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This Month's Scripture Verse:
He who oppresses the poor to make much for himself
or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty--
Proverbs 22:16



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 23, 2014

April 19

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on whether humanism is evil. This appeared in heidelblog.

I think that too many of us Christians have a phobic reaction to anything bearing a "humanist" label. I think our acceptance or rejection of what comes from humanists should come on an idea by idea basis. And it reminds me of the time I was protesting outside the Israeli embassy in DC with Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Atheists. We were there because we believe that much of Israel's treatment of the Palestinian is immoral. And we were there to protest that immorality regardless of our religion. Thus, some called us "people of conscience."

What if we could  specify specific views with which we could express solidarity with humanists. That just might help us get our foot in the door to share the Gospel later on.


April 22

To John Teevan's post on how poverty is expensive. This appeared in the Acton blog

There are some problems here. Having worked as a social worker, I can personally testify that many of the people paid to help those in need are highly competent and are committed to the people they serve and do what they can to help. That doesn't mean that some don't exploit their positions, but what I've observed also contradicts blanket statements made about gov't employees as well as employee for private agencies receiving pay to help. Such blanket statements are simply irresponsible. But more than that, they are meant to distract people from some of the causes of poverty. Among those causes are business that either outsources jobs to other countries, some of which become sweatshop labor jobs or those that pay poverty wages and their payroll is supplemented by gov't assistance programs. At the same time, many of those companies that look to gov't to subsidize their payrolls are looking to avoid paying taxes.

What we are seeing today is a crony capitalism that is not aberration from how the system is designed but rather a natural outgrowth of it. The corruption starts with the promise that, with the free market, one is responsible solely for their own interests. That promise is made to both consumers and business owners. However, workers who exercise the same mentality are cursed as the cause for the collapse of the system by destroying businesses.

The emphasis on self-interest is what is destroying this nation by destroying many of its people along with the economy. While those wealthy enough to be mobile will soon move out of harm's way.

In addition, I doubt, though I could be wrong, if the poor were consulted with regard to all of the costs of poverty for the writing of this post


To Elise Hilton's blogpost on the state of religious liberty. This appeared on the Acton blog

It seems to me that this is nothing more than a "sky is falling" article about the loss of religious freedom. Yes, one notable person was pressured out of a job because of a denotation made to the Proposition 8. But didn't conservative Christians once call for the firing of homosexuals with certain jobs? And didn't Conservative Christians oppose marriage equality? And wasn't homosexuality once illegal in this country?

If some see religion as causing problems it might be due to overgeneralizing on observations. So note, there are more than a few grains of truth in their fears. We should note how the French Revolution viewed religion as its enemy. It was because the clergy sided with the nobility in defeating the concerns of the peasants in the French Parliament. So before we cry wolf over the loss of religious freedoms, we need to come clean on our own persecutions of others.


To Bradley Birzer and his blogpost discussing the Catholic Church's role in maintaining Western Civilization. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

Whatever credit we wish to give to the Catholic Church for Western Civilization, and isn't it odd that we are giving the Church, rather than God, credit for what the Church did, the question we must eventually ask is: Are we bragging or complaining?

The authoritarian nature of the Catholic Church brought about the persecution of scientists, the inquisition, wars, empire and the presumptuous enslavement and even genocide of some indigenous people from the Western Hemisphere such as Haiti, Cuba, and Latin America. Even today the Church's effects on the West is both good and bad but Western Civ tribalism filters out what is distasteful.

It is this disingenuous, rose-colored glasses look at those one most associates with that causes people to leave the Church. And part of what is required to stop the hemorrhaging of people is just taking an honest look at the past and the faults our ancestors had with a resolve to correct them.  But those steeped in authoritarianism wearing the sheep's clothes of tradition have problems accepting challenges.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tribalism Is Killing The World And The Church Is Not Helping

What is clear from both the Old and New Testaments is that our regard and love for God is in inextricably tied to our treatment of people. Thus, regardless of the number, size, or grandeur of the houses of worship we build, the energy with which we sing hymns, and the risks we take to preach the Gospel, if we are not just in how we treat others, God does not acknowledge our worship, prayers, works, and words. This is something that should strike fear in all of us simply because we have all been unjust to others and thus all of us should constantly be praying the prayer of the tax collector, from the parable of the two men praying, who could not even lift his eyes up to heaven because he could not erase the shame of his own sins from his sight.

The Scriptures mention 3 ways by which we practice injustice against others.  The first way is that we can exploit or abuse others.    The second way is that we neglect those in need. The third way is that we treat those from whom we can benefit the most with  preference. We should note that these ways of being unjust to others are not mutually exclusive; all too many times we practice injustice against others in multiple ways. But perhaps before we continue, we should explain these three ways.

To exploit someone is to take advantage of them. And in the majority of times we exploit others, we do so by capitalizing on a perceived weakness. But sometimes we take advantage of those above us because of what we can get out of them. When we are young, many more times we gain status before our friends by publicly humiliating others. And when we are old, we find that some things never change. Many times, this exploitation involves abuse. Abuse involves the hurting and mistreating of others. We abuse others by what we say about and do to them. In doing so, we reinforce a pecking order in our little world. What should give us reason for pause is that God remembers each malevolent peck we give to others. 

When we neglect those in need, we either blind ourselves to the needs and hurts of others or we join Cain in rhetorically asking: "Am I my brother's keeper." In either case, we find a reason for not stopping to provide some measure of relief to those who are suffering. This could be done by withdrawing ourselves from those who are being ridiculed or marginalized and thus need personal intervention or by refusing to share with others the bounty which God has given us. In any case, unlike Jesus who stopped to minister to those who were suffering, we continue on our way.

Finally, we show preference to those from whom we can gain something. Sometimes, we gain in immaterial ways while at other times we gain material ways. And perhaps the majority of ways by which we show preference to others is to overlook their sins while we gleefully point out the smallest of faults of others. And one of the reasons we are silent about the sins of those above us is because we are afraid of retribution.

But note that the above descriptions and examples show only part of the problem with how we treat others. They revolve around how we mistreat others as individuals. We haven't talked about how the groups we belong to practice injustice. And it is this mistreatment of others by groups and our responsibility for the cruelty which needs more of our focus simply because the actions of groups can more often cause more pain than the actions of individuals.

The groups that have caused the most pain are nations, economic systems and classes, and races. And when loyalty to one's nation, economic system and class, or race, which is loyalty to any group, trumps commitment to keep principles and morals, we have tribalism. And during the Cold War, it wasn't difficult to see how some forms of tribalism put all human life on earth at risk. A full scale nuclear war will most probably cause the end of all human life on earth. And those who would participate in pulling the triggers would be doing so because following orders and loyalty to one's nation would allow individuals to participate in the wholesale slaughter of millions of people. And though the risk of a nuclear holocaust has lessened, the nuclear missiles of both Russia and the United States are still aimed at each other. In fact, we came within a few minutes of a full-scale nuclear war in 1995 when a Western satellite launch was for a period of time interpreted as a missile attack against Moscow.

Of course, we don't have to have a nuclear war to see how one nation and race could commit wide-scale atrocities on others. To many of us, Nazi Germany comes to mind here with its mass extermination against the Jews, Socialists, Homosexuals, Gypsies, and others as an example of how one group can abuse others for the glory of a nation and under the waving of a flag. But Nazi Germany is not our only example. The treatment of America's indigenous peoples by its European settlers is has been as bad an example of injustice in the name of a nation and under the waving of a flag. Though there might be a dispute in the numbers killed, the murderous removal of people from their land that a young United States practiced is beyond dispute and the abuses continue today. And we should never forget how Whites have, and continue to do so, sorely persecuted and oppressed Blacks. All of the injustices from our three examples were practiced because loyalty to group trumped commitment to principle and the basic respect for people.

But national and tribalism aren't the only threats that further injustice today; economic systems also promote injustice. We should note John Pilger's study of Apartheid that is available in either his book, Freedom Next Time, or his documentary film. For here he shows that the South Africa's Apartheid system didn't die when it became politically unviable. Rather, since Apartheid was intertwined with an economic system, it survived its political demise because the economic system remained in place. And this is why, though there are more exceptions to the rule today than before the end of political apartheid, the wealth disparity between Whites and Blacks in South Africa has increased rather than diminished with the end of political Apartheid. We should note that a somewhat similar result has occurred in America despite advances made by the Civil Rights movement. This is because those belonging to the dominant economic system care more for the profits of the few than the welfare of the many.

Part of the injustices of our current economic system come from the following. The globalization of trade and neoliberal Capitalism has increased the labor pool especially for repetitive and low-skill jobs. And as any Capitalist knows, with an increase of supply comes a decrease in price/cost/pay. So market forces have either lowered the wages of some or removed employment of others making such people and their communities expendable. So while some make a financial killing out of the outsourcing of jobs to other countries, others are subjected to sweatshop labor conditions while others have no work at all.

And if we add to that the way we extract natural energy resources, such as using mountaintop removal to mine for coal or fracking to drill for oil or natural gas, we see the uncaring destruction of people's communities and homes in an effort to increase profits. But not only are people's current lives being destroyed, so is their future. And this is done all in the sake of profit and we see that millions suffer and die because of this tribalism.

See, for as long people as unquestionably support their own nation's quest for conquest and their own economic system's desire to grow big and rich at the expense of others, we have tribalism. We have a culture where right and wrong depends solely on who does what to whom. 

What is the Church's response to all of this? The Conservative Church's response to this tribalism is to reinforce it by practicing its own forms. In the Church's tribalism, we see, for the most part, the Conservative Church aligning itself with power and wealth, with patriotism and Capitalism. It won't challenge either. But not only will it not challenge either , its infighting and its self-ostracism from "worldly' influences provide more examples of tribalism. 

The above is not the only picture we see in the Conservative Church but it is the predominant one. And it is unfortunate for both the Church and those outside. It is unfortunate for the church in that it shows itself to be no different from the rest of the world. It is unfortunate for the rest of the world because as the Church shows itself to be the same as the world, it deprives the world of hearing a credible witness for the Gospel. 

Finally, it is also unfortunate for the world because it is following the path that tribalism has so often traveled before only this time it is traveling with technologies that carry far bigger impacts. Our weapons can destroy all human life, our industries and tools can make earth uninhabitable, and our computer and communications technologies can be used to impoverish greater multitudes of people than ever before. Yes, we have the same tribalism as before. But our technological advancements have made that tribalism more and more dangerous and the question for the Church becomes, what is it doing to curb today's threats? Though some may not think that is the business of the Church, if preaching repentance to those who practice injustice is part of sharing the Gospel, then addressing today's manmade perils is at the heart of evangelism and the Church's mission. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

ONIM For April 21, 2014

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Democracy, Conservative-Speak Style

At first, the blogpost being reviewed here, Why Democracy Needs Aristocracy, seems to be a variation of a theme. Since democracy and aristocracy mix as well as oil and water do, the theme being played on came from Orwell in his book Animal Farm,
all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others

But that was before the blogpost' author, Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna,  attempted to play musical chairs with definitions and terms.

Christoff-Kurapovna gives the impression of wanting to discard the more traditional definitions of the words aristocracy and egalitarian as she distinguishes two kinds of democracies: aristocratic and egalitarian. Rather than using these words to depict inherited wealth or birth status, she wants to use them as indicators of human qualities. To Christoff-Kurapovna, aristocratic is the rugged individual for whom Capitalism and Democracy were created because such people excel in virtue and talent and are thus able to sustain political-economic system--we should note that Christoff-Kurapovna borrows some of her concepts of this ideal individual from Thomas Jefferson's natural aristocracy (click here). Christoff-Kurapovna also cites Lord Tennyson as saying that such individuals have "self-reverence, self-sufficiency, and self-perpetuation." Thus, such individuals work for what they can gain in the distant future.

Egalitarian, on the other hand, rather than referring to equality, is cited here to write about the "lowest common denominator" of people. The lowest common denominators are those people who can only see the short-term return and, if allowed to rule, would implement a "mobocracy." For in an egalitarian democracy, individuals are impotent and thus are dependent on others as well as enslaved to their own vices and the immediate satisfaction of appetites. This subjugation is due to a myopia with regard to time.

Thus, without enough of what Christoff-Kurapovna calls aristocracy, Capitalism and Democracy will implode. But there is a trick here. How do we determine who belongs to the natural aristocracy? According to Christoff-Kurapovna, it is those who have significant amounts of self-reverence and even "self-glory." Those who belong to this natural aristocracy and who save the day here are those who possess a noble self-interest . These are the people who can sustain Capitalism because of their concern with the future.

Christoff-Kurpovna cites some of our nation's founding fathers for support. We already showed her dependence on Jefferson in her depiction of the aristocracy America so depends on to continue. She includes Madison, along with Hamilton, who feared a "mobocracy" that would come with direct democracy. And though it is true that the founding fathers were concerned with the distant future while trying to craft our government, Madison not only opposed direct democracy, he was against the idea that people from every class could vote. He feared that, in England, if such was the case, agrarian reform would cause the land owners of England to lose their position and wealth (click here and see Madison's first set of comments in the Constitutional debates on June 26th). 

In addition, we ought to note who Madison regarded as people who preferred a mobocracy. It was those who were disgruntled during his time including those who supported Shays Rebellion (click here). We should note that at the heart of the dissatisfaction of the mob was high debt and taxation and an unresponsive government. That's right, some of the same concerns that served as a driving force in the American Revolution remained after the revolution. And thus there came a time when our Founding Fathers felt the need to write the Constitution, which was a document that created a stronger centralized government, that would protect the country from those who were disgruntled especially if they were to become the majority in the country. So, in essence, our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to protect themselves and the future from the same kind of reactions they once had toward the British aristocracy. So, perhaps for different reasons, we could regard Madison and others as being aristocratic. And we should add that Shays Rebellion was put down because of a state army funded by merchants.

Other descriptions of this pre-Constitutional conflict and parties involved can be found in Henry Knox's 1786 letter to George Washington (click here) and Federalist paper #10 (click here). 

The real question for Christians becomes this, does nobility come from self-interest and on an emphasis on individualism? Will such a focus, according to the Scriptures, be a vine that produces good  fruit? These questions are not just important for the Christian to satisfy, the answer to them could support Christoff-Kurpovna's thesis regarding aristocratic self-interest.

Once we look at the Scriptures, we easily see that self-reliance is not what Conservatives like Christoff-Kurpovna claim it to be. Moses warned the Hebrews against taking credit for the bounty God gave them. Instead, the Israelites were to know that everything they had came from God. In addition, how they were to treat aliens within Israel was based on how God provided for them in the wilderness. 

In the New Testament, we are to be known by our love for God and others. In addition, we are told that all we have is because God gave His son for us. Thus, for the Christian, self-reliance can be a form of idolatry because it is worshiping a god besides the Lord by giving that god undue credit. Having said that, relying on God is not necessarily to be equated with being dependent on others with the degree of the latter varying during each person's life. When we are dependent on others, we must realize that God is providing through those people. Likewise, when we are more independent from others, we are still relying on God.

In the end, the Christians are to be guided by how God has provided for them and by showing a similar love and compassion to others. Sometimes, this involves carrying our crosses into troubled places which self-interest forbids. And though we are promised the greatest reward of all times for being faithful, one cannot be true to God out of self-interest only. Rather, our loyalty to God should be first out of love for Him which was conceived by His love for us. And we bear fruit for God by relying on the Spirit.

But what about the nonChristian? After all, they are not required to acknowledge God in any of their ways. But the question here becomes, once we let the genie of self-interest become the granter of an unlimited number of wishes, why should the individual care about whether their long-term interests hurts others outside of their group or whether the interests they serve will be long-term in the first place? In addition, where would such an individual be if they lived in a society where everybody was governed by self-interest? For if we look at first responders or some who enter the military or some who teach or some who go into certain fields of medicine, we realize that all of us, including the aristocrats, benefit from those who have the interests of others as well as their own in mind. In that case, we could call aristocrats moochers who sponge off the good will of others when their only interest is self-interest.

There is something disingenuous in the approach of some conservatives with regard to self-interest and individualism. That is because they want to expand the definition of these terms so that only good results from them. For conservative definition of self-interest has been enlarged so that all a person has to do is to know how to do what's best for them to do good. And in doing so, the individual becomes an aristocrat who acts as a vanguard for Democracy and Capitalism. And once the individual joins the vanguard, for anyone to infringe on his/her liberty is to become an enemy of Democracy and Capitalism. And this is the point of the analogy used in the beginning of the blogpost. It defends the aristocratic individual from all infringements from the outside, especially the government. 

But we should remember who is really the aristocrat here. The aristocrat is the one who has experienced success in the system; this is the person who belongs to the vanguard. But we should be aware that vanguards have a tendency to seek privilege over others--see the Russian and French Revolutions for example--so that they cause the word aristocracy, whose definition was given a twist by the author of the blogpost, to revert to its original meeting. And once aristocracy returns to its original meaning, it deflates Democracy by raising the power of some so that they can rule over the rest. If we were to be generous, we would call such a democracy a partial democracy. But practically speaking, partial democracies are not democracies.

For example, Jeff Halper calls a democracy where a religious or ethnic group has privilege and thus can rule over others an 'ethnocracy.' He uses this to describe seeing that Jews have dominance over Israeli-Arabs and laws are passed to ensure the existence of that dominance.

We should note that the dominance called for in this aristocratic Democracy proposed by Christoff-Karupovna is based on economic class rather than on ethnicity or religion. Thus we call the aristocratic Democracy a meritocracy specifically or a classocracy more generally and we should note that those favoring the concept of an aristocratic Democracy are not the only ones who have argued for a classocracy; so did Karl Marx. In calling for a 'proletariate dictatorship,' he was calling for a democratic rule by the working class that would transform society into a classless society. But in calling for such a dictatorship, Marx allowed people like Lenin to hijack the Revolution by claiming to be a vanguard for the proletariate. Thus, Christoff-Karupovna and Marx become strange bedfellows whose only difference is found in the teams they cheer for and support.

Having said all of this, it isn't that we would suffer if each individual gained in positive qualities. It is that the right kind of self-interest and ideal individualism by themselves do not carry the day. By themselves, these items do not produce noble actions and motives. Rather, in this case, they support a paternalistic relationship between the aristocracy and the rest where we look to ride the coattails of the aristocracy. We feel safe with them because of their power and privilege. But the price of admission for letting the aristocratic individuals gain power and privilege is that we dependently and powerlessly exist at their discretion. Thus to advocate self-reliance while promoting an aristocracy lacks consistency.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 16, 2014

April 12

To Bruce Edward Walker and his blogpost on how the religious left wants to keep fossil fuels in the ground. This appeared on the Acton blog

Basically, the differences between the Left and the Right on the issue of fracking is one of focus. The Left focuses on the environmental impact of both the fracking process and any possible increased use of fossil fuels. The Right focuses the immediate economic impact concerning increased production and consumer cost. And while the Right will occasionally slip in an environmental note, it, again, uses selective focus to quell any environmental concerns. For example, this post cites new technology as significantly reducing methane emissions at each well. Unfortunately, other significant environmental concerns still loom over us such as maintenance of nonactive wells to prevent leakage and accidents, pollution of ground water, and accidents in transporting fuels--which is not to mention the increased use of fuels. A number of recent accidents indicate that the severe and sudden impact from some accidents show the need for more emphasis on the safety for the surrounding communities, especially with the lack of concern demonstrated by energy harvesting companies, to the extent that all alternatives must be explored so as to eliminate future accidents. In addition, individual studies cited here must be followed up to establish the findings and conclusions of the study mentioned here.

We need to reconsider the status quo both in terms of need vs production and consumer costs. The current situation is pressuring some to deny the environmental dangers that could be hovering over us in the distant and even near future in order to increase use and contain costs. It is basically a deny the future to satisfy the present mentality--which is something we are not suppose to associate with successful business types. And what drives all of this is the desire to increase individual consumption and profits. What is denied consideration in the discussion is how sharing and cooperation can both maintain a healthy economy while heading off future environmental dangers and disasters by decreasing consumption and production.


To Joe Carter's blogpost on whether one can be both pro-businesss and pro-market. This appeared on the Acton blog.

What is interesting is to see the reaction of those who favor the market to its corruption. Here, the market is to be a place of fair competition. But the market has also been billed as a place where self-interest acts as the only strength, in terms of source of energy, and guide for the market's participants. Thus, the market, to pro-market people, is where one only needs to be concerned only for oneself and a machine that keeps that self-concern from doing harm.

But by reducing all concern to self-interest, how could we ever expect the market's participants to want fair competition? To be interested in fair competition would mean that self-interest is not the only concern that one must have. In fact, to ensure fair competition, many, if not all, of the market's participants would have to be willing to sacrifice certain advantages that comes one's way. Thus, we might even say that to expect fair competition to be the predominant state of affairs in a place where self-interest rules seems to be more utopian than the expected state of affairs.


April 16

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on science and Christianity. It appeared in the Heidelblog.

if Christianity is seen as being anti-intellectual, is in part due to the behavior of Christians. In particular, it is due to our response to evolution in past and to climate studies in the present.

Certainly we can't agree with all of evolution. But that means we can, quite Biblically agree with part of it. At the same time, we can challenge those who hold to a secular view of evolution about spontaneous generation. It is something that has never been observed and thus cannot be asserted to have happened outside of faith in that it has.

Our response to climate science is another unnecessary stumbling block we put in the way of a modernist believing the Gospel he has heard. There is much about climate science that climate scientists will say is speculative and some that isn't. And yet, many Christians write climate science off totally and one of the reasons why is because to accept their warnings is to agree to significantly changing one's own and society's way of life. And if we are honest, we will admit that most of our objections to climate science is due to the changes that its warnings call any responsible person to accept, And that is outside of any disagreement on what has been observed and what is being predicted.  For if we were honest, we would have to say to ourselves that the warnings given by climate scientists are very possible though not certain. But many of us have a much stronger reaction. We reject everything that climate scientists say including their observations.

Finally, let's not be selective about the past between Christianity and Copernicus. He and his theory was widely condemned by all sorts of Christian leaders. And to point out that Christians published his works is no great achievement for Christians since Copernicus lived and wrote in a Christian culture where most were considered to be Christians. This is just another example of how Christian behavior can be fit the role of being anti-intellectual.  If we have faith in God's Word, we don't have to go out of our way to show the intellectual integrity of the Gospel.

The same goes for the relationship between accepting criticism and intellectualism. Pointing out the anti-intellectual practices of others while one suppressing criticism of their own positions is not intellectually honest, to say the least. And suppressing criticism can be done by filtering who is allowed to speak.


To Peter Dziedzic and his blogpost on the Vatigan's attention to the connection between family values and economic development. This was posted on the Acton Blog.

The article strongly suggests that we have a exclusive choice between families taking care of their own or the state. But such doesn't answer the following:

1.    What if there is no family of a person in need?
2.    What if the family doesn't have the resources to help a family member in need?
3.    Shouldn't the state also care about and have a responsibility for those in need?

Why can't both the state and the family help those in need? Because it causes debt. And it causes debt because those with the most wealth are looking to give as little as possible to the state. And those with the most wealth have the most resources in avoiding paying taxes to the state despite the resources they demand from the state. In addition, businesses with the most wealth often require the state to supplement the poverty wages the pay to many of their employees, most of whom are family members.

We cannot afford to view the issue of helping those in need as a turf war between the state and the family where one or the other side claims complete control over that area. Rather, the state and family should work hand in hand to help those who are in need. To make the choice and exclusive one is to simply politicize the plight of the most vulnerable.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What Drives Our Denial

Perhaps the best way to summarize Western Civilization with its multiple imperialisms is to read Bartolomé De La Casas as he described the behavior of many Spaniards on the island of Hispaniola after Columbus discovered the land. He stated that the reason for the murderous behavior of the Christians on the island was to, as quickly as possible, garner for themselves as much of an unmerited amount of wealth as possible.1

This description is not only a shoe that fits the feet of the Spaniards who took possession of the islands in the Caribbean, and it not only fits the feet of all Europeans who engaged in imperial behavior by conquering land and people for their king or themselves, it fits the behavior of today's Western nations.

For example, think about one of the most often used defenses for American Capitalism. We are told that it has brought about the greatest wealth in the history of the world. And what is implied by such a declaration is that the argument is over and there is no need to consider any other factors. Thus, we are not to ask at whose expense did our riches come. We are not told about the interventions that installed proxy governments nor are we told about the trade agreements that have caused farmers from other countries to go out of business while trying to compete with our subsidized agribusinesses. And though we hear about the sweatshop labor that manufactures many of the trinkets which we find so captivating, we become personally disconnected from their plight. 

Or we could look at how Americans generally regard the Global Warming debate. For if we took the global warming warnings seriously, then we would have to significantly change our lifestyles. We could no longer let profit and consumption reign as king and queen of our economy. Those with wealth, and this would include many from the Middle Class, would have to scale back their lifestyle and, to prevent those who already live in poverty from doing the same, would have to share with others. In fact, our whole country would have to cut back on consumption and even some production in order to give people from poorer countries a chance to improve their lives. 

But such is not the American Dream. For the American Dream consists of accumulating as much wealth for oneself as one can so that one can build their own "fantasy island." On that island, luxuries isolate one from the outside world. For the American Dream is about individual success living for oneself. So accepting the warnings about Global Warming will involve giving up on a significant part of the American Dream. Thus, accepting the Global Warming warnings will result in recognizing the welfare of others and making sacrifices for them rather than living just for ourselves. For it means that we buy less for ourselves and try to ensure that others will have more.

Life is simpler when one only has to worry about oneself. And that same life can seem more inviting when it is about accumulating experiences and riches. So when ugly truths about the exploitation of others and environmental problems start to force their way into our field of vision, we see them as a threat to our own status quo and peace of mind. We view these truths as telling us that the party is over and it is now time to get serious. But the party beckons us to stay. We have many more pleasures to experience, the party tells us. And so what we decide to do comes down whether we are willing to say to ourselves, "enough is enough." We have to choose between getting more and settling for less so others can have more. Thus, this choice of ours determines what we will be willing to believe.


  1. The Devastation Of The Indies; A Brief Account (1542) by Bartolomé De La Casas, printed in Voices Of A People's History Of The United States, edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, pg 37
    or for an exact quote, click this video link

Monday, April 14, 2014

ONIM For April 14, 2014

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