Sunday, January 27, 2019

Amazing Grace - Who was William Wilberforce?

Who was this man of English birth?  Why, he was a tradesman and member of parliament that spent the better part of his adult life fighting for abolition of slavery.  Here is a brief from Wikipedia: 
Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality and education. He championed causes and campaigns such as the Society for the Suppression of Vice, British missionary work in India, the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone, the foundation of the Church Mission Society, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. His underlying conservatism led him to support politically and socially controversial legislation, and resulted in criticism that he was ignoring injustices at home while campaigning for the enslaved abroad.
In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement after 1826, when he resigned from Parliament because of his failing health. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire

Another of my favorite films, Amazing Grace, is an account of his life. Here is the trailer.  

Amazing Grace William Wilberforce  

Wilberforce was a workhorse for a great cause against great odds.  

More to come. 

Silver Lining Playbook - a great film about recovery

I have watched this film several times (maybe more), but why?  What is it about this film that I find fascinating; is it the recovery of a him/her from a personal crisis or is it more, maybe a love story or something else?  

Here is a clip, near the beginning of the story, when Pat meets Tiffany at her sister's house.

Silver Lining Playbook - a "strategy" 

Before the evening however Pat is counseled by his Psychologist to "get a strategy"; to develop a way of coping with the reactions or stress brought on by the combination of his medical history and his crisis; the loss of his wife through an affair.   

What I like about the film is how these try to help each other, though the effort is clouded in deception; he wanting her to give a letter to his wife (who has a restraining order against him) and she who want him, well, as her lover, perhaps next husband (her husband having died in the line of duty).  

Atop of their messed-up lives is his family and, in particular, his father (played by Robert De Niro) who happens to have some behavioral issues of his own and, in that, an agenda too.   In this scene, the father has lost a crucial bet on his hometown football team and is blaming Pat for it all.  In the midst of this family mayhem, Tiffany arrives--mad as Hell--to not only establish her cause but to set Pat's father straight, as to the relationship and vicariously the Philadelphia Eagle's performance/record.  

Silver Lining PLaybook - "I got to say I do"

His family has dealt with "Pat's problem" for many years but, by his own admission, the father largely overlooked it, playing favorite to Pat's old brother who is apparently more successful, seemingly "normal".    

The film or story combines humor, romance and the drama of two (or more) lives in the midst of serious matters. Through it and with it, the two are are able give and receive help in degrees, step by step, discovering love in the process.  It is a beautiful story. 

Deindustrialization in Dayton

As one employee laments (see link below), 
When the plant closed here, economically, it was devastating.
Dayton Ohio once produced more autos than any other city except Detroit.  In/as de industrialization took its toll, not only did folks lose good jobs but they lost hope too. 

As the video describes, all the adverse consequences of under and unemployment follow undoing a once thriving, vibrant city.  

Deindustrialization in Dayton OH

Dayton is only one of such cites, communities, that have seen its better days, but is among many.  Sure, "things change", and that just as this city rose to some peak of prosperity, it evidently declined.  One might quip, 
What goes up must come down
As the lyrics go, Blood, Sweat and Tears.  

I share this story simply because I have witnessed firsthand the effects of de-industrialization, globalization, the outsourcing and off-shoring of jobs.  I have spoke to some impacted by such economic and communal changes.   Members of my family, some that prospered during better times, might very well be the last to experience upward mobility and all the opportunity afforded then, as it was.  

More to come.

Cold Mountain - a novel made film about the ravages of war

Cold Mountain is another favorite of mine; that besides the backdrop of the U.S. Civil War, the story (or stories) capture the personal plight of war whether directly engaged on the front lines or on the home front, dealing with reports of death and other dire consequences.  Yes, this story of stories is about a mountain town that survives the war amid countless sacrifices and loss.  

I first read the novel and then saw the film; both intrigued me but, as films offer,both the soundtrack and vivid images atop the sensational acting, it continues to intrigue me. About the story (stories), first the plot, a heroes journey:   a young man (Inman) from this villiage is thrust into war, joining a supposed eligible for North Carolina's part in the Confederacy.  Reluctantly leaving behind a new found love (Ada), he  nevertheless fights, able to survive years of in field battle, but finally is wounded and sent to a back line hospital on the Carolina coast.  Here, he receives one of only few of the many letters that Ada wrote, a much dated account of her own tragedies and plights of war followed with a plea for him to "come home". 

In the months to follow, Inman travails many obstacles along a path to the mountains of west North Carolina, but also receives help here and there as he runs from the home guard and gradually heals from his wounds, physical and otherwise.  Arriving finally to Ada's farm, he discovers that the local home guard has wreaked misery and added hardship to the already distressed village.  In the climax, Inman kills the home guard while dying himself, but not before he is reunited with his love.   Here is that clip, 

Cold Mountain - Inman Returns from War
War is terrible and tragic; it never leads to peace and it always creates destruction and death.  By definition, war is a failure of policy--yet we cannot seem to get over it, work through it or otherwise move beyond it.   As one WWII veteran recently said to me, 
War is a terrible thing. It's a shame that we cannot stop it.
More to come. 

Deception - Propaganda or other poppycock

Let's faces the facts; that facts are often disregarded, directly or indirectly omitted as the method of expedience--where the end justifies the means--is applied. Yes, the truths or facts on matter as to bolstering the presupposition of the powers at be; otherwise, facts are annoyance at the least and a risk at the most.   With expedience, the execution, why should such facts and figures really matter?  

Propaganda is systems designed to influence and inspire persons, the populous; promoting/publishing and popularizing ideas, usually political, toward a cause. The "science" originated through an American Psychologist, Edward Bernays, as public relations to include publications such as, Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923) and Propaganda (1928).  Goebbels of the Nazi party used these publications in the design of Nazi systems of the 1930's.   

Here is an Introduction to Propaganda, 

Introduction - Propaganda 

Deception and propaganda go hand in glove; that deception is at the core of these systems, aimed influence and inspire persons into action (or inaction) but finally and always to control a collective. These systems or mechanisms are part and parcel for war, aimed to foment action through fears, but also used for commercial purposes (advertising/marketing) and even among persons, one to the other but always for the purpose of control/power--in this last case, to manipulate or persuade, rather than force, action. One may even so far as to appear sorry or apologetic if they think this will persuade those they aim to control of the worthiness of the matter, mission. 

I mention that many in Nazi Germany would persuaded or convinced on the premise or experience that the Nazi party helped them out of economic depression, dire unemployment and despair.  To learn more about why the German people followed their fuhrer because he(they) provided jobs. To learn more about this situation read They Though They
Were Free, Milton Mayer.  Here is a summary: 
First published in 1955, They Thought They Were Free is an eloquent and provocative examination of the development of fascism in Germany. Mayer’s book is a study of ten Germans and their lives from 1933-45, based on interviews he conducted after the war when he lived in Germany. .

Friday, January 25, 2019

Decepiton - dividing the flock...and culling the herd

In a previous posting, the sheep served a similar purpose; those too misinformed and/or complacent to avoid the trappings of deceit.  Even the supposed leader, a sheep dog, can find itself going upstream or against the surge when the wolves show up.  Yes, the sheep will soon falter in their trust of one given their fear of another and, against their best interest, will go the way the Dodo bird or some other creature of lesser will or way. 
Winston Churchill let be known that, 
When there is not enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you. 
The two faces and many facets of the deceiver is like that; playing the part of a friend, even lover, while otherwise working against you, always and finally for control and power. 

Often it not so much the few who mastermind acts of evil but those agents who do the dirty work, executing the planning of the few.  One example comes from John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman; how he and others brokered deals with the leaders of foreign nations on behalf of the state and corporations, effectively extorting the leaders to enable "the few" to colonize their resources while riddling them with financial peonage.  He says,
Fear and debt, the two most powerful tools of empire. 
It is fear that, after everything else, is the means to dividing the flock, the precursor of culling the herd. The most effective method to this (divide and conquer) in a democracy (or relatively free society) is not by brute force but through deception, duping the many to believe falsehoods and to deny or disregard facts, truth.  

The most effective way to control (dis-empower) a person is to first dupe them into believing that you have their best interest in mind, and the second, when the first fails, is finally fear of one sort or another.  

Deception - and love, yes, love

One relationship marked by deception is that of romance, physical and sexual intimacy, and even love and marriage.  Oscar Wilde said, 
Deceiving others: this is what the world calls romance.  
But the, we often want to trust based only on sight, so says Zoe Marriott,
People trust their eyes above all else--but most people see what they wish to see, or what they believe they should see, not what is really there.
To describe it once again, this time in the flesh, is that deception and the possibility that  beauty may appear only skin deep is real--while ugliness runs deep...or at least all the signs that TRUST is not possible however ignored or overlooked. 

Mind you, there are misunderstandings, miscues and mystery in the making of relationships, especially those bound by physical attraction, sexual desire and the like; but finally and always, no healthy relationship remains in the presence of deception but only lies over lasting love. 

The Bible offers stories of such relationships, steeped in deception, such as: 
  • Samson and Delilah - she deceives him, cutting his hair and thus, removing the source of his strength which leads to his death
  • Abraham and Sarah - he deceives her, his wife, at some time in their journey, claiming her to be his sister when confronted by Pharaoh, who desires her
  • David and Bathsheba - not directly aimed at Bathsheba but certainly her marriage with Uriah, David plots her husbands death--among other things--attempting to hide his adultery with her
And often referred to verse from Jeremiah, 
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Yes, the Bible is replete with stories and examples of deception, the heart as inherently deceiving.deceptive, and plenty of warnings about the dangers of deception, trapped or trapper. More of this will be covered later in the series. 

Persons will seek and strive for what they want--what they think they need--and go to great length to get it, never mind the relationships that they invariably lose or lance along in the process.   Sometimes this deception is mild, perhaps misunderstanding amid sincere hearts, but other times (and more this mater) is intentional deception, lies in the midst of lured and lustful feelings.   

Be wary and beware of deception; left to your own devices (or vices) it will destroy.  

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Deception - the deceiver's two sides

Deceivers never call their actions deception or anything similar, subtle and sinister, but often use  platitudes such as policy, diplomacy and even compassion (and love)--anything positive as part of the deception, another layer of their web. 

The deceiver appears to be well intended however insensitive, insidious, their actions.They appear to have your best interest in mind while figuratively stabbing you in the back. If an individual, the deceiver is generally incapable of accepting, let alone acknowledging,  responsibility for their actions; that whether they suffer from a psychotic illness such as Narcissism or are spiritually wicked, control /power is the common cause for their actions.  

For a group, organizations or institutions, the inner workings and myriad of relationships multiply the matter, means and methods; thus, compulsion, collusion and conspiracy are rampant--power most poignant, pervasive  You can see and sense this in the present partnering of media and the state, where deception is simply status quo, propaganda.  They are as thick as thieves. Nay, they are thieves.

The Great Deceiver is Satan, who first enters Biblical history at The Fall, deceiving Adam and Eve into eating of the fruit from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and consequently, falling from grace, the garden.   Satan has power beyond human comprehension, the practice of such schemes described in numerous scripture but more notably with the temptation of Christ.  Here, Satan is truly able offer Christ  something if he will obey; and should Christ comply, then mankind is left hopelessly without forgiveness, redemption and salvation.   Jesus comprehends this offering in TRUTH and therefore rejects the offer, offering scripture instead. 

The deceiver will, as already said, mix truth with lies--all the more convincing to those under threat. They will appear well intended, even good, but again, be wary and beware of the end effect, control/power over you.   

More to come.

Deception - the face and farcity of it

Healthy relationships are built on TRUST; without TRUST, no healthy relationship can survive. 

Deception is all about us, within us and beyond us; it pervades our humanity from The Beginning, when Satan tempted the two, convincing her to eat of the apple.  Generation after generation, no matter the culture or other condition, deception is present.  

The condition is so critical that this second entry is but one of a series devoted to deception, the bane of any meaningful relationship, personal or public, private or published.   

Where deception find ultimate power is in not only fooling, misleading or misinforming, but also shifting the blame, guilt or shame, on the deceived using terms such as naive, gullible and the like, along with the prevailing position that the deceiver is never wrong or otherwise is beyond blame.  Deception gives all advantage to the deceiver, both the effect and the cause.   

When two or more deceive another, they conspire or conduct a conspiracy; and using all available means and methods, they will co-conspire to hide heinous acts against others--even murder of the innocent, the helpless.  Groups commit deception under the guise of policy or diplomacy, expressing and promoting good intentions while spreading their web of deceit, undermining other groups in the conquest, confiscation.

Deception is without a match when left unchecked, when the person(s) are not called to account, their actions condemned, their acts and crimes, punished.  Their lies left to fester, the wounds made by a fouled soul, deceivers will flourish simply because they will continue to deceive for as long as it works for them.  

Lies upon lies, deception views TRUST and TRUTH as character flaws, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Yet at the same time, deception seeks out these "flaws" as opportunities, the means to power--getting what they want whatever the costs. If ever called-out or questioned, the deceiver will deny it or, if this does not work, will move-on leaving a wake of damage and destruction in their path.  Deceivers seldom accept responsibility for their actions.

In their bag of tricks, deceivers will deploy/depicted weakness, playing the victim, in order to can an advantage or leverage with the law.  Using one of "The Art of War, deceivers will adopt and apply to, 
Appear weak when you are strong...
They will also cleverly combine a pound of lies with an ounce of truth, once again acting on what Alfred Tennyson described, 
A lie that is half-truth is the darkest of all lies.
Beware and be weary of the deceiver, deception, the deadly spider's web.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Straddling the fence

Straddling the fence, to mean that you are unable or unwilling to take a stand, one side or another; silent and passive, without convictions or passions.  

Who or what controls you, your opinions, actions and all? 

Elie Wiesel wrote,
I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silences encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
The time is coming when the decision to straddle will not be so easy, convenient or comfortable;  eventually, you must make choices--hard decisions--and the consequences will be costly, critical and even catastrophic--the longer the wait, the more difficult the decision(s), .  

Howard Zinn said, "It is hard to stand still on a moving train." 

To End an Eagle - the eagle as an icon


At this writing,the latest of completed stories, To End an Eagle, comes to mind; a heroes' journey of an eagle, Elli, who travels to ends of the world searching for his eaglets, his mate, only to finally give up his body, passing to the spiritual realm. 

One of the grievances of Eli, as he learns of the "unnatural" world, is how his image has been (and is) used as a icon; some sort of symbol apparently to represent things of honor, nobility and general goodness.  Eli cannot fully comprehend the wide span between these claims and actual practices, that is, the hypocrisy of these supposed higher beings, namely humans.   

Historically, the eagle has represented the Romans, Nazi Germany, the United States and much more--always to suggest that they represent qualities of the eagle, its superiority and strength among its species and more. In the chapter, "Tranquility", I write (Eli speaking): 

The old Romans traveled with routes made out of rock and leaders made out of the noble, like me. Their legions carried images, the Aquila that looked like me.  It was supposed to be an honor to carry the image but a most egregious event to lose it. The eagle image was iconic as though it be all that they worshiped and adored.  It was only an image and, more than likely, not the single item of sacredness, with all the things worshiped and hoped one god to the next. (p.47)
Still, there remains an eagle in me not lost altogether by the losses of life and living or the allure and attraction of the age; one not imagined or iconic but real and relevant.  What about you; do you have any eagle?  (p.48)  
Eli realizes the contrast (chasm) between him (or the natural) and the unnatural of the world that uses the eagle's image yet fails to hold to, or represent, the eagle's nature. His eyes, however sharp his vision, is opened to the fraud of the unnatural world (the world constructed by man), the corruption and criminality.

What about you?  
Whether you see 20/20 or less, how much do you really see, sense? 

The New Politics of Sex...Stephen Baskerville - Gender

My intermittent but continued writing on Stephen Baskerville's latest book is driven on the interest of this (these) subjects, topics and issues.  Certainly "Sex-based Politics" is nothing new, exotic or erotic, but it is an area for which I have been part of.  I

I must emphasis  (again) that the dangers that await a justice system that punishes and prosecutes based only on one witness, is corrupted; for the simple fact is that when a witness is allowed to say anything--without testing the veracity of their statements--then they will say everything that their conscience allows. Simply put, a witness will lie if they relieved from any repercussions.    When the accused is allowed no defense--effectively blocked by the courts--there again, the courts are corrupted.  

One must face and feel the distinct and definitive condemnation that comes via expedience, where the end justifies the means, only to realize that Due Process is dead, merely a myth or legend and nothing more.  As courts have and do default to expedience, circumventing the measures aimed to protect justice, they are guilty of intentionally failing to uphold justice. When/as the broader systems are inherently partial--in the context, to gender--they are  guilty of prejudice. Sadly, the justice system has come to such times, questioning the underlining intentions of the state, the natural patriarchy of family. 

What I say and believe on these matters is not to push the scale to the other extreme but rather to underscore the need of Due Process and impartiality as opposed to the current status for the protection of family, as described in The New Politics of Sex, (p.36).  
Our concern is with government policy.... The full dimensions of the family crisis can only be understood politically because the family is the pivotal intermediary between the individual and the state. Many basic questions raised by political philosophy are pointless without accounting for the family. [] Family decline carries serious implications for civic freedom in ways that likewise are not always obvious.
For me, this matter has always been about family, my family and the many that are dismantled by "government policy" ranging from no-fault and unilateral divorce to single-parent custody promoted through Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. 

The short on Title IV-D

 More to come.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

AMISTAD (yet again) - Calhoun spoils Van Buren's supper

Some context on President Van Buren, the politics:  first, the president is shown as stumping for re-election--which is foremost his objective (the Amistad case is more an annoyance); second, the nation is ebbing closer to war--not actually on the specific issue of slavery, but over increasing intrusion into the southern, agrarian economy in the form of tariffs and other means, methods.  Study the progressive Federal tariffs levied on imports/exports and the particular, adverse impact on southern commerce, economy. 

In this scene, John Calhoun (prior Vice President under John Quincy Adams) arrives at the President's banquet. His appearance is bemoaned by Van Buren because Calhoun is a staunch figure of state's rights and seemingly is threatening a further breach of regional relations, perhaps the gravity of the Amistad case but more so the tensions that have been growing from some years now  (as described above). 

I do not know if this event or Calhoun's described/depicted position is historical (this particular aspect of the story could be hyperbolic). The film does, by admission, stray from actual historical record. I do know that this moral issue could not have been the cause of the war: the state is amoral and thus is incapable of considering a moral grievance as a cause of contention, conflict. 

Here (link below), Calhoun shakes up the supper.

John Calhoun of SC

Human slavery is assuredly egregious, but in this scene, Calhoun is referring more to the economic plight of southern states under growing control(s) of the northern region in general and the Federal Government in particular.  While the south represented the predominance of slavery, as a percentage of the population, these persons of color were treated little if any better in the northern regions. Again, the morality of the matter was not the real point of derision, division, but finally, where the power will reside 

The state (politics) is renown for its use (abuse) of moral issues, tapping into the hearts of individuals who are indeed able to sense and suffer sin.  They (the state) will appear earnest in the appeals of morality but only as a means or method to achieve their only true interest or end, power.  Once (or as) this agenda is acknowledged, persons are able to accept that government's good intentions are merely the prelude for power. . 

AMISTAD (again) - illustrations from a book

On a higher note of the film, Amistad ("higher" that the corruption of the prosecution or state as covered in my last on this flim) is the moment illustrated above with video in the link below; here, two of dominate members among the 39 jailed are talking. 

One was given a Bible by Christians that line their route to the courthouse--and of course, he cannot read English.  Still, the one is able to put together some semblance and sequence of the Gospel using the Bible's illustrations (as you we see).   Called-out by the other of the two, he explains his discovery with each illustration beginning before the savior's birth and continuing through Jesus' ministry, crucifixion and resurrection.  

Near the end of his explanation, on illustration of the crucifixion, the one listening replies, 
"But this is only a story" 
On which the other responds, 
"But look, that's not the end of it."
On which he shows Jesus in the transfiguration, passing into the sky.  He (the one explaining) concludes that if they are to go to this same place when they die--presuming that death or execution is imminent--then it "doesn't look so bad". 

Amistad - two talk of Jesus 

It is a remarkable story of the story. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Power - the dragon's breath of fire

Even children know something of dragons, the supposed fictional beast of the somewhat medieval age that generally wreak terror and render turmoil on a village and countryside, leaving a swath of death and destruction in its wake.  The dragon is indomitable, with practically no predators and what's more can fly and blow fire. 

Let's face it, the dragon is/was a reptile without rival--unless you believe in  dragon slayers. 

There is the actual dragon and the figurative one; the one with features partly shown above and the symbolism as something of beat, boundless and brimming with power, predominate and prodigious.

J.R.R. Tolkien said, 
Never laugh at live dragons. 
And whether you take such advise or believe in dragons at all, the truth is that as a symbol, dragons depict some....  They may not have scales, horns or wings, but they fume smoke and foment discord, discontent, disparity, deception, destruction and even death. 

Yes, dragons do/still exist. They may be cleverly disguised, hidden under some title or indeterminable among the crowd, but still, they live.  C.S. Lewis wrote in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,
Sleeping on a dragon's hoard with greedy, dragon's thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself. . 
Yes, another fantasy or fiction, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but does one become what he thinks, desires and dwells?  

 A dragon is born a dragon but is a person becomes like/as one when their belief and behavior is so.  Yes, they figuratively or literally fly about, committing terror, reigning their deep and dark, high and low, far and wide. 

But then again, more fairy tales, fiction and fantasy, that remind or reassure the child within us that with dragons come slayers, those with enough courage to at least confront the beast if not capture or conquer it--so says G. K Chesterton in Tremendous Trifles. 
What fairly tales give the child (like) is his first clear idea of the possible defeat.... The [child knows of] the dragon...but the fairy tale provides [a courageous sort]. 

Being a sheeple is baaaaaad

Edward R. Murrow said it best, 
A nation of sheep will soon have a government of wolves.  
Of course, this description of persons suggest that their willingness to follow without thinking; their conformance to any and all authority, compliance to all orders regardless of its aim, intention or justification.  

Sheep must be led, yes, but do they think at all or do they go blindly forward, possibly over the precipice as shown above? 

Aldous Huxley said, 
You shall know the truth and the truth will make you mad.
Could it be that many (most) simply avoid understanding because of the complimentary pain that the truth demands? 

There is also then the reaction expressed as a question:  "Even if/as I understand and come that much closer to this truth(es), what can I do about it the wrong or wretched discovered," in the understanding, revelations?  Yes, knowledge and understanding is power but then, the action in consequence is a test and measure of power too.

Which is better; to go blindly forward, possibly to the precipice or to gain understanding--to think for yourself? Well, you must decide that...and within your capability and capacity, to consider that, finally, you are responsible for you.  Again, Huxley, 
I wanted to change the world, but I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.
Is his statement or understanding true as well:  Can we change ourselves, ideally for the better? Huxley once more, 
I am I, and I wish I weren't.
We do not have to like things about ourselves and in truth we might each find things about us a repulsive, disappointing and destructive. If/when such is discovered or realized, what then?  Do we continue down this course, perhaps another path to the precipice, or do we stop, make sense out of it, and stubbornly refuse to continue such ways?  If we somehow choose to stop..., can we do this by our own will,capability and capacity, our must we call from hope and help from others?  

Think about it and then, try to stop such ways.   

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Keeping-up appearances

Some may think of the British comedy series by the same name, "Keeping Up Appearances" (and yes, I have seen the comedy on occasion and found it entertaining to the extent that I can keep up with all the antics and the sometimes strong accents of some of the characters), and for those who have never seen the one of the series, here is the short thanks to Wikipedia,
Keeping Up Appearances is a British sitcom created and written by Roy Clarke. It aired on BBC One from 1990 to 1995. The central character is eccentric and snobbish middle class social climber, Hyacinth Bucket (Patricia Routledge), who insists that her surname is pronounced “Bouquet”. The sitcom follows Hyacinth in her attempts to prove her social superiority, and to gain standing with those she considers upper class. Her attempts are constantly hampered by her lower class extended family...
While the name is synonymous with the sitcom, the message of my writing is not particularly about the series, but more about the effort and energy that we exert to appear--or be perceived--as something more our desire than is actually possible in "real life". Yes, some will go very far to capture the right brand or portray that right persona--all of which is a show or act aimed to impress others and hide doubts and discontent about who we really are. 

Who are we (each), really?   Can we really nail ourselves down as to who we are or what we are? If you play this or that part--all to seemingly please or pleasure others--is it not that much more difficult to know who you are?  How to describe or define you?  
I am a aging man who does ________ and likes to do _________. My interests are ________ and ________.   I come from a family of ________ who originated in ________ and come from ________.  My race is _______ and my marital status is ________.
And so on and so forth, but ever more, one must learn and know thyself, both the constant and the changes.    

Using God for the state's agenda

The Nazi German army were sworn to an oath, as follows; 
I swear by God this sacred oath: That I shall render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, Fuhrer of the German Reich and people, Supreme commander of the Armed Forces. And that i shall at all times be ready, as a brave soldier, to give my life for this oath.
There is a tendency for think that God is "with us" and thus, is against them--whomever "them" is (or they are)--aimed to add some obvious justification to the cause, conflict and conquest--God's will or approval.   

Can it really be possible to use God in this way; to exploit the name of God for such evil and wicked causes?   Are there other nations of war where God is used glibly, given notions that, first, the nation's actions are right and just and, second, God endorses or approves?  

Many years ago (1871), Thomas Jefferson said it right, 
Indeed I tremble for my country when reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference!
Here, the relationship or order is accurately described where God is supreme and we--nor any other nation--is not.

AMISTAD (1839) - "Give us free"

Another favorite film, Amistad is an historically based story of Africans swept-up in the slave trade in/around 1839.  Key characters, as shown above, join ranks to attempt to emancipate some 39 men, women and children illegally attained off the Ivory Coast, shuttled to Cuba to be auctioned-off as slaves and now in route to the U.S., their owners.  

While in passage, one of the abducted (auctioned) breaks loose his shackles and, freeing others, overtakes the ship of the same name, La'Amistad.  Incidentally, this same schooner ( as used in the film) has traveled the Atlantic coast (some years ago), with stops locally at Saint Augustine and Jacksonville; during which, I was able to see it.  The most memorable moment was to realize how small the boat is (was)--considering the occupants.  

I find this film (or story) fascinating in that the great political powers aim to hold these Africans for murder (on the high seas), while the group above--the most credible being John Quincy Adams--work arduously and passionately not only to prove that the Africans were abducted illegally but that, consequently, they should be released from jail, possibly returned to their homeland.  Here is a clip at a crucial moment of the trial.  

Were they born in Africa? 

And although this appointed judge rules in the African's favor, the powers at be continue their plotting by forcing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court; and it is here that John Qunicy Adams becomes active, directly involved, as the defense lawyer.  

John Qunicy Adams Supreme Court  

Stepping back to an earlier court session (prior to the Supreme Court), an argument is raised by the Prosecutor that the witness' testimony about slave ships casting their slaves overboard during the voyage is preposterous.   How could the slave trade possibly be profitable if such practices occur; the casting of at least some occupants overboard to drown? 

Prosecutor attempts to dispute witness testimony

Again, the Prosecutor aims to discount or discredit the witness. It is not that the Prosecutor really doubts the origin of the witness (African) or the illegality committed in his (their) capture, but never the less, the attorney (and the Secretary of State, Forsyth) team-up to do what they believe is necessary to return the slaves to captivity, possibly to be executed for murder.

Simply put, the truth--no matter how evident--does not matter to the state. 

Following the plaintiff's questioning, the young defense attorney (played by Matt McConaughey) counters by reasoning with a British sea captain regarding the practice as well other parts of the witness' account of his abduction, etc. 

Is the sea captain a credible witness; that is, does he likely understand what happens to slaves on the high seas? Yes, since he sees these things happening.... On describing this ordeal, the disposal of the ships's cargo, the Prosecutor replies, 
"It hardly seems a lucrative business, this slave trade..."
The sea captain understands the business and, as well, why the slaves are disposed of; the situations that drive the crew to kill their cargo in mass. Again, his understanding is from hands-on experience--but still, his testimony is doubted and disputed by the Prosecutor. 

Why do I like this film?   Because it provides a vivid portrayal of the state's corruption--where power is applied to crush the truth by hook or crook.  

What do they--any person want--but to "give us free"; the humane conduct to choose--really choose--and not be forced, overtly or covertly. In this film, the matter of freedom, these Africans desperate desire for such conduct is undermined by the state--who view them as unworthy of justice, even life, for reasons of state interest, amoral as it always is.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Netither Liberty nor Safety - Ideology and Groups

Returning to Robert Higgs' book, Neither Liberty nor Safety, more on ideology. Here (p.68), he writes: 
People acquire and sustain their personal identifies within groups by their interaction with other members: first in families, then in various primary and secondary reference groups. 
He describes the group(s) that one selects or is socially-connected as those that align with a person's interests, values and morals--the kind of person he thinks himself to be.  Certainly race and religion are important too; that is, their physical appearance, ethnicity, are also factors.  Dr. Higgs continues, 
People crave the comfort of association with those they recognize as their "own kind".  In the absence of community membership and involvement in a group's common purpose, people tend to feel alienated and depressed.
Needless to say that groups are important. When/as these groups diminish or disappear, what is left for those that remain but a sense of abandonment and alienation.  

In this time in our culture, alienation or atomization runs rampant; the fragmentation of a population into many small, seemingly insignificant parts, persons alone.   In desperation for relevance or significance (finally, power), such persons will join large groups--often politically-based,l according to Robert--using this association or platform for power.  

As (and how) these political groups grow is in part by using pressure and guilt to woo or compel others....  Sure, those that join have some satisfaction but at what risk; that is, to what degree must (or do) the persons compromise their individual or personal beliefs for the sometimes called or suggested as "the greater good".  He concludes, 
To behave differently, a person would have to act different; and being different would require the internalization of a different ideology. 
Some more questions: 

  • Why do we choose the groups we do?  
  • Why do we choose a group and then, for some significant reason, leave the group--going so far as to criticize or condemn that group?  
  • Why do we lead and/or follow, sometimes compromising our internal ideology, ethics and beliefs? 
Maybe in part because conformity is more important than compromise. 

 Social Groups: Crash Course Sociology #16

Courage and more...from G. K. Chesterton

I continue in Chesterton's book, What's Wrong with the World; this time, on courage.  To this much needed, personal quality, he writes (p. 23), 
The really courageous man is he who defies tyrannies...and superstitions....  The only true free-thinker is he whose intellect is a much free from the future as from the past. He cares as little for what we be and what has been. He cares only for what ought to be
Chesterton continues by suggesting that old conventions (namely, the patriarchal system of Highland clans) is potentially much better than "the unnatural sense of obeying cold and harsh strangers, bureaucrats and police"; that in the former, there is less evil. Here, in these thoughts and suggestions, he considers what the state (or British empire) does (or has done) to others (nations, communities and cultures). Simply put, one is likely far better off with and among their neighbors or countrymen than with one predisposed to force, conflict and contention, on the claims of an empire or similar rouge nation.  

What do you fear most? 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Can (Should) I do it?

To the question, "Can (should) I do it," is first another question:   

What is "it" (task or more...) that I am to do (should or could do)?   

But then, more questions...:
  1. How many times have you thought, I can do it, only to discover that "it" is more (or less) than you considered before; the effort, costs and benefits?  
  2. How many times have you, even with a good sense of it, continue to to try for one reason or another?  
  3. How often do you immediately and impulsively stop, accepting that either "it" is beyond your grasp or not worth the anticipated, added effort? 
How often must I (or you) be reminded that trying is not failing and that, even if your  fail, there is a wealth of learning to be had--painful though it be.  It is often said as well as lived, that there is much more learned through failure, loss(es) over winning, a win

"Keep trying", I say, and find a source of hope and help that keeps you there, "trying".  

Thinking of trying and failing, I think of a film, Running Brave:  based on a true story, the unlikely victory of a 10K Olympic runner, Billy Mills, does not give up/in, but keeps on trying.  From time to time, this video and the actual race, person, is visited for some of that sometimes needed inspiration; and below, a link.  

Running Brave - Billy Mills