Make America Good; like never before

American Evangelical Christianity has so much merged with the Republican Party that for many observers, the two institutions are almost one. My purpose here is not to defend Democrats or liberals. But liberals have not aligned themselves with religion in the same way that Republicans have. Basically, Republicans have highjacked Christianity and made it represent principles that are appalling to non-Republican Christians. Let me offer examples:

Capitalism: I acknowledge that there are Biblical precedents for protecting private property and principles of capitalistic economy; “Thou shall not steal,” plus the many Biblical instances of financial prosperity seen as a blessing. But there are also Biblical precedents for social welfare; the tithe collected from all Israelites was used to care for the poor, plus many verses mandating care for the poor, “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker” (Proverbs 14:31 ESV). I also recognize that most all of our modern scientific advances were developed under capitalism. Every one of us can thank capitalism for the cell phone in our pocket. However, due to human nature, unbridled capitalism takes the most out of workers for the least amount of pay – even slavery when possible.

The Republican devotion to capitalism results in several destructive policies: they oppose restraints on industry, attempting to deregulate industry and repeal the regulations of the EPA. It appears that in a Republican world the oil companies get whatever they want. Their policies endorse the insurance lobby which fights against universal healthcare. The Bible calls this bribery which corrupts justice (Deuteronomy 16:19). Protectionist policies of imposing tariffs on imports could be replaced with policies that require all imports to be produced by workers making a living wage. This policy would slowly elevate the living standards in poor countries and alleviate the push to migrate to America. But Republicans consider minimum wage laws an obstruction to free market economy. Our Bible warns, “Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter” (James 5, ESV). Oh yes, people will make excuse saying it is not fraud because we paid them something. But the spirit of this verse is that God cares about those workers who produce our goods, and when we benefit from their suffering, then we are accountable.

Please understand, I have nothing against rich people. That is between them and God. Rich people are a gift. Most of my personal income has been made working for rich people. However, I am ethically bound to be concerned for how rich people attain their money, especially when low wages are concerned.

Great or Good? When someone proposes to “Make America great – again” I am appalled. Try this slogan, “Make America good – like never before.” The presumption that power equals greatness is an ungodly lie. A bully on the school ground may boast of his greatness, but he is despicable. True greatness must be in accord with qualities of goodness, not power.  A truly good, godly nation shows respect to other nations regardless of their military power.

Historical Patterns: The history of America shows that when capitalism and religion are united with a spirit of superiority, minorities get oppressed. The atrocities heaped upon the Native Americans and the African Americans demonstrate that Christianity has been at least complicit in endorsement. In these cases, Christianity had the opportunity to lead by showing the nature of a just Creator, but it failed miserably.  Social justice has often been despised by America’s version of Christianity, preferring instead to protect capitalism. Capitalism, along with delusions of racial superiority, was the demonic force behind slavery and the oppression of Native Americans.

Earthly Kingdom: Christendom often seizes principles from the Old Testament and the kingdom of Israel, attempting to force those principles into the kingdom of Christ; but they do not fit! When these ideals are then merged with American nationalism the mixture is horribly toxic. If Americans want to love their country and have nationalistic goals, fine, but do not mix it with religion. It is not the goal of true Christianity to build a worldly empire. The term, “Christian nation” is not Biblical, nor is there a Biblical mandate to create a Christian nation. This has been a plague upon Christianity since Emperor Constantine.

Meekness: Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth,” not conquer the earth. Psalm 37 defines the spirit meekness as opposed to the conquering spirit, “The meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace…the wicked plots against the righteous…the wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy” (Psalm 37 ESV). This spiritual principle is really the heart of the issue. It is a perversion of Christianity that proposes that God’s goal is to create superior people that dominate others. The spirit of Christ comes in meekness to free the oppressed, but the spirit of anti-christ is the spirit of superiority and oppression. To be led by a spirit of superiority is nothing but Darwinian religion, “survival of the fittest.”

Meekness is misunderstood as self-debasement. True meekness is simply taking one’s place before God, in the created order, showing respect to others as equals. This is true both personally and nationally. Bottom line: arrogance is not a virtue!

Summary: For these reasons I am often apologetic of Christianity to those in my skeptical secular world. My own prayer is, “Jesus, free me from Christendom.” When religion embraces the spirit of anti-christ, we are morally obligated to resist.  This unholy union needs to be broken for the sake of creating a good America.


Privilege

This is a poem on privilege. It focuses on financial privilege. I could have placed it under my creative writing tab “oops” but chose to put here for the topic.

Privilege

Behold, the White man’s prison

that he does not escape

that he built, erected, and polished,

that holds, molds, conforms, and traps

us foolish souls that are enticed

with lust for power.

 

These beautiful prisons bleed

out the red, white and blues,

binding and grinding infants into cells.

From youth we have freely, joyously

enlisted, for the sake of pride

and power – our snare.

 

These prisons have amazing power

to bring the worlds hungry workers

to produce wonderful i-toys

for those in the magical kingdom.

But, these prisons have turned their power

upon their builders, to bind in chains.

 

When the pain of the loss

of innocence that was the cost

of adam’s leap awakens our souls

we moan, asking, what force,

could have devised this cage

from which no white bird flees?

 

When the bars that require submission

do not ask permission to subdue,

and to lay a crushing load of conformity,

then, in the dark all men cry,

“Was this my own design?”


Blue on Black violence

One source of the tension between police and civilians is the “in your face” attitude towards authority figures that is so prevalent. In my generation I was raised with the “stick up your hands or I’ll shoot” vision we learned from TV. I remember running from police as a teen, but I also remember doing exactly as I was told when arrested.

I suppose every generation has members that are angry at authority and take their anger out at police. In the 60’s we went through an era when we called police pigs. I don’t know why. Maybe the anarchist element of hippiness despised all authority. The hip hop generation has really majored in anti-authority rage, especially the gangster rap. So the dilemma; a lot of authority figures are pretty messed up: religious, political, parents, and police. That’s a problem.

About 2500 years ago when China’s society was in turmoil the philosopher Confucius influenced a kind of revival of values. At the core was a return to respect of authority. You can see how this value dominates Asian cultures today.

I see authority in nature, especially if we relate authority to responsibility. Every bird has responsibility and authority over her chicks. You could even say that gravity has authority in the realm of physics. Societies have always needed authority to function; parents, village elders, and tribal chiefs. In those older societies there was relationship to validate the authority. If a 15 year old boy went messing around with a girl the men would take him aside and say, “Hey you can’t be playing with our daughters. You’re gonna have to marry and take responsibility.” But these were the boy’s father and uncles; people who had invested in him since birth, not a stranger with a badge.

If we truly care about the Blue on Black violence trend, maybe there are social issues to look at. I don’t think just changing police policies will be enough.

++We need to train teens in high school on how to respond to police.

++We need to mentor all kids to better trust authority figures.

++We need responsible fathers in the homes.

++We need the entertainment industry to take responsibility for the influence they have over culture.

 

OLD HIPPY (autobiography)    Mark Anderson 2003

I hate and despise authority,

until my computer does not submit to the command entered.

I hate and despise authority,

until I become a manager at my job.

I hate and despise authority,

until I become a school teacher.

I hate and despise authority,

until I need some cops, to save my ass from some gangsters.

I hate and despise authority,

until I become a father.

I hate and despise authority,

until I become an authority.

I hate and despise all authority!

Until our Creator, the only truly good authority,

reaches out to me.

 

In 1969 after a Crosby Stills and Nash concert some gangsters attacked me and my friends outside the old Salt Palace. It could have been horrible but police and security guards quickly stopped it.


Systemic racial injustice

Maaark’s platform for correcting systemic racial injustice

The purpose of this is to recognize specific systems that affect marginalized citizens and may perpetuate their marginalized status. These cut across racial lines but African Americans are affected more often. Our laws should work towards centralizing people rather than casting them off to the margins.

 1- Ex-felons should have the right to vote. Voting rights may be denied during incarceration but once penalties have been paid felons should be encouraged to re-enter society with full citizen rights.

2- Ex-felons should have the right to possess guns. Some special restrictions may apply depending upon category of crime committed, but blanket denial of that citizen right is unjust.

3- Ex-felons should be eligible to serve as law enforcement officers. The reason that minority communities are not proportionally represented in law enforcement is that many are disqualified for their criminal past. It would be better to utilize our prisons as a recruitment resource to build law honoring civil servants.

4- The national minimum wage needs to be high enough that local economy housing can be afforded at less than 35% of the monthly income. In the McDonalds near me all the workers are Black. They are honest hardworking people and should get paid enough to lift out of poverty, not perpetuate it.


Choosing a tribe

Choosing a tribe

I am exhausted from being torn between the polarities of the social strife in America. Everyday there are the racial battles. There are Blacks who resent Whites and want “reparations” and there are Whites who resent being resented and want Blacks to take responsibility for their poor choices. But I don’t want to take sides. Tribalism is almost as old as humanity, and racism is just another form of tribalism. Isn’t there another tribe I can join?

There are capitalists who see no problem with poverty in conflict with the socialists who want to bring them down. What a mess, is there no moderate voice here?

There are anti-immigration patriotic loyalists who feel that immigrants are not really pro-American in conflict with immigrants who are not so different from the parents of the anti-immigrant group. But the battle rages and I am caught as a moderate, trying to consider both sides.

The political insanity of this year’s presidential race could make a grown man cry. Sometimes it is embarrassing to be an American. I want to form a new political party; the Political Peace Party, or the Party of Moderates, or Party of Poets Crying in the Night!

There are religious tribes. Our constitution that separates church and state should be a safe guard against government intruding into religion, and religion placing itself over government. Yes, religions do have a right to influence government, but not to rule over government. Many religions specialize in social issues and engage in a power struggle for control of society. It is always about power. And it is very dark. Is there a way out?

I do have deep concerns for our society and all of the issues above, but striving in these conflicts seems to be insane, and I will not align with any of the tribes. If the Kingdom of Jesus is truly as he claims, a spiritual kingdom not of this world, then maybe that has been in front of me all along, and I need to fall back into it. Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king, Jesus replied, “If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight. My kingdom is not of this world” This seems to be the only place I will find peace.

 

 

 


Wages to Live By

Wages to Live By

If workers in other countries receive wages that are insufficient to elevate their life beyond poverty, and are producing goods consumed in our country by us, that is an issue of social injustice we are obligated to be concerned about. Addressing the issue of wages on the international level is vital for the sake of the future of our own country, and also because of ethical justice for the workers.

Some people will surely say that the capitalist based free market economy is successful in producing wealth and so we should let nature take its course, let the market set wages, and let the law of survival of the fittest rule in all the affairs of mankind. We should agree with this model that it is competition and struggle that have produced some of the greatest accomplishments of mankind-and some of the worst. If we compare unfettered capitalism to the law of the jungle, or survival of the fittest, then its guiding ethic to place one’s own interest ahead of others and maintain a place at the top of the food chain, at all costs. This ethic could lead to the conclusion that the underpaid workers of the world are a simple necessity for the benefit of others.

We may also consider other voices speaking into this situation. We may choose to view humans as having a higher responsibility than to live by the base rule of survival of the fittest. There may be many factors to consider before casting off our responsibility for the poor of the world. Recognizing that the desperation that stems from poverty will eventually affect us here in the comfort of our affluence, President Truman said in 1947, “The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of people for a better life has died. We must keep that hope alive.” Therefore it is foolish and short sighted to think only of the economic prosperity of our own country. If we consider the interrelated aspects of our global economy we must consider the economic well-being of other countries as a benefit to world stability.

Because I am a worker I feel especially passionate about this issue. I have been a hard working carpenter most of my adult life, but I have always had good work clothes. The first time I saw carpenters working in bare feet in India, my heart was deeply ashamed at my American affluence. When I traveled to the Philippines I personally met good, hardworking people, who would work 12 or more hours a day, in an electronics factory, just to stay hopelessly poor. I simply think a worker should get paid a decent wage for a day’s work.

Some people say that this economic situation is ok because everything is cheap in their economy. That is a half-truth. True the rent for their shack may only be $25- per month but a computer still costs $800-. That is the situation. It is also true that the industrialization of poor countries by western enterprise has already greatly benefited these countries. But it is also true that these benefits have not been great enough to elevate these people beyond dependence upon us. The benefits are just enough to keep them in financial slavery.

I am not against capitalism, and I am not against rich people-that is their choice. Really, I am as materialistic as any other American. I have a nice computer, nice camera, and beautiful musical instruments. But my things are made mostly by people overseas and therefore I have a vested interest-even an obligation to be concerned about the people who make my stuff. If people are working at slave labor wages, living in want, producing products so that others may live in luxury, then this is an issue of ethical justice; before man and God. A Biblical passage challenges rich people saying, “You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who harvested your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty!” (James 5:3-4)

Major electronics leaders have already taken a huge step in forming the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, (EICC) (http://www.eicc.info/). Membership in this organization is voluntary and its members conduct self-audits of their suppliers down to the third tier. The EICC Code of Conduct monitors in the categories of: Labor, Health and Safety, Environment, Ethics, and Management Systems. Under the labor category it monitors: freely chosen employment, (including child labor avoidance), working hours, (including wages), humane treatment, and freedom of association (unions). Current standards set by the EICC Code of Conduct require workers to be paid wages equivalent to local standards including 50% more for overtime. This standard perpetuates a problem of people working excessively long hours for overtime pay. For example if a worker works at thirty cents per hour for the first eight hours and can get forty five cents per hour for the next four hours they will always want the full twelve hour shift. And if they can get sixty cents per hour for the last four hours of a sixteen hour shift, they will work until they drop. The standards currently established in the EICC Code of Conduct should be modified to mandate a living wage rather than merely conform to local minimum wage and should limit the rate of overtime pay so that workers will have less motivation for working excessively long hours.

The solution is not socialism. The solution is not in an extreme government that will enforce a worldwide minimum wage. The solution is a voluntary elevation of wages by the corporations. If we don’t want international government regulations then the corporations should take the lead voluntarily. This is good ethically and it is good for the worldwide economy. If factory workers can get great paying jobs it will boost the economy in the entire region. American corporations should take the lead in setting a high living wage as the standard for the EICC Code of Conduct.

This issue cannot continue to be ignored by Americans. If we are complacent about this because we are the beneficiaries of the current status quo, we may also be the big losers in the long run. Don’t think that the world will continue on forever without major revolutions. Don’t be so short sighted that we only think of our own immediate needs. We must relinquish our insistence to be at the top of the food chain. We must dream of a better world, beyond our own borders.

Please sign the petition on the Facebook page to let the electronics industry know that as consumers, we would pay more for our products if we could be assured that the increase would go to the workers rather than the profits of their companies.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BigWorldDreams

Copyright; Mark Anderson 2016


Immigration: Race and Religion

A major social problem facing America today is immigration. Our society is being torn apart through suspicion, political ranting, violent terrorism, vandalism, and deep fears. I am deeply concerned for the future of the USA in this area. Immigration is not the real problem; it is the social conflicts that arise from multiple ethnic groups inhabiting the same geographical space. If Americans do not find resources to blend in peace, then our current social problems will escalate to social wars and violence.

MigrantAB

            There is a civil war in Syria that has caused the mass exodus of thousands of refugees. Many of these refugees are Muslim and many Americans are fearful of their ability to adapt to American culture, values, and norms. American citizens can see the turmoil in many Muslim countries and do not want that violent unrest imported. The thought of people bombing schools because they are against education is fearful. There is an irony here because it is for humanitarian principles that American immigration policy is welcoming refugees from war torn Islamic countries, and it is possible that in future generations, violence will be our reward.

Islam as a religious institution has aggression and conflict imbedded in its values. I am speaking of an institution not of individual people who must be given the right to be judged on the merits of their own character. Islam has aggression written within its creed, “And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere” (Surah 8:39) and “If you gain mastery over them in war…” (Surah 8:57) and “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah” (Surah 8:60, Quran).  Islam has 14 centuries of aggression towards outsiders. Its founder led the first violent incursion against Mecca; as the leader is, so follow the people.

American immigration policy has historically served the security of the homeland. Immigration regulation is not expected to allow entrance by individuals with an explicit agenda to harm citizens or promote violence uprising against the government. Currently the USCIS has a rigorous screening policy for Syrian refugees. This is not a racist policy, it is proper concern.

In the beginning of Islam, when Muhamad was delivering his message, the country was a social mess with idolatry, drunkenness, and many other social problems. Islam was able to that stabilize society and so it has always been a religion of social reform. It does not pretend to separate government and religion the way we attempt to do here. Even in America we are in constant tension over this issue. We should be aware that as Muslims gain local majority they will have to choose how to adapt to their new land. Many Muslims choose to see their ancient text with a moderate view and many realize that extremism invalidates their religious credibility.

We are a pluralist society and a nation of immigrants. In the past assimilation was expected but now we value cultural diversity. Our society must choose the minimal level of integration or adaption necessary to live within the borders, and those choosing to live here should acknowledge these norms. Many Muslims do have a history of integration into American society while retaining their ethnic heritage. There are also examples of Muslims pushing Sharia as soon as they gain majority strength.  Considering what Whites immigrants did to Native Americans we should not be naïve about future possibilities. Muslim immigrants are coming to America by their own choice. I hope they are choosing to accept the values of a pluralistic society.

US Aggression

We should also be aware that US foreign policies contribute to terrorism. Our ethnocentric view of the world has led to policies of democratic expansion/imperialism, which will always lead to resistance from the oppressed. President George Washington warned America to not get involved in the conflicts of other countries. Since then we have moved towards policies of intrusion into other governments, especially since World War 2. There is no justifiable excuse to invade countries to replace their rulers; even when their rulers are tyrants. Iraq, Libya, and Syria are examples of our tragic errors. Muslim governments understand dictators because Islam is based upon authoritarian rule. That is their problem and not for Americans to solve! Other cultures may not separate church and state the way we do. Muslims may view our policies as a religious assault. What we see as defending democratic values they may view as a religious war. American leaders have been sadly ignorant of cultural issues. I propose a constitutional amendment to define foreign policy, restraining the American urge to intrude into other governments. As a democracy we need to urge our leaders in this choice.

Race and Majority Power

I have deliberately chosen to use the word “majority” rather than “Whites.” Whites happen to be the current majority in America, but the principles I am discussing apply to other countries and eras where Whites are not the majority. To use the term “Whites” is racist. It makes a certain race guilty of crimes that are committed by most any group in the majority position. Dealing with the issue of majority power and control is my goal, not debasing any ethnic group. Power is the critical issue; power to control a society and its norms, structures, and laws, is the essence of this social problem.

Immigrants claim that objections to immigration are racially based, but the objectors to immigration claim to simply want to protect their lifestyles and values. Many Americans expect assimilation by immigrants into the American “melting pot” as was the norm in past generations. But the modern paradigm in our pluralistic society is the American “salad bowl” where immigrants retain their former cultural identity and may not even learn the majority language. American culture has been largely shaped by values of the majority white Anglo ethnic group so it is understandable that the majority could fear the loss of their way of life as they are displaced by new ethnicities.

Cultural norms are not evil, they can become oppressive, but in general they are valuable to help us live together. In my sociology text I read, “In any culture, there exists a set of ideas about what is right, just, and good, as well as what is wrong and unjust. Norms are the common rules of a culture that govern the behavior of people belonging to it” (Chambliss & Eglitis 2014 p. 55). The sociologist Emile Durkheim foresaw the turmoil of a society where norms were disrupted through many groups moving into the industrial cities; industrialization and urbanization, and called this a state of “anomie” or normlessness (Chambliss & Eglitis 2014). America is the classic example of this state and the resulting social tension. Many of America’s ethnic majority are simply dreading the loss of social cohesion that comes from shared norms and values. If we are honest, we know that any society on earth would feel the same.

Racial Peace

Racism is elevating our own ethnic race above others and using race as justification for oppression. Anytime we choose elevate our group above others or use privilege to oppress others we engage the conflict attitude, which will destroy America. For multiple ethnicities to dwell together on the same piece of land we must make hard choices. We want everyone to have the right to be proud of their heritage! We want to rejoice in the colorful diversity all around us; this is the future of America! It is our choice.

Copyright; Mark Anderson 2016

 

 

 

References:

Ali, A. Y., & K̲h̲ān̲, V. (2011). The Quran. New Delhi: Goodword Books.

Chambliss, W. J., & Eglitis, D. S. (2014). Discover sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Leon-Guerrero, A. (2014). Social problems: Community, policy, and social action (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Marx, K. (1888). The communist manifesto (F. Engels, Ed.; A. Lutins, Trans.) [Release date 1993 Etext #61]. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23905

New international version. (2005). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

U.S.A., Department of Homeland Security, USCIS History office and library. (2012). Overview of INS History. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/History%20and%20Genealogy/Our%20History/INS%20History/INSHistory.pdf