Free Thinking Friday

This week, this month have really seemed to fly by.

At least where I am, the April showers, and we’ve experienced plenty of them are showing promise for May Flowers.

Today’s discussion will meander here and there as it’s another Free Form Friday edition of “Becoming Today”. 

I’ve been thinking about Millard Fillmore this week. No he has not been in  the headlines, but much of our current political discourse has led me to thinking about the way politics transformed during his time of service.

Fillmore became the  13th President of the United States when while he served as Vice President, the then Commander in Chief Zachary Taylor passed away. Fillmore, a member of the Whig Party, was the last member of that political organization to serve in the nation’s highest office. 

After failing to receive the nomination in 1852, four years later he finished third in the Presidential Election as a member of the “Know Nothings”.

The movement emerged as a major political party in the form of the American Party, known more so by its nickname because members were required to say “I know nothing” whenever they were asked about its specifics by outsiders.

Notice I mentioned nothing about Democrats or Republicans in those preceding paragraphs. 

A good reminder that these parties have not always existed in our nation’s history and perhaps neither needs to continue to our future? Furthermore there is nothing in the Constitution or the governing regulations of our nation that says we have to be limited to just two. 

Perhaps a more diverse landscape would not only eliminate super majorities but also the constant ‘us vs. them’ mentalities that are weighing us all down. 

While Fillmore’s “Know Nothing Party” is just a footnote in history it seems it would be an apt nickname for both sides of the aisle these days.

The following is an example of a conversation I have had, truly thousands of times over the years.  When entering into a discussion about those things were were taught we shouldn’t talk about…  politics, religion and sex… hmm, I’m talking about all three today… anyway a number of those “forbidden conversations” I’ve shared have gone something like this, with me steering the talk with this question:

“What do you know about Nebraska?”.

Nine and a half times out of ten the response is, “Uh…. nothing”.

To which I ask, “do you know why that is?”.

I then either hear a “no?” or more often than not I just receive a blank stare, which I then respond to with “because it works.”.

We usually only hear about the failures, the lack of resolution, the inability to competently carry out the business of the people or the unwillingness for so-called leaders to come to rational agreements. So it’s no surprise that when something works you don’t hear about it.

Nebraska is unique to the nation. In many ways, but today let’s look at their system of state government. Nebraska is home to the only Unicameral Legislature in the nation. There is no bickering between the house and the senate, because there’s only one chamber and even more “revolutionary” is the fact that all of the members are non-partisan. 

Nebraska saw success immediately when they transitioned to the format in 1937. 

They cut the number of elected legislators from 133 to 43, around a 70-percent reduction which during the Depression also cut the expenses for taxpayers greatly. Furthermore the system within the first year proved far more efficient resulting  in more cost savings and a reduction in the amount of time necessary to get things done. 

According to the official site of the Nebraska Legislature, “The number of committees was pared down from 61 to 18, and 581 bills were introduced in 1937, as opposed to twice that many the previous session.

The last bicameral session in 1935 ran 110 days, passed 192 bills and cost $202,593. The first unicameral session two years later ran 98 days, passed 214 bills and cost $103,445”.

Efficiency, fewer taxes required and less opportunity for grandstanding and name calling. All with an affirming and very “Becoming” motto of “The salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen”.

Now the idea of unicameralism is not only embraced in Nebraska. A number of countries are governed in this way including Israel, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. 

Isn’t it interesting that among those five examples, four are consistently ranked among the happiest populations in the world? 

I’ve also got a couple of thoughts today about the last impacts of the pandemic. 

Not just the ongoing supply chain issues, international inflation or the so-called long COVID suffers that will have decades of battles ahead of them, rather in two very distinct areas. 

One area of concern we are not hearing enough about and the second I’ll raise, no one other than me may be questioning. 

Almost everyday there are new cases being revealed that point to an alarming increase in the victimization of children. “Exponential growth” in the  sexual assalts and abuse of children have been reported and are facing potential prosecution.

While we were diverted with the crowds wanting to argue “their right” versus “medical necessities”, the inalienable rights of children were being violated at record numbers. The scars and costs to these victims, we may never be able to place a dollar value on, but needless to say they are expenses that are paid by all of society.

A very concerning aspect along with the rise in cases being investigated is the length of time it takes to do so, and the hurdles that investigators and advocates must overcome to help the victims. 

There is a very real disconnect between what is accepted as legally “right” and what is morally and ethically correct.

That is extremely evident in the following example, “ripped from the headlines” I am about to share. I will attempt to do so without being overtly graphic, but in order to see the absurdity of the criminal code in this respect, I need to describe the heinous acts that were committed and will go unpunished.

The cynical side of me that I attempt to overcome daily, will tell you that the following story is true. Only the names have been omitted top further shield the truly guilty. I say that only half jokingly.

After allowing more than a year to pass since the incidents were first brought to light, it has been determined that adults who did not report what happened to minor children at a school are “not responsible”, because technically the law does not require them to do so, because of one-standard not met.

The incidents being called hazing occurred at a school, and the age of the children victimized would be between 10 and 14 years old. Junior High students were forced to endure others ‘placing their genitalia on their faces’. 

When the assaulted children told parents, school officials remained quiet and at first the debate was these were just school employees and not teachers who are required to report suspected abuse.

The ruling by the state that shuts down any conversation about the potential cases is even more alarming. It has been determined that the adults are “not responsible” because of the wording of the state law defining sexual abuse. 

Apparently it can only be considered assault if you can prove that the assilaints obtained sexual gratification as a result of their action.

What?

Yes,we are being told that forcing your genitals upon someone according to the law is not a crime unless you can prove the attackers were gratified by their morally reprehensible and perverted actions.

So what is the legal definition of “sexual gratification”?

There is none. Which advocates and attorneys alike say why it is so hard to attempt to prove and multitudes of cases go uninvestigated much less prosecuted. 

While Law Insider notes an explanation as quote, “Sexual gratification means a behavior or act committed to stimulate the sexual interest or desire of the actor or actors”, the staututes do not provide guidelines as to how that can be known.

Shielding the adults in this case on a technicality is not helpful nor right. We need to work to lessen the gaps between criminal codes and common sense, decency and what is truly right or wrong. 

Plus those who failed to stand up for the children in this matter should not have to wait for lawyers to determine if they should be held responsible or not. It should be without a question for all fully competent adults to understand we are  responsible for helping those who are in danger and protecting those who can not protect themselves.

Our responsibilities at the bare minimum, no matter where you live have been spelled out for centuries. They are succinct, to the point and clearly explained in the shortest book in The BIble.

In the Second Epistle To Titus, the Apostle Paul clarified these directives, which vary as we mature:

1 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.

2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,

5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.

7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness

8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

He then closes the chapter with “These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you”.

Let not anyone scoff at you, hold you in contempt or spurn your obligation to exercise your responsibilities fully and wholeheartedly. Remember without responsibility we have no rights or direction. 

It is proper and correct that each one of us teaches what is appropriate to sound doctrine, while embracing it and living it as well.

I know we have discussed some ‘heavy items’ today, but they are all real issues that have been weighing on my conscience. However, to enter the weekend with some balance allow me to share my other “concern” about the apparently lasting impact of the pandemic.

What has happened to “cream-style corn”?

Where oh where have all the kernels gone?

Really? I’d like to know. 

Of all the things that have been short on shelves or “unexpectedly delayed”, why has this pantry staple seemingly disappeared. 

I can not find it anywhere in person or online. I tried again yesterday to order some.

Can’t buy it now, can not order it. Not available in store or for delivery.

Over the past two years it has gone from “out of stock” to most of the time not existing at all. 

Do a web search of your favorite grocer and you will be offered alternatives. Whole kernel, frozen but nothing like corn with a milky sauce.

Of all the things that would seemingly be completely removed from our reality, why is it this tasty grain?

I’m sure we’ve all experienced the temporary unavailability of items we purchased regularly for decades or witnessed the price gouging explained away as because it’s hard to get.

For example in my case dog biscuits that were $3.99 a box everyday, at times becoming only available from rogue so and so’s for 29 dollars a box plus shipping, so Monkey had to do without, because Mama ain’t rewarding greed and predatory behavior disguised as capitalism. 

I know there a hundred different recipes to make my own creamed corn, most copied and pasted from one another on sites designed under the belief of “steal what you can and move on”, and yes I have taken the time and effort.

The thing that bugs me is no one wants to explain why.

I’ve tried. I’m told “supply chain issues”. 

What exactly does it mean? 

Corn is still being grown, cows are being milked, sugar cane is being harvested. 

At one point I met someone employed by a major grocer in an executive capacity who said it was because metals were not being recycled at consistent rates and the canners had a lack of vessels of conveyance for their product.

When I asked, pointing at 30 other types of canned vegetables filling the shelves, why only is cream corn missing? He had no explanation.

I told you I may be the only one noting this legacy of the pandemic, but if we were given truthful and complete explanations as to what is truly changing the process of our daily lives, people might be far less angry about it.

So if you know please let me know.

I could probably do a deep dive into it, but you know at this point in our mad mad world I’m afraid (audibly giggling), that I might learn that all the cream corn has been confiscated by the Governor of Texas in an effort to build a wall, that if penetrated by the cartels, they might lose their footing on the slippery substance and cut themselves on the jagged edges of the cans. 

Thanks for joining me on this meandering discourse through the journey in my mind. 

Tomorrow we’ll review the week that was and prepare to  begin a new month on this shared path we call “Becoming Today”.

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