The Democratic Candidates

It likely that Buttigieg will not stay near the top as states with diverse ethnicity have their say in primaries. Iowa, New Hampshire and perhaps Nevada (Latino but not many African Americans) are not particularly diverse. North Carolina, however, has a significant African American population. As of today in North Carolina, Buttigieg ranks fourth among democratic candidates with only 6 percent. Buttigieg’s perception is that blacks need black but middle class examples for their economic and educational circumstances to improve, implying that blacks are their own deterrent rather than implying a larger societal issue.

Similarly, the progressive candidates will lose what seem to be strong positions at the top of the list as the primary season swings across the hinterland. There democrats are centrist first, liberal second; only west coast states and some large cities will aggressively support progressive candidates.

The bottom of the list, referred to by many as special interest candidates, women, rookies and recognition junkies, likely will stay at the bottom. The two billionaires (Steyer and Bloomberg) are a small threat to finally be able to buy the Federal Government just as mariner may be able to buy a 2014 Toyota.

This leaves Joe. The legacy of the campaigns with Obama still resonates with African Americans. The hinterland is more comfortable with Biden’s centrist history and style. Many polls show Biden with leading numbers as a second choice candidate. His speaking foibles will not be enough to push him out of the competition. Finally, as a compromise candidate among the many tribes of democrats – after all what really counts is defeating Donald – Joe will be the man.

The electorate may respond somewhat to Joe and many Hillary holdouts may return to the fold, perhaps just enough to make the Electoral College insignificant.

After the candidates’ display of talent, intellectuality and cognizance of the new world everyone faces, mariner feels greedy and wants to keep all of them around. With luck, those in the Senate will stay in the Senate, others will make excellent Cabinet Secretaries, and some will become Governors. Joe’s job will be to make peace between parties then lead the charge to win majority in the Senate in 2024.

Ancient Mariner


A Nasty Crossbreed: Communism and Capitalism

Communism – a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned (Think Donald’s base, oligarchs, government and the proletariat in disarray; think data gathering corporations that know everything – even about each of us and that information is used to make billions of dollars without a penny owed directly to “the public.”)

Capitalism – an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. (Think corporatism and actually owning the government as well thereby eliminating government altogether).

The crossbreed is the worst of both ideologies: The public at large owns nothing, not even houses, automobiles or privacy. The end result is controlled classism with a socialistic flavor, citizens having no real say in anything, and continuous class war.

What follows are examples of crossbreeding.

֎ [NEWSY] The internet has revolutionized how donors behave. People now give more frequently and in smaller amounts than ever before. But every time you donate online, there’s a processing cost. A Newsy analysis, published in partnership with Politico, found that the small donor revolution has also helped direct millions of dollars to the middlemen that process donations. While it’s a matter of cents on the dollar, those pennies can add up fast. And in recent years, as small-dollar donations have ramped up, credit card processing costs have exploded.

Banks and data tech companies want in on everything and at the moment are getting what they want. Just today mariner received a ‘gift’ from Dish Network. The gift is a TV remote paired with Google’s voice recognition software. It won’t be installed. As to charitable donations online being skimmed by banks, mariner enjoys even more than usual covering that cost by writing a check to the charity and posting the donation through the Postal Service, with a wry smile while he does it.

Put in context the National Rifle Association (NRA), the fossil fuel industry, the government (owned by corporations), mega corporations like Amazon, Walmart, Google, Microsoft, AT&T, and other independent, do as they like multifunction, multinational corporations, and one realizes the citizenry has nothing to do or say about the US economy, its scruples or its original ‘freedom and justice for all’ myth.

Does the ‘public’ own anything? Does the ‘public’ share in GDP profits? Does the election process have any significant contribution?

Aside from citizens with enough excess resources to invest in capitalist ventures (Wall Street) or actually have enough assets to own a house not compromised by bank oversight, the citizenry is on a path to controlled communist social structures and little or no opportunity to share profit with capitalist corporations.

This is indeed a difficult circumstance for the general public. What makes the situation even worse is that the crossbreed feels no obligation to compensate for the global warming situation, environmental health, free medical support or anything else ‘free’ from the corporate-owned government, or the impact of automated intelligence (AI).

On the good side, it was an unusually warm, sunny day; mariner worked in his garden.

Ancient Mariner


Job Security

Job Security

Nationally job security will be an existential crisis in just a few years. For elected officials, especially republicans, the crisis starts now with state primary campaigns for the 2020 election. Donald has about 40% of the national vote and much more in red and purple states. Talk about bribery! Donald holds the Republican Party hostage by keeping his base actively charged as a key group in republican primaries. In short, the republican candidates will perform gross, irrational and un-American behavior to secure Donald’s base during primaries in an effort to sustain their lucrative, elected careers.

Something is wrong. Elected officials are supposed to be subject to citizen discard as history moves on. As of this moment, there are 79 members of Congress that have been in office for at least 20 years, and there are 16 members of Congress that have been in office for at least 30 years.

There are identifiable reasons for an elected official to consider their election a career for life. First, of course, is the combination of money and power; a nice job if one can keep it even though in reality the home district continually evolves culturally, fiscally and industrially. The second reason is the role of lobbying, which would rather keep subservient (AKA bought) representatives in place. The third reason is that being a member of Congress provides prestige and access to higher social class experiences and a fat benefits package to boot – a nice life.

What has happened over time is that the spirit of representing one’s own people has disappeared as a purpose for being an elected official. While Donald et al are damaging the US on a daily basis, it should be relatively easy to deny a second term for one individual in government. But that would not change a decrepit and outmoded government that is useless in the roiling twenty-first century.

What must change generally is the age of elected officials in Congress. There is a notable difference in the House of Representatives as younger candidates are beginning to win elections. Alas, the Senate, with its six year term, remains a calcified legislative body. It is the remnants of Reagan economics dating back to the 1980s, a policy that has fed the separation of wealthy versus poor.

Mitch McConnell, the republican, the longest-serving U.S. senator for Kentucky in history, and the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senate Leader in history, and 77 years old, has done his best to make the Judicial Branch as conservative as possible – not to mention his total, absolute stonewall of dozens of important House bills that gather dust in his office – legislation relevant to the twenty-first century.

But the Judicial Branch must enforce legislation passed by Congress, which may be a way of neutralizing Mitch’s efforts – if Congress can, in fact, pass cogent legislation. The whole point is the US Senate must lose its republican majority. No easy task since the lightly populated districts across America are aware that their undue dominance in politics will disappear if Congress becomes truly representative of appropriate amounts of population.

The Constitutional changes to help repair imbalanced representation will be to eliminate the Electoral College, remove gerrymandering, add term limits and reapportion the Senate based on population. However, these are constitutional battles that must be fought by Congress and the Judicial Branch. The job of voters is to elect modern, of the moment citizens who understand these changes must occur if the US will survive the twenty-first century – nay, even the next ten years!

The job voters have, and that includes every party, every independent and every economic class, is to vote out the irrelevant Reagan republicans that still hold the Senate in their grasp. Even more important than Donald, is to make the Senate democratic.

Ancient Mariner


Global Warming – WW II technology returns to the present

35 Olympic swimming pools of radioactive matter

The legacy of the U.S.’s Cold War-era atomic testing program is still affecting the Marshall Islands at the Runit Dome, which holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris, as well as lethal amounts of plutonium. An investigation between the Los Angeles Times and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism reports that the dome is now at significant risk of collapsing from the effects of climate change. American officials have declined to help address the problem, but the news report says the U.S. government withheld important information about the contents of Runit and its weapons testing program, including the fact that 130 tons of soil from atomic testing grounds was shipped from Nevada to the Marshall Islands in 1958. [Los Angeles Times]

There is enough radiation in the Runit Dome to end all life in a large area of the Pacific Ocean around the Marshall Islands and beyond. This catastrophe raises a general issue about island nations threatened by global warming: Carteret Islands, Kiribati Islands, The Maldives, Seychelles, Torres Strait Islands, Tegua, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Micronesia and Palau. The problem with these islands isn’t radiation, its people. 1,241,560 of them.

Although not an island, Bangladesh, located in South Asia, experiences floods that cover about a quarter of the country every year. Climate change is making the floods worse for 156 million people.

And it isn’t only people on islands . . .

Ancient Mariner


Exciting Times Ahead

A new study uses artificial intelligence to find that jobs done by highly skilled workers are the most likely to be affected by AI. AI is likely to hit hardest at a combination of leading tech hubs and older manufacturing regions. Exposed are high-skill jobs like professional, scientific and technical services, information, finance and insurance. [CITYLAB] See:

As climate change, economic change and cultural change make disasters more severe, researchers say we can prepare by being informed, volunteering, and staying socially connected. The glue that provides survival and confidence even in the worst of times is not wealth or separatism, it is bonding with one another; it is sharing and caring; it is ‘having one another’s back.’ Daily life already is tumultuous but quickly financial and personal wellbeing will be challenged in ways that truly may interrupt life’s familiar traditions.

Generally speaking, there will be many jobless families; research shows job loss will grow to half the known jobs that exist today – by as soon as 2035. Further, weather patterns are shifting to a degree that agricultural economics around the world are in peril year by year; finally, even the American political dream is at risk as a dysfunctional government lies unprepared for a vastly different and burdensome situation. By 2050 and beyond, climate change will not help as millions of people around the planet lose their homes to sea rise.

There are many things citizens can do to prepare for a perfect storm of change. Foremost, every citizen must realize immediately that identity politics is deadly. Citizens must do a 180° turn and begin relating to others in supportive ways instead of with conflicting prejudice. It is a notable sensation to look at others through a sympathetic eye instead of an eye of judgment. Togetherness will be needed to survive tension as resistant as a tug-of-war.

There is one bright spot available: the Green New Deal (GND). Almost as exactly as FDR’s tax inversion and his WPA make-work projects pulled the US out of a deadly depression, GND will generate new jobs that don’t exist today. GND covers every definition of infrastructure from new bridges to new Internet to high speed trains to a new power grid and anything else the reader can imagine that needs to be invented, upgraded or implemented. GND will take at least a decade, most likely closer to two decades.

The problem is a republican-controlled US Senate. Speaking as clinically and as intellectually as possible, mariner suggests the Republican Party is the last vestige of a government from the previous century. There is no other way to say it. If the US will be prepared to assist its citizens, it cannot become so until an overturn of the US Senate and the conservative wing of red states. The first chance for this to happen is 2020. If the Senate is not overturned, the citizens must wait, as gathering cultural and economic storms swirl about, until 2024. (2024 is only eleven years before 2035.)

Even if the US Senate is overturned, there are so many inefficiencies, abuses to citizens and economic thievery that the government itself must be reformed. Mariner has pointed this out in many past posts; visit the politics archive if the reader is interested.

It would be a mistake to sit and wait for the government to morph itself into something useful. Unlike identity politics, racism, elitism and all the other self-important isms, sympathy and empathy can stretch a long way to accommodate hardships that aren’t anyone’s fault in particular but which cannot be ignored. Mariner suggests his standby – continuously look for opportunities to pass it forward; practice makes perfect.

Tithing fits in today’s situation. Imagine if everyone put 10% of their time into good works for neighbors, strangers and the needy. If everyone practiced this way, the cost of living through these times could be reduced by $billions! The alley behind mariner’s home is gravel. A neighbor has taken it upon himself to maintain the alley in excellent condition. Two things: bite one’s tongue painfully every time one has a judgmental thought and

Pass it forward.

Ancient Mariner


A Nation of the Corporations, by the Corporations and for the Corporations

֎ Seattle, home town of Amazon, had an election recently in which Amazon spent over $1.5 million in campaign spending in an attempt to seat a seven member Council with pro-business candidates. Amazon’s issue was a ballot initiative that rejects Amazon’s personally managed contribution (tax) to housing for Seattle that would clear the way for government taxation. Amazon was able to seat only two candidates and was unable to defeat Kshama Sawant, a pro-labor city council member who is a thorn in the side of corporation-managed “tax” levies. It turns out corporate influence on ballot measures is a nationwide issue. Corporations are willing to contribute to housing programs only in an effort to provide employee housing, not housing where it may be needed most and, of course, they can change the amount whenever they choose. Ideologically, only governments (Congress) can pass tax legislation. Interesting article. See:


֎ 13 years of homeownership.   A new analysis from the real estate brokerage firm Redfin shows the typical homeowner in the United States now stays in their house for 13 years. That’s five years more than they did in 2010. This lack of movement, especially among aging baby boomers, has created inventory shortages and pushed up prices. According to Redfin and the housing data firm CoreLogic, Salt Lake City, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas are the cities with the longest median homeowner stays, all more than two decades. [Wall Street Journal]

֎ Apple pledges $2.5 billion to combat California’s housing crisis [NPR]

֎ Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 40 out of 68 city firefighters need a second job to pay the rent.

֎ Between 2000 and 2015 the U.S. produced 7.3 million fewer homes than it needed to keep up with demand and population growth.

֎ National Association of Home Builders estimates builders will build about 900,000 new homes in 2018—400,000 short of what’s needed to keep up with population growth. Their big talking point: Build up, not out.

The housing battle across the nation is growing rapidly. Still, NIMBYs and corporations are able to influence local government’s attempts to use taxes to at least level the issue across income classes. Frequently this battle is waged in ballot initiatives. When the reader votes, make sure to read and understand the full ballot.

Ancient Mariner

The World We Live In

֎ Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon are free to slow down, block or prioritize internet traffic as they wish, without interference by the federal government. That’s the effect of an October ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a 2017 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that reversed rules requiring what is called “net neutrality” – treating all internet traffic equally, regardless of where it’s from or what kind of data it is. See:

֎ In the lush foothills of central Kentucky, Berea seems like your average small, private college, down to its stately brick buildings and its inspiring school anthem. Berea College has not been collecting tuition from students since 1892. All its students are poor.

Also in Kentucky, move about a hundred miles east to another college in the tiny town of Pippa Passes – . Alice Lloyd College. Alice Lloyd doesn’t charge tuition either. Berea was wise enough to start an endowment in 1852 which is worth $1.2 billion today; dividends pay tuition. Alice Lloyd depends on fundraising and a stiffer commitment from professors asking them to carry heavier instruction loads. [NPR]

֎ 800 million jobs

Automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence already have reduced the amount of human labor in specialty manufacturing, warehouse parcel delivery and resume screening. But a new report from analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates the rise of automation could make up to 800 million jobs — nearly half of all jobs worldwide — obsolete by 2035. [Yahoo Finance]

֎ Angioplasty — was measurably better than pills at reducing patients’ chest pain during exercise. But the study, called ISCHEMIA, found no difference in a constellation of major heart-disease outcomes, including cardiac death, heart attacks, heart-related hospitalizations and resuscitation after cardiac arrest. There was no benefit to an invasive strategy in people without chest pain.

Overall, the keenly anticipated ISCHEMIA study results suggest that invasive procedures, stents and bypass surgery, should be used more sparingly in patients with stable heart disease and the decision to use them should be less rushed, experts said.

֎ Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) overcame a tough challenge from the President Trump-backed businessman Eddie Rispone to be re-elected Louisiana governor to a second term late Saturday.

Why it matters: The tight race pit the only Democratic governor in the Deep South against a Republican challenger in Trump country. The result is a major blow for Trump, who tried to drum up support for Rispone at two presidential rallies in Louisiana this month and in tweets leading up to the vote. [AP]

֎ Presidential hopeful and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has soared to the top of the latest Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll of 2020 Democratic candidates, released Saturday evening.

The big picture: The poll shows he’s the first choice for 25% of caucus-goers polled, with a 9-point lead over his closest rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Buttigieg also topped a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday, where he’s the favored candidate among 22% of those surveyed.

֎ Chicago’s homeless public school students will now have a chance to work with advocates helping them stay in school and find housing resources.

In October, Chicago public school teachers went on strike demanding smaller class sizes and additional staff. But, as Newsy reported, teachers also wanted administrators to address homelessness, which affects 17,000 Chicago students.

Chicago joins Boston as one of the two largest school districts in the country that addresses student homelessness in labor contracts. Jackson Potter teaches history and is part of the Chicago Teachers Union bargaining team. He has seen firsthand how homelessness impacts students. [Newsy]

Somehow, many issues are based on housing. This is something that only government – state and federal – can address. Private enterprise will be led by profit.

Ancient Mariner


A Nation Coming Apart

Mariner finds this letter to subscribers a very important and astute perspective of the state of the nation at this point in history. There are so many imminent, huge shifts in every aspect of the world’s situation. The US is vulnerable to life changing circumstances that may end the nation as we know it.

This topic is carried out in detail in the forthcoming The Atlantic Magazine.

This is not an advertisement but a tribute to the goals of a first class magazine.


A Nation Coming Apart

Jeffrey Goldberg

Editor in Chief, The Atlantic

The 45th president of the United States is uniquely unfit for office and poses a multifaceted threat to our country’s democratic institutions. Yet he might not represent the most severe challenge facing our country. The structural failures in our democratic system that allowed a grifter into the White House in the first place—this might be our gravest challenge. Or perhaps it is the tribalization of our politics, brought about by pathological levels of inequality, technological and demographic upheaval, and the tenacious persistence of racism. Or maybe it is that we as a people no longer seem to know who we are or what our common purpose is.

This dispiriting moment was the backdrop, and the impetus, for The Atlantic’s new special issue, what we have called “How to Stop a Civil War.” We don’t believe that conditions in the United States today resemble those of 1850s America. But we worry that the ties that bind us are fraying at alarming speed—we are becoming contemptuous of each other in ways that are both dire and possibly irreversible.

By edict of our founders, The Atlantic is meant to be the magazine of the American idea. In November 1857, when our first issue was published, the American idea was besieged by the forces of slavery. The Atlantic, then as now, stood for American unity, but it also stood for the idea that America is by its nature both imperfect and ultimately perfectible. The untiring pursuit of a more perfect union is at the core of the American idea.

When I discussed the notion of this issue with the editors of our print magazine, we reached the conclusion that any Atlantic journalism confronting questions of American unity and fracture would have to be both analytical and prescriptive, and would require the services of some of America’s best writers and thinkers.

– – – –

In addition to the printed magazine, see:

If one could move out to space far enough and could unfold the planet into some kind of Mercator map, the colors of war, dissent, economic instability, cultural decline and global warming would obscure the continents and the oceans with the tumultuous colors of an explosion.

Indeed these are not normal times; the scope is hard to document in daily news. One characteristic of the Internet is that nations aren’t really isolated by distance or geography. What happens in the many places of the globe immediately affects the many places of the globe.

At the moment, the United States suffers the incompetence of a president who is no more than a symptom of deep-rooted conflict that has quickly eroded the essence of Americanism – so much so, it may not be reparable in its traditional perception.

In the US, we must stop focusing on hoarding pennies and elitism and turn our focus to the horizon. Consider the planet similar to the California and Australian fires; except that it is not forests being destroyed, it is humanity.

The black plague from 1347 to 1351, just 4 years, killed over 20 million people and changed society in the western world. This is a similar time – a global crisis that so far has not drawn together a global team that can avoid disaster. Many nations prefer to contribute to the mayhem with parochial, destructive priorities that are irrelevant to the future of the human species.

Ancient Mariner

Can Sovereignty be returned to the Citizen?


It was the great experiment: a nation without a king; a nation without a military junta; a nation of self-rule by its citizens. The history of the United States frequently has shown that the Republic can falter. Each recovery is slightly different, provoking new interpretations of a democratic republic.

War certainly disrupts democracy. To name just a few nation-changing wars: Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, both World Wars, and the Viet Nam War. There are economic conflicts that affect democracy: The Panic of 1785 – 88 was an economic expansion that went bust when Great Britain would not participate in trade. The result was a stronger government that could influence economic parameters. The Panic of 1796 – 97 was strikingly similar to the recession of 2008, a collapse of real estate values and over extended banks. Many folks are still alive who remember the Great Depression of 1929 – 33.

At the end of these recessions and many others, legislation was passed that made the federal government less responsive directly to citizens in order for the government to maintain control of the economy. During the Reagan administration in the 1980s, the economic policy shifted to encouraging private enterprise and investment. As of today, the economic imbalance between rich and poor, salary constraint and diminishing labor stability are major issues.

Other changes associated largely with increased population and manipulated representation have distorted permanently the idea of one citizen, one vote such that not everyone has a vote, not every vote is equal and the subsequent reality often doesn’t reflect the voters’ intent.

Social abuses, most often financial disparities and less than patriotic treatment of citizens of every stripe creates strongly defined classes which, when the nation is under duress, quickly splinter national unity.

Finally, great shifts in agriculture, weather, science and technology throw society off balance. These changes are slow to move and often are subtle and ignored until the impact is troublesome. Establishment seems not capable of solving the issues of a changed ‘sovereign’ nation.

The democratic citizen has not held the reins of sovereignty for a long time.

– – – –

It took half a century, suffragettes, significant labor conflict, two wars and an almost fatal depression to change the nation from what it was in 1900 to what it became in 1950. (‘nation’ means the whole kit and caboodle: how and why the government operates, the culture, economy and international role) In 1900 citizens bought the first automobiles and by 1950 they bought the first televisions. During that span the internal combustion engine launched the fossil fuel era.

From 1950 to 2000 (with the exception of the Kennedy presidency – which was stopped by three assissinations) the nation grew conservative in the face of the cold war, the Korean Conflict and the Viet Nam War. The stresses of a changing world were evident in McCarthyism, young people rioting at the Democratic Convention and, with the effort to pass the Civil Rights Act, conflict became physical between races; cities were looted and burned. Four college students were killed by the National Guard. Labor unions were targeted by conservative state governments. During the 1960’s the pressure of change erupted like a volcano.

By the 1980’s the national philosophy had begun to shift from strength in unity to strength in money – from labor and manufacturing to investment and corporatism. Riding a global wave of economic success during the 1990’s put aside issues of uncertainty among citizens and further exacerbated the stressed culture by starting wars in the Middle East. Old political conflicts from the cold war emerged again.

It would take literally a new generation of citizens who had no historical ties to the twentieth century before issues of a troubled society came to the forefront. The twentieth century Establishment had stayed too long. The government was trying to keep a dead horse on its feet. Quickly, populism emerged and Donald Trump was elected.

– – – –

Time is long overdue for an exercise to reconstruct what can pass as some version of the great experiment. The decades of delay have created many pieces lying about which must be fitted back together, very much like trying to figure out a complex tangram. One piece is lexicon. The verbal conflict is full of words that have changed nuance or even are no longer useful; many new words did not exist in 2000 that reflect a faster moving world society. What do conservatives mean when they espouse capitalism? Or socialism used by liberals? Another piece, since the beginning, is race. The nuance has changed even since the 1990’s.

Other pieces include privacy, security, voting parity, term limits, health, job, salary, taxation, financial and corporate regulation, dysfunctional lobbying and fund raising, foreign policy, freedom, equality, newly defined infrastructure, artificial intelligence, housing, environment, and not last, international economy. All these pieces must become a unified whole if new generations are to sustain the great experiment.

It is easy to define pieces but hard to define the tool that will reassemble the pieces. It is hard to define the tool because the tool is every every every American citizen. Forty-seven percent voting is not every American. The nation is not a set of Lego blocks that snap together. It is a viscous, surging mass that must continually adjust. Imagine a huge flock of birds soaring in the sky; each and every bird is constantly adjusting its own path to assure the flock remains whole otherwise predators will be able to focus on individual, vulnerable birds. Mariner suggests that already other nations are lurking closely, eager to kill the great experiment.

At the personal level, where one talks with family, friends and associates, there is an attitude that can be expressed by letting them know that their right to believe what they believe is an American right not allowed in most of the world and “regardless of differences, always know I have your back if you need me.” Mariner has used that sentence with great success. Unity is the goal.

Ancient Mariner


Life Today is not your Father’s Life

In a recent post mariner cited many daily tasks that, in earlier times, were not automated as they are today; the reader may remember the reference to darning socks. These tasks took time, sometimes inordinate time, just to accomplish a day in one’s life. In the post, it was relatively easy to speculate on the differences in the industrial world and in daily materialism expedited by technology. What is more important both to self and to society is what twenty-first century speed has done to core values like religion and cultural ethos.

For Christians and sophists, has the reader ever read the Holy Bible cover to cover? If so, the reader is a rare individual. How long has it been since a Book in the Bible has been reread or a thread of parables has been revisited?

Do not chastise one’s self. It is how one must live in a time when the number of daily decisions and events is continuous compared to the recent life even of one’s parents. Further, via the Internet and satellite technology, today one’s decisions virtually affect many more lives and many more circumstances and immediately influence an entire world’s knowledge of reality. Simply turning on a television launches the marketing world into action.

It is hard to imagine a life when large amounts of daily time passed and there were no conversations, no interactive decisions and no interaction with society. It wasn’t so long ago; it was the life of a significant number of folks just seventy years ago. There was both time and need to belong to simple gatherings with people one didn’t see every day; the church picnic was an important event; specialized clubs existed to expand interests and share experiences: stamp club, coin club, knitting club, garden club, etc. There were service organizations like the Lions, the Masons and the Shriners.

True, many of these organizations still exist. However, in the past these groups were the main event in socialization, politics and religion – not to mention friendship, courtship and extended family visits during the holidays. Reunions were a central event. All these interactive examples suffer today. Church attendance has fallen mightily; the club phenomenon has been replaced by social media; special interests have moved from clubs to search engines. Vacant time that once was used for the chores of daily life has been replaced by time with the television, the Internet and the smartphone. Who needs to have actual face time with other people? There just isn’t time. Easier to turn on Facebook.

– – – –

What has this fast world done to one’s personal religion? Religion is the place where one becomes a member of the universe; it is an internal, personal experience that comes from believing not in the transactional world of electronics but in a world driven by love, emotion, compassion and respect for all that exists. It is the one true experience that makes one feel valuable in spite of worldly circumstances or a dead device battery.

There are many visions about religion and there are many religions. How does one truncate these beliefs into a straightforward, functional, brief but important part of the fast world?

As noted, public ritual, clubs and gatherings are not as central to society as they were in the earlier years of the last century. Yet these persons-to-persons activities are necessary for a wholesome life. Thumb punching and finger scrolling may be a successful distraction that does not require management of ethos, ethics, human bonding or even civility but most of the human brain exists to interpret meaningful and rewarding relationships – not with video games but with other humans.

If one were able to throw all the virtues of modern religions into a kettle and boil them down to a hearty stock, it likely would be rich in compassion. Compassion is the opposite of identity politics and tribalism. On the ground in everyday life, the current political, belligerent experience is caustic; prejudice breeds prejudice; fragmentation breeds elitism, racism and school shootings. It seems conflict is not a creative force.

Everyone knows that populism is strictly a destructive force. Its objective is to disrupt, damage and even destroy a conflicted social situation. But it is not populism’s job to restore. Populism exists purely in a transactional world, i.e., tit for tat, my way or the highway, this way only, dissidents are useless criminals (“Lock her up!”).

The prescription for curing transactional conflict is to make unity the first value. Unity is a religion word. Society’s job today is to uncover and elevate what is common among even the most contraposed individuals or groups. An individual human creature cannot be separated from eons of planetary life and environment. Humans are humans living the same reality, sharing the same three dimensions, sharing the same universe-given resources.

Even in unity’s simplest form, courtesy, one can sense personal comfort – that an individual has the confidence, perspective and commitment to be courteous even in the midst of consternation. Unity is a religion word.

Pass it forward.

Ancient Mariner