tragedies. But that doesn't change the fact that violent crime is
trending downwards. This person responded saying, "Hey, if you feel
safe, go ahead and vote for Clinton..."
I'm pointing out: It's
not that I "feel" safe - although there certainly is some validity to
that idea - but that, in reality, according to the data, we ARE safer.
Violent crime (murder, assault, rape) is down and trending downwards.
According to FBI violent crime statistics...
"Today, the national
crime rate is about half of what it was at its height in 1991. Violent
crime has fallen by 51 percent since 1991, and property crime by 43
percent. In 2013 the violent crime rate was the lowest since 1970. And
this holds true for unreported crimes as well. According to the National
Crime Victimization Survey, since 1993 the rate of violent crime has
declined from 79.8 to 23.2 victimizations per 1,000 people."
since 1993 the rate of violent crime has declined from 79.8 to 23.2 victimizations per 1,000 people.
"In 1970, during Nixon’s presidency, the violent crime rate (number of
crimes per 100,000 people) was 363.5. It had been rising since 1961, and
ROSE every year of NIXON’s “law and order” presidency.
rising through the Carter, Reagan and Bush presidencies, peaking in 1991
at 758.2. During the Bill Clinton presidency, the violent crime began
to decline, down 33 percent on his watch. It dropped another 9.5 percent
under Bush II. As of 2014, the most recent year of national data from
the FBI, during the Obama presidency violent crime is down 20.3 percent,
for a rate of 365.5."
Also important to note in that data: Crime began dropping during the
CLINTON years (DOWN 33%) still trended down during the Bush years, but
at a slower rate (9.5%), then the rate of decline picked back up during
the OBAMA years (20%). We are just factually a safer people, at least as
far as violent crime goes.
This is actually quite an important
point. Some in the GOP/Trump's campaign are portraying us as fundamentally unsafe ("Make
America SAFE Again"), to a degree that is almost silly (as Trump read through his list of disasters that are barking at our feet, I could hear Bill Murray in Ghostbusters adding, "Cats and Dogs... Living together! MASS HYSTERIA!!").
These people are betting that people will ignore the data
and listen to their fear-mongering because, what else do they have? We
ARE safer, now. The economy IS improving. The unemployment rate IS down.
We ARE better off now than under the Bush administration. Human rights
are being extended more in keeping with our better values.
buy the fear-mongering and let's work to educate people. Things ARE
better in so many ways, and certainly moreso than under the Bush
Also (and this is important, too), ask people, "When you say Make America Safe
Again... to what time period are you alluding?" If they're speaking of
the Nixon/Reagan/Bush years, they are just mistaken. If they are
referring to the "Golden Age" of the 1930s-1950s, well, violent crime
may have been down, but moral crimes - Jim Crow laws, discrimination,
the denying of rights and abuse of minorities... those "good ol' days"
were pretty monstrous. Black folk, gay folk, other minorities were NOT safe during those days in very real ways.
Even if you think this, you should recognize that
a large percentage of your neighbors hear you longing for the good ol
days when "the blacks" and "the gays" knew their place and stayed in it
and women recognized their place in the home... ie, you should recognize
you will sound like a bigot when you say "Make America Safe, or Great,
Look, I come from a conservative and traditional people. These are very good people, don't mistake what I'm saying here. Moral, concerned about justice and taking care of those who need to be taken care of... NOT bigots. Good, decent people. I'm not complaining about "the conservatives" and how awful they are as a group. I'm warning against those few in any group who'd use fear to divide and tear down. I'm warning against those few in any group who would say, "I am the one with the answers. I am the one who will save us from this apocalypse that will surely come without me!"
What I'm saying is that we're all in this together, that things are not as bad as some make them out to be, and that we need to unite, not divide, to solve the problems we do have and we WILL continue to do so together. Not because one man who says that things are going to hell and he's the only one to save us. That is something to be wary of.
As I have said, I'm really to the point where I'd really like to spend most of my time on this blog reflecting on nature and this beautiful creation - human and otherwise - and living simply and lovingly within it. But I am still fascinated with rational problem solving and considering reasonable questions about apparently hard to settle issues. So, in that spirit, not in the sense of wanting to disagree with anyone and certainly not argue with anyone, but just to consider some reasonable questions...
In a recent conversation with Bubba, he was speaking of the ability to know some things perfectly and he was offering his idea of what he thought my position was. Specifically, we're speaking of ideas of morality and scriptural interpretations that we can't prove demonstrably and objectively.
Bubba and I were having this conversation about the idea of having what I termed "partially perfect knowledge." Bubba preferred calling it Absolute Confidence, Limited Scope, which he defined as follows...
- Absolute Confidence, Comprehensive Scope (ACCS). "A person can be absolutely confident about ALL proposition."
- Absolute Confidence, Limited Scope (ACLS). "A person can be absolutely confident about SOME propositions."
reject the first but affirm the second. It seems you reject both --
and it seems you're ABSOLUTELY confident that ACLS is false, and **THAT** is what is incoherent, that a person can be absolutely confident that absolute confidence is impossible for ALL propositions.
I am fine with Bubba's definition and framing, with the reminder that we're speaking about unprovable ideas, morals, theologies... and specifically about biblical interpretations.
And Bubba is correct that I reject both theories. The thing is, I reject both for the same set of reasons, which can be explained by considering the following questions:
1. On what bases would we presume we have ACCS? We don't, it's a rather delusional suggestion, we probably all agree.
2. Has God told us this? No. God simply hasn't.
3. Has the Bible told us this? No, it hasn't... and even if it did literally say that, on what basis would someone who is not a biblical literalist take the claim from the Bible at a literal face value?
4. Do some people INTERPRET the Bible in such a way that they, personally, are convinced that this is what God wants us to think? Perhaps, but so what? On what bases would we listen to these people?
I can think of no reason, presumably, Bubba would agree.
5. Does reason insist upon it? No, clearly it doesn't. Reason would say that if it can't be objectively and demonstrably proven as a fact, then we can't have complete confidence in all given propositions.
I believe Bubba would recognize this when we expand it out to ALL propositions, but how are the answers different for having complete confidence in SOME propositions?
Okay, so let's just look at ACLS and the rational problems we have, considering some more questions that the view begs.
5. IF there are SOME ideas, morals and theologies that we can be known with perfect or absolute confidence, which ones are they?
6. That is, can we know with complete confidence that slavery, rape, forced marriages, polygamy, drunk driving, deliberately killing children in wartime, smoking pot, buying baseball cards... are always wrong in all circumstances? And which items are and are not on this List of Perfectly Knowable Ideas?
[NOTE: I would suggest that for those of us who say that, at the least, Harm to Innocents is a fairly perfect, if not totally perfect, guideline for those who accept that measure... Saying it is always wrong to cause harm to innocents because it is a denying of basic human rights would preclude at least most of these actions... For the biblical literalist, it seems to me that there is at least the caveat that these actions are not always wrong, because God might command you to do them sometimes (since God literally did in the Bible at times, if you're taking it as literal history), and God wouldn't command you to do something that is inherently wrong... That's how it seems to me, feel free to correct me, anyone. But that is sort of an aside.]
7. The reason why the notion of knowing The List of Perfectly Knowable Ideas is important, because, if you don't have an authoritative list and Joe believes IDEA 1 is one of these things, on what bases do we conclude that Joe's IDEA 1 is an entirely reliable belief? Says who? On what authority? How does Joe know that the idea that he's got an opinion on is one of the ideas that we can know perfectly? Because he knows it perfectly? Says who? It's circular reasoning, is it not?
Or, if Joe thinks IDEA 1 is on The List, but Janet is sure that it's not, but IDEA 2 IS on the list, who decides? Where is the authority to make that decision?
8. If there is no List, then on what bases can we individually make the call on IDEA 1, 2, 3... 120,245? Is it every person for themselves? How is that authoritative and reliable?
Do you see the problem I'm having? I don't see how you can appeal to any given unprovable idea as "THIS is ACLS! THIS we can know with perfect assurance, 100%! with our partially perfect knowledge!"...unless you have an authoritative Source that can tell us definitively, Yes, it's on the List, or Yes, that opinion/interpretation/idea can't possibly be wrong. It is as a fact.
Is "Genesis is written more figuratively..." one of the ideas?
Is "Genesis is written as literal history one..." one of the ideas?
Says who? On whose/what authority can we say objectively and with Absolute Confidence one idea or the other or neither is absolutely right?
I mean, I think that there is observable data and science that insists that Genesis, at the least, can't be taken as totally literal history, that the earth was not created in six days, 6,000 years ago, that the world didn't flood, that language diversification didn't happen on one day... that based on evidence, we can discount that... but I think Bubba might disagree with even what seems like to be incontrovertible data... so Bubba would/might say that this is NOT one of the issues that is ACLS... or that it IS one and Bubba's opinion on it is the conclusion we can know with absolute confidence.
On what bases? Says who? What are you appealing to as an authority?
That (perhaps as you know) is the on-going problem I'm having with what Bubba is suggesting... I just don't see how it can be explained and defended objectively.
Unfortunately, I don't feel I'm covering this as comprehensively as I'd like, but I'll leave that there for now and see if anyone would like to offer their respectful opinions.