Friday, April 20, 2012

Can A Christian be Conservative?

In this year's November general elections, one of the many groups of people expected to play a decisive role in the outcome of the election is the Christian conservatives. Particularly, the Republican party is expecting to ride to victory, both in the congressional, presidential, and state-level elecions, on the backs of this group. Yes, the Democrats have the labor unions and, especially in this year's election, women organizations,  to count on to come through for them. Somewhere lost in the midst of all these groups is the rest of us - the so-called independents; neither labor nor conservative; neither pro-abortion nor con; more importantly, neither Republican nor Democrat.

This phrase, christian conservative, has been very confusing and very troubling to me. Try as much as possible, I cannot come to terms with the belief that a true christian can be a conservative; it goes against the principal responsibility of christianity: love thy neighbor as thyself, be your brothers' keeper, feed the hungry and provide for the needy and, as much as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone. Unfortunately, these biblical instructions seem to be lacking in the guidebook of the christian conservative groups. instead, hatred is spewed from radio stations, floors of state and national legislatures, and pulpits of churches of varying denominations

What we have seen over the years are conducts and comments extremely unbecoming of true christians; fabricated biblical justifications for cold-blooded murders, anti-poor, anti-women, and anti-non-conservatives laws at both local, state and national levels of government. These laws and other unchristian conducts have left the country more polarized today than it has been in recent years; christians against each other; blacks, whites, and Hispanics, and Asians against each and others; professions against its members and other professional groups. everyone has an opinion as to what they believe is their rights and responsibilities as christians, unfortunately, these opinions are not reflective of christian principles and directives.

Things have fallen apart, and the center can no longer hold; not for christians, politicians, the poor, needy, women, independents, and non-conformists. As politicians strive to identity and extol their christian conservatism, they box themselves into a corner and alienate themseves from the majority of the electorate, thereby exacerbating an already dangerous societal situation.

Until we find the appropriate answer to this question, the christian community will never be the same, let alone the rest of the society

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Texas case of Penny wise Pound foolish?

This much is certain, come April 30th, 2012, the state of Texas will cut off financial assistance to Planned Parenthood, because the organization is affiliated with or support clinics that provide abortion. This is in keeping with a new state law that requires the state to cut off funding to clinics or medical groups that provide or support abortion. There is nothing wrong with the state obeying the law.
Here is the problem; only about 10% of Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas provide abortion, which is still legal in a country where federal law trumps state and local laws, and the organization has proven beyond doubt that the funding it receives from the state does not go to abortion clinics, but goes to provide well-woman services to about 98% of the poor women in rural Texas who cannot afford such services without Planned Parenthood assistance. Without this financial assistance from the state, these well-woman clinics will close at the end of April.

Why would they close? Here is why: the federal government, which provides more than 90% of the funds the state of Texas allocates to organizations like Planned Parenthood, and with the state discriminating with these funds, the federal government, following federal law which guides the provision of these funds have decided to cut off Texas from its list of beneficiaries. Now, Planned Parenthood finds itself between a rock and a hard place, and the poor women of Texas who depend on these clinics for healthcare find themselves without help – state or federal.
It gets even more confusing. Texas Attorney-General has taken the federal government to court claiming that it has no right to cut off the funds. Really? Yet the same Attorney general believes that the state has the right to cut off funding to PPH. Now, following in the state’s footsteps, PPH has decided to sue the state claiming the same thing, prompting the government spokeswoman to state publicly that “we will defend this lawsuit vigorously, because it is the state law”. No arguments about that. The question is; what does she think the federal government would do about the state’s lawsuit against it? Lay down and play dead?.

Yes, the governor has promised to find the money somehow to replace the lost federal funding. However, this is in a state where funding for the most important programs; education, healthcare, and public safety have been on the chopping block for three years running. Where is he going to find a replacement for the lost fund? More schools have been closed or merged in the state than any other state; more teachers have been laid off than in any other state; Texas has more uninsured people than any other state in the nation; more teens are roaming around with unwanted pregnancies than any other state –mostly because after school programs have been reduced to the bare bones, and there is less adoption activities in Texas than any other state. Yet, the state’s economy grows faster than that of any other state in the nation, thereby increasing its tax revenue. How do you explain the disparity?
The states wants to prevent abortion, and hopefully, all clinics and organizations which provide or support abortion will be “run out of Texas” (their words, not mine). There is nothing wrong with a government at any level taking whatever action it wants, as long as that government is a dictatorship. But Texas is not a dictatorship, because the governor has been consistent on his preaching about less government intrusion in our private lives. Unless it is a case of “do as I say, not as I do”. Fortunately, we are not yet North Korea, Cuba, or the former Nazi Germany.

A better way to prevent abortion in the state would have been to promote safe sex education from primary school level up, fund well-woman clinics (like the ones that are closing out in the state now in mostly rural areas, and enlist the assistance of non-governmental agencies, including churches, in the message to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Instead, the state is applying a high-handed method that does not solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies or prevent abortion at any level.
Every segment of society; conservative Christians, Evangelicals, regular Christians, Catholics, liberal democrats, independents, or non-conformists all do, at some point of the other, need abortion for unwanted pregnancies. That some are publicly anti-abortion does not necessarily mean that they do not have need-based abortions. So, whether you are against or for it, it will always happen. Running Planned Parenthood out of Texas will not solve the problem; neither is killing abortion providers or burning down their clinics, as has been going on in some states for some time now.
 A highly-educated society on every lifestyle is always in a better position to protect against the consequences of that lifestyle; in this case, we need more education and preventive care than promoting VVF laws and denying funds to organizations promoting well-women programs. This Texas law appears to fit the bill of penny wise pound foolish; making one wonder the mental state of the people we elect into legislative office.

I hope to God that we are still in a free and democratic society, where everyone has the right of choice as enshrined in both the state and federal constitution. Trying to curb that right by any devious means is an open invitation to political mutiny.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Discourse On Relationships

Discourse On Relationships
 Relationships are what we make of them; we shape our relationships to suit our desires, visions, and needs. This may be done without input from our partner who, one might expect, would also desire to shape same relationship to his/her advantage.

 Irrespective of the form of relationship involved; marital, social friendship, intimate lovers, or business partnership, a relationship is as valuable, respectful, and as rewarding and fulfilling as those involved make it. And this is often based on the defined objectives for being in the relationship. Some acquaintances could evolve devoid of defined objectives, but along the way, when both parties have discovered their shared values, weaknesses, and strengths, objectives will emerge.

For such objectives to yield values, or fruits, in a relationship is dependent upon how the parties involved pursue these objectives. Aggressive pursuit of desired goals could either yield desired results, or unexpected disaster that could lead to a breakup of the union. Where goals and objectives are pursued cautiously and concertedly, expected results would, most likely, be achieved.

 1. Social Relationships.
 A social relationship is mostly beneficial where one, or some, of the parties involved is/are-seeking avenues to step up the social ladder by mingling with the established members of the higher class. That is where we come across social “nobodies” blessed with natural endowments interacting with the rich and well connected to attract attention to self. Some of the benefits of this type of relationship include getting on the society list of the elite, getting mentioned in society tabloids, access to easy money for sustenance of sudden novel lifestyle, and regular invitations to high society functions.

 Where these are primary reasons of the beneficiary for establishing and sustaining this form of relationship, one can conclude that the intended objectives have been met; that is, the desired values have been added to his/her life.

2. Intimate Relationships (Lovers)
 It is increasingly difficult in our society, these days, for parties to define their objectives in an intimate relationship. If one has laid-down expected benefits, one could be accused of having ulterior motives and, therefore, setting a trap for the partner. On the other hand, an adult who has no set objectives before being involved in such relationship could be dismissed as a fool and unserious. The advise may be to have goals and objectives, but work subtly towards their realization.

Are you anticipating a graduation from mere lovers to spouses? Is your objective to acquire material wealth from the union? Are you looking to cushion a hard fall from a bad relationship? Are you seeking to just remain relevant in lovers’ world by proving that you too can have a lover at your age? Are you looking for just a rich, fulfilling romance in your life? All these objectives must be defined, because they are determinants of our approach to unions we get involved in.

The same objectives determine our levels of commitment, especially where there exists conflicts in the stated objectives, where a compromise may be necessary. Where a relationship is not adding the desired value, or not yielding the stated objective, it should be reviewed after some time, for possible adjustment in strategy.

For the woman, where, after two years in a monogamous relationship, the desired expectations-possibly marriage- are not yet met, beyond verbal assurances (all other circumstances being normal), the best option is not a resolution to desperate measures. Rather a gradual restriction of affectionate services will be more appropriate here, a rebuilding of self-confidence and self-worth. This is expected to achieve one of two things: either the union will break up, an indication that opposing objectives exist, or it will be revived and desires of both parties met.

For the man, where you are spending more than necessary to maintain your partner in a lifestyle you do not appreciate, the best option will be to opt out. Hoping on your partner’s adjustment, downwards, to your level in future is a sign of weakness, and vision of future problems. It is not advisable to remain in a relationship merely on a wing and a prayer of a more cordial tomorrow, because it in not that easy or possible to make someone else the way you want them to be. If there is compatibility, and pursuit of the same goals, a compromise in attitudes and ideals could be reached within the first year of the union.

Do you have the desired respect and appreciation from your peers due to your relationship? Is your life better today than it was before now? Has it enhanced your self-worth? These are some of the questions to ask before continuing in an intimate relationship; if the answers are “no”, then it is of no value and must be reconsidered.

3. Business Relationships
 Just as in social and intimate relationships, business relations must have objectives. In this case, making the goals and projected benefits known to your partners is preferred. Where the benefits are mutual, beneficiaries work in concert to realize them.

Mode of operations, management, expansion strategy, and revenue generation plans, and profit-sharing agreements should be deliberated upon, and understood by all involved; mutual consents sought among partners before projects are embarked upon. Despite the openness in a business relationship, greed plays a major role in dissolution of many such relationships, alongside the quest for supremacy and control. Man, by nature, is a greedy animal and unless that trait is controlled, even the best of business relationships, and mutual agreements, can still hit the rocks.

The level of commitment and contribution of money and efforts by partners in a business relationship depends on whether the business is of a temporary (joint venture), or permanent (partnership and limited liability) nature.

Marriages
 This is a relationship that continues to evolve by the day; it is also one that is very delicate and confusing, one where no set of advises, or opinion, is widely accepted. As with other forms of relationships, the objectives and goals in a marriage must be defined early in the marriage. Almost every woman wants a husband, children, and a of her own; but quite a few, especially today, can lay claim to knowing a thing or two of how to achieve that. Even those who know are, now, becoming aware that economic forces beyond their control are increasingly acting as impediments to realizing their dreams.

But is a home and the pitter-patter of little feet the only realizable objective in a marital relationship? How about an enriching, happy, peaceful, and long-lasting marital union? Fruit of the womb should not be the sole purpose for entering into marital relationships. There are many happy, rich, and lasting marriages that were not blessed with gifts of children. The objectives of married couples should not be restricted to having children; rather it should be one of many goals that must include joy, longevity, happiness borne out of love, faith and trust, and, of course, blessings of the fruits of the womb. Many marriages have packed up due to fanatic search for offspring.

Before we take our marital vows, it is beneficial to, jointly, sort our desired goals and not bind ourselves with expectations we cannot manipulate. As a couple, what are your joint economic, social, political, and religious goals? How do you plan to achieve these goals? What are your plans for your children, in the event you are blessed with any? Are there any hidden agendas by either party (the genesis of many failed marriages)? Have you been honest and truthful, to your partner, regarding your past and desires? As in a business relationship, marriages work better and last longer when all the cards are laid on the table from inception.

Marriage is one relationship where partners come with ulterior motives, hidden agendas, and complicated past lives; some marry to acquire wealth, social status, and conceal a dirty past. Evidence abounds to show that marriages entered into under false pretences are always tumultuous, and never last. In the end, these divergent objectives and goals remain unrealized; instead, prevailing heartaches and suspicions of one another continues.

Conclusion
 Finally, whatever forms a relationship assumes, be it marital, business, intimate, and social, if it does, or will, not achieve the desired objectives that will add value to your life and self-worth, through respect of, and admiration by your peers and the general society, it cannot be considered beneficial to the parties involved.