Wednesday, September 24, 2003

You will be Assimilated…

This famous line from the Borg, the darkest villains from TV’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, rings true with us not only because it touches on one of our darkest fears (being overtaken by the very machines and technologies we are so proud of) but also because it has been so much of our past. Nowhere can you see that better than in the conquering of Native American lands and the subjugation of their cultures by European settlers, first the Spanish and then the Americans. While Americans would and will deny that our culture and the Borg hold nothing in common, our attitudes, our actions, and our history say otherwise. It’s one reason why Native American cultures today continue to struggle against the odds…against the assimilation.

Unlike the Borg, we can do something to help stop the assimilation. Public schools in Lost City, Oklahoma are teaching kids the Cherokee language. Oklahoma is the headquarters for the western band of the Cherokee tribe. Have public schools in Cherokee, NC, Albuquerque,NM, Gallup, NM, or anywhere else where there are a large number of Native American children considered doing the same? The Native American heritage is a rich one. We all lose if we allow it to die out.

(See this article: http://www.cnn.com/2003/EDUCATION/09/24/cherokee.kindergarten.ap/index.html)

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Pride Before a Fall…

President Bush has finally made a long overdue overture to the United Nations to gain their involvement in the rebuilding of Iraq. He understands, like he hasn’t before, that what he has started is a much bigger undertaking than he had ever imagined; and to ask America to go it alone holds the potential for bankrupting the country and costing him the election. More than any other issue, the now apparent lack of planning concerning Iraq’s rebuilding and its staggering cost makes Bush vulnerable at the polls. More than any other reason, I feel that is why he’s making that move now rather than any altruistic impulse to do what is best for the people of Iraq.

Bush’s refusal to turn over the keys, however, may be the proverbial shot in his own foot. His desire to get UN help but not give them say in what happens is unrealistic; it’s just not how politics works. In the long run, whether the Iraqis decide to adopt a free government or not, they must be convinced they made that decision themselves and not because it was rammed down their throats by a puppet U.S. Government. This is the danger of a policy of “liberation”. It’s like sending an alcoholic to a treatment center before she hits bottom. If she’s not ready to make the changes on her own, nothing you do will make the treatment take, no matter how good it makes her temporarily feel.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Short Memories…

Americans seem to be afflicted with either short memories or a foolhardy tolerance when it comes to their politicians. We don’t seem to be holding President Bush’s feet to the fire when it comes to Iraq. We are too easily swayed by his swirling rhetoric about war and national security. We are saying nothing on the streets about the President’s monumental fiscal request to support the continuing operations in the war in Iraq; we have forgotten that the President said most of the cost would be financed by proceeds from Iraqi oil, even though that smacked of American colonialism. We forget we have still not found the weapons of mass destruction so liberally used to justify the war in Iraq in the first place; and we forget about North Korea, a much bigger strategic threat to U.S. interests than Iraq could ever hope to be. We forget that the war in terror started with a justified U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and we forget that the war there is still ongoing. We forget.

We forget what we learned in Vietnam, which the war in Iraq is starting to look more and more like except the Viet Cong have been replaced by Al Quaida. We forget the internment and trampling of the freedoms and liberties of our own Japanese citizens during World War II, now replaced by “enemy combatants”. We forget what we learned when we went down these roads before, and the price all of us will pay for not learning those lessons. We forget.

How long will it be before we remember?


In Memoriam…
…to those who died on September 11, 2001 and since. One day, I pray, that Unconditional Love, the only True Love there is, will triumph; that nations and men will see each other as different instead of as enemies; that we will choose not to fight even though we can; that we will choose to build rather than destroy, to laugh instead of frown, and to live instead of die.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

On being right versus being happy…

One of the things I’ve learned in my life…and that I keep re-learning…is I must often choose between being right and being happy. We live in a world that is, by and large, codependent; therefore, self-righteousness is one of our most desirable and confused traits. But, in the end, it is our insistence that what we think and believe is right, with no room for questioning or doubt that we may be wrong, that breeds so much. For me, part of being happiness is the understanding and acceptance that the world is imperfect by design….that imperfection is perfection. Instead, as a species, we seem to think there’s something wrong with the world out there and then do all we can to fix it, sometimes resorting to whatever means are necessary, even killing. In truth, the more we are willing to kill to protect something we believe, the more shaky our own faith is. If we truly believe something, we will live from it, and, in that self-satisfaction, not find the need to convert even one other person to the way we live and breathe.

Yesterday, the state of Florida executed Paul Hill. He was convinced he was acting for God. I feel, instead, that he was playing God. His justification for taking life and his conviction that God would reward him is the same tact, the same exact belief system, adopted by the 9/11 hijackers. There was and is no difference between them, though if you were to put them in the same room, they would all deny it and hate each other equally. In the end, neither party is likely to achieve their political ends. The only guaranteed end is a continuation of the circle of violence and, ultimately, their own destruction.

Happy people don’t destroy others. They are too busy being happy. So, spread the word. When it is said that happiness is an inside job, there is no greater truth.

On Urban Sprawl and Obesity…

A few days ago, the Houston Chronicle ran an article about a new study linking America’s current problems with obesity with urban sprawl and the lack of integration in community design. Indeed, here in Houston, that’s evident everywhere. It can be downright dangerous to walk down the streets whether from choking fumes or having to walk in the street; and it is fairly dangerous to try to ride a bicycle to most places. Mass transit is almost non-existent, and what does exist works only for a small segment of the population on schedules that match up. It’s well known that you must have a car to have a life here. You’ll find it hard to get a job, much less do anything else, unless you have one.

Integration just is not an American keyword. But the lack of integration is a symptom, not a cause. Balance is not something most Americans know, and integration and balance always play together. One without the other cannot exist. If we don’t know how to achieve those two in our physical, emotional, and spiritual lives, we certainly can’t figure out how to build it into our communities. Where is the study on that?