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No one person should have first strike capability

Every once in awhile you come across a fact and think that can’t be right. And then you find out it is. That’s what happened to me when I received a plea to ask my members of congress to discuss restricting the first use of nuclear weapons.

My first response was Oh, you mean if someone lobs a nuke at us, we tie the hands of the president so that she or he can’t strike back? Do we really want to do that?

No, I was told, the bill has nothing to do with responding to a nuclear attack. It only concerns being the one to first launch the nukes.

Queue the response: that can’t be right. So I have to ask. Did you think that the president could launch a nuclear weapon for any reason right now? With no declaration of war? All by himself? Well, it turns out that he or she can.

I admit that the next thing I did was guess that this bill had been introduced because of the rash immaturity frequently shown by the man now occupying the white house. And I admit that part made sense to me. But it turns out I was wrong about that as well.

The bill was originally introduced in 2016 during the Obama administration, with the encouragement of the Union of Concerned Scientists. This group believes that we need to have a robust congressional discussion about the wisdom of giving any president, no matter how cautious or how brash, the unilateral power to initiate a civilization-ending event. I think they have a good point.

Our current situation increases the probability of nuclear war in a real and dangerous way. It makes perfect sense to me that we should insist that Congress take these dangers seriously and that we should work to change a system that puts all of our lives at risk.

Right now both measures (known as Senate Bill 200 and House Resolution 669) are sitting in committees (Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs) while congress spends its time handling what they believe to be more pressing matters. (Don’t get me started on that.)

If you haven’t developed the habit of contacting congress yet, it is an easy and worthwhile activity. Find out who you should be contacting at whoismyrepresentative.com. Then search for them by name, go to their website, and hit contact. The easiest thing to do is to fill out their little form with your information, and then type in something simple like “Please lend your support to bringing House Resolution 669 on restricting the first use of nuclear weapons to the house floor for a vote.” A poorly paid intern will note the subject matter of your email and will tally up your opinion on it.

It’s a little bit like littering. If just you do it, it really doesn’t make much of a difference. But if five percent of the population does it, everyone is going to notice.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2017 in peace

 

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A way to wish you joy and peace

sunriseI woke up to this sunrise today,  a reminder that every day brings us a fresh chance to embrace, improve and enjoy this wonderful gift we call life.

It’s been a tough couple of months for me, and for others who want to encourage tolerance and empathy. I’m looking for positive ways to deal with my concerns about the direction in which my country is headed, and I hope that you are too. Lucky for me, my sister, who is full of good ideas, had a suggestion for me.

With her encouragement, I reviewed, edited and sorted through the 159 posts on this blog and put the best of them into a new book called “Face Painting for World Peace.” This short (121 page) volume of essays attempts to be both humorous and thought provoking as it examines what I like to call “intra-species harmony” (aka world peace) from a wide variety of angles.

The eBook is available for FREE on Smashwords, for a short time. Soon it will be published on Amazon as well, and distributed by Barnes & Nobel, Apple and other retailers, at which point I will be required to charge ninety-nine cents. This is not intended to be a money making project; I have pledged to donate half of all proceeds to “Doctors Without Borders”.

Here is the description:

I am passionate about the cause of the world peace. From early 2012 on I have maintained a blog in which I often write about empathy and peace. I have arranged these short essays in book form, to be published for Christmas 2016. A lot has changed in the world over the past four years, but what has not changed is how I continue to cherish time with those I love, and how others do the same throughout the world. This book is my holiday card; my way of wishing hope, joy and peace to every human on earth, with no exceptions.

Please download, please enjoy, and please share with others. Meanwhile, I will try to wake up every day during this coming year, catch a glimpse of that beautiful dawn, and then seek out positive ways to add my voice to the chorus still being sung by those who believe that kindness should guide our politics, our words and our actions. I invite you to sing along, too.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in being better, empathy, peace, writing

 

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Everything is Going to Be Alright

There is barely anyone alive today who did not grow up with movies. We almost all understand the concept of having a soundtrack for our lives and in fact a lot of us spend a good deal of time designing playlists or inputting musical preferences to get just the right music playing for us as we live.

Our needs for certain kinds of music vary with the times. So, let me just ask you straight out — are you seeking out more songs of reassurance these days? I sure am.

I’m also in the process of looking at the last song referred to in each of my books as I update the music pages on each blog. Today I got to song number nine for x0 and guess what? It’s Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”. This particular song has gotten me through several tough spots in my life, and it shows up in my book when my hero Lola is at her most distraught. A fellow telepath provides her with reassurance by singing a bit of this timeless song. The result? Lola becomes calm enough to do what needs to be done.

As part of updating the music page, I had to seek out a video to which to link. There are so many wonderful ways to enjoy this 1977 classic online. One of my favorites manages to use Bob Marley’s original music, some footage of him and his performances, and clever graphics and a story line to make this wonderful song come to life visually. I recommend playing this daily as needed for, oh, the next twelve days or so, and longer if required.

One can also enjoy (and buy) the powerful version of this song performed by “Playing for Change.”  The song is also available for purchase at Amazon.com.  

Finally if you want one last shot of reassurance, check out the very first recording at “Playing for Change” as a powerful group of folks sing and play instruments to calm everyone down in this moving version of a song calledDon’t Worry.

For more oblique election commentary, see my posts Our brand is crisis?, We need to talk about this, just maybe not so much, and Is it over yet?

Finally, here is the excerpt from x0 that refers to “Three Little Birds. Hope you enjoy it also.

Lola absolutely did not want to go to New Zealand. But even more than that she did not want to miss her plane and then have to leave the secured part of the airport and try to figure out what else to do instead. So she did as instructed, and grabbed a quick copy of The Daily Telegraph at the newsstand on the left and was a little startled when the sales clerk actually did call to her as she turned to go.

“I, I think you left this miss.” The girl offered a small brown ladies handbag out to her.

“Thanks, yes.” She slipped her own purse onto Nwanyi’s shoulder and took the new bag. “Thanks so very much.”

She allowed herself to slow down enough to look inside while they walked. There was a wallet containing quite a few New Zealand twenty-dollar bills. Wow. She had been considering just staying put in Singapore, but decided against that option completely when she also found the little disposable cell phone bearing the logo of Vodaphone New Zealand. These folks were really looking out for her.

She dug further into the purse. More ibuprofen and lots of aspirin. Headaches must be a well-known part of this gig, she thought. At the bottom of the purse was the item that made her heart stop. Oh my. She knew this one. A little Beretta Bobcat. Her gun collecting and gun-loving father had bought her one for protection years ago, and the two of them had spent hours getting her familiar with the gun. As a girl she had shot rocks and tin cans with whatever her father gave her, like most kids did who grew up where she had, but this particular model had been his gift to her as a young woman, and he had wanted her to know it thoroughly. She’d kept it locked away for years now as Alex did not share her ease with guns, and he’d had little trouble convincing her that a house with teenagers and their friends was not a good environment for firearms. But still, she knew this gun, and though she had not touched a handgun in years, it was a comfort in her hand. Who was this guy who had met her anyway? Some sort of super-spy?

She felt a chuckle and saw her helper whose name she did not even know working on a pile of tax returns. He was a tax accountant? She felt a surge of gratitude for her unknown benefactor, and in return she felt a soft feeling of You’re welcome, and Be safe. She had a reassuring image of him heading over to say hello to an old friend who worked in airport security, and Lola had the distinct impression that his visit with his friend would last at least until the man was very sure that he could leave Heathrow safely himself.

As a final gift, she heard him softly singing the words to her favorite Bob Marley song ever, “Three Little Birds“. Nwanyi, who had been walking quietly, stopped and gave Lola a funny look. Lola realized with surprise that she had been so grateful to hear those lyrics assuring her that everything would be well that she hadn’t noticed that tears had started to run down her own cheeks.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2016 in music for peace

 

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Peace in your heart, peace in your world

PeaceI wish you peace. Do I mean peace of mind? Or do I mean freedom from coercion and violence? I mean both, and I’m not sure which is the more difficult to attain. I am sure, however, that you can’t have much of the one without also having a lot of the other.

Your own peace of mind is largely in your own control. But let’s be honest here. It is hard to find that inner calm while dodging bullets, figuratively or, worse yet, for real. On the other hand, world peace is something we all have to work for, one might even say fight for, even if fighting for peace sounds like the ultimate oxymoron. When we end up fighting each other instead, while thinking it is for the cause of peace, we have truly failed.

But no matter how many times we hear that peace must begin in our own hearts, those of us who have a certain level of impatience find that this process of trying to live a peaceful life does not seem like it is bringing peace into the world at nearly a fast enough pace. I’m part of this group, and I’ve had to accept that no amount meditation and deep breathing is going to make me feel otherwise.

taboojive1It is true that my own inner peace would be easier to hold on to if I stopped following the news. But I think that changing the world is a two pronged process. Yes, I need to be the change I want to see, just as Gandhi said. But I also need to know what is going on, even if some days what I see looks like one giant food fight in the cafeteria. I can refuse to join in. On some occasions, I can even laugh at the people throwing peas and carrots instead of crying about the food being wasted and god-awful mess they are making. Then other days the fight turns deadly, and I understand better the gravity of the issues with which we all must deal. That is the point at which is becomes real easy to get cynical and give up.

So it is always encouraging to stumble across others who are singing their own song of peace, if you will, in their own way.

This morning a friend sent a link to an article on politics in the New York Times called Beware Exploding Politics. It is written by Thomas Friedman, a man who doesn’t particularly share my views, but what caught my attention was his reasonable plea for us to all stop throwing rocks at each other and to work together to find solutions to the world’s problems. It is short, funny, and worth the read.

hippiepeace5Then I stumbled on an old blog post from Cindy Knoke, a photographer I admire. I had saved the link months ago to re-post on this blog. She does beautiful work, but this particular one was her way of wishing the world peace. It is called Peace and is well worth the look.

Stumbling on two other kindred spirits was just the emotional boost that I needed. Yes, I will keep working on peace in my own heart. I want to sing that song as best I can so that others might hear me, too, and find encouragement to sing their song as they work harder to find their own peace within. It’s far too slow a process for my tastes. But I understand that it is and always will be the only one that will ever provide permanent peace.

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2016 in art for peace, peace

 

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Frustration

fractal 1Momma said that their would be days like this, or so the song goes. We all have them. Not just days, but weeks when both the big and the little annoying things of the world overtake everything.

I’m struggling with writing momentum right now. The plot for my latest book, d4, has spiraled out of control and I’ve spent a whole painful month reigning it back in. That’s way too long and I am so frustrated. Meanwhile my to-do pile is overflowing with real world problems like bills and taxes that I cannot keep ignoring. Breathe. It will all get done. My own job has been unusually demanding these past couple of weeks, so I can add a new chronic right shoulder and neck ache that is clearly computer related to my list of frustrations. Keep breathing.

As is so often the case when I am floundering, my immediate loved ones all have issues in their own lives right now that I cannot fix. There is a downside to having a very empathic nature, and as I turn on the news to relax, I know deep inside that isn’t going to help.I can’t explain why, but war anywhere frightens and depresses me. So does tyranny and repression. My heart goes out to the people of the Ukraine and Venezuela, both of which are now exploding. Breathe. You don’t help anyone by being agitated.

hippiepeace4We just finished a primary here in Texas in which candidates in my area battled each other to prove how each was more conservative than the other. The message was non-stop, delivered via unwanted phone calls and unavoidable fliers in the mail. The spiteful nature of much of the rhetoric was so depressing to a middle-of-the road independent like me. What to do, what to do.

Write? Work? Pay bills? Help my daughter move? Run for office? Go fight oppression in another country?

I think I’ll start by just putting some heat on my shoulder and breathing deeply. Calming down sounds like the best way to begin.

(please drop by and visit the Facebook pages of Fractal Enlightenment and Hippie Peace Freaks and give them a like for the images shown above.)

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2014 in empathy

 

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A short political rant (not mine)

I read a lot of blog posts by other writers. Some are funny, some are informative, and a few are full of themselves and more than a little annoying. None-the-less I learn about my craft from all of them and I am appreciative.

Today I stumbled on a blog by a twenty-two year old English major and aspiring fiction writer who took a few minutes to rant about the situation in Syria. I’ve been pretty conflicted about the whole mess, and I found her analysis succinct and worth repeating.

Why? This blog is not just about my writing,and my novel x0. It is also about the themes behind the book, including empathy and world peace. When someone has something worthwhile to say on those subjects, I am happy to reblog. So please, read on.

A short political rant.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in peace

 

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World Peace Update

Click here to visit theWaging Peace website

Click here to visit the
Waging Peace website

North Korea continues to try to position itself as a serious threat to world peace.  Does it take size and might to seriously disrupt this world?  Or will a minimum amount of destructive power combined with sufficient meanness suffice? Sadly, 911 supplied that answer to us all, and now we collectively hold our breaths while North Korea asks foreign embassies in Pyongyang to consider evacuation.

Meanwhile this past week Egyptian security officials say five people were killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians just outside Cairo, and a Taliban assassination attempt on the governor of Afghanistan’s southern province failed but caused several American and Afghan casualties.

There is some good news. Connecticut passed a new gun law that specifically bans the sale of ammunition clips that hold 10 bullets or more, and the state now requires background checks for private gun sales. Sadly, that momentum failed to carry over to the U.S. congress where, in spite of a majority support for both limiting the sale of automatic weapons and for strengthening background checks, our elected representatives won’t even let the issue come to vote.

Rich Lowry of the National Review took a bit of a victory lap yesterday saying “The president’s push for new gun laws looks, at this juncture, like a complete fizzle.  … The most concrete effect of his advocacy has been … to stoke increased gun purchases on fear that the government wants to ban guns. He set out to lead a great crusade for gun control and ended up the best friend the gun industry ever had.”

Talk about sad.

tankHowever, this past week the U.N. General Assembly voted 154-3 to approve a treaty that regulates the international arms trade and will establish the first international standards for cross border sales of small arms and ammunition, tanks, attack helicopters, armored vehicles, missiles and missile launchers. Yes, missile launchers. The resolution aims to nudge nations towards barring weapons sales to terrorists, criminals and human rights violators.

Let’s hope the predators of the world don’t respond like so many of our own paranoid gun extremists in the United States have. Wouldn’t you just hate to read that the sales of armored vehicles and attack helicopters have spiked worldwide because we are trying to make the world a more peaceful place?

 

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2013 in peace

 

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