Posts Tagged ‘faith’


27 January 2009

Dear J-

I think I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating:  if the economic growth of the past ten years was due to the free-wheeling spending that was going on, and the only way to get us out of the current funk is to spend some more, then why isn’t the money being put in people’s hands to be spent?  We’re now on the hook for nearly a trillion dollars applied to businesses and still we’re being chided for wanting to hold on to our money in case of, oh, an economic crisis.  Companies that have received bailouts yet persist in cutting employees deserve some particular ire here, I think — I understand the urge to cut costs, but when we’re being asked to spend, it’s hard to do without an income.

It’s another mixed message that our esteemed fourth estate tells us:  how to save money in the living sections, and how our penny-pinching is only going to hurt us in the business sections.  The deflationary spiral is vicious:  the less money that circulates, fewer businesses are able to sustain the storm, more people go out of work, thus the money that’s in our hands gets clutched tighter, and less money goes out into the economy … I understand the need to spend, yes, but we’ve built our businesses to worship the dollar as a measure of health, not employee happiness or country-wide economic strength.  We believe in the Darwinian model of industry:  agile, mutable companies will adapt to the changing markets and thrive, while the lumbering dinosaurs will fall natural victim to those pressures.  Well, I should say that we pay lip service to that model and then give blood transfusions to cadavers anyway.

We’ve placed blind faith in the government and its chosen agents — Treasury Department, businesses, and banks — to guide us out of the woods.  After all, they are experts in that particular world, but aren’t these the same experts who pointed boldly into that dark forest to begin with?  When we choose our regulators from industry experts and leaders, how is that different than putting gluttons as our aerobics trainers?  The too-cosy relationship between government and industry bodes ill for normal citizen.



Faith Forth

18 January 2009

Dear J-

I find myself contemplating organized religion again; yesterday there was a nice couple out with their 2.5 kids (one was still in preparation, but I thought better than to ask) who dropped off a Watchtower with me.  It’s not that I feel compelled to join any one group because of it, but rather I’ve been thinking about issues of passion and faith.  Clearly they felt strongly enough about it to go door to door in their free time; I admire the strength of the conviction more than any specific aspect of it.

Few things have the power to move hearts and bodies like religion (I could make a case for Star Trek and camera brands, but that’s just underscoring my limited knowledge of religion and perhaps overdeveloped sense of geekery); while all number of notorious atrocities have been committed in the name and persecution of religion, so too have millions of unpublicized acts of charity.  It sounds vague, but I’m trying to draw the distinction between freedom of religion and freedom from religion — no one’s saying that the moral principles of the US Constitution aren’t guided by the Founders’ religion, but they wisely abstained from declaring an official religion, as great swathes of the United States were founded by religious outcasts.  Gaining power didn’t mean exclusion, it meant acceptance.


I’ve tried to adopt the same sort of philosophy; it’s interesting how many religions claim the same roots and structures, the same holy lands, the same basic teachings.  We were raised on-and-off Baptist, as that was the particular flavor of the only local Chinese-language church (as the sermons were given concurrently and bilingually, it made for some long sessions for squirmy eight year-olds).  For my parents I suspect it was partly more another social avenue to connect with fellow Chinese families in the region (Eastern Washington was 95% Caucasian when I grew up and I’m sure that shaped my world view), as we’d get a bonanza of traditional Chinese and Western holidays to celebrate and cherish.  We’re creeping up on the Lunar New Year as we speak, probably the biggest holiday in Eastern Asia, and it makes me wonder what traditions we’ll be passing on to our next generation.

There’s no getting around the way you look, a happenstance of genetics, circumstance, and environment; it’s important to instead ensure you can meet the eye of the person in the mirror.