OPINION: Letters - March 16
March 16th, 2017 | Staff Report
A culture of conflict is not eliminated by more conflict
It is difficult for a fish to appreciate the water within which it swims or the bird, the air that lifts its wings, or man the culture within which he navigates.
We live in a society of increasing complexity in all imaginable dimensions, but have given little thought as to how we have arrived here. How have we been able to build roads, buy real estate, safely attend our places of worship or solve?legal disputes??Society requires justice, as manifested in laws, brought into being by our elected representatives, clarified by our judiciary, and implemented by our courts and law enforcement. Civil infrastructure and institutions have been fostered by a commensurate evolution of justice, conceptually and?in practice, to meet the needs of this rising complexity?
We can look out over the current social landscape and be quite confused by what we see and feel. Imagine a landscape, not of wilderness but of gardens, that holds great promise. Each year the ground is tilled, planted, weeded, and ultimately harvested. Our view of this landscape changes with?the seasons. I suppose the weeds, worms, and other small critters are disturbed when the soil is turned over in the spring, but the wise gardener knows that things will change. Could we be in a time when the soil is being fertilized with the decay of antiquated and outmoded approaches to governance? Could it be that the soil is being turned over in preparation for seeds of awareness that will redefine basic human relations that in turn will significantly redefine our institutions??Reflect for a moment on the last thousand years of social advancement.
We stand on the foundation of institutions built upon a framework of competition and adversarial relationships.?This may have been necessary to pull humanity out of the mud of immaturity but the increasingly divisive language of recent history has shed brighter light on the natural outcome of outmoded practices and their underlying assumptions.?Political processes, not unlike other processes in life, should not remain unaffected by the powers of the human spirit and the increasing maturity that involves. We stand at the threshold of collective maturity, and awareness of the oneness of humanity has become the new foundation altering the very structure of society.?As long as we?identify the problem in our communities?as the "others," such as the immigrant, the Jew, the Muslim, the Hispanic, the Republican or the Democrat, we relieve ourselves from the personal responsibility that this process of change requires.
Past practices and beliefs lack the power to affect change in an ever-evolving civilization. An apparently simple notion of the oneness of humanity holds within it a rather revolutionary notion that power now lies with humanity as a body,?whereas historically it has been held by individuals or groups. A simple example could be how the human body functions in perfect harmony yet each limb or organ has unique responsibilities. This is the time to expand our concept and practice of justice so that all members of the body are included.
This is not a plea for some romantic utopian vision, but rather an attempt to foster a vision of a path toward a society where we share with our neighbors, we serve our community, and we support the growth of our institutions. This a plea to respond and not to react. A culture of conflict is not eliminated by more conflict nor does it change by waiting for someone else to do the work.
Heads up about an unintended consequence of the travel ban
Our business is already seeing a decline in bookings because of the executive order creating a travel ban for certain peoples. We have lost spring business, which is very important to the success of our year, because travelers from Mexico and Canada were unsure about what to expect in the U.S., and unwilling to put up with possible disruptions in their itineraries. They canceled their trips.
People we have worked with for many years, who are from countries not on the travel ban list, such as Canada, are experiencing long delays, increased scrutiny, and what seems to be general security harassment in airports.
Word gets around. People at the recent council meeting were upset by the thought of a Homer boycott because of the inclusivity resolution. What about a boycott of the U.S. in general? Alaska is, as you know, part of the U.S., and we are already seeing negative effects because of the travel ban.
The tourists that visit us here are going to be Alaskan ambassadors in their own countries. They will review their experience, and encourage friends to come here in the future. We depend on them, and enjoy their presence in the community (mostly). Let's make them welcome. Call our legislators and tell them you are concerned by the negative effects the travel ban is having, and will continue to have, on our tourism industry.
City council should do away with invocations
I urge the Kenai Peninsula Assembly to vote yes on ordinance 2017-02 to repeal invocations before assembly meetings. The invocation policy is divisive in our community, a waste of borough time and taxpayer dollars. More importantly, it discriminates against borough residents. Unless of course you are on the list of?"approved" religious associations.
If the intent of an invocation is to accommodate the spiritual needs of the public officials (not the public), perhaps assembly members spiritual needs could be met elsewhere (at your church, temple, synagogue, mosque or in nature). As assembly President Kelly Cooper stated, "even Jesus would not qualify to give invocations under this policy."
The borough has important issues to address, most importantly funding borough services without raising taxes. Already $50,000 has been allocated to defend a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska. Win or lose, it will cost taxpayers a lot of money and continue to be a contentious issue.
Please focus on your responsibility as elected officials to deal with roads, landfills, emergency services, schools and hospitals. Not be the arbiters of religious speech.