Ethical Revolutionist’s Great Reads from Around the Web

er-great-readsWhen we’re not stirring up political controversy here, we’re raising enlightened individuals who are capable of thinking and questioning the status quo. We really do believe that our children are the future, and we’re raising them to believe in peace, acceptance, and coexistence without judgement. We also blog about parenting on MomsGetReal and DadsGetReal.

On MomsGetReal, we talk about things like raising kids with good self-esteem and celebrating individuality.

On DadsGetReal, David has been exploring how Bruce Springsteen is a mentor to dads by teaching social responsibility, and explored his changing feelings about Memorial Day in light of the pointless loss of life we’ve incurred in the last round of politically and religiously motivated war mongering.

We’ve written about education a number of times here, and our friend James was inspired to do the same over at Dissident Voice with a brilliant expose on the American Corp-University Complex.

We love Allen Clifton’s Right Off a Cliff, the putting-it-in-perspective Republicans for Obama, and of course, we are ardent supporters of the Occupy movement.

We hope you’ll take the time to explore some of these articles and let us know what you think. Do you have a blog or have you published an article you’d like us to share in a future Great Reads post? Do you know of a Great Read that should be featured here? Let us know!

Museum of Unnatural History

by David T. Bruce

Festival of art
Grants to patrons granted
Penalty paid with interest
Refuse to play?
Don’t look the other way

Keep a watchful eye for phonies
Facts are rarely represented faithfully
Homogenized canvas
The broadest stroke is used
Statues erected as visions crumble
Readings are rhetorical
Scripted spontaneity

National museum of relics
Carbon copies, misprints
Words of mass destruction
Mementos engraved with dreams of futures past
Symbols now our laurels
We live in yesterday

We preach a fierce morality
While we dance around the truth
The art of diplomacy carves a monument of hypocrisy
Watercolor dreams for our youth
Washed away by pious despots
A country cunningly annihilated

for more of David’s poetry, you can read RAGE, available exclusively on Kindle and free to borrow for Prime members.

An Unrealistic Vision of Reality

by David T. Bruce

911As on the day that al-Qaeda terrorists took over 3,000 lives, my heart today – the day that Osama Bin Laden, the founder and leader of the al-Qaeda was assassinated in response to these attacks – goes out to the family members who mourned the loss of those they were close to.  Maybe today they will find some peace of mind, some peace within.  I truly hope they do.  For the rest of us, I worry.

Those families who lost loved ones sought justice, at least in an honorable sense.  I struggle within myself as to what the rest of us America sought.  Is our pride so easily wounded?  Our response to the successful attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (and the failed attack on the White House) was a knee-jerk reaction.  Up until the terrorist attacks on our country, we lived behind a veil, submersing ourselves in “reality” shows, living a fantasy funded by credit and caprice.  Al-Qaeda opened our eyes to true reality.  This reality, however, is not one that can be turned off or pre-empted.

While we can enjoy a measure of success and comfort in at least incapacitating the Al-Qaeda by permanently removing Bin Laden as the head of the terrorist organization, we are foolish to believe that we have stopped al-Qaeda or any other extremist group.  Like the multi-headed Hydra, a new leader for al-Qaeda will replace Bin Laden, and the cycle of events pitting one ideology against another will begin anew.

We must ask ourselves “what have we gained by assassinating Bin Laden?”  Outside the Capitol, citizens chanted “USA, USA,” reacting to the news they had heard about the death of Bin Laden.  How is this different from the throngs of people in the Middle East who cheered at the collapse of the World Trade Center towers?  Do our different ideologies, religions, skin color, or clothes make us all that different?  We are all still human, and the taking of any life diminishes us as humans.  The celebration of taking a life strips us of our souls.

Hypocritically, to some extent, I do feel a sense of relief that this chapter has come to an end.  Almost ten years to the day that Americans were reminded that they were a part of a larger community, we may enjoy some closure.  At the same time, I feel a sense of apprehension that we will again become complacent, retreating into our “reality.”  Will we learn from this chain of events?

The al-Qaeda will not turn the other cheek, and their convictions will carry them into the future.  We must adapt to this reality, not necessarily fighting a war that we cannot win by conventional means, but instead living cautiously, with our eyes wide open instead of wide shut.  We do not need to remain on the offensive to remain safe; we do have to safeguard our home by adopting a lifestyle and strategy that deters future terrorist attacks.  We have Guard and Reserve units who may best serve their country at home, not in the Middle East.  By conducting ourselves proactively instead of reactively, we stand the best chance of winning the war against terrorism every day.

Students not a Collective Bargaining Right

by David Bruce

tenureThe recession that the United States is not in, according to government and business officials who want to keep their jobs, is forcing the hand of Wisconsin officials in respect to budget cuts for the coming fiscal year.  These budget cuts, among other details, eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state employees, teachers among them.  This particular event adds fuel to the debate of whether or not teachers are paid what they are worth.

This argument can be levied against any career.  Certainly those people who work any hours and many hours for retail operations would say that they are not paid what they are worth, and many would argue that sports and entertainment icons are paid far more than they are worth.  The issue in the instance of educators and in respect to the profession of teaching in general is in regards to the quality of education that we should be giving to our children and how we may accomplish that task.

Most teachers may argue in favor of labor unions to promote competitive pay and benefits and to secure their jobs.  If this is the impetus for teaching, then why teach?  The students are the focus.  No, services should not come for free.  Teachers provide a service than can never be measured in pay stubs and benefits, and teachers that perform admirably as measured by their superiors should be compensated accordingly.   Unions, however, are another level of bureaucracy that benefits those at the top more than those people that they were originally chartered to protect.

Unions are another layer of government and business that takes the focus away from the students.  Eliminate unions.  Eliminate tenure.  Resources may then be used to hire and promote teachers who do want to teach, and those that teach well should be paid their worth and prosper.  Those that do not teach well can learn something new.  This approach is not fool proof.  Administrators have been known to take advantage of employees, but a level of trust must be established for the best interests of all parties.

Ultimately, the goal is to promote learning.  The best teachers are a product of education and an innate desire to engage with students.  This is not necessarily accomplished or fostered by labor union and government intervention, as is evident by the failure of No Child Left Behind and the ongoing feud between school districts and teacher unions.  Students who learn, regardless of demographic, are good for and to themselves, their communities, and or country.

Our Most Powerful Right

…we are oblivious to what the government is doing in terms of promoting corporate rights over individual rights. We ignore government policies that do little to curb deterioration of the environment. We ignore the federal government’s lack of response in answer to unemployment, poor health care, and inflation.

by David T. Bruce

usa-1327105_1280The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution will soon be the subject of debate again in the U.S. Supreme Court.  The amendment stating that “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  Following the decision that prevented Washington D.C. from legislating gun control within that district, the Supreme Court endeavors to determine if individual states can legislate gun control.

The issue of gun control is regularly and hotly contested.  Proponents vehemently uphold the Second Amendment, and opponents catalogue lives lost as a result of a person who lawfully owned a handgun and used that handgun unlawfully.  I argue that we do indeed have a right to own a gun, but we do not have a right to take a life as we see fit or endanger our neighbors and communities.  How do we balance this right with reality, though?

Essentially, Second-Amendment advocates demand that they have the right to own a gun because our forefathers said so.  Yes, the forefathers did state in the amendment that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  However, the amendment also reads that it was and is necessary to have “a well regulated Militia.”  What well regulated indicates is that in all likelihood, the militia should have leadership.  The intent was not for everyone to have a weapon and shoot as they please.  In the twenty-first century, this is precisely what we have.

As well, the intent was to prevent the government from impeding on the individual rights of a citizen by entering the home without just cause and to prevent a foreign militia from detaining United States citizens.  While we can argue that the likelihood of the latter is possible, we can also argue that the lack of the aforementioned well regulated militia would prevent any one person from being reasonably successful at deterring such an attack.  In respect to the likelihood of a government official entering a home without just cause, that too is remote.

Of all the challenges we currently face in the United States, I am often amazed at what comes to the forefront for debate.  We seem to put a great deal of emphasis on these “rights” that were handed down to us over two-hundred years ago, yet we ignore what our local, state, and federal officials are doing to our rights one day at a time.  We seem so worried about what the federal government is doing to trample on our Constitutional rights, but we are oblivious to what the government is doing in terms of promoting corporate rights over individual rights.  We ignore government policies that do little to curb deterioration of the environment.  We ignore the federal government’s lack of response in answer to unemployment, poor health care, and inflation.

The most powerful right we have as citizens of the United States is the right to vote, and maybe . . . maybe . . . one-half of our population exercises that right at any given time.  The rest of us don’t even pick up that weapon, let alone pull the trigger.  We can minimize or eliminate blatantly corrupt officials from the government by paying attention to what these officials are doing, paying attention to how they are voting on pertinent issues, and voting them out of office when their term is due.  In extreme cases, we have the right to remove corrupt officials from office before their term is over.  Yet we dismiss this right every single day. Our voice is as strong as any weapon, if we collectively choose to use our right to vote.

Politics in Social Media

… we forget the rules of civil engagement when we can hide behind our screen names and computer screens and lash out.

by Shadra Bruce

facebook-1558618_1280The other day, a friend of mine posted a short message on Facebook that said simply, “Rest in Peace TK” in reference to the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy. A mutual acquaintance of ours on Facebook used that message as an opportunity to respond to the comment with a politically motivated (and insulting) message about Ted Kennedy, the Kennedy family, and Democrats in general.

The general belligerence of the message resulted in this man being removed from the friend list.

I don’t have a problem with political sparring. In fact, I think it is a healthy way to prevent myself from becoming so determined to keep my own point of view that I fail to see others. I love debating issues and learning new facts while defending my own beliefs and helping others understand why I believe the way I do. I thrive on the conversations I have with friends and family, no matter how differently they believe than I do, because we are all celebrating the freedom we have as citizens of the United States to have a voice.  I will even change my opinion based on new information.

Unfortunately, the Internet, particularly social media sites, has allowed us all to become insulated from the real people that exist behind the messages and icons we all have online. We forget that the people we talk to (or have on our list of friends) are more than just their daily comments, and we forget the rules of civil engagement when we can hide behind our screen names and computer screens and lash out.

If you feel passionately about something, engage people in discussion about it; volunteer with your political party or spend time being active in your community. If you have better solutions than the ones being offered, run for office or contact your representatives and make suggestions about ways to improve society.  But we need to stop this form of online guerilla warfare, in which one sneaks in, does what damage can be done and sneaks out without any real engagement, stripping us of the ability to have meaningful dialogue about important issues.