Saturday, September 27, 2014

Channels of Righteousness

Most modern religions are the result of claimed channeled material, which are thoughts believed to be outside a person's conscious mind, conveyed by a person who speaks for non-physical beings or spirits.

In the year 610 AD, the prophet Muhammad received a divine message from Allah to start a new religion. It would be called Islam.

A Muslim is an adherent to Islam. Sharia Law is the sacred law of Islam. Muslims believe Sharia is God's law. Sharia is derived from the divine revelations set forth in the Quran and by sayings of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad

Over the next 22 years, Muhammed spoke for the non-physical being called Allah and the Muslim empire overtook the Arabian Peninsula. After Muhammed's death, the Muslim empire continued to expand into Africa and Europe over the centuries.

The Taliban is an Islamic political movement in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere that believes in strict enforcement of Sharia Law. For example, women are forced to wear the burga in public, not allowed to be educated, not allowed to work and not allowed to be treated by male doctors, unless accompanied by a male chaperon. Women face public flogging or execution for violation of Taliban laws.

On April 13, 2009, two young lovers, ages 21 and 19, attempting to elope were shot to death by a firing squad during a public execution outside a mosque in southern Afghanistan. They had fled their village, planning to start a new life together. The Taliban put the young couple on trial for crimes against Islam and executed them shortly thereafter.

"It was a very bad thing for these people to escape from their homes without permission and it is right that they should be punished according to Sharia law," explained Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, spokesman for the Taliban.

On August 6, 2010, 10 members of a humanitarian medical team traveling in Badakhshan Province in northern Afghanistan were brutally murdered by the Taliban. The team included 6 Americans, 2 Afghans, a German and a Briton. Three of them were women.

Among the bullet-riddled bodies was team leader Tom Little, an optometrist from New York, who had been living in Afghanistan for 30 years, supervising a network of eye clinics around the country, funded by private donations, and providing humanitarian medical services to Afghans in remote villages.

They were killed because they "were spying for the Americans and preaching Christianity," according to Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban.

Welcome to Afghanistan -- a disorganized, corrupt country of scattered, self-righteous rednecks with AK-47s.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is another Mecca of self-righteous fanatics. The Supreme Leader of Iran is Grand Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamanenei. An Ayatollah is the same rank in the religion of Islam as a Bishop or Cardinal in Christianity. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, controls intelligence and security operations, and has the sole power to declare war or peace.

The President is the highest state authority. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians in order to ensure allegiance to the ideals of the Islam.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a 43-year-old mother of two named Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is in jail, awaiting to be stoned to death for having an "illicit" relationship. She has already received 99 lashes for the crime of "adultery while being married." In addition, 12 other women await execution by stoning.

Of course, Islamic extremism isn't the only example of vile acts perpetrated upon humanity by a religion.

The Roman Catholic Church, another religious organization that was created primarily based upon claimed channeled material of a non-physical being, went through an extended period called The Inquisition. This heinous practice spanned many centuries, including the Medieval Inquisition (1184-1230), the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834), the Portuguese Inquisition (1536-1821) and the Roman Inquisition (1542-1860). Many thousands of those found guilty of disobeying church edicts, called heretics, were systematically imprisoned, tortured or burned at the stake.

In ancient Mesoamerican civilizations (Aztec, Toltec, Mayan, Inca, etc.), human sacrifice was part of their religious culture. By sacrificing the life of a human being to one of their non-physical spirit beings, it allowed life to continue. The more important the request of the non-physical spirit being, the more thorough or plentiful the human sacrifice.

It is astonishing how far some people will go to please or "obey" their non-physical spirit masters. I know a couple who believe that if you are not a member of their specific denomination of their specific religion, you will for certain spend the remainder of eternity in hell. But if you are one of their narrow flock, you will spend eternity in a heavenly place.

Unfortunately, too many people worship the messenger and disregard the message. Perhaps instead of swearing obedience to non-physical spirit beings, it would be wiser to simply treat others as you wish to be treated -- with respect, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness and love.

While burning heretics at the stake and sacrificing virgins has disappeared from the scene, certain Islamic extremists continue to retain the personal obligation to kill any human being who does not follow the commandments of their non-physical spirit being.

Over the years, many Muslims gradually adapted to the Western ways, but others yearned for the rigid laws of the Quran. Hassan Al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1920s, predecessor to modern day Hamas and Al Qaeda, which reverted back to the strict teachings of Muhammad. The radicals felt Allah was angry with Muslims for straying from their true religious path. They perceived the Western influence to be a prison of the true believers, a punishment by Allah for betraying their religion.

The Muslim Brotherhood soon formed armed cells that attacked the "secular" government and its supporters. Today, this organization has hundreds of branches in over 70 countries worldwide. In the 1950s and 1960s, Sayyid Qutb of the Muslim Brotherhood invoked Jihad, a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty. Their goal is to create a worldwide Islamic paradise, eliminating every "non-believer" as their means to an end.

"The very purpose of this movement is to set human beings free from the yoke of human enslavement and make them serve the One and Only God." Sayyid Quth (Muslim Brotherhood).

However, slaughtering people in order to create a paradise is sort of like humping for virginity.

Today, innocent people are in a war not of their choosing. Islamic extremists are attempting to exterminate anyone who does not adhere to their self-righteous interpretation of ancient channeled material, including beheading innocent news reporters and aid workers in 2014, and posting videos of the beheadings on social media to make their point.

Studies by Harvard psychologist Martha Stout, Ph.D., reveal that about four percent of the population has a sociopathic personality disorder.

In other words, one out of every 25 people is a potential psychopath – a person with no sense of concern for the well-being of others and no feelings of remorse, regardless of what sort of harmful or immoral action they undertake. A psychopath is able to lie, steal, cheat and kill with no feelings of sorrow or regret. Sometimes their only motive is the thrill of inflicting pain.

The population of Planet Earth is approaching 7 billion. If 4 percent the earthly humans are psychopaths, then there are 280 million psychopaths walking among us. And some of them enjoy perpetrating their evil for all to see.

The slaughter of non-believers by Islamic extremists is an ugly reality. Perhaps they are simply psychopaths who have gathered with other psychopaths in a global Death Cult. Perhaps the religious affiliation is simply an excuse to inflict evil acts onto others to satisfy their psychopathic passion.

Life is never perfect and always perfect -- both at the same time.

Our mission in life is to discover the perfection of the imperfect world in which we find ourselves and to contribute to the goodness that struggles against evil.

It's an existence of joy and suffering meant to test individual righteousness and cleanse the soul.

Quote for the Day – “There is no calamity greater than lightly engaging in war.” Lao Tzu

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a couple of dogs and endeavors to carry out his mission in life.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Luckiest Group of People Alive

Robbnsdale, Minnesota, is a suburb of Minneapolis. Robbinsdale High School had students from various NW suburbs -- Brooklyn Center, Crystal, Golden Valley, Plymouth, New Hope and Robbinsdale.

It's where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average -- or maybe that was Lake Wobegon and we were just a slew of regular humanoids.

I graduated from Robbinsdale, Minnesota, High School in 1962.

Looking back on it, 1962 was a very special slice of time. It always seemed to me that those who graduated from high school prior to our class were from a completely different generation. They were the leftover innocence of the 1950s with an optimistic outlook on life, secure in the notion that their government would always properly nurture them and everything would be perfect as soon as all the communists who threatened our decent way of life had been expunged. The class of 1961 reminded me of a Norman Rockwell painting where life seemed wholesome, sweet and purposeful.

My brother was a freshman (Class of 1965) when I was a senior. By the time his class graduated they had long hair, smoked weed and were exceedingly rebellious. Vietnam was the news of the day. Sides were being drawn across the nation between those who wanted to blow the communists back to the Stone Age and those who wanted to get on with their lives without being required to kill residents of a foreign land.

Somewhere in between was the class of 1962. We were the early ones caught up in the Vietnam Conflict.  They called it a conflict because they didn’t want to give citizens the impression it was risky. President Kennedy sent the first large contingent of regular US troops to Vietnam in an attempt to stimulate the economy. There’s nothing like a good war to get that military-industrial economic ball rolling.

U.S. Troop Levels in Vietnam

1961 -- 900
1962 -- 3,200
1962 -- 11,300
1963 -- 16,300
1964 -- 23,300
1965 -- 184.300
1966 -- 385,300
1967 -- 485,600
1968 -- 536,100
1969 -- 475,200
1970 -- 334,600
1971 -- 156,800
1972 -- 24,200

I was drafted in April of 1966.

Seven other Robbinsdale High School graduates were also in my basic training company at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, including Eric Fermstad and Dave Lamey from the class of 1962.

After basic training, I became a data processing analyst at Third Army Headquarters in Atlanta, Fermstad became an MP at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, where he only issued traffic violations to officers and Lamey was sent to Vietnam as a grunt where he helped bring the conflict to a draw.

Many of us who lived through the Vietnam years grew to distrust our government. It’s one of the great dividing lines between generations of Americans. It started with the class of 1962 and probably lasted about 10 years before the government found other ways to divide the population so they could have more excuses for their expansive existence and continual interference in our lives.

But the scars will always be with us. Vietnam was a turning point in our country’s history and the class of 1962 was at the head of the learning curve. We learned that war was extremely costly, probably unnecessary and downright stupid if it didn’t involve a just cause. Older generations tended to consider us to be a bunch of draft-dodging losers and younger generations think of us as a group of murderous thugs.

On the other hand, the class of 1962 is the luckiest group of people alive.

We all became teen-agers at the exact same time rock-and-roll came into existence. You can’t beat that for timing. We were the first generation to have television in our youth, and now have personal computers and I-Phones when we are at an age where we can make good use of them. And in all probability, we will be that last group of folks who will benefit from social security as a whole mob of baby boomers are coming up behind us to saturate the system.

All in all, life has been good to us.

Quote for the Day -- “Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.” Garrison Keillor

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a couple of dogs, and has fond memories of Minnesota and the Class of 1962, from a southerly distance.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Law of Life

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past are certain to prolong reaching the future.

I remember my fourth grade teacher giving us a glimpse of the future. We were told that things would be so modernized when we grew up that we would have much more free time on our hands than our parents.

My father, like almost everyone else in the 1950’s, was working 40 hours a week. My mother was being a 1950’s mother, staying at home to take care of the family. I was relieved to learn that I wouldn’t have to put in that many hours when I was my parent’s age.

But it never came true.

More than a half century later, Americans are still stuck in the rut of a 40-hour workweek. In fact, Americans now average more hours per week than they did fifty years ago and have less vacation time than any other industrial nation in the world. And in many cases, both parents are forced to work just to stay even.

The average American family pays more in taxes than food, clothing, shelter and transportation combined. Either we are incapable of being personally responsible for our own welfare or government has gotten vastly out of control.

Nearly 50 percent of our income goes to government. This includes federal & state income tax, social security tax, Medicare tax, real estate property tax, personal property tax, state & county & city sales tax, self-employment tax, gasoline tax, liquor tax, cigarette tax, federal excise tax, import tax, luxury tax, gift tax, inheritance tax, hotel tax, transportation tax, federal & state & county telephone tax, etc., etc.

We’re stuck at 40 hours per week of labor with nearly 20 of those hours going to government coffers.

This is insane.

Instead of finding a rational solution to this tedious work load, the federal government keeps churning away trying to find new ways to fit everyone into a 40-hour per week job to keep the giant economic engine going. They are stuck with a 1950s model of the way things ought to be, rather than figuring out ways to lesson the tax burden on the people and lower government spending.

The government assumes the solution to unemployment is to create more jobs into a full-time 40-hour week paradigm. Instead, it would make much more sense to be flexible with the 40-hour per week system. If the work week was shorter, more people would have jobs, creating the same amount of output.

For example, if you have 80 people working and 20 people on unemployment at a 40-hour week, you have an output of 3,200 man-hours of production. But if you reduced the work week to 32 hours, all 100 people would still create 3,200 man-hours of production per week. Flexibility of hours allows everyone to work and shortens the hours, without any loss of productivity.

An even more radical solution is a 3-day work week of 9-hour days. This would allow half of the work force to work 27 hours for 3 days and the other half to work 27 hours the next 3 days. This would increase overall output from a 40-hour week of productivity to a 54-hour per week productivity, whereby we would actually produce more while working less individual hours, plus there would be “jobs” for twice as many people as before.

Nobody, with the possible exception of Hugh Hefner, goes to their grave wishing they had spent more time working at their job. Recent surveys show that most Americans don’t really like their jobs. They’re working jobs they hate in order to buy things they don’t need, and half of what they earn is confiscated from them for various dubious government adventures that are overly costly and almost always include unintended adverse consequences.

A prime example of the wastefulness and sheer ignorance of consequences of the federal government was the Cash for Clunkers program in the early days of the Obama administration, which they naturally claim was a smashing success.

A clunker that travels 12,000 miles a year at 15 mpg uses 800 gallons of gas a year. A vehicle that travels 12,000 miles a year at 25 mpg uses 480 gallons a year. Thus, the average Cash for Clunkers transaction will reduce US gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per year. They claim 700,000 vehicles were involved so that's 224 million gallons saved per year, which equals about 5 million barrels of oil. And 5 million barrels of oil at $70 per barrel costs about $350 million dollars. Therefore, the government used $3 billion of our tax dollars to save $350 million, which amounts to costing $8.57 for every dollar saved.

This is the same government that creates a penny at a cost of 1.7 cents per penny.

And everyone keeps grinding away, 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year, pouring money down a rat hole, while their inefficient central government is having endless meetings trying to think of ways to create more 40-hour per week jobs.

If we reduce the workweek, more people will have jobs. Plus, everyone will have more free time, which in turn will create more job opportunities in various travel, recreational, vacation, entertainment, hobby, crafts, art, and environmental sectors.

Instead of trying to maintain a 1950s model of existence, we should endeavor to improve our quality of life. We need to work less and enjoy life more. As predicted, everything has been modernized. My fourth grade teacher would be amazed -- electronics, robotics, improved vehicles, computers, Internet, satellite communications, i-pods, e-mail, cell phones, laser technology, medical advances, etc.

A rigid 40-hour workweek contributes to the “unemployment” problem, not the lack of jobs. A shorter workweek is the solution, not creating more tasks for people to do. Flexibility and adaptability is the key, not trying to fit the modern world into the distant past.

The wasteful, ever-growing federal government intrusion in the economy is beyond the scope of their function and will only make matters worse. Their task is to ensure a level playing field, protect individual rights, maintain a common infrastructure and allow the freedom of the marketplace to flourish on its own. It is not within their purview to define or maintain or manipulate or manage the private jobs of private citizens.

An administration that attempts to solve the over-spending of the past by excessively over-spending even more in the present and the future is not to be trusted with the economy, or anything else.

Plunging the nation into unprecedented debt may be the governmental prescription for keeping its citizens enslaved into working full-time forever, but it’s not much fun for the slaves.

The USA is based on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have a long history of sacrificing lives to maintain our individual freedom. Yet, we are being treated like cogs within a monolithic, socialistic central government machine.

Planet Earth is slowly becoming a prison planet. And if we stay the course, it will culminate in a monolithic, socialistic one-world government.

The struggle for freedom never ends.

Instead to rallying for more jobs, we should be rallying for less work and more freedom.

Quote for the Day -- “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Thomas Jefferson

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a couple of dogs and where modernization includes such luxuries as electricity and indoor plumbing.