Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

-Albert Einstein


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dark vs Light

     The chaos in the world today makes me think that a kind of darkness is sweeping over the world; like the moon’s shadow passing across the earth.

            While hiking a logging road this morning with Gayle and my dog, Dakota, I was ruminating out loud about concepts that probably only interest me.  Gayle listened patiently and silently, while Dakota chased lizards and squirrels.  Neither cared.

            Actually, I was contemplating darkness and thinking of different ways to understand it. This was just mental recreation; nothing of consequence, but interesting to me.   

            Actually, darkness in not a “thing.”  Darkness is the absence of a “thing;” that thing being light.  Similarly, cold is the absence of heat.  Death is the absence of life.  Maybe these are not opposites and darkness, cold, death, for example, are not substantive things in and of themselves.  Maybe they are defined by what they lack. 

            Science talks about the speed of light, but no matter how fast light travels where ever it arrives darkness is already there – waiting.  Is the absence of light, i.e. darkness, the natural state of the universe? 

            If you blew out all the stars and could eliminate their light, obviously there would be only darkness.  The first thought that came to me was from the Bible when God said, “Let there be light.”  Maybe this command was more profound than I previously thought.  Maybe light is the anomaly. Maybe light had to be created. Maybe light is a foreign element in a dark universe. 

            Translated metaphorically to human life, could darkness also be the natural state of mankind?  This opens the argument as to whether the basic nature of a human being is “good” or evil.  Mark Twain said, “Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

            Along those lines, the famous psychiatrist Carl Jung said, “How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow?  I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole.”  According to Jung’s rationalization, a human being is not good by nature.  If we give human nature a free reign, and don’t tame our babies and civilize our young, we end up with sociopathic savages.

            What is “evil?”  Is evil simply the absence of good?  Or the absence of God? 

            Is evil then like cold, i.e. the absence of heat or darkness the absence of light or death the absence of life?  Thinking of things this way obviates the duality concept where light is the opposite of darkness and good is the opposite of evil. 

            If we focus on mankind and accept the premise that there is darkness in the world, to one degree or another there are still glimmers of light in the shadows.  But as the light diminishes, the darkness increases, as implied in my first sentence.  As I type this, the soulless savages of ISIS are snuffing out the lights in Iraq.

            “Don’t curse the darkness, but light a candle,” Brother Andrew said in “God’s Smuggler.”   He also said, “The bigger the darkness, the easier it is to spot your little light.”  

            Mark Boyer poetically opined, “When lost in the darkness, he who lights the way marks himself as easy prey.”  It doesn’t require a great imagination to think of historical examples of this truth.  The most obvious to me is the crucifixion of Christ.  Galileo and Copernicus are also examples of men who suffered for “lighting the way.”  And there are many more.

            Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” “Love your enemies.”  

            Plato made a profound statement when he said, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; but the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”   

            Those are some thoughts I brought home from the forest today.   Let your mind rummage around in the concept and the quotes.  I’m sure that you can take these ideas further than I have in this brief article. 

            And if you think you’re getting way out in left field, don’t worry.  From left field you have a view of the entire playing field. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Peace in the Middle East??

     The title of my blog is “HigginsUnhinged,” but in most cases I’ve managed to remain “hinged.” But the chaos in the world is beginning to “unhinge” me. The savagery of ISIS in Iraq may be the most brutal in history. Perhaps too brutal to be described in my blog.

      The purge of Christians and Jews is ramping up and not just in Iraq. Nevertheless, I want to focus on Israel. Our closest ally in the region is under attack while we watch passively. The people of Israel have been persecuted for thousands of years, yet they survive and attained statehood in 1948. I doubt if much of this will be news to my readers, many of whom know more about these things than I do.

      I think what happens with Israel has consequences far beyond what we can envision. Unfortunately, the mainstream media only provides us with a minimum of information and what it feeds us is always colored by its bias.

      The Hamas propaganda machine is pumping out a barrage of photos of Palestinian children killed by Israel, despite the fact that the Israelis continue to go further than any nation in history to avoid killing civilians. They are more careful in this regard than even the U. S. has been throughout our history. Israelis drop pamphlets, they radio ahead of attacks, and contact citizens by every means possible to give them time to leave areas where munitions and weapons are stored and targeted.

      Unfortunately Hamas rounds up innocent Palestinians civilians, herding them to missile launch sites as human shields in anticipation of an Israeli counter attack. Hamas uses schools, hospitals, and crowded communities to place their weapons in order to maximize civilian casualties when Israel retaliates. This is all designed to depict Israel as the evil aggressor. And the world sucks it up. It provides fodder for a growing anti-Semitism.

     “Israel uses rockets to protect its people. Hamas uses people to protect its rockets.” I believe Benjamin Netanyahu made that statement and it summarizes the current situation accurately.

      Israelis live their lives under a constant barrage of thousands of missiles, protected, so far, by the Iron Dome. This is the missile shield the U. S. helped Israel develop for the protection of its citizens. Despite that defense, some missiles still get through and citizens in Israel have only 15 seconds to run to the safety of bomb shelters when the alarms sound. Bomb shelters are part of their communities, kind of like fire hydrants are in ours.

      Can you imagine living under a constant barrage of missiles day and night? When venturing out in public, Israelis must be aware of the closest bomb shelter, considering the few seconds they will have to get to it when the sirens blare. Highly sophisticated tunnels extend from Gaza into Israel for use in infiltrating Israel to kill or capture civilians.

      Ironically, Israel provided the cement and other material meant to help Palestinians build their infrastructure, including buildings and schools but the material was diverted by Hamas into the construction of these death tunnels. There are roughly 40 of these tunnels, some of which open up under schools where Israeli children are vulnerable.

      Our Secretary of State went to Qatar for help in negotiating a peace plan and came away with exactly what Hamas wanted. Qatar is the richest country per capita in the Arab world and provides aide to Israel’s enemies. Amazingly, Kerry even asked Israel to halt the destruction of the death tunnels used by terrorists to infiltrate Israeli communities. Naturally Israel rejected the plan.

      A coalition of countries fearful of Hamas should have been enlisted for support – not Qatar. As I write this, another “time out” has been called with Egypt’s help, but again, Hamas broke the cease fire. Peace talks sound good, but will always be futile. Hamas has as its goal the total destruction of Israel and the death of every Jew. This is stated clearly in their charter. That’s who they are and it won’t change. A rattle snake is what it is.  It can’t change.

      Israel, as the only democracy in that part of the world, wants to be left alone to live in peace. Yet our cowardly government won’t stand with our only ally in the region, Israel. There is one simple solution to the current fighting - demilitarize Gaza. If Hamas stopped the missile attacks on Israel, that would be the end of it. Israel does not want Palestinian territory. But how do you trust terrorists who break their own cease-fire agreement, once within 90 minutes of its acceptance by Israel?

      Peace treaties are an exercise in futility in view of the Hamas charter. Unfortunately, the innocent Palestinians in the Gaza strip are suffering the consequences of the Hamas terrorists and their use of civilians as shields. They also lack basic supplies needed for everyday life. It’s a tragic situation for the Palestinian people.

      Anti-Semitism is growing world-wide – even in America. It’s like the thirties all over again, especially in Europe. Look at our own government – this is the first American administration to fail to back Israel. The minions in the administration and the press admonish the Israelis for simply protecting their people and their country and seem to sympathize with the radical Islamists.

      Valerie Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to the President and his closest Presidential Assistant. Jarrett was born in Iran and a surprising number in governmental officials have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama’s approach to all things “Muslim” makes one wonder where his loyalties lie. Recently Nancy Pelosi stated what she had been fed by the Qataris stating that “Hamas is a humanitarian organization.” Hillary Clinton’s stated brilliantly that “Hamas uses human shields because Gaza is pretty small.” Dingbat city.

      As long as over half of Americans remain uninformed and ignorant of history and international events, the juggernaut of apathetic and na├»ve “sheep-like” voters will push America over the cliff, just as the Arab nations intend to push Israel into the sea.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

High School - 1957 vs. 2014

I don’t think I’ve ever posted something I received via email, but this comparison is so true that I’m posting it.  This was on the internet, so many of you may have read it.  As a former high school teacher myself and a student during this time frame, I find this comparison to be accurate.  If you went to high school sometime during the ‘40s or ‘50s, you will see the truth in this.  I’ve even had the obligatory fist fight after school and always made friends with former adversaries, as depicted in this piece.  

In past posts, I’ve alluded to the “feminization of our culture” and I think this is a prime example. 
*   *   *

HIGH SCHOOL -- 1957 vs. 2014
Scenario 1:
Jack goes duck hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck's gun rack.

1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2014- School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2:
Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2014 - Police called and SWAT team arrives -- they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3:
Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.

1957 - Jeffrey sent to the Principal's office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2014 - Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The family gets extra money (SSI) from the government because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario 4:
Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.
2014 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse; Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario 5:
Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1957 - Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock.
2014 - The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 6:
Pedro fails high school English.

1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.
2014 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English is then banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario 7:
Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, and blows up a red ant bed.

1957 - Ants die.
2014 - ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents - and all siblings are removed from their home and all computers are confiscated. Johnny's dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 8:
Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.

1957 – In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2014- Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.
*   *   *

I might add that my dad had a razor strap he used to correct misbehavior.  It hung ominously in the bathroom as a reminder.  “Time out” was only heard in athletic endeavors.  I think my generation turned out just fine.