Success of Nations

A nation’s success is dependent on its people having an understanding of what makes it successful. Authoritarian governments seek success through suppressing information, and through spreading misinformation. In a democratic republic where the people have the right to vote, it is vital for information to be shared and debated. Discourse, preferable civil discourse, is essential for national success. However, too many people, who enjoy the benefits of a democratic republic, seek to hide from discourse. For whatever reasons they may give, at the end of the day, they are seeking to hide from the very responsibility they have in the maintenance of their nation and its success.

Cringeworthy Reality

It is interesting to see so many supporters of capitalism and small government cringe.

Capitalistic exploitation of cheap resources and labor has provided a stable livelihood for many who have never felt exploited because of the protections their grandfathers voted for when robber barons last ruled.

Realization that they have become this cheap labor causes worry to build among these supporters of small government. They realize that their livelihood is controlled, not just by the modern robber barons of their own nation, but by the robber barons of foreign nations.

They realize they might need protection from the government they believe is too big.

A cringeworthy reality.Cringe worthy reality

Gift giving, the thought is not all that counts.

IMG_0886In a world where there are so many in need of food, warmth, and shelter, it is up to the giver to gift responsibly. Intent will never be of greater value than a gift received by one who truly benefits from it.

There are many reasons a person creates items that end up in charity boxes. I personally find knitting, crochet, etc. helps relieve my stress. However I would not want something that helps reduce my stress to become the thing that causes someone else stress. An act of compassion, love, or charity should come unburdened by expectation. Yet, society seems to demand that well-meaning gifts be accepted with meekness, even when the gifts cause burden or harm.

Year after year, well-meaning people gift friends and family with the handmade items, many also donate hats, scarves, and blankets to charitable causes with the hope that their efforts will bless the lives of the recipients. Each year, I read social media the complaints made by disappointed givers who find that their gifts have not been received with gratitude or with excitement. This is a reality in the world of handmade gifts. These posts are usually accompanied by comments of support for the gift-giver, and the general criticism for those who do not accept the gift with glee, or at least with feigned pleasure.

This year I have seen something new – an attack on a recipient who found the receipt of charity to be a burden, and who was rightfully justified in their feelings. Justification did little to mitigate the condemnation they received.

In the years following the U.S. decision to pursue military action in Afghanistan, there have been many charitable organizations dedicated to sending care-packages to troops serving far from home. In the early years, sending a box to “any service member” would get a package delivered to some random service member. Safety, security, and practicality have ended such deliveries. Now for such charitable deliveries to be received, an actual recipient’s name is required. Unfortunately, this means that organizations need a recipient, and it seems they are not worried about gaining the permission of the recipient before sending the care-package.

There are many reasons that the unsuspecting recipient might find it problematic to receive unsolicited gifts, but when their name is used by a charitable organization as the end point of 20, 30, 40 or more packages, there is little doubt that they would have a problem. The charity might envision a gleeful recipient acting as Santa as they hand out package after package to associates, but not all service members are in situations where they can do this.

Local, national, and international charities all seem to agree that random donations are problematic and not nearly the blessing that monetary funds provide. Sending unsolicited items and care-packages often cost time, energy, and money. The act of charity becomes the opposite – it becomes a burden.

Charity and gift-giving should not cause hardship or stress for the recipient. It is not just the thought that counts. The very basis for giving a gift is the rooted in a caring for another person, even a stranger. The joy of making a gift will never compare to knowing that gift is welcomed. Therefore, responsible gift-giving is paramount.

It Is Not a Joke

As many other people have stated, the joking banter of an adolescent and the bragging of a man nearing retirement age are not one and the same. However, maybe it is the same if the youth acts upon his banter, harasses young women, and goes unpunished. If society condones or simply does not condemn youthful actions such as these, then society will find that the youth can grow to be an old man who has spent his life preying on others.

Society, as a whole, is made up of smaller units, and whether the smaller unit is a high school or a workplace, there is always someone who reigns over the group. When that person has questionable morals or believes they are above the law, all too often there will be victims of the abuses of their power. Whether the offender is sixteen or sixty, when that individual possesses power or authority, it makes their victimization of others more difficult to halt.

Power and authority are often the main reasons victims compartmentalize and simply try to move on. Feeling a lack of power or feeling that the fight against the abuse will cause them more harm, many victims of harassment and assault decide to exit a bad situation before it gets worse. For some, immediate exit is not possible. The high school student, the wage earner, the person dependent on the financial support of the abuser – for them, the abuse and the victimization may go on for years before an exit is viable.

For many victims of harassment and abuse, their story remains buried and their burden is born in silence until the day when someone finally cries foul and multiple voices begin to join together in protest. Then maybe, just maybe, the injustice that has been done will be heard by society and the burden will no longer be born alone.

Sadly, in these times, the many of the society who did not encounter the terror of intimidation or humiliation of assault will cry out that because it did not happen to them, it could never have happened to any of the others.

While a majority of citizens are never the victim of crime, it does not equate that crime does not exist. For those who discredit the victims of crime, there is often a combined sense of guilt and superiority behind their criticisms. They may feel a sense of guilt as they question whether they looked the other way as the harassment or crime was being committed. Or they may feel superior because they believe own actions and choices prevented them from becoming victims.

This feeling of guilt can lead many to deny the victim’s claims rather than face their own role in the society that allows the abusive behavior. This notion of superiority can lead to a rather nasty conclusion – that a victim is weak and therefore deserves their fate. It is this line of thought that leads to the acceptance of abuse as simply part of the natural order of life. It is also what empowers the bully and the abuser to embolden their actions.

While there are many things people can do to prevent being a victim of crime, too often victimization is simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Terrible things happen to even the boldest and bravest of individuals. Even those most prepared for society’s battles can fall victim. Sometimes it is simply unavoidable and out of one’s control. However, we, as members of society, can control how we respond to the harassment, abuse, and crime that is too prevalent in our lives. We can look away, pretend it does not concern us, and even joke about it in an attempt to defuse our own discomfort. Or we can denounce it for what it is and shut it down before it can spread further.

By Their Works, They Will Be Judged

There are many interesting adjectives and phrases being tossed around during the 2016 election cycle. Some of them are quite familiar to the ones used in the past. During the 2012 and 2008 cycles, one phrase struck me as an odd criticism – too intellectual. To criticize a candidate for being too intellectual seems rather odd. The spread of anti-intellectualism has been effective. As we see in this current election cycle, it seems that many have forgotten what the words elitist, bigot, pandering, and patronizing mean. To infer that any politician is void of these traits is foolish. They all pander and patronize to some extent. They all belong to an elite group even as they claim to understand the common man. While not all will outwardly admit to a belief that the elite should rule, most will have risen to their places in society through the help of elitist organizations. Finally, few who walk this earth can truly claim to be without some form of bias, and while most will do their best to avoid bigotry and correct this human tendency, not all will.

Intellectualism was criticized and anti-intellectualism was embraced during the last eight years. Now it is elitism at the center of public criticism. While criticism is flung at one candidate for elitism, those using the criticism are clamoring to another elitist who panders to the base nature of man rather than a more elevated nature of man.

Evaluation of political candidates and political leaders is vital. Sometimes it will feel as if the choice is between the lesser of two evils. That is why the work they have done in the past must be weighed as much, if not more, than the promises they make. In the end, how a person treats their fellow man, and how they conduct their business is usually a better indicator than the promises they make or the slogans they use.

Prosperity through Diplomacy

The political climate swirling around the U.S. election cycle has had me pondering the importance of diplomacy, and the disregard so many have toward diplomacy.

Pithy History

As a young nation, the United States found itself in a conundrum. The desire to avoid the entanglements of European politics clashed with the desire for economic prosperity. Some early leaders, including Thomas Jefferson, believed that the plentiful natural resources of the Americas would remain in high demand by Europeans and would ensure that a predominately agrarian society would continue to prosper for decades, even centuries to come. Others were more doubtful and recognized that trade would mandate political interaction. While idealists would cleave to the notion that the demand for U.S. raw materials would force the nations of Europe to treat the new nation with respect and dignity, others rightfully worried that it would take strength to bring about international respect.

The United States would spend much of its first one hundred and fifty years debating how to be taken seriously as a world power while at the same…

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