Response to article on regarding Trump followers, 20 MAR 2016

Quote from this Salon article: “Widespread poverty throughout the heartland and Southern United States is a lamentable social problem, but even in the best economic conditions, and under the friendliest government policies, the career options for high school dropouts will forever remain few and poor. Rather than accepting some “personal responsibility” – a favorite conservative concept – for their low standard of living and destructive lifestyle, the wrongly romanticized white working class is flocking to a candidate who allows them to blame other people for their problems. “End quote.

It has been widely accepted for a few decades that the United States has been “dumbed down” with intention. Being an athlete in one type of sport or another is broadly respected. However, it seems that the “dumb” athlete is more highly regarded than the smart, better educated athlete. Somewhere along the way becoming educated was seen as someone’s effort to look better to others. How sad! Teachers and public school systems have been undermined since the 1980s, robbing them of the authority they had when I attended public school in the 1950s. (Yeah, I know that I am an old fart.) Public schools have come under increasing criticism for “teaching the tests”. Yet, that is not the fault of the schools but those self-defined academic “leaders” who simply change things for the sake of change that has resulted in fewer students actually being well educated.
The less educated one is, the more defensive they are. Sarah Palin, to note one, has publicly pandered to the under-educated redneck gun-toting citizen. It is a known fact the less educated are those who buy into the “macho” bluster, bombast and bravado put on by Trump. As much as I want to blame Trump’s followers, I blame the system; a system that became corrupted and contaminated just a few decades back. When one feels “the world is against them” as noted in the quoted passage above, they clamor with great enthusiasm and excitement to the Trumps of our world. Intellect and intelligence are scorned. It is easier to be a less-educated sloth forty to a hundred pounds overweight drinking national brand brews while holding onto your Glock, Smith & Wesson, Remington or Colt.

We the people have allowed the creation of these new Frankensteins. Regrettably and sadly, I doubt we have enough time in our nation to alter this course where the lies put forth by networks such as FOX simply feed those Frankensteins, making them an ever-increasing challenge. Say what one will about Trump, he knows full well how he is playing them and they simply are too stupid to figure that out.

Mother Earth is in Crisis, February 2016

Planet Earth is creaking and groaning from the abuse we humans are subjecting her to. This fact is a sweeping indictment against the human race.
Even if one does not embrace the tenets of Scripture where God instructs human-kind to be the careful custodian of our planet and to replenish what we take from her, you cannot deny that we are abusing Earth into oblivion. If there is such a thing as “universal, collective sin”, this is it.
The human penchant to destroy and to lay waste to the land, animals, plants and the universe as a whole is catapulting Earth into its own death. The Planet may survive, but the destruction that will take place will be irreversible.
We are fools at our own hands. Population growth is out of control. Rather than urging reduced procreation, organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church encourage ever more reproduction. That is in and of itself a sin against Earth and Nature be-cause of the overriding destruction it will impale upon Earth. Earth does not need more people. Earth needs fewer; fewer at every quarter of our Planet.
Humans deceive ourselves if we believe we can get away with this destructive carnage. That carnage occurs at so many levels, it is a challenge to keep track.
The United States is, perhaps, the worst enemy of Earth. We have turned eating from a necessity into an industry. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and a host of other fast food and dine-in restaurants have turned eating into a national pastime. The waste generated from uneaten food that ends up in the disposer or the garbage dumpster is a direct violation of all things decent, dignified and responsible. Simply because we “can have it” does not give us license to abuse it.
In order to sate our gluttony, cattle, swine and fowl are kept in infection infested facilities that disgrace the very Face of God. No creature, large or small, should be or deserves to be corralled in such horrific, criminal conditions. One need only read The Talmud to embrace humankind’s required care of all animals.
Our deplorable disregard for the lives of animals slaughtered to sate our gluttonous appetites has resulted in cattle, swine and fowl being injected with antibiotics to counter the negative impacts of other antibiotics. Add to that the diseases these poor defenseless Creatures of God endure, and we the people have become the new Frankensteins.
Yet, sadly, our unbridled carnage against earth does not stop with livestock. Oh, no! We now treat vegetation and fruit with chemicals the future toxicity of which has not been determined. Companies such as Monsanto and Dow Chemical have introduced plant modification chemicals into the human, animal and insect life stream the results of which are already having toxic effects: the honeybees being one huge example. Monsanto’s GMOs are heralded as the “solution” to food production on Planet Earth that will lead to more abundance of food. Yet, our vegetable life is being manipulated with-out any idea whatever about the impact these chemicals are having on current life; worse, what impacts will be felt in future lives.
The imbalance we humans have brought to Mother Earth is beyond hideous and massively debilitating to our planet. The sweeping slaughter of dolphins by Asia, the reckless killing of wolves, fox and endangered species is in direct conflict with our duty to Earth and her creatures. Ritual killing of various species is beyond ungodly. Such acts are patently and unequivocally evil.
There is a wide difference between “thinning the herds” for the survival of the herd than killing for the sheer joy of killing. Mounting heads of deer, elk, boar, bear, lion and other species is not a statement about humankind’s prowess. It is the direct result of an inner evil among humans that defiles Earth and defies our custodial care for all things, big and small.
Add to this Earth crisis the coal-infused atmosphere of China; the raw feces flowing into the waterways of Brazil an d India; the ritual slaughter of dolphins in the Faroe Islands and Japan; the increasing presence of all things plastic in our oceans and tributaries; landfills holding waste products that will not decompose for centuries; and, unrestrained population growth because governments will not undertake limited procreation programs and policies: We see how Mother Earth is being raped to death: rape in the most violent, vicious carnal way imaginable.
Worse is how the United States government endorses and underwrites programs of cruelty and decimation toward wildlife and livestock. The imbalance in Nature is a direct result of programs that ignore harmony; a disharmonious pattern between humankind and nature that creates chaos at its most destructive. Of course, some herd thinning is natural in order to maintain a balance. Yet, many of those herds’ natural predators have been all but exterminated (wolves, for instance). The more humankind tries to “manage” Mother Nature, the more we create mismanagement and large imbalances.
Compounding Earth’s crisis is how “economy” encourages the abuse of rain forests, oceans and tributaries; and, endangered species. Eliminating large swaths of trees and natural growth corrupts the biosphere. Toxic runoff and raw sewerage flowing into natural waterways introduces toxins that kill marine life as well as human life. Trophy hunting of elephant and rhinos for their ivory and tigers for their skin is barbaric, inhumane and tragic.
Whether selling timber from destroyed rain forests, ignoring toxic waste into waterways or killing species for profit, the larger criminal in all this is the corporate world. When “free enterprise” encourages rather than discourages the pillage and rape of earth, those of us who see ourselves as caretakers are forced against a wall. Money and power are used either to silence us or to manipulate us into complacency where we simply cannot act or react as we know we should. That reality is exacerbated by governments small and large, including the United States Congress.
The entities and agencies that should be protecting our natural environments are instead on the dole with big money; big banks; big corporations. “Profit” is realized through huge political contributions, money from special interest groups and policies that work against the greater common good.
When the likes of the Koch Brothers and Exxon/Mobil can manipulate an entire society and culture to support their draconian, unethical and destructive programs, the citizenry suffers. Whether it is poverty in Calcutta, coal smoke in China or killings by guns on the streets of Chicago, a toxic imbalance is supported by the selfish, egocentric Earth marauders who seek only self-gratification. They collectively treat Earth as theirs to destroy; to hell with the rest of us.
When the patriarchs from Rome to St. Petersburg put more energy into maters such as gay marriage and less into the serious imbalance created by excessive, abusive procreation, one sees how religious patriarchs live and thrive in a myopic monolithic bubble that is destructive in and of itself. It is easier to divert attention away from the real issues, thereby spawning ill-fated destruction worldwide.
If Earth’s caretakers and caregivers are to win the game, one that will test the very mettle of our individual and collective souls, then we must band together as an immovable force. There is strength in numbers and we must swell those numbers to such a formidable force that our opponents quake in their boots and shoes. Only when we show we mean business and are not simply talking the talk will the wider world stand up and take notice. The world is at its most critical crossroad in its history. Every organization and every human who truly cares must agree to form one, singular powerful voice. We must make push back a living hell for our opponents, because it is pain-fully clear they will oppose any and all consensus. A powerful coalition will surpass any results that might be attained by fractions thereof.
Some say, “Winning isn’t everything”. I say, “Winning is the only thing.” When it comes to Earth survival, we cannot afford to lose; to fail. We must marshal the forces of supreme strength and power to defeat and conquer the enemies of Mother Earth. Compromise may be out of the question, given the stakes at hand.

Militia Tyranny against Our Land

Dear Mr. Heim:

You have generously contributed nearly one and one-half pages of today’s Sunday Washington Post to the illegal taking of public land by the Bundy militia.

The Bundy militia has violated several rules of law without penalty, essentially holding the locals and the nation hostage. Had this illegal staging taken place by blacks, browns or Native Americans this would have been over weeks ago with a substantial body count among the marauders. The disparate application of law and the enforcement of that law stares us squarely in the face.

The Bundy militia is a band of marauding terrorists exercising their tyranny against the nation state. This matter could be dealt with swiftly by way of sending in Special Forces with a few Apache gunships. Instead of enforcing the law, these bandits are permitted to increase their encroachment all the while thumbing their noses at our country. In simpler times, they merely would have been hanged for all to see the results of their tyranny.

Response to Brian Edwards,, 10 JAN 2016.

Edwards quote: “This militia of the marginal used the greatest creation of the American century to bring about its downfall—the Internet. Can we still harness the positive attitude of optimism, hope and ingenuity that represents the best of the previous era and restart a new relationship to the world based on respect, trust, and partnership?” End quote.

The less educated bully class have become the marshals of the new century. The disaffected have created a whole new class of disaffected: Those who truly care but have simply walked away because they see the system as rigged, dishonest, unscrupulous and even perilous to the average citizen. Trump’s disaffected are less educated, mostly white men who have never known self-actualization or self-realization; and, somehow that is the fault of all of society instead of their own fault.

For three decades I have watched as the American underbelly has risen to the top. It has been an ugly thing to watch, but with people like O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Ailes, Murdoch, Hannity and others of their cloth we have seen the zenith of intellect and basic intelligence collapse in a mire of human waste. The resident evil that has thrived at the core of this nation, suppressed for a very long time, finally witnessed its release from its prison of ignorance and deception through the vestiges of Trump, Cruz, Hukckabee and a host of others who dare to claim fealty to our nation and our Constitution all the while serving as a monstrous toxin on wider society. We have been standing at this abyss, teetering for some time. I believe our nation has seen her best of her best days, and we are about to tumble as few might believe. Trump & Co. will coax us to the edge and watch gleefully as we fall. I thank God I am now old enough to say that I have lived the very best years of our once great nation. I pray to Almighty God I am dead before her last gasp is heard.

A New Year’s Message to America’s Millennials

It is unlikely any of you know me. It is less likely any of you will ever meet me. But, what fol-lows has been on my mind for quite some time. Feel free to share my message as you see fit.
I am a kid from the fifties, coming of age in 1962 when I joined the United States Air Force. I grew up on a small farm in the rural countryside of Maryland. We were surrounded by larger farms, some as big as 1,000 acres. During my high school summers I worked a 700 acre farm, riding my bike three miles each way to work five days a week. On weekends I was expected to help around our own small place, including mowing two-plus acres of grass using a rotary push mower. (It built a strong upper body!)
I left home the summer of ’62, basically to get away from my old man. He and I did not get along well; he was a drunk and a tyrant – a fact it took years for me to admit. So, I joined the Air Force. Boot camp opened the door to my inner strength and self-confidence that was fully lacking when I first joined. I was cleared for highly classified Intel work that took me overseas.
Being out of country for three of my four years’ service was an awesome experience. At age 20 I was accepted into a rapid promotion program that took me to a remote site where I was promoted to Staff Sergeant before age 21. At age 21, I was assigned the position of Controller for my Intel Ops section.
I dreamed of becoming a Cadet at the USAF Academy but my eyesight resulted in failing the pilot’s vision test. Despite the fact I did not want to fly a plane because I was somewhat gifted in foreign language (German, Russian-lite and Latin), USAFA had no waivers at that time. As the Air Force courted me for another officer’s commissioning program, I simply could not (would not, actually) pursue any other avenue to becoming an officer.
At age 22 I left the Air Force. I returned home, put myself through the University of Maryland earning my BS in Business and Commerce. While attending Maryland I built a career in the private business sector where I continue today.
I became known as one “not to get in his way”; a man determined to succeed. By the Grace of Almighty God and a lot of work, I have seen success several times over. But, my success cannot be measured by material wealth because I do not have any real wealth. My success meter was set on doing the very best I could do in every new situation. Air Force taught me not only self-confidence. It opened my Warrior aspect. It taught me about discerning my mission, focusing on the success of that mission; and, learning how to strategize and to impact through tactical measures honed through strategy.
“What does this have to with me?” you may be asking. Simple. I have done nothing and accomplished nothing that any one of you cannot achieve on your own. All you have to do is awaken your own Warrior Within. Sometimes coming from a ‘hard scrabble’ childhood builds that stronger character.
As an aging Boomer, I look at what my generation has left you along with Gen X. I am not all that pleased with the results. In some respects, I believe my generation has left yours with a “mess”.
Many of you, even after receiving a college degree, have ended up returning home to live with your parents because our world today has created that reality. Most of the young men and women of my generation would never have considered returning home. But, my world of opportunity far surpassed yours today.
There was much greater opportunity to find and secure a job; even with no more than a high school diploma. Today, a college degree is given the same regard a high school diploma earned a couple decades ago. “Blue collar” work was more abundant. Farming out our industry to foreign countries removed many employment opportunities. Sending American industry to Japan, Korea, China and now even Vietnam robbed our homegrown working class of the job opportunities that only a generation earlier loomed large. Steel mills were closed, shutting down once thriving communities. The automobile industry has become a conglomeration consisting of multiple international players. China, still a self-described communist nation, owns trillions of U.S. long term debt. When I was a young man growing up, the very thought that our debt would be secured by a communist country would have been incomprehensible. Today, I see it as reprehensible, a clear indicator of how much of our soul we have sold to our enemy (China is not an ally) in order to sustain our lifestyle of excessive consumerism.
Technology has proved a very mixed blessing. The world moves far faster now (although some do not consider that a blessing). But, with all the new ways to communicate we have lost the most important way to communicate: talking face to face to one another. My generation in particular finds that vulgar and disgusting. And, it is!
Technology also has resulted in younger people (your generation) having poor spelling ability, poor writing ability and poor math ability. The attitude is, “If a machine can fix it for me, why should I “waste” time learning how to fix or correct it myself?”) It is up to the Millennials to turn this clock back a bit. “Humint” (human intelligence) evolves through the use of one’s brain; not the inner workings of technology.
While this message is not my mea culpa, it is my personal way of saying “I am sorry” for the erring ways of my generation. Logically, those of us who worked hard, became well educated and functioned as good citizens (as most of our parents raised us to be), are somehow tangentially responsible for the mess created by politicians and corporate/banking CEOs that has brought us to today even though we are not directly responsible for our nation’s plight today.
I am not looking at my / our country’s past through rose colored glasses. I grew up when blacks and whites lived in entirely separate communities, with black community often deplete of everything but the bare necessities of life. Jews were afraid to move into predominantly Christian neighborhoods. Roman Catholics were shunned by Protestants. And, homosexuals were forced into the deepest denizens of darkness imaginable for fear of being caught, ostracized and jailed. Thus, on the social side of the ledger there has been forward movement. While many will admit there is a distance yet to travel, we have enjoyed considerable progress on most “fronts”.
But, the negative side is influenced by what I touched upon earlier: sending jobs and industry overseas to other countries. A direct result of such activity is how the middle class in America and the working poor have seen their incomes flat line for the last three decades. The income disparity between the super wealthy and the average Joes and Janes has become a national disgrace. That disparity has been and continues to be fueled and energized by a U. S. Congress that fawns over big money, siphoning at the tit of collective corporatocracy. A Congress that was elected to represent “the people” represents only their specific moneyed interests; that does not include you or me.
By this time you may be asking, “So! What do you want us to do about all this?” Very good question.
Part of me wants to say, “Get back to the basics.” But, what is basic to me may not be basic to you simply because of our generational departures. So, let me take a stab at it with the following.
Question authority, but do not disrespect it. Challenge and fight to win, but not to destroy. The ancient Tao Warrior Sun Tzu wrote that the best way to win against one’s enemy is to use the enemy’s strategy against him; and, win by never having to go to battle. In other words, strategy and diplomacy can result in highly effective tactics and victories.
Do not rely entirely on the computer, iPad or iPhone. “Use your noodle”, also known as your brain (just in case you did not get that!). Talk to people. Use your voice. Vocalize rather than type. You have been seduced somehow into believing that your world revolves around the tech world. No, it does not. You have a heart, a soul and a brain. Use all three simultaneously. Turn off the iPhone and iPad. Shut down your computer. Go out with friends, assuring that each of you has left behind your tech apparatus. If you feel naked without your cell phone, then take it with but turn it off.
But, your biggest challenge collectively as a generation is to determine and then decide what you see wrong with our United States. How do you return more to the people? How much pain will be endured economically if companies such as Wal-Mart are taxed more heavily and driven to raise employee wages? How can your generation compel Congress – yes, compel – to assess heavy taxes on offshore corporations that relocated simply to avoid paying the taxes that are in fact owed and due “we the people”?
Yet, the greatest obstacle of all for you to overcome is: Does it really matter to you. Are you as a generation to become the lemmings of modern America? I cannot expect you to know the America I have known. I will say that I believe I have lived the very best years of our history.
The current lineup of political wannabes who spew out searing, vile hatred and what is most politely described as abundant oral excrement are the worst of the worst. We no longer have the best of the best; the smartest of the smartest. The amoral ethical thugs, so lacking in mature intellect and raw intelligence are driving this nation into the proverbial sewer. It is up to you to change the course of our future history. I will no longer be here. So, in reality what you opt to do will be meaningless to me as I will not be witness to your decisions. But, you will.

Our Terrorism Double-standard as posted on AlterNet, 15 November 2015

My Response

This is a terribly complex issue that demands comprehension and understanding at many levels. ISIS is motivated by hate and intolerance, exercised through acts of horrendous and inhumane brutality. Yet, Christians have so much blood on our hands that we should be careful how we assess the terror of other religious groups.

During the Crusades Western Christians slaughtered thousands of Muslims AND Orthodox Christians (calling the Orthodox the Apostates). We came to the shores of America and slaughtered entire tribes of Native Americans. White “Christians” hanged and burned alive black men; torched their homes and churches with most of those white marauders claiming to be Christian.
While this attack in Paris is horrific, it is all but ignored how France is blatantly xenophobic and isolates Muslims as “the other”. France claims “liberte” while being systemically intolerant. The persistent disrespect for Muhammad through comic caricatures simply stirred, and stirs, the rage and anger already felt by radical Muslims and that results in incendiary atrocities such as this latest attack in Paris.

The author of this article calls attention to how many Muslims are being slaughtered by ISIS, all the while the West turning a blind eye. Yet, the United States in particular looks past the fact how the U.S. shook hands with the devil decades ago when the Saudi oil fields offered so much promise to our insatiable thirst and gluttony for oil. Driven my oil-driven opportunists and car makers eager to sell more product, the U.S. fell into the pit with the den of evil. Saudi Arabia has beheaded more of its own people in one year than ISIS has in four. It also is worthy of note how the Saudis are pleased to let us (U.S.) fight the battles Saudi Arabia should be fighting instead. WHY is the U.S. fighting all those battles in the Middle East while the Middle East has 5 Million soldiers?

“We the people” are fed what our government controlled and corporate controlled media is permitted to tell us; and to look past matters of equal importance. The news media has been fully consumed about the Paris attack non-stop ad nauseam. Yesterday, one Republican member of Congress attempted to ramp up U.S. fears by saying “they are here, too”. Let’s terrorize our own people, gin up the anti-Muslim hate and sell more guns. One must wonder what intrinsic value such pols really serve to the betterment of our nation.

When the United States accepts the fact we are very much at the root of this problem, what with ISIS being the outgrowth of the Bush / Cheney war in Iraq after purging Baghdad of the Baathists, perhaps we will come to terms with this international nightmare with more cautious self-reflection. In many respects the GW Bush administration ignited this firestorm, a firestorm that the rest of world now finds itself anointed to extinguish.

A Day with the Air Force Thunderbirds

By Vincent Turner

Saturday, September 19th, 2015, Joint Base Andrews: The all-day air show at Andrews Air Force Base featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
I had not been to a Thunderbirds airshow for several years, the last one at Otis Air Force Base in New England. These events speak to my Warrior spirit. My Celtic blood flows hot with raw emotion, at times moved to tears of joy as I watch young men every bit half my age performing feats limited to just a few. These pilots are god kings in the eyes of many, their skills and knowledge a gift perhaps from a Higher Power.
The aerobatics put on display raise goose bumps and chills as the pilots jettison upward high into the heavens, at one point invisible to the naked eye. Then, with thunderous rocket speed they come once again into full view. Their airborne gymnastics keep the audience in total awe. Our spirits run high, never looking away for fear of missing yet another mighty moment.
The display put on by the F22 Raptor surpasses all imagination. By all measure, the Raptor is a machine from the future transfigured into real time. The maneuvers the pilot put the Raptor through excel the remarkable. The blast from the after burners telegraphed a noise so loud Heaven’s Angels surely heard them.
The vintage planes on display performed aerobatics, with World War II fighter planes added to the fare of joy filled entertainment. Added to the thrill of watching these aerial gymnastics was the music, well-programmed for each activity at hand. (I will say, however, the music and announcer’s volumes could have been toned down a bit.)
Equally important was the temperament of the audience. My own “crew” ranged in age from 3 to 71. (That seventy-one year old would be me!) Every ethnicity and nationality appeared in attendance. This is true Americana! Personal issues and biases are left outside the gate. Politics, about which we hear far too much, is abandoned. This event is for fun for every American and every guest or visitor. I am reminded of that same sense when I saw the Thunderbirds at Otis several years ago.
I am a United States Air Force veteran from an earlier era; a Staff Sergeant at age 21. I am a country boy. My dad would say, “You can take the boy out of the country. But you will never take all of the country out of the boy.” That analogy speaks to my lifelong love for the United States Air Force. Part of me is still “Air Force”. It will remain at the core of my being until death. True, not all former Airmen hold onto their service. Some of us do!
All five of our Military Branches were featured at this air show. “One for all, and all for one” comes to mind. My family has served since The American Revolutionary War in Army, Navy and Air Force. It’s in our blood.
There are many moments when I wish I had made the Air Force my career, high on my priority list when age 19. I wanted the Academy, but my eyesight prevented that. Another commissioning program was offered me, but when a man is young he wants what he wants and anything else is “second best”. Yesterday, standing on the tarmac, I felt the connection once again. I asked “God” from within, “Did I miss my real calling?” That question comes from a sense of still belonging; and, wondering. The answer will live on in the ether of Heaven.
These air shows are a wholesome, “all American” event. The talent and skill of the pilots and their support teams comprise the elite. Yet, unlike too many other quarters of American life, their elitism is not flaunted. Each of these Airmen and Officers is “one of us; one among us”. One can feel their thrill and their joy manifested through act and action. This is the America I celebrate. It is a day filled with feel-good moments. It represents that moment when we know we all belong.

The Desecration and Degradation of God and Christ

“We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity. Our movement is Christian.” Adolph Hitler, 27 October 1928.
Growing up on a small farm among very large farms in the 1950s in the Maryland countryside was idyllic in many respects. Looking back, despite the hard work and the work ethic that propelled that hard work, the times truly were simpler. Since I was a young boy, I cannot say if those times were easier for the adults. My mother and dad both worked full time. Even in those days both parents often worked full time jobs. Our “Leave it Beaver” world was myth and fantasy.
Our education was based on solid ground. Classroom discipline was not the exception; it was the rule. Parents, for the most part, raised their children to be good citizens and to embrace civic duty of one sort or the other. Embedded in that postwar culture was the weekly routine of attending church and Sunday school.
My churchgoing along with my parents’ strict discipline formed my life and created the world I would grow into. Sunday school was a weekly event. When older, regular church service supplanted Sunday school. I joined the choir. Was a Boy Scout. Became a youth leader. Raised money during each Holiday Season. God and Jesus simply were part of our lives.
Yet, in the culture within which I came of age we did not shove God or Jesus down someone’s throat. We were not proselytes. Our faith was an aspect we embraced with quiet and restrained dignity. A prayer of thanksgiving was offered before each meal; even when we dined out at a restaurant, which was infrequent because my folks did not have the money to indulge in those “finer” things but infrequently.
As kids, we were not taught hate or intolerance for others. Such matters simply were not in our lexicon of theology. My mother was the purveyor of tolerance. I never heard one negative word from her about any group, religious, racial or otherwise. Her motto, “Live and let live.”
The Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance were a regular morning event in school. With little thanks to Maureen O’Hare, the Prayer no longer can be said in public schools. Some schools have relinquished the Pledge as well. I see both events as unhealthy for our nation, although I can see their demise from “the other side”. Yet, one was not required to recite both (Jehovah’s Witness and Mennonite for example). We did not ostracize them. We accepted without prejudice that their particular faith practice prohibited them from lifting up those refrains publicly.
Added to this potpourri of growing up young in the 1950s was a tacit respect for the law and authority. We were expected to respect officers of the law, our “elders”, women and the less fortunate among us. Such traits were not electable options.
Self-righteousness and judgmentalism were scorned. My dad was the judgmental one in the family. Fortunately, his often narrow views were not imposed upon us.
It is within the framework and context laid out above that I come to the current moment in our history; both national and religious. I offer the following.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the current brouhaha taking place in Rowan County, Kentucky around the incarceration of county clerk Kim Davis, I provide the following synopsis. Davis claims to be an apostolic Christian who strictly opposes gay marriage. As a result, Davis has refused to sign marriage certificates for gay couples who came to the County to secure their marriage certificates.
For the record, I believe any couple – gay or straight – has the right to marry. As an ordained Priest, I will perform a wedding ceremony for any couple who requests my service to administer the rite of matrimony. I will not judge, however, anyone who opposes gay or lesbian marriage. I do not have issue with Davis on her opposition to gay/lesbian marriage. Her opposition is her perfect right, and I support her to the fullest on that right.
However, I take issue that Davis as a public servant has defied the rule of law. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that gay/lesbian marriage is protected by law. Roughly half of our nation continues to oppose that law. That is their right, but not as a public employee.
What is saddening about this moment in our history is how many of the Davis supporters have come forward with their “Free Kim Davis” crusade, all the while ignoring how Davis is one of the last people to celebrate on any moral grounds. Davis currently is married to husband number four. She conceived her son through husband number three while still married to husband number one. There is much in Holy Scripture to propel Davis into the dungeons of hell, but that is not my purpose here. Nor is it my “call”; I leave that with God – as it should be.
Davis and her narrow-thinking allies have kept Jesus in the wilderness. Her acts and the support of her crusaders defies the very Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. In fact, Davis’ self-righteous aplomb fully undermines what Jesus teaches. Davis brazenly ignores “Render until Caesar what is Caesar’s; and unto God what is God’s.” Worse, as a public servant who took an oath to support the rule of law, Davis has violated the very commitment she made when Davis became the Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky.
Davis has violated both Caesar and God. Logically and as anticipated, Davis is not alone in her crusade. She has been propped up by Mat Staver of Liberty Council, a radical right wing anti-constitutional organization that lays claim otherwise. Liberty Council’s website proclaims “life, liberty and family”. What Staver does not lay claim to is LC’s extreme bias toward a select few whom LC deems deserving of their own contrived form of life and liberty; and, “family” as construed by Liberty Council.
It comes as no surprise that Republican presidential candidate wannabe Mike Huckabee has joined the fray in support of Davis. As I write, it has been announced that Huckabee will hold a rally on Tuesday, September 8th in defense of Davis’ tyranny against state and nation. And, yes, Davis’ act is an act of tyranny. Some might go so far as to suggest treason. I leave that assessment to the individual; and the law.
That a presidential candidate wannabe publicly supports Davis’ violation of the rule of law is a clear indicator Huckabee is not qualified to be a president of our democratic republic. Our presidents swear an oath to the U.S. Constitution; not to Holy Scripture.
The firestorm this moment has created in our history resonates with serious misjudgments among those who support and follow the Davises of America’s society. This may prove a dangerously dark moment in our history, because people such as Davis are being cheered on to violate law in favor of religious bias. People such as Staver and Huckabee, including Ted Rafael Cruz and Rick Santorum are predictable. Their support of Davis is hostile to the United States Constitution, asserting our nation should be converted into a Christian theocracy.
This moment is a litmus test to see how far these zealots will take their fight. Fear not, they are relentless in their determination to undermine the rule of law and our Constitution. They are by their acts homegrown terrorists; fascists. We can ill afford to dismiss their activity as mere tantrum throwing, because their mission is far more nefarious and pernicious than throwing a tantrum. For several decades these white racists who once reigned tyranny against blacks now have a new target, a new crusade with a heroine at their helm. Their zealotry deserves our full, uninterrupted attention. They are not builders. They are destroyers. They are the false prophets. They are the self-righteous hypocritical stone throwers who are assaulting God, Christ and Country. They are degrading and desecrating Jesus and God with rigor and vigor. They are the enemy; not the ally.
They are relying on the average American to dismiss them as irrelevant crazies. That is their ace in the hole. All the more reason we must give our full attention to them. In a sense, they are homegrown terrorists set upon turning the United States Constitution and the rule of law upside down. In a nutshell, they defile God, Christ, Country and we the people. They are the enemy within.

Why can’t we all just get along?

Reverend M. Vincent Turner
4th of July, 2015

Growing up on a small seven-acre farm in rural Maryland during the 1950s set the framework for who I have become. Our small farm was nestled among far larger ones, some reaching as many as 1,000 acres. During my sophomore and junior summers I worked a 700-acre farm thinning orchards and working the hay wagons. Skinny as hell, strong as a titan I tossed and stacked hay bales two and three courses up.
We had livestock for which I was responsible to water and feed; throw down hay into the barn for our sheep. Sunday school each Sunday was mandatory. I was in choir, youth leadership, fundraising and Boy Scouts. All that was normal fare for young lads growing up in the fifties, coming of age in the very early sixties.
“Family values”, so much a touted mantra by certain segments of current day America were seldom spoken about while played out on a regular basis. “Yes ma’am/sir” and “No ma’am/sir” were not options. If you did not understand what either parent might have said, you NEVER responded with, “Huh?” Oh, no, NEVER. You responded asking, “Ma’am?” “Sir?”
Evening and Sunday meals were preempted with a prayer of thanksgiving. Before leaving the dinner table, one was required to ask permission to leave.
Hard, harsh? No. I think not. Too bad this training and discipline is not so prevalent and prominent in today’s culture.
My dad was the iron pipe; black is black, white is white; period. A strict disciplinarian, he had little tolerance for “foolishness.” The boundaries were tight; limited. My mother, on the other hand, brought and gave love and balance in an otherwise somewhat stoic environment. My dad never was outwardly biased against any one group except for the Catholic girl I was dating in high school: “Date her as long as you want, but there will no Catholics marrying into this family!” Ah, well, no worries dad. It never happened.
But mother was the one with no outward or known biases. She truly was a woman balanced by love. As I matured, she would caution, “If you meet someone or a group of people you dislike, leave them alone. It is not your duty or place to try to change them to your liking. Find those with whom you are comfortable and make those your friends.”
It is from those early teachings and leanings that I grew up open to the entire world without preset prejudices. Joining the U.S. Air Force in the summer of 1962 led me into a wider universe of types and personalities. I loved it!
In Military settings one finds his or her own set of friends. Others find theirs. But, open prejudices are arrested fairly early on. A sense of community prevails.
So, now, let us fast forward to today. Prior to the arrival/appearance of the likes of Newt Gingrich on the national stage I cannot recall such visible, vile in your face vitriol galloping across our national landscape. The later arrival of foul-mouthed/potty-mouthed Rush Limbaugh simply escalated and elevated widespread mean-spirited and downright nasty discourse. Suddenly, it was perfectly acceptable to say whatever you wanted to say, wherever all the time. Social decorum and propriety had taken a nosedive. One must ponder why so many are attracted to so much filth.
Recent events make a clear statement of how vulgar and nefarious parts of our nation have become; or remain but more visibly. The culture of hate has reached a heightened visibility and, sadly, a large pool of influence. The dark side of humanity has captured the national stage.
White cops killing blacks, most often unarmed blacks. Nine blacks shot to death in a church in Charleston, South Carolina by a white racist influenced by fringe white racist and KKK groups. The battle cry to save the Confederate flag rages on. Same-sex marriage got a nod from the U.S. Supreme Court, an act many right wingers say signals the final nail in the coffin of our dying nation. Yet, those very critics started putting nails in our coffin decades ago. It’s always easy to “blame the other guy” for one’s own failures, wrongs and sins.
Nastiness is the prevailing platform for many with the highest profiles across the land. If “I don’t like it, just kill it,” is a common narrative. Some of the more potent right wing politicians are lifting up references to Nazi Germany. Really! Have they even bothered to read the history of Hitler’s demonic horror show? (I have.) Have they given any thought to how such remarks might resonate among America’s Jews? Are they aware that homosexuals were gassed along with the Jews? Of course not. It does not matter to them, what with their bodies and minds altogether filled with the bile of evil. Theirs is insensitive, intolerant hate driven hyperbole. We have given witness to the rise of the American underbelly, now having taken its prominent seat upon our national land-scape. Plato wrote, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
So! I lean on the title of this essay, “Why can’t we all just get along?” I return to my mother’s oft-cautioned, “If you don’t like them, leave them alone.” Simple enough, I believe.
If you dislike blacks, simply leave them alone. Do not demonize them or transform them into monsters they are not. And, stop the sweeping incarceration of black men into profit making prisons. Is there anything more evil than profit making prisons? Reflect on how many “good white Christians” hanged and burned alive black men in the South. And, yet, the media rages on about ISIS. Where is Jesus in such moments?
If you dislike gay marriage, then don’t marry a gay person. Do not pretend gays and lesbians are not owed the same equal rights under the law. And to those who extol the viability of heterosexual marriage, remember that 55% of first marriages result in divorce; and, 50% of those second marriages result in divorce. So much for a “protected, hallowed” institution. And, oh! I all but forgot: Jesus actually says that if a man divorces, he is never to remarry. Oh, well, scratch that instruction!
If you dislike Jews, then disassociate from Jews. Remember, though, that some of the greatest benefactors to our hospitals and universities are Jews. Also remember how the Jews do not proselytize their religion. They will not kill you if you do not embrace Judaism (unlike what has been done often in the name of Christ).
I could continue with my list of people or groups you may dislike. But, I won’t. The imbalance and disharmony that has gripped this earth, and our nation, is a massive toxin; a global cancer. The human landscape of slaughter in parts of Africa and the Middle East are monstrous evils against all of Creation. The barbarity of the Chinese skinning and plucking animals alive goes against every grain in my body. Yet, the Chinese own the United States financially. Hail to the not so great Walmart. Horrors!
In our nation we see pols ponying up to step onto the Republican Caravan of Fools, those pols spewing out lies and hate. This is what our nation has devolved into. And, no, this is not an endorsement of a Democrat. They are weak-kneed and all too frivolous. They, too, have failed this nation.
Before throwing stones, instead how about an embrace? Is the human race actually a creation of some “God”, or simply a mistake in the evolutionary process? Why use the term “mistake”, you might ask? Look at the rampant destruction, murders and slaughter exercised by one tribe against another. Those actions do not speak of the God I believe in, a belief I am increasingly questioning.
If you dislike, or worse “hate” a particular group or person, remember this: They have as much right to share this earth as you do. In seminary we were taught to “honor the holiness of the other.” You are no more “holy” than the person next to you. You do not own any more space on Mother Earth than they do. Until humanity embraces a true and authentic sense of community, we simply will not be able to just get along.
In the Gospel of Matthew there is a passage, “Evil lives in the hearts of men.” Women are not exempt, by the way. But, the Disciple Matthew raises an important aspect of the human condition and situation. The challenge is not to express our evil, however inherent it may be. Our calling, even if one is non-religious, is to be a good neighbor, a good citizen and a caring custodian of all of the creatures of Mother Earth. We fail dramatically at that. What does that fact bode for our future generations; the future of Earth? Think about it. We have become destroyers at heart, rather than builders and preservationists. Why can’t we all just get along?
Finally, let me close with this:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

Email to John Cox, The Washington Post, Column on the Confederacy

Dear Mr. Cox.

Professor Medford’s words should be heeded, and carefully. I recently wrote, “Removing an artifact does not change the facts.”

Having grown up on a small farm in rural Maryland, my family’s roots are in Lower Indiana and Kentucky. Years ago I worked with a contractor who displayed his “Dixie” flag on all of his trucks, his company named “Dixieland”. Until the Charleston massacre and the reverberations that have taken place since I had no real clue about the “hurt” and the oppression the Confederate flag represents for many.

Erasing or eradicating all references to the Confederacy will not erase the facts of history. It also will not erase the lingering racism that peppers much of the South and even parts of the Midwest. “Hate” is a learned emotion and behavior. Holy Scripture, Hebrew Bible, speaks about how “the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the sons unto the third and fourth generations.” Until families cease to perpetuate hate, their next generation(s) will simply mirror the offenses of the past.

This is a watershed moment in our nation’s history. Let us use this moment for healing and reconciling. In that same vein, more people should learn about the South during the Civil War and the roots of fear embedded in that war from the Southerner’s perspective. Their “industry” was coming to a climactic end. The North made the South pay dearly for their “tyranny” for several decades after.

I reflect on how our nation took an entirely different position after WWII, actually helping Germany and Japan rebuild their nations. Perhaps if the North had taken a similar tact with the South, the bitterness that still thrives in part of the South would have been abated.

While General Robert E. Lee stood on the wrong side of history, he still was an accomplished soldier. I want to believe that the 600,000 men who died during our worst internal conflict of all time died with honor; including those who died on the wrong side of history.

Best regards,

The Reverend M. Vincent Turner