That Jesus saying

That Jesus saying. You know the one I am talking about. In my bible it says something about “do unto others.” What I told my kids quite often is the paraphrase “treat others like you want to be treated.”

We should aspire to be like this, but we are human and fall short of this goal. Often, we recognize this and make amends or feel poorly about ourselves for offensive behavior.

Even when we vehemently disagree with someone, we should approach them the same way we want to be approached. The best way to discuss differences is through reasonable dialogue. Facts help. Listening helps even more. A colleague used to ask “help me understand,” as a way of starting dialogue when he had a hard time understanding where someone was coming from.

We must not emulate the coarse behaviors exhibited by the President of the United States. When we do, truth and civil discourse suffer. This kind of behavior sows seeds of division. It also harms our country damaging our reputation and trustworthiness around the world.

We must not follow the suggestions of Congresswoman Maxine Walters to harass members of the President’s team. That is not how she would want to be treated and is a very slippery slope. And, unless a patron is causing an uproar, service providers should not decline service because they disagree with a patron’s politics. That is also a slippery slope.

As an Independent voter and former member of both parties, neither party has all the good ideas and both have some bad ones. We must listen to each other and work toward solving real problems. We must reach out to our politicians, but do so in a civil way. People can be strident in their opinions without being a jerk. I reach out to leaders often with this modus operandi in mind.

My blogging friends Jill and Gronda published excellent posts on this subject yesterday. I would encourage you to read them. Let me leave with this thought to remember along with Jesus’ powerful words courtesy of an old boss. “You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion.”

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When people pull the Nazi card, they better have a good reason

Republican Congressman Peter King of New York has pulled the Nazi card. He said NFL football players who choose not to stand for the national anthem are being Nazis. The President said during one of his ramblings that maybe these NFL protesters don’t belong in our country.

Really? Exercising one’s 1st Amendment rights of free speech is being a Nazi and worthy of deporting? Do you guys know what the Bill of Rights says? I remember the country group The Dixie Chicks” being vilified for questioning the US invasion into Iraq. Not only did they have that right, but they were right to question it. Senator Jim Webb said on the floor of the Senate, if we invade Iraq, be prepared to stay for thirty years. And, Senator John McCain recently lamented invading Iraq was a mistake,

We have every right to civilly protest in our country, even against the actions and lies of our thin-skinned President or any of his predecessors. That is the way this Democracy works. That document it is attached to makes an important reference to “We the people.”

But, I have never been a fan of people pulling the Nazi card. It is a lazy argument meant to paint something they don’t like with an evil color. Unless you are talking about the genocide of millions of people, squelching dissension and invading other countries, pulling the Nazi card is an asinine label. In fact, Nazis were forced to salute allegiance to a murderous regime or be sent away with the intellectuals, Jews, gays, gypsies, etc. This makes King’s argument even more off base.

To be frank, both King and Trump owe these protesters an apology. They are exhibiting a courage that neither man seems to possess. These players are risking their jobs to say being Black should not deny people opportunity and safety in our country. Like The Dixie Chicks, these NFL players have every right to protest and are also right.

As for King and Trump, they may want reread that 1st amendment. It is the one that precedes the 2nd one, which they should read as well. By the way, there is a real life Nazi Party in the US, as permitted by our Constitution. It would be interesting to see who most of this party voted for in 2016?

Words parents like to hear

Our youngest son graduated college on Saturday. After a couple of transfers, he found himself at this college and flourished. He did well academically, but he also grew into being an adult.

As we talked to his professors at a breakfast for his department, we heard what a fine young man our son is and how attentive and kind he was in class and community involvement functions. As we heard these words, I saw him hand to select professors handwritten thank you notes.

Later, we spoke to his friends, roommates and their parents, even going to lunch with some. We heard from the parents what a good friend he had been to their daughter or son. We made sure to get many pictures of him with these friends.

Our son deserves kudos for what he has accomplished academically. But, to hear that he has been a good friend and community steward means a great deal. This will stay with him long after some of the learnings fade.

Well done son. We are very proud of you always, but also your being a good person. That makes all the difference.

Media please focus on the big issues

With a man occupying the White House who has hard time with truth, civility, history and criticism, there is a bounty of things the media could focus on. And, that is part of the problem. I look at various news feeds and sources and see too many pedestrian foibles that get discussed. Yet, the countless criticisms dull our focus on the more important issues.

My concerns are several, so let me highlight those areas:

– we are borrowing from our future to make a long performing economy a little better, doing the opposite of what is needed to limit our debt from increasing from $21 to $33 trillion by 2027.
– we have ignored our allies and reasonable voices in the US to pull out of various multiparty agreements hurting trade, environment and security.
– we have pulled back several regulations making it easier for industries to pollute and ignoring the federal government’s role in fighting climate change.
– we have blamed immigration for a host of problems and focus on remedies that won’t help people or solve problems.
– we have held up the constitution as sacrosanct, while ignoring the sections on protecting the rights of all citizens, protecting the right and importance of the media and ignoring the clearly defined roles of the three branches of government. It is of vital importance to respect the judiciary’s pursuit of truth, even if the President does not like it.
– we have continued down a path which ignores truths and facts tolerating a man who makes more than a few decisions off misinformation and even disinformation. Governing well is hard enough when we use real facts, it is nigh impossible when we make things up.

Of course, there are other issues, but I attempted to group several concerns into larger categories. In closing, please remember these three cautions – we cannot shrink to greatness, we cannot continue to pee in our global swimming pool, and we must respect the rights and opinions of all people, not just people who agree with you or compliment you.

US is going alone again

Unless we alter our course, this period of time will be remembered as when the US ceded its global leadership role. We are following a path of nativism and retrenchment. And, there is one thing for certain – we cannot shrink to greatness.

First, we drop out of an Asia/ Pacific trade partnership early in the Trump presidency. The remaining countries proceeded without the US and inked a deal at the end of last year. Why is this important? When approached to do a bilateral agreement, Japan told Trump to reenter the Asia/ Pacific agreement.

Second, last June we decided to leave the Paris Climate Change Accord, leaving an agreement with pretty much the rest of the world. Even ExxonMobil told us to stay in the accord. Fortunately, businesses, cities and states are picking up the dropped baton, but more is needed from our DC leaders.

Third, we do our darnedest to restrict immigration into our country from several countries and are actively seeking to expel both undocumented immigrants and children who came forward under DACA. What we fail to understand is immigration is accretive to our economy and this is a key part of our ideals.

Fourth, we have introduced tariffs on our allies and trading partners. Not only are we acting like a bully, we are acting unwisely, so say 1,140 economists including Nobel laureates and Presidential advisors. We could be precipitating a retrenchment of the global economy, of which we are a key part. The economists say this is how recessions start.

Fifth, by pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement, we are heightening global risk. But, we also have turned our back on our allies who asked us to work with them to stay in the agreement. With the reimposed sanctions any EU countries doing business with Iran will also be sanctioned. This will invite sanctions by the EU on the United States’ companies doing business there.

The President views the world in a transactional way which is why he prefers bilateral agreements. He must win the transaction. In multilateral agreements, everyone wins some and loses some. He also does not value diplomacy as we have retrenched in those capabilities. The hard work is done by these folks and China is lapping us in their diplomatic efforts.

We cannot go this alone. We should pay attention to the words of French President Emmanuel Macron when he spoke to the US Congress. He beseeched us to remain involved working with others.

 

Tuesday Truisms

While Monday is like getting reacquainted with the workweek, Tuesday is when it begins in earnest. In no particular order, I have noted a few truisms for this Tuesday.

Looking out at the rainy early evening, it is wonderful to see how green everything looks. The trees frame an enchanting view.

On a more sober note, on our travels to visit our son a few hours away in NC we saw two huge confederate flags flying boldly off the highways. I know the flyers do not care, but when I see a flag like this, especially having grown up white in the South, my first thought is bigotry. This flag represents Jim Crow and the KKK as much as it does the Confederacy. When I see a Confederate flag side-by-side with an American flag, the hypocrisy that one flag represents rebellion against the other is not lost on me.

I mention this as the persona non grata NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick won a global award from Amnesty International for human rights this month. He was made an example by the US President for his very brave protest of kneeling during the national anthem in deference to black Americans not having the same rights and opportunities in America as whites. His courage and understanding of our constitutional rights far exceeds that of the President who resorted to flaming fires of jingoism among a dutiful base against this man. I am reminded that MLK was equally unpopular when he won the Nobel Peace Prize. People outside the US are watching if we are living up to our ideals which mean far more than an anthem.

A final thought on our ideals includes the freedom of the press. It should not be lost on others that reporters for The Washington Post and New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism for their coverage of the Russian meddling. It is important to note that the US President has called this fake news and a witch hunt. Apparently, the Pulitzer┬ápeople disagree. Let’s see, if the man is lying about that, what else might he be lying about?

I started with how green everything looks with the rain. Maybe our country needs a good cleansing rain to wash away our fears and demeaning of others and our ideals.

Knife wielding suspect subdued (and lives)

The title gives the climax away, but that is not the whole story. A man wielding two knives was threatening people in the halls of his apartment complex.

Three police officers showed up and told the man they had a taser and asked him to put down the knives. After a lengthy discussion and pleas, one officer moved toward the man who lunged at the officer and was tased. Remarkably, the man kept trying to knife the officer, who was able to avoid getting stabbed. The man was taking away to face a court date and jail time.

There are two other keys to this story. It was in Australia, not the US. In Charlotte last year, a man wielding a knife was shot dead by police with nine shots. I understand police have a difficult job, but the eagerness and frequency in which assailants are shot seems much higher here on the US. Plus, the number of shots stymies me – nine, eleven, sixteen shots are too representative.

The other issue worth noting is the man was white. I often use the story of how a 65 year old white man was disarmed by Detroit police after an hour conversation. Tamir Rice, an adolescent black boy, was killed within two seconds due to the toy gun he was carrying. Why? Why is there such haste to unload a weapon when the alleged perpetrator is black?

We must do better at addressing these issues. The police are doing a hard job, made harder as they don’t know who is packing heat and what firepower such heat has. I believe this adds even more tension to any police encounter where there is uncertainty. And, race plays a huge factor. Another black man was gunned down at a Walmart by police yesterday.

We cannot overtrain police at identifying threats and de-escalating tense situations. And, we must treat every shooting like the pilots investigate crashes. We must be transparent and learn how to avoid poor or hasty decisions. Other western countries do not have our overall and police gun death rates. We must do better.