I certainly appreciated the thoughtful comment left yesterday by Howard Dicus. In case you missed it, he wrote:
Thanks for the comments, from you, Ian, and everyone. I did indeed simplify the opposition by describing the aesthetic opponents as people who don’t think elevated rail will look pretty. In the architectural community there is some at least partly justified angst about projects like the Minneapolis Skywalk and something smaller but similar in Arlington, Va. – I’ve walked both – which seemed like good ideas at the time but later were seen by some as removing people from street level to the detriment of the city. I’m ambiguous on this… for example, I think it would be swell if we could lower Nimitz at Aloha Tower so downtowners could walk to shops and restaurants at lunchtime without crossing traffic…
Did you catch the NY Times story this week about Hawaii’s renewable energy quest? After running through the different technological challenges, the story gives a nod to the substantial political challenges as well.
As in any state with a rural-urban divide, residents of Hawaii’s less populous outlying areas are wary about being pushed around by planners in Honolulu.
The outer islands have higher concentrations of Native Hawaiians who are well versed in a local history of exploitation, from the American overthrow of their monarch in 1893 to environmental costs of sugar plantations and tourism.
Some have formed groups like the Pele Defense Fund, which sprang up here in the 1980s to protect religious gathering rights in the rain forest on the Big Island. The fund seeks to prevent desecration of Pele, the native goddess of fire and volcanoes, and finds geothermal energy projects sacrilegious.
And the segment of the recent film about Hitler that has already provided lots of laughs got another makeover, this time dealing with Obama’s speech to students. Staff explain to Hitler that Obama will be telling students to study hard in school, think critically.
Hitler explodes in anger.
If they learn to read maps, they will learn to question the propaganda and then where will we be?
A staffer tries to say that education is important.
Hitler, furious: “It undermines everything we do!”
Funny, but scary.
And Jimmy Carter may have drawn the public attention with his observation on racism as the basis of much of the criticism of President Obama, but it seems he’s simply expressing what others are thinking and saying.
My old friend, Michael, a once-upon-a-time Texan now living in Hilo, pointed me to a column from his hometown newspaper, the Brownwood Bulletin, by Britt Towery.
Michael explains: “Mr. T is a former missionary. His father was a barber, who bought his supplies from my father.”
The overwhelming vehement opposition to our president giving a speech to our school kids was a most unexpected phenomenon to me. I don’t know much about how the Methodists, Presbyterians or Roman Catholics reacted to the proposed speech, but I have been flabbergasted (a real word and sick feeling) at the response of all kinds of Baptists in our land.
I don’t often read the views of those who disagree with the unhinged Christian right from within their own community, so this is a refreshing read, as is the short column from EthicsDaily.com it references.
That column, by Robert Parham, the director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, concludes:
Such unhinged anger toward and paranoia about President Obama make one ponder the truthfulness of the notion that the sins of the fathers are visited upon their sons.
Having fled to the suburbs after court-ordered desegregation to protect their white children from black children in public schools, do the sons and daughters of the conservative, white-flight parents want now to protect their children from a black president?
Did the generation of religious and political conservative white parents, who opposed civil rights and associated welfare programs with blacks, breed into their children the hatred that sees all government action as socialism?
Is that what this unhinged moment is really about—racism from generation to generation?
And in a follow-up column, Parham looks at the biblical history of scapegoating, tying it to those who blame Obama for a range of social ills.
Of course, scapegoating is not practiced solely in the house of God. Glenn Beck, Congressman Joe Wilson, the Birthers, the global warming deniers, the anti-reformers of health care and the anti-tax protesters bark their share of blame. They readily accuse others of being liars, liberals, socialists, environmentalists and Nazis, all enemies of their America.
Perhaps behind the blame game is the loss of the four cardinal virtues.
Writing in “Mere Christianity,” C.S. Lewis said that the word “cardinal” came from the Latin word that meant “the hinge of the door.” He identified these cardinal virtues as prudence or common sense; temperance or balance; justice or fairness; and fortitude or “guts” when things are tough.
A civil society swings on these four hinges. And right now, our society appears to be becoming unhinged.
Interesting and troubling times.