War on terror not won or lost, but dropped

Mission_accomplished With the tip of the tongue and the tip of a pen the war on terror has come to an end according to a sane and rational British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

When terrorists tried to blow up civilians in London and Glasgow, Gordon Brown, the new British prime minister, responded in his own distinctive way.

What had just been narrowly averted, he said, was not a new jihadist act of war but instead a criminal act. As if to underscore the point, Brown instructed his ministers that the phrase "war on terror" was no longer to be used and, indeed, that officials were no longer even to employ the word "Muslim" in connection with the terrorism crisis.

President Bush could not be reached for comment, but Tony Snow repeated Bush's famous statement which Bush made four years ago,  "Mission Accomplished". When Snow was pressed as to what mission was accomplished, Snow just said, "The mission which the President was referring to," and ended the press conference. When the Speaker of The House, Nancy Pelosi, was asked if she thought the War On Terror was over, she said:

"As Democrats, I can tell you that impeachment is off the table and we will continue to fund policies which we think are detrimental to the American People because we have to support our troops who are dying and being injured. We Democrats understand that the immoral and pre-emptive war in Iraq has lost the support of the American people and the countries around the world. However, the people who bankroll our campaigns, the Weapons Manufacturers and Corporate Contractors, who rebuild what we knock down, think that our invasion of Iraq was good for business. It was so good for business that they are urging us now to move on to Iran. If it will get us elected, we might be willing to support it."

Gordon Brown said that he will not be Bush's or Pelosi's lap dog unlike his predecessor, Tony Blair. "These guys are crooks and criminals," but Brown would not clarify if he was talking about the guys who were trying to bomb the subways or American and former British politicians.

At any rate, the War on Terror is over, and so we will now pursue criminals like Timothy McVeigh unless the Republicans and the Democrats think that it is in their political interest to continue the "War" metaphor. Pelosi, Reid, Bush, Cheney, and Rove seem to agree that the American people are pretty gullible and as long as you keep them living in fear, believing that another terrorist attack is just around the corner, they will surrender their freedoms, their money, and their votes for the protection which they so desperately think they need.

Link: Brown drops 'war on terror,' redefining the fight - International Herald Tribune.

What's in a word, part 2

Recently, I have gotten more interested in language and how we use it. On January 18, 2006 I posted a short article about the To The Best Of Our Knowledge radio show on words. During part of that show, Dr. Susan Corso was interviewed about her book, God's Dictionary. Unfortunately, this book is out of print, and yet I was able to get a used copy which arrived in the mail today.

Dr. Corso is a pastoral counselor and an etymologist which makes her deconstruction of words very interesting to me. The first word she discusses is "abundance". "Abundance" comes from "ab" which is a latin word which means "from" and "unda" which means a "wave". So the word literally means from a wave.

What is a wave like a wave in the ocean? It is a swelling of the water which defines the crest of the wave and the trough. Waves are creating by winds stirring the water or seismic activity like an earthquake that creates movement of the water or something propelled through the water like a boat or whale.

Dr. Corso mentions how many preachers talk about prosperity and abundance as referring to money or material goods. Money and material goods come and go over the course of a person's life. People have their ups and downs. What creates those waves of prosperity and abundance? It is circulating the money and goods in society. It is one of life's paradoxes that we get by giving, that by putting our money and goods into circulation, they come back to us.

What enjoyment comes from a joke unless it is shared? Music is the same thing. Music isn't at all as enjoyable when kept to oneself. In the sharing, the enjoyment of music is mutliplied.

So, when we look closely at the etymology of the word, "abundance", there is a deep meaning created that the underlying beneficence of the universe is always there like the water in the ocean, and that there are times of richer and poorer which come in waves, and it is in giving that we shall utlimately receive. And I suppose, it is like the law of Karma, that what goes around comes around. Jesus says that if we would have life first we must loose it, that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. David Viscott, an American Psychiatrist, said back in the 80s or 90s that "before you say hello to the future, you must say goodbye to the past".

Life comes in cyles, it comes in waves, and we take the bad with the good, and the good with the bad, and yet over all when we step back and look at things in the long haul we not only deserve to have life, but, as Jesus said, to have it abundantly. Abundantly interestly doesn't mean that we get to have all things at all times, but that we get to enjoy a profusion of things and blessings from time to time and this is heavily influenced by our own generosity and giving natures. As we learned in kindergarten, people like you better if you share.

Link: Amazon.com: God's Dictionary: Divine Definitions for Everyday Enlightenment: Books: Susan Corso.

What's in a word?

Did you ever wonder how language works and why words have the power that they do over us?

I enjoyed and learned a lot from the To The Best Of Our Knowledge radio show which originally aired on 10/23/05. You can still listen to it on line.

Of particular interest to me was Susan Corso's discussion of her book, God's Dictionary, in which she explains the etymology of various words. For example she explains that the word disappoint means to "not choose" which is the opposite of "appoint" which means to choose. So when we say that a person disappoints us, it means that we are not choosing them. What does it mean, then,when a parent says to a child "I'm really disappointed in you!"

On the same show is George Lakoff, a linguist, who discusses his ideas of "frames" meaning that words, in order to be understood, require us to conjure up a context to make sense of their meaning. He does a little riff on the expression, "tax relief" which implies that our government is afflicting us and that we require "relief" or protection from this unfair imposition. It made me wonder whether paying our taxes is a contribution to our society and the well being of our fellow citizens or an unfair affliction? Do you see yourself as a contributing member of society or as a victim requiring "relief" from being unfairly imposed on when you pay your taxes?

At any rate I highly recommend this show. You can go to the TTBook web site and listen to the show by clicking on the link below.

Link: To the Best of Our Knowledge.