Bolder, Mr Biden.

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After long delays the approval for sending tanks to Ukraine was given. But it will take months before they arrive. A delay measured in lives lost.
The delay was largely due to German obstructionism. Chancellor Scholz, for whatever reasons, putting up obstacles to assist Ukraine.
This delay has given Putin an advantage. Not only can they keep firing missiles from their own territory but, with greater number of soldiers, now they can push more effectively against Ukraine’s resistance.
Zelensky has called for fighter jets and longer range missiles to defend his nation.
We should give them to him as soon as possible.
Mr Scholz will likely put up other obstacles to not do what is needed, but if Germans themselves don’t bypass him, then we should. How? One option is to come to a consensus that, in the upcoming rebuilding of Ukraine, contracts to companies to do the work be awarded in proportion to how helpful their nations of origin were in assisting Ukraine. Scholz’s obstructionism should put German companies at the bottom of the list.
Ukraine’s enormous effort, dying in defense of democracy, is being underestimated.
So far, we have been intimidated every time that Putin talks of his nuclear weapons.
We cannot allow him to brow beat us.
His threats need to be met with resolve. And arming Ukraine with all it needs, short of nuclear weapons, is the answer
At this time China is going all out to bypass the economic sanctions the West has imposed on Putin. They are afraid of a victory by Ukraine because such victory will empower the growing resistance in China against the dictatorial powers of their communist party.
Ukrainians have made the commitment to push back Russia to behind its borders. Doing so will transform not only Ukraine but also Russia.
By now we know the courage is there. What is needed is to arm it.
For that, Western boldness is needed.
There are nations in the alliance that will prefer to scream loudly against such a position but to delay assistance is the equivalent to siding with Putin. We cannot allow it.
So it falls to you, Mr Biden, to be bolder in the interest of all nations.
Imagine the power of a fully recovered Ukraine with all its borders reclaimed and rebuilt with the assistance of the West?
Such light will shine so bright that it will move Russians to carefully examine why they have subjected themselves to the authority of Putin. They will realize they have consented to devaluing themselves by not fully exercising their political and economic freedoms.
When that starts to happen, if Putin has lasted that long, he will be asked to leave.
The same process is likely to happen in next door China and other nations farther away.
Ukraine’s uniqueness deserves all the support it needs and the resulting benefits will be great.
A nuclear war is a very distant possibility because China will act as a check on Putin.
China does not want a nuclear war. They know that if one is triggered, they would be caught in it because we would have to fire on them also.
You have done a great job, thus far, Mr Biden. Greater boldness is needed to finish the job.
You can do it.

Having An Opinion

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Is important. Having an opinion on anything.
The more subjects we have opinions on, the better.
We don’t have to be an expert on the subject to have an opinion on it.
We can reflect on it based on what we have available, what we have heard or experienced.
To have opinions we must think.
Doing so elevates it to an art form. The reflection we put into it does that.
And every one of us can do it.
We can do it while walking, sitting or lying down. But it should be done while one is alone.
Of course, opinions can and will be influenced by discussion with others but the more effort we put into doing our own thinking, the more we will get from interactions.
Writing helps thinking. But you don’t need to write to think.
Socrates didn’t do much writing. His pupil, Plato, would do it for him.
All we need to have an opinion is the willingness to have it.
All we need to think is the willingness to do it. The willingness to say, ‘I am going to think.’
That’s it.
It sounds so simple and yet, most people don’t set aside the time for it.
It is much easier to read or hear another person’s opinion and then agree or disagree with it. Which has a place, of course.
But the thinking I’m talking about is the thinking that one initiates. The one where one sets a time for it.
Each one of us has a variety of undigested ideas on a given subject that will come up when one chooses to think.
Dialogue is central to thinking. Dialogue with ourselves. With ideas we’ve heard but not pondered. Ideas we have not answered.
The French sculptor Rodin paid homage to thinking when he made his famous ‘The Thinker’, a bronze piece of a naked man sitting on a slab of stone, facing forward, his chin resting on the back of his flexed right hand, the same arm’s elbow placed on his left thigh. It is a beautiful piece.
That’s all we need to think. A place to sit and be alone.
Alone so that whatever is brewing in us can rise to the surface undisturbed.
Alone so our thoughts can float up gently into our consciousness.
Consider for a moment how little time we devote to thinking. We’re always rushing here and there, doing this or that. Afraid of looking into what is in us.
Thinking is beautiful and it is an art. Unrecognized and undervalued.
It brings us closer to who we are for it demands that we take off our mask. That we face our reality and not rush away from it. That we face our prejudices, our fears, our mistakes, our pain, our anger, our indifference, our brutality.
We all have to make a contribution to earn our living. Doing our own thinking should be part of it. And we shouldn’t leave it to others to do it for us.
We shouldn’t because every single one of us is unique.
Next time you set aside time to think, remind yourself that thinking is an art form.
When we take time to think we’re activating our creative powers. Who knows what will come out.
Societies whose members think, embrace democracy.
Societies whose members don’t, surrender to autocracy.
If you haven’t, look up Rodin’s bronze, ‘Le Penseur’, for inspiration.
It is on the net, of course, but the real thing might be at a museum near you.

For Or Against Putin

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Russia’s president chose to invade Ukraine because it’s part of his quest for glory.
There is no other credible reason.
An envious man, seething with rage because he has not been able to elevate his nation past others with fewer resources, angry at the realization that he’s not a statesman and never will be – and running out of time – he chose to invent that a threat to his future lay in neighboring Ukraine.
How to deal with it? Just take it. And if they don’t surrender, then exterminate them.
He can do it because he has nuclear weapons.
He can do it because he has built a reputation for being ruthless.
He can do it because the West is afraid of him.
Stalin is one of his heroes.
And like for him, people are mere numbers. Disposable. Expendable.
If things didn’t turn out as well as he expected during the invasion, and he has been ‘forced’ to indulge his appetite for killing other human beings, there are plenty of anti western countries that sympathize with his plans.
Anti western countries governed by autocrats and thugs.
The invasion happened and it’s been 10 months. Putin has been unsettled by Ukraine’s resistance but not very much, because knowing that he has Russians on their knees – something he is very proud of – he is sure he has the time and room to maneuver.
His main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, is in prison. At one point he had chosen to kill him through poisoning with a nerve agent but his operatives bungled the job. Navalny thought he could continue to build a movement against him so he made the mistake of returning to Russia, which left Putin with no choice but to grab him upon landing. He could just as well have ordered him shot on the spot but there is a part of him that likes to toy with his prey before putting it away. Surely, one day soon, the poor man will fall down a set of stairs and break his neck. One way or the other, he won’t leave prison.
Ukraine’s resistance has given Putin more trouble than he expected. And a headache or two. But he’s dealt with such trifles before. Russia has plenty of mineral resources the world needs and friendly countries willing to purchase them and thus help him sidestep the sanctions the West has imposed.
It may now appear as if Ukraine will win the war but it’s only an illusion, says Putin. Sooner or later, their will to fight will crack. And there are so many more Russians than Ukrainians. Docile Russians. Russians willing to do his bidding.
And in the United Nations, with Russia and China both sitting in the Security council with the power to veto, nothing against Russia or China will get through.
Interesting, how such a large organization lost its teeth.
Now and then some idealistic soul calls for talks to end the conflict. But what’s in it for Putin when, if he perseveres, he can conquer all of Ukraine?
He will have Ukraine even if he has to burn it down. He will have Ukraine even if it is without Ukrainians. Minor matter. He’ll repopulate it. Better that way so he can extinguish any traces of what was there before.
And the world will say nothing because the world is afraid of him and his nuclear weapons.
The world will say nothing because they know he can go crazy. Yes. Lose control.
Except, that he is not crazy at all. Just more determined than his opposition.
If he were the West, he would ask the rest of the world, ‘are you for or against Putin?’
If you are against Putin, then line up over here so you can get favors and trade advantages. If you are not, then go to the back of the line and wait.
If he were the West, he wouldn’t be afraid of dividing the world, forcing nations to choose.
Has he not made it clear, with his repeated missile attacks, that he’s willing to exterminate Ukrainians?
What else do they need to see?
Gas chambers?
So it’s only a matter of time. A matter of more killing. Repeated. Methodical.
He will not stop. And he’s good at it.
Keep killing and he will win. He’s sure of it. And after a while people will get accustomed to the carnage.
So he just has to wait. He will say no to negotiations unless he gets what he wants and then set up to invade again when he’s ready.
In the West, they have to deal with free speech, which is not at all helpful to a man like him.
So long as Russians are willing to be silenced, so long as the rest of the world is willing to help him, he will keep killing Ukrainians.
Until there are no more.
It would take an uncommon type of courage for the West to unify and standing up to Putin, say, ‘Enough! Except for nuclear weapons we will arm Ukrainians with everything available so they can push you back to behind your borders and have you stay there. That way the fight you picked will be fair’.
But the West won’t do it.
They may have nuclear weapons also, but they don’t have the resolve.
Until then, if ever, Long live King Vladimir!

Admitting Our Mistakes

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Is not easy.
It’s coming to terms with our fallibility, with our imperfections.
Though most of us, in our more enlightened moments, will acknowledge that we’re flawed, in day to day life our unconscious is likely to trick us, leading us to believe that we don’t have any such flaws and if we do, they’re minor.
It takes a determined effort to remind ourselves that whatever our flaws, they are always around the corner, ready to pounce.
Thus, the importance of interaction, being open to other ideas and to criticism.
No one likes being criticized but those who are open to it march a step ahead.
Still, some things we just don’t see.
I’m reminded of walking down a supermarket aisle with a small child.
I’m more likely to see those items on shelves at my eye level. The child, on the other hand, having a different field of vision, will more easily spot things on the lower shelves.
Admitting to our mistakes can be so difficult, that some people would rather keep building on a faulty foundation than to be open about it and scrap or modify the original idea.
Any project that goes awry has had design flaws that some of the creators didn’t pause enough to properly analyze.
So they cover up and cover up and cover up.
We can’t get away with it.
We become better human beings when we are open to admitting our mistakes as soon as possible. Life rewards us for being honest with ourselves.
To say, ‘I’m not good at that, or that either. He/she are better at it,’ takes a measure of courage. But it’s easier to say to ourselves, ‘they got the job because they know somebody,’
which, in our complicated world, may sometimes be true.
Being fully honest with ourselves opens new paths we hadn’t thought of.
In structured settings, be they business or governmental, confronting flaws can be so difficult that the admission of it led to the whistleblower concept. A legal clause protecting those willing to tell the truth in exchange for a monetary reward.
Hiding the truth is in every human activity.
In politics it is rampant and sometimes deadly.
Putin has gone to war with Ukraine after building an edifice of lies that no one around dared question. Thousands of lives have been lost and more will follow.
Those who heard the lies first were unwilling to challenge them. So something started to rot.
Has been rotting for years.
Inside of China, too, as exemplified in the Communist party saying to the Chinese, ‘We have all the ideas needed for us to become the greatest nation on earth. Just trust us. We lead, you follow.’
They’ve been down that road for a while and we’re smelling the stench. It comes from the repression in Hong Kong, from the suffering of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, the suffocating quarantines in the management of Covid.
Democracy has many flaws and often harbors autocrats that must be smoked out, but it creates the conditions for the open interplay of ideas.
Closed systems, like the Russian and Chinese, or any other dictatorship, rot slowly.
It’s happened since our history started.
The French kings didn’t listen to the common man until it was too late and heads rolled.
Today’s kings – Putin and Xi – who are causing or supporting so much cruelty, also believe that they own the truth and so they trample on freedom of speech.
Show me a country where freedom of speech is censored and we can point to a country where human rot is growing.
Science has something to teach us to prevent such rot. In science, a person comes up with an idea to solve a particular problem, then someone else tests it to make sure it is good. Then another person does the same, validating the proposed solution.
That is freedom at work.
Of course, some issues may need decisions that cannot wait, but many issues should use more rigor to find the better solutions.
To avoid the lies. To avoid the waste. To avoid the failure. To avoid the rot.

Putin and Xi

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P – The West, they don’t get it…
X – No, they don’t.
P – The simple notion that people are more at peace when political thinking is left to others…
X – I know… it’s like they all believe they could become leaders.

They laugh.

P – It has taken us a long and arduous journey to get where we are now… all those difficult choices we’ve had to make… to finally be able to say to ourselves… we are the best of our people… and so it belongs to us to rule them… to tell them what to do and when to do it.
The satisfaction is immense… well worth the sacrifice.
X – Well said.
P – I’m so glad to have got all the support you’ve given me in this war.
X – My pleasure.
P – Without you… things would’ve been even more difficult. So your support gives me the time to wait them out… because they will crack, I’m sure of that.
X – I hope it’s soon… so you won’t suffer any more casualties.
P – Russians know there’s a Heaven… free of pain.
X – We differ on that… but the Chinese people are willing to sacrifice for the sake of a greater nation… that together with Russia, will rule the world. I hope to see it during my lifetime.
P – Yes. I do, too. The day will come when we conquer the West.
X – We don’t have to conquer them… just use them to our ends… and surpass them in every field.
P – You don’t think we’ll have to invade Europe?
X – No need. I’m certain that all their talk of freedom is simply poison, that it ignores the reality that most human beings prefer to be told what to do… to be given direction… in exchange for security… a job… then a pension at the end of the road… and someone to turn to when they’re in trouble. As my father used to say, men and women who moderate their ambitions live happier lives. Sleep better, too.
P – Very good.
X – By creating too many options, freedom confuses people. Look at all that violence in America… and all those homeless… it’s pathetic.
P – They should be using all that money they’re giving to Ukraine to help them instead. I’m sure the homeless would be in favor.
X – They don’t get it.
P – How would you handle the homeless problem?
X – Show up with a truck. Tell everyone to get in. That’s it. If you don’t get in, then you go straight to jail.
P – ‘My civil liberties!’ they’ll start screaming…
X – In the truck. Period. Or we’ll shove you in.
P – They’re not in their right mind so someone has to think for them.
X – Exactly. That’s where the party comes in. Structure. Obedience. Accept the fact that if you’re homeless you’re a failure as a human being… but the party is generous and will give you another chance. Feed you and clean you up. Teach you a skill. But you must obey. If you don’t, then straight to a reeducation camp… for however long it takes.
P – People, at first, fight it, but with a little coercion… not much… they slowly give in.
It is amazing how both you and I can control so many people with so few.
X – It’s not an easy thing what you’re doing, Vladimir… getting people to surrender to you in Russia… but then summon their aggression to kill as many Ukrainians as possible.
P – Thank you. I’ve been working on it for a while. Redirecting their aggression, I call it. It takes a deft hand.
X – Excellent.
P – You’ll have to do the same when you invade Taiwan…
X – We are preparing… laying down the groundwork… reminding all Chinese that they are a superior people… like Russians are too… and that we deserve to rule the world… in fact it us our duty to do so.
P – Do you really think we are superior?
X – No… but as we keep saying it, people start believing it. It’s happening in your land and in mine.

Putin laughs.

P – I am very impressed with how much China has accomplished in just 40 years plus… since the opening.
X – I’ll admit that, sometimes… I really think we are a superior race.
P – Even better than us?
X – No… not better than you.
P – We have lagged behind you…
X – True… but you’ll catch up. You’ve stumbled a bit in Ukraine… because the West has got so involved… but like we’ve said… that union will crack… and everybody will go their own way.
Then they will insist on Ukraine negotiating for peace. Zelensky will scream and go crazy but in the end will accept.
P – He’s tougher than I thought…
X – Trust yourself… keep firing those missiles…
P – It would help if Trump won the presidency again… then the war would be over.
X – You think he can win?
P – No.
X – I don’t either. Too bad he failed in the assault on the capitol.
P – It would’ve changed history. We would’ve made an alliance with the Far Right and we would all be happy. Missed opportunity.
X – Sadly.
P – Do you really think… that during our lifetime… we’ll get to rule the world?
X – I really do.
P – How come you’re so sure?
X – Most people want bread and comfort… a warm place to be in… to get laid… to watch soccer games… and feel safe.
All the talk about freedom is for the intellectuals… but they can be intimidated.
And we know how to do that.
P – Yes, we do.
X – Our challenge is to get our people to be as well educated as possible… but to have them remain sheepish politically. One way or the other we have been doing it for years. We need to keep getting better at it.
P – And maybe one day soon, we’ll rule the world.
X – I’ll drink to that.
P – I’ve got some vodka, just for this occasion.

P pours and they drink.

The Right to Bear Arms and Personal Insecurity

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The Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms as being necessary to the security of a free state, but today, such security is well provided by our armed forces.
Therefore, today’s insistence on the right to bear arms appears to be an effort to address people’s personal insecurities.
In everyday life, we’re always assessing threats to our wellbeing. In the process we may properly estimate our value and that of others or just be wrong about it and end up instead overvaluing or undervaluing all concerned.
Personal insecurities come with being human. Events in our lives may exacerbate them and thus must be properly addressed.
The current insistence on the right to carry weapons stems from unaddressed personal insecurities and carries far more risks than benefits.
Furthermore, it delays the process of self scrutiny to remedy what flaws feed our personal insecurities.
It is not an easy task to address such flaws. It takes diligence, attention to detail and a measure of emotional strength to start. The rewards, however, are enormous.
One such reward may be identifying what activity bring us the most emotional satisfaction.
Do what we love most and we will be better able to value ourselves and others.
We will be better anchored and less envious.
Envy is a hard nut to crack but it can be managed effectively if we feel grounded as a person.
All of us are flawed. Those who manage to pull ahead have identified their strengths and are able to manage more effectively what flaws they have.
Therefore, they will be less likely to need a gun at their side.
Grandiosity is a personality trait that will distort how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. The quicker we’re able to identify it, the quicker we can check it.
Grandiosity is more apt to show up if we fail to properly assess what strengths we have.
It acts as an ego protective mechanism, aiming to compensate for perceptions of low self worth but is not helpful in the end.
We have several examples of grandiosity in full display in today’s current affairs.
It has impaired Putin’s and Xi Jinping’s judgments with horrific consequences. But neither man is a properly developed individual. Just like Trump in America.
The person so insistent on carrying a weapon perceives the weapon as an equalizer. They believe they need the protection when interacting with others. ‘Look, I’m carrying, so watch out.’
Some take it a step further. Years ago, while working in a prison, I met an inmate serving a sentence for shooting another man. He wounded him. He’d had an interaction with the victim and felt demeaned as a result. But seeing that the victim was a stronger man, he chose to shoot him instead of fighting him or resolving the matter by other means.
The hard tasks that lie ahead for the nation call for all of us to do more introspection. To learn about our emotions and to express them properly.
The right to bear arms contributes nothing to that task.
It delays our individual development.
Want to hunt? Get your gun. Want to evolve as a human being? Put it down.

What Ukraine is Doing for Us

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The big guy decides to squash the little guy and he gets a surprise.
No! Says the little guy.
But lacking enough resources of their own, the little guy turns around and says to the world, ‘I need help fighting this big guy who wants to walk all over me. We’ll do the fighting. We’ll do the dying. We’ll do whatever it takes to get their stinking boots off our throats, but we need guns and lots of tactical and economic support. Will you lend us a hand?’
And the West said yes.
It wasn’t easy. The West had to overcome internal differences, with one side saying, ‘do we really need to help them… won’t it inconvenience us too much?’, and another side answering, ‘will you not lend a hand to your brother or sister if they were reaching out to you to pull them out of the mud pit they were sinking in?’
And the side willing to commit to help prevailed. And it did because we could see in their faces,
that they really were our brothers and sisters, that they really were being threatened with slaughter and that we had the means to assist them.
Imagine that we had chosen to not help and then see Putin stand in Kyiv and proclaim to the world that Ukraine was now another of his satellite republics. How would we have felt?
It has cost us billions. Yes. And it will cost us even more.
But helping the little guy has had a transformative effect on the West.
We are pulling together and discovering strengths we didn’t think we had.
China, a problem? We’ll handle it.
Taiwan wants to stay free? We’ll back them up, too.
Climate change forcing us to adapt? We’ll do it.
Iran getting close to producing nuclear weapons? Go right ahead. We’ll deal with you when the time comes. Or, quite possibly, the brutal clerics who, in the name of God have been killing their own people, will be removed from power by a popular uprising that will vault women to positions of leadership in a new government if not to the very top of it.
The daily accounts of Ukrainian bravery have inspired the West and the clear minded peoples of the rest of the world. There is no turning back.
Through the tremendous courage of the Ukrainian people Putin is being defeated and the Russian people will step forward to unseat the man who is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and enormous destruction of property.
China, next door, is beginning to awaken. The White Paper protests against overly strict covid restrictions are only the beginning.
Chinese people need to breathe and are realizing the communist party is vested in repressing their freedom of thought. Xi Jinping thinks he is God. That won’t do.
A new power alignment in the world is being hatched.
Ukrainians’ determination not to be trampled on started it. The West’s willingness to support them keeps pushing them on.
In America, president Biden has been a forceful agent for change. He is in office, able to do what he has done, because the American people realized in the 2020 elections that America mattered in the world and that Trump’s sectarian leadership would lead us to defeat.
Internationalism is winning the day. As to the glitches, we will work them out.

The Winds of Freedom are Blowing

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There was something vulgar about the way Chinese police detained a protester, as seen in a widely circulated video. A young man, he was carrying a sign that said, ‘Chinese people need to be braver.’
Three security agents apprehended him and dragged him into a police vehicle. I wonder how long it will be before he resurfaces.
Demonstrations against the strict Covid quarantines continue in various cities and the communist party will do whatever it needs to suppress them.
That was the bargain the Chinese people made with their rulers. You, the party, ensure us a measure of prosperity and we will surrender our voices.
But the Chinese people weren’t counting that the time would come when the communist party would say to them, ‘this is how it’s done, whether you like or not.’ And add, ‘we are the governing class. We get to decide what direction your life should take. Not you.’
Under the severe strictures of quarantines, the Chinese have had time to think. ‘Just what is so special about Xi Jinping and his followers? If Chinese people’s labor, intelligence and creativity have lifted the nation, why should we not get more credit for it? When difficult matters come up, why shouldn’t our voices be heard? Didn’t we just launch a rocket that will take Chinese astronauts to our own space station? That was Chinese brains and muscle doing the work, not the ideology of the communist party, or Xi Jinping’s Thought (the widely distributed booklet about the pure wisdom of the nearly celestial leader).’
‘Chinese people need to be braver’ said the sign carried by the protester.
It hit home with his fellow citizens. And so they are asking themselves, shouldn’t we have the right to have our own ideas as to how to govern ourselves?
Why can’t we have elections like other developed nations?
And just what has Xi Jinping done to deserve to be our leader?
The Chinese people are starting to think politically. They are squaring with the fact that they are at the mercy of the Chinese communist party.
Why should they surrender their voices?
Why shouldn’t their opinions be heard, or written in the blank, white sheets of paper that have become the emblem of the protest.
Communist party ideology now has it that China should rise to rule the world. But first they should take over Taiwan so that they can be whole as a people. But taking over Taiwan won’t make China whole. Just like taking over Hong Kong doesn’t either. There is nothing the Taiwanese are now doing that is interfering with the development of China. Nothing at all. The Taiwanese are just busy living their lives. And the small island is enjoying the distinction of being one of the world’s leaders in the production of microchips. They are no threat to any nation at all. But because the Chinese in the mainland have surrendered their political minds to Xi Jinping and his henchmen, the communist party can make the conquering of Taiwan an absolute necessity.
It is all lies.
So why did the courageous demonstrator hold up the sign saying, ‘Chinese people need to be braver,’? Because he wanted his fellow citizens to think. And he has risked his life for it.
We may never see him again. He will probably be sentenced to years in prison or end up in a reeducation camp, like Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, until he withers away.
But his fellow citizens would do well to remember his heroic act, and to ponder what he had written on the other side of the sign, the side we didn’t get to see because the goon squad took him away.
‘Chinese people need to be braver,’ said one side, ‘So we can find our freedom,’ said the other.
The winds of freedom are blowing.
They are blowing from Ukraine.
They have reached Iran.
Now China.
Fight on, brave Chinese, for the world is counting on you.

The White Paper Protest

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Chinese people are defying the rigid mandates of Xi Jinping to contend with the spread of Covid. And with good reason. The long quarantines have severely restricted mobility and curbed economic activity. They are choking the Chinese.
In Urumqi, in Xinjiang province, a province notorious for the repression of the Uyghur population, 10 died in a fire last Thursday, November 24th. The building was under quarantine and they couldn’t get out in time.
There is a beauty to seeing Chinese people protesting against their despotic regime, shouting proudly their opposition to their government’s draconian policies.
The demonstrations, which started in Urumqi, have spread to Shanghai and Beijing.
The Chinese have reason to ask why their leadership has not used the better vaccines produced in the West with MRNA technology – a point of pride getting in the way of the welfare of the people. And so, a full three years after the outbreak of the pandemic in Wuhan, not enough Chinese have been vaccinated which would have raised the level of immunity of the population and reduced the need for the overly restrictive quarantines.
The limitations of movement that come with the communist party’s zero covid policy have only been possible because of the severe curbs on freedom of speech.
There is no dialogue between the citizen and the government and the absurdity of their policies against covid is but one example.
The chosen symbol of the protests, a white sheet of paper, I take to symbolize that Chinese people feel they have no voice whatsoever. They are expected to obey and obey. The leadership has got all the answers.
But the protesters are stepping out in large numbers and saying, ‘enough is enough’.
Will this lead to even larger demonstrations?
My hope is that it will. If so, they need to brace themselves for brutal retaliation.
Xi Jinping and his supporters are now devising ways to crush dissent. ‘How dare this rabble raise their voices, how dare they think they even have a voice? I am their voice,’ will say the chairman.
The protests speak loudly of how the Chinese people have connected with their political courage. How they wish to exercise freedom as an essential means to counter excesses. How without such freedom the whims of those in power do not get scrutinized and questioned.
Some demonstrators may, perhaps, be satisfied with what measures are proposed to lessen the length and scope of current quarantines, but this movement, even in its early stages, is about much more than covid. It’s about asserting people’s rights to be heard and to select who will govern them.
The communist leadership sees that and it is frightened by it.
Who knows how far this movement will go but it is a start and the world needs to be fully supportive of it.
The winds of freedom are blowing. They are blowing from Ukraine. They have reached Iran and now China.
Putin may have already called Xi Jinping with words of advice. ‘Jinping… listen to me, I have experience. Repress… repress… and repress again. Like you did with the Uyghurs, like you did in Hong Kong, like you will do in Taiwan. Fear is good. It works. Please, no dialogue. I need you.’

The Book of Our Lives

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We wake up in the morning and if our minds are open to the flow of past memories, something shows up that wants our attention.
A project we didn’t complete, mistakes that were made, opportunities that weren’t taken, things that weren’t said or were said.
Regrets.
And we think, was courage absent?
Did we give it our best? And if not, why not?
Were we living on the edge?
If not, why not?
Were we communing with ourselves? Or were too busy for that priceless dialogue?
Ever doubt that we have courage?
Look again. It’s there. Anxious to be called forth. Just waiting to be summoned. Ready to spring into action.
We all have courage. We come with it. It’s part of the equipment that nature gives us to do battle in our lives.
Like muscle, if we don’t use it, it withers away, may even go into hiding, but it never disappears entirely. So long as we have breath.
And what a joy it is to see it step forward.
In our daily battle for existence, all steps require some degree of courage to say ‘I’m here. I am alive.’
If we make mistakes, let’s fix them and learn from them.
Courage will be the first to admit that exercising it comes with mistakes.
To not exercise it daily is to bury ourselves, little by little.
We can call courage by another name, say affirmation. I prefer the word courage.
It’s raw, summons defiance, quiet or loud, small or large, shy or outrageous.
As the river that each of us is streams through life, courage is the force that defines us.
‘He/she did this. He/she did that.’
Each act of creation an act of courage.
And every day of our lives demands acts of creation or else we atrophy, shrivel, devalue our possibilities.
There’s too much to do in life. Too much injustice, too much ignorance, too much violence, too much indifference, too much conceit, for us to remain aloof.
The river that each of our lives is needs to flow to enrich other lives and by that measure our existences will be judged to have been worthy or not.
Because there is that possibility, isn’t there? The possibility that our lives will amount to nothing at all. To have existed and done nothing.
To have benefitted from other people’s efforts but contributed zero to the human project.
Every morning, upon awakening, life demands that we be courageous.
That we improve our existences and impact that of others.
Succumb to fear or face it.
Facing our past mistakes is facing our history. The book of our life opens a page every morning.
So let us read it. It is there to show us the path forward.
There, for us to write in our choices.