Nov 15, 2015

We Are All French Today. We Cannot Allow the Terrorists to Win.

The terrorist attacks in France demonstrate that we are still very primitive as a species, although we're not all on the same page or even time. Of course, we can disagree about everything, but we should be conducting ourselves in a more civilized manner by now. Alas, we have a long way to go before we eliminate violent conflict and improve the condition of life for humanity. But, what are those chains holding us back?

Exploitation, competition for resources, and a long history of conflict, make it harder to achieve peace and prosperity. Primitive ideas and religion make matters worse. This has to be acknowledged. Certain myths and belief systems must be given up if we are to progress; such beliefs our clearly outdated. Perhaps there was a need some time ago that the world, the universe was explained through myths and superstitions. It doesn't have to be today in the 21st century! 

The Paris terror attack has several causes. One is the religious faith of people who see western secular societies as the devil's playground. Such faith fuels their hatred and makes it easier to kill others and themselves. Another is the economic and political conditions in places where western imperial powers occupied lands and exploited the local populations. Wars--either started by the West or perpetually being fought on the ground in the Middle East--traumatize people and thus makes it easier to be radicalized. However, radicalism includes indoctrination and certain cultural traditions makes it easier to capture adherents. Despondent youth are prime recipients of such indoctrination. 

A cartoonist from Charlie Hebdo posted this
Rational thinking and a calm approach to problems isn't the norm in crisis situations. A prolonged crisis creates scars, harsh memories, and emotions of revenge as in the case of places that have been experiencing wars, famine, violence, and instability for generations after generations. Peace and prosperity, and feelings that life is getting better aren't created overnight. It takes time. Cultures and personal attitudes change when there's stability, affluence, and improving conditions for at least a generation or two.

At this point, though, we have to evaluate the situation without rushing to extremes and let anger--which is understandable after such a horror--dictate our reaction. Obviously, we want to maintain our open tolerant and diverse societies, but we have to be careful who we admit. This is not xenophobia, but I think a country has the right to limit entrance to those who don't share the established political and cultural values.

So, is this different than,say, what Saudi Arabia is doing? Absolutely! In Saudi, free expression is not allowed. Any critical remark earn you lashing and the death penalty as this barbaric regime employs totalitarian control over its sheepish people. In our world, however, free expression is encouraged even if it means criticizing everything and everybody. As long as it is peaceful and there's no incitement to violence. But, those who see membership in this society must accept these rules of conduct.

My thoughts (not prayers) are with the terror victims' families, their friends, and to the whole French nation.  I understand what they mean when people say, my prayers are with you, but we should not encourage this religious nonsense, because it impedes progress and peace.  

  . . 

Nov 10, 2015

Let's Make America Great... by Avoiding the Disastrous Proposals of the GOP Presidential Candidates

I've been watching a clown show, the GOP presidential candidate debate. I'm more appalled by the cheering of the audience when the candidates say something moronic. OK, anything Obama is bad, that's expected. But, they keep repeating economic and social nonsense. Why do they keep repeating such? Because certain narratives have long been used in our political discussion by the conservatives and haven't been adequately refuted by the liberals.

All of these GOPers are against government. They want to take our country back to the days before the New Deal--which they all hate--which lifted Americans out of poverty, especially the elderly that since then they have a safety net. Same with other basic and absolutely necessary goods and services we need to be an advanced country with a decent quality of life.

The problem with addressing the conservatives' arguments requires answers longer than bumper stickers. It requires some knowledge of American history. It requires an understanding of what a developed country is, and how the successful democracies have made life quality better. They have done almost the everything in the opposite of what our conservatives are advocating. If, as they say, progressive policies, which include a strong social safety net, is a recipe for disaster, why so may other countries have done so much better than the US in meaningful (and measurable) variables regarding the quality of life?

The GOP has been captured by people who keep repeating adages about how the absence of government, regulation & oversight, no consumer protection, no universal health care, no publicly-funded education, a super military (read: unlimited spending), a morality (theocratic) police, segregation, obsolete gender roles, etc, are what we need!  They have no positive proposal for using our government for making our lives better. Republicans hate the government when it provides social services and all sorts of benefits to the people. It's incredible that whatever they're proposing today, we've already tried it in the past.... and didn't work very well.

But, those clowns on the stage tonight are earning kudos points from an ignorant political base who like bumper sticker messages. Oh, yeah, "Make America Great Again"..... When was America (I assume it means the U.S.A.) great again, Mr. Trump, and please define greatness...  Oyvey.