Monday, July 28, 2014

A Century of War

...How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind
~ Bob Dylan 
Trench Troops - World War I

Today marks the 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I.

Especially in view of current events in the Middle East and Ukraine, this day's dark centennial reminds us of the dominance of human nature's enduring evil streak. Hundreds of millions of people have died in global conflicts during the past century.

Will there ever be an end to the strife? All these years later, the answer is still lost in the wind.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Newsworthy or Nuisance?

The Islamists persecuting Christians in Iraq doesn't merit much mention on network TV news. Iraqi Christians have been threatened with death and driven from their homes by the fanatics. If it were Muslims fleeing Iraq to save their families' lives from Christians, I suspect MSM would find 30 seconds to cover it on the evening news.

This situation has been described by Iraq's Catholic leader as "worse than Genghis Khan." I wonder how heinous the persecution of Christians would have to be before it's considered newsworthy.

It's similar to the Israeli deaths vs. those in Gaza. The Muslim deaths get the prime coverage, right upfront at the start of the broadcasts and print news articles. Jewish deaths are mentioned briefly after detailed coverage of the Islamic casualties.

In global conflicts today, the deaths of Jews and Christians--whose religious philosophies represent the bedrock of Western Civilization--are somehow less worthy of thorough reporting than the deaths of those in the radical extremist religion that pledges to eradicate the West.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Grandmother's Thoughts

When evil of the magnitude of the shoot-down of Malaysia Flight 17 occurs, the loss of human life becomes almost too much to contemplate.

There is something that writers call a "hook"--an anecdote or situation that draws you into a story and personalizes it for you. For me, that visceral connection came when I heard an NBC news reporter state that one woman had lost all four of her grandchildren. "I'm not a grandmother anymore," she is quoted as saying. I can think of no more devastatingly sorrowful fate. Grandchildren are our life's legacy, our crowning achievements. They are living proof and a true reward that all our hard work and sacrifice along life's rough roadway has been worthwhile--and they are a constant joy and inspiration in our later years. As the grandmother of three beautiful and precious grandchildren, I know I would gladly lay down my life to protect any of them from fatal harm. To lose any one of these life's treasures-- let alone all of them at once--in such a horrific atrocity, is beyond my comprehension and, I'm certain, more than I could bear.

I think of that unbearably bereaved woman, and I pray for her. Because I know, if I had to walk in her shoes, I would long for the sweet release of my own death to free me from my eternal grief.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Radically Different Film

I saw the movie America: Imagine a World Without Her, and I give it a go-see. It's definitely a thought-provoking presentation of how indoctrinated the United States has become in viewing its national history negatively. Quite predictably, it has lefties wailing and gnashing their teeth.

It makes me wonder, why would so many forces--academia, media, terrorists, politicians, and aspiring leaders--have such a coordinated vested interest in rendering the greatest success story of Western Civilization worthy of contempt?

Perhaps because evil is dedicated to the destruction of good?

The movie includes coverage of the 20th century left-wing leader Saul Alinsky, whose disciples include Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, wrote the leftist bible Rules for Radicals. Alinsky dedicated that book to Lucifer--although Alinsky himself, who was born Jewish, is documented as either an atheist or an agnostic, depending on which source you read.

In the New Testament, Lucifer is described by Jesus Christ as the "father of lies." Just some food for thought on a summer's day.

Monday, July 07, 2014

June Passages

I've been taking a "life break" for awhile, just enjoying family and friends. It's been a remarkably eventful five weeks, and unfortunately most of the news is bad. So this was either the worst or the best time to be offline.
American Cemetery in Normandy, France

It's almost impossible to find a jump-off point on world and national events, so I won't even try. But two significant days in June must be acknowledged before I can allow myself to move forward. The 70th anniversary of D-Day was commemorated on June 6, and Tony Gwynn, one of baseball's all-time greats, passed away on June 16 at the age of 54.

From everything that has happened, how did I pick those two events? Because both represent so many of the good and inspiring qualities of the best of the United States as a country, as well as the best of individual Americans. Both the victory of our valiant D-Day heroes and Tony Gwynn's professional and personal success, along with his final battle with cancer, embody courage, commitment, dedication, a sense of honor and duty, a determination to succeed, a quiet faith, and a humble acceptance of the challenging, often tragic aspects of life. All of these qualities contributed to making America great.

Tony Gwynn ~ 1960-2014
I hope it's not to late for us, as a culture, to recapture our noble and winning spirit. Our D-Day veterans are vanishing into history, and Tony Gwynn personified an old-fashioned sports idol whose actions on and off the baseball field made him worthy of the adulation he received. Despite the problems in our government and the world, I suppose a true American must always believe that a positive outcome is possible, no matter how grim our circumstances may seem. Believing in happy endings is a tough exercise at the moment. But that doesn't give us an excuse not to try.

Welcome to summer 2014. Who knows? It could be one of the best.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Questions Never Asked

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
~ Albert Einstein

Another senseless shooting on a campus, another media glorification of the killer. I can't watch any of it. I don't want to look at or listen to the murderer. I would like to know about the victims. Why don't we publicize those names instead of the killer's name?

I have many other questions that never get asked during the media obsession with the most recent killer du jour and his weapons of choice.

Has anyone in the media ever done research into these murderers to discover commonalities in their backgrounds, their families, their childhoods? For example:

  1. How many mass shooters/killers came from broken or troubled homes?
  2. How many did not have strong parental figures in their lives?
  3. How many grew up active in a religious tradition?
  4. How many were taught the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule as guidelines for living?
  5. How many were taught that they are not the center of the universe?
The popular formula is to skip all these bothersome inquiries and jump immediately to gun control as the solution. To me, this is like believing that having cancer is just fine because chemotherapy might cure it. Why don't we attack the root cause of the cancer instead of treating the symptom?

Speaking as someone who has never owned or even fired a gun, I must state this plainly--I do not believe that gun control will help us. My opinion is that the framework of our society is unraveling. The traditional family is disintegrating, under attack from political, cultural, and social forces on the outside and from crumbling personal value systems on the inside. You think this isn't relevant? Think again. In earlier eras, the family unit was strong. Children were expected to submit to a parent's authority, a school's authority, a church's behavioral requirements and moral code. This was not negotiable; children "respected their elders," as it was said, and for the most part followed the rules as taught to them. 

In those bygone times, as our country was being built, guns were ubiquitous in homes. Youngsters were instructed how to use them properly and with care by their respected older family members. The weapons were there for good and practical reasons--to hunt for food to feed the family, to protect the home against harm. In early America, guns and rifles hung on walls over fireplaces or were stored in kitchen cupboards. Children grew up among guns and rifles, understanding and honoring the power and purpose of a firearm. Violence was not glorified or made light of. And as far as I know my history, in those days children didn't get shot at school.

So it is only reasonable to ask the question, why now? Why is senseless, brutal gun violence becoming the norm in modern times? When I ask why, I go straight to the questions that never get asked. Because I think that's where the answer is.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Stop and Remember

Remember and Honor Our Fallen Heroes
Memorial Day ~ Monday, May 26, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Outrage, Again

Another scandal has erupted upon the hapless President Obama, this one in the Veterans Administration. As usual, the president insists he knew nothing about the delayed care of dying veterans until he heard about it on the news.

Take a look at this link to see how many times Mr. Obama has learned what's going on in his own administration through "the news." Our president seems to be a woefully under-informed chief executive. Such a pity, that.

And in line with the unfailing routine each time a new scandal erupts, the president is outraged. "Madder than hell," as he put it. Yes. Of course he is. (You believe him, don't you?)

The president hasn't gotten around to his "I will not rest" remarks yet, at least that I've heard so far. But that section of the script can't be more than a press conference away, coming upon the heels of his "outrage" at learning this shocking and terrible "news."

NRO's Jim Geraghty has compiled a timeline of our president's outrage, anger, apoplexy, and unrest. It would be comical if it wasn't so true. But the reality is that Obama's phony anger is, well, there's only one word for it. It's an outrage.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Price of Paradise

No matter where we live in the U.S., we pay a price for our home. And I don't mean real estate values.

Firefighters battle wildfires -San Diego North County - May 2014
I'm referring to hurricanes and blizzards, tornadoes and floods across the Northern states, the Midwest, in the South, and on the East coast. On the West coast, we live with the overarching threat of earthquakes. Earthquake preparation is part of our psyche. But a far more real and regular natural disaster plagues us--wildfires, or as they are often called, firestorms.

When I first moved to California, these events were called "brush fires," because there was little housing development on the open hills and valleys the flames ravaged. But today, homes, schools, hospitals, and whole communities stand in the path of almost every wildfire.

I've lived in Southern California for 35 years, and I love it here. For roughly 50 weeks every year, our weather is perfect. Blue, sunny  skies, mild temperatures, low humidity, cool breezes--a meteorological paradise. I call myself a "weather baby"--I don't think I could ever deal with miserable cold, stormy, or wet weather again. Yet every few years in recent decades, the brush fires of old have morphed into terribly destructive firestorms sweeping through our county. In the early fall of 2003 and 2007, the wildfires took a dreadful toll.

When the Santa Ana winds blow, it is usually September through November. May is most often a cool, overcast month--"May Gray," we jokingly call it. But this past winter was warm, with less than five inches of rain. The first heat spell struck in March; the second came early this month. There has been virtually no "May Gray." Vegetation is dry and crisp, ripe as kindling for the smallest spark. Then, when a rare springtime Santa Ana came roaring through early this week, the raging fires burst out seemingly everywhere.

Television coverage has been mostly non-stop. The region has learned the difficult lessons of 2003 and 2007, and fire and law enforcement agencies work seamlessly now as one huge, united team to evacuate threatened neighborhoods and protect lives and property. Most frustrating for me to watch are the foolish residents who refuse to evacuate their homes and stand armed with fire extinguishers and garden hoses to "protect" their houses. Really, idiots? You're going to stop a 1,500 acre wildfire, moving in 50 mph winds, with your backyard sprinkler hose? Police and firefighters often need to circle back to rescue people who refused to leave when first told to do so, taking precious time away from fighting the fires and safely evacuating other residents--not to mention risking their own lives because these selfish fools were stupid and uncaring of anything but their own wishes.

Our first responder teams have been courageous and heroic; stubborn homeowners, a senseless roadblock to their success. I think those residents who refuse evacuation orders should be subject to prosecution for endangering the lives of police officers and firefighters. And I think the penalty should be searingly harsh.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Free Exercise Has a Prayer

George Will writes a great piece on the Supreme Court decision in favor of a New York town's board of supervisors right to say a prayer at the beginning of their meetings. Perhaps there's a shred of hope left for the free exercise of religion, after all.

Will refers to Thomas Jefferson's personal letter that mentions "a wall of separation between church and state." Today that terminology is always presented as the need to protect the government from religion. But think about it--the Founders were steeped in the British tradition of an established state church, the Church of England. British subjects who were not members of that religion suffered many disadvantages in colonial days.

Could it be that Jefferson's "wall of separation" was meant not to protect government from religion, but rather to protect religion from government? I think so. Fortunately, so do five out of nine Supreme Court justices.