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America Has Always Been Great

I believe that The United States of America is currently a great nation and has always been a great nation.

It’s great, not because of our wealth, our military might and prowess, geographic location, our resources or our political leaders, but because the government it is based in high ideals such as law, order, justice, freedom and human rights.
To be sure, we sometimes fall short of our goals and stray from our ideals. It is when we set our goals consistent to our ideals and work toward them.

Our founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, masterfully detail those ideals.

While many nations on Earth embrace many of the same ideals we do, we are one of the rare nations whose inception is built around a set of ideals. Having these ideals and striving toward them make us a strong, stable nation.

As long as we remember, revere and strive toward our ideals, we will continue to be great. When we don’t, we risk losing this great nation.

My name is Mike.

I’m a Democrat and a proud American.

Danger for America, But Hope Endures

I believe that the United States of America is in existential danger from several sources.

There is danger from a foreign power who has meddled in our last presidential election and seeks to undermine our very democracy by sowing doubt and distrust among us.

We have a President who seeks to divide us, one from another by pitting us against one another. He consistently violates long-held democratic norms, spreads disinformation and tries to make us believe that agents of the free press are the ones who lie rather than he. He seeks to profit from his position, rather than serve the people who have elected him and those others who share this great land with him. He also regularly thumbs his nose at the concept of the rule of law and seeks to break all of the institutions whose purpose is to serve as a check to would-be tyrants.

Many other threats exist. Among all of the threats that endanger our nation and way of life, I believe the worst one is our disappearing ability to communicate with each other. Many forces conspire to drive us into ever-shrinking tribes where we communicate only with other members of our groups. We are quickly losing the ability to come to action as a nation of people.

We’re all acquainted with the strategy, “divide and conquer”. We are currently being successfully divided. If this continues and does not reverse, can the inevitable outcome be far behind?

There is hope though. We can all make choices to thwart this threat. Here are the steps I plan on taking to do my part to solve this crisis:

  • I promise to be civil to all I deal with. This includes people with whom I fervently disagree on several issues. We don’t have to agree with everyone, but we MUST respect all people. When confronting people with whom my views differ, I will be respectful and state my views while providing information about why I feel as I do. In return, I ask my fellow humans to give me the same consideration. I will always try to remember that just because someone is opposed to something I support (or supports something I oppose), it doesn’t make them bad. I have my opinions just as they have theirs. I must respect them.
  • When sharing stories or information that can be controversial, I will try to check the facts as best as I can. I will not blindly just share information which my point of view. Before I do, I will do my due diligence and check to see if the article, story, picture, etc. are factual and not just someone made up to elicit a certain reaction. Just because it’s on the internet, certainly don’t assure the information’s veracity.
  •   I will try to uplift people instead of bring them down. We all see negative “news” every day. I’ll endeavor to share stories about how we can all cooperate and share our lives.
  • I’ll try to always keep in mind that we all have FAR MORE in common than we have differences. I’ll try to highlight those things in common and, at the same time, celebrate those differences we have. I believe that diversity is our great strength in this nation and among all humans in general. My perspectives on issues are by necessity, limited (as are those of all others). I can only know truth by comparing and combining my perspectives with those of others (see the poem of The Blind Man and the Elephant) .

These ideas are by no means complete or extensive, but it’s a start. Please let me know your thoughts and share your ideas and feelings as well.

Peace and love to all.

Another Year

Well, 2017 is over and I’m not sorry to see it go. For me, personally, the year had its ups and downs. It included new carpet, work successes, a three week bout with debilitating digestive issues (food poisoning or some nasty bug).

As a country, I feel that 2017 was an awful year. In that regard, it lived down to my expectations. In January, a person who is uniquely unqualified, assumed the office of President of the United States. His performance is as awful as I had feared. The only surprising thing, to me, is that we are not yet in a nuclear war as I feared we would be by this time. We have another 3 years for him to realize that fear, however, so I’m not comforted.

The damage that he has been able to do has been substantial. Many aspects of the social safety net have been eroded and some  abolished. The protection of our environment has been greatly scaled back. Our standing of the world has been greatly diminished. This has all been achieved in less than a year. Even if he is somehow removed from office earlier than his term ends, the damage has been done. The people who might possibly replace him are just as bad in some regards. Our only hope is that a possibility exists that one or more of the houses of Congress may come back into Democratic hands. This would, at least, be a small check on his power.

I’m not very hopeful that this will happen, but the small possibility of it is all we have for now. If there is a God, now would be a good time for him/her to intervene.

 

Happy Holidays

To all people who who are proclaiming that they are grateful that they can again say “Merry Christmas” at this time of year, I ask, “Who ever told you that you can’t?”

The fact that many individuals, businesses and government institutions choose to greet people with “Happy Holidays” instead, doesn’t diminish the expression of your faith in the least.

“Happy Holidays” is meant to be an attempt to include all people in the festivities regardless of their religion or beliefs. Rather than unintentionally exclude people by assuming that they are Christian, we wish them “Happy Holidays” to wish them happiness regardless of their beliefs.

If you want to say “Merry Christmas”, then by all means, do so. Just remember that the person to whom you send this greeting, may not share your beliefs. They probably won’t be offended as they will just attribute it to just another person making assumptions.

If, on the other hand, you’d like to indicate to people that you care about them no matter what their beliefs are, then consider using “Happy Holidays” instead.

New Year’s Day 2017 – Mixed emotions

Today is the first day of a new year. I have mixed emotions about the move from 2016 to 2017.

On a personal level, 2016 was a pretty good year for me. My work is going well. I was able to complete some major projects. I really like and respect my manager and she holds me in high regards and has told me that numerous times.

My relationships with family, friends and others are going well. I still love my home and I’m continuing to make improvements to it. Financially, I doing fine.

2016 was good for me personally, but there were some really ugly things that happened nationally.

The presidential primaries and the election were extremely ugly. It seemed like every day, there was some new ugly, gut-wrenching turn. I’m glad that it’s over, but the outcome has left me worried, concerned, fearful and sad. After the “Great Disaster” on November 8, 2016, I’m actually on the verge feeling hopeless.

It’s for this reason that I hate to see 2016 go. The thought of what is going to happen only a little over 19 days from now makes me want to cry.

It’s like I’m trapped in a car with no brakes, no steering and no way to get out. The car is hurtling toward a solid brick wall at 70 mph and there is nothing I can do about it. The optimist in me tells me that we’ll all survivr, but this is nothing like we’ve ever experienced before. I can see how it coule ALL end very badly.

Yesterday, I order some “I Support President Obama” bumper stickers, which I will have on my car for at least the next four years.

You have a right…

Today, as I was filling my gas tank, I had strong reaction to something I heard coming from another car there.

The driver of that car was also filing his gas tank but was also loudly playing his stereo. What I heard from it bothered and offended me. I’m no fan of rap music, but I certainly don’t begrudge anyone to listen to it if he or she so chooses.

This particular selection was full of words that I find extremely distateful, derogatory, demeaning and just plain ugly, Words like “n****r, f**k, b***h and w***e are not foreign to me, but I don’t use them and I don’t like hearing them, especially when blared to me against my will in a public place.

As I said, I don’t begrudge anyone to listen to this, but I don’t choose to and I don’t want to be forced to do it. Because of the volume and proximity, I dodn’t have the choice though. I can see where, if I was blaring classial music from my car that someone could find it annoying or even rude. When I fill my tank, I turn off my car and consequently my radio.

I’m a huge advocate of protecting everyone’s right to do as they please, but your rights end where mine begins (and vice-versa). Another way of saying it is that your right to move your hands in any direction ends where my body begins.

People, everywhere in this nation, should learn to respect one another’s feelings and rights. Let’s all try to be respectful of each other.

Examining the Bible – Matthew 1

(Bible text is taken from the NIV version of the Bible as found on BibleGateway.com)

The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah1 the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.2
Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband3 was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.4 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).5
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

What do we know?

  • Jesus (or at least Joseph) was descended from Abraham and David. Joseph’s father was Jacob, his grand-father was Matthan and his great-grand-father was Eleazar.
  • Joseph and Mary were not yet married when she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
  • Upon learning of her pregnancy, Joseph, at first, thought to divorce her (did they get married in the meantime?), but he decided not to after an angel came to him and explained what had taken place.


1 The genealogy of Jesus includes (in order) Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, King David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, Jeconiah, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abihud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Akim, Elihud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, Joseph. This is through Joseph, even though Joseph was not related by blood, to Jesus since Jesus was born of Mary while she was still a virgin.
2 This passage indicates three sets of 14 generations (3×14=42), however there are only 41 names, including Jesus.
3 Joseph is called “her husband”. The previous sentence indicates that they weren’t married when Mary was found to be pregnant, but now Joseph is called her husband. Also, Joseph contemplates divorcing her. Either Joseph decided to marry her anyway and then thought better of it and thought about divorcing here, or the concept of marriage is different than what we are used to.
4 This passage says she was made pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Since, later, we learn that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same entity, so, we believe this to be also God and Jesus.
5 This is a reference to Isaiah 7:14

Big decision

After 50 years, I’ve finally decided to become a homeowner. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. I’ve put in an offer for a condo. I’ve already been pre-approved for the loan. It’s at a great price and at 3.5% interest rate. My payment’s (everything included) will only be about $170 more a month than what I’m currently paying for the rent on my apartment.

Here’s a description of the property: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/5769-Spruce-Knoll-Ct-Indianapolis-IN-46220/52493566_zpid/