Thursday, November 26, 2015

Is the American Dream Becoming Impossible?

Something that everyone who lives in America strives for is the American dream. The one universal definition of this would be freedom and success. But what does that really mean? Every person has his or her own definitions of what freedom and success means. This is where the true meaning of the American dream can get a little tricky.

Some may say that everyone who lives in America already has the part of freedom towards the dream. This may not always be true. Some people do not have the right to marriage; others may not be treated as equally as others are, such as African Americans or even women in the work force. We are always told about all the freedom we have but sometimes it is not actually present. Sometimes there are points where us as Americans need to stand up and fight for our freedom. But in the end freedom is a big part of this dream and even though it is not present all the time I feel as though it is needed to fully achieve the American dream.

The number one thing contributing to the American dream is success. But this topic gets even more questionable. Success has so many definitions for different people. For most people success would mean being wealthy money wise. Even though this can contribute to someone's happiness and success, it is not the only thing that matters. While trying to obtain success many people may forget about the other stuff that is important. To completely acquire the American dream people need to remember everything that was and is important to them and not just focus on money. Friends, family, and just being socially interactive is a big part of being happy and when one just focuses on money and forgets about these things you can never truly be happy.

Some may also say that the concept is becoming impossible. The thought of someone actually coming from a poor background and then going out and becoming wealthy in all senses seems like a crazy idea. The American dream becoming impossible has only recently started happening. Back when the economy was better and everything was not the way it is today, people could actually come over to America and make a life for themselves. Now a days though it is much harder to make a living for yourself even if you are middle class.
By Betsy Barrows

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Citizenship Day

September 17 is "Citizenship Day." It's not a day that looms large on anyone's calendar. In fact I don't remember ever celebrating it with fireworks or a moment of silence while facing Washington, D.C.

It's a controversial subject in some quarters. I remember taking a civics class when in the 7th grade. I learned about various forms of government at the different levels from my city to townships, counties, etc. The era of my grade school years was only ten years following World War II, so citizenship was taken seriously.

But times have changed as our government has grown and liberties have become restricted. Now there are a record number of people leaving us each year, voluntarily surrendering their citizenship and moving to different parts of the world.

What once seemed like the best place on earth has now become intolerable for a few.

The 50 year war on drugs in America changed the culture of our cities. Our jails are filled with people whose only crime is drug related. Our city police forces are no longer trusted, no longer respected, and that leads to more arrests. It's a death spiral.

Many of us look up to men like Abraham Lincoln and women like Eleanor Roosevelt, who were honest and who tried to help people. We respect certain school teachers we've encountered during our education. These people inspire others to make our country better.

I must admit disappointment about our government diplomat and politician's constant reference to "our interests" when talking about conditions in the world. I think this is a gross misstatement and should never be used. Our interests and liberty must remain synonymous. If we promote liberty to the world, we will look less arrogant and more generous. America wasn't founded to become an empire with "interests." It was founded to be a refuge where all could experience life to its fullest.

Our "interests" must always remain in the interests of liberty. This nation was formed in order that its citizens would have it, and it's the main fabric of our culture that has led to such greatness. This embracing of liberty has nurtured energy and self-sacrifice. Men and women willing to do with less that they might invest their time, talents and resources in order to pursue their dreams to provide more. People with an idea channeling their lives toward a specific objective resulting in new products and processes to help themselves and the world.

And now we find ourselves, many of us, disenfranchised. Left out in the cold. Feeling like we have no chance. The social safety net provides physical needs, but fails to nurture the heart.

A new generation is upon us whose hope is faded, whose hope was never ignited with the zeal of our forefathers.

So, Citizenship Day will come and go like so many before it. Unnoticed, without recognition.

But certain citizens continue to place themselves at risk. Law enforcement and military ranks are filled with men and women who understand citizenship. People willing to sacrifice their lives for the principles of liberty, and for them I will celebrate this day.
By Gerald E Greene
See more at

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Significant Day in History - Are We Safer?

By Gini Cunningham

Those of us who were alive and old enough to remember the horrendous tragedies that struck our nation fourteen years ago will relate well to this piece. The images are iconic, filled with fear, devastation, and also faith. The faith emanates from those individuals who stepped up and risked their own health and well-being in the service of others. They may have been firemen or police officers, bystanders or victims themselves. They include all of the brave souls who operated through dedication and automaticity to work to save lives. We honor them this day and every day. I wonder if in the same situations I would have found the courage to act and react as they did. I think so but fortunately I do not know as I have not faced such immediate devastation.

Being struck on our own soil surprised us just as it raised our ire. We feel safe in our country, at least most of the time we do. We have rules and regulations, peace officers and other protectors. When I run in the morning or drive my car on the freeway or wander a hiking path, I feel secure, knowing that safety resides. Although I might fall down or bump into another vehicle or trip, overall I have little worry as I live my daily life. It is a pleasant and soothing feeling.

Many say that we are far safer now than we were those many years ago. There is definitely more travel security, especially on airlines. It takes longer to get items renewed or approved like passports or driver's licenses. There are required background checks that I must pass to work in a school or other public locale. I know that I am being checked and scrutinized as my social security number, frequent flyer number, driver's license number, credit card number, and every other number connected with my name are scanned, studied, and then deemed all right. I don't mind most of this inspection into my private life, but it is sometimes unnerving. After all, I know that my phone calls are easily traced through records, but it is crazy to think that I might utter a key word that would send off emergency flares regarding my loyalty. When I am selected at the airport for additional screening as my fingers or bags are checked and an armed guard stands by is scary. When I am patted down before I can enter a ball game or concert, unease overtakes me, even though I am innocent of any crime and do not possess a criminal record.

So after all of this, I return to my question, are we safer. Are random selections and orderly, complete inspections improving conditions? While we tremble at the thought of another attack from foreign lands, we allow guns to run rampant as more citizens are shot and many are killed. We fret about invasions from elsewhere with little mind to local possibilities. I bought a birthday rifle for my son one year and had to fill out numerous forms, wait a state background check, and then abide a 3-day waiting period before I could purchase and take possession of it. This was fine; I was approved; my son was able to go hunting. In essence, I followed all laws and procedures and earned the rifle. Of course, I realize that a criminal in the same situation would have known how to circumvent all of this and have a gun in his/her hands within minutes. That is when I wonder if we are really safer.

Those against background checks rally about freedom and gun rights. It is their privilege to do so, but I wonder if they realize the floodgates of gun sales that remain open and endanger all of our lives. Yes, illegal guns will still fall into the wrong hands, but what if all arms trade was just a little tougher, especially online and in gun shows. Just a few restrictions would make a tremendous difference. As another anniversary of the attack on our country arrives and then ends, have we learned anything? Have we made necessary changes to enhance safety or have we simply scared ourselves silly with boogieman threats or allowed ourselves to be lulled into complacency permitting fear to drive our actions? I wonder.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

All Saints Day - Does Anybody Care?

The 1st day of November is reserved for a special recognition of people who lived close to God. These are the people who "partook of divinity" and who were "holy."

While those terms seem to be rather high and out of reach, they actually can be achieved with a simple daily Spiritual Exercise that begins a process of change that, over time, result in significant personal revolution.

Some examples that come to my mind are:

Anne Askew

Anne was a beautiful daughter of a wealthy family named "Kyme" that lived during the reign of Henry VIII in England. Her father forced her to marry a knight by the name of William Askew whom she neither loved nor found to be agreeable.

She was a very intelligent woman and soon after marriage and the birth of two boys obtained a Bible which she studied daily. Shortly after receiving the Bible she began questioning certain doctrines of the church and was severely reprimanded by both the priest and her husband. When she refused to comply with demands to give up her Bible, she was expelled from home by her husband and forced to live with generous friends in London.

Queen Catharine Parr befriended her after her divorce was refused, and appointed her as a "Lady in Waiting." At this time she resumed the use of her maiden name.

Anne was placed under constant surveillance by agents of the king who worked hard to discredit the queen, but were reluctant to attack her directly, so they pursued her friends. One of the reports regarding Anne stated: "She is the most devout woman I have ever known; for at midnight she begins to pray, and ceases not for many hours, when I and others are addressing ourselves to sleep and work." But in spite of the reports of her devout and pious life, she was arrested and tortured with the rack where her limbs were stretched and pulled apart until she fainted.

Because she was unable to use her arms and legs following the torture, she was taken to the place of execution in a chair.

She died while tied to a post in front of St. Bartholomew church in London at the age of 25. The fires were lit and the flames were high, but death was quick due to the unexpected explosion of gun powder that was intended to just assist the fire.

Monica - mother of St. Augustine

During the 5th century Monica was married to a pagan man who was both unfaithful and who was abusive. In spite of her difficult life she did all she could to be a pleasant wife. She spent time in Bible study and prayer and did her best to raise their son to be a loving Christian boy.

Her initial failures with her son made her more determined to work for his salvation and her life of service resulted in success as her husband eventually saw the beauty of her life and love and became a Christian shortly before he died.

It is said that she counselled other women to follow her example of love in order to change the behavior of their husbands.

After the death of her husband, Monica then turned all of her attention to the life of her unmarried son who was living a life of pleasure as an academic. Her influence resulted in success as Augustine eventually joined the Christian faith and became a faithful leader of the church.

The Apostles

Following the ascension of Christ the apostles accepted the call of the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel to the world. As recorded in the New Testament, they were men with human faults, but who were humble and eager to complete their mission.

Although they all died as martyrs, except for John, they changed the world with love and a new form of worship that included a personal relationship with God.

Gerald E. Greene can be found on Facebook as Gerald E. Greene

He also posts to "Stories Rated 'G' on Facebook

His spiritual inspiration blog is