Love Changes Everything (Part Seven)

This is the last in the series of, “Love Changes Everything” for now, but I’m sure to revisit the topic later on.  So far I’ve been discussing national issues but haven’t really discussed international issues and America’s relationship with the other countries of the world.  In recent years the concept of American Exceptionalism has become misunderstood by many people, because the meaning has been distorted by all of the political debate.  There is an excellent article in Wikipedia about American Exceptionalism for anyone who is looking for a detailed historical review of the subject.  These days conservatives would have us think that America is somehow better than other countries around the world and that we can do no wrong; while liberals would rather have us believe that America is no better or worse than any other country around the world – no matter the facts or the issues involved.  The reality is that the concept of American Exceptionalism refers more to our values than anything else.

From the very beginning, the great American experiment was unique in almost every way – a new land on a new continent, founded by immigrants in the first successful modern democracy under a Constitution of equality and freedom given to us by God.  Everything about America was new and rooted in the values of equality and freedom while acknowledging our divine origins.  We were indeed an experiment in such a very unique and wonderful setting that the same combinations could never again be assembled in such a fresh and original way.  So in more than one way the very existence of our nation validates and proves that equality and freedom can work in a world where the individual is often not valued or respected in some other countries around the world.

We have also made mistakes along the way as a nation in many different areas, such as the treatment of African-Americans, Native Americans, the treatment of women and the environment just to mention a few.  What is important is that we have learned as a people and as a nation – and continue to attempt to right wrongs that have deep historical roots going back into the very history of civilization. It is our pursuit of noble values and ideals that have given flesh to the concept of American Exceptionalism, through our unwavering support for freedom and democratic values, the importance and value of the individual and our belief in a divine origin – that has given us a unique responsibility for keeping the flame of freedom burning brightly around the world – despite being confronted at times by an overwhelming shadow of darkness.

I talked with a man from Africa a few months ago who was a very experienced airline and military pilot, who in his lifetime had experienced the different styles of both communist and western democratic political systems.  He was very concerned that America was starting to lose its leadership role in the world and that our support for democratic values around the world was on the verge of slipping away for good.  He almost begged me to reassure him that this wasn’t happening, because he was afraid for everyone’s future if America was someday no longer a voice and defender of democracy and freedom around the world.  He didn’t want to face a future world where America wasn’t the steady defender of free people everywhere because of our values, our words, our beliefs – and because of our selfless defense of these noble rights that have enabled so many Peoples around the world to live in liberty.  I think he thought that if America’s support ever slipped away then freedom and democracy would quickly unravel for everyone.

American Exceptionalism is about how our country has stood up against sometimes impossible odds to defend life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness around the world.  One need only do a quick review of the 20th Century to see how America spent her treasure and shed the very blood of her best and brightest youth to face down the forces of evil – totalitarianism, fascism and communism – as they attempted to crush the spirit of freedom, liberty and democracy around the world, and will always remain as a potential treat in the future.  In spite of her selfless defense of the noble values that lift up the nature of mankind to its highest levels, many nations and people around the world have forgotten so very quickly how America has helped save the world from a future of darkness and misery on multiple occasions in her history.

When I first arrived in Germany in the fall of 1983, Europe was an entirely different landscape that was deeply entrenched in the Cold War.  As a result of the selfless efforts of NATO, politicians, civilians and religious leaders; the Cold War was brought to a peaceful end and Europe emerged as the free and democratic European Union that it is today.  It has been the concept of American Exceptionalism throughout our history that has allowed us the ability to freely defend other countries and lands overseas, far away from our continent of North America for the purpose of defending freedom and democracy around the world.  Yet, for all of America’s  blood and treasure that she has committed to defending freedom around the world, America often endures the criticism and forgetfulness of some who deny our country’s selfless role in helping to liberate oppressed Peoples around the world without holding terrain or establishing an empire.

So what does the future hold for America and the many like-minded countries that seek to preserve freedom and democracy around the world?  I believe that freedom and democracy can only be maintained in the future through a strong network of overlapping Intergovernmental Organizations, where nations organize in cooperative regional organizations to address specific regional, cultural and cooperative approaches to solving the problems of today and into the future.  Wikipedia has an article titled, “List of intergovernmental organizations” that details many of today’s regional organizations around the world, such as: the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Nordic Council, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the African Union, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Commonwealth of Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement and the World Organization for Animal Health.  These are just a handful of the many Intergovernmental Organizations that have been established around the world for cooperation between nations.

Why are Intergovernmental Organizations the key to the future of world peace and democracy for our world?  In the past there was little direct knowledge of distant lands around the world and their people – everything far away from the familiar was a nebulous world of mystery and exotic languages, animals and images – recalling the old phrase, “deepest, darkest Africa.”  Tales emerged from explorers of new continents, lands and people that were simply unbelievable to the established, “civilized world” of their day.  Today the world is becoming a very small and intimate place, where people can communicate with each other instantly around the entire world through the internet and via telecommunications.  Yet there are still dictators and tyrants that attempt to keep their people uninformed and in the dark about the rest of the world and deny them their freedom.  This is the darkness in our world that must never be allowed to spread.

World-wide communication brings information to people, which leads to understanding, which leads to familiarity, which leads to economic trade and cooperation, which leads to travel and cultural exchange, which leads to friendship, which leads to sharing ideas, which leads to common and shared bonds, which leads to – Love.  It is only when people see the people of the entire world as their own sisters and brothers – a.k.a to, “have skin in the game” – that real peace can be established.  The more contact and cooperation that the people of one country have with another, the lesser the possibility of future conflict between them – and at a certain point conflict becomes literally an impossibility.  That is the path we should all travel down, the path of familiarity and friendship that leads to – Love.

The United States has always had a strong independent streak of self-reliance and the undying notion that as a nation it can accomplish anything given the resources and willpower to commit to accomplishing it – such as putting men on the Moon or helping to liberate Europe twice during the 20th Century.  It has been this concept of American Exceptionalism that has given our country the courage and willpower to be a beacon of freedom, liberty and democracy around the world throughout our nation’s history.  The future needs both of these qualities in our country still today – the spirit of independent minded American Exceptionalism – however the world is a very different place today as we all head into an uncertain future together.

Terrorism combined with political and ideological propaganda are today’s very real opponents, and will become even more so as the future unfolds.  World-wide travel, instant communications, international wire transfers and harmful electronic viruses all allow people, countries and organizations to harm any country in the world at a moment’s notice – almost at will.  If democratic countries are to hold back this threat to the very existence of freedom and liberty in the world, all of the free Peoples of the world need to be united within a framework of  close cooperative efforts around the world.  It will be through Intergovernmental Organizations cooperating in a united front – while at the same time confronting malicious ideological propaganda within these organizations head-on at their source – that we will all be successful together in defeating terrorism and tomorrow’s emerging threats. 

The days of America rushing in to defend freedom and help liberate oppressed people have not necessarily come to an end, but the opponent is now often masked behind a vapor of hidden threats, malicious communications, electronic viruses, electronic wire transactions and ideological propaganda.  No longer is it always a single country that a threat can be identified with and a territory that has to be liberated or conquered.  This will require a cooperative effort of free Peoples everywhere in order to hold back the threat of darkness, which means the more we all love the people of the world – the more we will be able to care for and trust each other in a united effort to help ensure our combined defense, safety and security.  Because in the deepest analysis – it is literally love that leads to peace – and once we all take the middle road that leads to love we will find that Love Changes Everything.

Cheers & Love,


Love Changes Everything (Part Six)

To actually live the teachings of Christ: to love everyone including your enemies, to refuse to judge anyone and to protect life in every case and setting – is a difficult road to travel.  I had to truthfully examine all of my thoughts, actions and relationships as part of my decision to follow Christ, and had to extend the olive branch in a few cases without knowing if it would be received – it was – but regardless I had to act and I’m glad that I did.  People will always think what they want, but when you refuse to participate in the political mudslinging you are immediately suspect as one that may have been drinking the, “political Kool-Aid.”  Well I’ve been a black sheep all of my life, and I would rather let the light and truth of Christ guide my life than any popularity poll.  If I remain the last one standing on the side of love then I will – because in the end there is no other option for me and for my life.  The only true way to solve all of the world’s problems is Love – there is no other path to world peace.  

Life is always easier if you join the crowd at either end of the political spectrum, and treat politics as a contact sport slinging accusations like snow balls at the other side.  The problem with that tactic is that when you get down in the trenches and conduct a battle damage assessment, you discover that it is the very fabric of our society and nation that is torn and tattered from all the political clashes.  I’m old enough to remember all of the political battles along the way where both parties have played the politics of personal destruction against both candidates and presidents.   The path that I’d rather travel is one where we use love to look through the eyes of our fellow Americans and people around the world, and when we do we see that – Love Changes Everything.  Agreement and compromise must be crafted by the best people available in order to lead our nation and the world to peaceful and lasting solutions – not appeasement – to address the problems that we all face today.

I read a quote the other day that was  something along the lines of, “Treat everyone you meet every day as if it was the last day of their life – and you will make different decisions as to how you treat them, talk to them and assist them in whatever they need from you.”  I’ll go a step farther and say, “Treat every day as if it were YOUR last day alive, as if when midnight arrives you’ll die in your sleep.”  You would treat other people differently if you knew that this was your last day on Earth ahead of time.

Life is so short, and political bickering is so disruptive to the fabric of our society that these issues need to be approached from the very best rational perspectives with everyone having a seat at the table.  When the final decision is made as to the course the nation will follow, everyone needs to be able to shake hands and immediately roll up their sleeves and get to work – side by side.  Both sides in this political battle of wills have taken cheap shots at each other and resorted to using partisan approaches that only serve their own political interests – and we all need to just get to work and find the common ground and the middle road that runs through love to put our country on the right track towards the future.    

The issue of border security is a major topic today as people become more and more concerned about the flow of illegal and undocumented aliens crossing our borders.  Every sovereign nation has the right and responsibility to enforce their borders as a way to ensure the integrity of their country.  In the United States the draw of employment for foreign workers to fill jobs, for employers to hire illegal immigrants at low wages and for the government to turn a blind eye to the issue for decades; has turned what was always hidden in the shadows and thrust it into the glaring spotlight – as the economy and terrorism have both taken center stage today.  No country can accept an unlimited flow of undocumented workers – and who knows what else – crossing their borders without it becoming a national security and economic issue for the safety and survival of the nation.

The cost to the taxpayer for supporting illegal immigrants has become unbearable, as we have generously provided all types of benefits from medical care to in-state tuition for immigrants who are illegally in this country.  If we continue down this path our economic system will collapse under the weight of the social costs this imposes on the taxpayer, while at the same time curtail benefits and infrastructure improvements for our own citizens and deny them the opportunity to take the jobs that currently employ illegal immigrants.  The only effective way to deal with this problem is to first secure the borders to ensure the flow of illegal immigrants is stopped, and then solve the situation of what to do about the illegal immigrants that remain within our country.

The truth about illegal immigrants is that for the most part they only desire the opportunity for employment in this country and have become pawns between willing employers and lax government enforcement.  As a result, they remain in limbo within our country while trying to earn a living for their family here in the United States.  The decent and humane way to deal with this situation is to offer illegal immigrants an opportunity to identify themselves and register with the government.  If a background check confirms they have no criminal record, they can then pay a fine, learn English, register their children, and receive guest worker permit cards that allow them to remain in the United States for a period of time, say three years – and apply for a path towards citizenship.

Once this process is underway and the criminal elements are identified and deported, the country must then turn its attention to the issue of illegal drugs – both entering and within the United States.  Securing the border will have helped, but illegal drugs are only the symptom – not the cause.  The reason we have illegal drugs in our country is because there is a demand by our citizens to consume them – plain and simple.  If the demand went away the criminal involvement would cease, due to the lack of a profit motive.  The problem is that for all demand there will eventually be a source to satisfy that demand.  Prohibition didn’t work, and today the sale and use of alcohol is regulated by law – and the same for cigarettes – and both are highly taxed as a result.

The only workable solution as long as the demand exists, is to regulate the production, manufacture, sale, distribution and dispensing of these currently illegal drugs by the states and the federal government.  Drugs should be regulated by potency and at a certain cutoff become the realm of the medical community requiring a doctor’s prescription – just as other controlled narcotic drugs are today.  In this way the illegal element is removed, the production and manufacture can be controlled and the people who use these drugs can be under proper medical care and supervision – and the government can tax the entire process as a source of funding for drug treatment programs and for general revenue.  It’s not a perfect system but the drug activity is taking place within society anyway, and it’s better to tax and regulate it like alcohol, cigarettes and gambling – where allowed.

The same argument can be made concerning prostitution, which is also the result of a demand that prostitutes simply fill.  Prostitution is the symptom and the demand is the cause.  Like pornography – arguably the largest industry on the internet – it is demand that is the cause of the issue, and supply is the symptom.  For both prostitution and pornography the answer is the same – regulate the industries, provide medical care and treatment for prostitutes and porn workers, while taxing everything to provide treatment programs and general revenue.

The alternative to regulating and taxing these issues is that otherwise the country becomes a police state where building prisons is the only growing area of the economy.  Legalization takes these issues out of the realm of the shadow world of violence and illegal activities, while providing tax revenue to provide treatment programs, medical care and general revenues for the states and federal government.  Only an honest and fact based approach to our problems today will bring solutions, and if everyone sat down at the table and made an honest effort – we could provide workable solutions for our country and provide opportunity for everyone.  Only by taking the middle road of love together as a nation will we learn that – Love Changes Everything.



Love Changes Everything (Part Five)

This series looks at the challenging issues of our day, while attempting to find the middle road through love that leads to answers where everyone – liberals and conservatives alike – can find consensus and work together to solve the many problems that are facing our nation and the world today.  Here in Part Five we’ll review the traditional arguments that are used by many to challenge the right of homosexuals to marry: religion and traditional family values.

Gay marriage is most often challenged on the religious grounds that it is a sin against God, and runs counter to the teachings of all religious scripture.  As a Roman Catholic, I can only give my personal opinion concerning Christianity; and  I begin with the fact that we are all sinners who fall short every day of the standards that God has set for us.  Jesus taught us to love and forgive one another including our enemies, to treat others as we would have them treat us and not to judge others.  That’s a pretty tall order to fill, and I myself have a lot of, “house cleaning” of my own to do before worrying about how other people choose to live their lives.  If judgement is needed for any of us – me included – that’s God’s business alone.

As Christians, we are to mirror the love and grace of Jesus Christ to the world – which is more than I could ever do by myself – and I need God’s grace and love to be able to do it at all.  If I agree or disagree with gay marriage it doesn’t matter – the homosexual community is protected under the Constitution just like everyone else is.  For the record, the heterosexual marriage track record has been less than sterling in many cases and I expect that homosexual marriage will have the same experiences – because marriage is a bond between individuals that requires the best efforts of each partner working as a team in order to be successful.  So any two human beings will find it difficult to have a successful marriage no matter who they are.

The other argument often used against gay marriage is that society has a long tradition of allowing heterosexual marriage only, for the important purpose of bearing and raising children which stabilizes society and communities.  My response is that yes that’s correct – but society has an equally long tradition of war, murder, abuse, crime, prejudice and any countless number of other negative issues from the beginning of recorded history.  Tradition only means that another way wasn’t offered or attempted.

In places around the world where gay marriage has been allowed, their societies haven’t collapsed.  The track record for gay marriage is probably equally as good or poor there as it is with heterosexual marriage.  Clearly tradition alone is no reason to deny homosexuals the right to marry.  Religions clearly can set the rules for their faith and individual members within their own communities, but in a pluralistic democracy where not everyone holds their faith a church should first live the teachings of love and forgiveness – and use their actions rather than words to express their faith to the rest of the world.

Now we’ll look at the subject of marriage and children.  The truth is that any bad marriage is harmful to children, and any good marriage – where the two partners love, honor and respect each other – is always beneficial for children.  The fact that a marriage produces children or not is really immaterial to the subject of gay marriage, because many heterosexual marriages produce few children or none at all.  In a world where adoption is badly needed for all of the world’s unwanted children as it is, the expansion of marriage to the homosexual community to help adopt these children is more than justified.  Also, the chance that we can greatly reduce the number of abortions in this world by increasing the number of couples that are open to adoption is a potential blessing beyond measure.

Beyond religion and traditional family values, the final argument normally used to deny gay marriage is a long list of stereotypes commonly used against homosexuals in any or all cases when people look to criticize them and their sexuality.  The truth is that sexuality is a complex issue that medical science is only just now beginning to understand.  Scientists are learning that hormone levels during the normal course of fetal development are very instrumental in determining the child’s later sexual orientation, which is often known to the individual from a very young age.  Many people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community report that their sexual orientation has always been known to them.  Others find that with adulthood and self-awareness they are able to make decisions regarding their sexuality and sexual orientation that they were unable to express or understand at a younger age – due to a lack of information, knowledge and the general prejudice of society.

The greatest thing about the internet is the ability for people to have, “unfiltered” access to information and ideas from around the world at their fingertips wherever they are.  Before the internet existed, families and communities were able to deny access to many types and sources of information – especially sexual in nature – and teenagers and young adults were rarely able to research and understand the nature of their sexuality on their own.  All of that has changed with the internet, and unfortunately the internet is also a source of bad information as well – but the good outweighs the bad – which is why dictatorships still attempt to control the flow of information and ideas to their people, which always fails in the end.  People around the world will seek out information and knowledge wherever they can find it – and will also choose freedom – because it’s in our nature to know and to follow truth and freedom at all costs.

The world will not come to an end if children learn about sexuality in school or if homosexuals are legally able to marry.  Despite the flamboyant media images and stereotypes, the typical homosexual couple is in a long-term committed relationship and is as much a part of the community as you or me.  Children will find ways to learn about and explore their sexuality no matter if they are raised in a homosexual or heterosexual household – and they are always protected by law from any type of abuse by anyone – gay or straight.  The bonus to growing up in a homosexual household may just be that they will learn more about tolerance than they might otherwise experience.

After 24 years of being in a, “traditional” heterosexual marriage – I don’t find that gay marriage will have any affect on my marriage at all.  My wife and I were married in Germany, and were first married in a civil ceremony much like a Justice of the Peace would conduct, because it was the law in Germany.  A few hours later we were married by a kindly Baptist minister on Spangdahlem Air Base, because I was Protestant at the time.  In 1998 when I converted to Roman Catholicism, my wife and I were married for a third time in a simple ceremony in the Roman Catholic Church.

So my personal opinion is that all marriages – homosexual or heterosexual – should be required to first have a civil marriage ceremony that provides for all the legal benefits of marriage, followed by any religious ceremony at the discretion and choosing of the couple and their faith as they desire.  Once we start to look at the major issues of the day through other people’s eyes, we can see that in all cases – Love Changes Everything.



Love Changes Everything (Part Four)

Today we’ll look at the contentious issue of what is commonly referred to as, “gay marriage.”  The arguments against allowing gay marriage are most often based on religious beliefs and traditional family values that are used to deny marriage to gay couples.  The arguments for allowing gay marriage are based on legal, constitutional, social justice and biological issues to support the view that gay and lesbian couples are as entitled to the same emotional and legal benefits that come with marriage as anyone else is.

We approach this issue with the knowledge that the majority of a society or population has oppressed the minority – and worse – throughout the course of human history.  One might think that mankind is incapable of loving one another or treating his fellow-man with dignity and respect – but we know that isn’t true – because we also know of countless loving examples that have been demonstrated by mankind throughout history.  So why do the two different faces of mankind exist?  Why can’t mankind be counted on to always act in a loving, caring and compassionate manner between a majority and the minority?

Many people think that in a democracy, “majority rules” always applies – especially when an election outcome is determined by a majority of voters.  The founding fathers were well aware of the fact that the majority can cause great harm in the name of, “majority rules.”  One of the reasons people wanted a fresh start in settling the original thirteen Colonies was to escape the religious prejudice of the majority that existed in England and Europe at the time.  Throughout history, the minority were often badly mistreated and worse by the majority of a population; and the founding fathers instituted a complex set of checks and balances against any abuse of power by establishing our nation as a representative republic instead of a, “majority rules” style of pure democracy through our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Fortunately in my life I have only experienced real prejudice directed towards me once, but once is always too many times.  My friend Bruce and I were on our 8,000 mile bicycle adventure around America in 1976 – the Bicentennial Year – when we entered a rural cafe or restaurant to have something to eat.  We were cold and tired from a few days on the road without access to a shower, and our longer hair was not the least fashionable after a few days of sweating under knit hats; and as we entered the establishment to order something to eat we were refused service and told, “we don’t serve long hairs” – and they told us to leave – which we did.  We were in a rural area, there were only two of us, we were tired and didn’t want any trouble or a fight – so we didn’t argue and just left.

The entire episode was over in probably 30 seconds, but I have never forgotten for a second that prejudice had been directed at us personally.  What I learned from that experience was invaluable though, because I can empathize with anyone who has faced prejudice – and as they say, “I know prejudice when I see it.”  Many times one group will say to another, you can never know what I’ve gone through; and it is true that I can’t know exactly what your specific situation felt like, but empathy allows us to feel for and through others by relating their situation back to our own.  The homosexual community has had prejudice and worse directed towards them throughout history, and I believe that prejudice is the principal reason why the majority today refuses to grant them the privileges of marriage.    

The lack of empathy in the hearts of mankind is often based on irrational feelings of superiority, power, strength or numbers.  Anyone who is, “different” – too short, too tall, too fat, not pretty enough, not popular, not wealthy, etc. – knows the feelings of social prejudice that are directed at them for no basic fault of their own.  Injustice and prejudice are always wrong wherever they exist.  People are people regardless of our many differences, and we should celebrate our differences as God directs us to do in love and respect for all of His people.  We are not here to judge others, and should instead treat everyone with a love that recognizes that, “all people” are created equal in the image of a loving God – and under our Constitution.

So besides the issue of targeted prejudice, what else provides evidence that, “gay marriage” should be allowed in society today?  Why should we as a society grant the homosexual community the ability to, “co-op” the traditional function of marriage, that has been the bedrock of society throughout the ages for the purpose of raising children and stabilizing society?  I’ll continue discussing this multi-faceted issue in Part Five, because as we take a closer look at these issues we find that – Love Changes Everything.



Love Changes Everything (Part Three)

Sometimes it’s hard to see how everyone’s point of view can be satisfied when we look at the difficult issues facing society today, but somehow we have to come together in consensus to find decisions to the problems that confront our society.  There are no guarantees that what you decide to do will work, but in the end there are always two principal choices in life: act or don’t act.  With either choice there are pitfalls and difficulties – but that’s true of most everything in life.  That’s why I think the middle road that runs through love is the only answer to the problems facing our communities and society today.

I believe that only love can lead to civil and polite political discourse and debate, that takes into consideration everyone’s views to produce the best possible solution and outcome.  It doesn’t matter if it is a, “liberal” idea or a, “conservative” idea – or even if it is a radical idea – if it works who cares?  Too often in life people worry about who wins and who loses.  People drive down the highway like they’re the only person on the road and that the traffic rules and regulations don’t apply to them.  Many people think that if they collect the most, “things” in life, that somehow they can show the world they’ve won.  The next day someone gets cancer, or dies in a car wreck or a storm washes or blows it all away; and all of a sudden what did it all matter?  Why is the lesson of love so difficult to learn – and practice while we can?

Life is so very precious and fragile, and all around us there are stories of people suffering every day.  Yet political life and commentary continues to be played in many places around the world like the sport of rugby.  No wonder that politicians have such low opinion ratings in polls.  So let’s all just hang up the boxing gloves and work together to solve the world’s problems.  In this article I’ll discuss issues that deal with life and death; where the decisions made are usually final and the fate of a precious life hangs in the balance.

On the issue of abortion, my faith and my conscience both require me to be personally against all forms of abortion, in all cases and in all situations.  As long as viable life remains, my only answer is to protect and nurture it as much as we are able to.  I do recognize the fact that we live within a pluralistic democracy in the form of a representative republic, and that other people may not share my view.  I also recognize the fact that democratic governments have the power to enact laws and that elections matter.  I find it tragic that people would not do everything within their power to sustain all life, because life is so very fragile and precious; yet I realize every time I look into the mirror that for as many reasons as there are people, other choices are often made.

When I was young, selfish and self-centered at the age of around twenty-one; I made the selfish choice to pay $200 for an abortion without any debate or argument – I really didn’t want to know the details – the money was asked for and I paid it.  I felt bad about the decision, but mostly because I was out the money; and  I was more concerned at the time with not having to deal with this, “problem” that was complicating my life.  Not a day goes by without my awareness of that cold-hearted and callous decision that I was not only capable of making, but actually made without flinching thirty-three years ago.  The fact that no abortion was needed or took place, or the fact that the money was later donated to charity changes anything.  I did what I never believed I could do when forced to decide, and my, “thirty pieces of silver” bought the Potter’s Field.

So I have a great deal of compassion for anyone facing such difficult situations in life.  I myself confessed my sin to a priest before joining the Roman Catholic Church in 1998 – and although forgiven my sin by Christ – I never not realize what I’m capable of doing…which truly shocks me to this day.  The fundamental issue that society should be dealing with is not actually the specific issue of abortion – but the issue of hearts that choose not to welcome new life into this world.  So many couples today want to adopt children into loving homes, and society should do everything that it can to promote the adoption of these unwanted children without resorting to abortion.  Life is always the answer – and in choosing life we should also be chosing to heal the hearts of everyone affected.

Most of the fundamental problems facing society today are issues of the heart, and since we know from countless examples that a human heart can decide in a moment to change through love; we also know that in a second’s time all the hearts of the world can also change overnight – which is why love itself can heal this world, solve our problems and create peace.  Love is the gift that God gives the world that allows mankind the ability to overcome any barrier, and make what is seemingly impossible – possible. 

Christians more than anyone should be the first ones to assist a woman who faces difficult life issues, and provide the assistance and help she needs – medical care, bills, housing, emotional support, spiritual support or adoption assistance – it doesn’t matter.  To say you’re against abortion and yet do nothing to help those in need, doesn’t solve anything.  If everyone does what they can to help the suffering in the lives of the people around us – friends, family and strangers – then we will finally be on the road to progress.  When someone lends assistance to a hurting heart for whatever reason – it’s love that in fact changes everything.          

Researchers have made tremendous strides recently in using adult stem cells, which I hope will soon bring the day when there is no longer the need for anyone to even consider using fetal stem cells – which I can never agree with – but here science can lead us all to the third way of loving and compassionate care for those who suffer from disease.     

For the terminally ill who suffer from pain and extreme difficulties, society should do all that it can to ease the struggles of those faced with this very difficult situation.  Everyone should be respected for the difficult and personal decisions that are made in hospice care in deciding when to curtail excessive medical intervention and when to just compassionately ease the pain.  Compassion should always lead towards loving responses toward the sick and dying – especially when the patient is ready to withdraw from excessive medical intervention – but as long as life and hope exists we should do what is possible to protect life.  I have a living will and my wife knows that when the time comes, I don’t want excessive medical intervention after the point when hope no longer remains.  In these cases life isn’t ended, it is allowed a natural progression where God holds the answers that none of us will ever know in this life.

The final topic in today’s article relates to the subject of the death penalty.  In my view it is never right to take a life, even in response to life taken.  My views in this area have been slowly evolving for years, and for me I no longer support the death penalty.  Hearts can change, life sentences can be enforced, and from evil good can always emerge and triumph in the end.  I also know that governments can and do enact laws, and that my opinion is not the only one held within a democracy.  Again the focus of society – that’s you and me – needs to be on intervention in areas that can help to remove the reasons that hearts turn to evil.  Communities and people can be helped in so many ways to solve society’s problems before they result in the issues that lead to crime – not always but often.

In the halls of Congress, in the political arena, in our schools and in our churches the answer to solving the world’s problems always starts with love.  Through love all things are possible – because love originates in and flows to us from God.  The issues and problems we face today as a society isn’t the fault of liberals, conservatives, social engineering, theology, education or crime – our problems are because our hearts lack love – love for our spouse, our children, our family, our community, our state, our nation, our world and for our God.  All we have to do is ask that our hearts are filled with love, because –  Love Changes Everything.   

Love Changes Everything (Part Two)

Social harmony requires acceptance of the fact that people can have differing viewpoints on more than one issue – or on every issue – and still be friendly towards one another.  As Part One in this series outlined, for Christians it means that Jesus mandated that we love everyone – even those who don’t agree with us – and we are also instructed not to judge other people.  God alone is the final judge in the end – but that doesn’t mean other people’s viewpoints have to become our own.  It just means that we can live in harmony with one another within a pluralistic and diverse multi-cultural and mult-ethnic society, and not be at odds with one another.  Civil debate is always allowed – but in the end we have to be able to shake hands and have lunch with each other if we are to build a harmonious world – and that is precisely the goal that I want to work toward.

From this point on in this series, I’ll cover issues that are very contentions within our society today; and make an attempt to offer a middle way through love – keeping in mind that as a Christian there are limits on what I can accept and call my own.  People with other beliefs may or may not be constrained by their own personal or religious views; which is why there will never be an absolute consensus on every issue – but all of us should be able to take a, “giant step” towards the middle ground of love.

I’ve traveled to and lived in many different western countries that all practiced a variation of democracy – and loved them all as well as their people; and the degree of liberal or conservative approach in these countries always varies by degree – even from one administration to the next.  Often the goals and desired outcomes of each side are similar but their individual approaches can be – and often are – worlds apart.  All of this is a matter of philosophy and should be open for honest and civil debate (often concerning the level of taxation and services a government should provide to its citizens) but in the end these issues are all in the middle ground where love can find a compromise and a workable solution.

What is pretty clear today, is that without managing the growing national deficit we’ll all suffer together as a nation.  Finger pointing doesn’t help anyone, as both parties for years have spent well more than what it took in from taxes.  A very encouraging sign though is the momentum that the Buffett-Gates emphasis on charitable giving is generating from those who do have the means to make a difference in our society today – which is truly a blessing to the nation and the world – that we should all be thankful for.

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (ratified on December 15, 1791) states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  Our founding fathers blessed our nation with these and other protections that serve to protect everyone’s right to, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;” and today we live in an absolutely wonderful and beautiful world full of amazing opportunities that we need to all work together to preserve, protect, defend and improve on – for the sake of our children and all of the generations to come. 

Democracy is never an easy process, and in order to protect everyone’s rights, we need to respect the fact that their rights are also protected by the Constitution – which forces certain compromises within society because we can’t always have things our own way – especially when it affects other people.  It can only help the process if everyone remains civil and respectful of everyone else’s viewpoint – and treat them as we also would like to be treated – even if it has to start with us.  As we look at individual issues for the common ground where we can all coexist in a harmonious and peaceful pluralistic society, it will be love in the end that allows us to find that common ground.  

Just as the Constitution of the United States allows for the free expression and worship of my faith – Roman Catholicism – I must also agree to the protection of all other faiths as well.  We live in a free and open democracy where all faiths have the right to worship in the manner of their choosing; and in protecting their rights to worship I am protecting my own rights as well – as well as exercising my right of free speech in discussing the subject here.

This also means I support the rights of people who choose to believe in no faith at all; and I understand that when a specific religion is displayed in a public institution or setting that there are concerns with the promotion of that religion – so I accept that all religions need to be represented or none at all.  Religion and faith have an important role and place in our democracy, and the litmus test to represent all faiths or none at all ensures that the government does not establish or favor a single religion – while erring on the side of extreme caution – to avoid even the appearance of favoring one religion over another.

In this process, I can only help change people’s hearts to work toward a middle ground of love if I have a peaceful and loving heart of my own; which is a never-ending process and one that I have to nurture within my own heart every day.  After all, we are all only human; but if we try to work together to find a workable solution for society in the years ahead, we will discover that everything is possible because – Love Changes Everything.



Love Changes Everything (Part One)

When I first went to Germany in 1983, no one could even dream of a day when Europe would be free and united – except for a few key and very pivotal men: Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa and Mikhail Gorbachev – who were all instrumental in their own ways in bringing change to Europe.  Today we have a free, open and united Europe that wasn’t even a dream for most people in 1983 when Berlin was still divided West and East.  Change seemed impossible at the time.

This example illustrates that synergy occurs when the right perspective is brought to a situation.  When it comes to the world today, we’re faced with a polarized society and a world that is struggling to resolve the way ahead – with a majority of the people locked in a partisan divide representing a classic, “liberal” versus, “conservative” approach to solving the world’s problems.  It seems like an impossible standoff with no possible solution – until you realize that there is a third way: Love.

Love changes everything.  I’ve been on the conservative side of most issues for the majority of my life and recently I’ve come to the conclusion that the third way is indeed possible.  Jesus taught us a number of very key concepts that serve as our focus for solving the problems of society and the world (New International Version – used with permission):

In Luke 10:27 Jesus said:

He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “

In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus said:

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In Matthew 7:12 Jesus said:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

In Matthew 7:1 Jesus said:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

In Luke 6:42 Jesus said:

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

With these five passages in mind, we can begin to develop a new perspective and outlook on the issues that face society and the world today.  This series of articles will focus initially on national issues, and later on we’ll look at the world issues that exist between nations.

The first point is that the citizens of your own country are your friends and not your enemy – no matter their viewpoints – as we are told to love everyone.  If you want other people to be open to your ideas then you also have to be open to theirs – and look at issues through their eyes.  The second point is that we are not in a position to judge other people’s choices – we’ve been directed to be non judgemental towards others.  If judgement is to be made, it is not our place to do it; and we should only be concerned with our own actions and ensure that our approach is taken out of love.

We live in a pluralistic country in the United States under a representative republic, which is just one form of democracy.  There are other forms of democracy and they all serve much the same purpose, which is to establish a framework of governance that allows for a free and open society that protects everyone’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We don’t live in a theocracy and we shouldn’t want to – because it allows one, “religion” to set all the rules, which might be ok for you as long as your religion is the one calling the shots – but is an impossibility for you if someone else’s religion is ruling.  This is the starting point of looking at society through someone else’s eyes.

The separation of church and state, even if it is a subjective reference – is fundamental for society because it prevents your personal views from dictating to other people how to live their life; while at the same time protects you from living under someone else’s personal rules – religious intent or not.  I will fight to defend someone else’s liberty, and have; because my doing so protects my rights as well.  This is a critical perspective because tomorrow someone may try to single us out for prejudice for whatever reason. 

In a democracy the ballot box determines the rule of law, and no matter who is governing, we want to ensure that all people of whatever race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability – are given equal protection under the law.  By defending others we defend ourselves and our right to be defended.  When the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defends someone on the fringe of society, they are defending our individual rights as well – because tomorrow it might just be us that someone or some group comes after.  Defending liberty and the right of defense for everyone is always the right thing to do. 

What this series of articles hopes to attempt to do, will be to convince people that issues don’t have to be black and white, but can be all colors under the rainbow – and it is better if we approach topics from a variety of perspectives and approaches while searching for a solution.  Consider the fact that life is short and we are in fact, “our brother’s keeper” – and when we open our eyes as well as our hearts to love, we find that – Love Changes Everything.