Saturday, April 26, 2008


Come on China!

You are a great culture. You are a proud people. You have a history worthy of study. You, like all great countries, make mistakes in the daily administration of your vast country and in the illusion that the same rules work for everybody.

O’ Great China, why are you mad at the world’s people who protest some of your choices, who disagree with some of your actions, who see intolerance as your rule. Yes, you have achieved positive results for so many under your control. Yes, you believe that a central command is better for the masses that have not the acquired awareness of what’s good for the whole, but even your ancient honorable culture acknowledges that there may be alternative ways of understanding and interpretation. Check the differences in your dynasties.

Much of your anger to the world is misplaced. Your citizen's nationalistic pride, though admirable for a population so vast, is misguided for they know not the freedom of individual thought. I acknowledge that all countries have the right to be proud of their heritage, but when actions and heritage are dichotomous then discernment on the side of force is suspect.

For all countries the only sustaining quality of national stability is the truth. It has been that way for centuries and it will be so for all future universes. All nations that forget that truth risk perishing in the detritus of time.

China you have done well to crate an Olympic climate of cooperation so the games can play. Hold only to the Olympic principal of competition, not to the ideological criticism over your political actions in Tibet. Put aside your weapons of words as the ancient city states of Greece put down their weapons of war to honor the games of athletic skill.

Protest is inherent in the human right of being. To stifle, to inhibit comment and commentary is futile to the future of your greatness, to the spirit of the Olympic torch and to the oneness that we are all truly together in the spirit of life.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hidden Prejudice

Prejudice is inherently abhorrent to the human spirit because deep down we know the miracle of life is in its diversity, not in its created separation and fear of difference.

Prejudice and all its alias’s, particularly poverty, can disguise itself in the illusion that one is better than another. It can hide in the way we say words to describe others, Mexican, Gringo, Jew, Black, and even in the non-ethnic words like immigrant and foreigner or poor or disadvantaged.

Prejudice can also manifest in rules and regulations that diminish the dignity of any society. It can harbor in actions of hatred and bigotry and sometimes in walls and fences, both real and imaginary. A comfortable commonality for all people is found in the open front yards of our hearts, not in the walled courts of intolerance however the ego builds them or the intellect sustains them.

We must remember that prejudice grows from many seeds; statements without truth, judgments without justice, belief without compassion, and even conversation without courtesy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rumor and Innuendo

Some thoughts on political rumor and innuendo.

Even since the Democrats Presidential race came down to two candidates, the rumors and innuendo have run rampant over the Internet. I've received dozens of blatantly false emails purporting to be true in order to discredit, smear and maligned the candidate. The false accusations have attacked both Barrack Obama and Hillery Clinton.

What is disappointing to me is that many people forward these pieces of junk to their litany of email friends without checking the facts, without any thought of the harm they are doing and the false witness they are spreading.

I won’t repeat the allegations, because even if there were a shred of truth in them, some investigative reporter would have checked it out long ago. Rumor and innuendo, however they are spread, always belie the truth with a fetid falsity of illusion's fiction.

Back during the Franklin Roosevelt administration some of his opponents spread rumors that his democrats plundered the gold in Fort Knox to pull the country out of the depression.

In 1953, President Eisenhower was pressured to have the gold counted. When the last bar was tabulated, it was short of what was supposed to be there. Ten dollars short.

Just to even up the books, Mrs. Georgia Clark, the long time treasurer of the United States, sent the government a personal check for ten dollars to cover the missing funds
The rumor went away. In this time of resurging election rhetoric how many more rumors would go away if all of us did more checking and less gossip?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Law and Life

We often call ourselves a “nation of laws.” What it means officially, is that we collectively agree to follow specific sets of rules in order for our society to function fairly, honorably and routinely in life and through mercantile exchange.

Under this banner we do not say that all laws are perfect, absolute or immutable. What is right and just for one generation, may not be so for the next, or the next, for attitudes, requirements, conditions and values change.

The founding fathers provided a framework wherein changes through the will of the people are to be made peacefully by a representative democracy, applying the art of compromise and compassion. We are the only nation on Earth that has made the legal process an art form and who calls that art, the practice of law.

What we might choose to do now is to simplify the understanding and the administration of law so that timely adjudication does not get bound up in a complex bureaucratic system that often requires more money than sense to get a resolution.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bretton Woods

New Hampshire is a gentle state. Unassuming, and bountifully peaceful. A leisurely ride along U.S. 302 through the White Mountain National Forest underlines that sense of peace and punctuates it with a tiny bit of history. It is called Bretton Woods. It was there in a rambling summer resort back in July of 1944, that 44-nations met to plan for the post-world War II economic recovery.

The Mount Washington Hotel where the conference took place is still a thriving resort today. It's wraparound veranda frames the magnificent Mount Washington and other peaks in the Presidential Range.

Financial leaders, back then, talked, an negotiated and discussed and simplified, a way to make international monetary policies fair and workable following the expense of World War Two. The conference lasted 20-days.

The Bretton Woods accord basically created a system of fixed exchange rates. The value of the Dollar was set a $35 per oz of gold. All other currencies were pegged to the dollar and respective countries were obliged to maintain their currencies value.

The agreement maintained an economic stability for twenty years, but eventually hugh balance of payments deficits shook its foundation and finally in 1971 President Nixon ended it by cutting the link between the dollar and gold.

The arrangement was so successful, 15 years after its collapse many economists and politicians today long for a return to Bretton Woods.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

We've Lost Our Common Sense

I’ve always thought teaching was the noble profession. I still do, but I have second thoughts when I read about some of the things happening in our schools these days.

There was a teenager in a Texas classroom that was suspended for two days for taking a cell phone call from his Dad who is serving in Iraq. The school has a policy of not allowing students to use cell phones in class. Apparently a teacher saw him answering his cell phone as he walked out of class and the kid was punished by suspension for two days.

Where is the common sense of the Copperas Cove High School authorities?

All of us understand the need for rules, but some rules must have exceptions and this was one of them. If school authorities cannot see that rigid intolerance belies learning then they ought not be in education for when the absolute becomes rigid, learning suffers.

Other examples: One school has a rule of no tactical exchanges between students. One little girl hugged another because she heard the other child’s Mother had just died. The kid was briefly suspended from school.

A few years ago the school board in Altoona, Pennsylvania had a policy allowing historical or religious documents to be displayed for 25 days in the school building.

The Ten Commandments was the first posting.

The caveat was that no document could show disrespect to an individual, ethnic group or religion.

Then the school board learned that the Baha'i faith, Wicca, atheism and gay rights history were to be displayed, they quickly voted unanimously to stop considering documents for display.

Rather than take away the words or images and icons of various beliefs, because they are controversial. Rather than hide them in textbooks on dusty shelves, perhaps the school board should have considered festooning the school with many documents as they walls could hold. And while they're at it, hang the paintings and pictures of the great teachers from many beliefs.

Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Vishnu, Gandhi, Zoroaster, Chief Seattle, Buddha and many more. Our children need examples of inspiration, not intolerance and fear.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Campaign Bickering

Unfortunately this Democratic Presidential campaign has debased into the common denominator of bickering. We continue, after the Pennsylvania debate on ABC, to have a litany of finger pointing. He did this. She said that. Her action is worse than mine. He's an elitist. He or she attacked first. It's interesting most of us don't tolerate that behavior in our children, why should we in our candidates.

So far, in this Presidential candidate selection campaign, the issues have received short shrift, while the personality, integrity, and history of each candidate has come under personal attack.

Most people want, not only their candidates, but the opposition too, to tell us where they stand on issues that concern us. And just once, I'd like to hear one candidate say of another, he or she has a good heart and the best intentions, but I think my way is better for you and here's why.

The issues for American voters is not who knows whom. Who worked with whom and what did it mean, if anything.

The issues are living wage jobs, affordable health care, a solid and competitive education, a clean and sustainable environment, safe streets, a reasonable fuel price and drug free neighborhoods.

Debate these things and you have a legitimate candidacy of service. Debate the other stuff and you're only interested in getting elected.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


We all get junk mail, both at home and now on the internet. Spamming is commonplace and most of us dump the unsolicited junk emails without reading them.

Something came across my electronic desk today that made me pause and reflect about our bureaucracy and the excess governmental verbiage called gobbledygook. I don't know who wrote it. It was forwarded without attribution.

The truth of the adage that "less is more" is proven in the following email.

The Pythagorean theorem is explained in 24 words.
Archimedes' Principle: 67 words
The 10 commandments: 179 words
The Gettysburg Address: 286 words
The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
The US Government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words.

Need I say more?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Power Of Thought

There are some people who believe the thoughts we have for others are seen physically in our body language and sent ethereally through an unseen energy. It's been called many things: prayer, light, vibration, and even the force.

Assume for a moment that our thoughts are a personal energy that we can send to someone, even to the world's leaders, the Kings and Princes, the Dictators, Presidents and Premiers and Prime Ministers all over the world.

The men and women who govern different countries are constantly being criticized or cursed by their citizens and others for one reason or another. We are all quick to criticize, but slow to praise, to encourage, and to even love, thus the leadership of the world is mostly bombarded by negative and harmful thoughts.

To help our struggling world, perhaps if we send our best thoughts to these fallible men and women, it will inspire them to seek the greater good through the medium of compromise.

If it works, if a little piece of our hearts, our positive energy, our Chi, could indeed be felt by these leaders, then we have everything to gain in the process. It might even encourage global agreement on contentious issues balanced in peace and shared responsibility.

Think about it!

Monday, April 14, 2008


You may heard the story by now. A young Vermont Mother killed herself and her two young children by plunging into an icy river.

When I read of such stories, and there are too many of them throughout the world, I want to believe that there is a place of cuddling comfort and dancing peaceful wonder. A place where toys and crayons never break, and scratches, cuts and bumps do not exist.

A place where teddy bears talk in happy colors, and puppies always wait to play. A place where candy is for breakfast and presents fill the room. Where no one knows what fear is and no shadows hide in halls.

I want to believe that in this special place, every mother who ever lived and loved her children, is waiting with open arms to hug, to love and comfort these children forever.

At the same time I try not to forget compassion for the Mother, who could not see a future for her children or herself beyond an icy river. And I join the dirge of "whys" knowing there will never be an answer I can understand.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Freedom of Expression

A few years ago, in Salem, Oregon, there was a late night cable access television program where the host could be seen dancing nude and even defecating on camera. His actions, however offensive, were expressions of art and protected from censorship.

Within each of us is an vast potential for individualized creative expression. We all have a choice of how we manifest our expressions, our art.

Under the umbrella of art, comes a plethora of expressions: paintings, from oils to illustrations; music, both composition and performance; literature, with its story and poetry; film and theater with its drama and comedy and form, from sculpture to carvings, but the most important expression of all is appreciation of things beautiful.

Perhaps there ought to be a litany of requirements that before anyone may use the public airwaves to express prurient, voyeuristic and lewd creations as art, they must first demonstrate a knowledge and appreciation of the other arts that express the beauty and grace of humankind.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It Could Have Been Madam President

Some thoughts on Victoria Woodhull.

She comes to mind because this is a presidential election year and Hillery Clinton is seeking her party's nomination as its candidate. Victoria Woodhull, however, was the first woman to run for President of the United States.

The time was 1872. Victoria Claflin Woodhull was already famous. She was born into a family of hypnotists, spiritualist's and medical eccentrics. She gained some fame when she and her sister charmed Commodore Vanderbilt with their spiritualists powers. He became their investment counselor and the Woodhull's made a lot of money in the market.

Victoria lectured and joined her sister in publishing a weekly newspaper where she informed her readers she was destined for public office.

She formed the Equal Rights Party and cast herself to run for president.

Her campaign platform was probably her undoing. She advocated free love.

A group of New Yorkers, upset over her constant attacks on the sanctity of the family got together to drive her from the city. She spent more time fighting eviction than campaigning and lost the election.

Eventually ill health and finances brought her political career to a close. Victoria Woodhull went to England and married a prominent British banker.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kruschchev then and now.

Some thoughts on how things change.

When I was a teenager in the late 1950’s, there was the pervasive fear of nuclear war with the then Soviet Union. All across our nation, cities and villages designated public places as fallout shelters and stockpiled them with water and food. Civil Defense directors were appointed to oversee and plan for survival after a nuclear war.

Individuals prepared for the worst by constructing home shelters and conducting family drills in what to do in case of a nuclear emergency. Our radio’s had special spots on the dial for people to tune to for information. Radio stations would test the system periodically by playing an alert tone and saying, “if this had been an actual emergency listeners were instructed to tune to 640 or 1240 on the radio dial for emergency information.”

The Soviet leader behind most of this fear was Nikita Khrushchev. A hard communist, who once told America, “ we will bury you.” Meaning communism will dominate democracy.

Nikita Khrushchev had a son named Sergai. He is a distinguished professor at Brown University in Rhode Island and is now an American citizen.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rumors of a woman Pope

Pope John the VIII or was it Pope Joan?

Nobody knows if it's a true story, but during the later part of the 13th century it was believed to be fact. It all happened hundreds of years before that, so its hard to tell truth from fiction.

There was a person who became Pope John VIII and supposedly ruled the Church for over two years from 855 to 858. It was a relatively short papacy and was first mention by Mariano Scoto, a Benedictine monk in a document called the Chronicon. In his writing he mentions the rumor of a woman pope, by the name of Joan who reigned for two years, five months and four days.

The next time, in historical writings, that Joan is mentioned is nearly a hundred years later by another Benedictine monk, Sigiberto of Gembloux. He writes in a work called Chronographia: "It is quite well known that this John was a woman and...having become heavy with child gave birth while she was pope".

The legend of a woman pope states that her name was Joan and an Englishwoman, born in Mainz, now in West Germany. She apparently fell in love with an English Benedictine monk and dressing as a man went with him to Athens where she studied and became highly educated. The story says from there, she moved to Rome, impressed the Roman Curia with her wit and wisdom and was named a cardinal and then elected Pope.

Supposedly during a papal procession she gave birth and died and was buried on the spot.

For centuries the church has denied there ever was a woman pope and has supplied numerous documents to refute the rumor, but still it persists.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Federal Spending

What is it about being an employee of the federal government that let’s some people think they can use their Government credit card for personal purchases?

It’s a big story in the news today. Billions of dollars worth of purchases using Uncle Sam’s credit cards did not follow proper procedures. Millions of those dollars went to expensive dinners, lingerie, tailor-made clothing, computers and even a breast implant.

The Government Accountability Office conducted the report.

You know what? I’m appalled. I’m angry. That’s my money and your money that some federal worker think is their money simply because they are employed by the government. In my book that’s stealing, it’s embezzling and all who did it should be fired and prosecuted.

I suppose some federal employees think it’s OK to use the “company card” because many members of the House and Senate do the same thing with earmarked funds, better known as “pork barrel spending”. It’s really not much different than unauthorized spending. "Pork" spending has got to stop too.

Frankly, I’m tired of the waste and my lever in the voting booth will show it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


© 2008 Rolland G. Smith

Beware the black of fear and seizures night
When earthly reason cannot see light’s bright.
For now’s the time to bide your mind and soul
As reason swallows all illusions whole.

Now move your thoughts to where it’s empty space
To thus acknowledge true the wholesome grace
Of joy and wisdom coming from the Source
Where sadness and old pain hold no remorse.

Love holds us in the brace of lasting peace
That comes to all as if it’s a release
To see the life that you have chosen now
As right and just and what you did avow.

Avow, you did, before the counsel light
Before your spirit came into its might
For density is hard to comprehend
When essence is about to matter blend.

Let the poets of this time tell us truth
In teaching to the learned and the youth.
For death does not diminish what I say
It is the listening mind that does decay.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King
© 1995 Rolland G. Smith

I had a dream the other night
And Martin Luther King was there.
He spoke in tones befit the wise
And asked me if I’d share,
The news of how his dream came out,
Since he had been away.

I told him times had changed somewhat
But the dream was still a dream
And somewhere in these many years
Was progress, or so it seemed.
Tell me, he said, what has happened,
Since he had been away.

We’ve legislated out the hate,
I said, but laws can’t touch the mind,
If bias reeks within the heart
There cannot be a human - kind.
It’s still not true, he said,
For he had been away.

And then he said, where he is now,
There is no ONE color bright,
Not black or white, yellow or brown.
There is only a loving light.
It’s the truth I lived, and live,
He said, as he went away.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Some thoughts on Cancer

Most of us know someone who has had cancer, or has cancer or who has died of cancer. It is an insidious disease. It is indiscriminate and it is a life altering challenge, not only for those diagnosed with its various forms, but also for the family and friends of those afflicted.

We hear, almost too frequently of friends, family, celebrities who have been diagnosed with some type or form of cancer and we all have that little gulp of dry swallowing that wishes them well in their struggle.

Whenever those kinds of announcements come fourth, it reminds all of us of our vulnerability. Somehow we think the famous or the celebrity, or our family or friends as immune to disease because they have a history of wellness or in the case of celebrities, appear to have everything. The truth is that illness is the common denominator of all humans for we are finite beings.

What every cancer, every disease says to everyone of us, is that life is precious and fragile and fleeting and that all of us are vulnerable and maybe some of the things we call important are not really.

Without pushing the envelope of sympathy, for that solves or comforts nothing, I had a son who died of brain cancer. As a parent there were a lot of things that become unimportant very quickly.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Oil Greed

Some thoughts on gas prices.

Most of us are saying, “not again.” We've had rise, after rise, after rise in the cost of gasoline to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars in profit for the top five oil companies and they are arrogantly defiant before a congressional committee that the profits are in line with other industries.

Come on, we know, that they have to say, what they have to say, because they are employees of their companies, but do they think we are that stupid? Apparently we are for we have yet to collectively stand up to giants of greed. Do they think that congress is that stupid, apparently they do or they know that some of our elected representatives are in the pocket of the big five oil companies via campaign contributions.

Oil industry explanations include the old law of supply and demand saying gasoline is in short supply and demand is high. Industry executives cite all sorts of reasons to justify the gouging of the American gas consumer.

Hogwash comes to mind. Nothing in the law of economics can justify four dollars or more a gallon of gas. The current gouging has nothing to do with the pristine science of economics or even the mundane yin yang of supply and demand. It has do to with a far older human condition: Greed!

Greed is an attack on the decency of common living. Until fairness is the rule, fairness in profit, fairness in value, the consumer both here and abroad will continue to be ripped off by the insensitivity and unadulterated greed of the oil companies.

The gas consumer sits back with a hose in the gas tank and says "woe is me".

Want to do something?

Boycott one company! Pick Exxon/Mobil for instance. They import Arab oil so that's a reasonable start. If all of us stopped going to Exxon/Mobil for one month and bought our gas elsewhere, what do you think Exxon/Mobile will do? LOWER their prices. When they do, the others will have to follow suit to compete. In a small, but exponential way, we the consumer have a way to fight back. Try it! I am!

April Fools

Some thoughts on April Fools Day.

Did you get fooled? All Fools Day has been around for centuries and nobody is really sure of the origin. Some of the early references come from the middle ages and many countries embrace the practice of pranks and jokes today.

Perhaps one of the best April fools jokes ever perpetrated on the public came from the BBC on April 1st 1957. Their television news show Panorama announced that because of a mild winter and the elimination of the spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. Producers had tied cooked spaghetti to dozens of trees and made it look like the strands were growing from the branches. Viewers could see Swiss peasants harvesting spaghetti, laying the strands in baskets and then placing them into the sun to dry

The host of the program Richard Dimbleby, a respected anchorman, stayed serious throughout the hoax story. His voice never cracked a smile or gave a hint of a wink.

Viewers were fooled and hundreds of people called the BBC for information on how to grow their own spaghetti trees. In British understatement they said they should "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."
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