Archive for the ‘ Politics ’ Category

Tax Payers Right to Vote Act

Have you noticed the number of ads promoting this proposition? Have you noticed who is the number one supporter?

Yep, PG&E. Doesn’t that make you just a little bit suspicious? They have quite the special interest in effectively eliminating their competition. The proposition is a constitutional amendment that will require a two-thirds majority for a local government to either take over OR buy blocks of power to sell in competition. As we know, competition keeps prices and quality in line.

If this passes, it will be very difficult for local government to have any hand in utilities. Two-thirds is quite a lot. Then there is the cost of running the election and fighting the big pockets that will fund opposition ads.

The only reason I’m coming out against this is because it sounds fishy and there are no ads against it. The right to vote is something people will rally around. It’s a shiny pretty picture for the public…but it’s suspicious if you look any deeper.

Listening

“To communicate with one another, even if we know each other very well, is extremely difficult. I may use words that may have to you a significance different from mine. Understanding comes as we, you and I, meet on the same level at the same time. That happens only when there is real affection between people, between husband and wife, between intimate friends. That is real communion. Instantaneous understanding comes when we meet on the same level at the same time.

“It is very difficult to commune with one another easily, effectively and with definitive action. I am using words which are simple, which are not technical, because I do not think that any technical type of expression is going to help us solve our difficult problems; so I am not going to sue any technical terms, either of psychology or of science. I have not read any books on psychology or any religious books, fortunately. I would like to convey, by the very simple words which we use in our daily life, a deeper significance; but that is very difficult if you do not know how to listen.

“There is an art of listening. To be able really to listen, one should abandon or put aside wall prejudices, pre-formulations and daily activities. When you are in a receptive state of mind, things can be easily understood; you are listening when your real attention is given to something. But unfortunately most of us listen through a screen of resistance. We are screened with prejudices, whether religious or spiritual, psychological or scientific; or with our daily worries, desires and fears. And with these for a screen, we listen. Therefore we listen really to our own noise, to our own sound, not to what is being said. It is extremely difficult to put aside our training, our prejudices, our inclination, our resistance, and reaching beyond the verbal expression, to listen so that we understand instantaneously. That is going to be one of our difficulties.

“If, during this discourse, anything is said which is opposed to your way of thinking and belief, just listen; do not resist. You may be right, and I may be wrong; but by listening and considering together we are going to find out what is the truth. Truth cannot be given to you by somebody. You have to discover it; and to discover, there must be a state of mind in which there is direct perception. There is no direct perception when there is resistance, a safeguard, a protection.”

-J Krishnamurti

Expand the Fed?

Obama Pitches Federal Reserve Plan

This makes me a little scared…just because I’m wary of how much power we give to one authority…especially one that isn’t officially part of the government at all.

I think the system we have set up inherently has the flaws that we’re trying to eliminate.  Giving more power and oversight will only bandaid the problem.  I think we need some sort of overhaul…though, being no economical expert, I’m not sure which direction to go.

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Why Christians Should Vote to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

Why Christians Should Vote to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

For the purpose of this article I am going to adopt a distinctly
conservative Christian perspective and write for a distinctly
conservative Christian
audience.  I want to put forth the idea that even if you believe
homosexuality is morally wrong, a sin even, you should still vote for
its legalization.


Freedom vs. License

"Freedom and fear are at war. Freedom is not, "being able to do whatever
you want to do." That is license. If you have license, rather than
authentic freedom, your house is built on sand and will collapse.
Authentic freedom is the power to do what we ought to do; the power to
choose the good, the true, and the beautiful. That will vanquish fear
every time. If your concept of freedom is really license, fear will
come out on top every time. Freedom has to be united with truth. There
is no freedom outside of the truth: No authentic human freedom outside
of the truth. "If you are truly my disciples, you will abide in my
word. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." True
freedom is rooted in God."

– Fr. John Corapi

As Fr. Corapi says, Freedom is not
license, it is more along the lines of personal authenticity.  If God
is both Truth and within you, then when you are acting the most
authentically and genuinely, you are acting in God's will. 
Interestingly enough, this does not mean we should forsake license, for
license and Freedom are tightly intertwined.  If it weren't for
license, we could not genuinely choose to do what is right, for we
would do it automatically.  This is why God gave us free will.  He
allows us to sin so that we might learn, grow, and come to the truth in
a very personal and authentic way.  There can be no authenticity, and
no Freedom, without license.

The opposite of Freedom is fear, and the opposite of license is
restriction.  When a society implements restrictions on its citizens,
it does not only prevent its citizens from acting authentically, it
acts out of fear itself.  Even though our intentions are good,
restricting the public to do only what is morally right harms
everyone.  The people may choose the right thing, but for the wrong
reasons.  They follow truth, but they do so disingenuously.  We are
teaching them to act a certain way out of fear of the consequences. 
And we ourselves, who put the policy in place, we are acting out of
fear as well.  We are afraid that we can't trust people, and that if we
don't exert some pressure on them, they won't choose the right thing.

When God looks at us, does He have these fears?  Well, His heart is
probably breaking all the time, seeing us choose to bury our true
selves and choose against His will.  But He does not intervene and
force us to change our minds.  He honors His gift to us of free will,
and He lets us make mistakes.  He does not act out of fear that He will
lose us.  In fact, one of Jesus's most persistent messages was "Be not
afraid."  Fear blinds us, keeps us from the truth.  And out of fear we
impose God's will on the people in our society, when even God himself
will not do that.

The Purpose of Law

Contrary to a lot of current
thought, the purpose of Law is not to uphold or enforce morality.  Law
is about enforcing the minimum standard of action necessary to be a
functioning member of society.  It is about preservation of society,
putting restrictions on license where necessary in order to prevent its
citizens from harming each other.  Other than that, it should allow its
citizens as much license as possible.  If you look at many of our
current laws (against murder, theft, drinking and driving, etc), we make acts illegal when they harm someone or infringe
on their rights against their will.

Morality calls us to a much higher standard than the Law. Christian
morality is about rejecting sin in all its forms and transforming
yourself inside and out to become more and more like Jesus Christ. 
And, as I stated in the last section, we cannot force Christian
morality on members of our society without denying them the chance to
choose it freely.  That's what makes morality such a wonderful, lofty,
and praiseworthy ideal.  It is not something you are forced to do, it
is something you choose to do.

Given everything that has been said thus far, as Christians it is
our duty to emulate God and allow people to sin, as long as that sin
does not harm another person.  It may break our hearts to see people
shun the truth, but we have to let them.  From the standpoint of the
Law, we need to allow same sex marriage.  To vote against it is to act
out of fear, and to thereby distance ourselves from God.

Calming Leftover Fears – Definitions

In order to
get ourselves to a place where we are emotionally ready to permit same
sex marriage on a political level, we need to address two major fears
that plague our hearts.

The first is that by legalizing gay marriage, we would be
corrupting an institution that God created.  I know this is a sensitive
issue, and I will try my best to treat it fairly and gently.  We must
admit that the word marriage is full of different meanings on different
levels.  Traditionally, marriage has not always been meant as a
spiritual union in the eyes of God.  There has always been a social
aspect as well.  Marriage has been used as a political tool to unite
warring factions or countries.  It has been used in order to barter out
a better life for your family line.  It has been used as a financial
safety net.  Even today, people marry for all sorts of reasons.  They
marry for money, for lust, or for social status.  Some people get
married for love, but do not associate themselves with any religious
tradition at all.

This does not in any way detract from the beauty and profundity of
the Sacrament of marriage in its religious context.  It is as if we can
talk about marriage on two levels.  There is the social/political
level, and the spiritual/religious level.  The social/political level
has changed many times over the centuries without affecting the
spiritual/religious ideal of marriage.  And so it is today.  Allowing
same sex marriage affects the social definition of marriage, not the
religious one.  As a Christian, you do not have to recognize same sex
marriages as being approved or sanctioned by God.  It is in the name of
the State only.

If this proves to be too difficult of a place for us to reach, then
perhaps we need to take another route.  Many have stated that they are
just fine with civil unions, as long as gays aren't allowed to marry. 
But what is a civil union other than the social/political level of
marriage?  Although, if we insist on keeping the word marriage solely
in its religious context, then we must be fair in how we treat it on a
social/political level.  By this I mean taking the word marriage out of
State hands entirely.  Everyone would get civil unions, and then if
they chose to take the extra step of getting married, they can do so
through their Church.

But it is imperative that we maintain equality between same sex
couples and heterosexual couples.  When Jesus dealt with sinners,
whores, and thieves, did he not treat them as equals?  Isn't that what
allowed him to get through to them?

Calming Leftover Fears – The Children

The other
major fear has to do with what our children will see and be taught with
regards to homosexuality.  We do not like the idea that schools and/or
the media will be telling our children that homosexuality is okay and
perfectly acceptable.

Before we go into ways to ease this fear, let us explore for a bit
the root of it.  When it comes to our children, we want nothing to
corrupt them.  We want the best for them.  And because we are
Christians, we want them to grow up with those same values, that they
might find their way to God as well.  But this leads us to be fearful
of letting anything "unclean" touch them.  We are afraid that the power
of evil is too strong, too tempting, and that if our children are
exposed, their weaker minds will be enveloped and there will be nothing
we can do about it.

But children can smell our fear.  And they react in one of two
major ways.  They either adopt the same fears, or they rebel against
them and challenge them.  As we discussed earlier, fear is not truth. 
Truth is Freedom.  Some children sense this on a deep level…that the
actions we take are spawned from fear, and so they reject any truth
that they might express.  Either we perpetuate the feeling of fear, or
our children take their lives in a radically different direction in
order to reject it.

There is a better way.  Do not be afraid to talk to your children. 
Do not be afraid that they won't turn out how you want them to, or that
their lives won't be as happy as the lives you imagine and want for
them.  Trust God.  By working on your own inner state, you can better
help them grow up in God's love. 

If you adopt the frame of mind discussed in this essay, talking to
your children about same sex marriage is not as confusing as many,
including the National Organization for Marriage, have made it out to
be.  By showing your acceptance of it on a political level, you do not
give off the same fear, and children are less likely to rebel.  You can
then explain to your child what I explained in this essay, that
marriage for Christians is something even more deep and spiritual and
religious than society's definition.

Should your child still grow up and choose to marry someone of the same
sex, the other thing that legalizing same sex marriage will do to help
you
is that it will drastically change the homosexual community.  With
marriage and finding someone to love seen as the end goal of any life,
even a homosexual one, your child will grow up seeing examples of gay
men in loving, committed relationships.  They will see gay women caring
for each other and their children.  If your child does end up to be
homosexual, wouldn't you rather they choose this sort of life as
opposed to one of promiscuity?

This brings me to another caveat
to adopting a position free of fear.  We must maintain a sort of
"detachment" from the outcome.  If your child does happen to be
homosexual and to choose to marry someone of the same sex, you cannot
take it personally.  It may break your heart, but to force your child
to deny what he feels is truth makes you look fearful and your child
will not respond.  To give your child a chance at Freedom,
authenticity, and Truth…you must let him make his own choices.

Conclusion

In summary, the Christian life is
about transforming ourselves and emulating Christ, who is God in human
form.  In order to become like God we must follow Freedom,
authenticity, and Truth…and we must lay aside fear.  It is difficult,
and there is much resistance. The path is indeed narrow.  It is hard to
give up what we think keeps us safe.  But to do so shows that we really
do have Faith and Trust in God, that we are willing to let Him shape
events and to adopt His perspective rather than merely our own.  In our
own struggle towards Freedom, we must surrender our fears about the
paths of others and strive, by example, to be a light to the world,
should they choose to see it or not.


*As you may have guessed, I am by no means conservative.  I tried to adopt that perspective for the sake of the argument.

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The Multifaceted Issue of Abortion

In my opinion, the problem of abortion is a multifaceted issue.  And, it is more of a symptom than a problem in itself.

A symptom of what?  Fear.  Taking yourself out of your normal
perspective, can you imagine how scary it would be to find out you are
pregnant and do not have the means to care for this child?  And what
about what your parents will think?  They might even disown you.  Or if
you’re a single mother living in a poor community…how will you
provide for your child?  You can’t work and take care of her at the
same time, except for very select jobs that probably won’t pay much
money.  And besides, you’re not married.  What will society think?

I know it is their fault for getting into the situation (at least most
times…rape is a special circumstance that most people are more
compassionate towards), but that still doesn’t change the fact that the
guiding principle in these situations is fear.

Making abortion illegal, in my opinion, will only increase that fear.
Because before there was an out, a backup, if you couldn’t figure
anything else out.  And now there is no (legal) escape.  Because of
this increased fear, I think women might go to greater lengths, unsafe
ones, to be rid of that fear.

But then what do they trade the fear for?  Regret and guilt.  It’s not a happy situation.

So I would approach the problem with the goal of easing these fears so
that the woman can make a genuine choice from her heart rather than let
her fear consume her.

On a social level, I would probably do things like provide free
childcare in poorer communities, so the mother can work and earn money
to take care of her child, or continue going to school.  I actually
stole that idea from Obama. 😉  In addition, I would try to find ways
to increase the quality of schools in poorer areas.  As it is, richer
schools = better schools, and so the poor keep going in circles.
Basically, find things that will make it easier for the mother to give
her child a good life, and you’ll reduce some of the fear that consumes
her.

Also, reform and improve the foster care system.  Address the issues
that make people think growing up in the foster care system is a
nightmare you wouldn’t ever wish on your child.  Perhaps also offer tax
credits or extra benefits to couples who adopt a child.

But the most important thing, in my opinion, is the hardest to
implement.  I would make it a rule that before a woman can get an
abortion, she must attend one or two counseling sessions.  The purpose
of these sessions is not to persuade her to change her mind.  If it
were, it would never work.  Abortion has to remain an option because it
serves as the initial fear-reducer that will get them into the
building, where counselors can hopefully help guide them to be sure
they are making the best decision…the one their hearts tell them to
make.

On a wide level this idea will only work so well because it relies upon
an abundance of really good counselors.  If the counselor is pushing
the woman towards one particular option (be it keeping the baby, giving
it up for adoption, or having the abortion), she will sense that and
resist.  The conversation really needs to be centered around the
woman’s situation and her psyche.  And the counselor must give up the
idea that they can control the outcome, because by exerting control the
situation is only made worse.

The idea is to get them to talk and think about their situation.  There
might be an option they hadn’t thought of, or a way to make it work
they hadn’t considered.  It also may be that they hadn’t been thinking
of the long term, only the short term goal of being rid of all this
fear.  Regardless of the situation, their life would drastically change
if they kept the child, and some of that fear is rational, and some of
it isn’t.  It would help to have someone you can trust, someone who
isn’t going to push anything on you but who will help you come to your
own decision…one you can live with.

Yes, some of these women will still end up choosing to get an
abortion.  But, if we approach them with compassion and understanding,
I believe that many more women will make other, better decisions.  And
our society as a whole will not look upon these women with either
indifference or contempt but rather with compassion.

I think a combination of all these ideas plus many many more, all aimed
at making the decision to keep the child or give it up for adoption
easier to make, will help the situation the most.

But to just make it illegal, to me, is admitting we don’t understand
the problem, or that we don’t have or want to give up the resources
needed in order to really address it.  It’s easier to just call
something wrong and disallow it than to really engage the problem on
all levels.  And that is what I think we need to do.

Anti-life

"A powerful Catholic leader on Friday accused President Barack Obama of
pushing an anti-life, anti-family agenda and called Notre Dame's
invitation for him to speak scandalous."

I hate how people use such polarizing language.  Is Obama, or anyone who is pro-choice, really anti-life?  Is he really anti-family? Come on!  All this sort of thing does is demonize the "enemy" without making any attempt to understand him…which, honestly, isn't very Catholic.

It also eliminates all possibility of a middle ground.  Believe it or not, there are those of us who dislike abortion, but think that there is a better solution than making it illegal and calling people evil for doing it.

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Torture

There’s been a lot of talk about torture lately, with some people
arguing that we should never torture based on our moral standards, and
others saying that it is a necessary evil and must be kept up if we are
to protect ourselves.

Ironically, it’s the right, known for containing a majority of Christians, who are arguing for torture.

So here’s my question: how can you claim to be both a Christian and a supporter of torture?