Saturday, September 29, 2007

Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's going on here.

- Annie Dillard
Abandon wrongdoing. It can be done. If there were no likelihood, I would not ask you to do it. But since it is possible and since it brings blessing and happiness, I do ask of you: abandon wrongdoing.Cultivate doing good. It can be done. If it brought deprivation and sorrow, I would not ask you to do it. But since it brings blessing and happiness, I do ask of you: cultivate doing good.
-Anguttara Nikaya

Friday, September 28, 2007


So much for 'compassionate conservatism'.  Pres. Bush threatens a veto of a children's health insurance bill.  That wild liberal Orrin Hatch has vowed to vote to override the veto.
This threatened veto shows just how partisan this administration is.  He NEVER vetoed bills when it was a Republican Congress wasting money.  Now that the Democrats are in charge he pulls out the pen.
He will have plenty of opportunity to veto wasteful spending by the Democratic Congress.  A bill to provide healthe care to children is not the place to start.  A rich nation has a moral obligation to care for its children- who, after all, cannot possibly be held responsible for their poverty.  This is especially wrong after the President sent Sec. of Defense Gates to Congress to ask for more money (which would bring the total spending to over $700 billion by some estimates) for an immoral war.


U.S. to allow key detainees to request lawyers

14 terrorism suspects given legal forms at Guantanamo Bay
These are 14 "high value" detainees who were transferred from the (illegal?) secret CIA prisons to GITMO.
Finally a step towards living up to basic American principles.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Even in the case of individuals, there is no possibility to feel happiness through anger. If in a difficult situation one becomes disturbed internally, overwhelmed by mental discomfort, then external things will not help at all. However, if despite external difficulties or problems, internally one's attitude is of love, warmth, and kindheartedness, then problems can be faced and accepted.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

If you speak or act
with a calm, bright heart,
then happiness follows you,
like a shadow
that never leaves.

-Dhammapada, 1

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

- Isaiah 32:17

Hate not hard to find


Monday, September 24, 2007

How do we learn to love our enemy? By seeing him as a brother who is tempted as we are, and attacked by the same real enemy which is the spirit of hatred and of "Antichrist." This same enemy seeks to destroy us both by pitting us against one another.
- Thomas Merton
from Passion For Peace

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cost of War

The $3,850 per second war and its victims

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Assuming you read at average speed, by the time you get to the bottom of this column, the war in Iraq will have cost the United States another $760,000. More than $4 million of U.S. taxpayers' money ebbed away in the 18 minutes it took George W. Bush to explain to his country and the world last week why the war he ordered would last well beyond his presidency.

During an eight-hour working day, U.S. tax dollars spent in the battle zones of Iraq total $112 million. These figures are extrapolated from a report by the Congressional Research Service (CSR), a bipartisan agency which provides research and analysis for the U.S. Congress. It put the war's average cost in 2007 at around $10 billion a month.

That translates into $333 million a day, $14 million an hour, $231,000 a minute and $3,850 a second. Even for the world's richest country, this is serious money.

Read whole article here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

For God is a God not of disorder but of peace.

- 1 Corinthians 14:33-33

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Let them direct to God the works that they do, because human work that is directed to God will shine in the heavens. For God created human beings and placed other creatures under them so that they might act on other creatures in such a way that God’s good works would not be destroyed.
-Hildegard of Bingen
[Emphasis added. GP]

Sacrifices of the few

This is a point I've been making repeatedly in my classroom. What are Americans in general sacrificing for the "war on terror" that they believe to be so important? My students immediately answer, "Nothing." Americans are not rationing and recycling as they did during WWII (in fact instead of rationing fuel as Americans did during WWII, Americans are whining about gas prices being too high). They are not willing to pay taxes to make sure that soldiers have the armor they deserve to protect themselves. People are not signing up for the armed forces (this especially says something about how important they thing the war in Iraq really is) in large numbers.

The people in the military are starting to clue in. They suffer, and the general public does nothing.

All those "Support our Troops" magnets you see on the back of cars- empty verbiage.

War's impact at home falls hard on relative few

Repeat deployments, extended tours add uncertainty to hardship of service

Their stories put a human face on stark statistics showing that the U.S. military — a small force by historical standards — is stretched thin after more than four years in Iraq and six in Afghanistan. Repeated deployments of active military members and reservists and diminishing "dwell times" between postings to the war zone have taxed soldiers and taken a growing toll on the home front.

"Families are truly exhausted," says Patricia Barron, who runs youth programs for the National Military Families Association. "They are starting to feel the stresses of separation more acutely."

Indeed, the whole approach to providing manpower for this conflict differs from that of the Vietnam War, from 1964-1975. Then, a much larger active military — 8.7 million troops — was bolstered by a draft that added 1.7 million more soldiers to the ranks, according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. More than 640,000 of the draftees served in Vietnam, constituting about one-quarter of the total U.S. force there, the VFW said.

But the draft ended in 1973, and the active military now numbers about 1.4 million, according to the Department of Defense.

In order to sustain troop levels in what has become a much more prolonged conflict than originally anticipated, the military has relied on repeated deployments, and a far heavier use of "weekend warriors." More than 434,000 National Guard and Reserve members have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, about one-quarter of them more than once, according to the Pentagon. In comparison, about 340,000 Guard and Reserve troops were deployed during the Vietnam conflict.

The suicide rate among soldiers hit a 26-year high in 2006, according to a Pentagon report released in August

The report said the numbers suggest a correlation between suicide and the number of days served in Iraq or Afghanistan, though failed personal relationships and legal and financial problems also were identified as factors.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wars arise from a failure to understand one another's humanness. Instead of summit meetings, why not have families meet for a picnic and get to know each other while the children play together?
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama
 Very often people object that nonviolence seems to imply passive acceptance of injustice and evil and therefore that it is a kind of cooperation with evil. Not at all. The genuine concept of nonviolence implies not only active and effective resistance to evil but in fact a more effective resistance... But the resistance which is taught in the Gospel is aimed not at the evil-doer but at evil in its source.

- Thomas Merton
from Passion For Peace

Friday, September 14, 2007

Disconnected from reality

White House Press Sec. Tony Snow leaves office. He's been quoted as saying "When the money runs out..." he'd leave his post. According to one press report:

Snow, 52, announced his retirement from the position two weeks ago and finishes his tenure today. Though he continues to battle a recurrence of colon cancer, Snow has maintained that his resignation was not health-related. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family and hinted that the press secretary's $168,000 salary was too low...

Doesn't it break your heart? Snow can't get by on $168,000. Of couse the average salary in the US is less than $50,000.

Mr. President, if you're reading, I can get by on $168,000. But, of course I'd stand at the mic and tell the truth. I suppose you may consider that a liability.

Suppose Fox News is willing to throw a million plus at some ordinary Joes to save them from the money "running out"?

Doubt it. More likely they'll oppose any government policy that may help the common man, and save their charity for the six figure folks like Snow.

I'm sure Snow will be back at the "fair and balanced" network in no time. Replenishing his coffers with what passes for journalism at Faux News.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sad Story

Two U.S. soldiers whose signatures appeared on an op-ed piece in The New York Times critical of the war in Iraq were among seven Americans killed in a truck accident outside of Baghdad, family members said Wednesday.
Staff Sgt. Yance Gray and Sgt. Omar Mora were members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Gray, Mora and five other soldiers died Monday when their truck overturned near the Iraqi capital, U.S. officials said.

Gray and Mora were among seven soldiers, mostly sergeants, who wrote the op-ed piece that appeared in the Times on August 19. It called the prospects of U.S. success "far-fetched" and said the progress being reported was being "offset by failures elsewhere."

"Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence," they wrote. "When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Global Warming Report

Climate change could have global security implications on a par with nuclear war unless urgent action is taken, a report said on Wednesday.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) security think-tank said global warming would hit crop yields and water availability everywhere, causing great human suffering and leading to regional strife.

Scientists say global average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to burning fossil fuels for power and transport.

The IISS report said the effects would cause a host of problems including rising sea levels, forced migration, freak storms, droughts, floods, extinctions, wildfires, disease epidemics, crop failures and famines.

I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.
- Henry Ward Beecher
Don't just wish for peace. Work for it. 
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama

One candidate's position

Democrat Barack Obama on Wednesday called for completing a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2008 and said if elected president he would start an effort to help Iraqis bridge sectarian differences,
I am here to say that we have to begin to end this war now," the Illinois senator said in excerpts from a speech he was to deliver later in Iowa. The excerpts were released by his presidential campaign.

He said he would immediately begin to pull out troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of 2008.

Obama said he would call for a new constitutional convention in Iraq, convened with the United Nations, which would not adjourn until Iraq's leaders reach a new agreement on political reconciliation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Please look for an opportunity to help- through your church/religious intitution, or some non-governmental institution.

About 10 million people out of the 27 million population of Assam state have been affected by flooding after rains in the past few days. More than 2,000 villages have been completely submerged.

The second spell of flooding in less than a month has also spread across parts of Bangladesh, forcing around a million from their homes and leaving thousands stranded. About 850 people have died in floods there since late July.

About 3 million people in Assam are living in temporary shelters, government buildings and schools, officials said.

Around 1 million acres of farmland have been flooded.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
John 14:27

Friday, September 07, 2007

Still on the mend

The Pilgrim continues his recovery from hand surgery. Hence the paltry posting.

To every thing, there is a season.

I shall return.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.
- Matthew 23:23-23

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In this world, in order to enable society to develop, all its members have to assume responsibilites and make their contribution. If we do not make collective contributions then there will be no development.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Monday, September 03, 2007

See what no eye can see , go where no foot can go , choose that which is no choice–then you may hear what makes no sound–God’s voice.
- Angelus Silsius

Sunday, September 02, 2007

He who for himself or others craves not for sons or power or wealth, who puts not his own success before the success of righteousness, he is virtuous, and righteous and wise.