Sweden’s Political Crossroads

Sweden’s Political Crossroads

Wallstrom on Women It’s been almost six months since Sweden’s decision to recognize a Palestinian State. My blog on that topic highlighted the double standard being employed to bolster that decision. I stated “Regardless of intent, I believe the acceptance of, and open practice of double standards and false equivalencies on the International stage is destined to make matters worse, leading to more, not less, war and bloodshed.  Swedes don’t like to think of themselves this way, but sometimes the truth hurts.”

Thankfully, I suppose, double standards and false equivalencies (which, by the way, is how I believe we can identify hypocrisy) tend to eventually become clear, even to the hypocrites themselves, in this case, Sweden’s leaders. Truth, Lies or just hypocrisy?One can only hope that Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, who was recently blocked from speaking at an Arab League meeting and who is now being denouced across the world of Islam as “an enemy of the Prophet”. Ms. Wallström, countered, before Swedish Parliament recently, that she had no intention of criticizing Islam.

Why then the outrage? Read all about it here, including how Veronica Nordlund, from the Swedish Foreign Ministry’s press service, apparently was unaware that Saudi Arabia abstained from signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because it violates Sharia Law. The chickens are coming home to roost, on Sweden’s hypocritical stance, as the article outlines.

Will she retract her criticism of Saudi flogging and misogyny, and announce that it was never her intention to offend the great Saudi nation or its culture? In that case, she will have dealt a devastating blow to Sweden’s claim to be a “moral superpower” and to a foreign policy based on human rights and feminism.

Or will she stand by her words and accept that Sweden — and any other country in Europe that claims to stand for humanistic values and the primacy of human rights — is in for a debacle that may well be more severe than what Denmark experienced during the Muhammad cartoon crisis in 2005/2006?

Perhaps perversely, the random virtues card I pulled to conclude here was Flexibility. Not, frankly, what I was hoping for. But here goes…

“Flexibility is the ability to adapt and change amid the fluctuating circumstances of life. We go with the flow, seeing the choices, challenges and opportunities in all that happens. We do not insist on our own way.” All of this would seem to support Sweden’s stance, but wait, there’s more.  “When the unexpected comes, we rise to the challenge with resilience and confidence. We are willing to change unproductive habits… The winds of change may bend us but they only make us stronger. We are willing to grow.”

The first affirmation is “I adapt when change is called for”.

Wallstrom flexibilityIt turns out, this virtue may be just what Sweden needs. Will the country be able to change its course – that of accommodation and even praise for that which, if properly understood, is actually antithetical to their stated values? Can Sweden admit that it has been hypocritical, and rebound from that, with a genuine change? Can Sweden be that flexible? It will be interesting to watch.

Pi Day

Pi Day

Pi Picture croppedSeth Godin brought Pi Day to my inbox this morning. He alerted me to the fact that pi’s opening digits, 3.1415, match up with the calendar today. Take a moment to read his excellent brief statement about it, so I don’t have to repeat what he said, but rather can add my own take on Pi to the equation. Carpe Diem style.

As the Founder of Something Or Other Publishing (SOOP) I immediately emailed SOOP’s Authors encouraging them to Carpe their own Diem – to do the imaginable, one day at a time, vs. listening to the critics in our head that tell us something isn’t possible. Then it struck me. Pi Day isn’t a day that comes once a year.  It’s a day that only comes once every hundred years.

At least by the roman calendar, and by the month/day/year convention. (If we use the day/month/year convention there’s no Pi Day at all). Here’s a definition of Pi. “A name given to the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter. That means, for any circle, you can divide the circumference (the distance around the circle) by the diameter and always get exactly the same number.” For me it always brings to mind David Bowie’s epic early song, the Width of a Circle from “The Man who Sold the World”

Aztec Calendar MayanThe calendar is a big deal to me. I’m a believer in Revelation. On the site devoted to my book, The People of the Sign, I used the calendar date of 9/11 to write about the Divine Calendar – the one mentioned in the book of Genesis, which claims that God established time, and that He did so by organizing the sun, moon, earth and even the stars in such a way as to create a gigantic universal clock. A clock so powerful it could not only predict the future, but be used as a lens to make sense of today, in that light.

Einstein God's ThoughtsPi Day highlights a very important element in my personal search. Many who accept Revelation reject Science. This is a huge mistake. Einstein is arguably the worlds most famous scientist, and he famously stated “I want to know God’s thoughts – the rest are details”.  In my view, his contribution to understanding Time was one of his greatest. He also wrote “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

My blog today is to appeal to my Scientific minded friends to reflect on the unquantifiable mystery of a simple circle, and the mix of knowledge and imagination needed to create great things. And while my Religious minded friends understand that God created man to know Him and to worship Him, they may not have understood that Science is simply one way in which many seek to do exactly that. Whether they recognize it or not at this point.

In time they will.

Davinci's ManIn the meantime, what is the width of your Circle? I like to use the Virtues to measure mine. That’s why I conclude each of my blogs with one.

For those who want to know the Science behind my use of Virtues Cards in blogging, I always pull the card after completing the blog, using the Virtue to reflect upon what I wrote. I love the serendipity of seeing what emerges. Today I was very pleased that it was Devotion.

“Devotion is commitment to something we care about deeply. It is a passionate focus on our life’s purpose… What is my ‘yes’? What calls me so strongly that I cannot resist, knowing that it is truly mine to do?” The card features the quote “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground”.

Devotion

 

Is Madison Ferguson?

Is Madison Ferguson?

Matt Kenny Tony RobinsonAs a citizen of Madison I’m both saddened and hopeful.  Saddened by the tragic loss of Tony Robinson – a young man whose life was taken by bullets fired by Police Officer Matt Kenny, while he was unarmed.  And saddened by what is brought to mind by the understandable and justified angry reactions of so many citizens who see the similarities between this event and that of Ferguson – which is that there have been uncountable similar events – and much worse – throughout our nation’s history.  But I’m also hopeful because of Madison Police Chief Mike Koval and the way he has approached this tragic shooting. His first act was to express compassion and humility, publicly asking for forgiveness, before all the facts were known.Family Virtues

I’m also hopeful because of the results of the Essential Family Virtues Program which my family has launched in our Southwest part of Madison, collaboratively with parents from the Madison Community Montessori School, and elsewhere, and the Virtues Project / Virtues Village, and others.

I’m encouraged by Mallory Shotwell, our first teacher who was inspired during that first year to launch the Madison Community Discourse, now also in its second year.  She focused on love last year, and this year chose Courage. And I’m excited about the possibility of further collaboration with the East Madison Community Center, Madison Community Discoursewhere we held a virtues workshop, after which they expressed interest in establishing a similar program on the East side of town.

Do these hopeful but tiny initiatives represent unwarranted optimism on my part? Will Madison turn into another Ferguson?

It’s always darkest before dawn. My heart is broken, along with Tony Robinson’s family and the communities within Madison that are most affected. But I’m encouraged and hopeful by the reactions of so many in Madison – those hurt and angry, and those touched who wish to be helpful.  Darkest before DawnAcross various ethnic and economic lines here in Madison I can think of noone who will be reacting with anything but concern and a willingness to strengthen bonds and build bridges, to further the hard work that is necessary to continue the progress made by this great country, going back to the civil war, and beyond. My family and I focus on building a hope of the future into our children, the belief that they can and will make a difference. And that this difference will be in peaceful virtuous cooperation with everyone else with whom we share the planet.

The virtue card I drew to end with was Confidence.  This confirms what I’m trying so ineffectively to convey here, in the wake of tragedy. I’ll let the card speak for me, to conclude the post.

“Confidence is having faith in ourselves and in life… We trust that we have the strength to cope with whatever happens… When we are confident in others, we believe in them, and rely on them… With confidence, we cast off self-limiting beliefs and doubts. We offer our gifts as a worthy contribution. When opportunity comes, we step up to it. We just say ‘yes’.” Children are our future

Give Credit to Credit Unions

Give Credit to Credit Unions

ENGLISH insurance labelHere’s a short article about the financial health of Credit Unions – which are small, locally owned and managed by members, not for profit Financial Institutions.  Mollie Bell (quoted in the article) and I worked together at CUNA Mutual group which supports the Credit Union Movement.  It is my opinion that all of us should shift our financial dealings from Banks to Credit Unions. Do you agree?  What would happen if people moved away from Banks and towards Credit Unions?

The Banks would probably become even more aggressive in their ongoing efforts to undermine Credit Unions. Their lobby is huge and powerful, and it has been causing legislative pressure against Credit Unions for decades.  But Credit Unions would benefit from  awareness on the part of consumer that they represent a fundamentally different option.  Even a relatively small number of new customers can represent significant growth for these small, local entities, and local communities benefit from local control of financial systems.

Selling OutWhy doesn’t shifting from Banks to Credit Unions get more attention? Is it because corporate interests own too many pieces of our soul – shifting our thinking and decisions away from our own best interest? What can we do in response?

One area of focus is to buy local.  Purchasing local products, including financial products, is a way to make a major contribution to sustainable local economies.

The virtue I drew through which to look at this topic was Peacefulness. Inner calm, tranquility, a sense of harmony with all creation. In reflecting on how that applies here, I realize that participating in a for profit financial institution increases the antagonism and animosity that goes along with our competitive profit-driven age. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a communist – I believe in ownership and that everyone should benefit from their labors. Everyone should profit from applying themselves diligently to whatever craft or trade they have chosen.

peacefulness_by_vitavalian-d7r74n1But Credit Unions help us see that cooperative models are useful and powerful in counteracting the unsustainable aggregation of wealth exemplified by mega banks and “Too Big to Fail” institutions. We can go on the warpath against them, or perhaps simply moving our business to a Credit Union is enough to reverse the trend.  It is certainly a peaceful way to contribute to a change in the dynamic between the extremely wealthy and those who struggle to achieve a stable middle-class income.