Saturday, July 14, 2018

ACHIEVING LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR OUR PEOPLE



A class of American high school kids stands to start the school day day, hands over heart, by reciting the pledge allegiance to the Republic—the United States.  They conclude with these wonderful words:

“. . . with liberty and justice for all.”

With the class seated, "Very broad terms, very laudable," says teacher. "Let’s focus on one of them: justice."

"And even there, can we limit it a bit more? There are many forms of justice. Today let’s just think about 'economic justice.'”

"We can focus this on sharing the national wealth among citizens. Is the wealth of your nation spread fairly among the citizens of your nation? Among all races, all ages, both sexes, owners and non-owners?", asks the teacher.

She continues: "Another way of thinking of the meaning: all people should have equal opportunity to participate in the national wealth."

"What does equal opportunity mean to you?"

John raises his hand. “It means young and old should have equal opportunity?”

"Right," says Teacher. That’s the question, actually."

Mary says, “I think it’d mean 'not barred from wealth by sex or race.'”

"Okay, says Teacher. "Now think more about 'economic justice for all.' How is wealth created and distributed justly in a nation?"

John pipes up again: "It means nobody is barred from participation in a nation’s wealth by virtue of age, sex, race I guess."

"Whoa! You agree with Mary. Where’d you two get your ideas?" asks Teacher.

"From the book," John says.

Then Birdie raises her hand and asks, “So you mean share and share alike?”

Teacher: "You got it, Birdie. Now, what about educational opportunity and wealth? What about those who are wealthy merely by inheritance? And more complicated yet: what about avoiding unfair taxes? Or achieving taxes fair to all?"

Continuing, she says: "What would Francis Bellamy, author of the phrase 'with liberty and justice', probably say? Right. He’d probably say, ‘I agree with working for taxes fair to all.’”

“Now, what nations are noted for high standards of economic justice?” asks Teacher? “Turn to page xxx. What do you see there?”

Below: this is what they see on page xxx.



2017 U.S. Council of Economic Advisers
In the public domain.

“Looks like the wealthy get a lot more of the American national income than in any other country,” says John. “Whoa! I never knew that! And the wealthy share is increasing, not decreasing."

“Time’s up for today,” says Teacher. “Take the image home and ask your parents about it. What do they say? We can talk more tomorrow. Class is over. See you tomorrow.”

Teacher has maintained a neutral position. She’s just getting the kids to think about facts about American values the pledge) and realities (the image of wealth in the U.S.) They can discuss whether the fact is good or bad or bad with their families.

What does your family say about wealth acquisition in the U.S.?

I, the blogger, am greatly interested to know what you think about taxation justice in the U.S. in particular. What do you think when you see the homeless crowded into a city park in the shadow of high rise apartments restricted to the wealthy?

Just to share, what I think is that the ancient and modern wisdom writers agree with the Pledge of Allegiance: every nation should arrange wealth distribution so that all can afford food, decent shelter and medical care. It’s a national responsibility to provide that a minimum.

Is that something we Americans can agree upon and work toward? Evidently not. If we did agree, the federal tax plan of 2018 would never have been adopted. 

The 2018 tax plan provides lower tax rates for the already-wealthy and less benefit for the ordinary-income taxpayer. Paying off the debt burden will fall to the middle class and below.

Therefore a correction is needed drastically, in 2018 the Year of the People. Every voter should demand of state and national representatives a pledge to provide tax plans that actually provide greater, not lesser, “justice for all.” This effort is totally in keeping with traditional sources of wisdom and with our own pledge of allegiance in the U.S. "With justice for all." Fight for it.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

SEEKING SOLUTIONS TO THE IMMIGRATION PUZZLE


Welcome to Post #3 in a series: 2018, The Year of the People.  Today we seek solutions to the immigration puzzle. Keep in mind that for people in sending nations it's the "emigration puzzle."



Naturalization ceremony at the Oakton High School in Virginia, December 2015. 
U.S.Department of Labor via Wikipedia. Photo In the public domain.


First, consider the immigration puzzle. It's for real.

  • Populations are growing far more rapidly in poor nations than in developed nations.
  • People in poor nations suffer from human rights violations, poverty, illness, and competition for very limited social and natural resources. 
  • Most people in receiving nations, whether wealthy or poor, perceive the immigrant share of the population as higher than statistics show.. 
  • Many think that the immigration tide is rising.  (To the contrary, European statistics demonstrate lower numbers in recent years.)
  • Researchers warn that global demographic shifts could cause right wing political power increases. (This has already happened in the U.S.)  Democracies, always fragile, are threatened.

Now consider current ascendant solutions for limiting freedom of movement from one nation to another:

  • Employ border camps (Europe), 
  • Build an impenetrable border wall (U.S.)

But realize that (more humane) solutions are available.

  • Launch a Global War on Poverty. this is a rational, moral step.
  • Aid poor nations in building stable, self-supporting populations in poor nations. Also rational and moral.
  • Example: expand the American Peace Corps program worldwide, the Chinese agricultural development programs in Africa, and human rights campaigns globally. Boost Peace Corps.
  • Get serious about stopping destructive fighting in Syria, Yemen and in many nations around the perimeter of the Sahara. The general rule: war (irrational, generally immoral) creates refugee immigrants. 
  • Learn what your creative neighbors and religious leaders are doing. 

Now apply this ancient commandment: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Book of Leviticus, later endorsed and articulated again by Jesus. In an interconnected global society this commandment makes everyone alive a neighbor of everyone else. The love commandment means my neighbor, next door and next continent.

Another ancient moral command: "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." Consider this ancient advice in the new global context. The immigrant and the would-be immigrant are my neighbors.

LEARN what your creative religious and socially responsible leaders are already doing. An inspiring story: Tacoma Community House.    This is slow but fantastically successful.

CONSIDER your family's case. Example: my personal family experience: my great-great-grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from German-speaking countries in the nineteenth century. After disembarking in New York, they moved on to Minnesota and Wisconsin, then to Kansas, and finally my great-grandparents farmed in Eastern and Central Washington State in the 1860's and 1870's. The children of these farmers mainly moved to cities as educators and business people. I know that tt took time to adjust from immigrant to citizen. My parents told me so.

Explore a contemporary story of immigration.  "After 29 Years, Can I Call Myself an American?" 

What are your ideas? Post them in a comment, and in your own language if you wish.

You will gain gain a realistic picture immigration and emigration from the links below and you can easily search for more.

Further reading:

See why Nicaragua is a sending nation.

Read successes and problems in a West Africa nation: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/cote-divoire

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/02/world/europe/angela-merkel-migration-coalition.html

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/20/business/economy/immigration-economic-impact.html

https://www.oregonlive.com/expo/life_and_culture/erry-2018/07/70c2d4e7441288/im_an_american_now_or_so_they.html


Express yourself where it counts. Write to your U.S. representative.

        https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Write to your U.S. Senators.

         https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Write to your national leader. In the U.S. it's the President.

         https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/


Saturday, June 30, 2018

2018 THE YEAR OF THE PEOPLE: SUPPORT THE CHILDREN



2018 THE YEAR OF THE PEOPLE: SUPPORT THE CHILDREN

Big goal! Help to make it happen. 

(Last week’s plank was "HEAL THE PLANET.") 

Update: 7/8/2018: The Trump administration states that it cannot match kids under five to their parents quickly enough to respond to Court Order requiring the re-linking of kids and parents. It's due to inability to process DNA comparisons quickly. A speedier, better process might be to rely on written records. I don't know that the DNA test is required by law. 

Further update: follow this link to story on 1-year-old showing up in Pheonix immigration court. The overwhelming tragedies of the current panicky administrative interference. 

Now, back to the original post, dealing with kids more generally. The good news: much support is being offered around the world to help kids. . . more than I can know, more than I can imagine. Still, more can be done, at home and at school. And more must be done where people are panicked by chaos in the community and put to flight as refugees.

Chaos in the community? Absolutely true in places like Guatemala (Central America). In many Saharan or  borderline nations north and south. In the Middle East kids are living (and dying!) in chaos, with shelling, bombing and gas attacks happening around them. Kids and young people find flight to be less bad than staying put at home. They become refugees, sometimes with their parents, sometimes on their own without parents.

UNICEF, governments, private agencies, churches and mosques and foundations are supporting kids. Let's give them a boost the active agencies and lobby the others.

Can anything be done for children in pitiful situations? Certainly, yes! The U.S. government backed down on its monstrous procedure of separating refugee children from parents. Public officials couldn’t stand the pressure they received from private, humane organizations. They changed their inhumane policies in a flash.


 
                                 
In the public domain under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License;
Via Wikimedia Commons

In the book of Matthew we read of Jesus blessing the children. Historically, it wasn’t--it never was--just Jesus. In the Quran (“The Cave” chapter) Muhammad proclaimed, “Wealth and children are the adornment of the present world.” Regardless of our individual backgrounds we will benefit by translating the ancient value of blessing children by respecting children and blessing them first and foremost with family life..

In the developed world, some kids who lack stable family support become wards of the court. A long-time friend of mine works as a volunteer to help such children. He’s court-appointed to support guard the rights of  wards of the court. That's an example to the rest of us. We can do something for children!

In any political community, people should ask candidates for office, “How will you support the children?” For officials currently in office: “How are you and  your staff prioritizing children and young people, and supporting them?”

My Conclusion: Support the Children: Plank #2 in 2018: The Peoples’ Year. Not only children, but all of us, will be happier by far when more tangible support is available for kids and young people.

Please stay in touch with the “Growing Green” blog weekly. There’s more to come on "2018: The Peoples’ Year". Share today's post with your contacts. Bless you and your kids!



Saturday, June 23, 2018

PEOPLES' YEAR 2018 DEMAND: PROTECT OUR PLANETARY HOME

Peoples' Year 2018 demand #1:  

"PROTECT OUR PLANETARY HOME!!" 

For the next couple of months I’ll be posting my weekly messages on peoples’ issues. With each post I’ll turn to ancient wisdom for a sense of direction.

Those of us in the battle depend on at least two spreads: wider communications in general and more communication within our communities. Join with me and others to make 2018 the Year of the People. Keep tuned to this blog site for ideas. For today: Plank #1 in our platform.
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Plank #1 in the program: We Demand: Protect our Planetary Home!

Appalling that infernal American federal administration aids and abets the laying waste of the world in many ways. One: they're selling off protected public lands and crippling the Environmental Protection Agency.        

·        This is hugely disastrous for the people worldwide, and not just for Americans. Federal administrators promote the short-term interests of the wealthy few. But we, the people, know we need long-term protections of our planetary home.

Their strategies disregard the “Limits to Growth.”  


National Leadership (American and others) must change and get on board with the needs of the people and of our planetary home. To date, it's the opposite. They cater to their own interests at the expense of 6 billion struggling human beings and their planetary home.

So, we the people need to lead in protecting the earth from higher ocean levels, more violent winds and higher temperatures.

This ancient phrase has modern meaning for us:
“Keep the Garden.” (The Bible: Genesis 2:15.)

The enormous meaning: Our planet is the garden we are held responsible to keep. TO KEEP, to maintain, to cherish!

How? By learning from the planetary healing specialists: environmental scientists. Learning and then DOING. Do the environmentally responsible thing and don't do environmental harm.

Last evening I met a technologically sophisticated man living in my town--Newberg, Oregon. He talked about the daffodils growing on the property where he's resided for years. What he said is: The daffodils on my property are blooming earlier as the years pass. This year they bloomed in December. They used to bloom in March and April.  

Ways that warming is affecting business: winemakers around the world are seeking cooler climates. Global warming challenges wine production in centuries-old vineyards. The Oregonian.

His conclusion: Yes, the climate is heating up. You can see it in the growing cycle. I’ve been in one place for decades and can see that the daffodils are sensing atmospheric warming. 

This finding by one person on his homeste confirms what environmental scientists measure  in many ways, and communicate to us. The atmosphere and the seas are warming.

“Tend the Garden.” In 2018 we must challenge authorities and candidates for public office at every level to spell out how they will  tend the garden.

Almost certainly you have someone in your neighborhood that will be running for public office within a few months. Ask the candidate: what environmental policies will you support?

 July 5 update: Scott Pruitt, U.S.A.'s Environmental Protection Agency chief, has just resigned according to Reuters. THIS IS A PEOPLES' MOMENT. WRITE TO YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVE REQUESTING APPOINTMENT OF AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY, SCIENTIFICALLY ORIENTED E.P.A. CHIEF.

That’s Plank #1 in The Peoples’ Year. We Demand: Protect our Planetary Home.

Forthcoming planks: humane immigration policies: a win-win approach. Reigning in the growing national debt. Protecting democracy in a connected world. Upholding human rights: equality, choice.

What am I missing? Comment. Let me know.

Click on the comment button. I’ll consider every suggestion. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

THE "HOME-BUILDING QUESTIONS" BEFORE COMMUNITIES GLOBALLY




Have you experienced the joy of re-entry into family, religious fellowship, ? I’m thinking of the recovery of mental and moral energy that we experience in coming home.

How big is “home”? When you think of “home,” “heim,” “ma maison,” what comes to mind? A family relationship? A town or region? A nation? A business? The world itself—a globe spinning in space? An ideal society of spiritual beings that you’ve never experienced immediately but hope to? Or all of these?

“Home” has referred, at times, to all of these dimensions of life. “home” means those environments where I know love, experience acceptance, and feel secure.

Home in the large scale sense has gone “poof” and disappered. Given uses of electronic networks for both good and evil, struggle for dominance through control of arsenals of powerful weapons, and the retirement of widely-acknowledged spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu. . .”home” in the large-scale dimension has been almost blown away.

I might look to the United Nations as a large-scale “home”. In fact I did so in the days of Dag Hammarksjold, the first General Secretary. Later General Secretaries like Moon and Guterres have failed to inspire. They, seemingly, are great bureaucrats but not inspirers of dreams. Early in his reign

I thought of Pope Francis as “parental” globally, but he seems to have gone to sleep in Rome and isn’t functioning well.

A sadness: All I see in the parental role in the large-scale global scene is political leaders seeking personal dominance, supported by wealthy patrons.  Struggling for personal dominance but not serving the common good like a guardian or parent. This is a struggle among tyrants, not global home-building.

So, the question presented to human society is this: who can and will come to the fore in the role of creating a global home? Is there a candidate, or several candidates, who will promote national and global freedom, justice and green values? Who will create home for all?

Am I missing something? Do you have names to suggest? I want to feel at home.

Monday, June 11, 2018

CREATING QUALITY PROGRAMS IN HIGHER EDUCATION: A HISTORY


Key question answered in this post:  "What were the forces that made possible the Business Leadership Program (B.L.P.) at U.P.S. over thirty years ago?" I presented the paper at University of Puget Sound (U.P.S.) on June 9. The B.L.P. is very alive and well today. A longer post than usual because the case is worthy of consideration by college faculty, students, and the business community in general.


Business Leadership Program at University of Puget Sound:  the Start-up
Darrell Reeck Professor of Religion (retired)
Co-founder and one-time Co-Director of Business Leadership Program
June 9, 2018
                My goal is to present the major factors leading to the B.L.P.  

Step 1: an initial link was formed between the Business School and the Humanities Division.

Here’s the story of how that happened.  When I first arrived on campus as a new ethics professor in late summer, 1969, Professor Robert Albertson, Director of the Humanities Division, walked me across campus to the School of Business. In the office of the director, Albertson said, “Tom, here’s your new business ethics professor.” Maybe Thomas Sinclair was surprised. I suspect so.

Prof. Sinclair said “Alright!” He offered to team-teach the course. Tom and I team-taught Business Ethics until he retired in 1972. That pleasant partnership was the seed that would develop into the B.L.P. 



Collins Memorial Library view across the beautifully green Campus

Much was happening just then in the Business School and in the university. Philip Phibbs assumed the presidency of the university in 1973. Soon, he posed a planning issue for trustees and faculty: “What do we want the University to become?” He sketched two basic choices: 1, to grow in size to become a version of the University of Southern California, or, 2, to grow in quality as a small liberal arts college. Faculty and trustees deliberated and within a year or so decided on the high quality-small size option. President Phibbs led us toward the goal of a higher quality liberal arts institution.
                
About the same time Dr. Robert Waldo succeeded Professor Sinclair as Director of the business school. Bob stepped into team teaching the business ethics course with me. It wasn’t always an easy success. I recall a sentence from one student evaluation: “Reeck knows a lot about ethics, but not much about business.” Very deflating! But I took it as a challenge to learn about business. I enrolled in the finance sequence, often competing for an “A” grade with students of mine from the business ethics course. (Talk about potential conflict of interest!)
                
Step 2. After a couple of semesters, Waldo and I dreamt about expanding on our team-teaching partnership into a larger track of some sort.  Gradually we focused the question: “Can we design an undergraduate program with core business courses and liberal arts education for outstanding students?” We developed three benchmarks: business courses, liberal arts thinking skills and heritage, for a limited number of highly qualified students.

With our proposal in hand we met with President Phibbs and Dean Tom Davis. We knew we’d get nowhere without their support. To our relief, the President and Dean responded enthusiastically. They felt the dream proposal fit well within the university’s goal of high quality education and directed us to devise a curriculum for the new program.

To that end, Dr. Waldo approached a key history professor with the idea that B.L.P. students should learn the history of business from the History Department.  Professor Walter Lowrie agreed to develop a European history course with an emphasis on business history.  The Curriculum Committee approved this course.

At that point, we had two unique courses designed specifically for the B.L.P.--the ethics course and the history course.  We added certain specific business courses, particularly Accounting and Finance. The partnership of Business and Humanities was in full swing toward fulfillment. 

It wasn’t just an assortment of courses. Courses were carefully designed means to ends: capable communications, written and oral; critical thinking concerning business responsibilities in democratic societies; competence in numerical disciplines like accounting and finance; and an understanding of leadership.

Step 3: We put the plan before the Business Administration faculty. They approved. Then we took the plan to the Curriculum Committee of the University. We were tensed up, knowing that faculty tend to guard thei own academic specialties. To our relief, Curriculum Committee members approved the B.L.P. proposal.

Steps 4 and 5: We still needed students! We developed recruitment strategies with the Admissions office. The goal was to recruit twenty incoming freshman students. Admissions began announcing the opportunity to advisors in high schools.

At this stage, President Phibbs guided Prof. Waldo and me to secure start-up funding and referred us to potential contributors. I remember the day that Bob and I met with the President of Rainier Bank, high up in his Seattle headquarters tower. This man became an enthusiastic supporter of the B.L.P. concept. His bank donated a substantial grant toward start-up expenses.

Soon, Admissions had some student candidates to recommend. I have a clear memory of meeting one of them, a high school senior named Tim Hinthorn. We met in a Salem, Oregon restaurant. Tim became the first to be admitted into the new Business Leadership Program. 

We also recruited business mentors to work with our B.L.P. students on a one-to-one basis. The first of these was Phillip Barr, a Weyerhaeuser executive and my neighbor.  An advisory committee of business people was also formed.

Finally, the program was off and running. I’m delighted that the program endures as a valued part of the University of Puget Sound under the leadership of its director, Professor Alan Krause.

Very best wishes to each B.L.P. student and graduate and to each B.L.P. faculty member, and long live the B.L.P.!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

PEEKING INTO REALITY OF HOMELESSNESS IN WORLD'S WEALTHIEST NATION

KEY TOPICS in this post:


  1. U.N. report on HOMELESSNESS in America.
  2. How to follow homelessness in your town.
  3. Invitation to you: ideas for posts.
1. HOMELESSNESS IN AMERICA. 

The United Nations reports that millions of CHILDREN--that's right, CHILDREN--are homeless in America. Coverage of the shocking report is easily available to you. Just go to this link: UN Report on Homelessness. You'll find a Guardian story you'll be able to read in just a few minutes. American readers will find the report to be shocking. Global readers be thankful that their societies are coping with the challenge of homelessness better than the Americans.

I can't state too strongly that The Guardian article is important reading for you. It covers the UN report and the fact-finding behind the report in certain American communities and in the nation broadly. 

2. HOMELESSNESS IN YOUR TOWN. Suppose you want information on homelessness in your town. I suggest an internet search like "Homelessness in xxx." (substitute your community's name for "xxx".)

As a trial run, I searched for "Homelessness in Topeka" and found this great story of a man's personal mission action the homeless through his employer, The Salvation Army. I encourage you: do a similar search for information in your community. For example, search for "Homelessness in (Portland) and substitute your community's name.  


3. WHAT ARE YOUR IDEAS FOR POSTS IN THE FUTURE.

You prove that you're a supporter of the values of helping the neighbor just by reading this post. So I invite you to send me ideas for my own reading as I prepare to post more in this series on homelessness. You can contact me easily by using the comment feature below this post article.

As you brainstorm, you'd probably get ideas from previous post I've written on an experience with the homeless in my city--Portland, Oregon. Click here to open that post.   

HOW ELSE CAN YOU HELP WITH RECLAIMING VALUES?

My commitment in this blog  is to apply traditional values to current realities. I try to answer the question: what are we to do? Homelessness is a current reality that is global in scope. Join me in the quest to face, rather than ignore, this reality.  

Share your ideas and COMMENT below. 

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