Rambling Prose...

Rambling Prose...
.Let's take a walk together.....

Monday, November 4, 2013

WHAT DO I BELIEVE NOW Post #4

  This is my fourth post in the series: 
    What Do I Believe Now?
   


                                 
  WAR ACHIEVES NOTHING!  PEACE IS THE WAY!


My title was inspired by a saying from Mahatma Gandhi:  
"There is no way to Peace.  Peace is the Way!" 

 Deepak Chopra, the bestselling spiritual author, was inspired by Gandhi's saying, and in 2005 he wrote the book "Peace Is The Way...Bringing War and Violence to an End."  Both Gandhi and Chopra have influenced my thinking regarding this subject, along with many others such as The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Wayne Dyer,etc., and interestingly, Carl Sandburg who once wrote..."Someday there will be a war and no one will come!"

  My father had made the military a "career"...first as a solider in World War II, and later enlisting in the United States Air Force in 1947, and eventually retiring as a Chief Master Sargent in 1965.
I served in the USAF from 1958 to 1962, received an Honorable Discharge, and finished my BA and MA on the "GI Bill of Rights."
Dad was certainly not a "war hawk", and my politics back then were decidedly moderate.  

It wasn't until later in life that my beliefs about peace and the futility of war evolved.  While I believed that World War II was "necessary"for the protection of our country, wars and major military operations since that time have "generally"not been justified. 

The Korean Conflict (1950-'53), Bay of Pigs invasion (Cuba 1961), Vietnam War (1961-'73), invasions of the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama (1965-1989),  the Gulf Wars of 1991, military actions in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo (1993-1999), Iraq (2003-2010  ) and Afghanistan (2001 to the present), have been bloodstained chronicles of American history that many of us would like to forget. Over seven decades of wars and military actions have had an adverse affect on our national psyche, and lead to the extermination of millions of people.

The Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War were waged in order to "stop the spread of Communism.  Korea was the first armed conflict of the "Cold War," and essentially ended in a draw.

Vietnam was the longest conflict the U.S ever fought (until Afghanistan), and the first war lost by the United States.  Popular opposition to the war had much to do with its ending in 1973. 

Invasions of the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama...and later, Somalia and Haiti, were "justified" as necessary to protect America "interests" by over-throwing the current governments and replacing them with one "friendly to the United States."

The Gulf War actions were ostensibly to protect Kuwait from an invasion by Iraq, but most historians acknowledge that we were primarily protecting our oil interests.

U.S. and NATO air strikes on Bosnia in 1994-'95 were carried out to prevent "ethnic cleansing".  And in 1999, U.S.-led NATO units bombed Serbian forces in Kosovo, who were killing the ethnic Albanian population.  ( These two actions by the United States and NATO were justified under the circumstances.)

America invaded Afghanistan in 2001.  It was justified as we believed the Taliban government was harboring Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terrorist group that was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the United States.  We never found bin Laden (but killed him later in Pakistan), and the al-Qaeda groups dispersed to other areas of the world.  We are still fighting in Afghanistan as I write this blog.  A majority of Americans feel that we should have withdrawn our forces years ago.  People continue to die everyday!

America invaded Iraq in March 2003, and we were told by the George Bush administration that Saddam Hussein had "weapons of mass destruction", and he was a current threat to the United States.  Both of these statements were lies!  American troops withdrew from Iraq on August 18, 2010.  American troop deaths: over 4,500; wounded: in excess of 32,000!  The Iraq war was unnecessary and costly.  "Faulty intelligence manipulated for ideological reasons..."produced this horrible outcome!


All of these military conflicts, with few exceptions, have accomplished little or nothing of real substance.  

Korea:  Since 1953, American troops have been helping the South Koreans, deter aggression from Communist North Korea.

Vietnam:  After loosing this war to North Vietnam in 1973, we are now trading partners with them and Vietnam has been unified as a Communist nation.

Gulf Wars:  Were inconclusive, and eventually lead to the Iraq War in 2003.

Afghanistan:  The longest war in American history appears to be coming to an end.  However, as before the war, the Taliban will undoubtedly run the government once U.S. and allied forces leave in 2014.

Iraq:  The U.S. was forced to leave the country in 2010.  By most accounts, Iraq's fragile government can't govern their nation, and incidents of violence occur daily.




So I return to my original premise....War Achieves Nothing!  

History is replete with facts that back up this truism.  However, you need to read accounts that are unbiased, not censored, and not edited by writers interested in slanting or reinterpreting history.  

Wars have interesting endings.  Once, not long ago, we were told that the Germans, Italians, and Japanese were our enemies. Now they are all our friends.  (Governments had to make them our enemies so we would kill them!)  Communism was evil and the Cold War was a nuclear game of "chicken" between us and the USSR.  The Berlin Wall came down along with the myth that Communism was the wave of the future.  Now the Russians are "almost" friends, we trade with Vietnam, the Chinese are undergoing a "capitalist make-over",and some day, off in the future, the Middle Eastern countries will not hate us...as they do today! (Just even money on this bet for now!)

Is Peace the Way?  For me, and increasing numbers of people in the World. the only answer is Peace!  Most of us have come to realize that wars don't resolve the underlying issues that cause governments to fight other nations.  Diplomacy should be the first step, not the last!  




















Till next time....


  

Friday, August 9, 2013

WHAT DO I BELIEVE NOW...Post#3



In this current series of posts, I'm continuing with What Do I Believe Now?

 PEOPLE ARE BASICALLY GOOD!

 As I look back over my Life, I'm trying to recall when I first had this belief.  Was it all the times that my parents told me they loved me? (Did I assume that all people were good like them?)  Was it when I felt protected and secure in my family?  (Were not most families like mine?.)  Was it the innocence of my childhood, surrounded by good friends?  (With friends like that, people must be the same.)  Was it during my early school days, when each day was generally a pleasant memory?  (Life was so simple and wonderful back then.)  All of these experiences probably laid the foundation for my belief that people are good.  

For those of you who had to overcome challenges in a less than perfect childhood, you probably believe that my early life was idyllic.  It probably was in some ways.  But I don't believe it was unique.  Growing up in the late 40's and early 50's in Orange County, California....before the crowds, the smog, gangs, urban sprawl, and the drug culture....was almost a fabled existence!  (While my father was fighting in World War II, my mother and I lived with my grandparents in Santa Ana.  When he was discharged, we moved to Newport Beach.  How bad is that for a 8 year old boy....sun filled days, barefoot, and always swimming.  Life was truly a Beach!)

But, back to the subject.  Like all of us, life has thrown me some challenges.  But through it all, my belief in the goodness of people hasn't been diminished.  A 30 year career as a Probation Officer, working with juveniles and felons, hasn't changed my mind.  During my life time.... World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, The Gulf Wars, Iraq, and now Afghanistan...with all of their horror, inhumanity, and suffering, have not altered my view of people.  Read the history of these conflicts, and you'll find numerous incidents of kindness, even between the combatants.  People, with rare exceptions,  are not "wired" to kill.   

Examples of the basic goodness of people abound.  Every day, whether on the internet, TV, newspapers, or through personal experience, we can find accounts that support this belief.  Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to ignore all the "negative stuff,"and seek out the "good news."  I find that I read the good if I expect to find it!  (Like everything else, it's your attitude.)

I'm sure that by now you are convinced that I'm a "pollyanna."  No I'm not....I am an optimist!  It is a lot easier than being pessimistic or cynical.  While I'm far from perfect, I do try to "walk what I talk."  ( I'm not quite batting 500 yet.)

  


  
Well...I hope I've persuaded a few of you that People Are Basically Good.  If I've changed one mind, that fulfills my Purpose in Life:  To contribute...in some way...to making things better!






Looking forward to your comments about this post, or anything that's on your mind.


Let's have a conversation....

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

WHAT DO I BELIEVE NOW.... Post #2

This is my 2nd post in the current series....What Do I Believe Now.  Please read my first post (August 4, 2012) for background on this subject.

Today, I'm writing on the importance of having a Purpose in life.  When I refer to a Purpose, I'm not talking just about a goal, or an ambition, or a plan.   It's much more.  



The Japanese call it Ikigai (eek-y-guy), which means a "Reason for Being," or it is also defined as "the reason for which you wake up in the morning."  I like both of these definitions.  Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an Ikigai.  Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self.  Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one's Ikigai brings satisfaction and real meaning to life.  Further, people with a strong sense of purpose have boosted immune systems, lower stress hormones, and are better able to deal with the difficulties that life throws their way.  ( I can "get behind that!")










 We all have probably had a number of  "purposes" down through the years.  I would suggest that they were more correctly goals and ambitions.  If you were like me, I was too busy working, raising a family, and trying to stay ahead economically, to give much serious thought to my Purpose.  I had no idea what my "reason for being" looked like, and the "reason I woke up in the morning", was to do what I had been doing all the other mornings...commuting to work, doing my 9-5, being with my family, watching TV, putting kids to bed, and getting ready to do it all over again in the morning. (Sounds awful...but I'm engaging in hyperbole!" My life in general was fine.)

But I digress...back to a Purpose in Life.  Excuse my taking some personal literary license by writing about my Ikigai.  (Perhaps my experience will help those of you who are on this path to discover "your Purpose."  It helps me to write it down, and "chew" on it some more.)

It all started with my Midlife crisis back in 1980 or so.  My mother died, and only a few years later my father passed.  (Only the good die young).  My first marriage ended in divorce, I discovered Religious Science, and my only outlet seemed to be my running. (lot's of 10 K's, and a few marathons).  What a metaphor....running away from my past life!  
However,  after I met Paula... my wife and soul mate... we began to create a new life together.

That's when I first really starting thinking....what the hell is my purpose in this life?  
I have given it some serious thought, especially during the past 10 years.  Life had taught me some very important lessons.  Money wouldn't bring me happiness; I really didn't need a new car every 4 years;  Wearing Wranglers everyday was just fine;  Eating less food was good for me;  My relationships... with Paula, my family and my friends...were the most important part of my life; and the simple life was a better life... at least for me!  


At this point in my life, I've decided on my Purpose, which is always subject to Change. (Of course...)   While it is somewhat inexact, it still is meaningful to me.  I discovered this concept while reading a biography on Robert F. Kennedy...who is one of my political heroes. His quote:  "THE PURPOSE OF LIFE IS TO CONTRIBUTE...IN SOME WAY...TO MAKING THINGS BETTER!"  
My intention is to contribute, and make "things" better.  I'm now in the process of coming up with the "some way!" (Which has become quite a challenge..but I'm actively working on it!)  What I like about this "Purpose"is its inherent flexibility in allowing me to create without limitations, within the positive context of "making things better!"  (I believe I can really get my head around this.)

So...you have heard about my plans...I hope to hear from many of you in the coming weeks.  All your comments are encouraged.
 



Let's start a conversation....


Sunday, August 4, 2013

WHAT DO I BELIEVE NOW.... Introductory Post

Here I am ....74 years and counting....and still trying to figure out what I believe at this point in my life.  Down through the years, I've had many opinions, lots of judgments, countless assumptions, a handful of theories, too many guesses, suspicions galore, baseless conclusions, and too many wrong answers! 
 I was hoping to improve on this less than sterling litany, and come up with some good solid beliefs as I go forward.  So as a starter, I referred to my battered Webster's to really understand what a "belief" is.  Quoting from the dictionary:  Belief is the "mental acceptance of or conviction in the truth or actuality of something."    

Now the challenge...thinking about what I do believe.  (Unlike the guy above...I usually do my best thinking with a few more clothes on!)

It didn't take much reflection to realize I may have bitten off more than I initially planned.  Writing down my main beliefs is going to take more than one or two posts.  So there will be a series of posts in the coming  weeks to fully "flesh-out" this subject.   (Sounds like a TV documentary.)  Well, I'd like this to be somewhat entertaining as I've got to read it too! (You realize that I'm writing this primarily for myself.  It's called therapy!) 



So... what do I believe Now?  



Life is Change!  It's important to enjoy the passage of time.
    
 First and foremost I believe in the impermanent nature of life.  It is transitory, fleeting, brief, ephemeral...here today and gone tomorrow!  If you're not paying attention, you've missed it.  It's important to live in the moment....taking it all in and savoring the present.   Sounds hard?   It's not as hard as running the "regrets tape" of yesterday, and the "worry videos" of tomorrow! 
 I'm getting better about this.  Walking ,sitting quietly, being with my thoughts, breathing deeply, looking at nature...all have helped me to live my life with more intention.  I find myself being more aware of my surroundings, looking directly at people, tuning into nature, talking less and listening more, and dealing with what is in front of me. 

So...if you can't stop Life from changing (and you can't)....why not at least enjoy the passage of time...whatever that looks like.  Through good times and "not so good times", life will be much easier if you "go along with the flow", and not try to always paddle up the river.  Excuse the cliches, but "what I resist, persist!"  Experience has taught me this truth.  The Universe has seen fit to "remind" me regarding this laws consequences.  (I guess I haven't learned the lesson yet.)

My next posts will deal with the importance of Purpose, the nature of people, the consequences of war, climate change, Spirituality, and so on.





Let's Start a Conversation....