Who’s the Third World Country Now?

Eastman Audience

Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery
to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

~Pope Francis~

We as Americans like to think of ourselves as a world leader among nations. We are leaders in the areas of power and technology. We had a large part in winning critical wars in the past century. We also put the first man on the moon. But are power and technology enough to make us a great nation? Perhaps not. We have a few things to fix about our society before we can brag about it.

Let’s start with our federal government. A Gallup poll in mid-June of 2015 shows a 30 % confidence level in the supreme court, a 29% confidence in the presidency and 7% confidence level in congress. We elected most of the people in whom we now have so little confidence. The others were appointed by those we elected. What does that say about us as voters? We have given up control of our elections and placed people in power who have the money to support their campaigns and cajole us into electing them.

Another issue is our lack of reverence for life. Of the 195 countries affiliated with the United Nations, only 36 retain the death penalty. Of these countries, we have the fifth highest rate of execution. We may feel better taking revenge on individuals guilty of the most serious crimes, yet states with no death penalty have no higher crime rates that states which do. What does a national policy of executing its citizens say about our reverence for life? What example do we set for those among us intent on violence?

With all our talk about sacredness of the family, we are the only country in the western hemisphere with no national maternity leave policy. A few countries have started offering paternity leave for new fathers. We are among the many nations with no such policy. Early studies show that fathers do a better job fathering when they have time after childbirth to bond with their children.

After our start as a country accepting slavery, we fought a civil war largely over this issue and passed a series of laws over the years outlawing slavery and its effects. Yet racism is still at the core of the beliefs many of us still hold and operate by. We banished the Native Americans to reservations and denigrated each new wave of immigrants whether they came here willingly or as slaves.

These are a few examples. It seems we are not as civilized as we thought we were and still have some work to do. We need to find ways of working together rather than against each other. It’s not an easy task or we might have done it by now. Start asking questions of yourself and of your fellow citizens.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Look into your heart.
  • Is there room for anyone else besides you?
  • What are you willing to do to make this “our” rather than “your” country?
  • Find out how you can take responsibility.
  • See yourself as a shepherd rather than a sheep.

(Re-posted from http://www.slidingotter.com)

Updating my Website

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Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. What’s going on in you life?

Joe: I feel a little upside down these days but mostly I am still having fun. The process of redoing my website turned out to be a little more complicated than I thought.

Calliope: How so?

Joe: I have worked with WordPress for quite a while and thought I understood it fairly well. At the same time I was juggling my hosting account, switching to BlueHost, finding a new third party theme, Author, and getting all this to work together.

Calliope: How is this progressing?

Joe: I have the site live but it is missing some of the elements featured in the Theme demo. I installed the Author theme from Original themes. There are still a few things I haven’t figured out how to do. There is supposed to be a directory of my books with a page for each one and a slider featuring pictures of my book covers. Both of these remain mysteriously absent.

Calliope: What do you plan to do about it?

Joe: I sent an email to the company and am awaiting a response. Hopefully I will hear from them soon and have my site fully functional. Right now it’s time to do some yoga and get my mind settled. Later.

False Alarm

Beach sculpture- Martha's Vineyard

Beach Sculpture- Martha’s Vineyard

Sorry, False alarm. It turns out that I don’t need to move this blog to a new site. In case you already moved I will leave a not there inviting you back. Sorry about the inconvenience. But I did like the new layout at the other site so I brought it back here. I hope you like it.

How to earn respect as a voter

 Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. 

~Franklin D. Roosevelt~
A recent opinion in a letter to the editor stated that politicians should respect voters’ intelligence. This seems to be a fairly common theme in political opinion writing these days. I have wondered lately whether we as voters deserve respect for our intelligence.

Complaining about our elected representatives and officials is also quite common these days. A telephone survey in May, 2015 found that just eighteen percent of voters think most members of Congress care what their constituents think. If they are so out of touch, where did these officials come from? We elected them of course. Well, the fifty-five percent of voters who showed up at the polls did.

So what’s the problem here? Why do we keep electing people who don’t care what we think? What are we thinking when we vote for them? Are we thinking about whether they are willing to work together for the common good? Or do we vote based on our fears or self interest? Some of us don’t bother to vote at all.

When you read what goes on in congress and what happens in our society, you might not find a great deal of difference.  Most of the time congress is in deadlock over just about every issue. Congress reflects the conflicting views and interests we see in society. We find ourselves pitted against each other on just about every issue you can think of. It is no wonder that congress reflects our society. Do you like living this way and being led this way?

I don’t either. Our nation started with a common ideal. We wanted a country in which our citizens could pursue their own happiness without restriction on our free speech or religious views. Although this was the goal, our founding fathers were not perfect. They forgot that everyone is human and convinced themselves that slavery was acceptable.

In more recent times, we came to see the pursuit of happiness as a way to get what we want without regard to the implications for our fellow citizens. Everyone for themselves. We have become short-sighted and selfish in many regards.

When we don’t consider others’ needs, getting what we want just makes them envious and leads to class wars as well as individual skirmishes. I don’t suggest that we can all agree on everything we think, say and do. Then we would be robots. But I think there is a way out.

Imagine living in a nation in which we can again see each other as brothers and sisters. Would you let your family starve or struggle or would you help them to the extent you can? That is the choice we have. We can continue growing more selfish or we can take each others’ needs into account as well as our own.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Think about what you need and what you merely want.
  • Use you eyes and ears to discover what others want.
  • What are you willing to sacrifice to help others with their needs?
  • How can you share what you have?
  • Vote and engage your conscience when you do.

Discovering Mindfulness

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Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. What’s new with your writing.

Joe: I am very involved on all fronts. I continue to develop my new tools and work on a new book on stress while I wait for feedback on my teen book.

Calliope:Any new discoveries?

Joe: Yes and no. I have been searching for years for a way to simply describe the focus of my writing. For lack of anything better, I called my theme commonsense wisdom. My goal has always been to help people understand themselves better and be more aware of the implications of their actions.

Calliope: I recall. So what’s new?

Joe: I just came to realize that there is a single word which embodies my goal. The word is mindfulness.

Calliope: Is this something new?

Joe: Mindfulness is not new but it embodies my approach to writing.

Calliope: Tell me more:

Joe: From what I understand, mindfulness means the conscious awareness of yourself and your surroundings at any given moment.

Calliope: And that is the word you have been searching for for years?

Joe: It is. No longer will I have to stammer while trying to put into words the point of what I am trying to do.

Calliope: Congratulations. To what do you owe the honor of this discovery.

Joe: One of my new tools, KindleSpy. In searching for keywords for dealing with stress, I discovered many books with the theme of mindfulness which is where my writing belongs even though I didn’t know it. Let me bask in this discovery for a while.

Calliope: Okay. Happy basking.

The summer of writing tools

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Joe: Good afternoon, Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon, Joe. I have seen your posts but wonder what you have been up to.

Joe: I thought you might be wondering. I have been working on some new tools, mainly Scrivener and KindleSpy. They have both been around for a while But I just decided to add them to my armamentarium.

Calliope: Do tell. How is that going?

Joe: I added Scrivener first and am still learning it’s intricacies. I plan to use it to reorganize my novel, Marital Property. I have found that it helps to break it down into small parts and to have references such as scene and character descriptions at my finger tips. I tried it today to work on my latest column for publication this Saturday. I am not sure about this use but I think I need some more practice.

Calliope: Indeed. What about KindleSpy?

Joe: I debated about it for some time and did some training. I wondered whether I cold do keyword research on my own and tried it first. The time it would take this way would be prohibitive. Also, I don’t think I could reproduce the results I found. I am using it to develop keywords for my published books and also for my columns. I am happy with it so far.

Calliope: What about your actual writing?

Joe: I am still waiting for feedback from some beta readers but otherwise am ready for a final read-through and publishing hopefully in the not too distant future.

Calliope: Sounds like you have plenty to keep you busy for the moment.

Joe: Indeed I do! I will keep you posted.