Fearmongering Pokémon GO

I’ve seen an image shared on social media several times, discussing the new Pokémon GO game (without naming it), and I’m going to call this one as I see it: I think this is an example of fearmongering.

Here is the image:

Fearmongering Pokémon Go

Millions of people playing a game made from a foreign company. A game that uses your camera that feeds onto their servers. People exploring sensitive areas to include police stations, restricted zones, military installations etc. If I was plotting a major offensive attack….what better way to gather your Intel than from the nation’s citizens themselves; and mask it as an innocent nostalgic game. Think about it.

Fearmongering is defined as “the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue.” Let’s look at the claims being made.

Millions of people playing a game

This is true. Estimates vary, but as of Monday, July 11, 2016, statistics pointed to the fact that more than 20 million people were playing the game.

made from a foreign company

This is false. Niantic Labs was started in 2010 by American John Hanke as an internal startup at Google. The company is based in San Francisco, California. Niantic Labs was spun off from Google as an independent company in October 2015.

A game that uses your camera

This is true. Although to be clear, it uses your smartphone’s camera (not just any camera), but you don’t actually take any pictures with your camera — you just use it in “preview” mode.

and feeds onto their servers.

The implication in this statement is that the information is going to unknown servers in a foreign (and perhaps even dangerous) country.

As I’ve already established, Niantic Labs is an American company. While we don’t know where their data servers are (no company of this caliber would reveal the physical location of their servers), it would be highly unlikely for their data servers to be in a foreign country. Considering that Niantic started as a part of Google, I would be willing to venture that they have a hosting deal with Google.

People exploring sensitive areas to include police stations, restricted zones, military installations etc.

This is false, and this is the point where a rational’s person truth radar should be pinging.

What police station would allow a person to enter with a smartphone and wander the building under the guise of playing Pokémon GO?

Further, what military installation (or “other restricted zone”) would allow a person to enter with a smartphone and wander around under the guise of playing Pokémon GO? Those types of facilities have very strict security guidelines in place. If they don’t have very strict security guidelines in place, then it’s likely to be a place with no need for such strict security, such as a rural police station with no major intelligence or security risks.

If I was plotting a major offensive attack…

Here comes the fearful unknown hypothetical situation, that “someone out there” would be “plotting a major offensive attack.” Could this be a real possibility? Certainly. But with all of the information that is readily available on the Internet — have you ever fully used Google Maps? — it’s not like there’s a lack of information that’s already easily accessible.

What better way to gather your Intel than from the nation’s citizens themselves; and mask it as an innocent nostalgic game

“What better way…”? I could easily rattle off a handful of ways that are already available — there’s no need to go through the work of developing a game in the hope that people will like it, download it, and use it, especially to the point where enough data is coming in from across the country to make it a valid data source.

And as I mentioned above, current statistics point to more than 20 million people playing the game. The latest population statistics for the United States show a total population of 320 million people. Even if we were to round up the current count of Pokémon GO players to 30 million, that still represents just 9.4% of the population.

Think about it.

Yes, please think about it. And I hope that in taking a minute to truly think this through, you’ll realize the tactics that are being used here. You’re given incomplete and untrue information from an unknown source1 with the hope of prompting an emotional response that will override your rational thought.

If you’re a Christ-follower, remember the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”

Let’s not live in fear, but use the sound judgment that’s been given to us.

1Personal pet peeve of mine: Statements that are presented (and often accepted) as factual with no sources provided.


Strength for today and Bright Hope for tomorrow

I woke up this morning with this phrase on my mind…

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

It’s from the hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not,
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided —
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace the endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Statue of Liberty

Ronald Reagan at the Opening Ceremonies of the Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration

Ronald Reagan was a presidential candidate who sometimes used the slogan, “Make America great again” as part of his campaign. But as I read through his speeches, I can’t help but contrast his desire to unite Americans and portray America as land of freedom and hope, with the current candidate who uses the same slogan, yet seeks to divide Americans and close off America by “building a wall.” There’s a stark difference here, from candidates of the same political party, just 30 years apart.

In May of 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Lee Iacocca, Chairman of Chrysler Corporation, to head up a private sector effort to restore the Statue of Liberty. Fundraising began for the $87 million restoration under a public/private partnership between the National Park Service and The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. On July 3, 1986, the Statue was unveiled and illuminated during Liberty Weekend, which celebrated her centennial. On July 5, 1986, the newly restored Statue reopened to the public.

These are President Reagan’s remarks at the unveiling ceremony, given on July 3, 1986 at 9:28 p.m. on Governors Island.

Thank you. And Lee Iacocca, thank you on behalf of America. President and Madame Mitterrand, my fellow Americans: The iron workers from New York and New Jersey who came here to begin restoration work were at first puzzled and a bit put off to see foreign workers, craftsmen from France, arrive. Jean Wiart, the leader of the French workers, said his countrymen understood. After all, he asked, how would Frenchmen feel if Americans showed up to help restore the Eiffel Tower? But as they came to know each other — these Frenchmen and Americans — affections grew; and so, too, did perspectives.

The Americans were reminded that Miss Liberty, like the many millions she’s welcomed to these shores, is of foreign birth, the gift of workers, farmers, and shopkeepers and children who donated hundreds of thousands of francs to send her here. They were the ordinary people of France. This statue came from their pockets and from their hearts. The French workers, too, made discoveries. Monsieur Wiart, for example, normally lives in a 150-year-old cottage in a small French town, but for the last year he’s been riding the subway through Brooklyn. “A study in contrasts,” he said — contrasts indeed. But he has also told the newspapers that he and his countrymen learned something else at Liberty Island. For the first time, they worked in proximity with Americans of Jewish, black, Italian, Irish, Russian, Polish, and Indian backgrounds. “Fascinating,” he said, “to see different ethnic and national types work and live so well together.” Well, it’s how we like to think of America. And it’s good to know that Miss Liberty is still giving life to the dream of a new world where old antagonisms could be cast aside and people of every nation could live together as one.

It’s especially fitting that this lessons should be relived and relearned here by Americans and Frenchmen. President Mitterrand, the French and American people have forged a special friendship over the course of two centuries. Yes, in the 1700’s, France was the midwife of our liberty. In two World Wars, America stood with France as she fought for her life and for civilization. And today, Mr. President, with infinite gentleness, your countrymen tend the final resting places, marked now by rows of white crosses and stars, of more than 60,000 Americans who remain on French soil, a reminder since the days of Lafayette of our mutual struggles and sacrifices for freedom. So, tonight, as we celebrate the friendship of our two nations, we also pray: May it ever be so. God bless America, and Vive la France!

Normandy American Cemtery

The Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, overlooking the English Channel

And yet, my fellow Americans, it is not only the friendship of two peoples but the friendship of all peoples that brings us here tonight. We celebrate something more than the restoration of this statue’s physical grandeur. Another worker here, Scott Aronsen, a marble restorer, has put it well: “I grew up in Brooklyn and never went to the Statue of Liberty. But when I first walked in there to work, I thought about my grandfathers coming through here.” And which of us does not think of other grandfathers and grandmothers, from so many places around the globe, for whom this statue was the first glimpse of America?

“She was silhouetted very clear,” one of them wrote about standing on the deck as their ship entered New York Harbor. “We passed her very slowly. Of course we had to look up. She was beautiful.” Another talked of how all the passengers rushed to one side of the boat for a fast look at their new home and at her. “Everybody was crying. The whole boat bent toward her. She was beautiful with the morning light.” To millions returning home, especially from foreign wars, she was also special. A young World War I captain of artillery described how, on a troopship returning from France, even the most hard-bitten veteran had trouble blinking back the tears. “I’ve never seen anything that looked so good,” that doughboy, Harry Truman, wrote to his fiance, Bess, back in Independence, Missouri, “as the Liberty Lady in New York Harbor.”

And that is why tonight we celebrate the mother of exiles who lifts her light beside the golden door. Many of us have seen the picture of another worker here, a tool belt around his waist, balanced on a narrow metal rod of scaffolding, leaning over to place a kiss on the forehead of Miss Liberty. Tony Soraci, the grandson of immigrant Italians, said it was something he was proud to do, “something to tell my grandchildren.” Robert Kearney feels the same way. At work on the statue after a serious illness, he gave $10,000 worth of commemorative pins to those who visited here. Part of the reason, he says, was an earlier construction job over in Hoboken and his friend named Blackie. They could see the harbor from the building they were working on, and every morning Blackie would look over the water, give a salute, and say, “That’s my gal!”

Statue of Liberty Kiss

Tony Soraci kisses the forehead of Lady Liberty during the statue’s restoration in 1986

Well, the truth is, she’s everybody’s gal. We sometimes forget that even those who came here first to settle the new land were also strangers. I’ve spoken before of the tiny Arabella, a ship at anchor just off the Massachusetts coast. A little group of Puritans huddled on the deck. And then John Winthrop, who would later become the first Governor of Massachusetts, reminded his fellow Puritans there on that tiny deck that they must keep faith with their God, that the eyes of all the world were upon them, and that they must not forsake the mission that God had sent them on, and they must be a light unto the nations of the world — a shining city upon a hill.

Call it mysticism, if you will. I have always believed there was some divine providence that placed this great land here between the two great oceans, to be found by a special kind of people from every corner of the world, who had a special love for freedom and a special courage that enabled them to leave their own land, leave their friends and their countrymen, and come to this new and strange land to build a New World of peace and freedom and hope. Lincoln spoke about hope as he left the hometown he would never see again to take up the duties of the Presidency and bring America through a terrible Civil War. At each stop on his long train ride to Washington, the news grew worse: The Nation was dividing; his own life was in peril. On he pushed, undaunted. In Philadelphia he spoke in Independence Hall, where 85 years earlier the Declaration of Independence had been signed. He noted that much more had been achieved there than just independence from Great Britain. It was, he said, “hope to the world, future for all time.”

Well, that is the common thread that binds us to those Quakers [Puritans] on the tiny deck of the Arabella, to the beleaguered farmers and landowners signing the Declaration in Philadelphia in that hot Philadelphia hall, to Lincoln on a train ready to guide his people through the conflagration, to all the millions crowded in the steerage who passed this lady and wept at the sight of her, and those who’ve worked here in the scaffolding with their hands and with their love — Jean Wiart, Scott Aronsen, Tony Soraci, Robert Kearney, and so many others.

We’re bound together because, like them, we too dare to hope — hope that our children will always find here the land of liberty in a land that is free. We dare to hope too that we’ll understand our work can never truly be done until every man, woman, and child shares in our gift, in our hope, and stands with us in the light of liberty — the light that, tonight, will shortly cast its glow upon her, as it has upon us for two centuries, keeping faith with a dream of long ago and guiding millions still to a future of peace and freedom.

And now we will unveil that gallant lady. Thank, and God bless you all.

After his speech, President Reagan presented Medals of Liberty to Henry A. Kissinger, Franklin Ramón Chang Díaz, I.M. Pei, Itzhak Perlman, James B. Reston, Kenneth Clark, Albert B. Sabin, An Wang, Elie Wiesel, Bob Hope, and Hanna Holborn Gray.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan – Independence Day, 1986

On July 4, 1986, at 9:50 p.m., President Ronald Reagan gave the following speech from the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy in New York Harbor.

My fellow Americans:

In a few moments the celebration will begin here in New York Harbor. It’s going to be quite a show. I was just looking over the preparations and thinking about a saying that we had back in Hollywood about never doing a scene with kids or animals because they’d steal the scene every time. So, you can rest assured I wouldn’t even think about trying to compete with a fireworks display, especially on the Fourth of July.

My remarks tonight will be brief, but it’s worth remembering that all the celebration of this day is rooted in history. It’s recorded that shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, celebrations took place throughout the land, and many of the former Colonists — they were just starting to call themselves Americans — set off cannons and marched in fife and drum parades.

What a contrast with the sober scene that had taken place a short time earlier in Independence Hall. Fifty-six men came forward to sign the parchment. It was noted at the time that they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors. And that was more than rhetoric; each of those men knew the penalty for high treason to the Crown. “We must all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin said, “or, assuredly, we will all hang separately.” And John Hancock, it is said, wrote his signature in large script so King George could see it without his spectacles. They were brave. They stayed brave through all the bloodshed of the coming years. Their courage created a nation built on a universal claim to human dignity, on the proposition that every man, woman, and child had a right to a future of freedom.

For just a moment, let us listen to the words again: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Last night when we rededicated Miss Liberty and relit her torch, we reflected on all the millions who came here in search of the dream of freedom inaugurated in Independence Hall. We reflected, too, on their courage in coming great distances and settling in a foreign land and then passing on to their children and their children’s children the hope symbolized in this statue here just behind us: the hope that is America. It is a hope that someday every people and every nation of the world will know the blessings of liberty.

And it’s the hope of millions all around the world. In the last few years, I’ve spoken at Westminster to the mother of Parliaments; at Versailles, where French kings and world leaders have made war and peace. I’ve been to the Vatican in Rome, the Imperial Palace in Japan, and the ancient city of Beijing. I’ve seen the beaches of Normandy and stood again with those boys of Pointe du Hoc, who long ago scaled the heights, and with, at that time, Lisa Zanatta Henn, who was at Omaha Beach for the father she loved, the father who had once dreamed of seeing again the place where he and so many brave others had landed on D-Day. But he had died before he could make that trip, and she made it for him. “And Dad,” she had said, “I’ll always be proud.”

And I’ve seen the successors to these brave men, the young Americans in uniform all over the world, young Americans like you here tonight who man the mighty U.S.S. Kennedy and the Iowa and other ships of the line. I can assure you, you out there who are listening, that these young are like their fathers and their grandfathers, just as willing, just as brave. And we can be just as proud. But our prayer tonight is that the call for their courage will never come. And that it’s important for us, too, to be brave; not so much the bravery of the battlefield, I mean the bravery of brotherhood.

All through our history, our presidents and leaders have spoken of national unity and warned us that the real obstacle to moving forward the boundaries of freedom, the only permanent danger to the hope that is America, comes from within. It’s easy enough to dismiss this as a kind of familiar exhortation. Yet the truth is that even two of our greatest Founding Fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, once learned this lesson late in life. They’d worked so closely together in Philadelphia for independence. But once that was gained and a government was formed, something called partisan politics began to get in the way. After a bitter and divisive campaign, Jefferson defeated Adams for the presidency in 1800. And the night before Jefferson’s inauguration, Adams slipped away to Boston, disappointed, brokenhearted, and bitter.

For years their estrangement lasted. But when both had retired, Jefferson at 68 to Monticello and Adams at 76 to Quincy, they began through their letters to speak again to each other. Letters that discussed almost every conceivable subject: gardening, horseback riding, even sneezing as a cure for hiccups; but other subjects as well: the loss of loved ones, the mystery of grief and sorrow, the importance of religion, and of course the last thoughts, the final hopes of two old men, two great patriarchs, for the country that they had helped to found and loved so deeply. “It carries me back,” Jefferson wrote about the correspondence with his cosigner of the Declaration of Independence, “to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right to self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us and yet passing harmless… we rowed through the storm with heart and hand…” It was their last gift to us, this lesson in brotherhood, in tolerance for each other, this insight into America’s strength as a nation. And when both died on the same day within hours of each other, that date was July 4th, 50 years exactly after that first gift to us, the Declaration of Independence.

My fellow Americans, it falls to us to keep faith with them and all the great Americans of our past. Believe me, if there’s one impression I carry with me after the privilege of holding for five and a half years the office held by Adams and Jefferson and Lincoln, it is this: that the things that unite us — America’s past of which we’re so proud, our hopes and aspirations for the future of the world and this much-loved country — these things far outweigh what little divides us. And so tonight we reaffirm that Jew and Gentile, we are one nation under God; that black and white, we are one nation indivisible; that Republican and Democrat, we are all Americans. Tonight, with heart and hand, through whatever trial and travail, we pledge ourselves to each other and to the cause of human freedom, the cause that has given light to this land and hope to the world.

My fellow Americans, we’re known around the world as a confident and happy people. Tonight there’s much to celebrate and many blessings to be grateful for. So while it’s good to talk about serious things, it’s just as important and just as American to have some fun. Now, let’s have some fun — let the celebration begin!

Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein after JFK’s assassination

On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated. On November 25, the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York was to hold its 25th annual fundraising gala, “Night of Stars.” They decided to still hold the event, but turn it into a memorial. Former vice president, now president, Lyndon B. Johnson, had been scheduled to speak at the event. In his place, Leonard Bernstein spoke to the 18,000 attendees. Here is what Bernstein said just three days after such a tragic event:

New York, New York
November 25, 1963

My dear friends:

Last night the New York Philharmonic and I performed Mahler’s Second Symphony — the Resurrection — in tribute to the memory of our beloved late President. There were those who asked: Why the Resurrection Symphony, with its visionary concept of hope and triumph over worldly pain, instead of a Requiem, or the customary Funeral March from the Eroica? Why indeed? We played the Mahler Symphony not only in terms of resurrection for the soul of one we love, but also for the resurrection of hope in all of us who mourn him. In spite of our shock, our shame, and our despair at the diminution of a man that follows from this death, we must somehow gather strength for the increase of man, strength to go on striving for those goals he cherished. In mourning him, we must be worthy of him.

I know of no musician in this country who did not love John F. Kennedy. American artists have for three years looked to the White House with unaccustomed confidence and warmth. We loved him for the honor in which he held art, in which he held every creative impulse of the human mind, whether it was expressed in words, or notes, or paints, or mathematical symbols. This reverence for the life of the mind was apparent even in his last speech, which he was to have made a few hours after his death. He was to have said: “America’s leadership must be guided by learning and reason.” Learning and reason: precisely the two elements that were necessarily missing from the mind of anyone who could have fired that impossible bullet. Learning and reason: the two basic precepts of all Judaistic tradition, the twin sources from which every Jewish mind from Abraham and Moses to Freud and Einstein has drawn its living power. Learning and reason: the motto we here tonight must continue to uphold with redoubled tenacity, and must continue, at any price, to make the basis of all our actions.

It is obvious that the grievous nature of our loss is immensely aggravated by the element of violence involved in it. And where does this violence spring from? From ignorance and hatred — the exact antonyms of Learning and Reason. Learning and Reason: those two words of John Kennedy’s were not uttered in time to save his own life; but every man can pick them up where they fell, and make them part of himself, the seed of that rational intelligence without which our world can no longer survive. This must the be mission of every man of goodwill: To insist, unflaggingly, at risk of becoming a repetitive bore, but to insist on the achievement of a world in which the mind will have triumphed over violence.

We musicians, like everyone else, are numb with sorrow at this murder, and with rage at the senselessness of the crime. But this sorrow and rage will not inflame us to seek retribution; rather they will inflame our art. Our music will never again be quite the same. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. And with each note we will honor the spirit of John Kennedy, commemorate his courage, and reaffirm his faith in the Triumph of the Mind.

Bernstein’s speech is included in The Leonard Bernstein Letters.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. on Nonviolent Resistance

For a few years now, I have been intrigued by the writings and teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. And now, in light of so much violence we have seen recently around the world, I wanted to share his writings on nonviolent resistance.

From the beginning a basic philosophy guided the movement. This guiding principle has since been referred to variously as nonviolent resistance, noncooperation, and passive resistance. But in the first days of the protest none of these expressions was mentioned: the phrase most often heard was “Christian love.” It was the Sermon on the Mount, rather than a doctrine of passive resistance, that initially inspired the Negroes of Montgomery to dignified social action. It was Jesus of Nazareth that stirred the Negroes to protest with the creative weapon of love.

As the days unfolded, however, the inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi began to exert its influence. I had come to see early that the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom. About a week after the protest started, a white woman who understood and sympathized with the Negroes’ efforts wrote a letter to the editor of the Montgomery Advertiser comparing the bus protest with the Gandhian movement in India. Miss Juliette Morgan, sensitive and frail, did not long survive the rejection and condemnation of the white community, but long after she died in the summer of 1957 the name of Mahatma Gandhi was well known in Montgomery. People who had never heard of the little brown saint in India were now saying his name with an air of familiarity. Nonviolent resistance had emerged as the technique of the movement, while love stood as the regulating ideal. In other words, Christ furnished the spirit and motivation, while Gandhi furnished the method.

One of the glories of the Montgomery movement was that Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and others all came together with a willingness to transcend denominational lines. Although no Catholic priests were actively involved in the protest, many of their parishioners took part. All joined hands in the bond of Christian love. Thus the mass meetings accomplished on Monday and Thursday nights what the Christian Church had failed to accomplish on Sunday mornings.

In my weekly remarks as president of the resistance committee, I stressed that the use of violence in our struggle would be both impractical and immoral. To meet hate with retaliatory hate would do nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love; we must meet physical force with soul free. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding.

In a real sense, Montgomery’s Negroes showed themselves willing to grapple with a new approach to the crisis in race relations. It is probably true that most of them did not believe in nonviolence as a philosophy of life, but because of their confidence in their leaders and because nonviolence was presented to them as a simple expression of Christianity in action, they were willing to use it as a technique. Admittedly, nonviolence in the truest sense is not a strategy that one uses simply because it is expedient at the moment; nonviolence is ultimately a way of life that men live by because of the sheer morality of its claim. But even granting this, the willingness to use nonviolence as a technique is a step forward. For he who goes this far is more likely to adopt nonviolence later as a way of life.

It must be emphasized that nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight. He made this statement conscious of the fact that there is always another alternative: no individual or group need submit to any wrong, nor need they use violence to right that wrong; there is the way of nonviolent resistance. This is ultimately the way of the strong man. It is not a method of stagnant passivity. The phrase “passive resistance” often gives the false impression that this is a sort of “do-nothing method” in which the resister quietly and passively accepts evil. But nothing is further from the truth. For while the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong. The method is passive physically but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive non-resistance to evil, it is active nonviolent resistance to evil.

A second basic fact that characterizes nonviolence is that it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but he realizes that these are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.

A third characteristic of this method is that the attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against the persons who happen to be doing the evil. It is evil that the nonviolent resister seeks to defeat, not the persons victimized by the evil. If he is opposing racial injustice, the nonviolent resister has the vision to see that the basic tension is not between races. As I like to say to the people in Montgomery: “The tension in this city is not between white people and Negro people. The tension is, at bottom, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. And if there is a victory, it will be a victory not merely for fifty thousand Negroes, but a victory for justice and the forces of light. We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust.”

A fourth point that characterizes nonviolent resistance is a willingness to accept suffering without retaliation, to accept blows from the opponent without striking back. “Rivers of blood may have to flow before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood,” Gandhi said to his countrymen. The nonviolent resister is willing to accept violence if necessary, but never to inflict it. He does not seek to dodge jail. If going to jail is necessary, he enters it “as a bridegroom enters the bride’s chamber.”

One may well ask: “What is the nonviolent resister’s justification for this ordeal to which he invites men, for this mass political application of the ancient doctrine of turning the other cheek?” The answer is found in the realization that unearned suffering is redemptive. Suffering, the nonviolent resister realizes, has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities. “Things of fundamental importance to people are not secured by reason alone, but have to be purchased with their suffering,” said Gandhi. He continues: “Suffering is infinitely more powerful than the law of the jungle for converting the opponent and opening his ears which are otherwise shut to the voice of reason.”

A fifth point concerning nonviolent resistance is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.

In speaking of love at this point, we are not referring to some sentimental or affectionate emotion. It would be nonsense to urge men to love their oppressors in an affectionate sense. Love in this connection means understanding, redemptive good will. When we speak of loving those who oppose us, we refer to neither eros nor philia; we speak of a love which is expressed in the Greek word agape. Agape means understanding, redeeming good will for all men. It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. It is not set in motion by any quality or function of its object. It is the love of God operating in the human heart.

Agape is disinterested love. It is a love in which the individual seeks not his own good, but the good of his neighbor (1 Cor. 10:24). Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people, or any qualities people possess. It begins by loving others for their sakes. It is an entirely “neighbor-regarding concern for others,” which discovers the neighbor in every man it meets. Therefore, agape makes no distinction between friends and enemy; it is directed toward both. If one loves an individual merely on account of his friendliness, he loves him for the sake of the benefits to be gained from the friendship, rather than for the friend’s own sake. Consequently, the best way to assure oneself that love is disinterested is to have love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution.

Another basic point about agape is that it springs from the need of the other person — his need for belonging to the best in the human family. The Samaritan who helped the Jew on the Jericho Road was “good” because he responded to the human need that he was presented with. God’s love is eternal and fails not because man needs his love. Saint Paul assures us that the loving act of redemption was done “while we were yet sinners” — that is, at the point of our greatest need for love. Since the white man’s personality is greatly distorted by segregation, and his soul is greatly scarred, he needs the love of the Negro. The Negro must love the white man, because the white man needs his love to remove his tensions, insecurities, and fears.

Agape is not a weak, passive love. It is love in action. Agape is love seeking to preserve and create community. It is insistence on community even when one seeks to break it. Agape is a willingness to go to any length to restore community. It doesn’t stop at the first mile, but it goes the second mile to restore community. It is a willingness to forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven to restore community. The cross is the eternal expression of the length to which God will go in order to restore broken community. The resurrection is a symbol of God’s triumph over all the forces that seek to block community. The Holy Spirit is the continuing community creating reality that moves through history. He who works against community is working against the whole of creation. Therefore, if I respond to hate with a reciprocal hate I do nothing but intensify the cleavage in broken community. I can only close the gap in broken community by meeting hate with love. If I meet hate with hate, I become depersonalized, because creation is so designed that my personality can only be fulfilled in the context of community. Booker T. Washington was right: “Let no man pull you so low as to make you hate him.” When he pulls you that low he brings you to the point of defying creation, and thereby becoming depersonalized.

In the final analysis, agape means a recognition of the fact that all life is interrelated. All humanity is involved in a single process, and all men are brothers. To the degree that I harm my brother, no matter what he is doing to me, to that extent I am harming myself. For example, white men often refuse federal aid to education in order to avoid giving the Negro his rights; but because all men are brothers they cannot deny Negro children without harming their own. They end, all efforts to the contrary, by hurting themselves. Why is this? Because men are brothers. If you harm me, you harm yourself.

A sixth basic fact about nonviolent resistance is that it is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. Consequently, the believer in nonviolence has deep faith in the future. This faith is another reason why the nonviolent resister can accept suffering without retaliation. For he knows that in his struggle for justice he has cosmic companionship. It is true that there are devout believers in nonviolence who find it difficult to believe in a personal God. But even these persons believe in the existence of some creative force that works for universal wholeness. Whether we call it an unconscious process, an impersonal Brahman, or a Persona Being of matchless power and infinite love, there is a creative force in this universe that works to bring the disconnected aspects of reality into a harmonious whole.


You are not home yet!

The story is told of an old missionary named Samuel Morrison who, after twenty-five years in Africa, was returning to the United States to die. As it so happened, he traveled home on the same ocean liner that brought President Teddy Roosevelt back from a hunting expedition. When the great ship pulled into the New York harbor, the dock where it was to tie up was jammed with what looked like the entire population of New York City! Bands were playing, banners were waving, choirs of children were singing, multicolored balloons were floating in the air, flashbulbs were popping, and newsreel cameras were poised to record the return of the president.

Mr. Roosevelt stepped down the gangplank to thunderous cheers and applause, showered with confetti and ticker tape. If the crowd had not been restrained by ropes and police, he would have been mobbed!

At the same time, Samuel Morrison quietly walked off the boat. No one was there to greet him. He slipped alone through the crowd. Because of the crush of people there to welcome the president, he couldn’t even find a cab. Inside his heart, he began to complain, “Lord, the president has been in Africa for three weeks, killing animals, and the whole world turns out to welcome him home! I’ve given twenty-five years of my life in Africa, serving You, and no one has greeted me or even knows I’m here!”

In the quietness of his heart, a gentle, loving voice whispered, “But My dear child, you are not home yet!”

From The Vision of His Glory by Ann Graham Lotz

Basic Principles for Effective Speakers

I was reminded recently of the Basic Principles for Effective Speakers, as written by Anna Lloyd Neal. I had to memorize these principles for my freshman speech class when I was in college. I’ve since forgotten them…

  1. The Effective Speaker is a person whose character, knowledge, and judgment command respect.
  2. The Effective Speaker has a message to deliver, has a definite purpose in giving that message, and is consumed with the necessity of getting that message across and accomplishing that purpose.
  3. The Effective Speaker realizes that the primary purpose of speech is the communication of ideas and feelings in order to get a desired response.
  4. The Effective Speaker analyzes and adjusts to every speaking situation.
  5. The Effective Speaker chooses topics which are significant and appropriate.
  6. The Effective Speaker reads and listens with discrimination. (Neither blindly accepting the ideas of others, nor stubbornly refusing to consider opinions opposed to his own.)
  7. The Effective Speaker secures facts and opinions through sound research and careful thought so that his speech, both on and off the platform, may be worthy of the listener’s time.
  8. The Effective Speaker selects and organizes materials so that they form a unified and coherent whole.
  9. The Effective Speaker uses language that is clear, direct, appropriate, and vivid.
  10. The Effective Speaker makes his delivery vital and keeps it free from distracting elements.
open book

I Opened a Book

I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in the bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.

– Julia Donaldson

On being a skilled Salesforce Administrator

I love this quote from Brent Downey and his website, AdminHero.com. I think it accurately describes what Salesforce administrators do.

What most people don’t realize is that the underlying skill set that admins require is not Salesforce but process management. Everything that we do is to enable more effective and efficient processes for our organizations. Salesforce happens to be the medium through which we do this. What this means is that Salesforce can be easily learned but what truly makes a great Admin is understanding the marriage between process and the technology. Knowing how to get the process to work leveraging Salesforce is the skill. Thankfully, this comes from experience and a healthy dose of trial and error.

Brent Downey