Sunday, July 30, 2006
In an earlier post on environmental responsibility, Chance (Zoo Station, whose url is http://sadastronaut.blogspot.com/ - and why is that, Chance - Sad Astronaut?) made the following excellent comment:
Concerning the individual, we can sin due to lack of moderation, like drinking too much, eating too much, etc... On a global scale, this is more difficult, because now we must make decisions for other people. I am not saying we should avoid such collective decisions when environment is involved, but how we decide what is moral for other people? "Don't" morality is easy on the individual or collective level (don't kill, don't steal), but "moderation" morality is very difficult on the collective level.
I responded by saying:
An excellent point, Chance. And part of why I think these issues are so difficult for us to come to grips with.
We're all for personal responsibility (most of us) but when it comes to corporate responsibility, things get blurry.
The individual responsibly driving a car, for instance, does no serious damage. There's plenty of oil in the world for one person to drive and the environment can handle a certain amount of smoke.
BUT, can 2 Billion people all drive every day and not have a negative effect? No. And so, the individual is doing no real harm there, but the collective IS doing serious damage to the world. How do we create a sense of corporate responsibility?
One thought I'd have is to work to ensure that ACTUAL costs are reflected in our purchases which will, to some degree, allow the Market to help things (how about that?! A capitalist answer from me!).
It doesn't cost us $3/gallon to drive our cars at the rate we do. It costs $3/gallon PLUS the 3 million killed in auto wrecks, PLUS the 1 million killed by air pollution, PLUS the loss of clean streams, PLUS the loss of tourism dollars that result because of the dirty streams, PLUS the loss of clean air, PLUS the days lost from work due to the effects of dirty air and on and on and on...
Our gas prices are WAY artificially low. If they reflected actual costs, then people would drive less, consume less, pollute less corporately and individually.
And that would be a start.
What do you think - what steps can we take to encourage corporate responsibility?
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I think there is sometimes a confusion in the minds of some about pacifists. My guess is that most pacifists are not opposed to a nation actually defending herself (even though we may choose not to fight violence with violence, ourselves). Rather, it is deadly violence applied in the course of something other than defense that we typically reserve our criticism for.
I bring this up in light of both our Iraqi invasion and the ongoing violence in
So, to clarify at least my position, I'm not opposed to
What I'm opposed to, here or in
Allow me to elaborate.
After 9/11, Al Qaida was a pariah around the world. The world was united behind the
But instead, we invaded a nation that had nothing directly to do with these criminals. We validated the terrorists' position that the
We are losing a popularity contest to thugs and terrorists!
By attacking and killing innocent people (and I know neither the
We've aided and abetted the enemy by attacking people in their vicinity.
And so, while I support a people's right to self-defense, I reject the notion that
The tools of destruction are only good for one thing.
Monday, July 24, 2006
The U.S., especially the Bush administration, says that it keeps starting wars in order to "spread democracy," despite strong historical evidence that democracy cannot be imposed by force from without. But the U.S. record on this is very mixed.
Quite often in our history, even in the years since WWII, we have undermined democracies and imposed friendly dictatorships. The Baathists came to power in Iraq (eventually leading to Saddam Hussein--whom we liked and armed for years) because the US and UK stopped a previous attempt at Iraqi democracy.
Guatemala had a nonviolent revolution in 1948 and 10 years of democracy--modeling its constitution on the US one--until it nationalized the fruit industry in the '50s. Then-Sec. of State of John Foster Dulles was heavily invested in United Fruit Company, so he sent in the CIA which overthrew the government. Guatemala then had decades of military governments and civil war from which it is still trying to recover.
Let me insert here what should be a needless assertion; that critiquing one's nation's actions does not equate - at all - with hating one's own nation. A brother who lets his brother repeatedly commit crimes and only responds by ignoring or even helping to cover up those crimes is not a loving brother.
People like Michael and myself point to these problems when we see them because we love the US, her ideals and promise. And we will not stand to see them undermined by the true traitors who'd undo those great ideals for which she stands.
Great stuff, Michael.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
The Great Un-doing
There should be a great Un-doing of it all
Not because progress is bad
But because our progress has been bad.
No sooner had we settled the banks of the Ohio
here in Louisville
had we turned our streams and river into toilets and sewers.
Our progress, in building this city of many neighbors and communities,
was paid for at the cost of our water and wildlife
and ultimately us.
This was wrong.
We didn't err in desiring to have a city,
just in our design.
It was cheaper, remains cheaper, to use Beargrass Creek as a sewer.
However, what is cheaper in the short term is rarely,
cheaper in the long term.
And what is cheaper in the long term,
Monday, July 17, 2006
Suppose I was aware of a household that was overextending itself. There are 20 people living in the house (counting a goodly number of children), but they only make $10,000! They have to spend nearly that much just on their housing and heating the house (well, that and air conditioning – it gets hot around here).
Plus they have to buy food (and they like fast food and pre-packaged food and that stuff don't come cheap), and they really need a van or two to transport all those people and you know how much gas costs these days – and what poor gas mileage vans get! Also, some of the teenagers feel like they need a sports car to fit in.
And, since they don’t live in the best of neighborhoods and it’s not that safe, they feel like they have to have a security system and at least a few guns for protection. And ammo’s not cheap these days, you know.
They really just don’t seem to be able to make it on that $10,000.
What should we do?
Wouldn’t the compassionate thing be to help them live this way? I know they can’t afford to right now, but maybe later they will be able to afford to, or if not them, maybe their children could improve their living conditions.
Perhaps if my church could slip them a few bucks here and there, and if they could get a bit of that good ol’ cheap money that flows freely from the banks of the River Welfare, then with a bit of charity money, maybe they could make it?
What’s that, you say? No, they shouldn’t be living such an extravagant lifestyle because they are simply spending way more than they are taking in or have hopes of taking in any time soon? You say that they’d only be creating a debt that someone else would have to pay and to do so is morally wrong?
Well, I do know that household. It is called Western civilization, although their tribe has spread far beyond just the West. Their home is the earth and it would appear that they are writing checks that the earth or their grandchildren cannot cash.
Are we living beyond our means? Ought this be encouraged, celebrated even?
We sure seem to hate it when we’re talking about the poor doing it, but when it’s (nearly) all of us, does it become acceptable?
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
Today is Henry David Thoreau's birthday. He was born in 1817 and died in 1862. He moved on to his buddy, Ralph Waldo Emerson's land in 1845 and for two years lived on Walden Pond in his famous simple living experiment. He published Civil Disobedience in 1849 and Walden in 1854.
Interesting fella. Happy Birthday, HD.
What's the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?
I was born upon thy bank, river,
My blood flows in thy stream,
And thou meanderest forever
At the bottom of my dream.
If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.
Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends...The very simplicity and nakedness of man's life in the primitive ages imply this advantage, at least, that they left him still but a sojourner in nature. To be awake is to be alive. Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I've made some small changes on my links over yonder, breaking down the group in to Earth, Wind and Fire, then also, Friends Seeking Common Ground. You can interpret the headings as you like.
I realize that we might all fit in to any of these groupings so, if you'd prefer to be linked under another category, please let me know and I'll submit your request to the CBA (Committee of Blogging Affairs) for a Reconsideration and Re-Categorization Process and we'll get back with you soon.
Another ongoing change has to do with the nature of labels. After reviewing Classic Conservative tenets a few months ago and reading Thomas Sowell's book, A Conflict of Visions, in which he proposed a rationale behind the differences between the Left and the Right, I've had to come to realize that I'm not very opposed to what we might call Conservative doctrine.
Don't have a heart attack, anyone. I haven't changed my positions. I'm just saying that very few (neither "liberal" nor "conservative") are in favor of endlessly spending tax dollars for the fun of it, nor for a Big, Invasive gov't. And no one is opposed to personal responsibility and we all recognize that people do make bad choices.
In other words, I'm not opposed to most of the tenets behind Classic Conservatism - I'm just opposed (strongly so, often) to the policy and actions of some people who self-identify as Conservatives.
And so, I've been trying - and will continue to strive - to quit writing as if it's Conservatism itself that I'm opposed to, or even those who call themselves conservatives. Rather, it's specific policies that I'm opposed to (or in favor of) and I'll try to speak to the specifics of those policies, appealing to both Conservative and Liberal ideals in the process.
For what it's worth. Feel free to hold me accountable.
Along those lines, my promised question has to do with the nature of those who self-identify as Conservatives and is simply this:
Why would those who don't trust the gov't to spend $20 billion to try to lift the poor out of poverty (because the gov't is so inept and can't be trusted with money or power), why would they trust the gov't to spend nearly one trillion dollars on guns, bombs, WMD, nukes and a generally bloated military machine and use these to invade other sovereign nations?
Saturday, July 8, 2006
It is one of the best stations I've ever had the opportunity to listen to (and we have some pretty good public radio stations here in Louisville in WFPL and WFPK). They are very eclectic with a songlist of thousands, plus they do a good bit of airtime to "Mountain Music," which is hard to find anywhere else.
I bring that up to say that I heard on WMMT what must be the saddest song ever. Ridiculously tragic. So sad that you sit there crying and at the same time laughing it is so idiotically horrible.
I didn't catch the name but I believe it was Echo Mountain, or had Echo Mountain in the title. I found some references to it, I believe, online but could not find the lyrics.
The gist of the story is this (sung in the high lonesome sounds of Old Timey music):
There is a married couple who greatly want a child but who'd been unable to thus far. One day, a dog wanders in to their life and he is their great joy. They love him like their own child. And then, ecstatically, they are blessed with a child! And there was great joy on Echo Mountain. They have and love their child and their dog - who could ask for anything more?
Wait for it...
One day, while out farming, the leave their beloved baby in the care of their trusted hound. When they return, the baby is missing and the dog is covered with blood!!
What a tragedy! There are tears on Echo Mountain, for the couple who've lost their baby and now must kill their beloved dog! And the innocent always pay for the mistakes we make...
Sad huh? But wait! There's more!
So the husband in great grief puts the bloody dog down. It is about then that they hear the baby crying - it had been hidden in a pantry door! Not only that, but outside the opened back door, they discover the two dead wolves that their trusted dog must have killed to protect the baby!!
And there are tears on Echo Mountain...And the innocent always pay for the mistakes we make...
Is that impossibly sad or what? And of course, the song format was much more stirring than my stiff reinterpretation of it. Anyone familiar with it?
One other song I heard (this one in a sort of simple klezmer melody) was by Holly Near, called I Ain't Afraid. The chorus goes:
I ain't afraid of your Yahweh, I ain't afraid of your Allah,
I ain't afraid of your Jesus, I'm afraid of what you do in the name of your God.
I ain't afraid of your churches, I ain't afraid of your temples,
I ain't afraid of your prayers, I'm afraid of what you do in the name of your God.
And on it goes. Great stuff. (By the way, that one can be found as a free MP3 online and I recommend a listening to.)
Tuesday, July 4, 2006
Sarah, Donna and Dan
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
This last week was a blast. It was great to be around a bunch of folk of all ages and a variety of backgrounds, making music and dancing together. While people came from all over, we were predominantly Kentuckians and folk from this region.
I was proud of and impressed by the music and community-oriented traditions that we have here in Kentucky and the great talent of even the younger students and newer players. I can't imagine a more beautiful or fun way to spend a week, bar nothing. Not Cancun. Not Paris. Not jolly old London-town.
No offense to any of those places, but for me, give me the hills of the southeast and some of its genuine community and music anytime.
Saturday, July 1, 2006
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
The picture above is what remains of the top of Black Mountain, KY. The picture below is the still barren valley beneath Mt St Helens. Both Mountains lost their tops in horrible disasters. The difference between the two, unfortunately, is that Black Mountain is a self-inflicted wound.
The land around Black Mountain in East Kentucky is phenomenally beautiful. The diversity of the flora and fauna and verdant forests have been the reason some have called the Cumberland region our own rainforest.
My family and I have just spent a week in these lovely hills learning and playing Old Time folk music at the Cowan Creek Music Camp. It was a wonderful week and we appreciate all the work the people at Cowan Creek and Appalshop put forth to celebrate the region. Please check out their work sometime.
I just hope that the mountains are still there for my children to return to when they're my age.