Friday Free Thought

Another week has passed and we find ourselves on the cusp of a new month that will prompt seasonal changes. As we prepare to move ahead I need to get caught up on a few things!

Some random thoughts and iss.es we need to focus on are coming up on this edition of “Becoming Today”. 

Unfortunately this week we as a nation witnessed another senseless tragedy. One that we can not just ignore and as the President asked aloud on national TV, why do these things happen here more than anywhere else in the world?

It’s something we all need to consider. Not from a place of fear, rather from our hearts. How do we lovingly conquer these ills of our society?

In the very essence of our shared path here at “Becoming Today” from day one of this project, nearly 18 months ago, I wrote, 

“How do I, as an individual and we as a society, focus on “Becoming” what we are truly destined to be? 

How do we become all we can be? 

How do we further enrich our lives and those of our families, friends, communities and society as a whole?  

What exactly is it we want to become today? 

Each and every day, becoming the best at whatever we desire, hope for, have set goals for, prayed for, and how do we achieve this state?”

All of these questions remain relevant today and in the wake of the Uvalde massacre we need to examine our hearts as to what we can do to prevent incidents like these.

After all, like peace, it begins with us.

I don’t have the answers and it will take many of us to help build the consensus, however remember where two or more are gathered in agreement anything is possible.

One of the ways we can begin to work towards change is by exercising our right to vote and in this election season making sure we know who we are truly voting for. 

An informed vote goes far beyond a single letter displayed after a candidate’s name. It goes far deeper than the millions of dollars spent to call each other names and make ridiculous claims like when elected I’ll sue anybody I disagree with all the way to the Supreme Court. 

It takes informed decisions, not relefting individuals facing charges for corruption and criminal conspiracies. It takes you having the courage to truly stand up for your beliefs and the ultimate truth not what others try to intimidate you into settling for.

As president Biden addressed the nation live, following the horror that befell a small Texas town, the remark that stood out the most to me was when he asked, 

“Where in God’s name is our backbone to stand up to these lobbyists?”

And for me this question extends well beyond anyone’s issue. Our elections and for far too long our leadership in this nation, on many levels has been bought and paid for. And in the end who truly pays for this manipulation, you and I.

Find the courage to stand for Truth. Examine your conscience as you muster your backbone remembering you have the strength, the ability and even the protection you need to do so.

“Put on God’s complete set of armor provided for us, so that you will be protected as you fight against the evil strategies of the accuser

Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms”. 

Ephesians 6 from The Passion Translation also continues, “In every battle, take faith as your wrap-around shield, for it is able to extinguish the blazing arrows coming at you…”

Stand up. Be counted. Step out. Be seen. Look forward and be heard. Your voice matters.

Questioning your voice is also understandable. In the end though I think we realize there are some things we just can not remain silent on. I read an article this week in which the author was questioning herself publicly, uncertain of the answer but sharing again that our words have power.

She was concerned that she was responsible for bringing fame to what she now perceives as some very undeserving people. Her article written before a federal judge this week sentenced one of those individuals  to prison for his crimes against children.

Andrea Cooper’s headline reads, “ I Introduced The Duggar Family To The World. Am I Responsible For Their Rise To Fame?

She recounted her history with the family, remarking, “I never imagined I’d be giving this family the platform to become such an influential force”.

The Arkansas family became the stars of the “reality show” 19 Kids and Counting though Cooper never expected that. She was simply sharing what she thought was a quirky story involving a family, a lifestyle and a geographic location that had nothing in common with her own life. 

In her piece on the Huffington Post, she recalled how Parents Magazine  “ran the story in September 2003 under the title “Count Our Blessings.” In an accompanying photo, the kids line up behind their parents from tallest to smallest ― except for Joshua. He was away at a “Christian program” from March 17 to July 17, 2003, according to a police report filed three years later. His parents sent him there, they later said, after they discovered he had molested five young girls, including several of his sisters. Of course, I had no idea about any of this when I wrote the story”.

No she couldn’t. Perhaps because we still do not protect victims. In Duggar’s latest case, his lawyers actually argues that he should not face maximum sentencing because his involvement with child pornography was not as bad as some other things.

That of course discounts the trauma of the victims and the irreparable damage done to their lives.  

Similarly absurd is the claim of some of Duggar’s family members that “Josh didn’t choose this life”. 

???

A jury found him guilty. There is explicit evidence and as the mother of one of the children victimized submitted a statement to the court wrote, “My daughter is a real person. She was horribly victimized to provide this source of ‘entertainment.’ She is exploited anew each and every time an image of her suffering is copied, traded or sold.”

Certainly the story of Josh Duggar was not something Andrea Cooper could have ever seen coming. Though not her intention, her sharing of that initial story began a chain of events that I hope can ultimately lead to good.

In order to overcome evil, we must shine light on it.

So Andrea, while you question what you have done, realize that more than likely you brought light into what could have been potentially an even darker situation.

Your at the time seemingly insignificant profile brought other eyes to a situation that no one expected to uncover. With the focus on these issues I hope others will take a closer look. Not remain silent when things seem off and realize there are no victimless crimes.

Despite differences in faith, we are more alike than many realize.

Oft quoted from my Christian Bible is the passage commonly called the Greatest Commandments. Found in several Gospels, in one account reported in Mark 12: 30-31 we are instructed,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’”.

And Andrea in your Jewish tradition, Torah scholars also note that these are Jesus’ restatements of laws taught in what we both understand as the Old Testament.

From Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind”

And  Leviticus 19:18 “love your neighbor as yourself”.

Despite perceived differences we all should know that light defeats darkness. In the end I pray you will see, while not your intention at the time, your light illuminated a darkness hiding in plain sight and maybe we can all learn the importance of sharing our experiences with the intent of bettering the whole.

Okay I know on Fridays it’s usually a lighter tone, here on “Becoming Today” and while we started with some heavy thoughts, they needed to be shared to lighten my heart. However I have found some lighter hearted things to share this week as well. Including a giant stash of government cheese hidden underground and Meet George Jetson’s robot at a diner?

While I let you ponder which of those you might like to hear first, I do want to share some inspiring words that came out of Washington D.C. this week.

Wyoming’s only Congressional Representative, Liz Cheney was honored with a  John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award and chose to courageously demonstrate her words and not back down to party politics.

Cheney stood up for the principle that the honorable transfer of power was the cornerstone of democracy. Noting that when the U.S. won its independence from England after the revolutionary war, George Washington handed over the power of the continental army over to Congress.

“With this noble act, George Washington set the indispensable example of the peaceful transfer of power in our country,” Cheney said. “In our Republic, some things have to matter.”

Meanwhile in advance of Tuesday’s election primaries, others were rushing to microphones to share misinformation and spread disinformation about the 2020 election even though a super-majority  of Americans, 60-percent plus, in a wide range of polls have indicated that they believe the election was fair and legitimate.

Some things have to matter, especially the truth.

So did you decide? Well I made the decision for us, let’s unearth the cheese first.

Who would have thought that In Springfield Missouri, that “the Pulse of the Ozarks” could be beating a bit more rapidly because of its proximity to a huge cache of government cheese.

My inquiring mind this week unearthed the fact that more than 1 point 4 billion pounds of cheese has been stored by government officials underground in converted limestone caves.

It all began with then President Jimmy Carter in 1977 battling unprecedented inflation and to boost the economy the decision was made to help the dairy farmers. They were given subsidies to produce more and were incentivized to make as much as they could, because what they couldn’t sell the government would buy.  

It was decided to turn the excess dairy products into cheese, because it would have a longer shelf life. Yet despite massive giveaways  during the Reagan Administration, still there was surplus. 

If you ever had to eat it, like I did, you understand why it was hard to give away. As Secretary of Agriculture, John Block told reporters at the White House while holding  a molding five-pound block of cheese, “We’ve got 60 million of these that the government owns… It’s moldy, it’s deteriorating… we can’t find a market for it, we can’t sell it, and we’re looking to give some of it away.”

At one point they even floated the idea of tossing it all in the oceans. By the 1990’s with a decline in dairy prices the government got out of the cheese hoarding business, until 2016 when they started buying again.

So why? There is no talk of giveaways and apparently even after the government buys the surplus dairy and converts it to cheese it then winds up in the cheese caves and is owned in part by private enterprises.

If its intent is to battle inflation and help consumers, why is it just sitting there? 

Besides one of the pandemic side effects was the reversal of a three decades trend of lactose intolerant Americans suddenly buying more cheese. The increased demand  between April and June of 2020 caused prices of the commodity to increase by 160%. 

Now two years later demand remains high and yet production has slowed because of increased costs and an inability to ship the items to market, especially on the coasts.

Yet there is 1 point 4 billion pounds of it sitting underground in the middle of the country. Already produced that would seem to solve half the problem yet I don’t expect anytime soon to hear of a release of cheddar from the nation’s strategic reserves…

In my youth, I met George Jetson, his wife Jane, daughter Judy and his boy Elroy. We all saw how they were affably served by their companion Rosie the Robot. Now her 21st Century counterparts are actually serving restaurant patrons. 

While saying it’s not an attempt to replace humans, a restaurant owner says he needed to invest in a robot server, he’s named “Rosey” because he couldn’t find enough employees. 

So he decided to invest in the technology so servers could remain in their sections assisting customers and not have to go back and forth to the kitchen to deliver food. Here’s a link that shows Rosey in action.

While saying it was a matter of necessity, he did note some things he can do with a robot that he can’t with actual employees.

“You can work her unlimited hours. She doesn’t take a day off. She doesn’t need time off for vacation or anything like that. As long as you charge her every night, she works a full day. If you’re open 10-12 hours in a day, it boils down to somewhere around $7 or $8, which is less than minimum wage.”

By the way, this restaurant is in Springfield, Missouri. Maybe we can reprogram Rosey to roll out the wheels of cheese from their underground bunkers and deliver them to you?

Thanks for stopping by today. Tomorrow we’ll take a look back at the conversations we shared throughout the week, as we prepare to mark the Memorial Day Weekend on our next edition of “Becoming Today”. 

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