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Category: Peace

This Bill Maher and Ben Affleck Exchange Is Incredibly Important For Liberals and Conservatives

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Let me first just say that I’m not sure if keeping score on something like this is good for anyone… But Bill had a strong point to make, but so did Ben actually.

Wow… I love a good debate, and this really was a huge debate to watch. On one side you have the liberal force of “tolerance” so that we don’t lump groups in a distortion of their true character (represented by Mr. Affleck), and on the other side we have the liberal cornerstone of an activism that has zero tolerance for any social and economic oppression subjugated by any ideology (represented by Mr. Maher). This article sums up a good portion of how I feel, but I think there is more to it. I think that what Bill was saying is incredibly important, and I think that what Ben was saying is crucial to actually solving the problem. Bill was pointing out that renouncing your faith should not be cause for being put to death, which it is perceived to be for many people. He quoted that something like 90% of Egyptians felt that leaving Islam should result in capital punishment, and I thought I’d heard the same about Saudi Arabia. That is astounding to me, and assuming that the polling is correct I am left terrified of how we might bridge the divide in our cultures.

Ben however, was taking a firm stance that you can’t just throw entire regions and cultures out like this – which I find admirable in terms of how we may ever have to address this problem. Where I find myself frustrated on this front is the double standard between the Middle East and the Heartland of America. Liberals like Ben (and maybe not him more specifically) almost predictably take this stance of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater on people and their cultures, until it comes to the Christian coalition (not the necessarily the actual organization with that name) of people across this country who are reamed constantly by the media for having faith. Some groups and individuals who call themselves Christians probably deserve some harsh feedback, but we don’t usually hear this same kind of nuanced approach with Christianity in America.

If someone wants to go after religion they don’t necessarily hurt my feelings – society needs people like that so you don’t end up with a population that thinks we should kill people who don’t believe in what we believe in and can’t prove. BUT, if you are going to do it you should remain consistent, and nuanced in your value judgements of these differing groups and their ideas. I wish Bill wouldn’t be so willing to throw people out like he does, and I wish Ben would clarify his standard, as well as recognize that what Bill was saying is scary. If those poll numbers don’t scare you then you must not be paying attention…

I will actually be taking a trip in November with my good buddy Gavin to Egypt, and I just want to say that I can’t wait to meet these people who are often villainized by the media – and who like me don’t have the world figured out yet. I’m sure we could come up with some astounding polling from the United States over the last century, so to side with Ben for a second I hope that we can work on finding our common ground so that maybe we can work on exchanging our best ideas, and not just harp on our differences.

So, here is the exchange, and below is a very interesting article about the whole thing. Please feel free to give me your feedback:

And due to neither of these men being representatives of Islam I figured we’d throw in this Reza Aslan interview that would most support Ben’s thinking for before you read an article about why Bill is right:

The Daily Beast
 

Bill Maher 1, Ben Affleck 0

The Real Time host’s spat with the Gone Girl star gets to the heart of a major and longtime problem within contemporary Western liberalism

Every once in a great while, something happens on television that you know while you’re watching it: Well, this is unusual. Those old enough to know what I’m talking about when I say “Al Campanis”  will remember that that was one of your more extreme cases. The exchange between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck on last Friday’s Real Time wasn’t a Campanis moment, but I knew instantly—watching it in, well, real time, as it were—that this was going to spark discussion,  as indeed it has.

In case you missed it, the two—both committed and thoughtful liberals—got into it on the question of whether Western liberals can or should criticize Islam. Mentioning freedom of speech and equal rights, Maher said: “These are liberal principles that liberals applaud for, but then when you say in the Muslim world, this is what’s lacking, then they get upset.” Sam Harris, the atheist author, agreed with Maher and said, “The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of Islamophobia where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people. That is intellectually ridiculous.” Affleck, as if on cue, challenged Harris: “Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam?” And then: “So you’re saying that Islamophobia is not a real thing?” Right after, Affleck said that such criticisms of Islam were “gross” and “racist” and “like saying [to Maher] ‘you’re a shifty Jew.’”

It was cracking good TV, but it was more—it hit home because they were describing one of the most important debates within liberalism of the last…10 years certainly, as pertains to Islam, but 40 or 50 years as relates to arguments between the developed and the developing world, and close to a century when it comes to discussions of how culture should affect our understanding of universal, or as some would have it “universal,” principles. Reluctance to criticize the failures of other cultures has been a problem within contemporary liberalism, with negative consequences I’ll go into below. So this liberal is firmly on Maher’s side, even as I recognize that his rendering is something of a caricature.

Here’s some quick history for you. First, the Enlightenment happened, and humankind developed the idea of universal rights. ’Round about the 1920s, some scholars in the then-newish field of cultural anthropology started to argue that all rights, or at least values, were not universal, and that we (the West) should be careful about imposing our values on societies with traditions and customs so removed from our own.

A big moment here came with the debate over the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which asserted the universalist position without apology and which was pushed mostly by mainstream political liberals (Eleanor Roosevelt most notably). There were many critiques of the declaration from what we would today call “the left,” but those voices had little juice in those days, and when the UN adopted the declaration, it was a great victory for liberalism.

Fade in, fade out. Then came the anti-colonialist uprisings of the 1950s, Frantz Fanon, postmodern political theory, Vietnam, the Israeli occupation, the intifada, et cetera et cetera. All of these and many other kindred events seeped into the liberal bloodstream, still rich in universalist cells but now also coursing with the competing cells of cultural relativism (invariably a pejorative these days, although it wasn’t always).

And so, yes, we have seen in recent years from liberalism, or at least from some liberals (a crucial distinction, in fact), an unwillingness to criticize the reactionary aspects or expressions of other cultures, expressions that these liberals would have no hesitation whatsover in criticizing if they were exhibited by, say, Southern white Christians.

The most obvious example that comes to mind is that of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Muslim-African-Dutch-and-finally-American feminist intellectual. She of course is famous, now mostly for some of her more incendiary comments, but recall how she first became so: She and her collaborator, Theo van Gogh, had made a film critical of the oppression of women in the Muslim world. He was murdered, and she received death threats. She fled to the United States.

Now, here was a key moment: When she came to America in 2006, where was Hirsi Ali going to plant her flag? As she tells the story in her book Nomad, she met with liberal and conservative outfits. She says the liberal ones were “tentative” in their support for her and her ideas, but the conservative American Enterprise Institute embraced her totally, even though on certain issues (like abortion rights) she’s no conservative.

Hirsi Ali, of course, has subsequently gone on to say, quite controversially, that not just radical Islam but “Islam, period” must be “defeated.” But here’s the question: Before she started talking like that, why was she unable to find a home within American liberalism? It should be, and should have been, a core part of the mission of liberalism to support secular humanists and small-d democrats from all over the world, but from the Muslim world in particular. Most of these people are themselves liberals by Western standards, and they are desperate for the United States to do what it can to oppose the theocracies and autocracies under which they’re forced to live.

Maher, and certainly conservative critics, overstate the extent to which liberals fail to make common cause with such folks. Christian evangelicals who do work on, say, genital mutilation (which Hirsi Ali suffered) get a lot more attention in the media, because it’s more “interesting” that white conservatives give a crap about something happening to nonwhite women halfway across the world. But as the writer Michelle Goldberg pointed out in a review of Hirsi Ali’s Nomad for the journal I edit, Democracy, numerous women’s organizations and feminist groups do work to advance women’s rights in the Muslim world.

Goldberg wrote: “A few years ago, I visited Tasaru Ntomonok, which is the kind of place Hirsi Ali would probably love—it’s a Kenyan shelter that houses and educates girls fleeing female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Among its supporters are the high profile feminist Eve Ensler, the feminist NGO Equality Now, and the United Nations Population Fund, a bête noire of many conservatives. There are similar grassroots organizations working toward women’s liberation all over the world.”

Even so, Maher has identified a problem within Western liberalism today. Debates about multiculturalism are appropriate to a later stage of development of the infrastructure of rights and liberties than one finds in some other parts of the world. That infrastructure has existed in Western countries for a century, and it is the very fact that it was so solidly entrenched that opened up the space for us to start having debates about multiculturalism in the 1970s and ’80s.

But in much of the Arab and Muslim world, that infrastructure barely exists. So—and how’s this for a paradox?—to insist that our Western standards that call for multiculturalist values should be applied to countries that haven’t yet fully developed the basic rights infrastructure constitutes its own kind of imposition of our values onto them. A liberated woman or a gay man who lives in a country where being either of those things is at best unaccepted and at worst illegal doesn’t need multiculturalism. They’re desperate for a little universalism, and we Western liberals need to pay more attention to this.

via Bill Maher 1, Ben Affleck 0 – The Daily Beast.

Ground Zero: Syria – VICE (WARNING: Very Graphic)

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Feel free to skip ahead and not read all of my thoughts if you don’t have that much time, the video is way more important. But WARNING, it is very graphic.

I generally get really excited when I start hearing people, and seeing people talk about current events. However, this time around in regards to Syria it has kind of broken my heart. It’s rather bizarre to see what it takes to get people interested, however they are now interested and it’s time to pay attention.

I hate war. I really hate war. Having believed in God pretty much my entire life I always try to see other people as an extension of myself, and I don’t want them to die, especially in the midst of hatred and violence. Part of that frame of mind has led me to not get so hung up on land borders, or social groups. One of the biggest talking points on whether or not we should go into Syria has been whether or not it’s in our nation’s best interest. I think that this standard misses the mark by quite a bit. The standard should be “is their oppression, and do we have evidence that we can help?”. In the past when we have tried to help it seems that we have often ended with an enraged population, at home and abroad, that then blames us for all of their problems.

I don’t want the United States to be the police of the world, we don’t need to be in charge of being everyone’s moral authority. However, being supportive of those who are oppressed and being brutally murdered is not simply being the police of the world. For all those who want us to be an isolationist country the only way that I can find that to be a real noble cause is if they somehow think that by example or through accumulated resources we will someday be able to help others in need. Maybe this would be comparable to securing your own oxygen mask before you get the mask for the child next you on the airplane, I’ve used this example before. If being isolationist is only for our own benefit, then I hope all with that belief system never find themselves at the end of the barrel of a gun of an oppressor with only themselves to lend a hand.

Syria is different from Iraq in multiple ways: chemical weapons were used in Iraq 15 years before our war started there, chemical weapons are being used now in Syria. Of course there’s still the debate of justice and punishing those who have hurt others in the past, but we need to have a conversation about eminent threats to mankind right now. I don’t want to go to war, but if there are actions that we can take to help the people in this video I think they need to be strongly considered. Forget about the politics, rhetoric, teamsmanship, tribalism, I don’t care about that. These are people… If you don’t care about them something is wrong with you. And if in this discussion your primary goal is to find out who is wrong in America you’re missing the mark. Before you come to an absolute decision on what is right and wrong in this situation please research all of the options. I know this is an unattainable quest, as we don’t have all the information, and we won’t have all of it. But please don’t make up your mind so flippantly, we’re talking about our brothers and sisters in humanity.

I’ll finish with this, I am no military mastermind but I don’t think that we should put troops on the ground. It seems as if we aren’t going to anyways. I also don’t think that we should arm either side, and of course the only side here that we would arm potentially is the rebels, or the “Free Syrian Army”. When we’ve armed groups in the past it is come back to bite us, and even if they are on the side of lesser evil the rebels still have extremists, just look at the video of the guy eating the Syrian soldiers heart. I think that if we are going to do some isolated strikes on military bases that are attacking their people I might be open to that, but boy does that make me uneasy… What will the repercussions be? In our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drone strikes have multiplied Terrorist responses against our troops by 10 times… This doesn’t seem to be helping anybody. I understand that I can’t know the military strategy as it would be silly to make it public, but for me to support any action I would need to know that it is founded in some sort of a logical approach that will not hurt civilians, as they will turn against us, and actually prevent Assad from hurting his people as soon as possible.

WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC

“Oh, the places we’ll go!” – Burning Man Festival

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I have heard about the Burning Man festival for a long time. My cousin is actually there right now, and I’m very jealous. I don’t attend a lot of live music shows, but I love big crowds and I love music. This video is a couple of years old, but it’s still one of my all-time favorites. I hope you enjoy it too 🙂

Pope Benedict XVI Resignation – Mea Maxima Culpa (HBO) – and Eckart Tolle on Children

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With the recent resignation of Pope Benedict XVI being announced, and hearing that it has been about 600 years since a Pope resigned (for political reasons), and 719 years since they did so willingly, this is obviously big news… Needless to say I thought it would be worthwhile to spend my night catching up on what seems to be happening. I have heard many people talk about this Pope being one of the more controversial Popes in some time due to his connections with the nondisclosure policy of the church about molesting of children around the world, but not being Catholic I haven’t really taken it upon myself to learn as much as I might otherwise. One of my dear friends informed me that he had just finished the new documentary on HBO about the Catholic Church, and that it was pretty heavy… I decided that I couldn’t hear that and not find out what he was talking about.

So a few minutes ago I just finished watching the documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (HBO Documentary), and it compelled me to look up an old quote from the book A New Earth, by Eckart Tolle. I have heard people say many times in my life that it’s funny to look at children and think about them just being little people, or little adults. I prefer however to do the opposite and consider the vastness of human incapabilities and consider all people to be on a spectrum of adolescence.

On a spiritual level I don’t see all things as Eckart Tolle does, but I do have profound respect for him as a thinker, and a person of transparency. As I was watching Mea Maxima Culpa I couldn’t help but think about how people seem to do very toxic things when they aren’t in environments that encourage or require transparency. And while transparency alone isn’t the cure to people doing bad things, we could still do terrible things, however the cleansing value of ridding one’s self of stagnation in the mind due to secrets and pain is much stronger than we might realize.

The following is a quote from the book “A New Earth” by Tolle, and I put this quote in my phone a long time ago for moving me to consider my respect for my brothers and sisters of all ages:

“In the human deminsion you are unquestionably superior to your child. You are bigger, stronger, know more, can do more. if the dimension is all you know, you will feel superior to your child, if only unconciously. And you will make your child feel inferior, if only unconsciously. There’s no equality between you and your child because there is only form in your relationship, and in form you are of course not equal. You may love your child, but your love will be human only, and that is to say; conditional, possessive, intermittent. Only beyond form, in being, are you equal. And only when you find the formless dimension in yourself can there be true love in that relationship. The presence that you are, the timeless I am, recognizes it’s self in another. And the other, the child in this case, feels loved, that is to say ‘recognized.’. To love is to recognize yourself in another.” – Eckart Tolle (41:50 into the audio book “A New Earth”)

I find this to be a very profound statement, and I recommend considering it’s meaning if you plan to watch the movie Mea Maxima Culpa. Anything in life that is worth fighting for is worth the pain that comes from those fights. If you are a devout Catholic, or Christian in general I think that watching this will maybe hurt your feelings some, but it will also re-instill the true tenants of what it means to be a part of a church. I recommend watching this no matter what you believe, but if it hurts your feelings I think you should examine what is causing you pain about this, and face it. The film is somewhat critical of then Cardinal Ratzinger (currently Pope Benedict XVI). Also, do remember that this is a trailer, and there is much more to the film.

I know that there are some websites where you can watch this film for free (possibly here), but just look online, it’s worth the search in my opinion. Also, if you watch the movie and want to watch something similar I know that Deliver Us from Evil (2006) tells a similar story, and I don’t encourage this begrudgingly, I simply think that we need to have open conversations about things this pervasive and heinous. If you are catholic and offended please let me know, I’d be very open to hearing more.

I did find this resignation and the release of this film coinciding so closely to be very odd, and the conspiracy theorist in my wants to know more, but I am adamant about not jumping to conclusions, as easy as it may be to do so. Please let me know if you have anything more to offer on all of this.

Paul McCartney – Great Day

Paul McCartney – Great Day.

I heard this on a Chase credit card comercial about 100 times before I decided that I just couldn’t stop hearing it… This first happened for me with the Beatles when I was 14 years old and I heard “Hey Jude” on an infomercial and didn’t stop playing it for about 3 years. I am now experiencing the same feeling as far, as I can tell, with this song.

I love songs that have a somewhat depressed tune and an optimistic turn in lyrics and melody… I guess that’s just part of perspective that I have on my life, and I love it. I love my life, is that odd to hear me say? I feel fine with it 🙂 I hope that you enjoy it too.

The First Presidential Debate of 2012 (Complete) Romney vs.Obama – 10/3/2012 University of Denver

Presidential Debate 2012 (Complete) Romney vs.Obama – 10/3/2012 – Elections 2012.

Here is the full debate, and I’m going to put my quick thoughts below (so that I don’t spoil anything if you want to make up your own mind), but I’ll post some more thorough thoughts later.

Full Debate

OK, so far all of the analysis that I’ve heard tonight is that people feel that Mitt Romney got the best of this debate. On a personal note I don’t necessarily agree, but I understand how that might be true when speaking about the electorate. I think that this is going to be surprising to many because of the views that people have about these 2 people and their person-ability (and on that note I think that Obama looked much more comfortable but that Mitt looked more engaged, as he looked the President in the face almost the entire time that he wasn’t speaking). However, this isn’t all that surprising as this debate was about domestic issues (aka: The Economy), and considering the fact that this debate was almost entirely about President Obama’s record (because the voters know at least something about it), and the roles will likely flip in the coming debate (particularly in the foreign policy debate).

I think that the topics that we will likely hear more about over the coming days will be much of the same:

  • Medicare – Romney supports the voucher approach, and Obama doesn’t
  • Taxes – they both need to define more clearly what they want on personal and corporate rates
  • Military – (this may be wishful thinking) They didn’t talk too much about this, and it mostly seemed like a preview of the Foreign Policy debate when they did

I would love to hear more specifics about each of these things however. I want to hear about Romney’s plans to close loopholes, but I’m in suport of that. And I want to hear Obama defend the Affordable Care Act, as it still seems mysterious in a lot of ways (although I support so much of it), and I want to hear them both define their approach their plans for foreign policy from this point forward (even though I feel like I understand the President’s approach so far). I would also appreciate a more cooperative conversation about regulation, but I think that’s pretty wishful thinking.

I took some notes, and I’m going to watch this video again, and consolidate my notes so I can make a few more observations about what took place tonight. Please feel free to let me know what you thought about this debate if you have an opinion, I would love to hear from you.

-Grady

Rising To The Occasion (One Flight’s Sweet Story From 9/11)

My sister emailed me this story, and I think it is a great depiction of how a lit of us felt during that very uncertain time… How we bottle this and spread it around is the real question, but maybe it’s just by sharing stories like this.

Here is an amazing story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written following 9-11:

“On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic .
All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport.
Advise your destination.”

“No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander , New Foundland.
He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately–no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.

“While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.

“We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander , New Foundland to have it checked out.

“We promised to give more information after landing in Gander . There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander . Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM!
…. that’s 11:00 AM EST.

“There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the U.S. After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.” Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the U.S. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.

“The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with
53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were U.S. commercial jets.

“Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC. People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

“Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm. We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

“We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning. Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.

” Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing. And they were true to their word. Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

“About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

“After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander ! We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the U.S. airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

“We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

“Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.

“Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days. What we found out was incredible.

” Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

“ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.” Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together.
All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.

“Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.

“Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.
Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.
“Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.
It was absolutely incredible.

“When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name.
They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked li ke a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.
Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

“And then a very unusual thing happened. One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.
As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.

“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a far away place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them. It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”

“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good and Godly people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

“God Bless America …and the Canadians.”

Trap Hazardly

I have never gone hunting (minus fishing), but am I weird for finding this cruel?… I’ve always loved animals, and I’ve tried to remain openminded to the idea of hunting as a necessity, but I just can’t understand why causing this kind of suffering holds some kind of virtue… I’m sure this will make a lot of my friends mad at me for speaking against hunting, but it’s really just the idea of this kind of hunting – can we at least agree that something like this probably shouldn’t happen?… I’m just curious. I just can’t help but see a puppy dog, which is the same kind of empathy I feel when I see pretty much any animal.

Don’t Fund the Wolf Massacre States.

It’s Good To Be King

In South Africa:

British wildlife expert Alex Larenty, calms a lion, Jamu, with gentle foot-rubs.

via Truth Beckons.

By What Authority Are You Worried?

We live in a very complex world, in trivial times, and I am constantly observing people who find it very important to let others know just how hard of a time they are having… I have been guilty of this from time to time for multiple reasons. I don’t want people to think that: I’m lazy, I don’t understand struggle, I’m ungrateful, etc. Perpetual worry like this seems like a yawn to me, it’s incredibly contagious… And being worried has plenty of health implications (and outside of surviving I don’t think that any of them have shown to be anything but unhealthy). Why do we struggle to enjoy our time alive? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do have a lot confidence that finding reasons to minimize your worries can be invaluably good for you in many ways.

I’m not exactly a Unitarian, and I mean no disrespect to anyone who is by saying that I’m not, but virtually any religion that you will find (especially mainstream) speak specifically about not worrying… If you aren’t religious at all I would love to hear what you think about worry (as one of my favorite comedy bits is from Bill Maher talking about how natural worry is, and it’s hard for me to disagree, but in the end I do think that minimizing worry is best). I grew up in a Christian home and maybe the most quoted scripture in my home was this:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Philipians 4: 6-7 New Living Translation

From everything that I’ve come to understand with all of my friends of differing faiths I am continually met with people who seem to know this same message about being grateful for what I have, and valuing my time. I don’t want to be to “preachy” by any means, but I do want to ask the question, what do you worry about that you should let go of? Well you might want to take a minute and close your eyes and listen to this song while you let go of a few things.

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