Sunday, June 17, 2018

A response to Trumps' zero-tolerance immigration policy

Below is a response to the recent zero-tolerance immigration policy which I have sent to congressional and Senate leaders and news outlets.

Image result for zero-tolerance immigration policy

 There is no question in the most basic ethical thinker sees a big problem with Trump’s zero-tolerance policy rolled out last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary K. Nielsen, and that it is a stark example of the totalitarian style injustice. Sessions, a so-called “christian”, poorly (ignorantly?) cited St Paul in one of the most misunderstood sections of his letter to the Romans, missing the [ancient] contextual meaning conveyed regarding the “law of love”.  It’s a shame we have fundamentalist behavior in the Trump administration (e.g., based in fear, rigid interpretation, the need of the law of one’s country to lend legitimacy to one’s religious beliefs, belief (misinformed) trumps action—this all makes it easy for those in authority to abuse). 

What Session and others are unable to see (having no ears?) is, if indeed they (Trump, Sessions, etc,) are part of an “authority . . . established by God”, then they have a responsibility to be “servant[s] of God for your [our] good”.  Obviously this is not the case, since the concept of Eastern “good” includes the spirit of hospitality and the universal care of  “the poor, the fatherless and widows” contained in the ethical teaching of Judeo-Christian tradition. In this case, they are allowing the opposite, separating children from their parents. They should recall the classic parable of the “Good Samaritan.”

It is also important to note (if one is to use/follow St. Paul’s teaching in the letter to the Romans) the whole book pivots on chanter 12, verses 1-2.  It may do us all well to recall that the time of St. Paul’s writing was a critical time (eschatological time, meaning justice needs restored). So when the civic and governing authorities go against one’s Christian, religious, or otherwise social ethic and conscience, history teaches us to have public discussion, be informed, and if necessary, take action that seeks to fulfill the law of love using the “weapons of light.”

If anything, St. Paul’s letter puts the government on notice! Furthermore, since Trump has been in office, it would seem that the US is becoming demoted in terms of the lens of scriptural reasoning. They should beware.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Clemency of Black Men: Abnormalizing the Normal

“We’re still dealing with slavery in the form of mass incarceration. 
We’re not on a plantation but in a prison.” 
- Fulton Leroy Washington

F. L. Washington, Emancipation Proclamation 2014

Fulton Washington’s story highlights a "normal" in American society, the incarceration of black fathers, a derivative of slavery of the black man.  Here I simply provide a window into the media of a man whose life sentenced was transferred as part of President B. Obama's Clemency Initiative of 2014. Under this new initiative the DOJ invited petitions for commutation of sentence from nonviolent offenders who, among other criteria, likely would have received substantially lower sentences if convicted of the same offenses today. As of January 19, 2017, the President granted commutation of sentence to a total of 1,715 individuals.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Law without Science is Injustice in a Society of Unreflected Anxiety

[For] Justice must always question itself, just as society can exist only by means of the work it does on itself and on its institutions. - Michel Foucault, in Liberation (1991)

The following is an example of poor and hollow "research" by the legal system documented by The New York Times in "The 'Frightening' Myth about Sex Offenders".

The modern legal framework of harsh standing laws targeting sex-offenders (sex-offender registry and other matters imposed of sex-offenders) is justified on an erroneous recidivism rate ("frightening and high" cited by the Supreme Court) that is twenty times greater than the current plethora of peer and evidenced-based research.

This examples provokes the question: what other legal decisions and laws are decided on public perceptions of fear and pop, pseudo-science and remain in great disparity with the current truth--the empirical, scientific, actuarial truth?

Val Jonas, a Florida civil rights attorney, who appears in the New York Times Op-Doc video, details the false and misleading information upon which the US Supreme Court based landmark decisions about sex-offender punishment. Her question, "What kind of measures do you take to secure yourself against these risks and at what cost to your society and your values as a society?"

My Disclaimer: This brief example is designed to challenge weak minds and weak society, the kind of "sense certainty" that drives fear and anxiety and feeds public perceptions, absent reason that is capable of approaching the complexity of an important issue at hand. In this example, the subject (law and society) do not in their development of laws seem to really know the object (the sex-offender) via real science.

“Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!” - Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra,  2.29 .

The disparity in this example is a difference between
 - The criminal act being punished and the criminal identity being punished
 - Punishment occurs at one concentrated point (justice with the offering of reform--empowering tretment) and punishment that happens in multiple nodes (unending and shaming)

Let us have compassion for those under chastisement. Alas, who are we ourselves? Who am I and who are you? Whence do we come and is it quite certain that we did nothing before we were born? This earth is not without some resemblance to a gaol [jail]. Who knows but that man is a victim of divine justice? Look closely at life. It is so constituted that one senses punishment everywhere.”
- Victor Hugo,  Les Misérables,  4.7.1 (1862)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A litany of the 'BS' against the Perpetrators: Republicans and NRA

Follow the Yellow in “How Have Your Members Of Congress Voted On Gun Bills?”

This is Virginia; go to article link below for your state. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

James Baldwin Speaks on this Great Day

J Baldwin and M L King
I have been reading James Baldwin during the last several weeks, reading Nobody Knows my Name and The Fire Next time.  Since the 60’s Baldwin has been the most recognizable African-American writer in the U.S. and the de facto spokesperson and leading literary voice for the Civil Right Movement. Baldwin was a complex person who has and continues to challenge the individual to know oneself. In her 1963 thesis, Eliza Young summarized,
[T]o find and to know oneself whether on a personal or social or religious level is not simply a problem among Negroes (though they so drastically need it), but a problem for white Americans and to an extent for Europeans.[1]  
This prophetic message is heard in “Down at the Cross” when Baldwin wrote,
To accept one’s past—one’s history . . . is learning to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought. How can the American Negro’s past be used? [I add the white person too] The unprecedented price demanded . . . is the transcendence of the realities of color, of nations, and of altars.[2]
Received from reading Baldwin are his deepest insights as a writer and a black man of his day--his  unique, awareness of the psyche, the cultural challenges with integration, the "great American illusion", and the ultimate challenge and need of human beings for self-examination where there is a . . .
. . . collision between's one's image of oneself and what one actually is is always very painful and there are two things you can do about it, you can meet the collision head-on and try and become what you really are or you can retreat and try to remain what you thought you were, which is a fantasy, in which you will certainly perish. [Moreover,] I didn’t meet anyone in the world who didn’t suffer from the very same affliction that all the people I have fled from suffered from and that was that they didn’t know who they were.[3]
For me and we on this great day, recall the cause and dream of Martin Luther King, and allow James Baldwin spur us on to tackle the ultimate human challenge.
Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death—ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us. But white Americans do not believe in death, and this is why the darkness of my skin so intimidates them.[4]

[1] Eliza Marcella Young, “The Search for Identity in the Works of James Baldwin”, MA Thesis, Atlanta University, 1967, 53.
[2] James Baldwin: Collected Essays Ed. Toni Morrison. “Down at the Cross” of The Fire Next Time. New York: The Library of America, 1998, 333.
[3] _________, Nobody Knows my Name (first published in 1954) Paperback, Vintage, 1992.
[4] Collected Essays, 339. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Beholden by Forces and Shapes that Form a Life

I am grateful for a growing circle of influences within the inner river of life which include narrative, poetry, theories, schemas and manners of learning and organizing knowledge such as religious,
Möbius strip
science and philosophical readings—material broadening my vision to more elusive territory while calling me to learn, challenging my current orientation with respect to awareness, assumptions—love, hope . . .

Psalm 5

Lord of dimensions and the dimensionless,
Wave and particle, all and none,

Who lets us measure the wounded atom,
Who lets us doubt all measurement,

When in this world we betray you
Let us be faithful in another.

Mark Jarman, “Five Psalms” from To the Green Man. Copyright © 2004 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Lies We Tell Ourselves: Exposing Inconvenient Truths and Devalued Reality of the Military Complex

Major Danny Sjursen, a U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point exposes the primary societal lies the illogically sustain the American industrial-military complex and justify perpetual war.

"War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today."  - President John F Kennedy