Sunday, March 18, 2018

Come Healing

In the season of Lent, this year at my church, we've been thinking on the theme of...

Walking in the Dark; Never Afraid, Never Alone.

...and we've had some nice imagery, stories, songs and sermons shared in the process. Today, a group of friends sang Leonard Cohen's, "Come Healing." It's a beautiful song. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Happy International Women's Day

She found she could sleep 
anywhere at all 
as long as she had friends, 
nearby and quiet

Such was the determined ferocity of her heart
and the mighty comfort of her friends.

Here's to all the mighty great women out there! Long may you rest, fight and prosper!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

Some excerpts from an article from a researcher on the depth and depravity of lies told by this current administration... which comes as no surprise to anyone who isn't blinded by an unhealthy sort of partisanship.

I Study Liars, And I've Never Seen One Like Trump

I spent the first two decades of my career as a social scientist studying liars and their lies. I thought I had developed a sense of what to expect from them. Then along came President Donald Trump. His lies are both more frequent and more malicious than ordinary people's...

In Trump's first 298 days in office, however, he made 1,628 false or misleading claims or flip-flops, by The Post's tally.

[!!! Holy Shit! This is not normal nor should it be acceptable! We can't just casually pass this insane bit of data by! ~DT] 

That's about six per day, far higher than the average rate in our studies. And of course, reporters have access to only a subset of Trump's false statements — the ones he makes publicly — so unless he never stretches the truth in private, his actual rate of lying is almost certainly higher.

That rate has been accelerating. Starting in early October, The Post's tracking showed that Trump told a remarkable nine lies a day, outpacing even the biggest liars in our research.

But the flood of deceit isn't the most surprising finding about Trump...

Trump told 6.6 times as many self-serving lies as kind ones. That's a much higher ratio than we found for our study participants, who told about double the number of self-centered lies compared with kind ones.

The most stunning way Trump's lies differed from our participants', though, was in their cruelty. An astonishing 50 percent of Trump's lies were hurtful or disparaging...

By telling so many lies, and so many that are mean-spirited, Trump is violating some of the most fundamental norms of human social interaction and human decency...

Read the whole story...


Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.                            

~Proverbs 12

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

~Exodus 20

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come
evil thoughts,
sexual immorality,
false witness,

These are what defile a person.

~Jesus, reading a laundry list of an average day in the Trump White House (with the possible exception of "murder...," so far as we know...)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Making a difference

"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

~St James

Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.

Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.


“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr

If you cannot feed one hundred people,
Feed one.

~Mother Teresa

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me...

[For] ‘truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’’


Friday, February 23, 2018

Our Violence Problem

Thinking things through a bit more on gun violence and talking point solutions I've heard thus far...

I. First and foremost, we need to recognize that the ROOT problem we have is a violence problem. Especially amongst men and especially young men, violence in our culture is seen as acceptable.

THIS is the root problem that needs to be dealt with.

II. The problem with the "arm the teachers/fortify the schools" approach (beyond the problem that it plays into the notion that violence is an acceptable solution) is that it's operating on the notion that, "This is what we will do IF an armed 'bad guy' gets into the school and starts shooting... THEN we will shoot back... and (giving the greatest possible benefit of the doubt), fewer people will be harmed/killed than might have otherwise happened.

It's a response to a bad situation, not an answer to it.

III. Which is to say, this solution is acting as a REACTION to hopefully (but not definitely) lessen the harm done, it's not being offered as a way of stopping the incidents from happening in the first place.

IIIa. Having said that, some have said that just having the guns present will have a preventative effect, as the would-be violent shooters will not want to go to a place where someone may shoot back.

But what does the data say?

Clearly, some people - i.e., many of these often white young men - who have gone into mass shooting situations, have done so with the expectation of being killed in the process. So, having armed responses on site does not seem to be a deterrent, on the face of it.

But again, what does the data say? It bears research.

IV. Of course, one other problem with this is that it's adding to an already overloaded list of things that teachers are responsible for. If we're arming the teachers and they're tasked with operating as body guards, their pay should increase, as a starting point! (their pay should increase, regardless... teachers are generally underpaid).

But that doesn't help with the fact that they're already overloaded on work. As many teachers have been saying, "You want to arm me? Arm me with support staff. Arm me with reasonable pay. Arm me with the tools and supplies I need, rather than expecting me to pay for it..." etc.

V. This "armed teacher" solution presumes that guns are the best way to stop a person ready to commit violence. Being prepared and trained in programs/philosophies like "Safe Physical Management" (or models like that), presumes the better option is to be prepared to talk people down from violence, rather than reacting with violence to a violent person. Not saying that there are not times where meeting violence with violence feels like the only possible solution, just that it should be a last resort.

Indeed, if we have armed staff shooting back at armed intruders, Wild West style, we have already failed. The goal is to prevent it from happening in the first place, not engaging in shoot outs.

Which is another problem I've had with some who have responded with a "Let's arm the teachers" response... It often is presented as if coming from a rather simplistic and shallow view of the problem. "It takes good guys with guns to stop bad guys with guns..." is a funny bumper sticker, but does not have much depth and seems a rather juvenile response, to many of us, at least.

VI. All of which points back to the root problem that we need to keep in mind:

We have a violence problem.

Especially amongst men and especially young men, our society is one of the worst for producing people who believe that violence and deadly violence are acceptable options to conflict. Other developed nations don't have this, not to the degree that we have it. Nearly. (Again, look at the data).

WHY are we, specifically, producing deadly violent young men? And let's not jump to easy, careless answers off the top of our heads (it's the violent movies! It's video games!)

What does the data say?

This is a topic that needs to be investigated and studied. That is certainly a starting point.

VII. In the meantime, IF we have violent young men as a given, at least for now, what can be done to lessen/ease the problem? Some say making the licensing and regulation of guns - especially guns that can kill a lot of people quickly (assault-style rifles). This seems reasonable and should at least be on the table of discussion.

But, liberal friends, we need to keep in mind that IF we make it more difficult to access assault style weapons, other weapons will no doubt be used, so that is not an ending solution, either. Maybe a mitigating and interim partial solution, but it's only partial.

But, conservative friends, it certainly seems like research and considering regulations and limitations should be on the table.

Some thoughts, for what they're worth.


Now, to the people who keep saying that "The 'bad guys' don't obey laws so passing new gun regulations won't make a difference," this is a mistaken argument for at least three reasons.

1. We have speed limits. People still break the speed limit, driving faster than they should. Nonetheless, some people DO obey the speed limit and most people will not break the speed limit by too much. The speed limits (and seat belt laws and road safety laws) all combined DO make a difference.

2. Depending upon how the regulations and rules are written, they are still effective even if some people ignore them because they allow for enforcement.
IF a person was restricted from owning guns for some reason (demonstrated violent tendencies, for instance) and they owned guns anyway, or tried to buy guns anyway, the rules/regulations would allow for responsible people to prevent that from happening or allow for them to be taken away before harm is done.

3. This is an argument for anarchy. "The 'bad guys' won't obey the rules, therefore, what's the point of laws..." is not a rational argument UNLESS you're arguing for getting rid of all laws and regulations. And even then, it's an irrational argument because regardless of whether you're arguing for anarchy (and hopefully, you're not), the rules DO make a difference (see points 1 & 2).

That laws, rules and regulations make a difference is demonstrable, we can see it by looking at the data. We need data-driven solutions, not fear-based solutions nor solutions based upon irrational or anarchy-based arguments.


It's been too hard living, but I'm afraid to die

'Cause I don't know what's up there, beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know 
A change gonna come, 
Oh yes it will

~Sam Cooke

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


She practiced her baddest
badass sneer 
every night 
in the dark
until finally
one night
the monsters all broke down
and cried.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Personal and National Responsibility

We can't support policies that lead to/contribute to other nations being poorer and more hellish (ie, "shithole..."-like) AND simultaneously complain about those nations and their poverty and dysfunction AND simultaneously refuse to assist those fleeing these nations.

Not and be moral and rational people.

The US has a long history of negative impacts upon other nations. I was just meeting tonight with a new friend who was speaking of how the US (under the Obama administration, I will hasten to note*) accepted a coup of a democratically elected president in Honduras. As we've done there in the past. Our policies have helped make it unsafe to live in Honduras. Our policies of this last year are only exacerbating the problem and accelerated the harm, there. As a result, people strive to leave Honduras and come here, where it is considered to be safer (and this, even given the many very real threats facing them here).

We can't create/exacerbate a problem that causes harm to people and simultaneously demonize and refuse to aid those people to whom we caused harm.

It's just basic responsibility.

Here's a good article talking about US involvement in the lives of those beautiful people in the nations that the current administration views as "shitholes."

I should be clear: I'm not saying that the US or the West is exclusively responsible for the problems of poorer nations. I'm not saying that they/we are primarily responsible. International policies and how we affect other nations is complex and impossible to nail down specific blames for bad situations. But, as you can see in that article, when OUR policies have been to prop up dictators, rogue regimes, oppressive administrations and when we've done so in ways that have been in opposition to our better democratic ideals, we own some good part of the harm that has resulted.

I'm saying that western - and specifically US - policies have contributed to some serious problems in other nations. I'm saying that business policies and wealthy lifestyles have contributed to some serious problems in other nations.

I'm saying that, as a matter of personal and national responsibility, we are obliged to not turn away people who are hurting and/or in danger as a result of our decisions, our policies, our lifestyles, our benefits.

I was reminded of that tonight in my conversation with my new friend. I owe it to all my new friends and unmet friends to keep pointing this out.

*NOTE: This happened under Obama's administration and Secretary of State Clinton okayed the notion that they weren't treating it as a coup... and yet, they both said it was a coup!? I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention at the time and I'm not sure what happened, but clearly, they goofed.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Far and Wide

When I die let me be a bird
So I can fly far from this world
I'll fly so high when I die
Let me be a bird

When I die let there be a home
That's warm and dry that I can call my own
Big enough to share when I get there
Let there be a home

Ooh, when I die, let me be a bird
Ooh when I die, let there be a home

While I'm alive, let there be peace
Let these cries of anger cease
Far and wide before I die
Let there be peace

Ooh when I die, let me be a bird
Ooh when I die, let there be a home
Ooh while I'm alive, let there be peace
Far and wide before I die
Let there be peace

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Cracked Pot Story

A Cracked Pot story from (I believe) Chinese folklore...

A water bearer had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you”. The bearer asked, “Why? What are you ashamed of?” The Pot replied, “For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you don’t get full value for your efforts”.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” As they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Libertarian and Liberty-Loving Defense of an Open Border

From an article by Javier Hidalgo. I've been wanting to put these notions into words, but he does it quite well...

If you’re a libertarian, you should endorse open borders. Here’s why.

Libertarians prize individual liberty. According to libertarians, we have rights to associate with others as we see fit and engage in economic transactions with them. These rights are constraints on state action. Libertarians think it is unjust for states to infringe on individual rights even in order to bring about socially beneficial outcomes. States certainly can’t violate our rights to protect some of us from economic competition or shield our cultures from change.

These commitments should lead libertarians to oppose immigration restrictions. When states restrict immigration, they stop you from associating with foreigners and engaging in many mutually beneficial economic exchanges with them. Want to hire an unauthorized immigrant? That’s illegal. Suppose you have an uncle who wants to immigrate to your country, and you want to sponsor him. The odds are that your uncle won’t be able to immigrate.

From a libertarian perspective, it’s hard to justify this interference with the rights and liberties of individuals. And libertarianism is a cosmopolitan doctrine. It says that foreigners have rights too. Immigration restrictions seem to abridge the individual rights of both citizens and foreigners.

Some libertarians reject rights-talk. They use more utilitarian reasoning to evaluate public policy. And these libertarians also have a good reason to oppose at least actual immigration restrictions. The same arguments that justify free trade apply to immigration. More immigration increases the division of labor and immigrants help generate more wealth. If you factor in the benefits of more open borders to foreigners, it is hard to think of a public policy that has a bigger payoff than more immigration. When economists crunch the numbers, they conclude that the benefits of open borders are in the trillions of dollars.

Libertarians are okay with some kinds of exclusion. Take private property. If a homeless person wants to sleep in your house, you are within your rights to exclude him. Maybe we should understand a state’s right to exclude in similar terms. Perhaps a state’s territory is the collective property of its citizens and this is reason that states can exclude foreigners. Does this idea make sense?

No. At least, not from a libertarian point of view. It is false that the government or citizens collectively own all of the territory of the United States. Instead, individuals own a large chunk of it. Suppose you wanted to invite some foreigners to cross the border and live in your house. The government will likely say no. That looks like a violation of individual property rights. So, if individuals have rights to private property, then we should reject the view that the United States is the collective property of its government or citizens.

Maybe you’re concerned that immigration will change the national culture in bad ways. Immigrants bring new and occasionally upsetting cultural norms and customs with them. But you lack a right to freeze cultural change. Here’s something else that can cause cultural change: freedom of speech. People use their rights to freedom of speech to persuade people to adopt new cultural norms.
Sometime they succeed and these new norms can be startling and upsetting. Nonetheless, libertarians would firmly reject attempts to restrict freedom of speech to avert cultural change. The same point applies to immigration. Sure, immigration brings about cultural change. Deal with it...

...let’s suppose that expanding immigration really is politically infeasible. Here’s where another key libertarian commitment comes in.

Libertarians are skeptical about state authority. Many libertarians deny that we have duties to obey the law just because it’s the law. Libertarians say that, if it is wrong for you or I to coerce other people, then it is wrong for the state to do this too, and other people are under no duty to assist states by obeying their commands. When states restrict immigration, they don’t merely stop people at the border. States also force private citizens to refrain from hiring, transporting, and renting to unauthorized immigrants. States conscript private citizens in violating the rights of foreigners.

Here’s where libertarians have some practical advice to give: break the law. Ignore immigration laws that try to get you to help the government to achieve its unjust ends. In this way, libertarians’ critique of immigration restrictions matters practically. While open borders may be infeasible, there is something that you as an individual can do: refuse to be complicit in the injustice of immigration restrictions.


Read the whole article here...


OR, here's another excellent article...

that posits the reasonable questions and makes the following rational points, among others...

What moral theory justifies using wire, wall, and weapon to prevent people from moving to opportunity? 

What moral theory justifies using tools of exclusion to prevent people from exercising their right to vote with their feet?

No standard moral framework, be it utilitarian, libertarian, egalitarian, Rawlsian, Christian, or any other well-developed perspective, regards people from foreign lands as less entitled to exercise their rights—or as inherently possessing less moral worth—than people lucky to have been born in the right place at the right time. Nationalism, of course, discounts the rights, interests, and moral value of “the Other," but this disposition is inconsistent with our fundamental moral teachings and beliefs.

Freedom of movement is a basic human right.

Amen and amen.

If anyone who thinks there is some rational and moral grounds for criminalizing immigration, please begin by answering the questions in bold.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Tear Down the Walls

Tear down the walls, tear down the palaces
Whose glory is a memory more sunless than our own.

These are tall shadows on the blighted earth
Spreading and lengthening as the day falls into the night
As we fall into our night, as every one of us
Will fall, and the always taller black
Fall with us.

What ghost knows where he goes
Or when he'll meet his brothers at what midnight?
What shall he say to them among the shadows?
Unhappy spirits squinting at the light,
History's blind and lame, the stunted ones.

Oh, not to them but to the living others
We say:
Tear down these walls, even though the sun
Must still go down and night come on
Wherever any one of us may walk;
Tear down these palaces whose past is lost,
Before they fall and falling crush us...

From the poem, Tear Down the Walls, by T. C. Wilson