Living With the Enemy

I spent my childhood (from 1974-1978 and 1980-1987) in Germany, because my father was in the Army.  This was during the cold war and Russia was our sworn enemy.  We were in Germany protecting the world from communism and the evil Russians.

In 1997, I ended up moving to Russia.  Things had changed a lot since my childhood.  The wall had collapsed and Russia was no longer a communist country.

It felt strange to be in Russia, to be in a country I was taught to hate, to mingle with people I viewed as enemies.

While I was in Russia, I made friends and I learned they were a lot like me.  They too had been taught to fear and hate, just as I had been.  They too were curious about life on the other side of the wall.  They had many of the same desires and hopes for the future as I did.  We weren’t that different at the core of our being, and I was able to make friends with those I used to view as enemies.

 

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Against Corruption

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This is an interesting book to read, because of the differences among the authors.  They were able to discuss corruption from different cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds/viewpoints.

Here are a few of the main points:

  • Corruption hurts life outcomes in a variety of ways.  Economically, it diverts resources away from their most productive uses and acts like a regressive tax that supports the lifestyles of the elites at the expense of everyone else.
  • Corruption incentives the best and brightest to spend their time gaming the system, rather than innovating or creating new wealth.
  • As the difficulties and risk of corrupt behavior rise, fewer people will behave corruptly.
  • While auditing doesn’t sound like a glamorous nation-building activity, it is a critical part of ensuring that governments are spending public money responsibly and effectively.
  • Corruption is a cancer.  At first, it can look small and harmless.  Before you know it, it has taken over your entire body.  Likewise, the losses from corruption can start small, but in the end the damage is enormous.

The Bahamas – Freeport

Our first stop in The Bahamas was Freeport.  Malia hired a taxi driver to give us a tour of the city.

The driver provided historical information on what we were viewing.  She also answered all our questions and was a wonderful tour guide.

I learned about the government, which is democratic in nature.  I also learned about the health care system for the citizens.  The cost for medical care is dedicated from their paychecks in the form of taxes.

The predominate religions are Catholic and Baptist.  The driver explained how God comes first in their lives and government.

Talking to her was educational and enjoyable.  I am glad Malia persuaded me to join her on the tour.

Library and Museum Indefinitely and Temporally Closed

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The Houston Memorial Library and Museum is located in Athens, Alabama.  George Houston was the governor of Alabama and a US senator.

George Houston died in the 1870’s.  In the 1930’s, Houston’s family donated his house and property to the city of Athens.  The property was freely given, with the stipulation the city would create a library and museum.

The museum was filled with historical documents, books, and various artifacts.  I always enjoyed visiting, because I would find something I missed during my prior visit.  I also loved the atmosphere of rooms filled with old books and their smell permeating throughout the house.

Unfortunately, the building was not properly maintained.  The house is no longer safe for the public to visit, so the city closed the Houston Museum and Library last year.

I am not optimistic about their plans.  The sign says it is, “Indefinitely and temporally closed for renovations,” which makes me cringe on so many levels.

 

 

The Importance of History

I stumbled across this quote yesterday and it is the best explanation for the importance of studying history that I have ever heard.

The society that loses its grip on the past is in danger, for it produces men who know nothing but the present, and who are not aware that life has been, and could be, different from what it is.  Such men bear tyranny easily; for they have nothing with which to compare it.  (Trevor Saunders)

What do you think?  Is history an important part of education?

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Thank a Mail Carrier Day

Today is Thank a Mail Carrier day.  Unfortunately, mail Carriers are often overlooked and taken for granted.

They work in blazing hot summers, bone chilling winters, and even in torrential rains.

Everyday they go to work and find a pile of boxes and letters.  They work their tails off all day, only to find another pile the next day.  It’s a never ending cycle.

It takes a tough and persistent person to be a mail carrier and I appreciate all their hard work.

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The Indian Heritage of Americans

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I was reading The Indian Heritage of Americans by John Franklin Phillips and I was struck by how much my European ancestors owe to the American Indians.

The early European settlers would have died of starvation.  They were ill prepared to farm the land and had no idea what crops would grow in this country.  American Indians took pity on the strangers and taught them what and how to farm.  They saved the lives of countless people.

In some ways we even owe the American Indians for helping America establish a democratic form of government.  The American Indians were already using a form of democracy when the Europeans arrived.

A few of our founding fathers believed it was impossible to unite the colonies and form a united nation.  Benjamin Franklin disagreed and said:

It would be a strange thing if Six Nations of ignorant savages should be capable of forming a scheme of such a union and be able to execute it in such a manner, as that it has subsisted for ages, and appears indissoluble; and yet that a like union should be impracticable for ten or a dozen English colonies, to whom it more necessary and must be more advantageous, and whom cannot be supposed to want an equal understanding of their interest. 

Unfortunately, the generosity of the American Indians was not repaid with kindness.  The Europeans decided to annihilate them.

The American Indians had many great qualities and they are deserving of our respect.