Archive for January 2013

Martin Luther King Jr.   Leave a comment

Martin Luther King, Jr.

King in 1964

January 21, 2013 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States of America.

In his “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, King offers wisdom that might be appropriate for those who raise questions about the tactics of the Idle No More movement.

Some of those comments, as I see it, are below, concluding with a reflection on the role of the Christian church. One wonders if this quotation from King is also applicable in today’s circumstances where Christian communities that proclaim justice as their mission are not involved with the Idle No More movement. At the same time, given the past involvement of churches in residential schools, maybe reconciliation between churches and First Nations needs to happen first.

  • “We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

  • “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

  • “The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.”

The logic of more guns   Leave a comment

I am one of those of us who live outside of the United States of America and who find it very difficult to understand that there are Americans who promote the acquisition of more guns for the people of America.

Jim Taylor has sent his mailing list an articulate statement on this topic – which is copied below.

THE NRA’S WARPED LOGIC

By Jim Taylor

I suspect many of you don’t want to hear anything more about the National Rifle Association. But instead of simply rejecting the argument presented by Wayne LaPierre, Executive Director of the NRA (tactfully delayed a whole week after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School) that the solution to having too many guns loose around the United States is more guns, I thought it might be worth exploring the implications of his logic in other areas.

LaPierre wants armed guards stationed at every school. He wants teachers to have access to guns, to defend themselves.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” asserted LaPierre.

LaPierre did not define how one knows whether a guy with a gun is a good guy or a bad guy. Perhaps they’d wear badges. Or white hats vs black hats. Although that would require a level of testing, validation, and regulation that I’m sure the NRA would resist.

Nor did LaPierre specify who’s going to pay for all those armed guards. The always-skeptical Huffington Post calculated a total of 173,990 kindergarten to Grade 12 schools. Plus 11,237 colleges and universities. All of which have multiple entry points that would need guarding. HuffPost estimated the task would require two million armed marshals. Perhaps they could be paid from increased educational taxes and tuition fees.

The NRA generously volunteered to assist with their training.

Now let’s consider who else might benefit from theNRA’s logic.

Big tobacco companies, for sure. They could claim to be an equal-opportunity manufacturer. The solution to smoking-induced lung cancer, they could righteously intone, is more cigarettes. Don’t be a victim of someone else’s second-hand carcinogens, they might say; inhale your own smoke.

It’s would be easy to recognize the bad guys. Evil health nuts would smoke prissy filter tips. Good guys smoke cancer-laden stogies.

How about the alcohol business? If misuse of alcohol can harm our youth, the obvious solution is to install a bar in every school, staffed by a trained bartender.
The only thing that stops a cheap drunk in his cups is a lush with a bigger martini.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) could get in on the act with their own campaign. It takes one to know one, they could argue. So the only thing that can stop a drunk behind the wheel is another drunk behind the wheel. They could offer to train vigilante drunks to smash into any other driver behaving erratically before the other driver can run into anyone. Think of it as an adult version of bumper cars.

Everyone knows that in highway accidents, the occupants of a Mercedes Smart car are less likely to survive a head-on crash than riders in a Kenworth truck. Obviously, everyone should drive a Kenworth. So what if it would wreak havoc with roads and parking lots? Look how much safer people would be.

Of course, a mishandled Kenworth can crush many more pedestrians than any Smart car. But that’s how you tell the difference between a good guy in the cab, and a bad guy in a small hybrid. The bad guy leaves less collateral damage.

LaPierre’s proposals should delight drug dealers. The solution to illegal street drugs is more street drugs. After all, if you’re spaced out on heroin, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, whatever, who in hell cares what some unscrupulous creep may be hustling out there in the lane…

It would be easy to tell good dealers from bad dealers, too. The bad guys have bullet holes in their backs.

Arms merchants, we should note, already practice LaPierre’s prescriptions. If one nation in the Middle East has nuclear capabilities and/or long-range missiles, they’ll all be safer if every nation has them. It may not make much sense, but it makes big profits. The good guys are readily recognizable, because they have U.S. missiles. Even if they’re firing those missiles at other guys who also bought U.S. missiles.

I’m sure the NRA principle would also benefit the big GMO corporations — Monsanto, Dow Agrosciences, Dupont, etc. And the nuclear power plant industry. To say nothing of the petrochemical companies doing fracking under water acquifers.

But I haven’t had time to work out the precise details of their possible presentation.

The 18th Century English poet Alexander Pope once wrote scathingly, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Educators particularly should welcome LaPierre’s reasoning. To combat “little learning” they could promote more learning. Teach logic. Research. Demographics. Critical analysis…

Hang on a minute — that might actually work! Especially if they could start with Wayne LaPierre….

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Copyright © 2013 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.
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Published with permission from Jim Taylor.

Posted January 19, 2013 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Politics

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Liberalism in America   Leave a comment

Alexis Gravel (CC-BY-ND)

Chris Hedges, who for 15 years was a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, has written an analysis of the 2012 presidential election in the United States of America. He writes that, “The ineffectiveness of the liberal class, as was true in Weimar Germany, perpetuates a dangerous political paralysis. The longer the paralysis continues, the longer systems of power are unable to address the suffering and grievances of the masses, the more the formal mechanisms of power are reviled.”

That comment ought to cause self-identified liberals to pay attention, no?

This article was originally published in TRUTHDIG, and I read it in The MONITOR; a publication of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives;

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/once_again_–_death_of_the_liberal_class_20121112/

Posted January 5, 2013 by allanbaker in Economics, Politics

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Resolutions   Leave a comment

hands-earthEach year, at the beginning of the month of January, many people make resolutions on how they intend to change their life, or possibly the life of the world they live in. For me, these changes in my lifestyle frequently last for two days, more or less. This year I resolve to do better!

Here is a comment on resolutions that has been written by a Canadian author, Jim Taylor:

”  In the great game of life, there are no spectators. We are all involved.

So for 2013, let us set aside apathy. Let us speak up, and speak out, on issues that affect us. Not by hurling accusations or insults, but by making our views clear. To ourselves, as well as others. We cannot effectively debate issues we haven’t made an effort to understand.

The pages of the new calendar are not blank, after all. They’re filled with invisible invitations.

To make this a better world.

For us, and for all living creatures.”

Posted January 3, 2013 by allanbaker in Inspiration

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