Beyond the Cusp

October 29, 2014

Are Civil Rights for Sexual Preferences Tantamount to Civil Rights for Minority Races

Looking back to the first plaintive cries petitioning for acceptance and protection from being segregated against in life; many of their complaints revolved around workplace, refusal of housing or rental properties, refusal of service in restaurants or stores, and other generalities which today are granted without even a second thought. No longer is it acceptable or even forgivable to physically assault same-sex partners simply because they disturb your preference for a normalcy where such a situation either never exists because no one desires relations other than the norm or such relations are barred from the public realm.

The initial indications that the demands from the more adamant, some might even say militant, alternate life partners and sexual preferences began to compare their struggle to the Civil Rights Movement of a half century ago. These statements also brought to the fore the first warning protestations that the gender identity lobby was going to aim to overturn every last vestige of normal sexuality forcing their way into mainstream and eventually making their lifestyle and sexual proclivities the norm and traditional relationships the exception, or at least the perception of such. Those making these warnings were mostly ignored as paranoid extremists. Their main claim was that the alternate gender lobby would eventually demand a change in the definition of marriage and even force religious institutions to perform alternate gender weddings regardless of their religious convictions against such relations. Obviously these people were insane and had a very loose grip on reality. Nobody was thinking of challenging the definition of marriage as being a bond between one man and one woman. Such claims had to be absurd and dismissed out of hand, until when in more recent times this exact demand came to fruition. Recent court rulings have gone even further making objections enacted into laws, even those which have passed as citizen initiatives receiving solid majority backing when placed on ballots, have been overturned using Civil Rights Laws and equal access laws as the basis for striking down enacted laws which ban same sex marriages.

As I wrote back in March of 2013 in the article titled The Sane Solution to Same Sex Marriage, the easiest solution is to separate marriage and civil unions making one the purview of the state and the other reserved for religious institutions. With the individual states and other legally approved jurisdictions issuing a license for a civil union which qualifies those so joined all the benefits currently described as marriage benefits such as tax breaks, visitation in public hospitals and other similar rights while marriages will be issued through a religious ceremony and would have no actual civil benefits under the law. With such a difference established the state would still receive their revenue from issuing licenses for marriages and gain additional revenue for same sex unions without all of the aggravations and protestations from the religious and conservatives who have protested allowing marriage to be redefined by statutes or court decisions. The individual states and even more local jurisdictions such as counties, parishes, cities, towns and whatnot can make whatever allowances and combinations to qualify for a civil union without having any effect on the definitions of marriage which would remain with religious institutions. If an union other than traditional marriage of one man and one woman is permitted by any particular church, synagogue, temple, mosque, cathedral, monasteries or other religious institution desires to issue a marriage license to non-traditional couples, then that would be their right as well and they could attract such couples into their fold.

The coming disaster will be the eventuality when men of the cloth will no longer be permitted to even read scripture wherever the original scripture excludes nontraditional civil unions. Such an atmosphere has already cast a pale over the pulpits of Houston, Texas; yes, Texas of all places but such is Houston where they reelected Mayor Annise D. Parker who lives an open lesbian lifestyle. Her sexuality would have little to do with her position as mayor except that her administration recently was embroiled in a tempest over an apparent attempt to force the religious leaders to turn over any sermons or other material which they may have given, written or otherwise distributed which may have had any relevance to be subpoenaed. This action caught a great amount of indignation, challenges and even some outright refusals all basing their hesitance or resistance on religious freedoms under the First Amendment. This did force the Mayor to redefine the subpoena narrowing its coverage but the argument has been started and is not going to end soon in Houston. This was but the initial shot over the bow, given time this type of action will be repeated and slowly but surely it will become accepted and soon clergy will no longer be permitted free range of subject material and will begin to restrict their public positions to politically correct and approved subjects. This is the first step to thought crimes where people can be arrested for holding certain opinions and is the beginning of a dangerous slippery slope to slide down to a dark and hurtful place.

Meanwhile, the gender identity movement has one glaring difference from the Civil Rights Movement. While a minority individual cannot choose their minority status and in everything they do and everywhere they go they continue to obviously be that minority, they literally wear their minority status wherever they go, whether they are alone or in a group, they remain a minority. There is absolutely no choice or manner in which one can disguise or act in some manner and not be perceived as a minority. The same is not true for people with gender identity issues. A same sex couple when walking down the street would only be identified as potentially a same sex couple if they were walking hand-in-hand or with their arms around each other, though such would not necessarily always be accurate as such acts could have other motivations. Still, should a same sex couple simply be walking down the street or walk into a restaurant to have a meal they would not be depicted as such and could pass as two friends walking or taking a meal together. A minority is a minority walking down the street, having a meal with a friend and that is a simple fact which cannot be altered. That is the difference, a choice is made to announce or otherwise make known when a person has gender identity or sexual preferences which may be considered non-traditional otherwise they could just as easily pass as being no different than the next person or group, a minority individual cannot hide their being a minority, period. That is a large difference but the reasoning made by the gender issues advocates is that they should be able to announce and make their difference from the traditional majority without any reactions.

What does one believe would be the reaction if my wife and I entered an establishment which was known to favor people who live alternate lifestyles and we announced we were a traditional couple. Hopefully we would be accepted and not made to feel out of place and uncomfortable. I would hope in most public institutions that the same acceptance is shown people of non-traditional relationships or gender identities. Where the problem arises is solely when religion gets into the mix. This may be the single place where those who live nontraditional lifestyles or have other than traditional gender identities may have to found their own religious institutions or seek those which would accept them as they are. Should they instead choose a traditional religious institution they should expect to need to conceal, or at the least minimize, their nontraditional lifestyle or preferences. The same would apply to traditional individuals should they decide to become members of a religious institution which accommodates solely to people with nontraditional relations or gender identities.

Beyond the Cusp

October 27, 2014

Israel Defense Force Commander Criticized Over Religious Reference

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Commander Ofer Winter from the Givati Brigade of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has raised the ire of the secular media, NGOs and other general busybodies over his using a reference to G0d when addressing his troops right before they entered Gaza and potential life-threatening situations in combating Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist entities during Operation Protective Edge. Commander Winter received generous compliments from the founder of the brigade, Brigadier General (res.) Yehuda Duvdevani at an event honoring the Givati soldiers held Tuesday at Nahshonit Park east of Tel Aviv where he, remarked “I hope that in the future we will have more commanders that will walk in his (Winter’s) path.” The Southern Commander of the IDF Major General Sami Turgeman when making an address at the same ceremony lauded Commander Winter saying, “the brigade, under the command of Ofer and the battalion commanders, came wherever it was needed and through creativity, planning and determination defeated the enemy every time.”

 

As part of the calls denouncing Commander Winter for his religious reference and invoking G0d, when he cited the Shema prayer in his last address to troops before entering combat, came from the Israel Democracy Institute which took a novel if not incorrect approach claiming that religious soldiers might decide that G0d’s Will runs contra to specific orders. They were obviously unaware that Halacha mandates obeying commanders’ orders when defending the Jewish People. Further, there is likely no more appropriate prayer than the Shema prayer when the task at hand is potentially life threatening and where death can come over one with a suddenness that would preclude the individual soldier from reciting the Shema before expiring. What this entire tempest in a teapot is all about is the secularists in Israel knowing their numbers barely mount to ten percent of the population, if that high, feel they must scream, shout and attempt to intimidate the religious Jews from the public square or else face religious references resulting in what they would view as an Israel that would be too Jewish.

 

The truth be known, the answer to many, if not all, of the Western world’s problems could be resolved by a returning to G0d and religion, be it Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Shinto, Hindu, Taoism, Islam or any religion where man is placed under a more moral structure and especially those which provide either a more perfect role model or G0d above the normal human such that each individual must work towards a more moral and perfect life and live with the realization that they are not the highest form of being defining what is correct individually and measuring their lives by their own defined and usually lacking standards. Such a return to a life spent thriving for a perfection defined traditionally which places the societal goodness and the dedication to the continuation and aiming to provide a better future than the present day instead of living entirely in the moment and almost exclusively for oneself placing the self at the pinnacle of creation and foremost in the plans and seeking of desires controlling each and every action would even solve the problems of the death of the civilization through birth rates below replacement levels. It has been the loss of faith which has also brought on the loss of community; loss of the sense of belonging; the collapse of the family, including as an enduring relationship, as the path to the future, the creation of that future through children and as the nurturing development of children; and the cause of an emptiness inside and in our lives which we forever seek to fill often at the cost of fulfilling others around us.

 

The loss of faith and decline of religion can be measured simply by taking measure of the extent which government has enlarged itself and how it has succeeded in replacing religion in the societal roles such as assisting the needy, sheltering the homeless, clothing those in need of clothes and every other societal function previously seen as the calling of the religious entities most often through the community’s house of worship be it a Synagogue, Church, Temple, Mosque, or other such group. This societal problem of the death of religion is only the initial stage, a stage that Europe and the United States, if not all of Western society, has already passed and would take an enormous effort and years of taking apart the government behemoth returning to religious entities those roles for supporting the needy and providing a guidance which has been replaced with cold regulations and laws. The next measure is to what extent the government has replaced the family and also broken the family function making it more of an empty, cold, hollowed out existence of two people who are often too drawn-up in their work relations to actively support and nurture each other, let alone children. Government provided meals at school even to the point of forbidding parent prepared lunches from home insisting on the student consuming the government provided and carefully planned and measured correct caloric count and meeting nutritional guidelines, before and after school activities making government the nanny caring for the children, and final stage is government provided and licensed day care for even the newborn. Many in the West have surrendered their responsibilities to the government allowing the government to actually nurture their children, assuming they even bothered to have children and did not resort to birth control or even resorting to abortive actions waiting for that perfect right time to have children, a time which never comes. We in much of the Western world have replaced religion with regulations and government programs and now spend our lives in supplication to the State even to the point of tithing of fifty percent of our gross salaries or more to support that State. Even our healthcare and the critical decisions over life and death are surrendered to a government panel as part of our healthcare. Is there much left we can surrender to government, will we actually move into government provided cubbyholes called our environmental residences and allow constant monitoring of our every move with warnings not to act in ways which may cause harm and cost the government revenue which could be better used?

 

The current growing and seemingly unresolvable conflict is between Western society and its government as religion system against Islamists who want a religiously controlled government where religion has replaced government. Some of the accusations made by the Jihadists against Western nations have lost their souls and engage in a lifestyle that represents what they define as debaucherous desires and actions and a society consisting of people whose only concern is their own pleasure and who have no piety or belief in Allah, or even G0d or other guiding enlightened archetypical standard. Their accusation is that, especially in Europe and the United States, lives are wasted and only strive for sexual pleasures while abstaining from religion completely. What would be amusing, if was not so much a threat, is that the best weapon the West could have to successfully resist the Islamist extremist would be their Judeo-Christian roots and a return to a living religiously guided lives, returned to our houses of worship and reestablished our sense of community intertwined with our religious observance. This would provide the glue which could unite us and give that unity a bonding agent which would be unbreakable and further provide the citizens in the Western world a sense of belonging which was worth defending. Without a return to the basics which gave Western society a strong and moral base, the conflict with Islam will only grow and eventually result in the end of Western culture and with that the Judeo-Christian ethic which resulted in the advancement and pursuit of truths which our science provided and the benefits from those discoveries. Should the extremist Islamists win in what they perceive as their primary source for Jihad, then further advancement of science will be stymied for the foreseeable future and this would be catastrophic.

 

The future of mankind is currently resting on a single decision which history will make over the next decade or two and we reach the conclusion of this culture war which we have entered into whether we chose to accept that or not. The medical and biologic discoveries alone that the next half a century could produce are beyond belief and would have astounding application in extending life expectancy, prolonged or even restored youthfulness, replacement of organs using one’s own cells and so much more. The advancements in physics, chemistry, computer sciences and engineering will be almost as impressive and produce items and opportunities some of which are beyond our comprehension or ability to even imagine. But lose the Western based culture and enter into a religious straightjacket which insists that study of the Quran is the end-all of necessary knowledge and study beyond the Quran and the Hadiths is forbidden unless it is for advancement of the conquest and conversion of the entire world as Allah commands will result in a new Dark Age. Should the Jihadists succeed the losses for society and mankind will be immeasurable. We should have no problem with Muslims who accept a plurality of religions and a separation between religious influences and government and the basic freedoms spelled out in the United States Bill of Rights and the acceptance of common law in its historic and modern interpretations. Militant Islam which believes in Jihad as the spread of Islam over the entirety of the world and the forced conversion or death to all inhabitants within must be terminated and if that means a reinterpretation or even rewriting of the Quran and the Hadiths, so be it. Judaism and Christianity have experienced reformations which adapted them for a harmonious world where all enjoy equal rights under the law and within the society. These beliefs do exist in the Quran and were the entirety of the Quranic writings when Muhammad joined with a scribe to inscribe the revelations for the Quran in Mecca. Those writings were all about harmony, peace, coexistence and the recognition of the rights and continued existence of other religions. This earliest rendition of the Quran provided for the conversion of the willing and those accepting its teachings but did not provide for the violent conversion or the sword approach currently being put on vivid and horrific display by ISIS. Either path for Islam and its adherents matters less than the return to religion and restoring the place for the houses of worship returning to them those powers and responsibilities taken from them by force of law by the government, more often than not, the Federal Government of the State. That restoration is of the utmost importance despite the seeming lack of ability for Western society to perceive this imbalance and their respective losses.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

June 15, 2014

Israel and the Work-Week Length

There have been discussions and protestations coming from virtually every direction, party, religious orientation, and position on whether to have the government officially establish Sunday as an additional day considered as the weekend. For those who support such a move, let me say that much of the world would likely sympathize with your views except the world rarely sympathizes with anything Israeli. Still, taking this idea to the Knesset where every extreme view which might protest such an idea calling it radical, unreligious, against the holy Sabbath, anti-business, capitalistic, too Christian and any other detracting and degrading reference they can possibly invent is a recipe for failure at best. The best way to go forward with such an idea would be to approach employers, particularly manufacturing or those which operate twenty four hours, seven days a week such as hospitals, hotels and service industries and explain the advantages to them especially how it would allow for greater flexibility in scheduling etcetera. What is kind of amazing is that while much of the world is either adopting or discussing a four day work-week and even a less than eight hour work-day, Israel remains with her six days shall you toil and on the seventh day you shall rest from over three thousand years ago when the rest of the world was toiling from birth until death. So, yes, the world appears to have passed you by and even raised the ante to the two-day weekend many decades ago and is already raising the ante once again with some even challenging the so-called normal eight hour work-day.

 

So, if the Knesset is unfriendly with more angles opposing anything new that can be imagined, and if the employers are less than enthusiastic, then were to turn. Spark the working people’s imaginations and get them on board and allow for things to take their course and slowly garner support from wherever you can find some. Talk with the union who would likely have a sympathetic ear and might even decide that a five day work-week might be the next major demand which would bring about this step into modernity that much faster. The secret is to plan big and accept small steps and treat each like a major shift because eventually the small step towards acceptance will topple the remaining opposition. Expect full forced opposition from the religious who will label your efforts as potentially sinful and countering Biblical law. Change never comes easily or quickly and even changes that appear to happen overnight, they usually have been long time working and just garnered sufficient momentum to cross the trip point into acceptability. Remember one item above all else, Israel is not just another nation among nations and her people know this as the rest of the world reminds Israel day after day. Should you succeed, you might provide others who seek social change with an alternative route to fabricate changes as often it appears that every time any group wants to introduce societal changes they immediately seek to force their idea through the Knesset. Perhaps that is the paralyzing chokepoint standing to prevent change, asking the Knesset for permission for every little alteration in society. Perhaps the place to start is with the people and allow them to drag the overly self-important politicians to follow for a change. Sometime you just have to take a bottom up approach incorporating a five day forty hour week should entice the working employees even if employers are not exactly overly taken by the idea. There is one thing that remains constant throughout the eons; change. That is one adage which can be counted on but the catch is that change seldom happens overnight no matter what people like to think. Israel will have the forty hour-five day a week work schedule and probably a lot sooner than many would say. There will be those making Aliyah who comes from places where this was the norm and some even will be arriving from places with less than an eight hour work-day or the four day work-week.

 

The item to remember above all else is that social change more often comes from the society and the government bends to the change only after much of the society had already made the transition. This has been the truth throughout the ages and applies to more areas of consideration than most would believe. Some of the most astonishing examples come from the ecological and anti-pollution advocates. The air and water in the United States had attained the levels demanded by the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act before Congress even began the debates on these pieces of legislation. The reason is that the people had made known their desires and demands and companies complied as best and as quickly as they could while keeping costs within affordable levels such that they did not destroy profits which would have made investors leery of accepting the plans for change. Some might remember when Coca-a-Cola came out with a huge promotional campaign with New Coke which basically bombed initially. Sufficient people demanded their old flavor Coke-a-Cola back and within weeks Coke-a-Cola had released their Classic Coke with as close as their new facilities could match taste to the original recipe. This phenomenon has a name; it’s called People Power and had only grown through the ages. Sometimes people power comes from the people who have more of a position of advantage within the society, and such times bring changes whose effects and affects are felt and seen going forward for time immemorial. Probably the best known example which has been one of the most drastic forces for change in humankind’s entire existence was a demand petitioning of the King of Britain by the numerous Barons and landowners who reminded the King that it was their knights who protected him and that their armies outnumbered his army by a significant ratio. The King recanted and they reached an agreement known as the Magna Carta, the first enacted petition of the rights of the people to be established since the receipt of the Law at Mount Sinai when Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from on high. The restriction against a King gathering great wealth or an undue share of property, flocks, horses or other valuables which the restrictions in the Old Testament place upon a King, these were the initial recognition that a monarch was, in the end, just a man and as such would have the same limitations and tendencies as any man thus had to be restricted or a monarch would take advantage of his position. Well, that is pretty much what came to be mainly because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Only a Supreme Being seems to be capable of resisting abusing power and people are anything but supreme beings, especially when it comes to morality and self-restraint. This is also one of the reasons that making a change to the work-week will be difficult, those who make the largest profit and often are above the day-to-day minutia the common laborer or employee must perform as an employee, they will be reluctant to give away the extra profits that a shortened work-week might entail. The really odd item is that in nations where companies have extended their hours of operation and keep their stores open seven days each week have found that they do not take in as much additional money as they expend in additional costs. The only reason they continue with these extended hours is because should they close they would lose customer base to their competitors who remain open seven days a week. This insanity has actually cost some entrepreneurial concerns to no longer make profits and they have eventually restructured or gone completely out of business. This has been extremely apparent in the budget retail end and food sales of the market in the United States where there are now fewer competitors and the remaining competitors are operating on a larger scale making less profits per hour than was the norm before these stores had extended daily hours, some even open twenty-four hours per day, and all opening seven days per week. The additional income is far less than the additional operating costs yet they started a convenience and that monster they started now threatens them if they do not continue to feed the always open for your convenience concept. So, attaining a five day work-week within Israel will take time but it is possible that employers, once the first brave stores, manufacturers and other employers begin to offer such an enticement and find their profits increase, the idea will catch on so quickly that there will be no need for the Knesset to act. But expect after many, if not the vast majority, of employers opt to a five day work-week and give their employees off early on Friday and all day Saturday (Shabbat) and even an additional day on Sunday or rotating it among the employees on one other day so they are able to remain open six days each week, the Knesset will pass some call for employees to be required to work only thirty-five hours each week getting a two-day weekend and an early Friday to prepare for Shabbat or attend prayers and then take full credit for following the precedent set forth by the people and the leading employers. Isn’t it always the case that the politicians are the last to climb on board but the loudest boasters of how their revolutionary out of the box thinking and rights advancing ideas with their new laws recognizing a change which was already well-established makes them so forward thinking. Its all-right as they need to be stroked from time to time otherwise they tend to pout and feel badly. The most important thing is that desired change is the important item and who is credited is of less importance as long as the people actually receive the advances into the future which they desire, the sooner the better but better late than never.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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