Thursday, September 18, 2014

Those Who Don't Learn the Lessons of History are Doomed to Repeat It.

In 2009 I published my first novel "The Peacemaker." During the years I spent teaching American history in states across this nation, I learned an important lesson - the cycles of war, environmental damage and recurring destructive poverty that now affects the whole planet have continued because we have not addressed the root causes prevalent in our history that keep us mired in these events. I went into teaching because I wanted to help young people make a better life for themselves by helping them read to promote knowledge instead of ignorance, to learn to think critically and learn the lessons of cause and effect and also to help them become productive members of society by helping them get in touch with not only their ethnic background but those of the myriad of cultures that represent the United States of America. What I discovered during my years as a teacher was that in order for my work to have an impact, I needed to write something that would reach not only those students I was currently teaching but the large numbers of Americans who were ignorant of the true story of American history and how our supposed free Republic failed to meet its responsibly to those it governed from its inception. Writing "The Peacemaker" was my effort to tell in fictional form the "true" story of American history - all the stories of our culture that were left out of the textbooks I studied when I was in school and college and how this has affected the current state of affairs in the 21st Century.

Since 2009, I have devoted my efforts to promoting "The Peacemaker" - not to become a rich, famous author, but to challenge people to come from a place of ignorance and spouting of propaganda of the tycoons (both military and corporate) who now control the media and our government and thus control the thinking of Americans to one of understanding and compassion.

 There is no such thing as community in our country anymore and the only government most citizens have any concern with is the federal government now controlled by lobbyists who control the Democratic and Republican parties. American citizens somehow think all the problems we have can be solved by this huge entity that has grown far too big and, as history teaches us, has always been corrupt and controlled by the party bosses, oil, steel, timber and railroad magnets of the early 20th Century and the big oil, insurance and pharmaceutical industries and social media of the 21st Century. It's time for people to step outside their doors, meet their neighbors where they are and learn compassion by studying the progression of history and how we arrived at this state of constant global war, genocide, famine and climate change and begin addressing these issues from "their own backyards."

One of the things I am concerned with now is to try to keep our country from another useless war. Yes, there are humanitarian issues of suffering brought about by a radical group that is using past atrocities by the Western world in their countries to foment hate and abhorrent treatment of innocent people. This is no different from the way Adolph Hitler waived the Treaty of Versailles and inhuman treatment of the Germans by the Allies after World War I to begin his evil campaign against the Jewish people. American people need to do some research to understand the complex role of the West in the Middle East since the days of Marco Polo and the discovery of the riches of China and the South Pacific wanted by westerners and, in the 2oth and 21st Centuries - oil.

 In my opinion, we cannot begin to rid the suffering in the Middle East by using the same tactics used by ISIS. Americans need to demand that Congress do its research and ask tough questions that we would want answered before voting whether to support yet another war, or any military action in the Middle East. History teaches us that "military actions" become full fledged wars. We have been in a continual state of war since the foundation of this Republic. Indeed, the approach taken to teach about our history is to teach about war - we've never taught students why these wars really started or what happened as  a result other than the United States won - more land and more natural resources to build our economy and promote our culture.

Besides the huge cost to our economy, these wars have also produced returning heroes debilitated by the horrors they experienced and unable to really reintegrate into society. In addition, we have killed millions in order to build this gigantic economy that is fast becoming one of haves and have nots- just like those in these Third World Countries we purport to help.

While our own infrastructure deteriorates and our cities are no more than microscopic battle zones of poverty, violence, and drug dealing controlled by organized crime and slum landlords, we allow the federal government to continue to build up the military industrial complex as we arm the world and then send our soldiers off to "make it peaceful." The federal government is in charge of international affairs and has the power to maintain an armed force for our national and international defense. There were, however, several checks and balances put into play by our nation's founders to make sure that power is not abused thereby turning our country into one like the absolute monarchy we fought in 1776. Since the days of World War I, we have begun moving closer and closer not only into a military dictatorship here but have sent our military machines into all corners of this planet to "promote peace."

It is not my intention to create a debate as to the "right or wrong" of our military interventions, but to challenge Americans to demand that those who would fund another war do their research and report to their constituents reasons for their vote one way or another.  It is the duty of every American to contact their federal representatives who will vote to fund this war and make sure their representatives give them a satisfactory answer not some political rhetoric based on political surveys run by those funding their campaigns. Learn the lessons of history that come from the Bush Administration. Obviously, Americans were angry over that war; that's why the Republicans lost in 2008. Make your Congressional Representatives do their job. Before voting to fund another military action (war) in the Middle East ask them to find out:

  • Are there any other viable alternatives to military action to stop ISIS?
  • If we go to war, what is the exit strategy once we are on the ground fighting?
  • How will we know when it is time to stop AND
  • THE MOST IMPORTANT - what does victory look like?
It appears from current reports that our leaders are set for military action. It is up to the voters now to take action to prevent the senseless cycle of hatred and call to arms without thinking if any of us want to learn our lessons from history and really stop this inhumane suffering that has become a global epidemic. As residents of the so called greatest free country on earth, you owe it to the rest of the world.

Check out "The Peacemaker" at

Monday, September 8, 2014

What Would Jesus Do?

I am a Christian and a follower of Christ. All of my moral instruction during my formative years was centered on the Bible - especially the teachings of Christ. I was fortunate to have parents who taught me the spiritual lessons I needed as a basis for moral living while supporting a secular education.

 I graduated second in my class at Shawnee High School and received a full tuition scholarship to Kentucky Southern College (now a part of the University of Louisville System). I graduated after three years with honors and a secondary teaching certificate with endorsements in history and English. I went on to get my MSW from the Kent School of Social Work in 1986 with a 4.0 cumulative grade point average and induction into Phi Kappa Beta as a result. I had a distinguished teaching career as well as rearing two successful biological daughters and working with four adolescent girls to advocate for them to help them achieve a better life for themselves than the hand they were dealt. Much of this was because of the lessons I remembered from my Sunday School training.

In "Ethics for a New Millennium" the Dali Lama speaks of the need for a spiritual revolution in the world. He thinks the decline in church involvement, especially in the United States, has led to a decline in the moral life taught by the various religious movements. He sees this as a prime reason for the continual warfare in the world. Believing this, I have returned to a study of the lessons I learned in Sunday School as I try to understand and advocate for an end to war. My current concern is America's continual involvement in supporting both with weapons and soldiers the constant killing in the Middle East. Since I grew up with Jesus as my role model, I have looked for answers into what he would suggest we do there to bring an end to the violence and promote peace.

When I delve into the Bible I try to understand what Jesus taught his disciples about why he came into the world.In Chapter 5, verse 17 of Matthew, Jesus is reported to have said "I did not come to abolish the laws of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. . . not even the smallest detail of God's law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. . . the Kingdom of Heaven."

 The apostles were charged with bringing his message to the Jewish leaders after his death. The apostle Matthew records not only Jesus' birth and life but also his message from his oral teachings to his followers. In Chapter 5 of Matthew he takes the commandments issued under the old laws (before Christ) and explains a new morality based on love and forgiveness - which is the message of the cross and why Christ died. Christ died not so soldiers would rise up and overthrow the Roman Empire, rather the apostles were to go and bring the Good News to the people of Rome about a new way of living based on love and forgiveness.

In my Sunday school lessons, I remember studying the "new law" that Christ taught which was to put an end to the law put down by Hammurabi and was used as the system of justice that led to the beheadings and stonings so prevalent during his time. It was "an eye for an eye." Matthew wrote in Chapter 5 Verse 28 "Ye have heard it said, 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say, do not resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat too. If a soldier demands you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow."

In Verses 43 and 44 of Chapter 5 "You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say 'love your enemies.' Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as your Father in heaven. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that."

I realize we have separation of church and state in this country, but there are many who proclaim "one nation under God" and go off to war to defend God and country." If we proclaim "God is on our side" then we must adhere to the laws we believe in. Using the same techniques as those who kill and maim will not promote the "kingdom of heaven on earth." I am a Christian, I am a follower of Christ. I abhor bombings and slaughter everywhere. If God's kingdom is to be on earth then we must follow God's laws. We must be the peace we want to see. It begins with us. That is a difficult challenge for me and I have learned the only way I can do that is to surrender to God's grace and love those who are hard to love and forgive.

An urban myth tells of an African American woman in court. A racist teenager killed her twelve year old son. The evidence was overwhelming so the defendant's lawyer placed the murderer on the stand to tell of his life in the hope that he would receive life in prison rather than the death sentence.

At first the teenager was composed and spoke without emotion, the same emotionless state he was in when he pulled the trigger. But when he said that no one wanted him, that he had no mother, he began to cry saying how sorry he was for what he had done. His only excuse was that no one wanted him, and that he had no mother. From the back of the courtroom a voice could be heard over his sobs. "I will be your mother." The people in the courtroom turned to see the mother of the dead child facing his killer.

"I will be your mother. Until I die, I will be your mother. My son is gone, and so I ask you, will you be my son now?"

A simple "yes" transformed a courtroom that had previously been filled with hate. I want to say "yes" to love, to forgiveness and strive very hard to "love my neighbor as myself" whether it be the person next door to me or those across the world. I pray that love will replace hate and forgiveness replace revenge. When that happens, I believe the world will experience the second coming of Christ.