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Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category

“God is subtle, but He is not malicious. I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world.” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve long thought that to be true, but now wonder if He is not often times speaking to us more directly. Take a random walk with me, and see if you agree.

Many of us recall the “Rocky” movie franchise. He started his saga in the slums of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The movie details him out running past a group of likely unemployed young men standing on a street corner singing “Take it Back”. Four movies later, some good, some less than good, and Rocky is back in the same neighborhood, a rags to riches to rags scenario, but he is still “Rocky Balboa” at the core, albeit changed by time, experience, and the impact of money.

I have experienced in the past 24 hours what I’ll dub “the day of diatribes”, polite though they may have been. This may or may not be considered just one more of the same by the time you finish this reading.

The first diatribe was by a Facebook friend protesting the use of the American flag as a form of forced advertising by a local realtor who placed them in every yard as far as the eye can see.

The second diatribe hit a little closer to home. It was written by a youth minister in Texas about the problem of increasing costs in higher education, specifically private faith based education, and the amount of debt it takes for many to get an undergraduate degree. The university for which I work’s mission statement is “Transforming Lives for faith, scholarship, and service.” Trust me when I say we do not intend for that to be “debt service”, and are listening and seeking solutions to the broad based problem of the higher education industry making our experience affordable and relevant. Pardon my digression from the topic at hand.

The third diatribe dealt with the problem of sensationalism and desensitizing in our mass media, all to get attention and “viewership”. It is a well written piece about things that are good and true, and you can read it at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/rdc-editorial-whatever-is-good-true-beautiful/

The fourth piece, more a reflection than a diatribe, was a personal look at living a purposeful life, and not a life of “Shadow Purposes” as we are so prone to do in this rich society. It can be read at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/chasing-my-shadow-purpose/

The final referenced piece in the “24 hours of diatribes” was my own, preceding this one, mind you. I read an article this morning about the NBA lockout and some of the quotes in a war of mega millionaires fighting mega millionaires over who gets the bigger share of the billions being offered by the masses at the alter of modern day entertainment. I love the NBA, but this article made me mad, and I suspect it will do the same for many fans as what promises to be a protracted labor negotiation fight plays out.

To paraphrase author Donald Miller, I think we all have forgotten that we are just trees in a story about a forest. The forest may be on fire all around us, but we are too focused on the near surroundings and our own concerns to notice.

The global economy appears to be badly broken. We have “stored up treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19) and need to be prepared for a different day and age, even within the lifespan of some current generations. The economic storm is raging as we speak in benefit rich European society, and the tsunami is racing toward us across the Atlantic even now. Societies are in debt up to their eyeballs; we are soft; we are spoiled. And fundamental societal things are changing. We are aging. The balance of trade and who makes and who buys is evolving. Health care is a concern. The U.S. Government won’t be able to pay for it all or fix all that ailes us. All the while, I fear we are standing on the beach arguing over who gets the bigger share of sandbags while we should be moving to higher ground to stay safely out of the coming wake.

Our societies often have found themselves in these moments in history, and it seems they are often ultimately resolved by fighting a war. The U.S. War for Independence; the French Revolution; the U.S. Civil War; WWI; WWII; the Middle East conflicts. Its about a groundswell of the masses when they can’t get what they want and need, and when the establishment is out of touch. We may be entering another “let them eat cake” moment, I fear. Get the picture?

I think the establishment may be catching on. One of the more telling advertisements running on TV today is “More Saving: More Doing; That’s the power of the Home Depot”. We need to realize that David Stanley (OKC auto dealer) does not really lead the way. The Mathes Brothers may have “our style at our price”, but they will never know us by name.

As I began to pour these random reflections down and try to tie them together cohesively, I looked through the “categories and tags” section of my blog site, and a huge percentage of those previously used seemed strikingly relevent. Take a look at all those listed at the end of this and see if you agree.

After an early morning of pondering these thoughts, I got into the car to come to the office and was immediately presented with “Awakening” by Switchfoot playing on my car radio. God is subtle, indeed, and He was speaking right to me.

Face down with the L.A. curbside endings
In ones and zeros
Downtown was the perfect place to hide

The first star that I saw last night
Was a headlight of a man-made sky
But man-made never made our dreams collide, collide

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

Last week saw me living for nothing but deadlines
With my dead beat sky
But this town doesn’t look the same tonight

These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere
And all my life I don’t know
That I’ve ever felt so alive, alive

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, I’m bleeding

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna live like I know what I’m leaving
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, it’s beating, it’s beating, I’m bleeding

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
But you’ve been talk, talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening
Dream, we’re awakening

So, where do we go from here, in this digital community, and in each of our own “cities of brotherly love”? Maybe we are a little like that prizefighter who has gone one or two rounds too far, and needs to reset. What is our task? More saving, more doing? Maybe. Less spending, more doing? Likely. More sharing, more caring? Absolutely. Heightened attention spans are in order. We’re awakening. The bar is raised. A groundswell is happening all around us, and a tsunami may (or may not) be headed are way. Let’s move to higher ground and be ready.

Take me back.

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The World is Flat, A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century was a book written by NY Times author Thomas Freidman a few years ago. It discusses the history of the world twenty years from now, and in the chapter “Y2K to March 2004,” what people will say was the most crucial development. The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, creating an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of the world’s two biggest nations, giving them a huge new stake in the success of globalization? And with this “flattening” of the globe, which requires us to run faster in order to stay in place, has the world gotten too small and too fast for human beings and their political systems to adjust in a stable manner? (Wikipedia)

Much has changed since that book was written, but the premise is the same. When America sneezes, the world catches a cold, but I believe the converse is true as well.

Much has happened in the past month. There was a devastating earthquake in Japan. The U.S. and its allies began, after a protracted debate and delay, bombing the government forces in Libya. I think it has something to do with “Regime Change”. This is not the first time we have gone down this road with Gadhafi. I find it highly ironic that in the early 80’s, President Reagan ordered airstrikes on Gadhafi to remove him from power, and 30 years later, momentos of that airstrike sit in the Reagan Museum and Library next to his grave, and Gadhafi is still in power. Meanwhile, as the Peace loving French were leading airstrikes against Gadhafi in 2011, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was conducting a humanitarian aid mission off the coast of Japan. The world is flat, indeed, but I would suggest that not that much has really changed, in principle.

President Kennedy tried this 50 years ago with Castro, and Castro has remained in power for generations beyond the lighting of Kennedy’s “eternal flame” in Arlington National Cemetery. So, from Casto/Kennedy to Reagan to Obama/Gadhafi, has much really changed?

The phrase “Made in China” used to be viewed as a bad thing in this country. Today, it is an expected and embraced norm. We don’t actually make much in this country, anymore, and when we do, it tends to cost more due to our labor expectations. “Made in Japan” is a good thing, today. Most of the components of the iPad I am using to post this today were made in Japan.

But, what do we do now? Who will make our stuff? U.S. Factories are seeing shortages on parts today, two to three weeks removed from the quake, and people are being released from their jobs and everything from video cameras to cars to iPads are expected to be in short supply soon.

I have written recently that, of the few vices I can recognize and attempt to manage in life, one of those is moderation, especially in buying clothes. As I looked at the tags in my closet, the flat world came ever closer to home. Rich nations. Poor nations. Impoverished island nations. 5 of the 6 populated continents, sans Australia, have a presence as manufacturers of my wardrobe. What would I wear today, if the world was not flat?

At least, if I can help my shoes keep their shape courtesy of “made in the USA”, that is a start.

We borrow a lot of money in this country, both as indivuduals and collectively as a nation. China, and Japan, both are two of our largest creditors at “USA, Inc.”. But, what if they get tired of doing so, or need the money more for their own economies? Who will loan us money to buy their stuff? And if we can’t buy as much of their stuff, will they grow weary of us? What if we can’t (and we likely won’t, in relative terms) do a good job of paying them back on our debts, in constant purchasing power value terms? What if they get angry, and begin to call for “regime change” at USA, Inc.?

Noted philosopher Billy Joel sang about this in his trademark song about the 20th Century: “We Didn’t Start the Fire

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again

Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock

Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline

Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide

Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law

Rock and Roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

But when we are gone

It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on…

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No we didn’t light it

But we tried to fight it

A better man than Joel, and the author and finisher of true philosophy had a few thoughts in this arena as well:

Matthew 24:

 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

   9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

In a book from the early 1800’s, Democracy in America, a Frenchman named Alexis de Tocquerville wrote: “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults”.

Who will one day want to “change our regime”…?   Who does today?   

I hope more of us than not still believe that way, because we’ve apparently got some repair work to do, maybe for quite some time…, or for as long as this earthly regime is allowed to continue buying, borrowing, and maybe even bullying?

 

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