Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thoughts about Taxes

There's no good reason we cannot have health care for all.
Nearly all first world countries already have it. It's not a new thing.
And in our country, we have an example of how a collective system can work fairly well in providing a safety net for our citizens. It's called Social Security. It's not perfect. But the vast majority of citizens in our country would not give it up.
"Yeah, but that's different. We contributed to that," many say.
What do you think tax dollars are? Tax dollars are our contribution to society to provide the services and support programs needed in our communities, state and federal government.
The difference between Social Security tax and other taxes we see coming out of our checks, is that it's earmarked. Most of the rest of the taxes we pay are blindly contributed, with the exception of school taxes. And we grumble. Some want to eliminate taxes all together. That makes no sense.
When everyone is contributing a fair share, the burdens of society are fairly shared. Look at your school tax if you have property. Is what you pay enough to educate ONE child for a year. Unless you own significant property, it's not likely. We're sharing that financial burden. We're also sharing the benefits of an educated population. And we should all be concerned with the level of quality education that is provided. A poorly educated community is a problematic community.
Taxes are unpopular but we need to change our perspective about the reason we have taxes and focus on what our tax dollars are doing. Yes, we should talk to our representatives about what projects and programs are most important to us and expect them to be careful stewards of our tax dollars.
We need to think of our taxes as collective solutions to societal needs. And so, back to health care. There is no good reason we cannot have health care for all. Yes, it would be a tax and hopefully earmarked exactly the way Social Security is earmarked. If shared fairly, the majority of our citizens would actually end up paying less than they currently do for health insurance. Why? Because everyone is contributing. Why? Because we can eliminate a great deal of the administrative costs in our health care system. We can manage costs more effectively across the board, including drug costs.
It just makes sense. That's why nearly every first world country already does it. Hanging onto a health care model that is not meeting the needs of most of our population is not going to make America great.
Our current attitude toward taxes and government isn't going to make us great either. We need to stop accepting that greed and corruption are "just the way it is" and begin looking at taxes and government as our means for collective solutions to societal issues. We're already participating with our tax dollars. It's time to get in the game with our heads.

Monday, August 28, 2017

To be remembered this way...

How do you hope to be remembered? How are you remembered?
Every day we have opportunities to make a difference. It's there in front of us - every interaction we have. It could be that person looking lost a on the sidewalk. It could be the kid sitting alone in the cafeteria. It could be the elderly person you encounter who seems to want to chat. It could be the person looking into your storefront window and you just closed for the day.
When you take a moment to see those opportunities, it may just make the most difference with you. Take a moment. Slow down. See those around you.
Often I am TOO BUSY. The saddest words I often hear from friends dropping by the store or someone calling me on the phone are "I know you are busy, but..."
The sweetest thing that has happened in recent weeks is my sister has come to help at the store. Suddenly, I can visit a bit and then she becomes the hostess to carry on the welcome as I go back to those things that must be done. And I see visitors lingering longer. We have suddenly had a lot of new visitors. And I feel less stressed knowing and sharing in the atmosphere I always hoped would be part of the music store.
In other ways I'm feeling more able to connect and relax myself. Yesterday as one of my best friends and I were walking around the campground looking at our new sight, a new neighbor wanted to chat. The three of us sat and chatted a while. He was alone, enjoying a toasted marshmallow by the fire. We learned his wife of 56 years just died last January. He was cheerful and kind. We didn't stay long, but I know it was meaningful. It was meaningful for me and I will look for him next time.
Today, I had closed the store, walked to my truck a block away and realized I had forgotten something. So, I drove around to go back to the store. I discovered a nice couple looking in the store window. 'Would you like to come in? I forgot something.' They said, "Yes, for just a look around." I opened and turned on the lights. They were from Kentucky and often visit an aunt here. I told them about all the music happening now in town. They were pleased to have discovered the store and learn about all that is happening. I know we will both look forward to their next visit and I'm hopeful that they can experience the many musical events happening around town.
We all need to pay our bills and make a living. But we can't stop actually living. Living is about connections. Connections matter. I want to be remembered for the connections I make that make a difference in how a person feels. To care a little more, take a little more time, and to make a person feel welcome and valued - that's how I want to be remembered.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Protesting anyone?

What good does protesting do? Through the years my initial reaction to protests is the feeling that little benefit comes from people yelling at each other as typically happens when there's a protest. Peaceful protest requires a great deal more discipline than most people can exhibit.
Indeed peaceful protest has historically been very effective. In addition to discipline by the protesters, it required long term commitment. Major change to the status quo does not come easily.
The purposes of protest are to draw attention to an issue, gain support and get people talking outside of the protesting. It's meant to be a catalyst. The end goal is to gain enough support to gain enough momentum to ultimately create the desired change.
What's interesting is the effect of violence in relation to protesting. Violence changes the course of protesting faster than anything.
Suffragists marched and protested to gain women's right to vote. They marched peacefully for decades, held conventions, crisscrossed the nation lecturing on the topic but it was violence that created the greatest impact. Alice Paul led a group of protesters who were jailed. She went on a hunger strike and was brutally force fed. Once news got out about the brutality she endured, the tide changed.
In the 60's we watch protest after protest unfold during the civil rights movement. With the civil rights movement, a very small group advocated for violence to push change. That threat often overshadowed the work being done by Martin Luther King's follower who were very dedicated to peaceful protesting. Once we began to see violence and brutality used against the peaceful protesters, the tide changed.
We watch protests against the Vietnam War. The vast majority of those protests were peaceful. Their efforts had little effect until the students were killed at Kent State. Sympathy's changed.
Our tendency as humans seems to be to accept the status quo, even if we believe it may be wrong. We'll stick to it, quietly preserve it, until something happens that pushes us off balance and forces us to re-examine it. Most of us won't organize a march to change something. We certainly don't want to be standing in the minority to push for it. But until someone does, that status quo remains. Once someone starts beating the drums for change, it takes a while before the numbers grow in favor. Nothing serves a greater catalyst than violence. Take note! The side perpetrating the violence will lose public support.
How we protest matter! We need to quell the anger and replace it with resolve. While there is a temptation to be outrageous to gain attention, the message will become the outrageous. Fighting violence and hatred with violence and hatred will never work.
Yes, protesting matters and it works. There's a historic roadmap for doing it effectively.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Creations of the Divine....

We are all creations of and part of the divine - god - the great spirit - whatever name you want to attach. We are all creations and equally connected to that divinity. We were born in it. We were nurtured in it. We grow in it. We are ALL part of it.
If we fail, sin, it is that we loose our awareness of that truth. But our failure, our sin, does not alter that truth. We are all creations of and part of the divine. Our separation is not truth. Our separation is THE lie. It is the lie that causes us pain. It is the lie that causes us to loose our path. It the lie that removes us from understanding that everything we need has been provided. It steals our peace. It robs us of a love of others. Separation is the lie. Connection is the truth.
We are created. We are fully able. We are fully connected and have been from the beginning. Separation is the lie. When we believe that others control our ability to connect with the divine, to have happiness, or can "make us mad", we believe a lie. We are fully able. We are fully able to connect with the divine and be at peace. Our happiness - our salvation - our ability to live in fullness - is granted to us us in our creation. We need only claim it, live it and be in awe of it.
We have been taught many ways of separation that are based in mis-informed understanding about the gifts we have been freely given. From these, we often base our path of disconnection and judgements of others "not worthy" because they have not passed some man made rite of passage.
You are worthy. You have always been able. You are connected. You are equally connected. The person beside you is part of the same divine creation. Your happiness is not dependent upon another person. Your happiness is dependent upon your understanding and the search for divine truth. Start with love.