This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but I want to give you, the voters, a fairly large window into my thought process about how I think about contemporary societal issues and some of the preliminary solutions I have in development:
-Capitol Punishment for Sexual-Related Crimes Against Children
-Financing Higher Education
-English Ivy and Blue Catfish for Christmas
-Massive Toll of Mass Shootings
-Mental Health Is Wealth
-Reproductive Rights: The Political
-Reproductive Rights: The Personal
-Mandatory Military Service and Ending Systemic Racism
-Culture Wars: What's Flag Got to Do, Got to Do with It/What's Flag but a Second Hand Emotion
-Transgender and Gender Identity Issues
A federal law for Capitol Punishment for those convicted of sexual-related crimes against children.*
Add all sexual-related crimes against children to the list of federal capital punishment offenses.
We must encourage victims of generational trauma to seek help rather than play out the abuse they suffered on another innocent human being.
*For the official record, I've had this on my list for months, prior to DJ Trump's or DeSanctimonious's similar announcements.
Financing Higher Eduction
It is that money had to be borrowed in the first place that is problematic.
This issue has constantly been dictated to us as irresponsible borrowing v. those that have gone out and obtained marketable skills and are now employed.
This is a red herring.
The heart of the issue is that, in a nation this advanced, this wealthy, this abundant with every resource imaginable, EDUCATION SHOULD BE FREE, pre-k through Ph.D. I had a Belgium roommate the last year I lived in Ann Arbor, who had a Ph. D. in public health. The cost of that degree? Books. The average amount of debt a Ph. D. student graduates with in the US is $108,000.*
It's not that student loan forgiveness is a plea of the financially inept and morally deficient.
Yes, we need electricians, carpenters, plumbers, HVAC technicians, mechanics, contractors, construction workers, engineers of all specialities, and first and foremost, sanitation engineers and sewer/sanitation workers (who create the strongest link to us and a civilized existence), but even in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire when things were pretty scrappy, there was room and a need for philosophers and artists.
Recall the truth of Robin Williams's character, John Keating in "Dead Poets Society":
"And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love: these are what we stay alive for.”
Because let's be real, Jesus was not walking around talking about missile defense engineering or skyscraper construction. He was love incarnate. He encouraged our full humanity. And most people think Jesus is pretty cool, including me.
Another point: In 2022, the Pentagon reported not being able to "account" for 61% of their $3.5 trillion in assets. This is $2.135 trillion essentially lost.** The total student debt right now in the nation is $1.75 trillion. Take a sip of coffee and let that wash over you for a minute. Mmmmm...trillion...
What does english ivy & blue catfish have to do with Aliens?
This is your audition for Dog the Bounty Hunter Fame.
Imagine being choked to death and digested over a very long period of time (Sarlacc Pit, anyone?). That is exactly what is happening to these once majestic trees (see above photo). To me, trees are God's Fingers and shade is Nature's A/C. I took this photo this summer in Sullivan's Nature Cove in Severna Park. This murderous English Ivy is killing our trees.
As globalization has become the driving force shaping the modern world, entropy increases and our systems move toward states of disorganization. Entropy, as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, can help us to understand why the old bonds that were in place, making the world look one way, have dissolved and now the world looks a different way.
I'd like to talk about entropy in the context of invasive species in our natural world. Non-native (alien) plant species imported from Asia and Europe, mostly for their looks, have arrived here, to North America since the first ships sailed the high seas. Additionally, ships arriving from trans-oceanic voyages tow "hop ons" with them (just ask the Great Lakes about the zebra muscle introduction). Waters warm and species of fish that could only live in one place have a wider world now to call home. As entropy occurs, the landscape of our ecosystems are altered, we lose biodiversity and next thing you know, we're hanging Christmas oranments on an English Ivy bundle and enjoy our blue catfish taco Christmas Eve dinner.
Action Plan: 1) Outlaw sales of invasive plant species (on some level we're already doing this). 2) Incentivize swapping fescue lawns for native plantings. We must break free of the fescue lawn paradigm! Fescue? Forget You! 3) Bounty on blue catfish (specific to our region) and English Ivy. All paid by the pound.
The Massive Toll of Mass Shootings
Feel like you're going crazy waiting for Congress to do something about mass shootings and in particular, mass shootings IN OUR SCHOOLS? So depressed and nauseated by the gridlock and feebleness of Congress that you could just open your driver's side door and yak on the Chic-Fil-A drive-thru asphalt right now? Here it is laid out: a) mass shooting occurs b) a predictable, hallow Congressional rallying cry of "We must do something! THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE NOT ENOUGH!" c) A Trump indictment or another Marvel movie comes out or Biden falls or we argue about who can use which bathroom and we forget all about the families that are grieving and will never be the same.
I used to believe that banning guns was the definitive, logical answer.
I don't believe that anymore. There are 400 million guns in the United States. (More than people, but probably not more than the combine rat population of our biggest cities.) The vast majority of gun owners own and keep their guns in a responsible way. The aberrations of nature that become mass shooters would in all likelihood get their hands on a weapon no matter what firewalls or safety checks the governmental agencies have in place. We have to touch base with reality. This is reality. Guns are endemic to America and always will be.
We must protect our schools.
I believe that fortifying the protection of our schools, starting immediately, is infrastructure spending well invested. I do not advocate for arming teachers, but I do believe in making our schools impenetrable. Locking doors is not enough. Our public schools should enjoy the same type of physical protections that is currently mandated at all federal buildings. We must protect our children with the same safety measures that we protect federal workers.
Mental Health is Wealth
My Personal Experience
I am 100% committed to supporting current programs and laws and creating innovative legislation that help others overcome the destructive and fatal disease of addiction. I know first-hand that addiction is not a choice. It's not a moral failing, but it is pernicious as hell.
Although always a high achiever, I struggled for years with substance abuse and finally got the help I needed in 2018.
We all weren't always here.
Every system is perfectly designed to get the results that it does. The problem is not that people are wishing to come, work and live in the United States; the problem is the "system" that the federal government has mishandled for the last I don't know...million decades. Immigration has always been a politically super-charged issue. The DACA cohort, for example. Grant them permanent citizenship. Just think if you and I were beholden our whole lives to the crazy s*^& our parents did when we were BABIES. That is ridiculous. As far as the larger dumpster fire that is the southern border, we need to send the best minds we have--from the humanities, sciences, technology and law enforcement to show process and order and compassion to those flooding the border. THAT COULD BE YOU. That could totally be you. Being jerks to other humans who are in vulnerable, frightening and traumatizing situations is very high on the list of a hell-bound itinerary. Can we open the proverbial "flood gates" and just have a free-for-all? Hell, no. Of course not, but when I hear now that people at the border have to try to sign up for an interview on a busted US gov'n app when they probably don't have a square of toilet paper to their name and the appts. are gone basically before they're even available...No. Just No.
Reproductive Rights: The Political
Beyond Pro-Life v. Pro-Choice: The Economy
Let's look at the Dobbs Decision from a different angle:
Modern day American robber barons and their elite political pets* are scared s*%!less about the declining birth rate and are raiding the Federal Reserve's toolkit in essence. Just as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to make money more scarce to combat inflation, the Power Brokers of Industry and Politics have made abortion access more scarce in an attempt to combat the declining birth rate. "We need workers! We need consumers! We need soda pop drinkers! We gotta get going on this Supreme Court situation!," they shout over opera music and clinking ice cubes in crystal highball glasses while luxury fishing in Alaska. (Garland nomination blocked by the omnipotent Mitch McConnell, we get a Gorsuch a few months later and the dominos start to fall into place).
Human beings are not commodities and a pregnancy should not be forced onto a woman merely so she can produce the next generation of soda pop consumers. If your cosmology does include God as the Creator of Life you have the right to be doubly irate about this manipulation of God's creation, of women and children. This is one reason why I'm Pro-Choice and will always be.
Reproductive Rights: The Personal
As the 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes famously argued in his book Leviathan that, absent a government, life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
We need to unequivocally support women in their decision making about when to bring a life into this world.
I've been raped twice in my life, once when I was 17 and again when I was 28. For a long time, I carried the burden of these traumas alone; isolated with my emotions and memory. That pretty much covers at least “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish” in one big ball of wax. The role of government in our lives is to intercede and to help us live, not in a solitary way, not poor of mind, body, spirit or wallet, not experience nastiness, not be met with brutishness and die too soon.
The presence of testosterone and weak men in the world creates a world where all women must have equal access to the health care that co-existing with violent and imbalanced men requires. This is compassion.
This is order.
No woman needs to justify to anyone this heart wrenching decision that no woman really wants to be in the position to make in the first place. Poverty, violence, racism, generational trauma, substance use disorders, birth control failure, domestic instability, the reasons are many. We have to believe women; we have to trust women.
If a woman's decision leads to her to seek an abortion, it should be an unalienable right in this country.
Mandatory Military Service
I'm the first to recoil from the word "mandatory," but this could be a mechanism to combat widespread apathy, forever wars and systemic racism.
Remember the student protests of the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s? The military draft that was instituted at the time left young people no choice, but to be involved, have a voice and tell Uncle Sam, "I ain't going." Our all-volunteer current day military separates very neatly the civilians from those engaged in war and violence on our behalf. But what if we had the knowledge that any decision the President and Congress made in foreign intervention would directly affect our lives, the lives of our children and grandchildren? What if all Americans shared a common experience (2 year service commitment) that brought together all geographic regions, classes and races? Currently, we do not have a mechanism that allows for such.
Symbols Are Symbols Only When a Meaning Is Infused.
Note: What you want to do in your home or on your property is 100% your right as an American. This discourse only pertains to public places (public schools, federal buildings, monuments, etc.) and is such a tough one to tackle. Here is my current take on it as a philosopher/nurse/farmer/history student.
When did we give up on the American flag? When did we decide that it was hopeless, that the flag had been highjacked by the evil forces of bigotry, division, homophobia, racism, exclusivity and belongs to only to a particular American experience? Again, I ask, when did we give up?
I do not believe supporting a flag moratorium in, for example public school classrooms, makes one an automatic bigot. People, whether you agree with them or not, are more complex than what today's mob mentality tends to acknowledge.
To charge one's opponent as a "bigot" is a fallacy (a failure in reasoning which renders an argument invalid) called an ad hominem ("personal attack"). A personal attack removes the focus from the actual issue at hand and calls into light the morality or the potential personal failings of one's opponent as judged by the, well, one who wants their side of the argument to be "right." If you have a major disagreement with another person, I doubt that you are in the proper position to comment on the morality or righteousness of the other's beliefs or opinions.
Maybe I do not prefer flags filling the classroom (whichever flag they may be). Maybe they are fire hazards. Maybe I want my child paying attention to the teacher rather than have their eyes roam around the room distracted by all the beautiful, hanging flags. Maybe it will be a potential visual impairment to seeing an active shooter and where and at what they are looking at the room. Or maybe I do not think we should give up on the American flag, what it does mean and the potential of what it could mean.
I believe that a child's school experience should always inherently support, encourage and nurture the student. School is the make-it-or-break-it formative experience in a child's life; it was for me. No flag is going to replace the kind words of a teacher or another student. The qualities of kindness, inclusion, respect, open-mindedness are transmited by positive role models. In essence, flags are easy (and hard) to hang. Speaking out, especially when the mob shouts "Bigot!", is not. The Left has come too close to the very forces it purports to be opposed to. I think about the US Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, VA that is the seminole image of our flag being raised under hellacious of conditions. That is the bravery we need to teach children. The American flag is infused with the meaning we give to it and the meanings we teach to children. By demonstrating that additional flags are necessary to create a welcoming environment, we are already teaching the lessons of division to some children not old enough to read and write. That they don't belong to the American flag or vice versa. One flag unites us; many flags divide us (& isn't that what TikTok is for? 1/2jk).
Transgender and Gender Identity Issues
I fully support and endorse all concepts, definitions and conclusions generated by Reports on Gender: The Law of Inclusion & Practices of Exclusion; IESOGI Reports presented in 2021 at the 47th UN Human Rights Council and 76th UN General Assembly: Link here to report.