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pearls

when the swine overwhelm, retreat into the wisdom of these words

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

"Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough." ~William Saroyan

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.

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They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening.

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Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.


~George Orwell

Sunday, August 28, 2005

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A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

-Albert Einstein

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Lord, remember not only the men of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember rather the fruits we have brought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have bourne be their forgiveness.

(Source: Found on a scrap of paper at the liberation of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp in Germany)

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Prayer to Give Aid

May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need.

(-Buddhist)

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Let us know peace.
For as long as the moon shall rise,
For as long as the rivers shall flow,
For as long as the sun will shine,
For as long as the grass shall grow,
Let us know peace.

(-Native American)

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Dear Lord, in these troubled times make your presence known to all the peoples around the world so that they may see peace as the only way to salvation. Replace the anger and violence in our hearts with joy and tranquility and help us to seek the good in everyone. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayers. Amen.

(-Nondenominational Christian)

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We pray for all of humanity to one day feel the pulse of the Mother Earth in their feet as they tread. We pray for peace, acceptance, and tolerance for all who express their love for the higher power (whatever that name may be). Most of all, we pray for an end to the violence and depravity that darkens many souls. Peace be with us all.

(-Pagan)

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Military Prayer

God of compassion,
we pray for military personnel,
offered for the sake of others,
and separated from family and loved ones.
Care for them; meet their needs.
Grant them courage, compassion, strength,
and all they need for the living of these days.
Sustain them through their every trial.
Remind them of the humanity they share
even with those who are called "the enemy". Amen.

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Unhappy, let alone angry, religious people provide more persuasive arguments for atheism and secularism than do all the arguments of atheists.

-Dennis Prager

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Love is stronger than death.
So, I must be content to know that
love is not affected by death-
it doesn’t end, it doesn’t diminish,
it doesn’t change.
Instead, love is immortalized
and eternalized through death.
And the possibility of that love ever
being damaged or broken
is eliminated forever.
I'll put my trust in love.

(-Multifaith)


A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.

-Aristotle

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If I were going to convert to any religion I would probably choose Catholicism because it at least has female saints and the Virgin Mary.

-Margaret Atwood

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The problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes.

-Dave Barry

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Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.

Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.

-Napoleon Bonaparte

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Existentialism is about being a saint without God; being your own hero, without all the sanction and support of religion or society.

-Anita Brookner

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Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

-Charlotte Bronte

Saturday, August 27, 2005

"That's not really a number I'm terribly interested in." ~General Colin Powell, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, on being asked his assessment of Iraqi military and civilian casualties, April 1991

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In the eyes of empire builders men are not men but instruments. ~Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor (1769-1821)

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No government which governs by the use of force can survive except by force. There is no going back because force begets force and the perpetrators of crimes live in fear that they might become victims in their turn." ~Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo - Reconciliation Speech of 24/2/99 at St Mary's Cathedral Hall, Sydney, NSW

Monday, August 22, 2005

"As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless." ~U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 - (letter to Col. William F. Elkins) - Ref: The Lincoln Encyclopedia, Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan, 1950, NY)

When someone is driven by love in any way, he or she is driven by Christ. Whoever has love, has the love of God, even if he or she does not confess Christ in words. There is a hidden Christ; he is much too great to be confined by human thought. ~Eberhard Arnold

Saturday, August 20, 2005

It was on this day in 1862 that the newly formed National Labor Union called upon Congress for the first time to establish the eight-hour work day. The United States had been a country mostly of farmers until the early 1800's, and farmers based their working hours on the season, and the number of hours of sunlight they had each day. It was only after American workers began moving to the cities to take factory jobs that they began to demand more regulated working schedules. Many workers were forced to work between ten and sixteen hours a day, six days a week, with no paid holidays or vacations.

The slogan for the movement to get an 8-hour workday was "8 Hours Labor, 8 Hours Recreation, 8 Hours Rest." There were huge demonstrations and labor strikes throughout the 1870s and the 1880s in support of the eight hour workday. 100,000 workers went on strike in New York City to get the eight hour workday in 1872. In 1886, 80,000 people marched down Michigan Avenue in support of the eight hour workday in Chicago. That same year, 350,000 workers went on strike nationwide in support of the same cause. But after a strike led to violence at the McCormick Reaper Manufacturing Company, and the subsequent Haymarket Square Riot, the government chose to suppress labor activism, rounding up labor leaders and arresting them.

It wasn't a labor leader who helped bring the eight-hour work day into the mainstream. It was Henry Ford. When most other factory owners had their employees working more than fifty hours a week, Henry Ford mandated that his employees work only five eight-hour days a week, because he believed that employees with a little time on their hands would be better consumers, and therefore better for business.

The eight-hour workday didn't become federal law until 1933, when Congress enacted the National Industrial Recovery Act, which provided for the establishment of maximum hours, minimum wages, and the right to collective bargaining. Then, with the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, American workers were guaranteed overtime pay for hours worked above 40 per week.

At the time those laws were passed, most sociologists predicted that Americans would work steadily fewer and fewer hours. But in fact, the opposite has happened. Today, more than 25 million Americans work more than 49 hours each week. And 11 million spend 60 hours or more at work each week. Americans also take fewer vacation days than employees in any other industrialized nation.


http://mail.publicradio.org/site/R?i=Syt7pwnV7LdUbsgG9NFxMA..



Friday, August 19, 2005

The pioneers of a warless world are the youth that refuse military service. ~Albert Einstein

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Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Unfortunately, in seeing ourselves as we truly are, not all that we see is beautiful and attractive. This is undoubtedly part of the reason we flee silence. We do not want to be confronted with our hypocrisy, our phoniness. We see how false and fragile is the false self we project. We have to go through this painful experience to come to our true self.

It is a harrowing journey, a death to self—the false self—and no one wants to die. But it is the only path to life, to freedom, to peace, to true love. And it begins with silence. We cannot give ourselves in love if we do not know and possess ourselves. This is the great value of silence. It is the pathway to all we truly want.


~M. Basil Pennington

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Letter From an Iraq Vet

by Sgt. John Bruhns

[Following is a letter by Army Sgt. John Bruhns, excerpts of which were read on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) on July 19, 2005.]

I am a concerned veteran of the Iraq war. I am not an expert on the vast and wide range of issues throughout the political spectrum, but I can offer some firsthand experience of the war in Iraq through the eyes of a soldier. My view of the situation in Iraq will differ from what the American people are being told by the Bush administration. The purpose of this message is to voice my concern that we were misled into war and continue to be misled about the situation in Iraq every day. My opinions on this matter come from what I witnessed in Iraq personally.

George Bush and his political advisors have been successful in presenting a false image to the American people, that Saddam Hussein was an "imminent" threat to the security of the United States. We were told that there was overwhelming evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed a massive WMD program, and some members of the Bush administration even hinted that Saddam may have been involved in the 9/11 attacks.

We now know most of the information given to us by the current administration concerning Iraq, if not all the information, was false. This was information given to the American people to justify a war. The information about weapons of mass destruction and a link to Osama bin Laden scared the American people into supporting the war in Iraq. They presented an atmosphere of intimidation that suggested if we did not act immediately there was the possibility of another attack. Bush said himself that we do not want the proof or the smoking gun to come in the form of a "mushroom cloud." Donald Rumsfeld said, "We know where the weapons are."

After 9/11, comments like these proved to be a successful scare tactic to use on the American people to rally support for the invasion. Members of the Bush administration created an image of "wine and roses" in terms of the aftermath of the war. Vice President Dick Cheney said American troops would be greeted as "liberators." And there was a false perception created that we would go into Iraq and implement a democratic government and it would be over sooner rather than later. The White House also expressed confidence that the alleged WMD program would be found once we invaded.

I participated in the invasion, stayed in Iraq for a year afterward, and what I witnessed was the total opposite of what President Bush and his administration stated to the American people.

The invasion was very confusing, and so was the period of time I spent in Iraq afterward. At first it did seem as if some of the Iraqi people were happy to be rid of Saddam Hussein. But that was only for a short period of time. Shortly after Saddam's regime fell, the Shiite Muslims in Iraq conducted a pilgrimage to Karbala, a pilgrimage prohibited by Saddam while he was in power. As I witnessed the Shiite pilgrimage, which was a new freedom that we provided to them, they used the pilgrimage to protest our presence in their country. I watched as they beat themselves over the head with sticks until they bled, and screamed at us in anger to leave their country. Some even carried signs that stated, "No Saddam, No America." These were people that Saddam oppressed; they were his enemies. To me, it seemed they hated us more than him.

At that moment I knew it was going to be a very long deployment. I realized that I was not being greeted as a liberator. I became overwhelmed with fear because I felt I never would be viewed that way by the Iraqi people. As a soldier this concerned me. Because if they did not view me as a liberator, then what did they view me as? I felt that they viewed me as foreign occupier of their land. That led me to believe very early on that I was going to have a fight on my hands.

During my year in Iraq I had many altercations with the so-called insurgency. I found the insurgency I saw to be quite different from the insurgency described to the American people by the Bush administration, the media, and other supporters of the war. There is no doubt in my mind there are foreigners from other surrounding countries in Iraq. Anyone in the Middle East who hates America now has the opportunity to kill Americans because there are roughly 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. But the bulk of the insurgency I faced was from the people of Iraq, who were attacking us as a reaction to what they felt was an occupation of their country.

I was engaged actively in urban combat in the Abu Ghraib area, west of Baghdad. Many of the people who were attacking me were the poor people of Iraq. They were definitely not members of al-Qaeda or leftover Ba'ath Party members, and they were not former members of Saddam's regime. They were just your average Iraqi civilians who wanted us out of their country.

On Oct. 31, 2003, the people of the Abu Ghraib area organized a large uprising against us. They launched a massive assault on our compound in the area. We were attacked with AK-47 machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. Thousands of people took to the streets to attack us. As the riot unfolded before my eyes, I realized these were just the people who lived there. There were men, women and children participating. Some of the Iraqi protesters were even carrying pictures of Saddam Hussein. My battalion fought back with everything we had and eventually shut down the uprising.

So while President Bush speaks of freedom and liberation of the Iraqi people, I find that his statements are not credible after witnessing events such as these. During the violence that day I felt so much fear throughout my entire body. I remember going home that night and praying to God, thanking him that I was still alive. A few months earlier President Bush made the statement "Bring it on" when referring to the attacks on Americans by the insurgency. To me, that felt like a personal invitation to the insurgents to attack me and my friends who desperately wanted to make it home alive.

I did my job well in Iraq. During the deployment, my superiors promoted me to the rank of sergeant. I was made a rifle team leader and was put in charge of other soldiers when we carried out missions.

My time as a team leader in Iraq was temporarily interrupted when I was sent to the "green zone" in Baghdad to train the Iraqi army. I was more than happy to do it because we were being told that in order for us to get out of Iraq completely the Iraqi military would have to be able to take over all security operations. The training of the Iraqi army became a huge concern of mine. During the time I trained them, their basic training was only one week long. We showed them some basic drill and ceremony such as marching and saluting. When it came time for weapons training, we gave each Iraqi recruit an AK-47 and just let them shoot it. They did not even have to qualify by hitting a target. All they had to do was pull the trigger. I was instructed by my superiors to stand directly behind them with caution while they were shooting just in case they tried to turn the weapon on us so we could stop them.

Once they graduated from basic training, the Iraqi soldiers, in a way, became part of our battalion, and we would take them on missions with us. But we never let them know where we were going, because we were afraid some of them might tip off the insurgency that we were coming and we would walk directly into an ambush. When they would get into formation prior to the missions we made them a part of, they would cover their faces so the people of their communities did not identify them as being affiliated with the American troops.

Not that long ago President Bush made a statement at Fort Bragg when he addressed the nation about the war in Iraq. He said we would "stand down" when the Iraqi military is ready to "stand up." My experience with the new Iraqi military tells me we won't be coming home for a long time if that's the case.

I left Iraq on Feb. 27, 2004, and I acknowledge a lot may have changed since then, but I find it hard to believe the Iraqi people are any happier now than they were when I was there. I remember the day I left there were hundreds of Iraqis in the streets outside the compound that I lived in. They watched as we moved out to the Baghdad Airport to finally go home. The Iraqis cheered, clapped and shouted with joy as we were leaving. As a soldier, that hurt me inside because I thought I was supposed to be fighting for their freedom. I saw many people die for that cause, but that is not how the Iraqi people looked at it. They viewed me as a foreign occupier and many of the people of Iraq may have even preferred Saddam to the American soldiers. I feel this way because of the consistent attacks on me and my fellow soldiers by the Iraqi people, who felt they were fighting for their homeland. To us the mission turned into a quest for survival.

I wish I could provide an answer to this mess. I wish I knew of a realistic way to get our troops home. But we are very limited in our options in my opinion. If we pull out immediately, it's likely the Iraqi security forces will not be able to provide stability on their own. In that event, the new Iraqi government could possibly be overthrown. The other option would be to reduce our troop numbers and have a gradual pullout. That is very risky because it seems that even with the current number of troops the violence still continues. With a significant troop reduction, there is a strong possibility the violence and attacks on U.S. and coalition forces could escalate and get even worse. In my opinion, that is more of a certainty.

And then there is the option that President Bush brings to the table, which is to "stay the course." That means more years of bloodshed and a lot more lives to be lost. Also, it will aggravate the growing opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq throughout the region, and that could very well recruit more extremists to join terror organizations that will infiltrate Iraq and kill more U.S. troops.

So it does not seem to me we have a realistic solution, and that frightens me. It has become very obvious that we have a serious dilemma that needs to be resolved as soon as possible to end the ongoing violence in Iraq. But how do we end it, is the question.

We must always support the troops. If there were a situation in which the United States is attacked again by a legitimate enemy, they are the people who are going to risk their lives to protect us and our freedom. In my opinion, the best way to support them now is to bring them home with the honor and respect they deserve.

In closing, I ask that we never forget why this war started. The Bush administration cried weapons of mass destruction and a link to al-Qaeda We know that this was false, and the Bush administration concedes it as well. As a soldier who fought in that war, I feel misled. I feel that I was sent off to fight for a cause that never existed. When I joined the military, I did so to defend the United States of America, not to be sent off to a part of the world to fight people who never attacked me or my country. Many have died as a result of this. The people who started this war need to start being honest with the American people and take responsibility for their actions. More than anything, they need to stop saying everything is rosy and create a solution to this problem they created.

Thank you for hearing me out. God bless our great nation, the United States of America.

It is never too late to give up our fears and prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true today may turn out to be falsehood tomorrow, mere smoke of opinion, which some had trusted for a cloud that would sprinkle rain on their fields. What other people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new.

~Henry David Thoreau

To live with the conscious knowledge of the shadow of uncertainty, with the knowledge that disaster or tragedy could strike at any time; to be afraid and to know and acknowledge your fear, and still to live creatively and with unstinting love: that is to live with grace.

~Peter Abrahams


What We Need by David Budbill

The Emperor,
his bullies
and henchmen
terrorize the world
every day,

which is why
every day

we need

a little poem
of kindness,

a small song
of peace

a brief moment
of joy.

Write on my gravestone: "Infidel, Traitor." --infidel to every church that compromises with wrong; traitor to every government that oppresses the people. ~Wendell Phillips

Annihilation itself is no death to evil. Only good where evil was, is evil dead. An evil thing must live with its evil until it chooses to be good. That alone is the slaying of evil.

~George Macdonald

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.
~Robert A. Heinlein

"Find out just what people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." ~Frederick Douglass, African-American slave, and later abolitionist.


"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do." ~Samuel P. Huntington

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. ~George Washington

All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it. ~Alexis de Tocqueville

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Our real enemies are the people who make us feel so good that we are slowly, but inexorably, pulled down into the quicksand of smugness and self-satisfaction. ~Sydney Harris

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Mourn not the dead that in the cool earth lie, but rather mourn the apathetic, throng the coward and the meek who see the world's great anguish and its wrong, and dare not speak. ~Ralph Chaplin

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Peace is more important than all justice; and was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace. ~Martin Luther

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People have not been horrified by war to a sufficient extent ... War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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I was a bombardier in WW 2. When you are up 30,000 feet you do not hear the screams or smell the blood or see those without limbs or eyes. It was not til I read Hersey's Hiroshima that I realized what bomber pilots do. ~Howard Zinn

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