Martin Luther King, Jr. killed forty years ago today spoke truth to power about America's "spiritual death" from its war mongering

In, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech against war he rebukes his own government of the United States. Would that we Americans had learned his lessons. He, indeed, is a prophet, largely ignored, and killed forty years ago today on April 4, 1968. Often sentimentalized in politically correct ways while ignoring his deeper beliefs, values, and messages.

The video only lasts about 2 1/2 minutes. It sends chills up my spin to listen to him and watch this video.

American Exceptionalism and Survivor's Guilt

Scott_tayler_2 Scott Tayler, a Co-Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY, gave a very interesting sermon on February, 3, 2008, entitled "The Healing Power of 'We Can't'".

Reverned Tayler talks about his Mennonite roots of nonviolence and his attempt to square this with American Exceptionalism which is the American belief that we are divinely ordained to save the world. This hubris leads to an unconscious belief that we are God. To what extent does our nationalism become idolotry?  Rev. Tayler then goes on to express a concern about America's survivor guilt, our sense of compassion of being responsible for the negative consequences of what we have set in motion.

I become quite impressed with the quality of Unitarian Universalist preaching about issues that affect our lives. I highly recommend Scott's sermon to you. It lasts about 20 minutes and you can listen on line or download the sermon to an MP3 player by going to the Digg site by clinking on the link below.

Link: Digg - The Healing Power of "We Can't" (February 3 2008) (Sermons from the First Unitarian Church of Rochester NY).

Life on the Mental Health Front lines

Rounds This fall, 2008, I will have been in the Mental Health field for 40 years. In addition I have raised 9 children of my own with my wife, and now I have 10 grandchildren.
I feel over the hill in some ways working in my private practice, being an agency executive, and teaching undergraduate social workers. Recently though, for the first time in a long time, I agreed to accompany a 16 year old client and his mother to an IEP meeting at his high school. The meeting was called to discuss his returning from a special ed 12:1:1 classroom to normal programming. I was appalled at the arrogance of the Principal who lectured the mother and the student about his zero tolerance policy for misbehavior and seriously questioned whether the student was prepared to function in this "higher expectation" environment. The mother started crying and said to him, "It seems that you are expecting and waiting for my son to fail!" at which point he demurred saying that he was not making a judgment only issuing a warning of what was expected. I thought to myself, "What an asshole!"
After he left the meeting the chairperson of the meeting, the Director of Pupil Personnel Services, tried to minimize his behavior saying that they like to play "good cop", "bad cop."
My wife and I wound up homeschooling our kids and most of my grandchildren are now homeschooled by their parents thank god. I am reminded of Pink Floyd's song, "We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control! Teachers!!!!!! Leave those kids alone!!
Schools blame parents all the time in the U.S. as well as policy makers for their children's poor functioning and misbehavior. It's outrageous really. In the U.S. there is very little parental support of any kind unlike in U.K. and Europe. Parents are left to struggle and when they lack the resources to respond to their children's problems there is an intimation that they are bad parents.
Today, I came from a meeting with a psychiatrist and a family intervention team trying to keep a 16 year old young female out of placement. The Psychiatrist kept saying every time concerns were raised about her behavior, "You have to understand, she's very sick. Her brain is not working right." She was trying to refer the father to NAMI support groups so he could learn more about mental illness. Under my breath, I am whistling, "I can't believe this shit!"
It's been a long time since I was on the front lines in this way, and it is appalling at the lack of compassion and inability of the systems we have created to respond in my human, respectful, and dignified ways. Now days it seems to be all about the money and the regulations requiring compliance with certain standards. Service providers are no longer working with clients and families but for some invisible agenda setters whom the service recipients never see and probably are not even aware of who are calling the shots.
In case you're wondering about the High School Principal, he said was an interim principal whom the school board had brought in from retirement to "clean things up", and the Psychiatrist is the director of a clinical research program hired to run drug trials. So the hidden agendas are veiled, but lurking behind the scenes, and students, patients, and their families are mystified as to why they are reduced to tears and sent off to support groups to learn that "mental illness" is caused by bad chemicals which can be rectified with phamaceuticals from Big Pharma.

60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Udhr While President Bush and his administration disingenuously tell the American people that the terrorists hate Americans for their freedoms, very few Americans know about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was agreed to and promulgated by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.

This year is the 60th anniversary celebration of this declaration.

There are many web sites devoted to the Declaration and a good place to start is the article on Wikipedia.

It seems hypocritical for the Bush administration to be talking about freedom when this administration has engaged in war crimes perpetrating a pre-emptive and immoral war on false pretenses, engaged in torture against the principles of the Geneva Convention, thrown out Habeas Corpus, engaged in illegal surveillance activities on its own citizens, utilized extraordinary rendition, refused to participate in the International Court, the Kyoto treaty, and the list goes on.

It would be a positive step forward if the next President and his or her administration fully supported Universal Human Rights. Do you know where your favored candidate stands on this topic?

Link: UDHR - 60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Home.

It takes the Supreme Court to get the EPA to do its job under the Bush Administration

Back on April 2, 2007 the Associated Press report on the Supreme Court's ruling that the EPA does have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions was broadcast on CNN.

The Supreme Court rebuked the Bush administration Monday for its inaction on global warming in a decision that could encourage faster action in Congress on climate change and lead to more fuel-efficient cars as early as next year.

The court, in a 5-4 ruling in its first case on climate change, declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate those emissions from new cars and trucks under the landmark environment law, and the "laundry list" of reasons it has given for declining to do so are insufficient, the court said.

This is just one more example of how the Bush Administration is in bed with the corporations rather than looking out for the interests of the American People. Thank god the Supreme Court is standing up for the states who are trying to get the EPA to do its job. The conservative, right wing Republicans think the only legitimate purpose of government is to feed the corporate machine by fighting immoral, pre-emptive wars, and giving huge contracts to private security firms for international and domestic population control purposes. It seems strange that it takes a judicial court to get them to do their job to protect the environment which we all benefit from not only here at home but around the world.

This situation raises a number of important issues in the 08 election. What does the future President intend to do to protect the environment? What is the appropriate role of government in protecting the commons or is everything for sale to the highest bidder? What does the future President believe is the proper role of government in serving the welfare of the people? What is the proper role of government in its relationships with corporations and their profit making capitalistic motivations? What is the role of states in getting the Federal government to do its job?

Link: High Court Decision May Hasten Congressional Action on Global Warming - News -

Al Gore's Nobel prize speech

I have been growing increasingly disenchanted with the coporate media. Thank God there are shows like Democracy Now with Amy Goodman.

Democracy Now had a great show on December 11, 2007 featuring Al Gore's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, and the acceptance speech of Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Amy also interviewed Ted Glick who is a 99 day fast to protest the Congress's failure to address climate change.

This hour long show is well worth listening to. I think every American should know what is going on with climate change and our corporate media, because of their vested interests, only pay the topic lip service. To listen or download the hour long show, click on the link to the show's web page below.

Link: Democracy Now! | December 11, 2007.

Medicine is a front row seat on seeing the holy nature of the world

Money_and_medicine "I, too, think that life is constantly showing us the holy nature of the world. And medicine is a front-row seat on life. You get to see spirit in action, no matter what your religion is. Most doctors recognize this. Few doctors have not experienced what they would call holy moments in their work, moments of awe, moments when they have known themselves to be in the presence of something larger than themselves, be it courage or love or mystery."

Dr. Rachel Remen

Unfortunately, medicine, the healing arts has been turned into a corporate enterprise, a mercenary business which is about making money rather than bringing comfort to the sick, and healing to suffering and terrified spirits. Many people are called to medicine, to healing and care, because they realize that "somehow they belong in places of need and trouble" and Dr. Remen puts it in her essay "Exposing The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Medicine" in the book  entitled, The Life Of Meaning, edited by Bob Abernathy and William Bole. Dr. Remen goes on to say:

"The great majority of those I have asked say that they were under fifteen when they first realized that they moved toward the unmet needs of living things with an intent to make a difference. So medical expertise is only the most recent set of tools with which they have responded to the needs of the life around them. And their intent to make a difference in the life around them - their service impulse - has been a way of life for them, long before they were experts, from the time that they were very young. We are in this work not because of what we know, but because of who we are." p. 27 - 28

With the corporate take over of medicine, the motivations for providing care have changed and it is no longer about the service but about the money, and medicine in no longer an honorable profession but a "career" or a job and the spiritual fulfillment and satisfaction has been supplanted by avarice and materialism. For those attracted to medicine as a way of service, this has been very stressful. Dr. Remen notes:

"But I think the real crisis in medicine is a spiritual crisis, a crisis of integrity. It has to do with a system, an infrastructure, that makes it difficult for people to live by their life values, to relate to people in ways that are compassionate because of economic or time pressures and the policies that come from them. It makes people unable to practice their service according to the best they know, not just scientifically, but also spiritually. When you separate people from their values that they have held closely from their early childhood, they lose their sense of meaning, integrity, and commitment. They feel helpless. They become cynical and depressed and hostile. Our medicine is only as good as the peple who practice it. In one generation it is possible to destroy the lineage of the profession that has endured for thousands of years. The lineage survives only as long as the innate values of those who practice the profession. p.28

It is important to those who would insure the transmission of the best of the professions of medicine, the healing arts, and human service to stand up to the corporate values that objectify human bodies as merely physical entities and to disregard the human capacities of love, respect, dignity, caring and compassion. Dr. Remen says,

"I think that the spiritual core of medicine is at risk at this moment. We could demean this work and become biological technicians, but that's not what medicine is about; it's never been what medicine is about. Medicine is not a work of science, it is a work of service, and service is a special kind of love." p. 29

American Fascists: The Christian Right and The War On America, the book

Chris Hedges book, American Fascists: The Christian Right and The War On Terror, is a very important book which every American should read. The fundamental Christians, some of whom are called Dominionists, have infiltrated our government at all levels and intend to turn the United States into a Christian nation. They complain about being persecuted by satanic forces like "liberals", "secularlists", "humanists", "gays", and a population that is "unsaved" and they seek to dominate, to control, to influence the whole society.

These American Fascists have no respect for the separation of church and state, no respect for the rule of law other than what they call "God's law" of which they are the final arbiter. They disparage anyone not like themselves such as Catholics, "liberal protestants", Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, anyone of a different faith. They seek to take over the schools and universities and to gain control over the levers of government at all levels from school boards,to county administrations, to state and federal offices. They lie, coerce, shame, blame, exclude, discriminate, and under the guise of "christian love" spread a message of hate attacking those who do not agree with their own ideology. This may seem like a strong indictment but Chris Hedges is very serious when he ends his book with these sentences:

"But I do believe that the radical Christian Right is a sworn and potent enemy of the open society. Its ideology bears within it the tenets of a Christian fascism. In the event of a crisis, in the event of another catastrophic terrorist attack, an economic meltdown or huge environmental disaster, the movement stands poised to manipulate fear and chaos ruthlessly and reshape America in ways that have not been seen since the nation's founding. All Americans - not only those of faith - who care about our open society must learn to speak about this movement with a new vocalulary, to give up  passivity, to challenge aggressively this movement's deluded appropriation of Christriantity and to do everthing posssible to defend tolerance. The attacks by this movement on the rights and beliefs of Muslims, Jews, immigrants, gays, lesbians, women, scholars, scientists, those they dismiss as "nominal Christans," and those they brand with the curse of "secular humanist" are an attack on all of us, on our values, our freedoms and ultimately our democracy. Tolerance is a vitrue, but tolerance coupled with passivity is a vice."

If these warnings seem over the top consider the statements made by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell that the cause of 9/11 was the secularization of the United States as evidenced by providing gays with rights, and women with the reproductive right of abortion. Consider the situation in Dover Pennsylvannia where the school board mandated that Creationism be taught in the schools instead of the evolution. Consider the disregard for science in regards to climate change, making available the morning after pill, stem cell research, and the fiasco of the Terri Shiavo case. Consider the unbelievable control and power given to Monica Goodling, a graduate from Pat Robertson's Regent University in her 30s, to create a litmus test for U.S. Attorneys which she admitted under oath to a Senate Judiciary committee went "over the line." Consider the appointment of numerous judges to federal courts, and even the United States Supreme Court, whose main qualification is not their jurisprudence, but their compliance with a religious standard which was a main bargaining chip for support of the Bush administration by the religious right in the 2000 and 2004 election.

Chris Hedges discusses this and much more in his book. I highly recommend it, and would even say that it should be required reading for every American voter.

Religious beliefs and National leadership

In reflecting on the problems of the Bush Administration, a thoughtful person might ask "What has contributed to the errors in judgment which have lead to this terrible war in Iraq, the huge national deficit, the increasing inequality of the rich and poor, the national shame of the bungling of helping our own citizens in New Orleans after Katrina, the stripping away of civil liberties, the promotion of rendition and torture, the increased divisiveness which has lead to the character assassinations of public servants and discrimination against gays, the corruption of the Department of Justice, the corporate take over of the FCC and our media, the anti-science policies of the FDA and Health and Human Services, the terrible mess created in our educational system by No Child Left Behind, the lack of health insurance for over 46 million Americans, the loss of our Middle Class, the planetary threat of global warming on our environment due to carbon dioxide emissions, and our continued dependence on foreign oil and lack of alternative fuel supply and better gas mileage here at home?

Could it be that President Bush's reliance on his faith rather than on rational thought to develop policy for the management of complex issues be the cause? In our next elections perhaps voters should consider the fundamental beliefs of candidates as a means of discerning their competence to manage complex issues in a rational, effective way based on knowledge, wisdom, and good judgment. The failure of our current policies is based on a failure of leadership, and that failure of leadership is based on the failure of the leader to have a framework for decision making that is based on the scientific understanding of the world rather than superstitious theological beliefs.

It would be appropriate to expect that in the 21st century we have leaders whose cosmology is based on scientific understanding and not on irrational beliefs. Jacob Weisberg had some interesting comments in his article in the March-April, 2007 issue of The Humanist entitled "A Mormon President?"

"Others, myself included, would not, under most imaginable circumstances, vote for a fanatic or fundamentalist - a Hassidic Jew who regards Rabbi Menachem Schneerson as the Messiah, a Christian literalist who thinks that Earth is less than 7,000 years old, or a Scientologist who thinks it is haunted by souls of space aliens sent by the evil lord Xenu. Such views are disqualifying because they're dogmatic, irrational, and absurd. By holding them, one indicates a basic failure to think for oneself or see the world as it is. By the same token, I wouldn't vote for someone who truly believed in the founding whoppers of Mormonism.

... Romney has every right to believe in con men, but I want to know if he does, and if so, I don't want him running the country."

Jacob Weisberg

Of course, a similar analysis can be of George W. Bush since he has stated that God has ordained that he be President, and the Christian right have been identified as his base. The rise of Christian Nationalism is a serious threat to our democracy and has very serious ramifications for stem cell research, reproductive rights, euthansia, militarism, discrimination based on biblical beliefs rather than democratic ideals, education such as teaching of creationism rather than science in schools, and separation of church and state.