WHY THIS WORLD SHOULD END

The Path to a New Beginning, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


Ask anyone what is wrong with the world, and you will certainly get an opinion, or many of them.  We can all point to things that are wrong with politics, education, religion or whatever it is that crosses our minds, but we don’t all agree on what those things are.  We are severely polarized, and we can not reach a consensus.  Worse yet, there are influential people who will try to make sure the majority do not rule, as our recent national election shows.

With an eye toward the concept this divisive world should end, the one that is full of prejudices and deceit, is a video that presents our problems in detail.  That YouTube presentation has gone viral.  A rap artist and rights activist who calls himself Prince EA has put out a video that now has over seven million views and has been reposted and shared everywhere.  It needs reposting again.

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Richard Williams, a 26-year-old advocate for change, has taken a stage name, Prince EA.  It is not unusual for a rap artist to take a stage name, but this one has significant meaning.  For Williams it means Prince of the Earth, for it is with the earth that he is most concerned.  The world, and all of its problems, needs a mighty voice and that is what Williams aims to provide in a well produced video.  He wastes no time in coming to the point.  The video opens strongly:

The world is coming to an end
The air is polluted, the oceans contaminated
The animals are going extinct, the economy’s collapsed
Education is shot, police are corrupt
Intelligence is shunned and ignorance rewarded

The people are depressed and angry
We can’t live with each other and…

He will tell you we can’t live with ourselves. We can’t really communicate with others.  Do we not live in a world of “robotic communication?”  I see it all the time.  There are people too busy with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat or whatever to have real communication.  So perhaps it is somewhat ironic that Williams’ message has gone viral on YouTube.

Presidents lie, politicians trick us
Race is still an issue and so is religion
Your God doesn’t exist, my God does and he is All-Loving
If you disagree with me, I’ll kill you
Or even worse argue, you to death

When we argue people to death, how often do we do it anonymously via Facebook or Twitter.  How willing are we to really face these problems and seek solutions?  The world we see is one Williams thinks should end.  Do you agree?

Our role models today
60 years ago would have been examples of what not to be
There are states where people can legally be discriminated against
Because they were born a certain way

There are indeed role models today who in past generations would not have been allowed to be seen by youth as a standard to achieve, if they were allowed to be seen at all.  And while we permit this type of role model, we see certain parts of society who some would like to suppress, because of skin color, sexual orientation or religion.  How can we popularize sex and violence while discriminating against love and religion?

So what can we do in the face of all of this madness and chaos?
What is the solution?

Prince EA asks the question and he is not afraid to follow with the answer.  It is a simple answer, of course.  It is the answer we have known all throughout time, but rarely seem to apply.

“We can love
Not the love you hear in your favorite song on the radio
I mean real love, true love, boundless love
You can love, love each other”

This is why the world should end.  It needs a fresh start with love.  It is the love we must all provide.  Where do we start to write a new history? Where is that new beginning?  Where is that message that we need to go viral?

“Why I think the World Should End,” by Prince EA, Cinematography and Editing by Brandon Sloan

The Inauguration: An Observer View

Clearly the most important part of this piece is the link to the article in the Guardian. It is a well-written, thorough, and thoughtful piece. Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, you should consider reading it. Also, keep in mind that this is a British newspaper, so this is from a U.K. perspective.

Views from the Edge

Today’s email from a respected friend calls attention to a British opinion piece on the American Inauguration.

Today I wish I could find a single line in this post-inaugural Guardian piece (God, even a phrase) that strikes me as false.

I can’t.

I can’t either.

Click to read The Observer view on bullying, aggressive, nationalist Donald Trump

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 22, 2017

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BE NICE. STOP FIGHTING. FIX THE WORLD.

What’s wrong with this picture? Other than you know … that face. When I found this on Facebook, it gave me pause for thought.

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I am not a fan of Trump. However much I dislike his politics and pretty much everything he stands for, he is not why we this country is divided. We were divided long before Trump. Basically, this country has been divided to one degree or another — usually more rather than less — for our entire history. What Donald Trump did was successfully parlay our existing divisions into his victory. He used our prejudices, bigotry, hatred, distrust and willingness to believe the worst of others — and turned it into political capital.

We let him win. Collectively. We allowed this to happen. 

Trump did not create the divisions. We did that ourselves by allowing partisanship to infiltrate every aspect of American life. Trump is the payback and our punishment. Karma is a bitch.

We should think about this. If we want a less divisive political system, what do we need to do to achieve that? If we want to live in a less angry society, how can we make that happen?

dwight-david-eisenhower-quote-i-do-not-believe-that-any-politicalWe might start by being nicer to each other. We can be civil, kind, polite, and friendly. Personally and online. It might catch on and become a trend. Obviously, it’s not a panacea. It can’t fix what’s wrong with the world, but it’s a start. Baby steps.

Next, it’s time to start letting go of old grudges, philosophical differences, and meaningless principles. We don’t only fight with “the enemy.” We constantly fight with each other over all kinds of nonsense.

It’s reminiscent of the battles within anti-establishment groups of the 1960s. Wrangling about every stupid little thing splintered us. Groups which should have been pooling resources could not let go of petty differences. Today, either no one can remember what the fighting was about … or it seems so trivial, it’s hard to believe anyone cared.

It’s Big Picture time. We need to define common ground — not our differences. Because there will always be differences. If we let our division define us rather than the stuff we have in common, we will never win.

Living in Israel, where government is via a parliamentary system, I always wondered how the religious right got what they wanted while the rest of us — center to left liberal majority and not a small majority but a huge one — seemed to not count, even though we vastly outnumbered the right. The answer was simple. Obvious. They stuck together presenting a solid wall. Whereas what the rest of us had in common was not being them. To effectively work as a power bloc, you have to find the core issues, the stuff that really matters to everyone — and let the rest go. Otherwise, we will lose. Again.

STAND UP FOR TRUTH

This the season to spread stupid rumors. It keeps coming up. I get madder each time I see it.

This is the season to spread the rumor that there’s a war against Christmas. That the same cabal consisting of “them – the unnamed conspirators that are doing bad things” want to ban the holiday. That there are movements afoot to make Christmas trees into “holiday” trees and thus ban Christ in Christmas. Worse, that people will get angry and maybe sue you if you wish them a merry Christmas.

Has that ever actually happened? To anyone? Anywhere?

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It has never happened to me. I am not a Christian, but I like Christmas. It’s a nice holiday with pretty decorations, terrific music, and great lighting. Good food and drink and friends getting together to celebrate. What’s not to like?

I am an equal opportunity greeter. I will greet friends and strangers by saying whatever comes to tongue first. I have been doing this my entire life. Not once in all these decades has anyone objected to being wished Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday. Because people are not anti-Christmas. There is no war on Christmas.

There is a Constitutional, entirely legal (obligatory) separation of church and state. It suggests putting a crèche in the middle of town might be in poor taste or outright illegal, but is not a war on anything. It’s protecting my right to not be Christian while simultaneously protecting your right to go to the church, synagogue, mosque — or none of the above — of your choice. Separation of church and state protects all religions and non-believers equally.

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If you want to a crèche in the middle of town, ask the nearest church to put one on their property — if they don’t already have one (and I bet they do). Enjoy it at the church because that’s where it belongs. It’s religious iconography and is entirely acceptable in a religious context.

The United States is not a Christian country. It is religiously unaffiliated. Even though the majority of the population may profess to be some kind of Christian, this includes millions of people who never go to church. One of the many thing that are protected is your right to say your are a Christian or anything else without actually having to do anything to prove it. Freedom of religion is a wonderful thing. It means the government has no stake in your personal belief system as long as it stays personal and doesn’t involve bombing other sects or non-believers.

Which means you can say you are a Christian, never go to church at all, complain how Christianity is being threatened by the “freedom and politically correct cabal” (who don’t exist) and no one will ever ask you to show your bona fides. It’s a great constitution we have. If we ditched everything else but kept that first amendment, we might just be okay anyhow.

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If there’s a war on anything, it is on my right to not be Christian. Enforcing the first amendment is not a war. It’s what keeps us free.

Speaking of the first amendment, there is no law anywhere against greeting anyone in any manner you choose. The first amendment also protects your right to free speech including saying Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Or nothing at all. Whatever. It’s all good. I suggest the following response to any seasonal greeting: “Thank you!” Accompanied by a smile. Because someone is being nice and you should be nice, too. Now … that wasn’t so hard, was it?

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Despite Facebook, there is no war on Christmas. No war on free speech. If you spread the rumor that this is true, who knows how much damage you can do? Unless that’s your intention, don’t do it.

No matter what you believe, it’s time to stop sharing, tweeting, and re-posting stuff that’s supposed to be true without first checking to make sure that it is true. How about we stop letting other people’s opinions substitute for facts? How about not passing rumors? How about we all make a commitment to fact-checking as a matter of course? Because the damage we do by spreading lies, rumors, and half-truths — intentional or not — is incalculable. This is something you can do to make the world better without getting out of your recliner.

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If you don’t have time to check the facts, do not repeat it, share it, re-post it, publish it, or in any way pass it along. Unless you personally have checked the facts, assume it is not true. The world will be a better place no matter what politics you favor.

This is not an “us versus them” issue. It is a true versus untrue issue, a fact versus fiction issue. It affects everyone — including your children and grandchildren. Stand up for truth!

EARTH TO MILLENNIALS: STEP UP TO THE PLATE, YOUR TIME HAS COME

In recent months, Garry and I have logged a lot of hours watching the political year unfold. I can’t count the number of hours spent analyzing “the millennials,” young folks in and around my granddaughter’s age. How disaffected they are. How they aren’t going to vote because “this has nothing to do with me,” which is a direct quote from my granddaughter.

I love my granddaughter with all my heart, but that just pissed me off to a fare-thee-well.

The world into which my generation — the now oft-dismissed “baby boomers” — was born was not composed of silver spoons and red carpets. Classified advertisements for jobs were divided into “Help Wanted: Male” and “Help Wanted: Female.” It was legal and enforced. As for people of color and immigrants, their help wasn’t wanted.

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70 years later, the Help Wanted advertisements looked pretty much the same as they had in 1892. Photograph: Library of Congress Archives

Jim Crow laws were legal. Inter-marriage between races was illegal in all southern states and many northern ones. There was no Medicare, no Medicaid. If you lost your job or your job didn’t offer medical benefits — and employers were not obligated to provide benefits — you were out of luck.

People reminisce about the 1950s and early 1960s as if they were perfect days for everyone. A world in which jobs lasted forever and no one was hungry. But only if you were triple white. White collar. White skin. White picket fence. If you were anything else, you lived a different reality.

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Did I mention that abortion was illegal? Illegal abortions were frequently fatal and effective birth control hadn’t been invented. It’s not that we didn’t have sex outside of marriage. Of course we did. Hormones, boys, girls, love, and passion were never much different than now, but acting on these urges was far more dangerous. Because the ramifications of “getting caught” were so perilous (and frequently against the law), we were sneaky. We had sex in cars, not beds.

We hid our lives from “the grownups” who were also frequently “the enemy.” Child abuse was not only not illegal, it was ignored or approved of. Beating your kids was merely “discipline.” Which is why I get enraged every time I read one of those Facebook “nostalgia” posts about how great it was to be able to hit your kids. Hitting kids doesn’t make them better people. It just tells them it’s okay for bigger, stronger people to hit smaller, weaker ones.

January 22, 1973 woman could finally breathe a sigh of relief. We thought the days of back room abortion were finally over. Maybe yes. But maybe it was just a temporary reprieve.

January 22, 1973 woman could finally breathe a sigh of relief. We thought the days of back room abortion were finally over. Maybe yes. But maybe it was just a temporary reprieve. Photograph: New York Times archive

My generation — we old people — were out there manning the barricades. Marching for justice. We changed the world — not as much as we hoped we would, but a lot. We fought racial and gender discrimination. While waiting for the law to change, we hid our homosexuality or trans-gender identities. Not doing so might do us in. We never gave up the fight, but we got old.

It’s your turn now.

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Things are a lot better for you in many ways. Not perfect. Not without problems. There’s plenty more work to be done. I know you feel the world has failed to live up to its promises to you. Life is too hard. Good jobs are scarce. I know because I’ve heard about it … a lot.

Life — real life — has always been hard and good jobs have never been easy to find. No one told me life would be easy. Did someone tell you that? If they did, they lied.

Despite the complaining, your generation is reaping the benefits of what we fought for. It’s time for your generation to step up to the plate. Put down the phone. Go into the world. Fix stuff. Fight for a better life and a better world. Vote! That’s how change happens. If you don’t care enough to stand up for yourselves and your future, no one else will care. And all the work we did will go down the tubes.

Then, as my mom used to say, you’ll really have something to cry about.

THE TIME IT IS TODAY – RICH PASCHALL

For all of the 21st century so far, I have been looking for the music with social relevance.  Yes there have been a few songs, but not much in these sixteen years.  And who are the young writers contributing songs with meaning this century?  Neil Young, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, U2?  

Those guys are still at it, but in this era of social unrest, you might expect more young voices to be heard.  Getting a good deal of notice in recent weeks is the heavy metal group, Disturbed, and their rendition of Sounds of Silence.  If you are thinking the title is familiar, it is.  They covered the Simon and Garfunkel hit to great effect. 

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Enter The Young, When Songs Had Meaning

There was a time I will describe as late Beatles up to pre-disco when many songs had a deeper meaning, that is to say, a “social commentary”.  The air was filled with thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics.  Some will argue that these songs helped to sway a nation toward greater equality and away from a war of questionable merits.  For a while, many songwriters abandoned “Ooh baby, baby,” to write about war, race, poverty, inhumanity and life in the ghetto rather than life on “easy street”.  This was the era in songwriting where the words were as important as the notes being played.

Here they come, yeah
Some are walking, some are riding
Here they come, yeah
And some are flying, some just gliding
Released after years of being kept in hiding
They’re climbing up the ladder rung by rung

Bob Dylan had been speaking to us for years, but suddenly so was McCartney and Lennon, then John Lennon on his own.  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Carol King, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Curtis Mayfield, Lou Reed, Marvin Gaye can all be added to the list and on and on.  There were many more with just a few hits but big social impact.

Enter the young, yeah
Yeah, they’ve learned how to think
Enter the young, yeah
More than you think they think
Not only learned to think, but to care
Not only learned to think, but to dare

My absolute favorite among the thoughtful lyrics were those done by a group called The Association.  They are probably best known for their hit songs “Cherish,” “Windy” and “Along Comes Mary.”  These songs are filled with clever rhymes and many unique “play on words.”  “Cherish” taught me I could rhyme that word with “perish” and I used it for a wedding lyric years later.

Yeah, here they come
Some with questions, some decisions
Here they come
And some with facts and some with visions

Of a place to multiply without the use of divisions
To win a prize that no one’s ever won

They also commented on society in songs like “The Time It is Today,” “Enter the Young,” and the biting and rather haunting sounds of “Requiem For The Masses.”  This was filled with the symbolism of those that died for the red, white and blue as well as dealing with the issues of race (“Black and white were the questions that so bothered him, he never asked, he was taught not to ask, but was on his lips as they buried him.)  Yes, the same group that gave us “Never My Love” could come around again and whack you with a social message…hard.

Here they come, yeah
Some are laughing, some are crying
Here they come
And some are doing, some are trying
Some are selling, some are buying
Some are living, some are dying
But demanding recognition one by one

They did get recognition, along with many other such groups, if only for a moment in musical history.  Where are  the meaningful song lyrics of today?  I wonder.

Not only learned to think, but to care
Not only learned to think, but to dare

I wore out this album as I found every song to be worthy of constant replay.  I was a teenager, I thought it was great.  All these years later, I still do.  I chose the video above as I could find no performance of this song except a weak cover version and this one rendered the best sound.

Enter The Young by Terry Kirkman 1966 Beachwood Music Corp.

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU’D SEEN IT ALL

This and That, by Rich Paschall


If you thought you had seen everything in politics prior to this year, then you were in for a big surprise.  The presidential election cycle is like none that has come before.  I hope we will not see it again.

No matter what lies the Republican candidate gets caught telling, his followers don’t seem to care.  They follow him anyway.

Grand Old Party?

Grand Old Party?

If you thought voters could be swayed by the truth, think again.

You will change no one’s vote with your Facebook memes, no matter how cute, accurate, or how well they state the case.  No one will be persuaded. You may as well watch baseball.

The State of Illinois has a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor.  There has not been a budget for over a year and there definitely will not be one until after the election, when we will still have a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor.

Are you tired of politics yet?  No?

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Republican senators in tight races do not want to be seen with the Republican candidate for president, especially in states that he is not likely to carry.  Senator Kirk of Illinois is up for election in the home state of President Obama and candidate Clinton.  Yes, she’s from Illinois (not Kenya).  The incumbent Senator will not be campaigning with the presidential candidate.

When I attended the Barbra Streisand concert there were many signs on the doors exclaiming “no cameras.”  Before I went through the metal detector I handed the security guy my cell phone, binoculars and a small case with my camera.

I set off the metal detector at the United Center, but they waved me on anyway after the security guy gave me back my camera and other items.  They probably thought I am just an old guy with a metal cane and there are lots of people waiting to get in.  Now doesn’t that make you feel more secure?

I have seen Streisand before and she had multiple opening acts.  This time there was a brief overture, she walked out, sang The Way We Were, and then said to the audience, “I guess you did not expect to start like that!”  Yes, it was all Barbra.

It is a requirement on the gay membership cards that all gay boys must see Cher or Barbra Streisand in concert.  They must also see Ricky Martin or Elton John.  OK, this might not be entirely true.

In concert at the United Center

Yes, we were WAY up there in the 300 level.  I brought binoculars.

Both Cher and Barbra Streisand are hosting fund-raisers for Hillary Clinton.  This one is absolutely true.

Cher never tours anymore so we must see Streisand and the ticket is très chère.

I have seen Elton John several times.  He is a good showman and always has high energy.

It is probably not a good idea to brag at work about how drunk you get sometimes.

It is not good to get drunk at a work outing because a coworker may take a video with her cell phone.

It is also bad if you get drunk and say uncomplimentary things about your boss on the video.  You never know if the person with the video will post it on Facebook or YouTube — or even email it to the boss.

No, not me.  I’m too busy to go to work outings.

My car has a video screen which is good for the back up camera.  Of course, the camera is not very helpful when drops of water are on the tiny lens.

With a backup camera, I might be able to avoid scratching up the tires and hub caps on the curbs as I have done so much in the past.  Soon cars will drive themselves anyway.

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My car has 25 preset buttons (touch screen) for the AM and FM radio.  There are that many radio stations in the metro Chicago area, but certainly not that many that I like.  If you touch the screen too often while driving, the next time you start the car you will get a warning that touching the screen too often while driving could be dangerous.  Really?

I can link to my video screen by flash drive or Bluetooth.  I can download apps to my phone then plug it into the USB port so I can have the apps on-screen while I drive.  When the car sales rep explained all this to me I told him I thought it was a remarkably bad idea.

Cars are now about entertainment, just like phones.  I think my car should be about driving, at least for the driver.

The coffee I make at home and at work does not come out scalding hot.  Many fast food places still serve coffee so hot you can not drink it.

If I buy coffee at a drive-thru on the way to work I may not be able to drink it en route, and I have a long drive.

My favorites in the Olympics were the beach volleyball players and the British divers.  Do I need to explain that?

My quest to watch all of the James Bond films in order continues.