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How to navigate to "Straying Home," my e-book about adolescent self-discovery through global travel. Just click on a Chapter tab, 1 to 5, immediately below.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

THESE THREE WAYS TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN


Let's start here: 
  • The inescapable realty: the older generation dies. 

  • The only hope: the young generation inherits the basics and improves on them.

 Society must recreate itself every generation.

Way 1: educate

Every child in every generation learns from the past. In traditional West Africa, societies depend on training schools. Kids are taken to “bush schools”—initiation societies—to be given the basic secret beliefs of their people. After a graduation that includes powerful rites they’re considered adults. Photos and story here. (On the linked site, click down to "Where No Vehicle Could Go.")


"Forerunners" of the initiation school parade

Today in West Africa, formal education competes with “bush schools.” Both are effective in renewing West African societies. 

You may see lessons here for our large-scale societies today. What are the "initiation societies" at work in your city, your country? Do they give kids the outlook they need to face the challenges of our national and global civilizations? Does your locale have one or more resettlement programs for immigrants? Example in Portland. If yes, support it. If no, start one.

Way 2: transmit healthy social traditions right in the home. Societies, even enormous one like China, depend heavily upon micro-societies and families for social teaching. Home schooling is the basic rule, even if your kids attend class outside the home.

Consider one family example: the Toynbees of England. A mother birthed a child, Arnold Toynbee, in 1852. This kid obtained a great British education and Arnold’s father and mother transmitted great values to their child. He was so challenged by meeting society’s response to the industrial revolution that he died at age thirty from overwork in research, writing and speaking. His work helped England devise a saving response to the industrial revolution.

Arnold Toynbee.jpg

Arnold Toynbee via Wikipedia.org. Image in public domain.

Next generation in the Toynbee family: the great Arnold J.Toynbee, the nephew of Arnold, who diagnosed the reasons for the death of twelve great civilizations. He found that civilizations had died from inadequate responses. He taught the absolute importance of appropriate response to civilizational challenge.  

Microcosm: an American family's role in social renewal. My American Dad, Clarence Reeck, introduced me as a teenager to Englishman Toynbee’s “challenge and response” theory. In this and many other ways Dad educated me for citizenship, exemplifying how appropriate grand-scale social renewal rests in the microcosm of society—the family.  

Do family traditions provide easy answers for social renewal? Not really. No. Arnold J. Toynbee himself visited Hitler in person and approved of his fascist program to make Deutschland great again because he thought Hitler to be sincere!

So: Way 3: beware: theorists and leaders alike may present their own false responses. Test all prophets. Avoid their mistakes. Don’t fall for “sincerity.” Leaders can be wrong: sincerely, they really can. We, the followers, must beware.

Today, a president is promoting a program to “make America great again.” In that regard, Trump is right on. Every aging society needs to re-create itself and America is no exception.

Let's apply Way 3, Beware: Is Trump’s social solution adequate? Not so far. He hasn’t even articulated his guiding values.


For most of us, the values that guide any course correction in America are: “liberty and justice for all.” 

Let your family, your kids’ classrooms, and your voting be guided by time-tested values and goals. 

Help your family, our schools, our scout troops, our teams, our temples and mosques to find appropriate responses. 

Create the future and do not accept retreat behind physical and psychological walls as an effective solution. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

GLOBAL WARMING: TO AFFIRM OR DENY? The White House and the Weather

In 2015 then-candidate Trump said,
                
"'Obama's talking about all of this with the global warming and...a lot of it's a hoax. It's a hoax. I mean, it's a money-making industry, OK? It's a hoax.'" 

But, for many years TRUTH SEEKING and TRUTH-TELLING scientists and ethicists have said the contrary.

I’ve found a marvelous example of TRUTH, written almost three decades ago, and I want to share it with you.

            Global Dust Bowl: Can We Stop the Destruction of the Land before It’s Too Late?” by C. Dean Freudenberger.  (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1990.)

                Let me introduce Dean, the author. He’s served as professor of Christian ethics at Claremont School of Theology. He won his Ph.D. in social ethics from Boston University, is a trained agronomist, and has been a consultant on soil and agriculture in more than 30 countries. He's a specialist in topsoil as well as ethics. An unbeatable combination. He knows the scientific truth; he tells the truth.
                
His view: “Our lives are totally dependent on the earth’s thin layer of precious topsoil. Yet, during human history, 50% of our planet’s arable land has been lost forever—either blown away or washed into the sea because of irresponsible land use.
               
  “These losses continue. . . ."  (Yes, we've just experienced that in the U.S.A.: Louisiana and Florida.)
                
Dean wrote: ”immediate action is required to avert a ‘global dust bowl.’” 
                
I know Dean. He’s not a fake. He now lives at Pilgrim Place retirement center in Claremont. He helps the center grow its own food without chemical fertilizers. Dean is a truth-teller.
        
The global-warming denier, President Trump, is huddled this weekend in Camp David as Hurricane Irma chews up Florida. Join me in praying to God that this summer's weather catastrophes will move him and his cabinet: 
  • to think responsibly on global warming, refund the Environmental Protection Agency, 
  • to refund the Environmental Protection Agency and free federal agency scientists to tell the scientific truth, and
  • to prepare an energetic national program to slow global warming.

Let's FACE THE TRUTH and work to avert the total global dust bowl. 

This prayer for the President is consistent with Christian social principles. Quoting the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church: "All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings." 

We know that Good Pope Francis and his predecessors agree. Worth reading at this link.
And here.  Question: are there cabinet members who has the guts to bring faith to Trump's attention? This weekend and in the next months?

He, Trump, claims to be a Christian you know. But by his actions he's a denier of his faith. 


P.S. To get notices when I post please follow me on Twitter @darrellreeck  (https://twitter.com/DarrellReeck). If you prefer, friend me Facebook.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

COMMUNITY-BUILDING U.S.A. AT ITS BEST: WITH SKILL AND EMPATHY



First, border walls against the foreigner have been tried for centuries. A couple of examples: 
                
                Roman Empire: Hadrian’s Wall, Northern England, 170 a.d.
                
                China: Great Wall(s) over the centuries.

In general, they've failed.

Second, some nations—especially North and South America,  build their communities and economies from generations of immigrants as well as from original inhabitants. In recent years, Germany, the U.K. and some African nations have strengthened themselves by accepting and integrating immigrants and refugees.

A gripping story from the U.S.: that of Trevor Modeste.

In 1967, won a lottery run out of the American embassy in Trinidad for immigration to the U.S. Once having won, the family left their home town immediately; young Trevor arrived in the U.S. with whatever possessions he could carry. The family obtained “Green Card” permanent residency permits but no citizenship.

Now in 2017, the 61-year-old has finally obtained citizenship. He was coached and helped toward citizenship by staff at Tacoma Community House, a not-for-profit settlement agency in Washington State.


(Above) Trevor Modeste signs his citizenship certificate in the TCH lobby.

Trevor Modeste in the Tacoma Community House office
Photo source: Tacoma Community House


To obtain citizenship, the U.S. requires the applicant to pass a civics test, both oral and written. Modeste has disabilities that make speech and writing difficult. He was tutored, and coached and encouraged by Jesus Pinedo, an immigration specialist at Tacoma Community House.

Over the years since its founding nearly a century ago, Tacoma Community House has helped hundreds obtain citizenship. The immigrants included Italians, Vietnamese, Hispanics of many nations, and others: not only with citizenship preparation but with cooking skills, language training and job placement.

This is a major avenue to community today—through citizenship training in settlement houses, public schools, public libraries. Today, movement across national boundaries is not only desirable but inevitable. Let's make the best out of it for existing populations and newcomers.

The resettlement spirit is diametrically opposite to the wall-building Neo-Nazi spirit exemplified in the world today. Refugees and immigrants will learn, with the help of their new community, to become viable and productive members of the community. In today’s world, keeping others out or alienated is out of step.

In worship we pray for the homeless and hungry. In daily life we should follow through with assistance, whenever and wherever possible, to the groups for whom we pray. 

Trevor’s story was first reported on the Tacoma Community House website. You can read the original here

While you're on the Tacoma Community House site, consider a contribution to the work of the highly deserving Tacoma Community House. 


Saturday, August 26, 2017

ONLY TWO CHOICES: WALL BUILDING OR COMMUNITY BUILDING

Community-building is a very old tradition in America. Dividing, blaming and WALLING has a notorious past. Walling by definition is dividing.  Here are some ways, gathered from American history, to build community and avoid having to build that wall.

Let me share from my wife's family history. Her family traces to a guy and girl, passengers on the Mayflower andPlymouth Colony, Massachusetts, 1620.


A Family Heirloom

John and Elizabeth were part of a small settlement on a (to them) foreign shore. The colonists soon met the current inhabitants, the Indians.  In particular, Squanto, of the Patuxet people, gave aid and assistance to John and Elizabeth and the new colony.

The Patuxet-Plymouth Colony relationship was mutual: some getting and some giving on both sides. 

There was also armed conflict at times.

Thus began the creative relationship between two peoples: the original inhabitants and the newcomers in America.

Two lessons for us from Seventeenth Century America:

(1) learn the language and culture of the other.

(2) Give gifts, acceptance and friendship.

(3) Set boundaries and govern them by mutually acceptable law (note the treaty between Massasoit and the Pilgrims, 1621 to 1673.)  

Build communities, not walls! Wall-building is a hoax. It doesn’t work. Community-building? It works, it keeps progress moving ahead.

Question for readers everywhere in the world: does your family have stories of acceptance and community-building that you can share? Now is the time for you to share your story with your friends, your children, your society.

Next week: more lessons on the failure of wall-building from the American persecution of German-Americans in the early Twentieth Century. Return to www.darrellreeck.com, "Growing Green", next Saturday.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

TRAGEDY IN SIERRA LEONE AGAIN: YOU CAN HELP

Saturday, 9/9/2017 Update on Sierra Leone mudslide:

Bishop Yambasu announcement.


Bishop Yambasu, right; Darrell Reeck, blogger, center; Rev. Clyde Galow, left.


United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone announces long-term aid to villages in the mudslide area. UMC will dig two wells; these will provide safe drinking water. The communities have no safe wells at this time. Further, the UMC will open a new health center at Kamayama--a mudslide-devastated town. There's no health center in the region currently. Source: The United Methodist News.



Human tragedy in Sierra Leone knows no bounds! First there was the hinterland guerrilla war a decade ago. Later, the Ebola epidemic.

Now: hundreds of persons washed away in a mudslide.

Where in Sierra Leone did this tragedy occur? In an area known as the Peninsula--mountainous land that pokes out from West Africa into the Atlantic Ocean. The site of the giant mudslide is a few miles to the south of Freetown, the capital city.

A minority of Sierra Leoneans are Christian and Church aid flowed to the victims immediately. This link takes you to United Methodist. Slide photos and good talk from Bishop Yambasu in this link. Internationally, Qatar also sent aid.






Photo: Suburban Freetown, 1960-61; Peninsula mountains in the background. The 2017 mud-slide happened on the other side of these mountains.

If you can help, find information on donating securely to relief efforts at this link.

Though Sierra Leone has suffered tragedy upon tragedy in the past couple of decades, I experienced there a wonderful cultural and community life. I was privileged to explore Sierra Leone as a college grad (enjoy reading about that adventure here) and then a few years later as a researcher. The second visit resulted in my doctoral dissertation and a PhD from Boston University. And in a book.

I pray for Sierra Leoneans in this current tragedy and invite your prayers for them as well. As time heals the terrible wounds, some of the glory of life in Sierra Leone will surface. That is the hope.

Friday, August 18, 2017

THIS IDEOLOGY THREATENS CORE AMERICAN VALUES

A guest post by Tanner McMullen, 2017 graduate in political science, Gonzaga University. Hometown: Poulsbo, Washington.

Tanner McMullen's Profile Photo, Image may contain: 1 person, sunglasses, grass, tree, outdoor, closeup and nature



Don't pretend this country isn't at war with an ideology so grounded in its foundation that basic equality shakes it apart, and threatens the lives of its citizens.
Too many of us believe that this “war” is built solely on Facebook, Twitter and nightly news broadcasts. But, for many Americans, this war exists in daily life. Fear of discrimination in the workplace, in schools and even of violence in the streets dominates the waking minutes of some Americans in 2017.

In a time where a strong leader is necessary to build bridges in this country, and quell unrest, we have a president that fondly remembers the losing, pro-slavery side of the civil war, and gives Nazi sympathizers the benefit of the doubt. Worse still, we find many white Americans attempting to rationalize the situation and assume the “middle ground.” Allow me to make this clear – you cannot rationalize the ideals of extremist racists who want to bring an end to people's lives. The middle ground between equality and inequality is inequality.

As a country, we elected a President so incapable that he will not condemn racist or sexist ideology and a congress that will do nothing to thwart him. We have built a country where upholding all races, genders and orientations under the law is an idea so far-fetched that it drives people to kill. We, the people of the United States, have failed. If we get another chance to rise out of this situation, will we correct the mistakes we made last November? Or will we prove that this country always has been, and always will be, a breeding ground for discrimination and hate?


Nuclear proliferation, extreme climate change and dwindling resources face us right now, but we can't even nail equality among ourselves. This is the one thing we cannot afford to get wrong, but it's the one thing we can't seem to get right.

Ed. note: it's a terrific pleasure to feature guest posts by eloquent writers with clear minds and noble values. (And by writers younger than me!) Thanks both to Tanner and to Kristina (posted August 11, 2017).
    --DR





Sunday, August 13, 2017

TWO RESPONSES TO WHITE SILENCE: THE GOOD, THE BAD

It's Sunday, August 13. In light of the deplorable events this weekend in Charlottesville, I want to consider these things...

Using a popular phrase coined by Christians - WWJ - What would Jesus do?

What will your pastor do?

What will your church do?

What will YOU do?

If your house of worship only has a surface level response like "let's pray for the injured and dead and their families" or "let's pray for God's guidance and will to be evidenced in responding to these events." If that was my church's response then I might be seriously considering a new place of worship.

(And if you use the excuse that the pastor was in the middle of sermon series or we had a special sermon scheduled, then I'm going to respond with a term we use in education - this is a 'teachable moment' folks. Having been a classroom teacher during 9-11, I know what it means to set aside schedules and lesson plans to respond to the moment you and your students (or in the case of a pastor - your flock) are living and experiencing.)

If my years of reading the Bible tell me the answer to that first question, It would be (and Jesus DID preach) love your neighbors through our words and ACTIONS. And please notice it does not say love only your neighbors who look, act, talk, love and believe like you.

I might also conclude that White Silence about the words and actions of the White supremacists (or white terrorists) would imply acceptance of those bigoted words and actions.

If you are white and that last statement made you uncomfortable, then I am glad because it should.

What will YOU do?

Link to Kristina's August 15 post. You'll navigate to her Facebook page.