Sunday, July 30, 2017

What Is a Right?

Do we still have rights? What is a right, anyway? It isn't a law. Laws are made by governments, supposedly to uphold and protect its citizen's rights.

"A right is a gift from God that extends from our humanity," according to Judge Andrew P. Napolitano. Rights are a natural part of our humanity. "Thinkers from St. Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas, from St. Thomas More to Thomas Jefferson, from the Reverend Rd. Martin Luther Kng Jr. to Pope John Paul II to Justice Clarence Thomas"* all argued this to be true. These are the inalienable rights named in our U.S. Constitution.

And the founders of our nation believed that the role of government is to protect and preserve the rights of every individual. And the only way it gets the power to do that is through the consent of the individuals involved. At least that is the way it is supposed to be.

I'm not so sure that is the way things are now. Nor are the people at the top of our government in agreement with that philosophy of our founders. The government has become the micromanager of the people today. And, over time, the citizens have given them way more power than the founders ever wanted the government to have. We have defaulted to being taken care of rather than to be the caretakers of our own lives.

Think about it. The government determines what crops can be grown, what medications can be manufactured, the cost of many goods and services, where resources can be obtained, who can pollute the air, water, soil. There are government controls on so many things that a full list would take pages and pages.

So much of this control was in the name of protecting us. And to a point that is true. Yet the misuse of that power has created harmful situations and inflated prices. Somewhere along the line the country has gotten off track and is in a mess. Is it possible to clean it up? I don't know. Some days I believe it can. Other days I don't.

What do you think? If we all worked together we could make it happen. If we can bridge the divide we could work for a better world, starting in our own country.

*It Is Dangerous To Be Right When the Government is Wrong by Andrew P. Napolitano.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Is This Really a Free Country?

I picked up a challenging book at the library. It is slow going, but it is so thought provoking that I have to read on. The book is It Is Dangerous to Be Right when the Government Is Wrong, The case for personal freedom by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano.

The reason I am reading it is that it explores the government's role in keeping us free, something that is on our minds a lot these days of political turmoil in Washington. The book takes us back to basics on freedom, addressing some hard questions.
  • What is a Constitution, and do we still have one?
  • What are the limits to government power to in a free society?
  • Why does the government attack, rather than defend, our rights?If our rights are inalienable, how can the government take them away? 
  •  Do we really own any private property?
Interesting, to say the least.

Judge Napolitano is a  lecturer on the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, civil liberties in wartime, and human freedom. And he writes about this complex subject with illustrations that help lay people like me better understand it.

I'm not very far into the book, but already I keep asking things like: "who owns my body?" "Who decides what laws we must obey and which we can challenge?" "How are rights different from laws?" "Are we really all created equal?"

I don't know how far into the book I'll get before I'm totally overwhelmed. But I'm giving it a try.

What are you reading this summer? I'd love to know.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Summer Is Half Over!

With summer half over I wonder what comes next. Oh, I know that autumn follow summer. That's not really what I mean. I'm wondering what we plan to do next.

Most of us make plans for summer, places to go, things to do, etc. Some folks take their vacations then because they have kids in school the rest of the year. And most places in the U.S. have better travel weather in summer.

So have you completed your summer travels? How are you doing with your summer "to do" list? Have you made progress on those outdoor tasks you planned to do?

For me summer usually means I get to spend more time with my family. Most of them live at least one state away and they have school-aged children, so summer is a good time to travel for visits. And we have done that. There is still Labor Day weekend to look forward to family visiting.

This year our summer has been very busy with visits to in-laws and celebrations with them. And a visit with my family here. There have been lots of medical visits this summer, nothing terribly serious but it does take up time and energy, to say nothing of costs. Just keeping the yard tamed takes up a lot of time and energy, too! We've had lots and lots of rain this spring and summer and the grass and plants, including weeds, have grown like crazy.

The political madness has been exhausting. And it doesn't seem to let up. I keep hoping there will be some sanity returning to DC so we don't get blasted every day with the latest crisis. We need a break!

What about your summer? How have you spent it so far? What is next for you?

We are making travel plans for autumn. And hoping to have a calmer August than what the previous months have been. Looking forward to attending a powwow, maybe some road trips, and taking on another project in the house.

What's next for you?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hate Groups Are Alive and Well, Thriving Even

The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified 917 active hate groups in the U.S. And these groups are growing in membership and in activity.
"Since Election Day, we've tracked more than 1,000 hate incidents and exposed Trump's anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBT advisers."
They identify hate groups as having beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their unchangeable characteristics.

Hate is fed by fear. And fear is fed by perceived threats. These days, fear seems to be the prime motivator of our government's politics. Wild stories about the dangerous-ness  of certain groups stirs up unrealistic fear in those who have no understanding of the targeted group and their beliefs or practices.

The way to reduce hate and fear is to foster understanding. We need to educate ourselves and our neighbors about the targeted groups. We need to get the real facts that go beyond the slogans or "fake news."

What do you really know about Islam? What are the real statistics about black violence? What is the truth about LGBT people and their lifestyles?

When we know the truth, when we know individuals in those groups we will have less fear and will smother the hate.

Visit a mosque. Dialog with people of different races. Become friends with LGBT people. Invite them to your groups and into your home. Do your part in fighting hate.

For specific details about hate groups in your state, go to

Sunday, July 16, 2017

How You and I Can Combat Hate

Since "love" and "hate" are both active verbs what we do will either spread love or spread hate. And since we want to combat hate we must act to confront it. We must do somthing in the face of hatred, because if we do nothing it will be interpreted as acceptance of hate.

So what CAN we do? We can always raise awareness of hate crimes when they occur. When you see something, say something! A cross burned in a yard is a call to action. Pick up the phone. Call friends and colleagues, neighbors, organizations. Bring together a gathering of people. Invite the mayor, newspapers, televisions stations to rally against hate.

Swastikas painted on walls? Tell people about it as an act of hate and rally a group of people to paint over it. 

A noose hanging in a yard or on a building? Alert the authorities and get people out to take it down. But don't stop there. Rally people to tell the people that hate won't be tolerated in your neighborhood or community. Be visible.

Urge the schools to address issues of hatred and violence. Get the kids involved in rallying for peace and equality. They can help remove graffiti, make signs for rallies. 

See hate images or slogans on clothing in the stores? Let the manager and the owners know that they are not tolerated. Campaign to get them to stop selling them.

Support the repair of hate fueled vandalism. Tell your friends and family that it has happened and rally help in showing that your neighborhood and community won't tolerate it. Organize block-watch groups to keep an eye on targets of vandalism, graffiti, etc., and report offenders. Use your camera phones to identify them to the police.

Sign petitions to stop hate crimes, to have severe consequences for those who commit them.

Attend a vigil.

Lead a prayer.

Help make fliers. Distribute fliers. Share your musical talents at a rally.

Give your employees the afternoon off to attend a rally.

Be creative. Take action. Do your part to fight hate.

Get to know someone in a minority group, someone who is different race or religion or sexual orientation from you and your friends. Learn more about them. Invite them to your group or your home. Meet them for coffee.

Attend a mosque or synagogue. Ask your church or group to invite other faiths to teach your group about their faith.

Write letters to the editor that support peace and equality and that encourage the paper to give more coverage of efforts to combat hate. Tell them to raise awareness of hate crimes so that they can be confronted and the victims can be supported.

Let victims know that YOU don't hate them. That there are more people who want to combat hate than there are people who perpetrate hate.

When we know more about it happening we can better intervene. Check out

Be aware. And be an active agent for change.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How To Combat Hate

The Southern Poverty Law Center ( a mission: combat hate, teach tolerance, and seek justice. It is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, they work toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.

Here are their "Ten Ways To Fight Hate: a community response guide.

  1. ACT - Do something in the face of hatred, apathy will be inerpreted as acceptance by the perpetrators, the public, and - worse- the victims. Community members must take action; if we don't, hate persists.
  2. UNITE - Call a friend or co-worker. Organize allies from churches, schools, clubs, and other civic groups. Create a diverse coalition. Include children, police, and the media. Gather ideas from everyone, and get everyone involved.
  3. SPUPORT THE VICTIMS - Hate crime victims are especially vulnerable. If you're a victim, report every incident - in detail - and ask for help. If you learn about a hate crime victim in your community, show support. Let victims know you care. Surround them with comfort and protection.
  4. DO YOUR HOMEWORK - An informal campaign improves its effectiveness. Determine if a hate group is involved and research its symbols and agenda. Understand the difference between a hate crime and a bias incident.
  5. CREATE AN ALTERNATIVE - Do not attend a hate rally. Find another outlet for frustration and for people's desire to do something. Hold a unity rally or parade to draw media attention away from hate.
  6. SPEAK UP - Hate must be exposed and denounced. Help news organizations achieve balance and depth. Do not debate hate group members in conflict-driven forums. Instead, speak up in ways that draw attention away from hate, toward unity.
  7. LOBBY LEADERS - Elected officials and other community leaders can be important allies in the fight against hate. But some must overcome reluctance - and others, their own biases - before theyre able to take a stand.
  8. LOOK LONG RANGE - Promote tolerance and address bias before another hate crime can occur. Expand your community's comfort zones so you can learn and live together.
  9. TEACH TOLERANCE - Bias is learned early, often at home. Schools can offer lessons in tolerance and acceptance. Host a diversity and inclusion day on campus. Reach out to young people who may be susceptible to hate group propaganda and prejudice.
  10. DIG DEEPER -  Look inside yourself for prejudices and stereotypes. Build your own cultural competency, then keep working to expose discrimination wherever it happens - in housing, employment, education, and more.
So what does that mean for you and me? What can we do to combat hate? Leave comments with ideas that you have.

Check my blog post Sunday for some more suggestions.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

What Are YOU Reading?

I saw recently some statistics about how few American actually read a book - either paper or electronic. It really made me sad to see. No wonder so many people are uninformed about so many things. And they don't even read fiction books, any books!

I find it hard to believe because most of my friends read all the time, fiction and/or non-fiction. I don't read as much as I used to, but I still read at least ten or twelve books a year. How about you? What are you reading?

Presently I'm reading Is It Just Me or Is It Nuts Out There? by Whoopie Goldberg. Her writing sounds just like the way she speaks. It is great. I can hear her as I read. Anyway, it would make a good outline for a life skills class for young adults, or for anyone, actually. I'm about a third of the way through and I'm agreeing with her about everything she's saying!

The book was written in 2010 but is as true today. It IS nuts out there, maybe more than it was when she wrote it. Her book makes such sense and her advice is right-on. She gives her ideas of how to live with the nuttiness and how to not contribute to it. She talks about all the things that drive her nuts. And they are pretty much the same things that drive most of us nuts.

She gives lists she calls "A civil persons handy list:" She addresses all kinds of things but here is just one.

How Not to Slow Down a TSA Screening

  • Don't wear a ton of metal jewelry. Who are you trying to impress on the plane?
  • Know what you can't bring through. Go to
  • Be clean. These people have to deal with you in close quarters.
  • Arrive early so you are not hassled going in.
  • Don't shove or cut in line.
  • If someone cuts the line on you, let it go.
  • Hassle no one. Even if you are right.
  • Pack so you don't have to dig for your computer.
  • Have your ID ready. And the boarding pass. This is not new stuff.
  • No jokes. No kidding.
  • Take off your earphones. Be present.
  • Get off the cell phone.
  • Try and smile at the TSA folks.
  • And say thank you.
None of these things are hard to do. And doing them will help everyone stay calm and steady. TSA workers deal with all kinds of difficult people. So be nice to them and don't be one of those difficult people. Things will go more smoothly and everyone will be in a better mood.

She goes on to talk about behavior on the plane and all of it makes perfect sense. After all, you are going to be packed into a small space with a lot of other people, most of whom you don't know. And there is nowhere to go to get away from them. So keeping things relaxed and pleasant benefits everyone.

And most of the book really is about just getting along, being civil to everyone. She doesn't pull any punches, though. If you are in a situation that is harmful or terribly unpleasant she lets you know how to resolve it. And she tells you that you must deal with it if you want it to change.

I like Whoopie. Always have. And this book makes me like her even more.

I'd like to know what you are reading and who you might recommend it to. We need to encourage folks to read more. How else will be learn how to be a positive influence in the world, in our lives, in our relationships. 

READ! Then tell me what you've read and if you think I might like to read it!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

As We Celebrate America's Independence

We need to really look at our interdependence. We live in a time when nations are more interdependent in order to thrive. 

Interdependence is the mutual reliance between two or more groups. In relationships, interdependence is the degree to which members of the group are mutually dependent on the others. This concept differs from a dependent relationship, where some members are dependent and some are not.
Interdependence - Wikipedia
It would be difficult for us to live the way we do without relying on other countries for trade, for aid, for protection, etc. Our technology has made it possible for us to share knowledge and information with other countries almost instantly. 

Many of the products we use daily come from other parts of the world. Many of our foods come from other countries. Where would Americans be without coffee?!?

We rely on our allies to help us defend our borders and our freedoms. Our farmers and manufacturers rely on other countries to buy their products.  We get some raw materials from other countries, as well.

 Think of things you use on a regular basis that are imported from or were invented in other countries.

I think we really need to celebrate our interdependence!

So maybe every day can be Interdependence Day!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

How We Came to this Holiday

This holiday isn't about hot dogs and fireworks. It is not about a long weekend or even family picnics. It is about those things to celebrate the Declaration of Independence.

Watch the video to see how it was done.

And celebrate with a safe and patriotic holiday.