Vietnam: Embracing seductive Saigon’s ‘time zones’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Embracing seductive Saigon’s ‘time zones’

Andrew Lam
Embracing seductive Saigon's 'time zones'

Ti Gong

Vietnamese American writer Andrew Lam at a dinner party with friends.

When I was 11 years old, I fled what was then Saigon, in Vietnam, with my family for America at the end of the Vietnam war.

Forty-four years later, I found myself moving back to the city now known as Ho Chi Minh City.

I discovered that I live in many different time zones all at once.

In the present: an energetic city where making money is the main preoccupation. I see it outside my very window. High-rises line the river, gleaming during the day and lit up at night with the promise of a prosperous future. You can also hear it, day and night, the din of construction and the roar of traffic.

If I once thought of Vietnam as backwards and America as modern, I now need to think of a new modern world versus an aging modern world.

In the coffee shop where I go in the morning to write, I spend quite a bit of time eavesdropping. The phrase — mot ty — is mentioned the most. It means one billion dong — or around US$42,000.

It is often used to describe prices of real estate, as in “that property is worth about 70 billion and you need to get it before it goes up in price.”

Most conversations somehow one way or another have to do with money, and money usually involves real estate dealings.

“Let me tell you how to get him to sell. I’ll get my company to back you,” is a sentence I wrote down after hearing someone saying it rather loudly at the next table.

I bask in this excitement. It’s an energy that is seductive and admittedly contagious. I watch with awe as the wealthy spend their money with such abandon at high-end nightclubs and restaurants.

Up the street from where I live, a shopping mall recently opened. It sells Lamborghini and Rolls Royce at its posh entrance. Always there are people taking selfies with the sparkly cars in the background.

Yet some nights strolling the darker alleys I am reminded that so many people are still mired in humiliating poverty — the hunched backs, the tattered clothes, the skin and bone bodies, squatters with cigarettes in mouth, a melancholic ballad on the radio.

Another time zone is the many memories I have of past Saigon, a sleepy town lost in time. Sometimes they arrive unexpectedly into the present.

A rush of memories

The other day on my way to a dinner party, my taxi drove past a building that I instantly recognized despite all the years.

“You came to this world at that hospital, in that room,” my mother had said many times whenever our car drove pass it during the war. There on that second floor, that room with its wooden shutters always wide open, I came to this world.

That moment in the taxi was odd — the past and the present intertwined. Old Saigon superimposed itself on New Saigon, and a rush of various memories of a tropical childhood overwhelmed and made me slightly breathless.

Vietnam is highly mobile now. The country is booming. It’s both a manufacturing hub and a hot tourist destination. And as it opens its doors wider many foreigners are making it their home, among them Viet Kieu — Vietnamese who live abroad.

Many have done well, too, investing and opening businesses, especially those who set up years earlier. To them I am a relative newcomer, and as such there is a lot of advice. Chief among them is: “Try your best not to live in the past.”

Easier said than done, of course.

Like many Viet Kieu, we are cursed with superimposed memories of this city. Sometimes we dwell on them.

The names of streets that have changed, which colonial buildings came down to be replaced by a high-rise, which restaurants once served the best pho during the war, which stalled the best Banh Mi, the dramatic evacuation at the end of the war, the bombs, the corpses.

The past can be a trap, a Vietnamese American friend who came back earlier admits.

The burden of memories keeps him from moving forward, from seeing and doing new things.

“I’m tired of the Vietnam story,” he told me over dinner one evening.

“Me too,” I said. Then we continued to talk about Vietnam.

Thus the future tense.

I carry memories of losses and exile — my childhood in old Saigon in wartime, my abrupt departure. I wear them all like a scar, or a medal.

But I am quite aware that I am also bringing the larger world back to my birthplace. Mine is after all a complicated sense of home.

Given that the bulk of my life was spent in America, writing in my third language (after Vietnamese and French), home is rooted in a sense of plurality.

And if there’s one set of self knowledge of which I am certain of after all these years, it is this: There is no such thing as coming home for those of us who were once exiled.

There is, however, something else the returnee can do — build a new one from scratch.

Diverse, pluralistic, complex is what Saigon has become. A “multi-verse.” A city of multi-ethnic enclaves. A city of immigrants. And a city full of returning Vietnamese. And it is full of young people, eager to surge ahead. Saigon is therefore both forgetful yet secretly longing for its history.

Growing more complex

In truth her nature has always been feminine and individualistic. Her power is alchemy. She turns foreign ideas into local fare.

She seduces stern conquerors and over time turns them into businessmen and epicureans with savior-faire. She takes in their ideology and idolatry, gives them back a tad of hedonism.

Standing in contrast to the public narrative of itself — the male version of events — are the stories of desires and ambition — thirst for knowledge, yearning to travel, wanting to better one’s self, dreaming of owning a house, working toward sending one’s child to study abroad, a kind of American dream.

Such as it is, Saigon, growing ever more complex, is in desperate need of a new framework.

That is my guidepost, my re-entrance. A professor at a college here recently asked me to give a talk about the history of the Vietnamese people in America. Another teacher at an international school asked me to teach a writing workshop to her students.

“Tell them how to think outside of the box,” she said.

A cafe owner who organizes talks invited me to read from my work. I tell listeners of my American life, my adventures abroad. I show images of myself as a child in this self-same city. I share my discoveries of the self. That it is multi-layer, and not etched in stone. Slowly, it feels that I am of use here.

Soon, I will make my pilgrimage. I will enter my old school. I will walk around the old courtyard, finding shade under the tamarind trees, and listen to echoes of my childhood.

I will stand in front of the old house, too, which have yet to visit, and in whose verandas I once read my books and whiled away the hot afternoons, my three dogs at my feet. I will mourn what’s lost and gone.

I will incorporate all this into a new story.

I will try to build bridges of all these fragments, across time zones and languages.

I will try my best to not recreate nor stay mired in the past. Instead, I will marry the tenses as if they are bricks and mortars and build a new home here.

Are We On The Road To Civilization Collapse?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us how much risk we face today, says collapse expert Luke Kemp. Worryingly, the signs are worsening.

Great civilisations are not murdered. Instead, they take their own lives.

DEEP CIVILISATION

This article is part of a new BBC Future series about the long view of humanity, which aims to stand back from the daily news cycle and widen the lens of our current place in time. Modern society is suffering from “temporal exhaustion”, the sociologist Elise Boulding once said. “If one is mentally out of breath all the time from dealing with the present, there is no energy left for imagining the future,” she wrote.

That’s why the Deep Civilisation season will explore what really matters in the broader arc of human history and what it means for us and our descendants.

So concluded the historian Arnold Toynbee in his 12-volume magnum opus A Study of History. It was an exploration of the rise and fall of 28 different civilisations.

He was right in some respects: civilisations are often responsible for their own decline. However, their self-destruction is usually assisted.

The Roman Empire, for example, was the victim of many ills including overexpansion, climatic change, environmental degradation and poor leadership. But it was also brought to its knees when Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 and the Vandals in 455.

Collapse is often quick and greatness provides no immunity. The Roman Empire covered 4.4 million sq km (1.9 million sq miles) in 390. Five years later, it had plummeted to 2 million sq km (770,000 sq miles). By 476, the empire’s reach was zero.

Our deep past is marked by recurring failure. As part of my research at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, I am attempting to find out why collapse occurs through a historical autopsy. What can the rise and fall of historic civilisations tell us about our own? What are the forces that precipitate or delay a collapse? And do we see similar patterns today?

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The first way to look at past civilisations is to compare their longevity. This can be difficult, because there is no strict definition of civilisation, nor an overarching database of their births and deaths.

In the graphic below, I have compared the lifespan of various civilisations, which I define as a society with agriculture, multiple cities, military dominance in its geographical region and a continuous political structure. Given this definition, all empires are civilisations, but not all civilisations are empires. The data is drawn from two studies on the growth and decline of empires (for 3000-600BC and 600BC-600), and an informal, crowd-sourced survey of ancient civilisations (which I have amended).

“Historic

Click/pinch to enlarge. Here’s the full list of the civilisations displayed above. (Credit: Nigel Hawtin)

Collapse can be defined as a rapid and enduring loss of population, identity and socio-economic complexity. Public services crumble and disorder ensues as government loses control of its monopoly on violence.

Virtually all past civilisations have faced this fate. Some recovered or transformed, such as the Chinese and Egyptian. Other collapses were permanent, as was the case of Easter Island. Sometimes the cities at the epicentre of collapse are revived, as was the case with Rome. In other cases, such as the Mayan ruins, they are left abandoned as a mausoleum for future tourists.

What can this tell us about the future of global modern civilisation? Are the lessons of agrarian empires applicable to our post-18th Century period of industrial capitalism?

Collapse may be a normal phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and technological stage

I would argue that they are. Societies of the past and present are just complex systems composed of people and technology. The theory of “normal accidents” suggests that complex technological systems regularly give way to failure. So collapse may be a normal phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and stage.

We may be more technologically advanced now. But this gives little ground to believe that we are immune to the threats that undid our ancestors. Our newfound technological abilities even bring new, unprecedented challenges to the mix.

And while our scale may now be global, collapse appears to happen to both sprawling empires and fledgling kingdoms alike. There is no reason to believe that greater size is armour against societal dissolution. Our tightly-coupled, globalised economic system is, if anything, more likely to make crisis spread.

Building falling into sea

Climatic pressures are worsening (Credit: Getty Images)

If the fate of previous civilisations can be a roadmap to our future, what does it say? One method is to examine the trends that preceded historic collapses and see how they are unfolding today.

While there is no single accepted theory for why collapses happen, historians, anthropologists and others have proposed various explanations, including:

CLIMATIC CHANGE: When climatic stability changes, the results can be disastrous, resulting in crop failure, starvation and desertification. The collapse of the Anasazi, the Tiwanaku civilisation, the Akkadians, the Mayan, the Roman Empire, and many others have all coincided with abrupt climatic changes, usually droughts.

ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION: Collapse can occur when societies overshoot the carrying capacity of their environment. This ecological collapse theory, which has been the subject of bestselling books, points to excessive deforestation, water pollution, soil degradation and the loss of biodiversity as precipitating causes.

INEQUALITY AND OLIGARCHY: Wealth and political inequality can be central drivers of social disintegration, as can oligarchy and centralisation of power among leaders. This not only causes social distress, but handicaps a society’s ability to respond to ecological, social and economic problems.

The field of cliodynamics models how factors such as equality and demography correlate with political violence. Statistical analysis of previous societies suggests that this happens in cycles. As population increases, the supply of labour outstrips demand, workers become cheap and society becomes top-heavy. This inequality undermines collective solidarity and political turbulence follows.

COMPLEXITY: Collapse expert and historian Joseph Tainter has proposed that societies eventually collapse under the weight of their own accumulated complexity and bureaucracy. Societies are problem-solving collectives that grow in complexity in order to overcome new issues. However, the returns from complexity eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. After this point, collapse will eventually ensue.

Another measure of increasing complexity is called Energy Return on Investment (EROI). This refers to the ratio between the amount of energy produced by a resource relative to the energy needed to obtain it. Like complexity, EROI appears to have a point of diminishing returns. In his book The Upside of Down, the political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon observed that environmental degradation throughout the Roman Empire led to falling EROI from their staple energy source: crops of wheat and alfalfa. The empire fell alongside their EROI. Tainter also blames it as a chief culprit of collapse, including for the Mayan.

EXTERNAL SHOCKS: In other words, the “four horsemen”: war, natural disasters, famine and plagues. The Aztec Empire, for example, was brought to an end by Spanish invaders. Most early agrarian states were fleeting due to deadly epidemics. The concentration of humans and cattle in walled settlements with poor hygiene made disease outbreaks unavoidable and catastrophic. Sometimes disasters combined, as was the case with the Spanish introducing salmonella to the Americas.

RANDOMNESS/BAD LUCK: Statistical analysis on empiressuggests that collapse is random and independent of age. Evolutionary biologist and data scientist Indre Zliobaite and her colleagues have observed a similar pattern in the evolutionary record of species. A common explanation of this apparent randomness is the “Red Queen Effect”: if species are constantly fighting for survival in a changing environment with numerous competitors, extinction is a consistent possibility.

Despite the abundance of books and articles, we don’t have a conclusive explanation as to why civilisations collapse. What we do know is this: the factors highlighted above can all contribute. Collapse is a tipping point phenomena, when compounding stressors overrun societal coping capacity.

We can examine these indicators of danger to see if our chance of collapse is falling or rising. Here are four of those possible metrics, measured over the past few decades:

Graphics showing collapse risk rising

Click/pinch to enlarge (Credit: Nigel Hawtin)

Temperature is a clear metric for climate change, GDP is a proxy for complexity and the ecological footprint is an indicator for environmental degradation. Each of these has been trending steeply upwards.

Inequality is more difficult to calculate. The typical measurement of the Gini Index suggests that inequality has decreased slightly globally (although it is increasing within countries). However, the Gini Index can be misleading as it only measures relative changes in income. In other words, if two individuals earning $1 and $100,000 both doubled their income, the Gini would show no change. But the gap between the two would have jumped from $99,999 to $198,000.

Because of this, I have also depicted the income share of the global top 1%. The 1% have increased in their share of global income from approximately 16% in 1980 to over 20% today. Importantly, wealth inequality is even worse. The share of global wealth from the 1% has swelled from 25-30% in the 1980s to approximately 40% in 2016. The reality is likely to be starker as these numbers do not capture wealth and income siphoned into overseas tax havens.

Homeless on Wall Street (Credit: Getty Images)

The rich are getting richer, which in past civilisations has created additional stress on societies (Credit: Getty Images)

Studies suggest that the EROI for fossil fuels has been steadily decreasing over time as the easiest to reach and richest reserves are depleted. Unfortunately, most renewable replacements, such as solar, have a markedly lower EROI, largely due to their energy density and the rare earth metals and manufacturing required to produce them.

This has led much of the literature to discuss the possibility of an “energy cliff” as EROI declines to a point where current societal levels of affluence can no longer be maintained. The energy cliff need not be terminal if renewable technologies continue to improve and energy efficiency measures are speedily implemented.

Measures of resilience

The somewhat reassuring news is that collapse metrics are not the entire picture. Societal resilience may be able to delay or prevent collapse.

For example, globally “economic diversity” – a measurement of the diversity and sophistication of country exports ­– is greater today than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, as measured by the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). Nations are, on average, less reliant on single types of exports than they once were. For example, a nation that had diversified beyond only exporting agricultural products would be more likely to weather ecological degradation or the loss of trading partners. The ECI also measures the knowledge-intensity of exports. More skilled populations may have a greater capacity to respond to crises as they arise.

There are some reasons to be optimistic, thanks to our ability to innovate and diversify away from disaster. Yet the world is worsening in areas that have contributed to the collapse of previous societies

Similarly, innovation – as measured by per capita patent applications– is also rising. In theory, a civilisation might be less vulnerable to collapse if new technologies can mitigate against pressures such as climate change.

It’s also possible that “collapse” can happen without violent catastrophe. As Rachel Nuwer wrote on BBC Future in 2017, “in some cases, civilisations simply fade out of existence – becoming the stuff of history not with a bang but a whimper”.

Factory workers welding (Credit: Getty Images)

Our technological capabilities may have the potential to delay collapse (Credit: Getty Images)

Still, when we look at all these collapse and resilience indicators as a whole, the message is clear that we should not be complacent. There are some reasons to be optimistic, thanks to our ability to innovate and diversify away from disaster. Yet the world is worsening in areas that have contributed to the collapse of previous societies. The climate is changing, the gap between the rich and poor is widening, the world is becoming increasingly complex, and our demands on the environment are outstripping planetary carrying capacity.

The rungless ladder

That’s not all. Worryingly, the world is now deeply interconnected and interdependent. In the past, collapse was confined to regions – it was a temporary setback, and people often could easily return to agrarian or hunter-gatherer lifestyles. For many, it was even a welcome reprieve from the oppression of early states. Moreover, the weapons available during social disorder were rudimentary: swords, arrows and occasionally guns.

Today, societal collapse is a more treacherous prospect. The weapons available to a state, and sometimes even groups, during a breakdown now range from biological agents to nuclear weapons. New instruments of violence, such as lethal autonomous weapons, may be available in the near future. People are increasingly specialised and disconnected from the production of food and basic goods. And a changing climate may irreparably damage our ability to return to simple farming practices.

Think of civilisation as a poorly-built ladder. As you climb, each step that you used falls away. A fall from a height of just a few rungs is fine. Yet the higher you climb, the larger the fall. Eventually, once you reach a sufficient height, any drop from the ladder is fatal.

With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we may have already reached this point of civilisational “terminal velocity”. Any collapse – any fall from the ladder – risks being permanent. Nuclear war in itself could result in an existential risk: either the extinction of our species, or a permanent catapult back to the Stone Age.

Syria ruin

A woman walks in the ruins of a town in Syria following conflict between fighters (Credit: Getty Images)

While we are becoming more economically powerful and resilient, our technological capabilities also present unprecedented threats that no civilisation has had to contend with. For example, the climatic changes we face are of a different nature to what undid the Maya or Anazasi. They are global, human-driven, quicker, and more severe.

Assistance in our self-imposed ruin will not come from hostile neighbors, but from our own technological powers. Collapse, in our case, would be a progress trap.

The collapse of our civilisation is not inevitable. History suggests it is likely, but we have the unique advantage of being able to learn from the wreckages of societies past.

We know what needs to be done: emissions can be reduced, inequalities levelled, environmental degradation reversed, innovation unleashed and economies diversified. The policy proposals are there. Only the political will is lacking. We can also invest in recovery. There are already well-developed ideas for improving the ability of food and knowledge systems to be recuperated after catastrophe. Avoiding the creation of dangerous and widely-accessible technologies is also critical. Such steps will lessen the chance of a future collapse becoming irreversible.

We will only march into collapse if we advance blindly. We are only doomed if we are unwilling to listen to the past.

Luke Kemp is a researcher based at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge. He tweets @lukakemp.

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Here’s Why We Shouldn’t Lie About Taking Mental Health Days

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THRIVE GLOBAL)

 

WELL-BEING//

Here’s Why We Shouldn’t Lie About Taking Mental Health Days

A clinical psychologist says covering them up can actually be worse for your well-being.
Alexander Kpke / EyeEm/ Getty Images
Alexander Kpke / EyeEm/ Getty Images

One morning in September, Sarah Billington told her manager she had to go home for the day because she was feeling sick. But she didn’t have an upset stomach like she let on — she was on the verge of a breakdown.

The author and editor had been struggling with anxiety well before that moment, but according to her candid op-ed in the Huffington Post, she knew in that instant that powering through was no longer a viable option. So she played the sick card and took the day off. “I went home, removing myself from the situation that was making me spiral with anxiety and giving myself a chance to regroup, to curl up in bed for an afternoon and overcome the panic and negative self-talk.” Billington writes.

Billington opens up in her story about facing an unsettling matter in her personal life while juggling a slew of stressful tasks at a previous job. She’d had conversations with her then-manager about taking time to prioritize her mental health, but when it came time to request time off, her boss was less than understanding. “She found it inappropriate and unacceptable,” Billington writes. “[I ended up] feeling ashamed and anxious for having requested the time off.” Still reeling from that past experience, she lied. “I don’t want management thinking I’m incapable of doing my job. On the contrary, I’m actually very good at it,” Billington notes. And yet: “There is an unjustified stigma around mental illness in the workplace and in general,” she writes. “When someone takes a sick day because of a virus or the common cold, their absence isn’t considered evidence that they can’t handle their work.”

No one should make you feel guilty about prioritizing your well-being, and if we don’t speak up about mental health days, they’ll continue to be shrouded in shame. Taking a mental health day is important if you’re struggling,  Thomas Plante, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Stanford University School of Medicine, tells Thrive Global. And by covering it up, you could also be hindering your well-being in the long run by turning to a short-term fix instead of dealing with an underlying issue head-on, Plante points out.

How to ask your boss for a mental health day:

Plante suggests being as specific as possible when you ask. We often refer to our mental struggles in vague terms because we don’t want to disclose too much in the workplace, but perhaps if your boss knew you were using the afternoon to recharge in the outdoors or go to a therapy appointment, she could become less skeptical of what the day actually means to you. Also, work on phrasing the request to let your manager know that you’re taking this time so you can come back mentally stronger, refreshed, and in a better place to be productive at work.

That being said, “Mental health days can help in the short term, but they might not help in the long term if there’s a bigger problem to be addressed,” Plante says. “A day off can help, but it also might be indicative of a larger issue,” he says, and if you suspect that’s the case, it’s better to consult with a therapist.

If you still feel the need to lie, ask yourself these questions:

If you’ve tried the above tactics but your boss is not accepting, or you still feel the need to lie about taking a mental health day, you may need to take a broader look at your workplace conditions and if they’re healthy for you, Plante suggests. When you’re already feeling overwhelmed, ignoring a deeper workplace issue can often add fuel to the fire, so it’s important to assess the nature of your office environment.

1. Is your workplace civil?

“Your work environment affects your bottom line. It affects your productivity, your well-being, and your overall health,” says Plante. If your office feels like a toxic environment, consider switching teams, raising a particular problem to HR, or even going elsewhere, says Plante. “Civility is key when it comes to company culture,” he notes. (Here at Thrive, compassionate directness is a key cultural value.) “Everybody needs to be treated with respect, compassion, and reverence. If that’s not happening, that’s a problem.”

2. Can you have a conversation about your workload?

It’s one thing to feel like your plate is too full, but it’s another thing to stay quiet about it if you’re feeling overwhelmed. According to Plante, corrective feedback is important when it comes to your well-being, both from employer to employee, and visa versa. Just like you’d want your manager to be honest with you, it’s vital to openly communicate if you feel like you’re hitting a wall. “Creating a culture of care starts with the employees,” Plante points out. “Don’t ignore the power of corrective feedback.”

3. Do you need more than a mental health day?

Feeling like you need an occasional break is normal, but if you have to lie about what’s going on inside, you might need more than a day off, Plante says. According to a 2018 APA survey, taking time off helps workers recharge, but the mental benefits that come from taking a brief vacation tend to fade within a few days of returning to work. In fact, 42 percent of participants of the organization’s well-being survey admitted they usually “dread” returning to work after a break. If you’re struggling with intense stress and anxiety, seeking professional help will probably help you more than a mental health day here and there. Remember that there’s no shame in reaching out when you don’t have the answers yourself.

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Your Truth: My Truth; God’s Truth; Are They All The Same Thing?

Your Truth: My Truth; God’s Truth; Are They All The Same Thing?

Truth, is it really different, is truth determined by the eye that beheld it? Does the eye’s lie to our brains some times? Could it be that five people standing together witness an event that happen thirty feet directly in front of them have five different versions of what happened when asked? Or, do our brains all see and know exactly what just happened but, always a ‘but’ isn’t there, our inner person, our inner Soul starts to do a ‘Bill O’ Riley’ spin?  Seeking the most ‘advantageous’ ‘version’ of the truth for our own personal gain? Even if there is only two people who see something happen, you and I, side by side at the same time, will we really have different versions of what we say ‘the truth is’? Would it matter if we were from different Country’s, cultures, colors, or Faiths as to what we would say we had just seen? Do our own brains, eyes, lie to our inner Soul? (Science has proven this last one to be a definite yes). It is nice that God ponders the hearts of each of us when He is considering our reasons why we did each thing we have done during our lives.

 

When I looked the word truth up in the dictionary it said: The true and actual state of a matter<But who’s truth, whose version of it? In the dictionary under the word truth when you go into the idioms what it says about truth: in reality, in fact, actually. When I looked up truth in the index of my Bible it said: that which agrees with final reality. In the index of my Bible just under the word truth is the term ‘Alpha and Omega’, by definition, are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. Also, the term Alpha and Omega is used expressively of God the Father and God The Son in Revelation 1:8,17,18. (Jesus speaking) #8: ” I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”. #17&18: “Fear not: I am the first and the last: I am He that lives, yet was dead: and behold, I am alive for evermore, A-men; and I have the keys to Hell and to death”.

 

Folks, to me being that God is the first and the last, the creator and the finisher of all things that are, I am going to go with His version of what truth is. I think that His opinion (God’s) is of more value than my own opinion and friends, God’s version of what truth is, is more important than any of your versions either. There is only one real truth and that is the version of THE Creator. So when we are telling the truth to our spouse, our children, our boss, whose version is that truth? Is it one with a little flavoring added, you know, to spice the dull up a little bit? When we say ‘we are telling the truth’ are we, really? This post is for the purpose of conversation and for getting us folks to broaden our avenues of thought which is what most of my post are about. I hope you have a great day, stay safe, God bless.

Russia Against The U.S. Or The U.S. Against Russia Type Policies Show Ignorance; Not Strength

Russia Against The U.S. Or The U.S. Against Russia Type Policies Show Ignorance; Not Strength

It does seem to me that during the 14 years that President Putin has been in power that the nation of Russia has constantly grown further away from having good ties with the United States. I do put a lot of blame on America/Americans for Mr. Putin ever coming to power in Russia in the first place though. We here in American movies, media outlets as well as the talking heads in D.C. were always slamming Russia for being backwards and incompetent. How could the American idiots not have known that they were not just slamming a picture on a map, they were constantly slapping the people of Russia in the face for the actions of their pathetic Communist government. The people were constantly having their national and personal pride stomped on by a bunch of ego maniacs who were too uncaring or too ignorant to care. This is not how you build friendships with a people/Nation, it is how you destroy relationships. When the Soviet Union crashed in the fall of 1989 large Capitalist Corporations simply saw red meat concerning the people and resources they could get control of. About a 150 years ago after the American Civil War ended there ware folks that were labeled as Carpet-bagger’s for their actions like what the wealthiest of the West has done to the poorest of the Russian population.

 

I am a person that believes that Russia, China, America and the E.U. need to work together as friends, bringing in the smaller nations that surround us in a real barricade against the spread of Islamic extremest within our borders. The people of Russia that I have met in my life as well as the folks from that region of the world are just like everyone else. They want personal security for themselves their families and their businesses. They want a roof over their heads, food to eat and regular trash pick-up and to be left alone by the government. There are a lot of people in the governments of countries like China and Russia who do not believe in their being any God (I’m sure there are some of those in the U.S. government also). Folks that mindset is much easier to work with, to live with, than a religion that’s stated goal is to kill everyone on Earth who doesn’t follow 100% their beliefs. Of course there is always the issue of whom is the Judge at any particular moment as to whom gets their head lifted.

 

I personally don’t know just how we the non-Islamic world will be able to come together with all the divides we keep throwing at each other from D.C., Moscow and Beijing but our government and military officials on all sides of the Big Ponds need to get their heads out of their behinds before they get them cut off with them permanently stuck there. Our so-called leaders need to start focusing on the avenues of good that can be followed and nurtured between our Nations and our cultures before we have no Nation, Culture, or Head!

 

 

(Humanity Poem) Culture, Up Bringing, Police, And The Heart

Culture, Up Bringing, Police, And The Heart

 

Culture is just what it is you say, so no blame here or there, just chance

Dictating life, street life, who to rob, who to cap, gun smoke, not so sweet

Education, Religion, is it really only for the weak who work to get ahead

Staying alive day-to-day, avoiding 5-0 like a plague, give yourself a chance

True, the world can be a cold-cold Witch, Dead behind the Mask we wear

Cuddled in at your own Crib tonight, are you and your family in safety’s bliss

Hate, anger, fear, blood in our streets, God please save us from our selves

In an era of profound cultural transformation, elections and referendums have very real consequences

 

THE WEEKEND ROUNDUP 

In an era of profound cultural transformation, elections and referendums have very real consequences ― such as the repeal of environmental regulations or crackdowns on press freedom. But as much as they reveal how markedly divided societies are at this historical moment, they settle little. For those who are nostalgic for an ideal past, the challenges of a complex future wrought by globalization, digital disruption and increasing cultural diversity remain unresolved. For those looking ahead, there is no going back. The present political reaction is only the first act, not the last. It is the beginning, not the end, of the story of societies in fluid transition.

The recent Turkish referendum, like Brexit and U.S. President Donald Trump’s election, fits a pattern of a territorial divide. Residents in large cities and coastal zones linked to global integration and cosmopolitan culture represented just under half of the vote; rural, small-town and Rust Belt regions linked more to the traditions and economic structures of the past were just over half. But there is also a major difference. The populist, nationalist narrative that won the day in Great Britain and the United States championed the “left behind” and splintered the unresponsive mainstream political parties. In Turkey, the day was won by a conservative, pious and upwardly mobile constituency already empowered by some 15 years of rule by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party. The cultural duel there, backed up by neo-Islamist and nationalist statism, will thus be more intense than elsewhere.

In an interview following the historic vote in her country, novelist Elif Shafak says, “The referendum has not solved anything. If anything, it deepened the existing cultural and ideological divisions.” She also laments the decline of Turkey’s long experiment as a majority-Muslim country attempting to balance culture, secularism and Western democracy. “This is the most significant turning point in Turkey’s modern political history,” she declares. “It is a shift backwards; the end of parliamentary democracy. It is also a dangerous discontinuation of decades of Westernization, secularism and modernization; the discontinuation of Atatürk’s modern Turkey.”

Writing from Istanbul, Behlül Özkan explains the details of the constitutional referendum, how the playing field was tilted in Erdoğan’s favor and how it will have massive implications for Turkey’s future. He also emphasizes the historic importance of Turkey’s reverse. Özkan cites the political theorist Samuel Huntington who, in an essay decades ago on transitions from authoritarian rule, once defined Turkey as a clear example of a one-party system becoming more open and competitive under the constitution put in place by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. It is rare in history to move in the other direction, as Erdoğan has now accomplished.

Also writing from Istanbul, Alev Scott believes Turkey is in for “a decade of paranoia under a modern-day Sultan” who was unnerved by the slim margin of his victory. Noting a widely circulated photograph of the president at his moment of triumph, she saw a man not “celebrating victory” but “a man alarmed by near-defeat.”

Even as critics within Turkey and others abroad expressed concern over the extinguishing of democracy, Trump again showed his affinity for strongman politics by calling to congratulate Erdoğan on his victory. Yet, as with other countries from India to Argentina, there is likely another element as well to this potentially budding bromance. Sam Stein and Igor Bobic report on ethical issues raised by Trump’s business ties with Turkey. In 2012, Erdoğan joined Trump and his family to mark the opening of Trump Towers Istanbul.

Your Truth: My Truth; God’s Truth; Are They All The Same Thing?

Your Truth: My Truth; God’s Truth; Are They All The Same Thing?

Truth, is it really different, is truth determined by the eye that beheld it? Does the eye’s lie to our brains some times? Could it be that five people standing together witness an event that happen thirty feet directly in front of them have five different versions of what happened when asked? Or, do our brains all see and know exactly what just happened but, always a ‘but’ isn’t there, our inner person, our inner Soul starts to do a ‘Bill O’ Riley’ spin?  Seeking the most ‘advantageous’ ‘version’ of the truth for our own personal gain? Even if there is only two people who see something happen, you and I, side by side at the same time, will we really have different versions of what we say ‘the truth is’? Would it matter if we were from different Country’s, cultures, colors, or Faiths as to what we would say we had just seen? Do our own brains, eyes, lie to our inner Soul? (Science has proven this last one to be a definite yes). It is nice that God ponders the hearts of each of us when He is considering our reasons why we did each thing we have done during our lives.

 

When I looked the word truth up in the dictionary it said: The true and actual state of a matter<But who’s truth, whose version of it? In the dictionary under the word truth when you go into the idioms what it says about truth: in reality, in fact, actually. When I looked up truth in the index of my Bible it said: that which agrees with final reality. In the index of my Bible just under the word truth is the term ‘Alpha and Omega’, by definition, are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. Also, the term Alpha and Omega is used expressively of God the Father and God The Son in Revelation 1:8,17,18. (Jesus speaking) #8: ” I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”. #17&18: “Fear not: I am the first and the last: I am He that lives, yet was dead: and behold, I am alive for evermore, A-men; and I have the keys to Hell and to death”.

 

Folks, to me being that God is the first and the last, the creator and the finisher of all things that are, I am going to go with His version of what truth is. I think that His opinion (God’s) is of more value than my own opinion and friends, God’s version of what truth is, is more important than any of your versions either. There is only one real truth and that is the version of THE Creator. So when we are telling the truth to our spouse, our children, our boss, whose version is that truth? Is it one with a little flavoring added, you know, to spice the dull up a little bit? When we say ‘we are telling the truth’ are we, really? This post is for the purpose of conversation and for getting us folks to broaden our avenues of thought which is what most of my post are about. I hope you have a great day, stay safe, God bless.

Russia Against The U.S. Or The U.S. Against Russia Type Policies Show Ignorance; Not Strength

Russia Against The U.S. Or The U.S. Against Russia Type Policies Show Ignorance; Not Strength

It does seem to me that during the 14 years that President Putin has been in power that the nation of Russia has constantly grown further away from having good ties with the United States. I do put a lot of blame on America/Americans for Mr. Putin ever coming to power in Russia in the first place though. We here in American movies, media outlets as well as the talking heads in D.C. were always slamming Russia for being backwards and incompetent. How could the American idiots not have known that they were not just slamming a picture on a map, they were constantly slapping the people of Russia in the face for the actions of their pathetic Communist government. The people were constantly having their national and personal pride stomped on by a bunch of ego maniacs who were too uncaring or too ignorant to care. This is not how you build friendships with a people/Nation, it is how you destroy relationships. When the Soviet Union crashed in the fall of 1989 large Capitalist Corporations simply saw red meat concerning the people and resources they could get control of. About a 150 years ago after the American Civil War ended there ware folks that were labeled as Carpet-bagger’s for their actions like what the wealthiest of the West has done to the poorest of the Russian population.

 

I am a person that believes that Russia, China, America and the E.U. need to work together as friends, bringing in the smaller nations that surround us in a real barricade against the spread of Islamic extremest within our borders. The people of Russia that I have met in my life as well as the folks from that region of the world are just like everyone else. They want personal security for themselves their families and their businesses. They want a roof over their heads, food to eat and regular trash pick-up and to be left alone by the government. There are a lot of people in the governments of countries like China and Russia who do not believe in their being any God (I’m sure there are some of those in the U.S. government also). Folks that mindset is much easier to work with, to live with, than a religion that’s stated goal is to kill everyone on Earth who doesn’t follow 100% their beliefs. Of course there is always the issue of whom is the Judge at any particular moment as to whom gets their head lifted.

 

I personally don’t know just how we the non-Islamic world will be able to come together with all the divides we keep throwing at each other from D.C., Moscow and Beijing but our government and military officials on all sides of the Big Ponds need to get their heads out of their behinds before they get them cut off with them permanently stuck there. Our so-called leaders need to start focusing on the avenues of good that can be followed and nurtured between our Nations and our cultures before we have no Nation, Culture, or Head!

 

 

Is Black American ‘Culture’ Black Peoples Biggest Problem With Police?

Is Black American ‘Culture’ Black Peoples Biggest Problem With Police?

 

 

I know that throughout the history of the human race that there have been issues with race that has spawned violence and hatred one toward another. Here in America some people tend to even hate people because of the accent they speak with even if they have the same skin color. Some folks here in their limited knowledge are still fighting the Civil war in their own minds. Today’s note to you is not centered on racism of black people toward everyone else nor other races toward black folks, it is about today’s black culture issues though.

 

 

To the layman at street level who has logged about five-million miles traveling over the lower 48 States and Canada I have been a witness to how people at ground level act toward issues and toward others all over the country during a span of over thirty years. I know that race issues cannot be completely taken out of how cultures feel they are or have been treated by other cultures, I guess it is a taught DNA, sort of.  I am a conservative/moderate Christian white guy from the south-east United States who is a person who thinks that brown skin is actually the prettiest (why do white folks lay out in the sun for and go to tanning booths for, to turn the white skin brown). Really what it comes down to is that I really don’t care what your outside is. I do tend to judge from what comes out of the mouth and heart of a person though, human flaw I guess, any judging is, but I like you am only a human. I err often, but at least I try not to. I try to look at life from the spiritual view of Christian Scriptures yet I often fail at that. I am not trying to judge anyone with this note today, I am asking each of us to think about the issues I am bringing up here and to consider the thoughts, the suggestions, that all. This is a note just trying to get us to consider how we “can just all get long”.

 

I know that I have heard many times throughout the country black Americans, mostly males though talking ‘smack/ignorance’ about how the worst of behaviors like constant in your face vulgar language and walking around holding their version of manhood, or treating all women like whores and the unwillingness to work for a living as just part of their culture. Like the black lady Congressman from Watts CA who after the riots there after the Rodney King verdict referred to all of that rioting, violence, store break-ins as not really a crime being committed, just culture?

 

It is no secret in the Hispanic, Asian or White communities or in the Black communities that the uneducated act the most ignorant toward each other in general.  The Black people as a race must push education for their own people. What is the dropout rate among black teenagers compared to the other races here in America? What is the unemployment rate among black youth and black males in general? What is the rate of black youth compared to other races having spent time in the penal system? What is the poverty rate differences? What is the rate of violence by black people, mainly males, toward other black folks, white folks, ect? It is no secret the ignorance of the ‘gangster’ in your face ignorance of the young people in this country causes constant conflicts. One evening at a business (in Albany Georgia) I frequented I came in on a different shift and there were two thirty-ish black women working behind the counter. They waited on the thirty-ish year old black man in line in front of me, after he left they made mention of the BMW that just left. I looked out the window and noticed that he got into a Ford and the girls seen that I had a bit of a question on my face so they explained that BMW that they were speaking of was ‘black man who works’. They explained a few things to me, they said that around there that almost all of the single black men either ran drugs or whores, very few would actually work for a living that they were always looking for some woman to lay in on. Education, morals, non-aggression, faith in a loving God, importance of families with the dads in the household, these are taught things, they are learned, just like good habits are taught and learned. The black communities in America as a whole is horribly failing their own people. Another one of these two black ladies jokes was “how do you starve a black man to death, answer, hide his food stamps under his work boots, ouch”!

 

These so-called black ministers who have made personal million’s by always going around preaching hate and discontent would instead preach and teach as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr did during his life time many more black people and other people would be alive today. When a person comes into contact with a group of people, a race of people, and that person time and time again when they come into this contact are having trouble with this particular race or culture of people, they are going to get fed up with it, this in your face mentality.  A very good example of this can be shown in basic human nature. I as a former lifelong over the road truck driver knows that some police officer in general are crooked as a dogs hind leg that’s been broken a dozen times, but most are not that way. If you are a police officer and you see a certain trucking companies trucks several times a day and this companies drivers think they are all cowboys and don’t have to obey the laws like everyone else. Let’s say every time you pull over one of them that they are stoned or drunk then you as a human being may well stop these trucks at their slightest infraction when another truck traveling with it wasn’t pulled. What if every time you as a cop pull over a tractor-trailer unit that the driver of almost every truck gets out being mouthy with the cop and refusing to obey the cops’ directives, what kind of attitude do you think any human being would get toward all truck drivers and trucking in general? The same exact thing happens with a lot of police officers when they encounter belligerent people who time and time again are of one race, nationality, gender, age group etc.

 

What I am saying is that here in America the Black community has got to as a whole look inside their own actions, their own culture, to see if we by our own personal actions and those of our families, communities, churches are making problems worse with society as a whole and /or with the police in general. Every culture faces these same questions, what actions by people are okay in a civil society and which just cause conflict. There is no doubt that police departments around the globe have officers who are less than stable, less than decent, less than honest, less than mature, thugs, etc. This is a constant issue for every department everywhere and not just police departments, warehousing, offices, factories, etc. Race, morals, violence, these are all personal issues and until we decide to quit blaming others for things that they had nothing to do with, then our own personal experiences will be unpleasant at times, especially when we are having a face to face meeting with Police Officers. Everyone on the planet needs to understand that if you have any encounter with any Police Officer anywhere, that if that Officer happens to be dirty, he can mess up the rest of your life, or end it. So when we encounter an Officer during our day simply always be kind and decent to them and do obey their orders to limit the opportunity for a moron to show you how big a moron he can become. O, and always hope for dash cams and Officer Body Cameras, for everyone’s sake, to protect the civilian and to protect the Officer from lies being leveled against each other.