Monday, March 26, 2018

Freedom requires responsibility, or else!



David Von Drehle missed an essential element for protecting, promoting and sustaining human freedom anywhere in the world – responsibility (“Freedom is still worth fighting for”, Washington Post 3-25-18).


We (and everyone else in the world) are free to do as we please.  But no one will remain free of the consequences of their actions, and too often the actions of others.

Unless our government’s policies result in just and responsible actions here and abroad, we will never be free from the ensuing chaos and loss of our most basic freedom here at home. 

Irresponsible US actions are inevitably unjust to someone, somewhere in the world.  Lacking any effective global justice system, our lack of responsibly in the world will always come back to bite us as terrorism, climate change, trade disputes, threats of war, and or economic chaos.  

There is vast wisdom in the last three words of our Pledge of Allegiance “liberty and justice for all’. 

Samuel Adams once said, "Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." 

"But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint:" -  Edmund Burke - Source: Reflections on the Revolution in France
"Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience." - George Washington  - 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, 1737
"We demand entire freedom of action and then expect the government in
some miraculous way to save us from the consequences of our own acts...”  Calvin Coolidge (1873-1933), 30th US President
"Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”
― George Bernard ShawMan and Superman


Sunday, March 25, 2018

FBI cannot protect our privacy and our security


McCane’s choice of words (Washington Post's Sunday op-ed 3-25-18) in explaining his stunningly improper dismissal from the FBI is that his colleagues would continue to “protect the American people and uphold the Constitution.”   I believe Andrew McCane is an honest and honorable man.  But the problem he (and we all have) is a system of government that he and others have sworn an oath to protect, cannot both protect us and the U.S. Constitution at the same time.   Our Constitution’s Bill of Rights cannot keep us safe if lawmakers keep enacting (and our government keeps trying to enforce) irresponsible and unjust laws both here and abroad.
This is a fundamentally unresolvable dilemma given the unprecedented access and affordability to increasingly powerful dual-use everyday technology.  Even with no easy access to guns, nearly every American (or extremist) has easy access to multiple technologies with WMD potential (via UPS delivery, Home Depot, plans on the internet,  legal cars, rental trucks, fuel oil and fertilizer… to name a few).  
If the desire to mass murder exists there is virtually no way to prevent mass carnage without violating the 4th Amendment.  Intrusions into people’s private lives before they can act on any real or perceived grievances will be essential. 
Fueling this lethal dilemma is the fact that the Constitution that we seem to worship enforces an unjust legal system instead of a true ‘justice’ system.  ‘No justice, no security’  is a no brainer. 
But the fundamental flaw in our Constitution is the codification of a mental concept that does not exist in reality -- political Independence.  
We assume without question that our nation’s policies are independent from the rest of the world’s nations.  Yet many overt and covert policies of ours (and theirs) often have intended and unintended lethal consequences on innocent people.  Without justice and security for all, our nation’s military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies cannot protect our privacy or freedom commerce or travel.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Logic’s devolution and humanities fate





A new study strongly suggests that logical reasoning in humans is innate and appears as early as 12 months after birth - before the development of language.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/babies-think-logically-before-they-can-talk/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mind&utm_content=link&utm_term=2018-03-21_featured-this-week 



Researchers believe this ‘logic ability’ “might be continuous over development.” I don’t believe them.  There is far more evidence in the world today that the adult mind’s political and religious world views are abandoning logic.  Logic may in fact be on the edge of extinction, and us with it. To whatever degree logic survives in the unscientific regions of our brain, it is now used to defend conspiracy theories or advocate for government policies and religious behaviors that largely ignore the world as it really is.  Or, the ‘mental world vs real world’ dilemma theory of extinction’.
The first offering of evidence is the fact that more teenagers die today from texting while driving than from driving while drinking and school shootings combined.  My next offering is that adults continue to believe that an increased military budget and constructing border walls will makes us safer.  And, our ‘national sovereignty’ is more useful in maintaining our freedom and security than the “self-evident” “truths” illuminated in our Declaration of Independence.  More condemning evidence is our emotional craving to feel good instead of being good. This powerful urge makes us avoid people we disagree with, take opioids, over eat, smoke, avoid exercise, hire divorce lawyers, and sing patriotic songs that justify war and the killing of innocent people by labeling them ‘collateral damage’.
My hypothesis is that pure logic in the mind only exists until adolescence.  It then gets muddied rapidly as hormones and our culture of hypocrisy sadly infects the mind and increasingly interferes with its original function and extraordinary capacity for ‘real world’ problem solving.  As this mental infection progresses the mind increasingly relies on emotions to dictate its perceived reality.  This gradually betrays the mind’s original function of protecting the body’s health, life, close relatives, greater tribe, and the environment upon which all these lives depend.
The final symptom of this contagion is the mind’s full devotion to defending its own beliefs, values, and principles. Literally, defending them to the death, and sometimes justifying murder. These lethal values, beliefs, and principles are often invented by other minds or learned from another so called ‘free’, irresponsible and priority-distracted culture. The minds can even be validated with million dollar contracts. Some CEO’s, star athletes or winning coaches might come to mind.   These priority delusional cultural environments can have few real world consequences -- until it is too late. 
The predicament is that the mind’s power is virtually supreme.  It cannot be reasoned with.  Its reality is dictated by its existing beliefs which it defends at all costs. This ‘hard headedness’ then determines the body’s emotions and reactions to perceived threats or opportunities -- creating a perpetually harmful positive feedback loop.  If the mind comes in contact with a belief it dislikes, it feels threatened and reacts accordingly. If another mind agrees with it then both minds are validated, leading to an emotionally rewarding feedback loop -- and a society at great risk.  
Our only salvation (a reliable defense against this self-inflicted cultural insanity) is recognizing who we really are.  First, we are NOT our mind. That’s just a voice we have in our head that won’t shut up. We may believe we are special being an American - yet draw an unconscious division between being a north, south or central American.  Or, being a U.S. citizen makes you more valuable than someone only possessing a Green card.
In reality we are human. We might be white, black, male, female, or somewhere in between but we have forgotten that our mind likes grouping things. And, we may never have learned (or intentionally forgot) the profound survival value of genetic diversity.  In reality the greatest threat throughout most of human history was not another tribe or sabretooth tigers. It was infectious diseases. These remain a primary threat today. Our biosecurity is increasingly at risk due to our mind’s capacity to create biological weapons capable of targeting specific genetic profiles, and then thinking they need to be eliminated. This is a monstrous abuse of the human mind’s capacity and its original function of protecting human life. If you wrestle enough with this concept the solution becomes self-evident.  Re-purpose the mind. Use it to look for solutions that unite instead of divide. Use it, instead of it using you.
Last year a young Marylander won an Olympic Gold medal in wrestling. He was the world’s first ever 19 year old heavy weight champion. And he was smaller than most he wrestled. He soundly defeated the best that Iran, Russia and all other nations had to offer.  It wasn’t because he was American, white, or genetically blessed. I’m convinced it was his father’s coaching advice to become “the landlord of your mind”. Kyle Snyder committed himself to using his mind to become the best, regardless of what his mind and body was telling him during intense training.
Until we commit ourselves to being the best humans we can be and devote ourselves to managing a world where the protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – and “justice for all” – are our highest priorities, we will continue a downward spiral of emotionally driven reactions that fail any logical analysis. The logic of abiding by the “Self-evident” “Truths” offered in our Declaration of Independence continues to hold profound promise. Why? They are based on the “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” (it’s okay to feel emotional about these).  Our survival depends on codifying these collectively into our mental constitution, our U.S. Constitution, and the U.N. Charter.
Our minds are free to believe anything.  Literally, anything! But our bodies, brains, spirit, and our life preserving environment will never be free of the lethal consequences of actions or indecisions determined by flawed mental beliefs.
The infant logic study referred to initially involved 144 babies between 12 and 19 months.  They were healthy babies. While some people may frown on experimenting with babies, where is the logic in ignoring/allowing well over 10,000 babies dying every DAY from easily preventable malnutrition and infectious diseases?  And, at the same time ignoring/allowing kleptocrats, drug cartels, and wealthy capitalists who have stashed over $32 trillion in offshore accounts to avoid taxes.
Wise adults surviving the chaos and mass casualties of World War II, atomic vaporization, and a government-led genocide used their logic to write a declaration to prevent repeats of these unthinkable horrors.  Unfortunately, those in political power driven by emotional reasoning gave the new global institution (the UN) zero power to enforce the declaration of human rights. The comprehensive logic of this Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains today (exactly 70 years later) in the form of 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the year 2030.  Freezing and seizing some of the trillions stashed in offshore accounts could virtually enforce these unalienable rights if devoted to them. And no new taxes would be needed on anyone.  
Better late than never such an effort could provide a comprehensive approach to preventing the destructive global forces we increasingly face today.  Things change. Emotions change. Minds should too.  Logic now dictates that if we don’t change our minds, we may yet go the way of the dinosaur. Think about it.


Technological change unchecked by government or justice won't end well.



David von Drehle (Searching for a certain something, Washington Post 3-21-18) hits on several profound concepts that have actually been known for decades, some for millennia.


But pundits, policy makers, and the general public persistently ignore them in favor of retaining long held unexamined assumptions – even when they kill millions.
The exponential pace of technological change was self-evident at least 25 years ago. Our human mind’s resistance to change is Neolithic.  Resistance to changing government is American. It was written into our Constitution and will likely be our undoing as China’s government now changes on a dime.
Mr. Von Drehle glossed over another ‘self-evident’ concept in his description of Ford’s production line evolution. Going from the one car choice (a black model T) to the countless variations of “the F-150 pickup truck” that “The factory’s computers brought…together in perfect sequence” was significant. But the ignored concept that enabled that mass perfection in variety was their engineer’s expertise in designing systems and structures.  They stuck firmly to fundamental principles.  The recent “950-ton bridge span” that pancaked cars in Florida was not an act of God.  Someone in the manufacturing or construction process failed in adhering to one or more fundamental principles.
 
To understand the craziness in politics and the world today we need look no further than the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence which offered us all fundamental principles as “Self-evident” “truths” based on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.   Tragically, the champions of the Declaration then ignored these in engineering the U.S. Constitution. They created and followed ‘alternative’ principles instead. That failure to codify self-evident fundamental principles into our nation’s new governing system and structures resulted in more American deaths than all the wars we have fought in since then -- combined. 
Insanely since then politicians have invented and codified other alternative principles (peace through strength, unenforceable international law, supremacy of national sovereignty over human rights) to achieve their own unique political agendas.  These alternative principles have given us the increasingly chaotic and lethal world we have today.
Almost every American has pledged “liberty and justice for all” yet our Justice ‘system’ is profoundly unjust.  Even more unjust is our war policy.  It continues to kill countless innocent men, women and children without trail and then believe terrorists “hate our freedoms”.  Ignoring fundamental principles never ends well.  The exponential growth of technology cannot be controlled.  It fuels the evolution of weaponry which will not stop while our vulnerabilities grow.    
Reality dictates that we all “depend” on many things for our life, liberty and our pursuit of happiness. Yet our government is based on the mental construct of independence.  Something that exists no where in nature.  Freedom is real.  We are all free to do anything we want. And, the only thing we can be “certain” of is that we will never be free of the lethal consequences if we as individuals or a nation make irresponsible choices. Things change.  Can we?

Monday, March 12, 2018

National Security Redefined. Documenting local costs of global injustices.


An action coalition for redefining national security? 
"No one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result." --Ludwig von Mises
National Security is NOT what it used to be. 
Even before Trump’s election a survey of national security experts claimed that the second greatest threat our national security was our own “government dysfunction”. 
Each day another politician, military general, CEO, or prestigious commission cites yet another non-military issue related to “National Security” then followed by the phrase “one of the greatest”.    From cyber hacks on our democracy, unsustainable US debt, inevitable pandemics, increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather conditions, Artificial Intelligence, nation state failures, evolution of weapons, terrorism and WMD proliferation… to name a few.
There’s a fundamental reason for this.  Every system and structure in the world is interconnected and interdependent on a variety of resources and actions.  But our global system of governance is not.  It operates on an alternative principle invented in the human mind and found nowhere in nature – independence.  In political jargon this means national sovereignty – a political concept invented over 400 years ago at the treaty if Westphalia.  Since then, things have changed tremendously.  The exponential advances in technology now demand that we change accordingly, or face catastrophic consequences in virtually every aspect of civilization as we know it.
Accelerating advances in dual-use technology and the irreversible globalization of our economy, health, and environment has locked everyone’s freedom and security together due to the increasing availability of anyone’s affordable access to multiple dual-use technologies, each with unprecedented capacity for mass murder, destruction, disruption, or disinformation.  
Traditional military means of defending nations and their citizens may still work against invading armies but they are virtually useless against a host of other national security threats. 
Few people understand that biological (natural or human engineered) threats could kill as many Americans as a limited nuclear exchange; cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure could kill millions;  social media destroying our democratic essentials (truth, trust in government, and elections) erodes our unity from within; the global proliferation of various dual-use technologies capable of yielding unprecedentedly powerful, anonymous and autonomous WMD weapons will increase risks to privacy and freedom of movement;  and the budget busting evolution of new military weaponry for which there is no immediate effective defense represents an entirely new generation of warfare that could derail our vital economy on which our traditional national security elements depend.
Increasing military expenditures for more or even new weapons systems will be wasted money at best.  At worse, these expenditures and new weapon systems will be used to continue an endless war against terrorism, a tactic that can never be defeated by military means.  Let me repeat …NEVER be defeated by military means. Yet US budget deficits continue to fatten our already unsustainable debt burden. This then provides more reason to further slash the vital funds needed for preventing war and reducing other non-military related threats.   General Mattis’ gets it.  In his budget request he asked Congress to “buy me more bullets” ‘if you continue cut funding for the State Department and USAID’.
Why will Congress not listen?  The Military Industrial Complex has their army of lobbyists.  But the bigger reason is that peace activists don’t, and most Americans and their Members of Congress continue to assume that our nation’s security is a function of military spending.  Some in office may be afraid to declare their opposition to such a myth but this could not be sustained if American’s really understood the local costs of US military interventions abroad and lack of investments in improving the lives others beyond our shores.  In other words, global justice for all.
This must change!  As more US citizens and policy makers are now willing to speak out against virtually unrestricted access to firearms domestically … we cannot wait until there is a mass casualty terrorist attack in the US before offering clear warning that it is our US military interventions ‘over there’ that is the primary recruiting tool for terrorists attacks ‘over here’.
This and other lethal domestic consequences of violent US military involvement abroad (returning soldiers with PTSD…) and our lack of humanitarian investments in nation building or diplomacy abroad  can no longer be ignored.  The local cost of infectious diseases like Polio, Measles, TB, HIV/AIDs, Ebola and other new and re-emerging infectious diseases that cannot be stopped by a border wall when most infectious diseases are delivered here by US tourists, troops, and business travelers returning to their families and friends  via airports, water ports, and legal border crossings.
Draughts, floods, hurricanes, wild fires and tornadoes are increasing in frequency and intensity. These local extreme weather conditions will accelerate and continue to rack up tens of billions of dollar in damage and thousands of US deaths as global temperatures and oceans continue to rise.  
No wall or military weapons can stop Cyber-criminal hackers and low cost- lethal Opioid doses breaching our borders.  Investments in local prevention would protect more dollars and lives than any new class of nuclear weapon or hypersonic torpedoes.
There are multiple other sources of domestic benefit from addressing global issues at their source.  From job losses to the loss of our Antibiotic arsenal the quality of our lives is irreversibly linked to the quality of lives of everyone we share this world with.  
Americans must document the local costs of global injustices.  Add up they are shocking.  We must reverse the obscene amount of US tax dollars being poured into weapons and wars that in the long run only exacerbate global injustices when they are used… and do as much damage even if they are not used because of the lost financing for investing in preventive measures.
If you would like to assist in gathering information on local costs of global injustices consider working with us to document specific costs in your own Congressional District.  We will assist you each step of the way to create a local event in your community at no cost to you, other than your valuable time. And, we will never ask you for anything but that time.
We cannot think of a better use of anyone’s time, than gathering information that can persuade policy makers to stop the madness of violence, poverty and other global injustices that are linked to our local communities.
The Action Network:    https://actionnetwork.org/contact   Conf Call March 29, 2018  7 pm EST.
At least two action options exist using the local costs once they are documented.  
1.        Freeze and Seize Offshore accounts:    There is at least $32 trillion stashed in private offshore accounts by kleptocrats, drug cartels, and capitalists avoiding taxes.    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-kleptocracy/2017/01/04/42b30d72-c78f-11e6-8bee-54e800ef2a63_story.html  

2.      The Robin Hood Tax:  www.RobinHoodTax.org     The Robin Hood Tax is a tiny tax of less than half of 1% on Wall Street transactions that could generate $300 Billion annually. 
The Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street will kick start the economy and get America back on its feet by funding College For All, creating jobs and strengthening public services like healthcare, education and infrastructure at home while tackling AIDS, global health, poverty and climate challenges around the world.

The SDGs are the only comprehensive plan available that can effectively address the root causes of war, pandemics, genocide, environmental destruction, hunger, starvation, refugees…
It would take a movement of movements (peace, environment, and social/economic justice movements coming together) within the US to create sufficient political will to make it happen.
SUMMARY:  An immediate plan is needed to redefine national security.   More military funding, nuclear weapons, or walls will not protect us against climate change, pandemics, terrorism, job losses, cyber-attacks, WMD proliferation, the evolution of new weapons for which there is no defense, or an endless arms race we cannot afford.  Before the November elections we must document the local health, economic, and environmental costs within each of the 435 US Congressional Districts that result from the endless wars we are engaged in and the poverty related consequences of other injustices that our foreign policy avoids or inadvertently causes.  Either weekend around the 4th of July Independence Day celebrations would an ideal time to clearly document our global interdependence -- and our need for a comprehensive global approach to prevent most of the threats our military cannot protect us from.
If not this, what?  If not now, when?  If not a movement of movements…what?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

AR-15s are NOT the perfect tool for mass killing.


The highly respected journalist William Falk (Editor-in-Chief of the THE WEEK magazine) wrote his usually insightful “Editor’s Letter” in his March 2, 2018 edition.   It needs a correction.   "AR-15-style rifles are" NOT "the perfect tools for mass killings".  A rental truck is far easier and cheaper to acquire, load, and use.  The mass murderer in Nice, France killed nearly twice as many and wounded nearly the same number as the Las Vegas shooter (who shot more than 400 people in 10 minutes).  That motivated lone driver used less than 4 minutes.  Timothy McVeigh profoundly beat that by using a special mix of fuel oil and fertilizer in a rental truck.  That was far more difficult than grabbing an AR-15.  But killing 168 people and wounding 680 more in under three seconds!  That makes the rental truck and access to farm supplies a far more "perfect tool" for committing mass murder.  Arguably McVeigh was not mentally ill.   Perhaps there is something mentally sick with a culture that produces mass murderers that we should urgently be looking to change.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Massacres: Florida Students to Foreign Villagers



Of all human experiences, the worst is losing a child.  Two dozen parents of Parkland School in Florida experienced this ultimate horror last week when a disturbed youth used a military grade weapon to mass murder 15 students and two teachers.  Student outrage there and nationwide is entirely understandable.  Repetitive bloody, deadly school shootings must end.  Perhaps this slaughter is the straw that breaks the back of the NRA-funded Congress. Maybe this one will prompt changes in government policy loopholes that permit easy gun access to almost anyone. Don’t, however, get hopes up. 

Even enacting and enforcing the strictest gun laws will not end Americans’ mass killings, according to evidence. Two less discussed factors would need to be addressed: 1) the unrelenting U.S. culture of violence and 2) our detachment from fundamental principles that are essential to diminishing the demented desire to slaughter others at will. These two elements will sustain Americans’ culture of bloody violence regardless of any strategy to limit access to guns.  Why? Our capacity to slaughter others is not limited to guns. Ever more powerful, affordable and accessible means of mass murder surround us.  

Imagine Timothy McVeigh’s lower death toll had he used an automatic weapon to attack Oklahoma City federal building.  His WMD of choice was a fuel oil/fertilizer explosive mix filling a rental truck.  McVeigh killed 19 children plus 149 adults.  Even without explosives, an average truck or automobile can mow down dozens. One ISIS member demonstrated this in 2016 in Nice, France, killing 84 and wounding over 300.  Any school or public gathering is prime targets for any mentally impaired or vengeance-seeking driver.

George Lakoff identified two basic human problem solving types.  The first is “direct causation” a solution that immediately comes to mind. When liberals hear of a gun killing, they think “Take it away.”  When conservatives hear the same, they think, “Shoot the shooter!”  Regarding ‘illegal’ immigrants?   Conservatives say “Build a wall!”.  Liberal’s demand we “Protect their their human rights.” Lakoff believes knee-jerk type thinking and effective actions requires deeper thinking he calls “systemic causation.”  Inevitably, addressing systemic flaws in our laws and culture will offer more effective comprehensive solutions.

Unfortunately, most Americans are disinterested in examining systems that have for decades, provided elements of freedom, comfort and security.  Since the 2008 glitch in our economic system, however, more Americans see a rigged system that is not in their favor.  Historically and globally, the economic system has never been rigged in favor of everyone.  Living conditions have improved for most, yet still billions of people suffer daily from the terror of, war, genocide, hunger, infectious diseases and natural disasters, mostly rooted in lethal poverty killing and displacing tens of millions of innocent people a year. 

Over 15,000 children under age 5 still die every day from easily preventable malnutrition and infectious diseases. Most Americans rarely hear about this. And when we do, we rarely care enough to act.  Few opportunities exist for those actually in the crosshairs of these problems to escape lethal and debilitating injustices that our national and international system of laws monstrously causes or ignores.

So how are those deaths and suffering linked to student deaths in Florida, Chicago, or Baltimore?  Or the Las Vegas concert mass shooting, for which no motive has been found?  The answer isn’t guns?  A powerful case can be made that it is our nation’s culturally acceptable disconnect from each other that is largely reinforced by an illusion of separateness and exceptionalism drilled into our brains each time we celebrate our ‘Independence’ each 4th of July -- with bombs bursting in air and rightfully honoring those who sacrificed their lives and fortunes giving birth to our federation.  Our lethal mental error is thinking we are independent, different and exceptional because of it. In believing the US is better than other nations and their unfortunate people if our drone strikes accidently kill their innocent children by the dozens or our ‘shock and awe’ military campaign results in massive ‘collateral damage’ it is acceptable because we are protecting our own freedoms and security.  We ignore the first two paragraphs of our actual Declaration of Independence referencing the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” and the “Truths” that we should hold as “Self-evident”.  Since our nation’s founding we have ignored them.  And the unprecedented cost in American lives and treasure will continue to rise until we codify them into every legal system but most importantly our way of thinking.
Martin Luther King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  We falsely believe our borders and our laws make our lives more valuable than theirs.  And other lives don’t matter if my life sucks.  We make no mental connection between the Florida shooter’s sick mind and our absence of real concern for children dying of preventable diseases or being dismembered by errant US drone strikes.  But some American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and even some directing drones strikes from Florida military bases, beg to differ.  PTSD is not their mental problem.  It is a normal and natural reaction to our profoundly dysfunctional culture.

How many returning US soldiers have murdered themselves, their loved ones, or strangers due to their up-close and personal war experiences. We are all to blame.

School violence is not new.  While working as a high school teacher at Cherry Hill, New Jersey in the late 1970s, a troubled student detonated a bomb in a locker near my classroom.  The explosion rattled our skulls and our minds.  The first thought?  “Why would anyone do such a thing?” The second thought?  “They had issues.”  In hind sight we refused to see them or address them for that troubled soul.

Foresight is what we need now.   When shocked by events local or global, and struggling to figure why people do ‘crazy’ things, my mentor suggests viewing every person’s action as either “an act of love or a request for love.” Instead we just blame them.  We assume their mental problems are beyond help. We are wrong.

What in our mind/culture gives us consent to avoid people who different from us or stir our discomfort?   Peer pressure in today’s teens can discourage befriending an odd ball.  For adults it is our discomfort with divisive partisan views or differences in our religious, ethnic, or patriotic beliefs that separates us from workable solutions and forming a more perfect union. The lethal and destructive consequence of this ‘independent’ mind set should be “Self-evident”. 

Our mental separation from neighbors, odd family members, other nations, and especially our natural environment’s life support system - does not bode well for our species’ health and wellbeing.  The exponential global growth of our technological capacity for mass murder is irreversibly attached to our flawed mental construct that believes we are free and independent of the needs and the will of all others that we share this planet with.  This will be our undoing. 
Humanity evolved within highly socialized tribes. If our minds fail to understand that we now exist in a global tribe and not groupings of independent people and nations every aspect of what we know as civilized life is endangered.  Not just school safety, our elections, our nation, and our freedoms. Everything.  Everything we need work smoothly and sustainably as individuals or nations is made up of systems and structures that are all interdependent on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.   As we celebrate ( ‘worship’?) Independence Day this July 4th, this is the singular ideal we must honor.  All people have the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Independence is an illusion. We must now fight for liberty and justice for all, or prepare for unprecedented murderous chaos.   If that happens, a gun may become your best friend.

If you are still unconvinced…please read on.  

Our nation’s culture of increasing personal disconnect accelerated by smart phone addiction, selfies, endless entertainment, and mindless distractions will occasionally be interrupted by something important - like a mass shooting, an recession, a flood or a terrorist attack.  You will either become more interested in root (systemic) causes and addressing those, or you will turn more inward with despair, fear, and possibly hopelessness.  
Before that, remember that nearly 40 million Americans have no access to affordable health care and 1000s will likely to go bankrupt each year attempting to pay medical costs of intentional or accidental gun-shot victims, many who are faceless because they were not shot at a school. 

Our minds are limited as to how much death and suffering we can think about.  We cannot, however, limit our anger and advocacy to massacre emergencies.  We must work to understand our culture that glorifies violence yet ignores 50 young girls kidnapped from their boarding school recently in a Nigerian village by Boko Haram extremists, or the 5.5 million children and youths trapped for sex and slavery by human traffickers in the U.S. and elsewhere.   We must work mentally to understand the bravery of a Black Muslim off-duty Maryland Police officer murdered this week coming to rescue his next door neighbor who fear for her life from her estranged husband.  The armed officer was shot in an ambush at close range 5 times with a shot gun within steps of his own front door.  Multiple police attempts to find and disarm the suspect in the days leading up to the attack had failed.

Enraged, heartbroken students and parents who are preparing #MarchForOurLives on March 24 will be insufficient unless their preparations include teach-ins about America’s culture of violence, separatism and exceptionalism. Hopefully they will teach others that the terrorizing teenage deaths at U.S. schools is no more or less tragic than the 6,000 teens who will be killed this year texting while driving, the 5,000 teen deaths from driving while under the influence of alcohol, the thousands who will kill themselves from loneliness, cultural pressures, or lack of love and attention needed to meaningfully connect to others here, and the millions of children and parents suffering, displaced, and killed abroad from poverty and wars that are too often the result of US military involvement or lack of our humanitarian involvement.

My hope is that #MarchForOurLives protesters learn that guns do not divide us;  but our personal perspectives on guns do. 
Hunting and target shooting were major parts of my youth.  My father taught me (unintentionally) the greatest value of guns: self-defense.  He was a big, strong, illiterate and bitter man after the loss of his first son in a tragic drowning incident he could have prevented; He was a good man if providing for one’s family was the primary measure.  We never wanted for food, clothing, a warm bed, or entertainment.  We did however, deeply desired freedom from frequent physical beatings and verbal abuse.   His intolerance for anyone disagreeing with him or not immediately and perfectly performing his orders, and occasional death threats were terrifying.  As I grew more capable of enduring physical and emotional pain inflicted on me, my motivation turned to stopping the torment and bruises that he inflicted on my heroic mother. My gravitational attraction to guns in his unlocked gun cabinet grew.

Fantasies of murdering my father continued until I dreamed I actually did it.  I awoke crying.  Yet that didn’t stop my mind from imagining multiple lethal ways without using a gun to bring an end to his life and final peace and security to my Mom, sister and myself.  I’m proof that a motivated mind and a human body’s fragility and vulnerability are virtually unlimited.  This realization helped me earn a top grade in a college ROTC task shortly after the 1972 Munich Olympics terrorist attack.   Our assignment was to imagine ourselves as terrorists conjuring plots to attack the US.  I aced it.  I’d joined ROTC to avoid the Vietnam War draft and quit as soon as the war ended.  Studying biology and various global life threats after that my only shock on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, was that most Americans were shocked it had happened.  I had feared a massive terrorist attack and mentioned the threat of the suicidal airliner attack a few years before the Trade Towers fell.  Studying technological capacity and threat motives it became self-evident that ‘peace’ would not last. Without global justice, any ‘peace’ was just a period of reloading. And every tool and technology can be weaponized.  That is it the user’s heart that determines how it will be used. 
We can never effectively limit the technology available to any murderous passion.  But, we can dramatically reduce the human desire to commit mass murder, both here or abroad.  Our culture must be fully committed to everyone’s wellbeing.   We pledge liberty and justice for all but don’t codify it or demand it.  Justice and the protection of human rights are core principles of our Constitution but they are too often not enforced.   It’s no mystery that every major religion’s first principle is the Golden Rule, and the local and global consequences of failing that wisdom.

Hopefully, youth-inspired #NeverAgain actions will focus on transforming out nation’s inherently flawed government, economic and healthcare systems and structures that to this day fail to codify the fundamental principles used to justify the birth of our nation.  
Every 4th of July we celebrate the document that offered those self-evident truths flowing from the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.   Perhaps its finally time we make “Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” and “Liberty, and justice for all” our primary goal. 
Chuck Woolery, former Chair, United Nations Council of Organizations
and Deborah Dupré, Human Rights Reporter (rtd) onTwitter @DeborahDupré