Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Post Memorial Day Thoughts: War, A Necessary Violence?

Memorial Day is one of those holidays that so many forget why we even have it. They just know that they are getting a day off (for most, anyway). I'd be curious what kind of answers we'd hear from the public majority if asked "Why are the flags at half-mast today?" On the other extreme, I do think that there are a number of people that experience "Memorial Day" every day. My great-grandfather was one of them. I can't remember a time that would go by that he didn't speak on the days of war. So often I see veterans displaying their battalion on their ball caps and it's amazing the connection that happens when a fellow vet recognizes the name and strikes up a conversation. It's quite sobering actually because inevitably the conversation ends up reminiscing of the friends that died in war.

For me, Memorial Day doesn't have to occur just once during the year. It happens every time I visit the D-Day Memorial or Arlington National Cemetery (where one of my grandfathers is buried) and even now when I read the news of the war in Iraq. It happens when I see a man or woman in uniform. It's good to have a National Holiday that recognizes those that died for our country, a battalion, a team, or an individual. It seems that [we] live in such a mad-rush of life that we forget to remember. It’s important to slow down and remember.

I think that everyone should watch "Saving Private Ryan" to understand the complexities, trials, and hardships of war. If you are a native of Bedford, VA there’s a big chance that one of your relatives died on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944. One of the features about this movie is that it depicts the whole gamut of war - from those that experienced it at the sidelines to those that were in the trenches.

I had a friend say to me recently, "The military is about killing and making people willing and able to kill another person." However, it is also about protection. So I ask myself, "Is war a necessary violence?" If someone is willing to lay down their life so that I might live then how selfish am I to deride them for doing their job? Here's a thought to chew on...using the words fashioned by Forrest Gump, "War is as War does." War is only as good or bad as the people that organize it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

After the Dust Settles

So, by now everyone that watches or reads the news knows that Scott Garrett, Joan Foster and Bert Dodson were the chosen candidates to serve on the Lynchburg City council for the next 4 years. Given the nature of the questions asked at each forum, one thing became very clear – there needs to be more fiscal responsibility. With Dr. Garrett, perhaps he will invoke necessary change in how the current city council is handling its budget in terms of accountability and explanation. Dr. Garrett is an analytical mind and it is my hope that he will make full use of his abilities.

Certainly, there were some upsets from those that did not gain a seat in this election. After the dust settles, and the defeated return to their normal duties, it will be interesting to see if any of them stay involved and current in the council’s agenda and future plans. Many brought with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. Not necessarily political experience, but rather business, advocacy, community wide involvement, and a deep commitment and love for Lynchburg - all of which are valuable in decision-making and being part of city council.

There will be a Ward election in 2008. Mike Gillette (Ward I), Jeff Helgeson (Ward III), Joe Seiffert (Ward IV), and Ceasor Johnson (Ward II) will be up for re-election. Jeff Helgeson ran uncontested in 2004, so it will be interesting if any of the candidates from this past election that live in Ward III will challenge him for his seat. There’s no doubt that the Republican Party will endorse him as the (R) for the Ward election. So, whoever challenges him will need to be a (D) or an (I). Time will tell. He’s made a name for himself with the city residents, especially during the 2006 council election. This will undoubtedly serve to his advantage with the “conservatives” and republicans. I hope that James Coleman will continue his endeavor to be on council, and that when it’s time – he’ll take Ceasor Johnson’s seat. As for Joe Seiffert, perhaps he has his site set on “Mayor.” Some folks in the area say that his voting history has not been consistent to his philosophy or that he’s one of the “good ole boys.” Reading through his bio, he has definitely served his community in more ways than one. Mike Gillette has been a good choice for the council. I hope that he will run for re-election. Will Marie Martin challenge him for his seat?

As for the present time, it’s good to move on and look forward to the next big event – whatever that is in your life! For me, it’s sitting out on my deck, watching the moon light up the sky and waiting for the dust to settle.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Long Awaited Response

So...as a follow up from a previous post Wastelands or Wetlands? a simple question came to mind. When will enough be enough? With any strong position there is an equally convincing opposition. Reading through the debate regarding Uranium is quite interesting. This blogger has provided a few links on the sidebar, thanks to Larry Bassett, that would educate a person about Nuclear power, nuclear weapons, etc. Here's the interesting thing, this blogger found a common thread. (Certainly, a little bit of knowledge could lead to danger so let's keep this brief).

Links: http://www.uic.com.au/nip43.htm

Uranium, in whatever form its delivered is deadly. If a miner is exposed, the likelihood of surviving without proper equipment or decontamination procedures is slim to none and slim just left town. Uranium used for weapons is intended to result in absolute destruction. Now, if a stance is to be taken for or against then don't try selling it with propositions full of good faith. We all know that the energy that comes from Uranium is quite efficient but all good things come with a price. I wonder what that price would be...

The issue that most have with the nuclear power is often confused with its nemesis, nuclear weapons. Sure, its still the same material, uranium, but the wonder behind it is its "power." Having said that...what course of action should be taken knowing that China and Iraq has this power? Two countries with radical political beliefs and ideals. How does one protect against such potential threat? Now before I get hit with comments on that question, I am merely concerned about those in political power not the whole population.

Those that work in the nuclear industry will tell you that safety is its first and foremost precaution. "Safety is no accident." Others that have actually used nuclear energy for their electricity will tell you that it is extremely efficient and that they wished they still had it. I'm still on the fence with the whole concept. I do believe that it will be a real challenge to differentiate between nuclear weapons and nuclear power because sometimes they could be used interchangeably. Think about it...if one is to use nuclear weapons as a means of war then who has the "power?" I'll let the professionals deal with that.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

12 Disciples: 12 Candidates

Often times in the beginning of this election, the city council candidates were commonly referred to as the “Twelve Disciples” or the “Dirty Dozen.” The pseudonym I have chosen for each candidate juxtaposes the 12 Disciples. Though, at times, the forums, whether they be through the internet or otherwise, have reminded me of some good ole Dirty Harry films. Nonetheless, for all practical purposes, the 12 Disciples just seem to fit the 12 Candidates running for the Lynchburg City Council.

Here’s the breakdown.

1. Andrew: The first called disciple. Chosen candidate: Bert Dodson. Dodson has been on council for the past 8 years and shown faithfulness to those friends and associates that support him.

2. John: The youngest disciple. Chosen candidate: Jason Campbell. Campbell is the youngest candidate and though he has some growth to encounter, his love and energy for this city will transform Lynchburg if we give him the time and chance.

3. Philip: The analytical disciple. Chosen candidate: Scott Garrett. This is a no-brainer. Garrett has shown time and again his great ability to analyze and make decisions. He’s articulate and has a positive approach to politics.

4. Thomas: The doubting disciple. Chosen candidate: Nat Marshall. Marshall has shrouded his own campaign in doubt. Why not trust the current democrats to do their job? Why does he think their needs to be change? Sometimes, it seems as though he really does not know why he is running for the city council. Hmmmm…

5. Bartholomew: The sincere disciple. Chosen candidate: Hands down, Joan Foster. She’s proven on many levels her appreciation for this city and its residents through her visibility and chosen career path.

6. Peter: The primary disciple. Chosen candidate: Chuck Gammon. Gammon is the only nominated republican running in this election. He’s shown boldness with a strong component of leadership even when his own has forsaken him.

7. James the less: The unknown disciple. Chosen candidate: James Coleman. Good speaker but that's about it. He is unknown to his party but his message is strong and sometimes brilliant. Though his preacher ways may work to a few he's unfortunately not known around these parts to make his message stick.

8. Simon: The zealous disciple. Chosen candidate: Joe Freeman. Freeman has the political experience, having served 16 years on city council during previous terms. He has been simple in his approach for the open seat by voicing his proven dedication for the city through teaching and politicking.

9. Judas Thaddeus: The misunderstood disciple. Chosen candidate: Rob Jarvis. Jarvis has and does live with disabilities that few of us understand. He has won many battles not only in his personal life but also his professional life. Now an advocate for those with disabilities…there are still many that are amazed and baffled at his story.

10. Matthew: The tax collector. Chosen candidate: You guessed it - Rob Bailey. Bailey is a known business owner of an accounting firm. No doubt he would have a clear understanding of the “tax issue” with the current city government.

11. James: The quiet disciple. Chosen candidate: Edie Light. Light has undoubtedly been one of the most quiet in the bunch. While we see her name throughout the city, works without "face" has no meaning.

12. Judas Iscariot: The betrayer. Chosen candidate: Anthony Howard. Here’s a man that talks of “bucking the system” and “not conforming to typical local politics.” That’s right! He believes that he’s better than the rest. No need to be loyal to any political party. Enough said. He’s sealed his fate and hopefully…buried it!

Note: For those of you that may not be biblically savvy or knowledgeable, the 12 Disciples were persons chosen by Jesus Christ to learn from and be trained by Him.. Synonyms for disciple would be “follower”, “pupil” and “supporter.”

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wastelands or Wetlands?

Out of the mouths of babes. The apple does not fall far from the tree! Enjoy!

"Why do people create nuclear power? And why are people using it for wars right now? This blogger explains what he thinks about it. Well for starters why is it even used for weapons? This destroys the entire envirnment into a wasteland. Now we’re having problems with some certain countries in Europe and Asia such as China, Iran, and Iraq, to this blogger’s knowledge. China has been picking on Taiwan, an ally of the U.S., while developing nuclear weapons. China has been threatening Taiwan that they will attack them if they don’t become part of China. This blogger is afraid they will hurt the people of China and our friend.

Iran has been enemies with a place called Israel for thousands of years. With that being said let us get to the main part. Iran has crazy people they will attack Israel with nuclear power, and Israel is where we get a lot of gas. Without Israel gas will go up to $5.00 a gallon. Iraq will fight with nuclear power as well, except that our American soldiers currently serving the USA will be destroyed with nuclear power.

This blogger says that we should have debates with these countries and see if these factory’s need to be bombed or protected. As much as violence is not a means to an end it will be worth it to save people later in the world, not to mention that water, trees, animals, and life is much better to look at than a big empty crater."

An added note to this post...remember to think as a curious 11 year old would think. This little apple is trying to expand his very limited knowledge about the war in Iraq and in this country as we try to combat terrorism. The schools are not talking about it until the "war" ends. If you read the last paragraph carefully then you'll know the "apple" is suggesting peaceful debates versus war would be the best option. Getting rid of the "nuclear factories" in some way is in his mind a better solution because he thinks it would "save all mankind" from death and devastation. How we are able to contain the nuclear factories is anyone's guess!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Slippery Slope or Jagged Edge?

As a comment in the most recent post, "A Fine Line", Larry Bassett wrote, "If a religion wants to decide that it will only allow certain men into certain positions, I can avoid that religion. If that religion provides health care or other public services and even receives tax money to support their good work, they had better not expect to be granted the ability to discriminate. Not by me, anyway."

Great point and one well taken. This blogger agrees with Mr. Bassett, for the most part. However, our government made the 1st Amendment years ago for a reason. This blogger does not like that the church can play "god" or use the religious card but it's their right - right now. Let's remember that this same law allows gay activists the right to fight against religious discrimination. But, amending the Human Rights bill really doesn't help at all...it only creates more controversy, does it not?? Again, it’s a slippery slope...or perhaps a jagged edge.

Look, people discriminate. Is it right? No! Does it happen? Yes! Every day is a million different ways! Our government, right now, should be focused on the more immediate needs of this country. Forcing religious organizations to hire gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons is not an immediate need. Then again, it's just this blogger's opinion.

On a side note, this blogger has many gay and lesbian friends, though sexual orientation is not the issue at hand. It’s Human Rights versus the 1st Amendment. Consider the recent appeal filed with the Michigan Supreme Court: http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/michigan/index.ssf?/base/news-33/1145398161290380.xml&storylist=newsmichigan#continue. (Note: This webpage will first ask you to provide some demographic info before allowing you to view the article. It’ll take 2 seconds to do and worth it if the topic interests you at all). This blogger highlights this story because the group BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) supports preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin. The following link lays out BAMN’s purpose and principles. http://www.bamn.com/1/principles.asp.

Here is one problem with groups like these. If the Supreme Court accepted BAMN’s appeal to allow universities and government agencies to give preferential treatment to the above listed groups then the wonderful stories that brought about the Human/Civil Rights movement, and ultimately legislation, would be meaningless. Let’s go ahead and teach people today how to file appeals, lawsuits, and so forth instead of teaching integrity, perseverance, humility, and respect for others…Let’s just spoon feed them solutions to issues that have no real merit.

More to come on this topic…hopefully thought provoking comments will be made! Game on!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Fine Line

Illinois recently amended the Human Rights Act of 1964 thanks to Senator Carol Ronen (D). This amendment requires businesses, government organizations, and churches to hire gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons. Okay...sounds like a good idea...if there wasn't a law defining the separation of church and state! Is this not a situation where the state is stepping into church business? This blogger is not against the requirement for businesses and government organizations...I really don't think the amendment was purposed for that. Let's get down to business...it was meant for the church!Gotta tell you, this amendment is a real slippery slope!

If the state is going to step into the religiosity of the church then consider this. At the moment, there are religious entities that trump medical care, state educational standards, and the like. So, why don't we ask them to comply with our current standard of law? Get up to speed with the current times! Those particular religious practices have the potential to do permanent damage or harm and in some instances, death. Is NOT hiring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people going to do that??? With the current situation in Iran, and in our very own country, doesn't our government have better things to do with their time than to create amendments that breed controversy, create law suits, and ultimately be an insurmountable waste of time?

Before conclusion there is no doubt that many will disagree with this blogger. That having been said, understand that this blogger's views on homosexuality is not what is being discussed. There is no doubt that gay activists groups around the country are ecstatic with joy as this is a great feat for them. Here's the question....does this amendment violate the rights for churches to exercise their religious convictions? Is this not a violation of the First Amendment?

On a side note, Liberty University recently opposed Soulforce, a gay activist group, to step foot on LU’s property or arrests would be made. LU’s chancellor, Dr. Jerry Falwell, told Mr. Mel White, founder of Soulforce, that he was no longer going to allow Soulforce to enter the campus for purposes of dialogue exchange with his students. This stirred a huge controversy. It also took a large number of local policemen from patrolling the rest of this city where legitimate crime was being committed, no offense Dr. Falwell and Mr. White. To learn more about LU visit their website: http://www.liberty.edu/ and Soulforce, http://www.soulforce.org/. To read about this particular “event” scroll the archives at http://www.newsadvance.com/.