refugee

You Were Taught This


Whatever your holy book, somewhere in those pages you can find some directives – perhaps they’re instructions, possibly Commandments – that tell us how to behave.

For example, the Exodus story is a stunning message about freedom. The story is retold every year at the Passover Seder. It’s like all traditions, in that it’s reinforced through repetition so that we both remember its lessons and educate new generations.

At the Seder we are admonished to, “Remember, you were slaves in the land of Egypt.” That’s “you” as in: each of us today. The message isn’t about some quaint, obscure people who had 430 horrible years as slaves those thousands of years ago. Those people were just like us and they craved and loved freedom as much as we do. That’s why retelling the story is critical for us today, lest we forget and recreate those horrible years for ourselves or others. That’s why we are admonished to welcome the stranger, because once we were strangers. Think: Immigration reform.

We are also directed not to curse the deaf, nor place a stumbling block before the blind. I’m confident you can see through the metaphors about refusing to be cruel to others or influencing others to do harm. Think: Rage at school board meetings; death threats; and conspiracy theory hatred. Seriously, we’re not supposed to do that stuff.

Are you seeing a pattern yet? Try this.

Some years ago my friend Tom was going through a difficult period and was facing it head-on. He came across the term “loving kindness” and explained some of what he learned about it.

It’s a solitary term, he said; nothing else quite captures the essence of its meaning. My best guess is that somewhere in your past you were taught the concept and the sweetness, generosity and purity of its meaning. Somebody told you that this is something important, something we’re supposed to do. Perhaps you remember.

Maybe it was offered this way.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” For those of us who have difficulty getting beyond ourselves, that makes the recommended treatment of others easier to understand. Just love them, the directive says, and we understand, because we, too, want to be loved.

The word “loved” might cause some confusion, given that our definition today may vary from what it meant thousands of years ago. And the message has been filtered through multiple language translations, too. So, try “care about” instead, or “care for.” Regardless, we have clarity about how we want to be treated as the benchmark, a True North for how we are directed to treat others. It’s about caring. *

The problem is that we moderns aren’t doing a great job of following those simple, clear directions from our Human Being Manuals. We haven’t managed to stop enslaving one another. We still refuse freedom to others and refuse to welcome strangers and we inflict cruelty or we condone it. The concept of loving kindness enters our consciousness far too infrequently and we’re afraid of our neighbors, so it’s really hard to care about them.

Click me for the story.

You’re seeing horrific pictures from Ukraine every day. All of its cities are being reduced to rubble. People are being murdered, and yes, it’s first degree murder, because it’s premeditated. There are people there who spend their days dodging missiles and bombs, who are sleeping in the cold and have little or nothing to eat. There is no fresh water, so they’re drinking pond water and melting snow. Your internal meter that monitors your sense of right, of justice and of humanity has been pegged out and flashing red for weeks and you know you have to do something. But what?

I looked into getting a flight to Warsaw, figuring to find ground transport to the Ukrainian border to help refugees there somehow, but I’m afraid I’m past my sell-by date for such things. There must be another way to help.

In a short presentation to our local village board, a senior in high school offered a couple of simple ideas.  And really, this doesn’t have to be complicated.

Her family came from Ukraine and, as you will surely understand, she has strong feelings about what is happening to her ancestral homeland and its people. She named a couple of agencies doing relief work for Ukrainian refugees. Have a look at UMANA and Razom.

Look at what World Central Kitchen is doing. They are providing hundreds of thousands of hot meals for those very cold refugees. Kick in something so that stomachs get warmed and filled.

You can go here and see what AirBnB is doing to provide housing, or here or here or here or scroll through the slides on this New York Times page to find various agencies helping these suffering people. Check them all for veracity here.

At very least we can support the do-gooders so that they can do the good that so desperately needs to be done.
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If donating money isn’t how you want to do it, that’s okay. Find another way. Here’s some creative thinking from my friend, futurist David Houle.

He has committed to buying 10% less gasoline. He can do that and so can you and I with just a little brain work, like combining trips instead of being wasteful. That 10% reduction in consumption by lots of us will take pressure off gas prices, our climate crisis and the pressure to import Russian fossil fuels, which we don’t want to do ever again. Read David’s post. Then commit and tell others about it.

You know well the messages about freedom, welcoming the stranger, loving thy neighbor and loving kindness. That’s why your internal meter is flashing red and screaming for your action. You were made to right this wrong and you know in your bones that you have to do something.

You were taught this.

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* Tucker Carlson doesn’t care, nor do millions who listen to that anti-American fool. Mother Jones revealed how Putin is using the drivel that comes from Carlson’s mouth. He’s stuffing it into his propaganda to control the Russian people and continue his Ukrainian genocide.

Tucker Carlson is helping Putin to murder Ukrainians right now.
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I don’t think his Human Being Manual instructed him to do that. His is free lance apostasy.

Be sure to read that Mother Jones piece, as well as John Pavlovitz’s explainer, I’m Sick of Pretend Patriots and the Phony Faithful. This is the time for real patriots and lovers of liberty to stand and be counted.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Special Friday Edition


The movies entertain us. Sometimes they teach us. Sometimes they remind us of important lessons. Sometimes they inspire us.

Watch this clip from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (the first one, if you’re counting). It’s the beginning of the coming of age of young Luke Skywalker, where he starts to learn of the obligations he has to others.

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“This is our most desperate hour,” Princess Leia says. “Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” When Luke pushes back against accompanying Obi-wan to help the princess, Obi-wan says to Luke, “I need your help, Luke. She needs your help.”

And that was reason enough

Now imagine that you are Luke Skywalker and that the little Ukrainian refugee girl on the left or that crying boy on the right walking to Poland are Princess Leia. This is their most desperate hour.

They need your help.

This is not about politics or confrontation or nations or any other distraction. This is about that little girl and that little boy and all the Ukrainian girls and boys and infants, babies, children, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers – all the people sleeping in cold basements without food or water.

Go here, or here or scroll through the slides on this New York Times page to find various agencies helping these suffering people. Check them all out here.

For all of these refugees, this is their most desperate hour and they need our help.

And that is reason enough.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Venezuela and Existential Threats


Reading time – 5:07; Viewing time – 7:30  .  .  .

First, my only comment on the topic of the cherry picked, sentence fragmented Mueller report is that I want the full report – all of it including the appendices – both for the complete, un-predigested information so that I can draw my own conclusions and so that we won’t imagine a Justice Department cover up engineered by Trump’s hand-picked protector.

As of this writing Attorney General Barr has indicated he will release the complete Mueller report by mid-April. There will be redactions, perhaps lots of them. Some will be to protect ongoing investigations. Some redactions will be for national security reasons. Some will be to avoid causing embarrassment to “peripheral innocent people.” I have no clue why that’s more important than instilling confidence in the report for a skeptical public. Absent such confidence, we’re facing an existential threat to our democracy.

If you need insightful commentary on the entire Russia issue, including Mueller’s report, read pal Dan Wallace’s comments. Now to the issue of Venezuela.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story about Russia’s power play in Venezuela. Putin sent 100 troops there to prop up dictator Nicolás Maduro. In reaction to that, reader JC asked if there was anyone left in Washington who understands the Monroe Doctrine or remembers the Cuban Missile Crisis. My answers: no and no.

As you’ll recall from high school American history class, the Monroe Doctrine prohibits further European colonialism in the Western Hemisphere.

At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev was cultivating Cuba as a client state, effectively making it a colony of the Soviet Union, the very thing prohibited by the Monroe Doctrine. Soviet missiles armed with nuclear warheads on that island made it an existential threat to the United States.

While President James Monroe couldn’t have imagined nuclear weapons, he and his contemporaries were clear that the presence of European military might this close to home was an existential threat to our nascent country. The Monroe Doctrine was and is about our national security.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis there were thoughtful, careful men in charge who insisted upon best intelligence and carefully considered approaches to the challenges we faced. They had the strength of character to resist knee-jerk military actions and they prevented a catastrophic war.

This time there’s a reality TV personality in charge who doesn’t read, who is incapable of assembling complex thoughts, who doesn’t review the President’s Daily Brief, so he doesn’t know what’s going on, who doesn’t have sufficient self-control to resist temper tantrums and who needs to be seen as the biggest, baddest tough guy. He is supported by Secretary of State John Bolton, who never saw a conflict he didn’t want to escalate into war. As bad, we have a horrendous record of starting conflicts without any plan to end them.

For example, George W. Bush dim-brain/lied us into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with phantom promises of quick success and happily-ever-after flowers tossed at our troops by Iraqis. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared Iraqi oil would pay for the whole thing. None of that happened.

What was foreseeable but which they refused to foresee was the global refugee problem they triggered and which the world lives with quite unsteadily now. It is a key outfall of Bush’s lies and we still don’t have a plan to end those wars.

Now that Russia has sent its troops into Venezuela we are in a situation not unlike the Cuban Missile threat from the Soviet Union. President Trump backs Maduro’s challenger Juan Guaidó. How will Trump stop Russia from both keeping Maduro in power and from having that military foothold in the Western Hemisphere that is specifically forbidden by the Monroe Doctrine?

In point of fact, Trump has been a disaster of a negotiator for the U.S. He’s been a patsy with nothing to show for his capitulations to Russia and North Korea. Worse, he’s been a lapdog for Putin, who is now threatening Trump’s tough guy posturing.

Trump has told Putin to back off. If Trump tries to negotiate with Putin to get him to do that, Trump’s past negotiating prowess suggests that it probably will look like hollow posturing that leaves Russian troops in place in Venezuela with an escalating military presence in the Western Hemisphere. If instead Trump sends troops in support of Guaidó, we’ll be faced off against the Russians and troops on both sides are likely to be killed. And there won’t be an exit plan from the conflict.

What could possibly go wrong?

And another thing  .  .  .

The Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee called for Adam Schiff (D-CA) to resign his chairmanship of the committee, based on the same kind of Republican partisan brainlessness that we’ve seen for years. Schiff replied with a kind of muscular statement rarely heard from Democrats. Watch the whole thing here.

Last thing .  .  .

Chris Hayes interviewed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“AOC”) on Friday. Here’s a link to a string of videos from that interview. I urge you to watch all of them for one reason. It’s not so that you’ll agree with or find ways to pick apart the Green New Deal or find ways to cheer or criticize her. I want you to think on a higher level.

Specifically, watch and listen in order to understand why she has so completely captured the public imagination. Our Gen X, Y and Z citizens see our politics in the way that Emma Gonzalez sees our embedded intransigence over gun safety: “We call B.S.”

AOC speaks for an overwhelming majority of Americans, regardless of how much you may fundamentally disagree with her policy ideas or fear your own loss of power.

To Our Legislators:

Get on board with working with people who see the future far differently than you do. If you don’t want to do that, I suggest that you polish your résumé in preparation for entry into an exciting new career. That’s because these folks know that they’ll be the ones who will live with the consequences of what we’re creating right now, so they have a far more powerful interest in a sustainable future. We have created an existential threat to them and they won’t let us mess it up any more.

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Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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