ARE YOU RACIST ??

Double Portrait by Carl Fredric von Breda:  prince-redeemer

Double Portrait by Carl Fredric von Breda.    (Nordiska museum)

S/He who is not part of the solution, is part of the problem. 

My recent effort to discuss racism blew up in my face.  The mistake of making a racist statement as parody didn’t work, causing friends and wife much pain. I thought they knew I was not a racist.  Again, I’m deeply sorry. We will not run the instant replay.  Yet I still have passion for the topics of racism, justice, and slavery.  (Regarding the portrait above, it is discussed far below.) 

I’ve spent most Saturdays since 1999 as a volunteer, talking with imprisoned sons of neighbors, ages 18-80, conducting what I call a stealth ethics-class disguised as a nondenominational Bible study (discontinued last summer after relocating to our seasonal home in Yucatan.)  Also, in mid-1970’s I brought home a black woman I was dating, to meet my parents and siblings on T-Day. (She eventually cut me loose, wisely saying our future would be too tough.)  ¿Am I a racist?  ¿ Are you?  Let’s gaze into the sacred mirror to examine ourselves. 

This essay is not about plantation owners of the past – it’s for today.  I’m asking you, regardless of your skin color, whether you’ve been released yet from enslaving stories. It is likely most of our human ancestors, male and female, were at one time slaves of those stronger than they — which, in one word, was the answer a tough-guy lawyer named Thrasymachus gave to Socrates, when addressing that central question of Plato’s Republic Q: What is justice?  //  T-guy’s A: the advantage of the stronger –see 7th ¶.   (Yes, the one-percenters, dominators, owned most of us, going way back, and maybe still do – but our sense of the past may be the toughest owner of them all.)

In a previous episode I had responded to an essay titled I, RACIST which I soon had to remove under protest from close African-American friends, and my wife.  The author, John Metta, did not define racism, but illustrated it for us, explaining that, to him and many African-Americans, white liberals were ever defensive about discussing race, declaiming that racism is not my fault. Yes, that’s tired.  But parties talk past each other, absent a working definition.  So I now offer my own, inviting clarification from readers : racism is a sense of superiority assumed tribally, or by group-identity, justified by stories we’ve heard and accepted, uncritically.  Beyond group, then, pride becomes a personal sense of superiority over another individual human being. 

Racism extends beyond skin color, even to color of a uniform, especially if it includes a badge. ¿ Are you Bluish? –a cartoon character asks, in a Beatles animated-film, Yellow Submarine – suggesting, thru rhyme, racism coming not from cops, but directed at Jews. (Today, bluish may have another slant.)  ¶  Now, are you racist?  How does a fish know it’s wet, lacking experience in dry air?  This is not easily examined.  I suspect we all have racial bias, tribal allegiance, and are pride-filled, to some degree.  I’ll certainly include myself, even though I’ve made major efforts to communicate across racial divides.  

¿ Should I re-identify as a person of color by adopting the term pale person, or complexion-ist, considering my ancestors have mostly forgotten how to tan?  (I’m not inspired by Rachel D.)  But I recognize that white is no longer apt, as it describes a genetic disability of skin, related to melanin production – plus another, regarding mental health – expressed as frayed relationship between races.  I urge those of all races who might recognize their need of being healed of racism, to be counted as no longer wishing to harbor racist thoughts, or to be enslaved by the past, or to own slaves.  My considered position is that there is only one race : the human race.  We are fam-il-y!  U.S.Census bureau will love this – Census should make a box : HUMAN RACE.  

Your attitude towards extended family can be discovered by taking Project Implicit’s race association test, which a friend shared after I began this essay. (There are other versions of the test besides race : gender, religion, etc.)  Be brave – take the test, regardless of your skin color.

White folks are often clueless about the difficulty blacks confront in our society – lacking empathy, or imagination.  Yes, things have changed, as blacks are now on corporate boards, members of county clubs, working at highest levels in the White House – a tiny percentage, but significant.  Yet, fact is, our social system is stacked against people of color, according to a white scholar who has spent four decades studying the issue.  My essay now seeks to carry the conversation forward.  Like David, who ran to meet Goliath, I believe that racism can be slain. ¿Got courage?  

NOTICE :  You will find the fully-spelled N-word reappearing below.  I use it again, gently, the way a surgeon wounds, to heal.  (My friends, my wife – earlier, could not process this – but I DO NOT redline speech.)   They thought I had flipped out.

Jesus experienced this form of misunderstanding from neighbors and family – and when he attempted to explain his words, naming for his listeners two outsiders, non-Jews, whom Jews had long discriminated against as groups – people who, Jesus reminded them, had been healed or restored by God — his listeners were offended by him, quite certain he must be crazy, or disloyal –see Luke 4:16-30  and  Mark 3:20-35.  His neighbors even sought to push him off a cliff for doubting tribal superiority.  He also addressed prejudice in a famous parable known as The Good Samaritan, which is commonly understood to be about neighborliness — but which should more-accurately be grasped as bluntly addressing racism.  Let’s rename it the parable of The Black Samaritan –as Jesus was in-their-face about his listeners’ (and readers’) discrimination toward their outsider-neighbors – not just those in our own segregated, neighborly circles.  To the majority of Jews, Samaritans were other – even though both sides shared family history – Hebrew DNA.  So, Jesus used the N-word, equating Neighbor with Outsider (Samaritan ; ok, S-word, but same effect) thus questioning notions of a “super-race” – that of his listeners, God’s chosen.  My use of the N-word in print without license, violates Black Privilege, recalling Dick Gregory, below. 

A friend, a Polish-American physicist, whom I invited to read this essay prior to release, offered before reading, that he was somewhat acquainted with discrimination.  He told me that Polish jokes had been very beneficial at improving the social lot of Polish Americans. (NB: Poles do not attempt to own the derogatory term Polack.

When I was a teenager I subscribed to Esquire magazine, in which appeared an article by Dick Gregory, boldly titled NIGGER (also title of his autobiography). I was so impressed with the courage of this man, and with his honest writing.  He sought to diffuse the power of a word by over-using it.  Lenny Bruce did similar work with obscenities, on behalf of our First Amendment, which was original thinking from an early-American hero, providing freedom-of-speech and worship to all who would claim it.  These principles have long proved protective.  (Yes, obscenities are now heard everywhere – unpleasantly – but their power arguably has been reduced.)   ¶  Currently the N-word is treated as proprietary.  Black Americans seem to have declared it sacred, owned by them alone.  Could it be as sacred as the Confederate flag, to racists and history buffs?  Perhaps it, too, should be retired to a museum?  (Hey, it merely means black.)  Or, if we found the courage to over-use this word, we might find that our combined chorus would drown the voices of those who would use it hatefully. (Not to my liking either, just sayin’– but sometimes we can be our own worst enemies—see N#5 : Dick Gregory.) 

My first ancestors in the Americas came to the new world, risking skin to leave England around 1640 (~20 years after Mayflower) crossing an ocean to escape religious oppression.  Maybe yours got sold to a slaver by neighbors who looked just like them, and shipped here – or were already here, and got victimized by immigrants.  I’m mostly glad to be an American, and to be your neighbor.  How’bout you?  Can you enjoy me as a neighbor, even if I’m clueless about my racism, helping me to understand your (our!) situation thru patient communication, as Mr Metta suggests? 

In the Double Portrait above, what do we see? — a slave?  – a black man with a preacher, or a lawyer, or a plantation owner, standing over him?   Actually, this is a historical portrait of a black prince (click details @site) who was redeemed from being the property of a slave-ship’s captain, by a wealthy Swedish industrialist (ibid) – literally, his human redeemer, who purchased him to set him free – a true account.  

I miss those inmates whom I visited in prison for so many years, my teachers. I would sometimes ask the group in our weekly class, most of whom were men of color, if they owned any slaves.  My question always perplexed everyone, as today we suppose slavery has ended.  I would next ask : have you ever sent yourself to the corner to buy reefer, crack, booze, tobacco, lottery-tix, sex?  Well, yeah, was the response. Such behaviors often enslave us, I would explain.  Do we exchange our princely title to become our own slave master, our own i-Nigger?  (This App can be renamed by you, if you can’t stomach the proprietary name.  Try i-Slave Owner.)  I claim these trade names, and all future development-rights for the App. Build it, and we’ll talk! [wink].  

Q: if my slave master lives in my mind, how will I ever escape?  Now, the named-App is not a racial concept, but one of self oppression, or delusional entitlement.  It argues aggressively :  I’m entitled to medicate myself.  I’m angry at society for abusing me.  I deserve to be respected, but instead, my value is ignored, or deeply discounted ; and I’m in pain from the stories I’ve heard and accepted, not knowing how to escape them or revise them, unable to illustrate them with my life, with dignity.  And I’m superior to all these other Bozo’s on this bus!  

Personally, I found myself unhappy with The Management several years ago, shaking my fist at the heavens, metaphorically – I don’t like the way you’re running Your Creation (my life!) shocked at hearing myself as if for the first time.  I then recalled what St Paul wrote to the followers of The Way (they probably weren’t yet calling themselves little messiahs, Christians) — who gathered for worship at Philippi : Quit your murmuring and complainingsaid he.  ¶  I was embarrassed when I recognized my ingratitude – an uppitty customer in The Lord’s establishment!  The Owner should have thrown me out, but was compassionate, patiently allowing me to notice my own po’mouthing.   Yes, I needed the i-N App, badly, but didn’t know how to use it. (Sorry for Napp-ing in your class, Lord)  So, how’bout you?  Got Gratitude?  

App Operating Instructions.  STEP ONE.  ASK :  Am I my own slave master?  Let’s check.  Do I demand service of The Waiter?  Where is that boy?  Hey, how’bout some service over here?  HINT  If The Waiter is The Lord, and I am his client, am I often  unhappy with the service, with The Servant?   Do I bitch about other customers in the house?  (Yes, people in hell want ice water – so where’s mine?  Why you servin’ those other niggers aheada this one?)  Do I even understand the concept of waiting?  :  Wait ye upon The Lord (serve The Lord!) – genuine wait-staff understand this.  MAYBE I need this App, regardless of my complexion?  (But what would people think of me for surrendering my right to be served?)

Now, let’s not blame the victim – but let’s ask ourselves : Whose problem is this? : Who is the storyteller? : Who is the interpreter? :  And, which of these job titles is more powerful?  HINT : That voice in our head could be a hacker, perpetrating identity theft.  CS Lewis says IAM is God’s name which we often steal and abuse.  And the Hebrew phrase ha satan, commonly translated into English as satan (which I refuse to capitalize) literally means the accuser.  ¿Where resides the weak-point of racist accusations? – how to disable the accuser’s invasive methods, if true communication has been hacked?  Can we depersonalize false voices by waking ourselves, surgically separating any suggestion of dysfunction from our own First-PersonAND that of our neighbors, by heeding our truly-inner divine voice, the Holy IAM, which Moses heard at the burning bush – from any other voice – when the accuser attempts to slide one by?  EXAMPLES   I’m a mess  —  or,  he’s such a racist

Revising our perspective, our history, our story, is neither lying to ourselves, nor mere revisionism. It is re-conceiving ourselves as being  to-the-manor born.  Born to love.  Born to serve.  Born to wash feet.  St Paul considered himself a voluntary slave of The Lord.  To strengthen the immunity of our sense of SELF, we should remember satan’s earlier names : the serpent ; the tempter ; na’hash – Hebrew for whispering serpent : pssssssst – be very afraid – God doesn’t give-a-rip about ya, suggests the snake!)  One prominent black writer said God doesn’t hear the prayers of Black folk.  Yep – voice of the accuser. Nonsense!

Desire, fear, and suggestion can and will own us, if we fail to master them.  And whispering will attempt to invade our heads, hypnotically suggesting that we are controlled by a puppet master, masquerading as I.  Well, cut the strings and do your own thinking!  Divine desire can be harnessed for good, if we will step up to receive our inheritance as joint-owners of the plantation, the ground onto which we’ve been born as children of The Owner (literally : The Lord) – and this is rich soil, yielding peace.  Like Moses at the burning bush, the very ground beneath our feet is pronounced holy, by God. ¶  Let us now remove our shoes, and pray :  Lord, heal ME of racism and fear.  I stand on your holy ground, the bedrock of our Soul, trusting your justice, presence, power. 

If I may, let me suggest that you not merely make your desires known unto God — but come up higher – make God your sole, your primary desire, as prayed in Psalm 27:4 .  ¶  There is a Swedish proverb saying speak to the king in another, and the king will respond.  In praying for balanced priority, let’s discover our inner Prince/ss, the divinely royal human.  ¶   God so deeply wants to hear this balanced desire prayed by each of us.  Balance is foundational, and our destiny is The Ideal, if we can imagine that.  ¶  I’m not a target. Pay no attention to that man behind this essay, nor to that old man of our wounded-conflicted-confusing past. We DON’T need to watch our nightmares in re-run!  When the whisperer urges a racist response from past fears or hurts, don’t react!  Speak to the King residing in our neighbors.  (And I ain’t  talkin’bout  Elvis!)   S/He is already in residence, and ready to listen.   AMEN.

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I will again attempt to host a discussion at this site, to whatever degree I am able to endure.  I have nothing to gain, and much at risk.  My blog is my virtual home, where I mostly write for myself – to help me clarify my own thinking, and to help my neighbors, expats, Yucatecos, and cyber-citizens deal with reality.  I allow anyone to peer in, making comments.  You are welcomed graciously, as a guest.  But please do not piss on my floor!  Your words will be moderated by you, or you will be warned or ejected if you become rowdy towards me or our guests.   I’m not trying to start a race war, but rather, to harmonize our lovely family.

AUTHOR’S NOTE : I accept responsibility for these words.  It has been my privilege to hear and taste them, watching them assemble themselves, during many major revisions.  My prayer is that they are a blessing to you. ¶  I claim no special insight, aside from hearing a call to listen, emboldened to communicate – while referencing my great love of Bible stories, which I read daily – taught to me by women and men of astounding dedication, generosity, patience, and talent. ¶  My career background was that of partner/owner of a very small graphics business, before retiring, where I applied my passions for photography, design, customer service – to the graphics trade.  ¶  I studied ethics (MTS) at a nondenominational divinity school, before dropping out to return to business – later becoming a stealth-ethics missionary, well-disguised for conducting nondenominational Bible study at a local prison. That is where I completed my degree, bestowed by princes of the realm. ¶  Rarely sitting in pews anymore, not ordained, I was elected three times by congregations in two states to conduct worship for a total of nearly six years, reading aloud a blend of published and/or selected texts from holy writ – mostly twice a week, while continuing daily work in graphics, or as a student. ¶  BLESSINGS TO YOU.  G‘night. 

 

RACISM ESSAY, UPDATED

An essay appearing online elsewhere, titled I, RACIST prompted my essay (which I’ve removed under protest from friends, and wife).  Using straw man argumentation :  STRAW MAN  (noun) – a person compared to a straw image – a sham  •  a sham argument set up to be defeated  – the author, John Metta, builds a case that calls for White Liberals (a straw man) to let go of personally defensive apologetics – and for Angry Blacks (another) to stop worrying about hurting the feelings of their white friends.  (I had attempted to build a strawman on these pages, to provoke a discussion of racism hidden in the heart — which I must admit was an utter failure that blew up in my face.)   

My motive was honorable.  My words were intentionally harsh, offering a parody of racist language, for purposes of discussion.  I thought that by showing that my feelings were tough enough to endure battering, accepting the risk, we could make some progress.  I was wrong about method, and wrongly assessed the risk ;  but I am not wrong about the needed call made by Mr. Metta, in the first-most link above. (His flaw is in failure to define racism, but he illustrates it effectively, and we should give him leeway, as his time was constrained to deliver his essay as a sermon in front of a largely white congregation.)  I urge you to read the essay, which is worthy of our time, and please do consider yourself invited into this important conversation among friends.  (Comments for this post are presently closed, but a new post on this topic is being prepared.) 

My thanks to the many friends whom I’ve consulted on this matter, and especially to my dear wife.

           12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  ~James 1 (NIV)

photo by Silar, ~wikimedia

photo by Silar, ~wikimedia

NOTE: THIS POST HAS SOMEHOW GOTTEN OUT OF SEQUENCE.

THE ONE IMMEDIATELY BELOW, “MOM”, SHOULD BE NEWER. 
 

MOM still keeps me sharp!

Of course, my Mom subscribes to my blog. She called me this afternoon, which doesn’t happen often. (We enjoy a weekly date.)  During her call, I asked her what she thought of my revision of the racism entry updated earlier today. Well, she said she hadn’t read it, as there was no notice of anything being new.  From her call I deduced that subscribers would not be aware of the revision, either, as it is not a new entry. (She’s my angel!)  So I went to fix it, which was a complex task, as the post and been removed by me, modified, and (mostly) stored in various ways.  And now I’m having logic problems with sequencing this post with the first one, so I gave up after a half hour of tinkering.

Please click the racism link above, to read the updated entry of the original post, if you are following that important issue.  ¶  A shout-out to my kid brother, who asked her the right question, causing her to call me, alert as ever.)  Yes, thanks, to ALL ten of my readers! (You know who you are.)

                        $$ LAZY MONEY $$

money photo: Money images241lllisalllindsay.jpgPhotobucket upload by lllisalllindsay

It has often been said that there are two factors that influence investment of capital: fear and greed.  I believe there is a third door available to those who don’t like to identify with either.   Significantly less emotional than the first two is wise stewardship.  Yes, we all want a safe place to shelter our resources and earnings.  But if it is too safe it risks becoming moldy, like a bumper crop of grain stored in a damp basement.  When earnings are parked in such spots they are removed from circulation, and idled, are rendered almost useless.  O, that there were parking fees routinely charged for such fearful handling of value, as an incentive to keep the energy flowing!  

Today’s interest rates on savings are certainly in the basement!  But between Friday June 30 and Monday July 6 we will have good opportunity to apply resources to a series of alarming situations.  The first moment arrives tomorrow, as a replay of Y2K:  markets need to add one second to the trading day.  The next will arrive by referendum.  The Greeks have a choice to become a perpetual underclass, or to go bankrupt.  This choice has roiled markets.  The scenario has come about due to investment bankers who, back in 2010, massaged the Greek application for EU membership, at considerable profit to themselves.  Stepping up to buy securities is a way of refuting this fear.  We can suppose that the present fear suggests the possibility of bank failures around the global.  But know this:  commerce will continue.  

A Nobel economist who has been largely correct about minimal likelihood of inflation (while the fearful foolishly bought gold as a hedge against inflation that never came) and the folly of austerity since 2007, is urging Greeks to vote NO on further austerity.  I do think he is right on this also, and hope they heed his call.  The opportunity really is for the Greeks to call the bankers’ bluff.  Bankruptcy is better than knuckling under to raw power.  Perhaps the Germans and financiers might remember a bailout known as the Marshall Plan which mercifully rescued them from economic disaster after WW2?  And maybe we each should unpark some funds to buy up a flood of fear.

¡¡ We ALL own the air and water !!

Gathering clouds of economic turmoil.

Gathering clouds of economic turmoil?

Too big to fail?  Nah!  But when filthy rich bullies foreclose on working folks, and then rent repo’d housing back to newly minted peons who now have greatly reduced wages, facing a future of wage slavery, it’s time to re-think.  

We need to re-invent capitalism.  I love it when new ideas pop to the surface on a sea of injustice.  An article and a book might be lifesavers for the peril ahead.  All of us should grab onto these ideas, before the generations (and nature) sink!  A quote from this well-argued article:

A “sky trust” could be created to hold America’s atmospheric pollution rights in trust for future generations and living pollutees equally. Using peer-reviewed science, the trust would decrease its sales of pollution rights over time until a safe level for nature was reached. Meanwhile, revenue from the sales would be distributed equally to every legal US resident with a Social Security number, offsetting—and in many cases, more than offsetting—the impact of higher fuel prices.

The sky trust model was based on the Alaska Permanent Fund, which since 1982 has been sharing oil-based income with every Alaskan equally. In 2009, the sky trust became known as “cap and dividend” and was considered, though not passed, by Congress. It’s still the best climate change solution out there—and one that Congress is starting to re-visit.

We can’t avoid repeating mistakes of the past unless we recognize them.  In this book, INJUSTICES,  a former clerk for a federal judge recounts the long and outrageous afflictions perpetrated by the Supreme Court on the larger population. (We don’t hear stories of such moral idiocy in high school.)  What is impressive is that there has been any justice delivered by the court, at all.  But that window was brief.  And the wealthy owners of influence are ascendant, unless We the people discover our past failures at self-governance, and demand change.

FAMOUS FACES: oil on canvas, by Philip Burke, a retrospective

First Lady. A portrait from a slideshow of, linked below

First Lady. A portrait from a slideshow, linked below

One of my former customers has made it big, and has a retrospective going on at a major gallery in Buffalo NY . He was a starving artist back in the 90’s when we copied his portraits onto 4×5 Ektachrome — but now gets as much as $90,000 for a canvas.  Here’s a slideshow of the work, which has some favorites. (Andy Warhol sat for him, live, for four hours; but most were painted from a collection of reference photos.) I only wish the slideshow linked the names of his subjects, but most will be recognized. (NB: these are copyrighted works which are shared with you under Fair Use doctrine – see my About section.) Please do not distribute the images with any commercial linkage whatsoever!

 

ANTS, ANTS, ANTS & more ANTS

US Dept of Ag photo, via Wikimedia

US Dept of Ag photo, via Wikimedia

Last week our new deep-well pump quit working. Much to my relief, it did not need replacement. Our electrician put his fancy meter to work and determined that the problem was in a circuit breaker :  yup, ants had crawled in there for some mysterious farming, or partying. I don’t know if the ants were Crazy (doubtful) or just hungry, or maybe having a rave or an orgy in there. But Rolando installed a new breaker, and the pump was back.

Just before he connected it, I put some drops of clove oil on the breaker.  In October I had experimented with oil of clove for protecting our bed, where ants were invading our sheets, and biting me at night! At a loss, and not wanting to fumigate, I knotted a piece of yarn around each leg of the bed, and saturated it with oil of clove which I got at a local alternative pharmacy :  Super Naturalista, c.56 x61y63, in Centro.  This was just a hunch, based on knowing that bees and ants are very sensitive to aromas. It has remained effective for several months now, with nary an ant in the bed.

Our ants may not be crazy, but they’re not welcome in the house. When they invade the kitchen we feed them boric acid which we bought at a regular pharmacy, (Comercio San Cristobal, c.69 #441 x48, Centro) mixing the powder into a paste with simple syrup, about 1:1 until well blended. We put it in a bottle cap. They take it back to the nest, and then vanish. Boric acid is very safe to handle. Sorry, but we’re not running a food pantry for insects, although I do appreciate the way they clean most things in the backyard. . . .

. . . . Except for the leaf cutter ants which like to chew our Bougainvillea. There is an excellent remedy called Trompa which we get at Home Depot. It’s a biological agent which is apparently designed expressly for leaf cutter ants. It incorporates the fungus the ants routinely make for food stores from the leaves of your landscape plants. The manufacturer adds a bacillus thuringensis bacterium to their food which sickens the entire colony. Leaf cutters do their work after dark. Simply spot them with a flashlight, and put a small pile of the pellets on one of their pathways. Be sure it remains dry. If your plants are showing serious depletion of leaves, with big bites out of some remaining leaves, they are likely  the culprit. This stuff really works, and it’s safe.

Carnaval: kids on parade

Popeye knows it's hard to resist a sailor in uniform.

Popeye knows it’s hard to resist a sailor in uniform.

You've got mail?

You’ve got mail?

Front row seating, thanks to Billy.

Front row seating, thanks to Billy.

Praying for world peace.

Praying for world peace.

The toucan and the princess.

The toucan and the princess.

Say "queso"

Say “queso”

Queen for a day

Queen for a day.

After the event a pair of  marchers take a yoga nap.

After the event a pair of marchers take a yoga nap.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom…

Snail Mail arrives, eventually, mostly

Snail Mail arrives, eventually, maybe. (photo by macrophile, flickr, via wikimedia)

Learning to adapt is an important part of entering a new culture.  The pace is different. (Not better; not worse.)  This will require some adjustment. Your mileage may vary. Our absentee ballots were mailed October 3rd from Buffalo. As we had been instructed to contact the Board of Elections if they didn’t arrived by mid October, we did so. They sent another pair. One of the four eventually arrived before Christmas – the other three are still missing in action.  Next time we may choose to vote electronically, which means we won’t get to vote in local elections up north, but at least our ballots for federal elections will be timely.  

Today, February 11, two Christmas cards dropped thru the slot — a few days ahead of Valentines Day, but late for Groundhog Day. Carnival starts tomorrow, with the children’s parade, a favorite event. We’ve been invited to a reserved table at an excellent location for taking pictures. Stay tuned.

There’s much to be grateful for in email, including online billing and speed of communication. 

Mail may diminish in importance for you here.

Mail may diminish in importance for you here.

Je Suis Charlie [We Are All Charlie Hebdo]

Photo by JulianColton, Wikimedia

Photo by JulianColton, Wikimedia

If any idea becomes too sacred for discussion or critique, we are all endangered. It’s a sad day when anyone is murdered for shining the light of reason in dark places. If ideas cannot be discussed critically, truth is imprisoned and decapitated by dogma. I live in a nation where the profession of journalist is one of the most dangerous jobs around. If we cannot protect, globally, those willing to examine ideas, opinions, facts, activities, without reservation, we risk losing more than our heads – we risk losing our minds, and our liberty. Philosopher CS Pierce said those who love truth are destined to agree. 

So, what’s the point – how is this my problem?  This quote from pastor Martin Niemöller (1971 version) helps us grasp our duty:

When the Nazis came for the communists, I did not speak out; As I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I did not speak out;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Editorial cartoonists around the world today, January 8, 2015, are standing up against intolerance, in solidarity with each other. We all need to stand together, regardless of profession. (Type the date into the search field to see some of their efforts.) It should be noted that at least one Muslim recognizes the danger and is calling for solidarity, as well.n-CHARLIE-HEBDO-570