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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 50,426

Journal Archives

Two Questions on the Great Divide

A couple of questions, to which there is no “right” or “wrong” answer. What I would appreciate, and what might lead to a worthwhile discussion, is your opinion.

We have important elections in 2014, which will set the stage for significant elections in 2016. I consider elections at all levels – local, state, and national – important each and every time they are held. But I do believe there is an urgency involved in the upcoming contests, that demands our full attention.

In my opinion, there are two general groups that have the potential to make meaningful advances in 2014 and ’16. Included are the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Left. The party includes progressives, liberals, moderates, and conservative democrats. The left includes progressive democrats, and those to the left of the party.

For sake of discussion, liberals tend to think that “the system” needs fine-tuning, in order to make it more capable of providing social justice. Progressives tend to believe the system needs a major overhaul. Thus, for example, while I am a life-long registered democrat, on the majority of important issues, I am convinced we need revolutionary change. I do not believe that anything less bodes well for our nation, or species.

The entirety of “the system” is so complex, that some of the dynamics and issues involved are relatively well-defined, while others are definitely not. For example, our opposition includes republicans (who may be relatives or neighbors), corporations, the numerous “-isms” that are entrenched (racism, sexism, dollarism, etc), and class warfare.

It also seems that the fact we can best confront these social ills by having a united front that includes the Democratic Party and the Democratic Left. Our opposition will apply as much pressure as possible to those areas where there has traditionally been splits between the two groups. More importantly, at least in my opinion, is that both the Democratic Party and the Democratic Left have proven fully capable of dividing themselves into factions incapable of exercising their full political potential. (DU discussions on the possibility of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016 illustrate this quite clearly.)
Hence, my two questions:

First, what issue (or issues) provide the firmest regions for us to find “common ground”?

Second, what issue (or issues) provide the greatest area of disagreement, which could serve to divide us?

Again, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Your thoughts and contributions are most appreciated. Thank you!

H2O Man

New Jersey & New Systems

"A chicken can't produce a duck egg. It has not the means nor the system within to produce a duck egg. In the same way the Capitalist system cannot produce freedom for a black man. It has not the means within to produce freedom, it has not the educational means, the political means, the legislative means. And if a chicken was to produce a duck egg, it would be considered a revolutionary chicken." – Malcolm X

A chicken can’t produce a Governor James “Chris” Christie egg, either. So, any attempt to identify what type of system produces a hoodlum-politician such as Christie, it’s safe to cross chickens off the list of suspects. Ducks, too.

Yesterday, while discussing the most recent corruption coverage about the republican party’s potential 2016 presidential candidate, a friend said, “It’s just New Jersey politics.” I really don’t agree with that. Perhaps he was partly correct, but attributing Christie’s behavior as being typical of New Jersey seems rather short-sighted to me. It is similar to the idea of “Chicago politics,” and the myth that Joseph Kennedy “bought” his son’s victory in Illinois in 1960, thus winning the presidency. It’s not so much that adherents to this fable are incapable of doing the math; rather, they don’t take the time to do it. And such shortcuts often add up to incorrect conclusions
My knowledge of New Jersey is limited, and pretty much to politics. In the late 1960s and ‘70s, the New Jersey Supreme Court was highly respected. It was described as not only the best state supreme court, but the best Supreme Court in the land. Interestingly, the state also had some of the most corrupt police and politicians in the country, too.

The state’s health department is, in many ways, superior to that in my state (New York). For example, the “acceptable” levels of contact with toxic industrial wastes such as trichloroethylene are lower than in New York. It’s not that New Yorkers are of a hardier stock, and less “at risk” from exposure to such poisons. Rather, the policies in New Jersey were based more on science, than corporate interests.

Not all of the science that has come out of New Jersey is good, of course. In a 1958 study of the state’s largest prison, Princeton University’s Gresham Stokes wrote, “Centers of opposition in the inmate population – in terms of men recognized as leaders by fellow prisoners – can be neutralized through the use of solitary confinement or exile to other state institutions. Just as the Deep South served as a dumping-ground for particularly troublesome slaves before the Civil War, so too can the mental hospital serve as a dumping-ground for maximum security prisoners” (“The Society of Captives”).

One can only speculate on how many members of the Christie administration may end up serving time behind bars, yet be sure that none will be the target of this type of behavior control. It’s not because their crimes are less serious than the run-of-the-mill inmate’s; instead, it is because New Jersey, like the rest of the United States, has distinct systems of justice for the rich and poor.

In recent history, the New Jersey judicial system that functioned below its State Supreme Court was significantly corrupt. This translated into not merely different standards for the wealthy, primarily white population, and the lower-income, non-white people, but gross corruption, as well. Official probes in Passaic County in the late 1960s- early ‘70s documented ties between (some) police, prosecutors, judges, and organized crime. They found “sentence-fixing” in cases that included narcotics, gambling, and homicide. Governor Hughes’ Commission on Civil Disorders documented police violence against the black and Hispanic populations. One member of the commission noted that the Paterson police force was “the worst in the state, possibly the worst in the country.”

That system was frequently incapable of rendering justice in high-profile cases. Three such cases stood out in the second-half of the 1960s. These included the murder of Judy Kavanaugh, of Gabriel “Johnny the Walk” De Franco, and the triple homicide that Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was wrongly convicted of. The Kavanaugh and De Franco cases were closely related to narcotics and pornography; they involved characters identified as Phil the Gorilla, Steve the Greek, and Frankie T, all of whom were low-life, low-level mobster muscle. In the Kavanaugh case, the police and prosecutors used the testimony of a career-criminal in their attempt to convict four people; it was later proven that the four – who faced the electric chair – were not merely “not guilty,” but were totally innocent.

The Carter case is better known. As I had the opportunity to assist with Carter’s legal defense efforts, and have copies of the prosecutors’ and defense lawyers’ filings, as well as court rulings, I could focus on the legal questions that were only answered when the case left New Jersey, and was heard in the federal courts. Instead, I’d like to talk about a couple of lesser-known issues, as these are often the exact cause of injustice in America.

First, besides the four shooting victims in the bar in Paterson, and the two low-life, career criminals who saw parts of the horrible crime, there was a neighbor who saw the gunmen leaving the bar. He knew that Rubin Carter was not one of them; in fact, he knew exactly who they were. The lead investigator would opt to separate this witness from the case: there is no record of the lead investigator’s interview of him, and the defense was never notified by police or prosecutors that he existed.

Second, a police officer working under the lead detective would claim that he found two bullets in Carter’s car, which matched those used in the triple murders. Eventually, it was found this cop did not “log” these bullets until about a week after he claimed he found them. Then, it was found the two bullets did not match those used in the triple murder. Next, it was found they did match bullets used in a homicide from earlier on the night in question. The cop who claimed to have found the bullets in Carter’s car had been at the scene of the first murder. In fact, he collected and logged the bullets at that crime scene. And it was found that two bullets from this crime were missing from the police station’s evidence room.

While the defense was allowed to show that the lone survivor from the triple murder told police that it was not Carter and co-defendant John Artis who shot him, other related evidence was barred. The jury did not hear that the women who lived for a month after the shooting had identified the shooters to police; that police had been investigating the connection between organized crime and the shooting; or that police not only identified other suspects, but had jailed two men a couple of weeks after the murders.

A system that, among other things, introduces false evidence while suppressing actual evidence, is deeply flawed. It’s important to note that, in Carter’s case, it only took the covert actions of two police officers, to contaminate the case. Most of the other police and prosecutors assumed, based upon the “evidence,” that Carter and Artis were guilty. More, many of those same individuals would have their careers – in police work, judges’ benches, and state political office – enhanced by the case.

So the type of system that produces a James “Chris” Christie isn’t unique to New Jersey. It’s everywhere these days. It’s found where it takes but a few corrupt players, and where others will turn their heads, in order to avoid seeing the system being poisoned. Where citizens do not take a stance, because of anything ranging from indifference to ignorance to intimidation.These are system dynamics found in every community, and every state, and definitely in Washington, DC.

Unlike that chicken which Minister Malcolm spoke of, our system is not limited to producing but one type of egg. While it produces poisons that corrupt our society, it can also produce good. It produces corruption, yet it also, at times, produces social justice.

In my opinion, 2014 will be a pivotal year. I include the elections in the House and Senate, and at the state, county, and local level, as essential in determining if we add more poison, and more corruption, to the system ….or if we work, harder than we’ve ever worked before, to bring about positive change. Two things are required: creative tension, and personal sacrifice. For Democrats, part of that tension may come by way of primaries. For those in the Democratic Left, it may be in attempting to identify which candidates from the Democratic Party that you can break bread with. This process often produces tension between these two groups; this can be healthy, so long as common ground is recognized. One hand should wash the other.

It’s this simple: there is no other way.

Martin Luther King Day

I wasthe union vice president, and on the county workers' contract negotiating committee, when the topic of Martin Luther King Day was raised. I lived and worked in a conservative, rural upstate New York area, where the majority of the town supervisors serving on the county board were retired farmers, with small businesses in their respective communities. Most of them were of my father's generation, and as I sat in the negotiations, I remembered Dad warning me that they were tight with a dime.

Chenango County had the highest percentage of millionaires in the state, but it also had an extremely high rate of unemployment and poverty. County services were not only providing support for the lower economic class, but also at increasing rates for the middle class, which was being stressed by factory closings, and industries moving jobs out of the state. The Board of Supervisors resented the amount of tax dollars being invested in human services, and were intent upon expressing their outrage by insulting the union contract negotiators.

A gentleman who knew my father began questioning me: "So you're at mental health?" Yes. "Well, I figure that social workers are a dime a dozen." Oh, that's the good ones; the bad ones are far more expensive.

When the question of getting Martin Luther King Day was raised, another gentleman from the board of supervisors said, "I don't think we need that. There are many Negroes in Chenango County." What was stunning -- besides the fact that he said that -- was that he believed he was making a valid contribution to the discussion.

That was, of course, only part of the conflict that we faced. When there was no evidence of good will upon the board of supervisors' part, we increased the pressure. Although we could not go on strike, we began having marches around the County Office Building during our lunch breaks. We also attended all the board meetings. The local and regional media provided good coverage. I was asked to serve as our media spokesperson, a role that I rather enjoyed.

Eventually, we got a contract. It was not particularly good, but it did include the Martin Luther King birthday holiday. County employees have the day off tomorrow. I wonder how they will view the day. There has been quite a bit of turn-over in the twenty years since the contract negotiations that led to it being included as a holiday.

It really doesn't matter that the old republicans didn't understand why King's birthday should be a holiday celebrated by all Americans, including the white people in Chenango County. They were savages, inhabiting a frightening world of ignorance. But it does matter how the working class and the unemployed view the meaning of the day.

While we should honor Dr. King on the holiday, and consider the many achievements of his ministry, it is most important that we focus on how King can inspire us to attempt to bring about social justice today. We must confront today's savages and savagery. We will not have King's authority or talents, nor will we have his commitment to sacrifice for the causes we take up. But we can look inside, and identify what King's example can inspire us to attempt. And that, I believe, is the best way for us to honor the day.

H2O Man


Today is The Champ's birthday. Born in 1942, he would win a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics. As a professional, he would become widely recognized as the greatest heavyweight champion of all-time.

The older generation of Ali's era did not appreciate how good he really was, until he regained the title from Big George Foreman. And today's generation can watch much of his career on film, but not experience the excitement that Ali created, in and out of the ring.

I'm hoping that some of you will take a minute, and tell your memories/ impressions of Ali.

Bridge to Nowhere

Christie's press conference was important, but is unlikely to help him in the long run. First, while some are attempting to spin his performance as a positive, we see numerous serious questions being asked on internet forums.

Second, while the press had opportunity to ask some valid questions, that format still allowed Christie a large degree of control in what he would answer, and how .....not to mention potential follow-up questions. This is very different than a setting in which he is either testifying before a legislative committee, or is being grilled by an attorney.

The possibility of civil cases, and potential criminal ones, makes it likely that one of the currently identified "fall guys" will decide they aren't going to pay the price for keeping silent. It will only take one to cause the dam to burst.

Enjoy the show.

Rickety Woo

My children's pediotrician became a close personal friend. He saved my oldest son's life, when my boy was a tiny infant, misdiagnosed by two other doctors. That was 30 years ago this month, and even after that amount of years, remembering that period of time brings up some emotions. I think that a story about him might shed some light on one of the current "controversies" being debated on DU:GD
My friend was a faculty member at Syracuse University. He was highly respected in the medical community. He was also on the board of the NYS Museum's Iroquois Studies. His passions had areas of overlap: for example, he knew that Onondaga children were the only group that did not suffer from diabetes. Children from the other nations of the Confederacy have much lower rates of childhood diabetes than the rest of the country, but Onondaga still stood out.

At this time, this is certainly a topic of interest for the United States. It may not be the #1 issue confronting our society, but it has areas overlapping the larger issue of "health care" in our country.

A question at the starting point of considering why this small sub-culture doesn't have childhood diabetes would be is it genetics or environment -- or, of course, a combination of the two? Since virtually all Onondaga people have some Celtic DNA, due to interactions between the Iroquois and Euro-Americans in the colonial era, my friend wanted to study differences in life-style; these include diet, ways of dealing with stress, family support systems, etc.

Repeated attempts to gain the access such a study required proved frustrating for my friend. He never got a "yes" or "no" response from the nation's leaders. As we came to know one another, my friend realized I could assist in his gaining that access. Hence, on weekends, my boys and I would bring him up to the Territory.

This led to some interesting discussions on related topics. For example, the Jesuit diaries from the "contact era" document how the Iroquois treated some Euro-Americans for what is known as "rickets." This was a condition the Iroquois recognized, and knew how to treat. To make a long story a little shorter, it involved boiling the inner bark of a White Pine; that tea successfully treated rickets.

For several years, my friend boiled the said bark, but could not identify what made the tea work. Yet, he knew it wasn't just in people's minds. One evening, after we returned from the Territory, something clicked in his mind: he had boiled the bark in a metal pot, whereas the Iroquois had boiled it in clay pots.

He experimented with a clay pot, a reproduction of what the Iroquois used in the pre-contact and early contact eras. And he found the answer.

I tell this story, not to advocate "woo" over "science," but rather, to suggest that having an open mind is generally a good thing.

H2O Man

Two Questions:

What American (or Americans), living or deceased, would you say represents what you consider among the very best our society has produced?


Boxing: 2013 in Review

I have watched boxing -- amateur and professional, on television and from ringside -- for fifty years now. In fact, I had my first amateur bout 50 years ago this past summer. In my opinion, 2013 was boxing's best year in my lifetime. And that is in spite of the fact that the heavyweight division has continued to be largely non-competitive, and that amatuer boxing continued to be subjected to international scoring rules that were developed to hamper USA boxers.

"Boxing is dead (or dying)" has been a constant theme of those who dislike the Great Sport. It seems hard to believe in a year where one fighter earned more than $90 million for a single bout. That fighter is Floyd Mayweather, Jr., of course. At the beginning of the year, I had noted that Floyd's going from HBO to Showtime would have a huge impact upon the sport. It changed the HBO promotion of mismatches, in which the HBO-contracted fighter faced lesser opposition, to showcase their talent. More, it did something else equally important: it added depth to the undercards of mega-main events.

In picking my choices for "fighter of the year," etc., I'm going to go with others in the sport. Floyd is the "Greatest of the Era." In May, he easily decisioned tough Robert Guererro (and earned $40 million); in September, he decisioned Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, who entered the ring with a 20 pound weight advantage. Several of my friends who have longed to see Floyd defeated came away with a new-found respect for him after that fight.

Here are some of my choices:

Fighter of the Year: I'm gooing with Philly's Danny Garcia. He defended his title against Zab Judah in April, in a bout where the aging ex-champion put on his best performance in many years. Garcia showed that he was more talented than most fans (and "experts") had realized. Next, on the undercard of Mayweather vs Canelo, Danny decisioned Lucas Matthysse in a 12 round, action-packed, war. The odds had heavily favored Lucas to knock Danny out, but this tough young champion showed both a skill set and chin that surprised everyone, except Garcia and his father.

Fight of the Year: This is a tie between Tim Bradleys's split-decision victory over Ruslan Provodnikov in March, and Marcos Maidana's upset victory over the highly obnoxious Adrien Broner in December. Bradley, who was almost knocked out in both the first and last rounds, fought the wrong fight, and suffered serious damage in doing so. (Ten months later, he fought a near-perfect fight in defeating Juan Manuel Marquez.)

Maidana had been picked to showcase Broner's skills. But he hurt the champion in the first 30 seconds of round one; decked him in rounds two and eight; and forced Broner to fight toe-to-toe in an action-packed bout. Despite the referee's blatant favoring of Broner, Maidana won a lop-sided decision.

Knockout of the Year: The most significant was Adonis Stevenson's first round destruction of Chad Dawson, to win the light heavyweight title. The scariest was Deontay Wilder's devastation of Siarhei Liakhovich in one round; the victim of Wilder's 29th straight knockout appeared to go into convulsions as he lay unconscious on the mat
Prospect of the Year: Deontay Wilder, at 6' 7" tall, with an 84" reach, won four impressive knockouts in 2013. He appears to be the best American heavyweight in a long time. He reminds many of a heavyweight Thomas "the Hit Man" Hearns. He has won all 30 of his fights by knockout.

Elder Statesman of the Year: Bernard Hopkins decisioned previouslu undefeated Tavoris Cloud in March, and tough Karo Murat (25-1) in October.

Under-appreciated Champion: Guillermo Rigondeaux easily outpointed Nonito Donare and Joseph Agbeko this year. He is this era's Willie Pep ("You couldn't hit me with a handful of pebbles!"). However, his "hit and not-be-hit" style does not excite the casual boxing fans.

Comeback of the Year: Manny Pacquiao lost both of his 2012 bouts -- a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley, and a devastating 6-round knockout to Marquez. In November, Pac Man returned to the ring with a one-sided decision over Brandon Rios.

Note: Because Pacquiao is in debt, both in the Phillapines and in the US, he is likely to agree to fight Mayweather for $40 million. Floyd remains undefeated, holds the title, and far outsells Manny on pay-per-view numbers. It could happen in May, although there is a better chance this long anticipated bout will happen in September.

Charles "Sonny" Liston

Former heavyweight champion Charles "Sonny" Liston is believed to have died on this day in 1970. The exact date of his death is, like that of his birth, unknown. He was an enigma, even in the curious sport of boxing. In my opinion, he ranks high among boxing's all-time great heavyweight champions, with Ali at #1, Joe Louis at #2, followed closely by Liston. When Liston won the title, the majority of boxing writers compared him to Louis; it was his two loses to Ali -- and Ali's domination of the sport -- that overshadowed Sonny's career.

Liston's father was a sharecropper who had fathered 13 children with his first wife in the early 1900s. He re-married when he was in his mid-50s (to a 16-year old), and had another dozen children. Charles was reportedly the last-born, and although different records (mainly from jail and prison) indicate he was born by 1930.

By the age of approximately 12, Liston was "man-sized" -- standing close to 6 feet tall, and weighing close to 200 pounds. Around that age, he ran away from his father's home, to avoid the violent beatings his father routinely administered. Coming north, the man-child found he could best survive by serving as an enforcer for street gangs, and the lower rungs of organized crime. He accumulated quite a police record as a minor, and was in and out of jail frequently.

Liston graduated to state prison when, cornered by a police officer in a dark alley, he disarmed the cop, broke both of his arms, and stuffed him into a garbage can. While in prison, he learned to box. A Catholic priest who counseled inmates found that Liston, while illiterate, was actually very intelligent. That priest would help guide Liston's amateur and professional boxing career. (In response to charges that Liston was "owned" by the mob, the priest noted that these were the only people who would invest in a young man like Sonny.)

His amateur career lasted about one year. Liston quickly became recognized as one of the top three amateur heavyweights in the world. Indeed, with proper backing, he would certainly have become an Olympic champion. But boxing, reflecting society's values, was not ready to welcome Sonny Liston with open arms.

When Liston turned pro in 1953, Rocky Marciano held the title. A promoter offered "the Rock" big money to face Liston in his pro debut; Marciano declined the offer. (After Liston won the title, Rocky was offered $1 million to come out of retirement to fight him. Rocky's response was, "Are you crazy? You fight him!") Sonny would rise in the ranks in the next few years, defeating most of the top contenders of the era. Ali's future trainer, Angelo Dundee, told of watching Liston break opponents' teeth off with his left jab.

Floyd Patterson won the vacant title after Rocky retired. His trainer/manager, Cus D'Amato, was famous for not doing business with what he considered the mob. That was, of course, not the only reason he had Floyd avoid facing Liston. Eventually, Floyd and Cus parted ways, and Floyd opted to defend the title against the #1 challenger. President John Kennedy invited Patterson to the White House, and told him it was essential that he defeat Liston. But that didn't happen: Sonny destroyed Floyd in the first round, and did it again in their rematch.

In his second defense, he fought the undefeated contender Cassius Clay, and was TKOed in seven rounds. The scheduled rematch would be delayed, because the now Muhammad Ali had a hernia. Reporter Howard Cosell had, after visiting Liston's training camp before the originally scheduled date, felt that Liston was in great shape, and favored him to beat Ali. The delay harmed Liston, which is evidence of an aging fighter. He would be TKOed in the return bout in the first round, due to the referee's confusion.

Liston had a successful comeback after that, but promoters refused to include him in their title searches after Ali's forced retirement. But his career is remembered best for the losses to Ali.

In truth, his prime came before he even won the title. He had nine bouts in 1959-60, and the films of those bouts suggest that he likely would have beaten anyone, except Ali and possibly the great Joe Louis. Styles make fights, and I can't see many of the greats who could have competed with Liston in his prime. Yet he remains the sport's forgotten champion.

RIP, Champ.

On Domestic Violence

"Well, we have ALL, from time to time, been prisoners of one kind or another; we have all, at times, been prisoners of our own assumptions." -- Dr. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter

Yesterday, I joined an on-going DU:GD debate about the battle of the sexes. In doing so, of course, I was running the risk of offending segments of the DU community. From past experience, I knew that to even put forth some of the lessons taught by Erich Fromm in his classic 1955 book, "The Sane Society," was likely to upset the minority of people who seem more invested in arguing, than in identifying ways in which we might resolve the tensions between the male and female species.

Without question, western culture rests upon a patriarchal foundation. This involes the majority of social structures, from the family to religious institutions. I mentioned those yesterday, and again today, because any system that is patriarchal at these levels cannot avoid the negative potentials that patriarchy contains. This does not imply that every aspect of that society is saturated with those negative potentials: we see, for example, that Amendment 1 attempts to create a wall between church and state. However, even among those Founding Fathers who were not "religious" in the context of their time, the willingness to deny large segments of the population the rights and protections of the Constitution.

Indeed, even the greatest of (known) American thinkers from that era were infected by both racism and sexism. And that is not a coincidence: for both racism and sexism are assumptions that go hand-in-glove with patriarchy.

The September, 1987 edition of National Geographic features a wonderful article about "James Madison, Architect of the Constitution." It's worth reading. That article is followed by one on the "Living Iroquois Confederacy." It, too, might well be of interest to DUers.
The Haudenosaunee played a significant role in the founding of the United States. (See: "Exiled in the Land of the Free," by Oren Lyons, John Mohawk, and Vine Deloria, Jr.) One cultural tradition that didn't get across that divide was the concept of an equality between the sexes. They knew "equal" did not mean "exact." But they knew that equality was best obtained by a matriarchal social structure
That structure was found in family systems and religious/spiritual systems. When that is the family and religious structure, it leads to political systems (likewise, if we apply the positive social values that we advocate for politically, we can be sure they will impact other systems, from family to church). This did not reduce men's rights and responsibilities. Far from it: it strengthened them.

That edition of National Geographic has a map that showed Haudenosaunee influence during the colonial era as covering a quarter of the current United States. But their influence didn't stop with the Revolutionary War. As I noted yesterday, Engels' inspiration for his 1884 "Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State" was the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. (Engels learned about the Haudenosaunee by reading "Ancient Society," by Morgan.)

So long as we continue to define "family" in the manner prescribed by patriarchal society, a great number of social inequities will continue. That doesn't mean we should attempt to return to pre-Columbian times, of course, but we do not have the luxury of ignoring those principles that promote social justice. Such principles are constant, even within the context of a changing society. The truth is the truth. Respect is respect.

Obviously, no society is perfect. But what I suspect was the most promising of Haudenosaunee principles was that children were, as human beings, not to be abused. They had the right to be fed and clothed, and loved by an extended family. They were not to be beaten or molested.

There are lots of good and dedicated parents today. Mothers and fathers. And there are many good grandparents, aunts, uncles, and step=parents. Likewise, there are numberous good teachers, babysitters, ministers, and neighbors. While no childhood is "perfect," a lot of children in our country enjoy a fairly stable, nurturing environment.

On the flip side, a lot of children in our society do not have enough of these supports. And that doesn't mean that they have a bad parent, or terrible school teachers. There are parents who, due to the economy, do not have all of the resources that they need. Same with teachers. More, just as not every child who grows up in comfort turns out to be good (think of George W. Bush), lots of children who are deprived are Good their entire lives.

Yet, as Gandhi often said, poverty is the worst form of violence. Societies with the economic stratification like the USA will perpetuate violence, in many, many forms. I've mentioned sexism and racism, but there is a wide range of social pathology that is institutionalized in this nation. (Which is not to deny either other equally bad or worse places, or to ignore the many good things in and about America.)

In the introduction to his book "Gandhi on Non-Violence," Thomas Merton speaks of the potential benefits of combining western culture's intellect with eastern culture's wisdom. A similar benefit is found in making use of all people's full potential to be Human Beings, no matter if they are male or female. We need to recognize the value and dignity of all people. And that requires a conscious awareness that we are all connected, part of the human race, a large extended family.

It may be that at some future time, we will reach the point where we will be, to borrow from a Good Friend on yesterday's thread, a human-iarchal society. It would be nice if some of the unhealthy tensions that divide the human family were eliminated. But, until that time, we have the right and responsibility to take what steps we can -- as groups and individuals -- in that direction. Obviously, not everyone will agree on the nature of those steps. And that's okay. In fact, that's the way it should be.

H2O Man
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