Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Personal Reflection on Moral Imperatives

Someone I care about in my family is suffering from back problems. Severe pain deters him from getting about, as usual. Because of his status in the family, all members are wrangling about what their part should be. This has caused me much reflection.

Families are places of identity, comfort, pain, and even, disconnect, at times. But, family bonds go beyond normal boundaries of choice. Without an ability to choose one's family of origin, the child is bound to be formed without his conscious choice and coming to terms with his own values, until a lot later in life.

The relationships in families are important ones to develop, as they are historical and personal. But, so often in families, there is a lack of communication and appreciation of differences, which is often the case in any relationship.

Today, while talking with this person and inquiring about his condition, I encouraged him to puruse his own course, as I believe that it is important for him to maintain his dignity, especially when his dignity is being physically challenged. It is important for there to be equal respect and honor concerning his "voice". It is de-meaning and de-morallizing to not have a voice about one's life in the first place, not to mention the struggle to grapple with the "what ifs". So, my suggestion to the family is to listen carefully in the midst of great concern, to listen for his voice. Ask questions about his wishes and honor them, as this will speak to him of our love and value of him as a person, in his own right.

Perhaps, because of my upbringing, it is very important to me that there be equal representation. Everyone in the family is important and valued, but different. These differences are to be applauded, challenged, and compromised or negotiated. We will many times disagree, but the important thing is to express our love and honor, as we all want to do.

Tonight, my family will meet, but I will not be there. A nephew, who is a physician, will ask, talk and listen and hopefully be able to come to some decisions about what are the wishes and desires of this important person in our lives. I wish I could be there. I will be in spirit. And my aunt made sure that my voice was heard, as she called to inform me. I appreciate that and her.

My personal reflection on this event has made it obvious that we will all see different moral imperatives. Wouldn't it be a shame if each one of us insisted that their view was the absolute moral imperative? Wouldn't that express the epitome of moral insensitivity and ethical impropriety? And how would that express what each of us desires most to do? Wouldn't it defeat the ultimate purpose we have about this important person, to be honored and cherished? I think so.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Existential Angst and Authoritarianism

I had the opportunity to have the grandkids here with me this week. I am always amused and "enlightentened" whenever my grandaughter says something with such conviction and authority, without having the slightest insight into how simple her understanding is.

The learning process has been studied by educators, so that physicians and developmental 'specialists of all kinds' can diagnose whether a particular child is "on course" or developing appropriately. The judgment is not to learn about another individual child, so much as to encourage the parent or give resources or tests to the children who seem to be developing at a different rate than "the average".

But, every stage of learning is a stage of growth, but also "existential angst", because whatever has been believed before is enlarged, or undermined and re-vamped altogether, then there is a cognitive dissonance that needs to be "solved". And the solution is coming to terms with a "new world order".

Children believe in "make-believe", such as fairy tales that paint a world filled with "happily ever afters", or "God" who is personally interested in the particularity of the child's every whim. "God" is representative to the child of security, stability, and hopeful promise of a "future". But, as the child matures, these images and hopes are challenged by encountering the 'real world' and an enlarged view of understanding, which counters their simple and trusting "ideals". The "real world" becomes an enemy to 'peace'.

"Existensial Angst" is what should be expected in Christian colleges, because there is no "special revelation" or special truth in an abstract form, but only in personal form. The student themself is a "revelation" of indivdiuality. And their hopeful future is not protected by "God", but by their ability to function within their specialty of discipline.

Authoritarianism does not allow or understand the need for individuality in personal values or of personal commitment. Authoritarianism hinders growth because of the 'fear of difference". Difference is a challenge to those who hold to authoritarianism, whether ecclesiastical, bibilical, governmental, or organizational.

The individual in his own "right" has a right to exist apart from the collective "whole", and for his own personal values, not society, itself, which de-mean and de-moralize the indivdidual in his/her development and "promise".

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The "Scary Part" of Science

Natural science has been understood to be the "order" that establishes the universe. These "laws" are what physicists call "natural laws" that "rule" over what we know about the world. Today, science asks and is seeking the answer to "an order" that defines the universe. These 'laws" would be 'universal' and would underwrite the "world's structure".

Social scientists are also interested in what maintains the "social order". It has been thought that social structures themselves were what defined social norms and created the environment where humans flourished. These are family therapists, social psychologists, and social structuralists.

But, where the social sciences have defined "order" by the environment, these sciences are now trying to understand and integrate what biological science is finding to be true in the physical aspects of "being human". The brain is thought to carry the signature of the universe within its structure. This intersection of environment and biology has wrought much wrangling in its wake, as religion is being "outsourced" to the physical sciences.

But my concern is; so what if the brain reveals a "universal structure"? Does that necessitate a certain monistic understanding of "life", as far as environment? Are differences to be appreciated and affirmed or controlled and stipulated by "proper form" according to "brain science". This is where the "mind/brain" understanding comes into discussion and what makes for "the human", as far as I can understand. Without diversity of culture and personality, the world will be less colorful and enjoyable to the individual.

The individual will be defined by a "scientific society" that will form the rules that define tightly what is proper order. And this order will be defined by a certain culture, religion, race, and this "form" of thinking is what has led to genocide, ethnic cleansing, discrimination, and such. We must be aware of the social aspects of applications of science, so that science does not do disservice to mankind.

Order is what is created in societies by laws. But, order that is not flexible or accomodating to individuality is tyrannical. This is where science is limited, because "who can know another's mind" except one who has personal exposure and experience with another. Minds are different in this way.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"What Children Don't Know"

"What children don't know, won't hurt them", is a common phrase here, in America. But, what adults don't know does hurt them.

When government is not forthcoming with information to the American people, either through power over the press, or elitist attitudes about policy making, then our "common interests" no longer exist, and we are not duty bound to continue in "the social contract" or we are called to reform the contract. Voting is just the beginning to changing what needs change.

A social contract was to be defined by "equality under law". The law is to protect the liberty of opinion, while limiting governmental oversight. Now, things seem reversed. We seem to be given pablum, because "what the children don't know, won't hurt them". And all the while, we are commended to protect the interest of the public's good. Peace at all costs looses much of what has been paid for in blood.

Our country was founded by those that believed that all were created equal and protected and provided for civil liberties.

Virtue is a relative term, when one faces evil. What is one to do? Submit? Resist? Fight? Surrender? Run? What is one's "duty"?

Kant says to do what you would want to become universal. But, universiality is still dependent on one's values, isn't it? And one's values are individually embraced. That is, unless there is a 'universalized agenda" that would undermine liberty of choosing one's values, or changing one's commitments as life requires.

My grand-daughter's "wisdom" is child-like. She believes that everyone wants the same thing that she does, so she will understand things in a childlike way. But, this is not true to reality. People want different things from life, and that should be allowed in free societies.

So, put away childish things and understand that all are not alike.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Commoners" for the "Common Good"...

My husband told me tonight on Glenn Beck, he disclosed that the way the redistribution of wealth will occur is using the stimulus money and re-defining poverty...

The stimulus money, it is reported will be used within the White House "councils"...possibly in the charge of one of the czars...I imagine. And the definition of wealth will be what one is able to buy, versus what another is not able to buy. So consumerism will promote prosperity with equal distribution, but at what costs?

Do those that have worked hard, bought second hand cars, and saved, deserve to be punished by such a policy? Maybe I don't understand what the total picture is, but it seems to me that creating personal wealth is forbidden UNLESS, one is part of corporate greed, that is.

Do NOT get me wrong. Corporations are not wrong in and of themselves, but when they play politics with policy of the American people, then our democracy suffers. And the people are left with little recourse but to "foot the bill"!

Corporate greed will play into the hands of stimulus monies this way so that consumers consume so that they will not be punished by punitive measures to alleviate class envy. And the religious will "call on the virtue" of their parishioners to "give blood" to the cause of the "common good", while the blood-letting will go on behind the scenes. And the end will be the alleviation of the "economic" crisis through ploys of manipulating public opinion through temporary "fixes" until after the election cycle.

So, instead of workers uniting, maybe us "commoners" should unite to protect our liberty before it is sold to the highest bidder and we have to pay for it.


Children Say The Darnest Things About "Beasts" and Bring Wisdom to Light

Today, while swinging my grand-daughter on the swing, I asked her questions about why she was afraid to go higher. What was she afraid of, etc. And, then, I asked her about this afternoon's movie that we watched while she "rested". The movie was Disney's "Beauty and the Beast".

She kept saying after it was intially over that the beast changed into a boy, as if that surprised her. While swinging I asked her about whether she thought she could over-come her fear of the "beast". She said, "No". When I asked her "why?": she answered because I would be afraid of the beast. When I suggested to her that Belle was also afraid but that she also was couregeous, she still emphatically said she would still be afraid. I told her that Belle overcame her fear and her love for the beast changed the beast into a man. (It reminded me of "Phantom of the Opera".) I continued to ask her if she thought if love could make a beast a man, but she did not think so.

Then I asked her about "Cinderella", which we watched last night. I asked her about the wicked step-mother and if Cinderella's service to her step-mother made her step-mother change. "Of course not" Hannah said matter of factly. It was obvious to Hanah, that the step-mother proceeded to try to exclude, but lost in the end.

There is a commercial about "hood-winking" children that suggests that even children understand when they have been lied to. And it suggests that this is not the "character" of this advertised insurance company (I think it was an insurance company).

Happy endings happened in both the fairy tales, but real life is not as happily ended. So I told Hannah that not always do people change, no matter what we do. It is really up to us to discern when we are dealing with "evil" or those that will not be changed.

I think this is what fundamentalism is about. Fundamentalists claim absolutes about the larger issues of life, without stopping to think that possibly their worldview is a limited one. Fundamentalism is simplistic theologizing and it leaves real answers for the real world a little less than desired.

We cannot battle evil in one way, only in the way that seems appropriate to us, at a particular time. Evil is personal because it is controlling, manipulative and all consuming. Evil is not satisfied with bits and pieces, but wants to consume the whole of a person.

Evil does not value liberty. This is what some believe discipleship or holiness is about. But, then these would defend their claims based on views of scripture, which are ancient passages about transcendence that was attempting to explain reality the only way they knew how at a particular historical time. God was representative of history within the believing community. It was a interpretive frame that created the community's understanding and "world".

Evil also exists in governmental authority that doesn't limit power, by disrepect of privacy and the right of autonomy. Therefore, do not let your good be evil spoken of and have the heart of a child, to fear that which is to be feared. Stay away from things that are beyond one's ability to understand. That is wisdom in the heart of the child.

Children Say the Darnest Things About

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Limited Government and a Balance of Power

"Power corrupts", we have often heard. And those that have experienced power over thier lives will agree that power corrupts and abuses those under its authority. Humans cannot control unintended consequences, this is one of the achievments of our Founding Fathers. They understood that without limited government and a balance of power, individual would live their lives under "abuses of power".

The way the Founders formed our government was by law, which protected liberty. Justice was understood as an inalienable right. This right cannot be taken or given, as it is granted by nature. It is an innate equality of human beings, in their "personhood" because of being "made in God's image".

Our country has provided for and believed in "equal opportunity". The Statue of Liberty stands for the American value of incorporation "the many'. So, our cultural value is diversity. Individual have a right to express their voice, find their place, and to be a free moral agent. These values have led many to come to our shores to find refuge.

We, as a people, must still adhere to the values of limited government and a balance of power. This means that we stand with the individual, and we defend against abuse of law and governmental co-erciveness.

"We" are the people, or the indivdual who make up our nation and protect, defend and provide for continual greatness by not maintaining a stance of silence or indifference to corruption in the areas of limitation of government and a balance of power.

The differeneces lie in how we go about understanding what our country needs at present, in today's climate that is far from our Founders. But, we must defend their basic values and not give up our Constitution!

Economically Savy and Religiously Biased Breed a Culture of Mis-Guided "Interests"

Yesterday, I listened to a presentation on economics, and heard about a religious incident. Both concerned me, in where our country is "going".

The first was an economics presentation, defending the "small business model" to free enterprise. The problem for American prosperity, according to this economist, was "Big Business" which has ties to and protection from our legislators. This is where corporate greed and ethical violations conincide, I think.

Legislators take and make backroom deals that benefit their own pockets, as well as embellishing the corporation's interests. The problem is when power subverts "the common person's right" to play in the game of business. The little man, whether a small business owner or innovator of new products cannot compete with those who already have built their reputations, have a monopoly on the market and use it to obstruct justice for the little guy and our country, at large.

The report gave an example of an innovator that had made a syringe that was better than the predominant manufactor. The innovator has been fighting for his right to "buy into" the market, but pockets that are not as deep as corporate interests have a hard road to maintain. Most cannot afford the fight.

Not only does limiting innovative discoveries hinder our own culture, but it also limits American jobs. The large corporations are interested in getting the worker to work for the lowest possible wage, so they go overseas to protect thier profits.

The second concern I have is with American religious tradition, itself. Some religious people had made a "claim for God" about the deaths of homosexuals. Not only was the "message of God" done in the wrong context, but it was presumptuous of them to "speak for God" in the first place. "Who has known the mind of God"?

The cultural wars have been intensified because of absolute claims and fears about God's retribution. These religious people were convinced that God was judging these homonsexuals. It was the view that God intervened directly and individually in the history of men.

What used to be understood to be "God's Providence" has become human agency, such that those that "speak for God" feel they must intervene or "ELSE": judgment will come.

A more rational approach would be to look at human history, the disciplines in general, and understand that there is a 'way" that men have gone and what were the results, how do we understand human beings in thier complexity and what does that say about humans and society and its needs.

Otherwise, our culture is to be doomed with former Great Empires.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

History in the Making...

Many people who live in free societies, understand that humans have the ability to "make history". These like to "make their mark" in the world through many creative avenues. And free societies allow and encourage such activity.

History's "history" has been debated as to its understanding. I have been following a few blogs on the historicity of Jesus and the following traditions. Some say history is an "art", while others prefer to view history as a science.

Ancient historians were politically motivated, as well as situationally situated, as the 'elite' were the ones that made the rules, and "called the shots". Those that followed these ancient leaders viewed them as "gods". And theirs was the fate of a leader's ambition. The "Greeks" called it "fate". Our Founders called it Providence.

Myth was always useful in these societies to create meaning or to embellish the facts, so that leaders could manuever those under them to understand their vision and to co-operate.

In human development studies, James Fowler has found that faith at it highest development understands faith as "symbol" or mythological. These myths create meaningful "worlds" for social norms and standards. And it has been understood by the religious to be the basis of our "laws".

But, America's Founders also sought an opportunity to create a unique "vision" of liberty and justice for those under religious persecution. These were using the opportunities before them to find fortune, as well as liberty of life. Taxation was the point of "no return" for the colonists, as the abuse of power united factions that otherwsie would not have been united. And the result was a 'new nation" that was founded on the rights of men, and not the right of "gods".

I think today is no less a "point of no return" if those in power continue on their course, irregardless of how their constituencies view matters. Even though our county is representative, we do believe that there are avenues of "voice" and that public engagement is a necessary part of maintaining our liberty.

So, even though I am concerned for my nation, I have hope that things will turn around and that tomorrow will bring a 'new day'. Not all countries and their peoples have that right to liberty.

I am so grateful for our liberty.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I Have Concern For Our Nation

I have concerns for our nation with the recent subway shootings at the Pentagon!

The disenchanted and disillusioned culprit was a man who felt helpless about making a difference in his government. He had become angered by ethics violation and abuse of power that runs rampant in the halls of power. I don't blame him there.

But, is there some other way to express anger than taking a gun to shoot others. This is where public engagement diminshes into tribal slug fests! And where bombing of abortion clinics outweigh reasonable influence.

I am concerned because of the demonization of the "world of ideas". Ideas are what our Founders based the "founding of our country". These were what created our "worlds" of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"!

But, what most don't stop to think about is that these ideals have to be defined in real world terms. And what does "THAT" mean? Real world terms is real world values that are reasoned expression of support for one's position.

Take the word "life" for instance. What is life? What makes for "life"? What is important to "life"? Who determines the value of life? Why do you believe these things? or How do you support your position?

What about "liberty"? What does "liberty" mean? How does one promote liberty as a value? Is liberty absolute? Where does one draw a line around liberty? Why does one think liberty should be limited? What values limit liberty? ETC....

We must understand that our country values diversity, so we will understand and frame these terms differently. But, we are all Americans, who value these "ideals" and we must stop fighting each other and determine to engage ourselves within our value systems and commit to being engaged politically.

Public engagement without abusing power is what I hope for America, without this "ideal", then there is no hope!

Brain, Mind, Emotions, and Memory Response and Living in the Real World

Last night my husband and I watched a movie with Morgan Freeman. His moives usually have some meaning or message, and they are usually good. We thought we might be "headed to see" some B rated movie, as we'd gotten several movies from Sam's Club for under $5. But, we were delightfully surprised!

The movie was about two serial killers. Morgan Freeman was a forensic psychologist from D.C. who travelled to the Triangle Park, N. C. area to help the police there find the suspected killer. He had a "dog in the fight", as his neice had been missing for several weeks.

To make a long story short and to get to my point, the movie was intensely suspenseful and just when you thought that the movie was solved, there was another "crook in the road"..This led to an emotional connection with the movie unlike most. And the post traumatic stress that the main escapee suffered was experienced alongside her.

In my sleep, I kept having dreams as if the situations had happened to me; whispering in my ear from the murderer, running away from the killer, etc. This led to a fitful night and waking up several times to realize "it was only a dream".

I had not eaten anything out of the ordinary last night and had gone to bed as usual. So, there should've been nothing that would have made my sleep different, except for the movie.

My unprofessional and "scientific" suspicion is that my emotional connectedness to the movie led me to an emphathetic response. I had experienced the situation personally.

Is this not what we experience with those we feel connected to when they suffer? Our emotional connection leads us to justify their misfortunes, reach out to help, and understand their weaknesses.

I think that our reason is useful to help us function in the world without collapsing into a "pool of emotion". What good would that do? So, our reason help us rationalize our lives so that we live reasonably, not emphathetically. We cannot "love humanity", as that is an 'ideal" and ideals have to be defined and practically understood for there to be real meaning and purpose.

This is where we play out our lives committed to certain values which are prioritized accordingly. We live rationally, according to our values.

And I believe that values are a culmalative conglomoration of different experiences, individual personality and interests. Therefore, universals do not exist in the real world, only "ideals" that are manifested differently.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why Would I Be Suspicious?

Tonight I watched a former Muslim who had converted to Christianity talk about Islam. He admitted that all of Islam is radical. There is no moderate Islamic faith. But, his openness disturbed me. I just wondered why he could be so open about his conversion and Islam itself without endangering his very life.

I say this because of the facts of history. Remember the many faces that hid from those who would take revenge. Rushdie and Ali are only two. But, these took to hiding and lived in isolation. Why would we think that this person would be priviledged and protected from Islamic factions that would want to bring about justice? I am suspicious.

Would there be a possibility that Islam being so violently opposed to Christianity would love for Christians to think that Islam was tolerant? Or would there be a possibility that Islam would use "converts" to infilterate Chrstian circles to promote propaganda?

This morning. I listened to a former Muslim woman talk about her experience of wanting her independence. She explained how Muslims do not think in individual terms. Tradition forms and shapes their thinking and lifestyle. The American ideal of seeking one's destiny is not a way of seeing oneself in the world. She was fortunate to have lived in a free society where she freed herself from the traditions of her past and became a professor.

How can people think that those that are so narrow and confined in their views would be open, accomadating or tolerant to diversity or when it is expected that Muslims will not be open to tell the whole story to the "infidels"? And especially because those that have been Muslims have warned about the political agenda that these have for the West?

Politicizing the Census

The Democrats are on the war path this morning. The census is being discussed and a question came in about the wisdom of giving out this information to the government. The discussion then turned into an opportunity for politics. The Republicans were demonized by saying that the Republicans had politicized the census by sending out questionaires for fund-raising, insinuating that Republicans were being deceptive. These were not the overt words of the discussion, but it was the insinuation. Were the Democratically leaning panel not politicizing the discussion?

The census is done because the Founders believed that it would be the best way for the publics' interest to be represented, as it determines where the boundaries are that will determine a certain district.

Giving the Republicans the benefit of the doubt, could the Republcans be sincerely interested in what the American people want? After being "dismissed" and not being allowed to be players in the major decisions facing our nation, could they have learned that it is important that we all have a voice? Certainly, the tea parties and the town hall meetings over the summer gave these politicians a clear picture of how the American people feel about being left out of the political process by the dismissal of their voice!

I find that today so much is politicized that the American people cannot discern what or whom to believe. Has this always been so, and I am only waking up to the real world of politics? Perhaps so, but this morning's presentation by the Democrats made me more aware of how a "fact" can be interpreted.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Simplistic Thinking

I hate simplistic thinking. And I have identified a hatred to this "simplicity" with Voltaire's "Candide". I have valid reasons for such hatred and I think I am justified in such hatred.

I hate simplistic thinking because leaders who make policy must think through their goals and think about how best to implement them. Simplistic thinking in leadership does not take into account the vast complexity of such goals, if these goals are set in complex networks and situations. The world itself is such a context. Those that follow such leaders are prone to pay the costs of such "simplicity".

I hate simplistic thinking because it leads others to follow uncritically. These people are bound to "pay the costs" without realizing it. But, they are pawns to the deceptive manipulation or lack of forethought of their leaders. Such people are simplistic themselves and are uncritical to life, the world, and its politics.

I hate simplistic thinking because it isn't based upon real problems in the real world, but pacifies these problems with platitudes of "answers" that fall short of coherency. "God" is used in such a way.

I hate simplistic thinking because I and those I love have paid a price for such thinking. This is how I have learned to not think simplistically. Simplicity is navete'.

Simplicity is the way children think, but this way of thinking must be outgrown, if we are to be good for the real world.