Posts filed under ‘Religion and belief’

Misplaced gaiety and pride

Flaunting sexual tendencies

is an affront



By RALPH DOBRIN

gay2
Why do they call homosexuality “gay?” By doing so, yet another wonderful word in the English language has been mangled. Homosexuality is anything but gay or a source of pride. While the attitude (including in the less repressive countries) towards homosexuality used to be very unfair and cruel, it is a positive development that homosexuals are no longer hounded. But, now the pendulum has swung the other way and normative society is being assailed by garish parades in our cities, all-to-frequent homosexual situations in our movies and literature, influencing our young people to experiment with their sexuality that can lead them away from traditional coupling and marriage, and thus weakening the chances for a wholesome future for society in general.

Also, if people of the same gender want to live together in emotional and physical intimacy – that  should be their concern alone. But don’t call it marriage!!! Marriage is too serious a concept, encompassing a huge number of cherished values. For many people marriage is regarded as one of the most hallowed things in life. People who want to cohabit, whether heterosexually or homo-sexually, can still retain rights, justifiably accruing from separation after a long-lasting, shared relationship, or death, simply by making up a legal document to that effect.

But officially-sanctioned same sex marriage should be opposed as vigorously as possible by all decent-minded people everywhere. And politicians appearing at events organized to promote homosexual rights,  or promoting same-gender marriage, should be told that their cynical support of homosexuality will not bring them any political dividends, but only the support of homosexuals. One can only hope that they are not becoming the majority.

June 8, 2013 at 8:52 am Leave a comment

How to make the right decisions

How to make the right

decisions

It’s the most important thing in our lives

By RALPH DOBRIN

Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon,” available through Amazon

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make the right decisions or come to fully rational conclusions all the time? Well, there is a way to do this, at least most of the time. It’s a simple procedure that can be applied to just about any question or problem, big or small, whether it’s about a personal matter, a business issue or an international conflict.

The procedure involves asking ourselves two questions:
1. Necessity? Is there a real necessity for whatever it is that we are considering, why and to what extent is it necessary?
2. What are the disadvantages or possible risks involved?

There are some cases where two other questions should be asked:
1. Are there any moral issues involved?
2. Are there any feasible alternatives?
The order of these questions is not binding and can be changed. But there is one cardinal rule and it is complete honesty throughout the process. Answers to all questions should scrupulously follow all the principles of truthfulness. In order to do this we need to get all the relevant facts as accurately as possible. However, unequivocal answers are not always forthcoming, or some answers that we get are not proven, or they are mere speculation or questionable. All this has to be taken into account throughout the entire process.

To see how this procedure works, let’s take a simple, mundane question that involves most of us. Eggs!

Medical experts tell us that eggs cause high cholesterol that can lead to serious health problems. On the other hand nutritionists say that eggs are a good source of protein, B vitamins and a number of important minerals. Now, let’s assume that I have a great liking for eggs in any form – fried eggs, scrambled eggs, omelettes, french toast, egg salad, etc. So, whose advice should I heed? Can I continue eating eggs to my heart’s content, or should I cut down on my egg consumption or avoid eggs altogether? [By the way, this article is not meant to promote or discourage egg consumption. Eggs in this case, merely provide a familiar subject to illustrate the procedure that is necessary if we want to understand how to make sensible decisions.]

So, to get back to our eggs, and the first question: is there a necessity? Well, there seems to be a necessity  in the form of our great fondness for egg dishes. Also, eggs provide significant nutritious benefits. All this indicates necessity.

Next, in addressing what disadvantages or health risks there are, we will find a lot of cautionary material by medical experts. We will also find that there are some experts who qualify their cautionary remarks by saying that depending on the person’s medical condition and metabolism, and the conditions of the egg-laying hens, moderate egg consumption can be acceptable. Yippie! So, I check my cholesterol and triglyceride levels and if they are high, this would indicate severely limiting my egg consumption, according to what my physician suggests. However, if my overall levels are low or at a level that is considered acceptable by my doctor (when he takes into consideration my overall physical condition), I should be able to indulge in my fondness for eggs, as long as annual or bi-annual tests keep showing satisfactory levels.

However, in my candid quest for answers, I learn that cholesterol and triglyceride levels are not the only medical factor to be considered. I find that in many places that use modern poultry factory farming methods, hens are crammed into battery cages in large sheds holding hundreds and even thousands of birds under the most insalubrious conditions. Furthermore, the hens are subjected to antibiotics, vaccines and other drugs to prevent disease, hasten maturity and increase egg production. So, another question arises: do such intensive conditions, together with the drugs administered, pose any additional health risks, to which my physician hasn’t seriously related?

I will need to spend quite a lot of additional time studying the subject in depth. But I can save a lot of time by resorting to a technique that is useful whenever we can’t get a clear-cut answer. It’s called the scale of likelihood. It’s a scale grading the validity of any claim or notion, or the chance of something happening – ranging from “definitely” to “probably,” “possibly,” “unlikely” or “definitely not.” So, I can ask myself which adverb on this scale fits our question: “Do the conditions under which egg-laying hens are raised, pose any possible health risks?” If my answer, candidly reached, is “unlikely,” then I might be able to disregard this issue. But if I think that “probably” or “possibly” are more likely conclusions, then I should factor this into my final decision regarding any additional health risks to eating eggs.

However, we should bear in mind that officials and health experts speaking on behalf of the egg producers and any organizations affiliated with them, including even the Agriculture Ministry, will possibly try to assure the public that the eggs are absolutely safe for consumption and provide maximum nutrition. While one shouldn’t immediately suspect people’s level of honesty, we can consider that their statements might be biased and therefore justify double-checking with other sources. With Wikipedia and countless other internet sites, finding all the relevant facts is much easier nowadays than ever before.

The third issue to be taken into consideration is morality. Considering the densely-crowded, cooped-up existence of the hens – unable to move more than a few centimeters or flap their wings or even stand steadily on the wire-mesh floor of their cages, amid the incessant noise and stench of ammonia from their droppings – that is part of their lives, I should ask myself if the hens are kept under conditions that cause them no suffering, or am I unwittingly or cynically, enjoying produce that results from cruelty – possibly in the extreme? It’s a moral question that I should consider or I can choose to ignore. But I should remember that ignoring any relevant fact or factor, is an aspect of dishonesty. It’s dishonest because by ignoring a relevant fact or factor I am distorting a situation. Can I ignore a moral question and still consider myself a decent person?

But even acknowledging the possibility that extreme cruelty is involved here, and if we assume a health risk for me personally, one thing is clear: it’s going to be very hard for me to stop eating eggs because of my fondness for them.

Which brings us to the fourth question on our list. Are there any practical or feasible alternatives? Is there any alternative to battery-cage, factory-farmed produce? The answer is a resounding yes! There are free roam eggs or organic eggs that are laid by hens that are free to strut around the barnyard and peck to their heart’s content. That could solve the question of morality. (Eggs under such conditions are also said to contain less risky ingredients and have more nutritious value. On our scale of likelihood this seems a valid assumption.)

But now another question presents itself – the cost! Free-range and organic eggs can cost about twice as much as factory-farmed eggs produced in battery cages. So, can I afford the extra outlay in money?

Clearly, in order to come to a decent decision I need to weigh up all these factors as honestly as possible – my desire for egg dishes, my health, morality and practicality. I must remember, however, that objectivity, while very important in coming to any conclusion, can sometimes demand a concentrated effort. In this case, my taste buds might impede on my objectivity. In a similar way, a tendency to miserliness, even though my budget might easily afford the extra expense involved in using free-run or organic eggs, could outweigh the other factors regarding health and morality. However, I should be mindful of the fact that by taking all these factors into consideration, I will have a much better chance of making the right decision, regarding my health and – if it’s important for me – my morality. By the way, there are some issues, where it might not be necessary to consider all four issues.

With any decision, the keyword is truthfulness and we should realize that truthfulness means a lot more than not lying to others. Truthfulness means refraining from undue exaggeration or half-truths. It means not indulging in the deliberate disregard of facts and factors that might be relevant to any issue that is being discussed or considered, and It means not kidding ourselves through wishful thinking or denial. There is also the obverse side of falsehood and that is how we relate to what others say to us and the degree of gullibility that we evince.

Clearly, there is a lot more to the subject of truthfulness than what the vast majority of people realize. But following all its principles, can provide us with the key to usually making the right decisions about most things, and generally enabling us to have a less stressful, more successful, happier life.

There’s a short, vitally important addendum to this article: Never before has knowing how to make the right decisions been more important because the future of all humanity depends on more and more people learning this essential lesson. The key, as we have so often said, is truthfulness. And that demands first and foremost, being absolutely honest with ourselves.

November 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm 1 comment

A message for all good Muslims and for all people who care:

The fanatics have always

ruined everything

A friend send me a very interesting e-mail the other day. It’s an article called “A German’s view on Islam,” and whose authorship is not known for certain, so I refrain from mentioning the assumed writer’s name. I have taken the liberty of renaming the article and have posted it because it is so important.

Ralph (Rafi) Dobrin

A man, whose family belonged to the German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism. “Very few people were true Nazis,” he said. “But many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”

We are told again and again by pundits that Islam is the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Allah.

The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor-kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.

The hard, quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the “silent majority,” is cowed and irrelevant.

Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority was irrelevant. China’s huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.
The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.

And who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were “peace loving?”

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points:
Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.
Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts – the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

Lastly, anyone who doubts that the issue is serious and just deletes this email without sending it on, is contributing to the passiveness that allows the problems to expand. So, extend yourself a bit and send this on and on and on! Let us hope that thousands, world-wide, read this and think about it, and send it on before it’s too late.

August 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm 1 comment

AROUND ISRAEL ON 7-SPEED BICYCLE

Stan Malina with his bicycle at Sidon


FOLLOWING IN PAUL’S

FOOTSTEPS

By RALPH DOBRIN

Early one morning in May last year my wife and I were on a plane headed for Riga, Latvia. Flying always makes me a little anxious, so I usually take a good book or magazine. But the book that I had brought with me was in my overnight bag, which was in the rack above our seats. To get to it, I needed to ask the passenger next to me in the aisle seat, to let me get past. A middle-aged guy, suntanned and dressed very casually, he looked rugged and weary, and he stood up slowly to let me squeeze past him. I got my book out of the bag, which I returned to the rack. I thanked him, squeezing past him again and plonked down into my seat. I began to introduce myself but he had closed his eyes. I began reading my book, but after a few minutes, I realized that I suddenly needed to go to the toilet. Luckily, he opened his eyes and I gestured apologetically that I needed to get up. Again, he stood up tiredly and allowed me to clamber past him. When I returned from the toilet he was slumped with his eyes closed again. But he sensed that I had returned and let me get past, immediately getting low in his seat and closing his eyes.

But I had some sandwiches and dried fruit in my bag in that rack above our heads, that my wife and I had planned to eat early in the flight. He seemed to sense that I needed to do some clambering again and he opened his eyes. I smiled at him. He smiled back and stood up. We had established a rapport.

Sitting down with my bag of victuals, I offered him a sandwich, which he seemed happy to accept. “I’m Rafi,” I said and he responded, “I’m Stan!” We chatted in English. I couldn’t make out his accent.

“Do you live in Israel?” I asked. “Oh no,” he murmured wearily. “I live in Germany. But I’ve been traveling around Israel.” Now, over the years, I’ve encountered hundreds of folks who’ve just been traveling around Israel and I know how to ask all the appropriate questions.

But with Stan Malina, it was clear that my usual questions about “What did you see?” and “Where did you stay?” were somewhat incongruous. Stan had not traveled in the usual way by tour bus or hired car. Neither had he stayed at any hotels. Explaining his mode of transport, I understood his tired look! The man had ridden around the country on an old 7-speed bicycle. He had pedaled over a thousand kilometers up and down hill and valley, under the blazing sun, and he had pitched his tent most nights in fields, forests, camping sites and public parks.

An Apostolic pastor, Stan Malina was gathering material for his 5th book in a series called, “Cycling On All Trails of Apostle Paul,” published by Christian Publishing House. He had started this present route in Beirut, Lebanon, ridden south to Tyre and Sidon and back to Beirut (part of the return trip by minibus), before flying to Amman in Jordan, where he stayed for a night before descending to the Jordan Valley and crossing the Allenby Bridge into the Palestine Authority territory and then into Israel.

For eleven days he pedaled more or less in the wake of the trails of the Apostle Paul. He relied on leg muscles, great stamina and boundless faith. I use the word “faith” because, despite being part of a nation known for its ability to plan carefully and for preciseness, it seems that Malina did very little planning on a daily basis. He would set out each morning on the next leg of his journey, with one or two water bottles that might last him a few hours in the harsh Middle Eastern heat. Also, he carried very little food with him – sometimes just a packet of potato chips. Understandably, he wanted to cut down the weight of his luggage and provisions, which without food and water came to about 20 kilograms – a significant load to contend with when cycling hundreds of kilometers, often up very long, steep hills. But limiting his food and water supplies could have been very dangerous because he didn’t always know how far he’d need to ride before reaching a place to replenish his supplies or have a decent meal. In the Middle East, one can succumb to dehydration very quickly. That can be fatal if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere. In addition to this easy-going approach, in the evenings, he would just rely on luck to find a suitable spot to put up his tent and have a few hours of slumber.

Malina describes heart-warming encounters with Muslim and Christian Arabs and Jews. Each time he needed advice on directions, or where in the middle of a deserted stretch, to find a store selling food or bottled water, or a place to pitch his tent, fortuitously, someone would always appear and answer his questions and sometimes even share a meal and a fireside in a park or offer a room for the night. He also writes about a number of times that he encountered kindness and consideration with Israeli soldiers.

Stan Malina had already written four books on the trails of the Apostle Paul and a number of other titles on the subject of belief. His wife Sandra, formerly from Durban, South Africa, has also written four books on similar topics.

He rode with a South African flag, in honor of his wife Sandra’s birthplace and the sponsorship he received from South Africans.

The trip took Malina to scores of places mentioned in the Bible. At each place he stopped to take photographs and contemplate. He was able to relish the experience or envision a biblical event or acknowledge that Paul had been there, with yet another aspect – the sheer beauty of some of these places. His itinerary, apart from his days in Lebanon and Jordan, commenced in Israel with an arduous 30-kilometer climb up to Jerusalem from the Jordan Valley, (scaling an altitude of 350 meters below sea level to 750 meters above).

From Jerusalem he took a bus to Haifa, and resumed pedaling from Acre to the Lebanese border at Rosh Hanikra, from where he began the ascent up the steep, seemingly endless hills of Galilee, presenting Stan with yet another daunting physical challenge. From there he headed for the Sea of Galilee, blue and calm and surrounded by abundant greenery, evoking numerous scenes from the New Testament. He rode through the Jezreel Valley, visited Megiddo, Caesarea and Antipatris; then on to Jaffa, Ashdod and Ashkelon. When he approached Gaza he felt relieved that the Apostle had evidently not been there, and mused: “The people of Gaza have a great need of Gospel, but who is going to bring it to them?”

In the last part of his trip Malina rode hundreds of miles through semi-desert and desert country, visiting Beersheba on his way to the Dead Sea, passing Massada, Ein Gedi and Qumran. Then he connected with the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, which he had heroically contended with at the beginning of his Israel visit. But this time he opted for a ride on an empty bus back to Jerusalem, where he spent a few days with a friend Yoel Mendel, touring the city and nearby Bethlehem, which he visited twice and where Sunday prayer service at the Immanuel Evangelical Church, turned out to be a highly edifying experience.

The book offers many insights. Written by a pilgrim who pedaled a thousand kilometers, much of the time alone with his own thoughts, he could savor the special lesson inherent in each biblical and historical site that he visited, although he suspected that many places where not on the exact spot referred to in the Bible. There are many fresh observations in this book. For instance, he writes at length about the Apostle Paul, about his earlier lessons by the great sage Gamliel who taught tolerance. Yet, despite these teachings, as Saul of Tarsus, he confronted the new Christians who initially had been his fellow-Jews, with great vindictiveness – until his conversion on the road to Damascus.

Malina is not naïve about the political realities of the Middle East. During his trip he had encountered a number protest demonstrations by Arabs. On several occasions he felt it prudent to distance himself from the angry crowds. Fairly well acquainted with the conflict, he says: “I felt irritated when I thought how the world only sees one side of the Middle East conflict – always accusing Israel.” He adds: “The Middle East conflict is like magnifying lens of world conflict, between ungodly and biblical.”

Three years earlier, Malina had toured Israel with his wife, Sandra. They had traveled around the country by car. On this trip, despite the grueling ordeal in pedaling hundreds of kilometers, sitting on a less-than-comfortable saddle, contending with thirst, hunger, heart-breaking inclines and relentless sun, he nevertheless concluded that touring by bicycle has many advantages. Perhaps only an avid cyclist or pilgrim can appreciate this sentiment.

 “Tensions Around Israel” is easy to read, informational and replete with photographs and useful footnotes. It can be ordered at: http://www.malina-home.de/books   where all Malina’s other books are also available.

 

May 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm 1 comment

Meeting with Herod

Book review:

Herod

the Man who had to

be King

Author: Yehuda Shulewitz
Completed and co-edited by Malka Hillel-Shulewitz
Published by Penina Press. 495 pages

I can’t imagine that there’s another town like Jerusalem when it comes to the number of published authors per capita. I personally know a few dozen people who’ve written books and had them published. Novels, non-fiction, poetry, volumes of short stories;.books in English, Hebrew and German. My wife’s boss has had a few books published in Hebrew and German. Her cousin is having a novel published. A neighbor’s published book in Hebrew graces my bookshelf. Even my electrician has had a novel published and it’s pretty good. Every time we are invited to a social gathering I find myself engaging in a discussion with someone about their latest published or soon-to-be published novel or treatise on philosophy or science. There must be something in the air here … or the people!

And now it emerges that the husband of my wife’s former boss, who is also a personal friend, has also had a book published posthumously. Yehuda Shulewitz had been the editor of the Bank of Israel Publications Department in English for 27 years before going back to university and earning an advanced degree in Jewish history, which also focused on the Herodian period. Anyone who has read the Wars of the Jews by Josephus can attest to the fact that it’s very, very hard going indeed. There are so many characters, intrigues, twists, wavering loyalties covering a broad canvas encompassing the Land of Israel and neighboring regions all the way to Rome. Shulewitz wrote a novel about King Herod. It takes unusual grit to tackle such as vast, complex subject.

But Yehuda Shulewitz was the type of guy who would savor a challenge. As a young man during Israel’s War of Independence, needing to get to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, which at that time had been under siege for months, he simply packed a backpack and walked most of the way, through mountains, hills, wadis and plains, skirting past Arab encampments and patrols.

 Subsequently, he served in Israel’s nascent army in Galilee, where coincidentally, this book begins. Galilee has vistas that can readily infuse long-lasting impressions – impressions it seems, that found their way into this book many decades later. After Shulewitz’ advanced studies he began to put together this novel, which is about one of the most controversial figures of the ancient world. However, Shulewitz felt that he had to do a lot more studying – of the subject itself. A thorough man, he also made a study of fiction writing – which is not quite the same as writing economic treatises.

In his last years Shulewitz took ill. He tried to complete the book, but died before he could finish it. His wife, Malka Hillel-Shulewitz, a writer and editor in her own right, had seen the enormous effort that her husband had put into the novel, and she wasn’t prepared to let it all go to waste. She spent a year going over what her husband had written, studying the subject, editing and writing the novel’s concluding pages.

“Herod the Man who had to be King” was published recently by Penina Press. As a writer and editor on fiscal matters in his earlier job, which had demanded totally impartial, coldly objective, humorless factuality molded in maximum brevity, Yehuda Shulewitz needed to make a switch in his writing mode. As a novelist he needed to construct scenes, characters and events that come to life in the readers’ minds; scenes that evoke smells and sounds, and create characters with very human traits that come alive in the events that have the reader eagerly turning pages. Shulewitz’ scholarship, writing skills and a self-critical nature, laced with empathy and humor have made this an eminently readable book, especially for anyone who has tried to understand the Herodian Period and couldn’t penetrate within any depth because of its enormous complexity. It is also marvelous reading for the history buff, curious about the personalities involved.

Available through Amazon and bookstores, including Steimatzky’s and Pomerantz.

February 8, 2012 at 9:18 am Leave a comment

How to avoid problems … and save the world – Part 1

Based on one of the most

important talks you’ll

ever hear

By RALPH DOBRIN

Author of How to Avoid Armageddon

Available through Amazon

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and thank you for coming to listen to me.
How to avoid problems and how you can solve problems when they arise … and how to save the world! Yeah, yeah! This might all sound very presumptuous. But in the course of this talk, you’re going to get answers. Answers that deep down you probably already know. But they’ve simply been buried, forgotten, ignored … and need to be brought to light. And by the time this talk is over everyone here this evening will have the key to bettering our lives … and the world, for that matter.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, let’s take an example from real life. I’ve changed the details a little to avoid any embarrassing identification. Anyway, a woman applies for a job as the assistant manager of a small, family-owned hotel in a seaside resort. The owner needs an assistant manager because his wife, who used to help him run the hotel, has become chronically ill. The woman who has come for a job interview is very pleasant, youngish, nice-looking, well groomed. She tells the hotel owner that she had been assistant manager at a five-star hotel in the French Riviera. Wow! The owner asks the woman a few questions about the name of the hotel where she had worked, the number of rooms, size of staff, prices and the exact nature of her duties. But some of the woman’s answers just don’t make sense. She’s vague about the duties. Also, while the staff ratio in his hotel is one worker for every six guests, she stammered a ratio of one to twelve, which seems very unlikely for a five-star hotel anywhere. Also, she has no diplomas or degrees in book-keeping or accountancy, hotel administration or any kind of management; not even cooking. And she has no letters of recommendation. He’s about to say he’s sorry but he can’t hire her, but she cuts him short and says, “I always give 150% of myself wherever I work. And I learn very quickly. I will be an asset to your hotel.” She says this with a smile that looks sincere and full of respect and compassion. Boom – all the owner’s experience and common sense is dulled and he ignores all his well-founded doubts about her and takes her on as his assistant manager.

Well very soon it turns out to be a disaster. After four days, there aren’t enough supplies to prepare meals; not enough linen to make the beds, kitchen and dining room staff are very unhappy with her bossiness and her obvious incompetence. And never have there been so many complaints from the guests. Before the week is over, she is looking for another job and the hotel owner still needs an assistant manager.

Now in this story we have examples of different forms of lying. Firstly there was the woman’s false claim about having been the assistant manager in a five-star hotel. And such lies are usually exposed sooner or later. And that results in a loss of credibility, frustration, unpleasantness and eventually total rejection. The other example of lying in this story is the wishful thinking of the hotel owner. The woman who applied for a job was so pleasant that he lied to himself about her suitability and in hiring her, he lowered the standard and reputation of his hotel and needed to deal with dissatisfied guests.

And here in a nutshell, is the answer to our question – how to avoid and overcome our problems. Don’t lie to others! Don’t lie to yourself! And another pointer that would have helped the hotel owner: don’t be taken in by another person’s dubious statements. Especially when what is said is clearly unlikely.
The keyword is truthfulness. Being truthful in our dealings with others and being truthful to ourselves. And also being alert to untruthfulness in others. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the answer to our question – how to overcome our problems. Okay, so, we have finished our talk … yeah, we’ve finished. And we can all go home now. Or if you like we can have a party.

But wait a minute – before we all rush out of here or get ready to do a hora, or salsa or a waltz, we need to know that there’s a lot more to the concept of truthfulness. It’s actually a fairly big subject. And we need to acknowledge that just about everyone, from time to time does indulge in some form of untruthfulness.

You see, apart … from always telling the truth in the sense of being honest about what we’re saying, truthfulness also means not expressing half-truths or indulging in selective omission. For instance, let’s say that I’m going to sell my car to someone. The car had a tune-up a few days ago and seems to be running just fine. But the garage mechanic had told me that the transmission is badly worn-out and might break down at any moment. Now, if tell the prospective buyer that my car is in excellent working order, that might be part of the truth at this moment. But by not mentioning the worn-out gear box, I am indulging in a half-truth. True, the buyer could have the car checked by a garage before he buys, but I’m still being devious by not telling the whole truth up front. And what if the buyer feels that I have the kind of face that he can trust, and that he doesn’t need to have the car tested by an authorized garage? So, okay, I’ll make some money by selling a car that might break down at any moment. I’m making money. That’s what counts, no? Yeah, but I will have compromised on my integrity.

A lot of people might not think that’s not important – when making money is concerned. But, I might also have stirred up a hornet’s nest in the form of a very angry buyer, and I might find myself needing to spend a lot of money on legal fees and time in unpleasant court hearings. All unnecessary had I simply told the truth. I could have sold the car eventually, but at a lower price or paid to have the transmission repaired and then sold the car at its market value. The point is that by indulging in half-truth, I was not being truthful and I opened myself up to the possibility of some time-consuming trouble. Who needs it? Also, I had behaved unethically and dishonorably. In fact I had become a bit of a scumbag.

There are other ways that we lie. For instance we often lie to ourselves. One way is through wishful thinking. Like if I have toothache and I tell myself that the pain will pass and my teeth will be okay. I don’t need to go to a dentist. Now, that’s wishful thinking! And what an expensive, painful form of lying to myself this has been for me over the years!

Another way that we lie to ourselves is when we cling rigidly to old ways and ideas, no matter what happens or what new information emerges. Many folks automatically block themselves off to anything that might not tally with their perception of things … it’s called denial. These are tendencies that can lead to families breaking up; businesses crash; people get unnecessarily sick because they rejected advice on healthy living, or ignored bodily danger signs and left medical attention too late. On a larger scale, national economies have spiraled out of control; governments have fallen; there have been terrible wars because of the stubbornness of people in charge, who refused to even listen to any new ideas and developments. But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every old idea or way is necessarily faulty and must be changed. Of course not. But whenever we automatically close ourselves off to anything new or different, or anything that doesn’t exactly tally with our current perception, we should check to see whether we are really facing facts with complete honesty. Because the consequences of not doing so, can be pretty grim to say the least.

Being truthful also means refraining from saying things that we are not absolutely sure of, and if we do say or claim things that we are not quite sure of, we should make it clear that we either heard or read such and such, or that in our opinion, maybe such and such is the case. There are factual issues and there are value judgments.

Many years ago a controversial issue was the fluoridation of water. Do you remember? It had to do with prevention of tooth decay in younger people. I had read a few articles in health magazines that claimed that the serious dangers to general health caused by fluoridation of water far outweighed any possible dental benefits. So I became a vociferous, really vociferous activist against fluoridation in Jerusalem’s water system. One day the head of the Government Health Ministry’s Dental Health Department, Dr Kelman, invited me to his office. After a short discussion with him it was obvious that I really didn’t know what I was talking about. While I was in his office, Dr. Kelman said that he had a large collection of books and scientific papers on the subject – for and against fluoridation, and he invited me to read the material. And ask questions. Well, I did just that. For about two or three weeks I sat in a room next to his office and tried to study the material on fluoridation. I had majored in science studies at high school, but it wasn’t nearly enough to enable me to fully understand the issues involved. But I quickly concluded that I couldn’t know really determine that fluoridation was hazardous to health. Although from all my reading, I did get the feeling that the miniscule quantities of fluoride added to the municipality’s water system, posed no danger to general public health. I couldn’t say for sure. But I did come to a personal conclusion, weighing the pros and cons according to a scale of likelihood ranging from probable, to possible, to unlikely and surely not, that my opposition to fluoridation was unjustified.

Incidentally, two areas that open us to untruths are gossip and generalizations. About gossip, it’s not for me to say that we shouldn’t gossip. After all, everyone loves gossip. No? And most of us indulge in it. However, this talk is about truthfulness, and gossip can very easily stray into the realm of unfounded fabrication. And that is something wrongful. Especially if it’s malicious.

Another area that can lead us away from truthfulness is when we generalize about something. Like saying that “all politicians are liars and cheats.” Oh yes? You know all the politicians? Some of them might be liars. Indeed, quite a few have been proven to be liars and cheats in a court of law as well as by their statements and actions over the years. But that doesn’t mean that all politicians are liars and cheats. And if we say that all politicians are liars, that possibly makes us liars ourselves.

Truthfulness also means being able to admit when I am wrong. No matter what the issue, If I suddenly realize that I had indeed, done something wrong, or said something I shouldn’t have said, or made any kind of mistake – if there is a discussion on it, I should be able to admit: “Yes, I was wrong!”

Now, as we indicated earlier, truthfulness should be complemented by yet another important aspect and that is how we receive … how we choose to understand … what others say. We need the ability to sense in others, whether what they are saying is factually valid, or maybe questionable, or unlikely or downright false. We should be able to consider the credibility of things even when what is said or claimed, might initially appeal to our political, religious or ideological sentiments. We should always be able to sense when something might seem glib, or contrived or just doesn’t make sense, and we should have the ability and the integrity to question or reject it. And it doesn’t matter if it’s our best friend, favorite singer or politician, or our parents.

Although if we do catch our parents not telling the truth, we should temper our reactions to them with due consideration. Like: I’m sorry to ask, Dad, but are you sure that what you’re saying is really so? Actually this is a good response in most cases when we feel someone is lying to us. Because when we blatantly or indignantly challenge someone’s honesty, they will probably become very defensive and reject our question and paradoxically, even see us as being in the wrong for daring to question them. And if that happens we will have lost an opportunity to set the record straight and in fact, lost the opportunity to plant the seed of the importance of truthfulness in the other person’s mind.

Incidentally, when we speak about truthfulness, we’re not necessarily talking about “truth,” which while connected, is not quite the same as truthfulness and we don’t have to go into any abstruse philosophical theories about the full meaning of the word “truth” – which granted can be a fascinating subject, if one has the time and inclination. But I do want to say that the often repeated phrase that everyone has his own truth, actually mangles the meaning of the word “truth”. What everyone has in actual fact, is his or her own notion of what one might think is the truth about something, but that notion, all too often lacks pertinent facts and might include half-truths and quite a bit of wishful thinking. And no matter how deeply felt, it is often – not always, but often – just a notion. Not necessarily the truth.

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January 2, 2012 at 9:22 am Leave a comment

Wilders Warns America

Wilders Warns America

Patriotic democrat or bigoted

rabble-rouser?

By RALPH DOBRIN
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”

To order the book click: www.amazon.com   type: how to avoid Armageddon


Because of his harsh, very risky criticism of Islam, Geert Wilders has become one of the most hated men among Muslims everywhere. The founder and leader of the Netherlands Party for Freedom, which has become a major party in his country’s parliament, and which promotes free market economics and European integration, the party is best known for its opposition to the Islamization of the Netherlands. His activities and statements have prompted a number of attempts on his life and he is constantly accompanied by body guards and changes his domicile to a new place every day.

Not only Muslims are upset. He faces prosecution by the Amsterdam law courts for what has been termed his “incitement to hatred and discrimination.” He was banned from entering Britain (the ban was subsequently removed). A number of cities in Europe on hearing his intention to visit them, had notified him officially that he is not welcome.

Small wonder that Wilders has faced so much opprobrium. He has compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and says it should be outlawed in the Netherlands. He calls for a ban on the construction of new mosques. He is especially reviled by Muslims and Left wing liberals for his 2008 film on Islam, Fitna.

Compounding all this, Wilders has called the prophet Muhammad a “barbarian, a mass murderer, and a pedophile,” and referred to Islam as a “fascist ideology,’ adding that it is “violent, dangerous, and retarded.”

In July 2010, Wilders announced the International Freedom Alliance, a network of groups and individuals who “are fighting for freedom against Islam”.

Like all controversial figures, Geert Wilders prompts many questions. Is he a dangerous trouble-maker making waves in order to attract attention and build up a political base through ethnic hatred, or is he a sincere visionary, recognizing grave dangers to the future of his country and the rest of the free world?

On May 12th, 2011 Geert Wilders gave a talk at the Cornerstone Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Here are a few modified excerpts that might help provide answers to these questions:

Do you know why America is in a better state than Europe? Because you enjoy more freedom and that’s because you are still allowed to tell the truth. In Europe and Canada people are dragged to court for telling the truth about Islam.

I am an elected member of the House of Representatives in the Netherlands. Yet I am currently standing in court like a common criminal for saying that Islam is a dangerous totalitarian ideology rather than a religion. I risk a jail sentence of 16 months.

Last week, my friend Lars Hedegaard, a journalist from Denmark, was fined because in a private conversation, which was recorded without his knowledge, he had criticized the way women are treated in Islamic societies. And recently, another friend, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a human rights activist from Austria, was fined for saying that Muhammad was a pedophile because he had married a 6-year old girl and raped her when she was 9. Unfortunately, there are many similar cases.

So, I am especially happy to be in your midst because here I can say what I want without having to fear that I will be dragged to court. You cannot imagine how we envy your First Amendment. But beware, because the day when America follows the example of Europe and introduces so-called “hate speech crimes” – used to punish only people critical of Islam, that day America will have lost its freedom.

I am here today with a warning; with a battle cry: Wake up, Christians of Tennessee. Islam is at your gate. Do not allow Islam to gain a foothold here.

Islam is dangerous. Islam wants to establish a state on earth, ruled by Islamic sharia law. Islam aims for the submission, whether by persuasion, intimidation or violence, of all non-Muslims, including Christians. The results can be seen in Europe.

Islam is an ideology of conquest. It uses two methods to achieve this goal: the first method is the sword. Demonstrating this is the flag of Saudi Arabia, which shows a huge sword, just below the Islamic creed. The message is clear. Without the sword Islam would not have been able to spread its creed.

The second method is immigration. Islam’s founder Muhammad himself taught his followers how to conquer through immigration when they moved from Mecca to Medina. This is called al-Hijra.

In Europe we have been experiencing al-Hijra for over 30 years now. Many of our cities have changed beyond recognition. They now have within them a second city, a state within the state, a government within the government. A Muslim city, a city ruled by the Koran.

We now find ourselves in this situation because we adopted the concept of cultural relativism, which determines that all cultures are equal. However, Islam is spreading like wildfire because the Koran explicitly tells Muslims that they are “the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind” and that non-Muslims are “the worst of creatures.”

Islam is spreading like wildfire everywhere in the West where political, academic, cultural and media elites lack the guts to proudly proclaim, as I believe we all should proclaim: Our Judeo-Christian Western culture is far superior to the Islamic culture. We must be proud to say so!

Multiculturalism is a disaster because it made us tolerate the intolerant, and now intolerance is annihilating tolerance. In the name of tolerance, we should claim the right not to tolerate the intolerant. Let us no longer be afraid and politically correct, let us be brave and bold. Let us tell the truth about Islam.

I want to make clear that I do not have a problem with people. I always make a distinction between the people and the ideology, between Muslims and Islam. I have no problem with Muslims, but I do have a problem with the totalitarian Islamic ideology of hate and violence. The fact that there are many so-called moderate Muslims, does not mean that there exists a moderate Islam. A moderate Islam does not exist and will never exist.

And because there is no such thing as a moderate Islam, the Islamization of our free Western societies is a definite threat. Only two weeks ago, the British press revealed how the so-called “London Taliban” is threatening to kill women who do not wear veils in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. In some neighborhoods Islamic regulations are already being enforced, even on non-Muslims. Women’s rights are being trampled. We are confronted with headscarves and burqas, polygamy, female genital mutilation, honor-killings where men murder their wives, daughters or sisters because they do not behave in accordance with Islamic rules. Polls show that the influence of those Muslims who live according to Islam’s aggressive requirements is growing, especially among young people.

Among 15-year-old German Muslims, 40% consider Islam more important than democracy. Among Muslim university students in Britain, 40% support sharia. One in three of those students considers it legitimate to kill in the name of Islam.

Christians are asked to follow the example of Jesus. Muslims are ordered to follow the example of Muhammad. That is why Islam is dangerous. While Christianity preaches love, Islam preached hatred and practices violence – hatred and violence for anyone who is not a Muslim.

If you wear a cross or a kippah in certain urban areas in Europe today, you risk being beaten up. In the capital of my own country, Amsterdam, a tram driver was forced to remove his crucifix from sight, while his Muslim colleagues are allowed to wear the veil. In June 2008, the Christian church authorities in the Danish town of Arhus paid Islamic security guards in order to assure that church goers are not harassed by Islamic youths. Talk about protection money!

On March 31st, 2010, Muslims entered the Roman Catholic cathedral of Cordoba, Spain, and attacked the guards with knives. They claimed the cathedral was theirs. Last month, the bishops of Sweden sent out a letter to priests advising them to avoid converting asylum seekers from Islamic countries to Christianity, because the converts would risk losing their lives.

In Amsterdam, the city authorities in register polygamous marriages. The authorities in Rotterdam serve only halal meals in municipal cafeterias. Theaters provide separate seats for women who are not allowed to sit next to men. Municipal swimming pools have separate swimming hours for men and women. Muslim lawyers do not have to stand when the judges enter court rooms!

Meanwhile, in Amsterdam, Jews are again being harassed in the streets. Even political leaders acknowledge that life has become unsafe for Jews in Holland. Their solution? They advise Jews to emigrate. But I say: Jews must not leave, violent Muslims must leave!

What is needed is a spirit of resistance. Because resistance to evil is our moral duty. This resistance begins with expressing our solidarity to Christians, Jews, indeed, to the millions of people worldwide, who are the victims of Islam.

We can see what Islam has in store for us if we observe the fate of the Christians in Islamic countries, such as the Copts in Egypt, the Maronites in Lebanon, the Assyrians in Iraq, and Christians elsewhere. Almost every day, churches are arsoned and Christians are assassinated in Islamic countries. Their homes are burnt. Rivers of tears are flowing from the Middle East, where there is only one safe haven for Christians. You know where that is. The only place in the Middle East where Christians are safe is Israel.

That is why Israel deserves our support. Israel is a safe haven for everyone, whatever their belief and opinions. Israel is a beacon of light in a region of total darkness. Israel is fighting our fight.

The jihad against Israel is a jihad against all of us. If Israel falls, we, too, will feel the consequences. If Jerusalem falls, Athens, Rome, Amsterdam and Nashville will fall. Therefore, we all are Israel. We should always support Israel!

Make no mistake: Islam is also coming for America. In fact, it is already here. America is facing a stealth jihad, the Islamic attempt to introduce sharia law bit by bit. Last March, a judge in Tampa, Florida, ruled that a lawsuit against a mosque and involving the control of $2.4 million should proceed under Islamic law.

Be aware that this is only the beginning. This is how it started in Europe. If things continue like this, you will soon have the same problems as we are currently facing. Leaders who talk about immigration without mentioning Islam are blind. They ignore the most important problem that Europe and America are facing.

There are five things which we must do. First, we must defend freedom of speech.

Second, we must end cultural relativism and political correctness. We must repeat it over and over again, especially to our children: Our Western culture based on Christianity and Judaism is superior to the islamic culture. Our laws are superior to sharia. Our judeo-christian values are better than islam’s totalitarian rules.

Third, we must stop the Islamization of our countries. More Islam means less freedom. We must stop immigration from Islamic countries. We must expel criminal immigrants. We must forbid the construction of new hate palaces called mosques.

Fourth, we must take pride in our nations again. We must cherish and preserve the culture and identity of our country. Preserving our own culture and identity is the best antidote against Islamization.

And fifth, we must elect wise and courageous leaders who are able to address the problems which are facing us, including the threat of Islam. 

Geert Wilders – a democrat and patriot or bigoted rabble rouser? Depends on one’s perspective, doesn’t it?

To order “How to avoid Armageddon” click: www.amazon.com  type: how to avoid Armageddon
 

June 5, 2011 at 2:42 pm Leave a comment

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