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As I have said before, I really love Christmas. Unlike so many Americans, however, it isn’t the gifts or food that warm my heart; nor is it the religious origin of the Christmas holiday, the birth of Jesus and the mythology that now surrounds it. Sacrilegious, I know, but over the last couple of centuries the culture of Christmas has evolved to carry a message entirely its own.

In my heart and mind, I have come to appreciate my own definition of “the true meaning of Christmas,” a meaning with which I am certain you are already familiar. I casually refer to this as “the Scrooge lesson,” or the “Dickensian Christmas Spirit.”

I love “A Christmas Carol.” It has such great characters, images, and lessons to appreciate and it never, ever gets old. And what I consistently take away from it are the very themes that a sorrowful Jacob Marley desperately urges his old partner Ebenezer to embrace: the common welfare, charity, mercy, kindness, forbearance, and benevolence. I also receive the lesson in Scrooge choosing to dine with the friends of his nephew Fred—sharing warmth in the company of others to thankfully appreciate the blessings of fine food, drink, and camaraderie.

Perhaps most importantly, and more subtle, is the general theme of A Christmas Carol that, in addition to charity and revelry, Christmas should also be a time of self-reflection, a time to ponder our lives and how we choose to live them. In Scrooge’s own vein, Read the rest of this entry »

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Sunday is the 42nd anniversary of the creation of Earth Day, a remarkable movement founded in Madison, WI by then US Senator and former Governor, Gaylord Nelson.

Earth Day has one central purpose: to encourage people to consider humanity’s impact on the environment and act in ways that reduce the negative effects on all ecosystems and species.

It is a simple goal, but has far-reaching implications and can be summed up in their most-recognized slogan, “Think Globally. Act Locally.” It was Senator Nelson who coined this idea, insisting that local action and education be the central method of Earth Day rather than protests and sit-ins.

“Act Locally” does not just mean in counties or municipalities, it means in our homes and businesses, and most importantly, our lives. Sure it means big things like urging local, state, and federal governments to pass laws that protect our environment, but it also means smaller things like being realistic about what we need to consume, Read the rest of this entry »

I watched footage of American bald eagles yesterday. Not for the first time of course; I’ve seen plenty before. But in watching this bit of video, shot over 30 years ago, I once again beheld what a magnificent creature the bald eagle is, how it is symbolic of our country, and why it has been our national bird since 1782.

Before you go assuming that this post will be merely a flag-waving testament to my patriotism, drawing parallels between our own ever-struggling republic and the freedom and inspiration of a soaring eagle, I beg of you, don’t be hasty. Beauty is only skin (or feather) deep, and my analogy delves much further than the shallow tint of an eagle’s silhouette backed by wind-furled Old Glory on the rear window of your neighbor’s GMC Sierra (likely built in Mexico, of course).

I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t at least acknowledge that aspect of the eagle-nation analogy. So I’ll start there. Please, bear with me.

Call me sentimental; the flight of a soaring eagle is inspiring and does make my heart swell with Patriotism. Grace, guts, and glory are all exemplified in that seemingly effortless flight. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s true. We need oil.

In the short-term our entire infrastructure is dependent on oil. Since it is used to make gasoline, diesel, kerosene, natural gas, propane, plastic, heating oil, and industrial fuel, it is obvious that we can’t simply stop using it tomorrow. This is a fact and to ignore it and think otherwise is both ignorant and futile.

However, here is another fact. Oil is finite. Someday we will run out, plain and simple. The length of time before that happens may be disputed, but nonetheless, we will run out one day. And there’s no making more of it. It took hundreds of millions of years to make the batch we’re blowing through. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

That being said, assuming an extended existence of humankind (a significant assumption, mind you) and therefore its need for energy, one must logically conclude that we will need another source of energy at some point. Personally, I would argue that we need it quickly, now, while we still have oil to burn in the interim. We should be using our quick and easy fossil fuels not for individual and corporate profit but for collective betterment and for producing better ways to harness infinite and renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric.

Here’s another fact: the world’s need for energy is growing. With the population over 7 billion people, and more and more of those people (and their economies) becoming dependent on oil, it isn’t simply a matter of sustaining our oil production to satiate our current thirst. Rather, we must continue to increase production in order to keep up with the growing demand. Read the rest of this entry »

Great news!

According to the United Nations’ recent estimate, the world’s human population will hit 7,000,000,000 late next month.

Considering that the human population was only 2 billion as recently as 1925, we have perfected a truly remarkable model of steady gains. I mean, 350% growth in only 86 years? Amazing!

Why, in just the last 50 years we went from a measly 3 billion to 7 billion; I think we really have done something exceptional.

CONGRATULATIONS, HUMANS!

What special bonuses do we have as a result of our inability to prevent unwanted pregnancies (despite having the knowledge and methods to easily do so)?

Well take a look at some of these fabulous prizes Read the rest of this entry »

I work with a lot of self-proclaimed “liberals.”

I use quotation marks because, as I have gotten to know these specific people over the years, I have found that to them, “liberal” apparently means simply voting for democrats and bitching about whatever the republicans are doing. I, being an avoider of adhering to labels, am perplexed by this because if that’s really all it takes to be what they claim, then perhaps they should identify themselves as “anti-Republicans.”

To me, claiming to be a liberal suggests perhaps embracing some life habits that coincide with your liberal ideology. You know, walking the walk while talking the talk. In other words, putting your money where your mouth is. Read the rest of this entry »

I think a lot. Many have told me more than I should. I tend to roll things over and over and over in my mind, looking for different facets, examining my emotions and thoughts that stem from this examination.  I come up with questions, gray areas, or things that I must research in order to formulate an informed opinion. And hopefully, in the end, I come to a conclusion of some kind.

I don’t know if this is right or wrong, but I do know that one need only take a brief look around them to realize the number of idiots out there in the world.  I see examples of idiocy every day and I find myself saying, “If only people would think more.” Shortly thereafter, I hear the faint echo of one of the wisest men in history in the back of my mind saying, “You must BE the change you wish to see in the world.” And such is the reason behind my continual endeavor to think more.

I try to think of this as a good thing. But sometimes it gets me into  bind.  A mental one.  And before you know it, that bind has my mind in conflict…with itself.

In my continual thinking about public policy, socioeconomic trends, human suffering, the environment, biodiversity, energy, my own happiness, and of course, overpopulation (see my post on it here) my thought process has reached an impasse.  An impasse which I refer to as “The Liberal Dilemma.” Read the rest of this entry »

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