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Archive for February, 2015

Unquiet Musings in an Age of Unreason
Father Larry
In the debate between Carl DeMaio and Scott Peters in the 2014 52nd Congressional District Race, DeMaio sought to position himself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. In spite of my own kin making the same claim, it is a position that makes absolutely no sense to me. To be an advocate of peace, justice, and compassion is not without costs – including financial costs. Social liberalism and financial conservatism are mutually exclusive. “No one can serve two masters.” That’s precisely why Bill and Hilary Clinton have always been denied liberal credentials.

We cannot afford the rich. Over 3 billion people attempt to exist on $2.50 or less a day. The wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to $110tn (£60.88tn), or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world. No, humanity cannot afford them.

The report of the UN Committee Against Torture found the United States not to be in compliance with international anti-torture treaties. And, the report compiled by the bipartisan United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence regarding the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program and its use of various forms of torture details confirms what we already knew – the United States of America engaged in the systematic torture, sometimes resulting in the deaths, of detainees. What the report reveals is – well sickening. The fact that the CIA Director and former Directors or fellow conspirators in this evil, like Dick Cheney, use the same euphemisms and rationalizations (Vershharfte Vernehmung, is well translated as “sharpened” or “enhanced interrogation”) as their World War II Nazi counterparts on trial at Nuremberg for war crimes does nothing to curb the nausea. Neither is it surprising. For Bush, Cheney, or those employed by the CIA to admit the reality would be to confess themselves as war criminals.

The UN panel was also critical of police brutality and the excessive use of force by police officers in the U.S. When we lived in Colorado two young black men in two separate incidents, both suffering from cognitive impairment, were shot and killed by the police — I believe by the same officer — who like Daniel Pantaleo had absolutely no business serving on any police force. In one case a young man, just a kid to me, was standing in his yard holding a knife. Because he was within twenty feet of the officer the law said it was legal to shoot him to death. Of course, what is legal and what is just and right and good are often two very different things. Obviously our society needs and will always need competent police officers, but law enforcement officers with overwhelming power and control issues, or prejudices that interfere with their ability to function thoughtfully and equitably contribute to a systemically violent society. I am entirely supportive of what I hope becomes a sustained effort to eliminate sanctioned violence. I also think such a movement can be helped by keeping in mind that the strength of the protest is in direct proportion to the purity of the victim.

I am not much disturbed by the possibility of Obama Care being dismantled, maybe then we can work toward universal single payer health care and move beyond the Wal-Mart level of development to become a civilized nation.

I used to wonder how the Republicans could be so wrong about just nearly everything. Ronald Reagan argued that because of the economic boom that would take place there would be no growth in the federal budget deficit, but budgeted federal revenues dropped creating a huge fiscal hole. In the early 1980s Republicans worked for the deregulation of the savings and loan industry. Within seven years the federal government lost $125 billion dollars in payouts. There are plenty of other fantasies: Abolishing bank regulations will help the economy, Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction and was a front for Bin Laden, and Obama Care actually hurts people. I used to wonder how Republicans could be so wrong about so much, and then I realized they are not wrong they are right! They do indeed know how to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

A nation that is unable or unwilling to recognize its own complicity in the oppression of the poor or in the violence of global terrorism is simply incapable of producing solutions adequate to the problems it faces. Substantial and long-term answers only come, as they have always come, from the highest aspirations of the human heart espoused by all the great faith and wisdom traditions of the world — compassion, justice, peace, mercy, faith, and some sort of reflective repentance.

The Republicans have accused the President of misleading all of us by asserting that progress is being made against ISIS. That leaves me puzzled as to what to make of the almost daily reports of towns and villages being taken back from ISIS. It may just be that because of my commitment to pacifism I have terms like “winning” and “losing” all confused.

What do I think of American Sniper and Chris Kyle? Well it makes me think of the 1964 film “The Americanization of Emily” — an American comedy-drama war film starring James Garner and Julie Andrews. Garner’s character argues both humorously and dramatically that the way to end war is to get people to see the simple reality that the wounded and the dead of war are victims rather than heroes. It makes me think on what Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, former army Ranger, paratrooper, and Psychology Professor at West Point, says in his book On Killing — how killing in combat can become addictive. It makes me think of the “Fargo” television series in which the Gus Grimly character kills the evil Loren Malvo but in doing so is somehow himself diminished. And Chris’s real life assertion that “violence can be a solution” is so mind numbing and heart numbing that I don’t think at all.

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