Miss Hitler 2014 is Ugly

Miss Hitler 2014 is Ugly

Miss Hitler 2014 is the new Nazi ChicBrilliant – just brilliant. US Capitalism pioneered the art of selling by positioning seductive women to move products. Russia reaches a new low with the Miss Hitler 2014 beauty pageant. Figuratively warming up the cold ghost of Hitler this way is sure to encourage those fascinated with sources of darkness, as well as win over other foolish people.

While I’m generally optimistic on the direction of Humanity there are far too many to whom “enlightenment” means tolerance, free speech, and an approach so “non-judgmental” that it excludes setting standards of decency and justice and applying them universally. In short – the prevalence of such confusion is a result of pervasive double-standards and false equivalencies.  For too long we have allowed our love affair with moral ambiguity to confuse those who should know better and encourage those who like it that way.

Miss Hitler 2014 Beauty ContestThis is nothing new.  Prior to WWII many in Europe were party to what Hitler was accomplishing.  I’m proud that the first book published by Something or other Publishing was an expose of previously unknown history in this regard, called Genocide Revealed.  This volume discusses the role of Miklos Horthy, the first antisemitic ruler of Europe, who instead of being prosecuted is considered a hero in his native Hungary.

Why is it that antisemitism is globally fashionable again, 70 short years since arguably the worst genocide in the history of the planet was perpetrated against the Jews?  Many participants call it anti-Zionism, as though that is a relevant distinction.

Personally, I see little difference between hating the homeland the Jews created in response to the Holocaust and the attitudes that caused it.

 

 

1 Percent Now Own 50 Percent

1 Percent Now Own 50 Percent

The Occupy movement emphasizes the enormous gulf between owners – typified by the so-called 1% – and those who are struggling to make a living as wage-slaves or worse. The headline chart for this blog highlights that we’re approaching Great Depression levels of wealth inequality, in which 1% of Americans own 30% of its wealth.  But an article published Tuesday states that globally things are much worse.  50% of the world’s wealth is owned by 1%, which got me thinking.

Emma Lazarus The New ColossusUS style capitalism is no villain. Principles of pragmatic egalitarianism are the foundation of this country, and its success is due to the fact that their implementation has led to shared success on a scale previously thought impossible. Emma Lazarus’ Sonnet The New Colossuswhich graces the Statue of Liberty, sums this up nicely.

The successful creation of a middle class of millions of people generally wealthier than many kings of old drives a sustained global prosperity the likes of which the world has never seen. This is but one reason I’ve resisted a basic premise of the Occupy Movement.  To claim the right to share that which someone else owns is a recipe for unmitigated disaster.  Human misery will spread like a virulent disease when such thinking takes hold.  Nor is there, even with these horrible wealth distribution ratios, a need to radically implement policies based on such wrongheaded “humanitarianism”.

The path to prosperity will never come from trying to occupy that which you do not own.  Rather it will come from taking ownership (in the full sense of that word) of that which we already possess.  Given the democratic institutions which exist, and the tools that enable human ingenuity to work its magic, when people take ownership of their situation they can revitalize our nations, including this one.  Ownership means tapping into the spirit which pioneered and grew new models of human activity, benefiting the masses in ways previously thought unthinkable.

Take Full OwnershipEarlier this year I was honored to present on the topic of The Human Heart of Business to a distinguished audience at a series of conferences in India.  In those conferences I addressed what I believe to be both the problems and the solutions to the conundrum of wealth distribution.  India is in many ways a pioneer in the idea of corporations taking full social responsibility.  It was an inspiring 5 days, in a country that suffers under wealth inequality that is staggering to the Western mind.  And yet the average Indian is hopeful and optimistic that things can be improved.  And they are improving rapidly.

We can make a shift towards a more equitable distribution of wealth without jumping on a wealth re-distribution bandwagon.  And yet I believe we must get very serious about this, very quickly.  If we don’t begin to turn the ship on this and other major problems confronting mankind, we’ll be hitting a global iceberg soon – and we’ll experience the kind of global revolution that will make the French Revolution look like a cakewalk in comparison.

There are many models being put forward globally today in which corporations are extending the idea of who the stakeholders are, to which they owe responsibility to “maximize shareholder value”.  There are many places where you can apply yourself to making a difference.  One tiny example is this group I found on LinkedIn which has the audacious intent of Building Better Societies.

What examples have you found?

 

 

Sweden Recognizes a Palestinian State

Sweden Recognizes a Palestinian State

Sweden recognizes Palestinian StateFransson is a Swedish name and I’m proud of my Swedish Heritage.   I lived and went to school in Sweden as a child, and for years carried a Swedish Passport.  My love for the country and its people is great.  I’ve argued for decades about the superiority of Sweden’s “Middle Way”, in which they found fertile soil in the middle ground between polarized opposites.  Perhaps they are searching for their own true North, in announcing their recognition of a “Palestinian State”.  This time they’re leading in the wrong direction.

I am an ardent advocate for peace, but peace cannot come through double standards and false equivalencies.  I cannot imagine a clearer example of the dangerously confused double standard being applied in this case than Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s statement about the decision: “The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law. A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine.”

If peace depends on mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence, Sweden must first demand this from any Palestinian entity prior to recognizing them.  How could Löfven possibly miss the the tragically ironic error in his own pronouncement?  Wrong Way on PalestineSee my recent blog about handling the truth for a perspective on how we blind ourselves to the obvious.  Perhaps the source of Löfven’s “Truth Handling” is confidence in Sweden’s 20th century role as alluded to in my opening paragraph – Sweden’s history of leading by living the role of pragmatic intermediary.

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.

What do you think?

If you would like to share your thoughts and join in friendly open dialogue with people who may or may not believe as you do, but who are open to exploring topics of political importance, such as the issue of Israel and Palestine, please accept my invitation to join The People of the Sign on facebook.  The discussion might challenge your current perspectives, which is something I hope you look forward to.

The Virtue of Teaching Virtues

The Virtue of Teaching Virtues

Teaching Virtues to BabySeven years ago my wife and I were newlyweds living the dream in Southern California.  Then we discovered we were expecting.  Nothing changes your perspective quicker than the responsibility that comes with having created life.

We quickly decided to move to the Midwest.  Southern California may be perfect in many ways, but it wasn’t the right place for us to raise a family.  Despite all my travels, the American Heartland was a completely foreign environment to me, but one familiar to Angela, who was raised in it.  Which almost brings me to the point of this blog.

The world is entering a precarious time, in which religion is increasingly under attack in the West.  Materialism and Secularism have driven this trend for more than a hundred years, but it has rapidly accelerated in recent decades as many conclude that most of the worlds violence and negative tendencies emanate from religion.  This is highly debatable, since despotic rulers seeking to eradicate Religion have destroyed far more lives in the last 100 years than those doing so in the name of Religion.

Nonetheless, an emphasis on the material is like a powerful gravity source pulling at the Western mind.  This force counteracts the spiritual elements of society that traditionally raised our standards by teaching and instilling virtues into our children, and thus our civilization.  We see the effects in all of our institutions today, including business, government, schools and entertainment.Black Hole  What can families do to instill values and foster virtues in their own children, and also extend these into the community and society in general?

We stumbled upon the Global Virtues project through the Baha’i Faith, of which we are members.  This marvelous project has enabled us to create The Essential Family Virtues Program – Madison, which we run out of our home.  Perhaps the most powerful element of the Virtues Project is independence from any specific Religion or Ideology.  All of them claim to aspire to the same high ideals, and the Virtues represent a common language that allows all of them to communicate.

This year we’re focused on Truthfulness, Kindness, Forgiveness, Courage and Service, among others.  While teaching virtues together within our own families, we learn from and about each other at the same time.  This provides instant feedback on the power of the language of Virtues to transcend any perceived differences and create a community able to overcome the forces of materialism pulling us all towards its vortex.

It initially surprised me how quickly others grasp the value of what we’re doing and express an interest to join us.  As we enter our second year we’re finding that lighting our candles together chases away a considerable amount of darkness.  Please send an email to Virtues@SOOPLLC.com if you’d like to discuss lighting a similar candle in your area, wherever you might find yourself.  The language of virtues is universal – no translator needed.

One candle can dispel the darkness