Monday, August 21, 2017

Thinking Hails us not Only Greater Students, but Greater Politicians

  If one of the greatest ways to educate is to teach to think, even so having a candidate who thinks instead of just giving the book answers is important.
   If our schools produced youth who mastered the art of thinking, those students would go on to accomplish more than the students who memorized everything in the books, but who never learned to think outside the book.
   The same is true of our politicians. If we elect those who memorize and emulate and preach the party line, we will be limited in what we get. But, if we elect leaders who sit back and think through each issue, even occasionally starting all over despite already having thought the matter to its end, we will boast leaders with the wisdom to face the worst of challenges.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

2 Nephi 28 and Flying the Confederate Flag

   Should we fly the Confederate flag? Some will tell you there are answers for all right-and-wrong questions in the scriptures, so is there anything in the scriptures that indicates whether we should fly the Confederate battle flag?
    The Latter-day Saints have a scripture. I do not say this is a fulfillment, but I wonder. If it is not a fulfillment, it certainly is a likeness. Just as we should ponder and reflect on all our scriptures, I wonder on what is said in 2 Nephi 28. "(D)ig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this."
   Even so, we "dig a pit" for the black people, in a sense. We throw them down, and harm them. The war was fought, largely, over slavery. Those who see the Confederate battle flag as being an image supporting slavery are not wrong to make that association. Dig a pit for thy neighbor? Yes, flying the flag might qualify as a way of "digging a pit" for them.
  And, as we dig this pit, we say we are doing no harm. We say we have no intention of hurting anyone, and that we are not racists, and that they should not be reading more into it than is there.
   They shouldn't be so sensitive.
   "(D)ig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this"? Even so, we say there is no harm.
   Later in the chapter, it speaks of the devil leading the souls of men carefully down to hell. How careful is the way he leads us on the race issue, how deceptive, as he makes bad things appear good. The scripture speaks of a devil that says he is no devil, for there is none. Even so, we take the message that no harm is being done and say it is not from the devil, for there is no devil whispering in our ear to fly the Confederate flag. Leave the devil out of this, for he has nothing to do with it.
   Oh, if we would just open our eyes, and see that the blacks are taking offense, and are being hurt, and they do see these signs and images as vestiges of the day when slavery was accepted. If we want to harm no one, if we want to be lovers of all men, it would seem we should realize flying and wearing the Confederate flag is harmful.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

We Take One Piece of Information and Run with it

   He told me his store was north of where I was at, and across from Walgreen's at about 4700 South. My mind seemed to remember a Walgreen's to the north, so I locked on that location without processing the rest of the information -- that it was about 4700 South.
   As it ended up, the store was not to the north, but the south. There was not a Walgreen's to the north, as I envisioned. Rather, Walgreen's (and thus also the store I was looking for) was on the southeast corner of the very intersection I had turned to the north on.
   I would spend much of the rest of my trip reflecting on the cognitive process, and of how we latch onto one piece of information at the exclusion of all other, sometimes just missing making the right decision for not processing information right in front of us.
   I turned north on the very intersection where my True Value Hardware store was. I was so close.
   So it is with all our decision-making. We are limited by the information we have, and the information we choose to process. Often (perhaps, usually), we lock on the information we first get. It becomes what I shall call our proprietary information, the information we "own" and accept. We have a bias toward it.
   I submit to you that we judge other people with a mindset that runs down this very path I have outlined. We hear bad of another, or get a bad piece of information about another, and we claim the information. It becomes a part of us. Our search for more information stops. That which we have is often information that comes from someone we want to believe.
  Often, gossip is this information that sparks our decision. We don't usually back down from it. That which is passed to us through gossip is often all we think we need to know.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Wounds do not Heal When Images of Injustice Remain

   Along with many in our nation, I consider anew whether we should have all these statues, flags, and symbols from the Civil War. Do we tear them all down? Will it reach a point where having the Confederate battle flag on your T-shirt is considered a hate crime?
   Is the Confederate flag nothing more than a symbol of regional pride? Is it simply a nice-looking symbol that people display because it is nice looking?
   I also consider this: Are some who fly the flag secretly racist? (Some, I say, not all.)
   The nation is embroiled in controversy over this (and other racial topics). Sometimes, the best answers are those that unite, not divide, and, I see a nation divided by this debate. Would we be better to let these images, flags and statues remain as acceptable, in the name of not further dividing our nation, for surely our nation is being divided by the debate? Do we put the debate down and unite under the belief that no harm is intended?
   But, even as this thought sweeps through my head, another thought comes. Perhaps ridding ourselves of these symbols is a step we must take if we are ever to end racism, something we must go through to get to a point we need to be at. I can see how, if we continue to see the Confederate battle flag as an acceptable image, it will always be a burr to some black people, always be viewed as an image that puts them down and justifies the day when they were slaves. The flags and the images and the statues will always be there to stir up feelings on both sides, if we let them remain as acceptable.
  Wounds do not heal when images of injustice remain. Not if they remain acceptable, anyway. We are more than 150 years beyond the Civil War and yet racism remain. We have not fully healed from the scars. Allowing these flags, and statues to remain around is is not alone the cause of our lingering racism, but it contributes to it.
   I do not say we should make wearing a T-shirt with the Confederate flag on it a crime. Not at all. But, I do say we should teach each other that it is not acceptable to wear that T-shirt. We can never fully unite as a nation if these images are forever splashed in front of the eyes of the blacks, making them wonder if the display of them is a way of putting them down. These images will forever be as a burr. Further, while the images are, truly, no more than displays of regional pride or beautiful symbols to some, to others they are a way of honoring racism while not confessing to it. There are those who will not admit to racism, but who wear the Confederate flag at least in part because they do have some feelings of ill will toward blacks. If we ever want to be fully united -- blacks and whites together -- we need to reach the point where it is no longer acceptable to express inner feelings of discrimination while masking them as nothing more than regional pride. I repeat, the good portion of Confederate flag wavers might be completely pure in their intentions, not being racists, at all.
   But, some are.
   Further, if you have even only a small amount of racist feelings in you and you allow yourself to practice it, you feed those feelings. You are fooling yourself, if you say there is no harm in this, if you say what you do is innocuous. If you say you mean no harm, so no harm is done, you are not facing the reality that your action does, indeed, harm another person. Allowing inner feelings of racism in yourself to fester and to be fed is a mistake. We are what we practice. If you leave just a little hedge for ill feelings toward others -- in this case, the blacks -- that hedge becomes a part of you. Those feelings will not go away as long as you allow the hedge. You have fed them and they remain. You cannot just justify what you do by saying they should get over it and not be so sensitive.
   If we are ever to get over racism -- ever to cure ourselves of it -- we must reach a point where we do not want to hurt each other. In this case, that means we must realize the Confederate flag is not appropriate. It is not that we should outlaw it. But, we should make it unacceptable.
   Just as the N-word is wrong, so is the Confederate flag. I should qualify that: Yes, flying the Confederate flag is not yet considered so offensive, so wrong. But, both acts hurt the blacks. Both are viewed by them as a way of putting them down. In that sense, I repeat, even as the N-word is wrong, so is the Confederate flag.
   There was a day when uttering the the N-word was more acceptable. That day has passed. Even so, the day may come when when we realize waving the Confederate flag is wrong.

(Blog last edited 8/20/17)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Voicing Opposition to Racism helps People Understand it is Wrong

   Nothing taught is nothing learned, it is said (by me). So, it is a good thing for voices throughout the nation to be condemning racism. Those who practice it need to know it is wrong. Those in the white nationalist organizations need to know what they are doing is wrong. Those marching shoulder-to-shoulder with them need to know what they are doing is wrong.
   Those who might be in danger of answering a call to join such protesting might think twice as they hear the nation calling out those who practice such things.

I Wonder if Operation Rio Grande could be More Open

   I wonder if Operation Rio Grande could be more open. Why be so secretive? Coming up on the initiative, officials said little of what they were planning to do. I believe I heard it said that they did not want to tip their hands, and did not want to endanger officers or the homeless.
   Now that the arrests are underway, I still am not hearing how they are going about arresting people. Are they largely just arresting people who have outstanding warrants? How many people are being caught red-handed dealing drugs? Maybe those things are not being hidden. Rather, maybe there simply isn't a reporter thinking to go read the booking sheets and file a news story.
   Off top, I wonder why officials cannot just spell out exactly how they are going about doing things. If they are protecting people's lives or health, good, but I wonder if people's lives and health are not being endangered.
   So, why the secrecy?

Barricades between Streets and Sidewalks Might Stop This

   Sometimes, when a vehicle strikes off onto a sidewalk in an act of terrorism, I repeat my plea that we build cement barricades along some of our busy streets, protecting those on the sidewalks.
   So, I repeat the plea today, after what happened in Barcelona.