who is more successful than me?

Today reminded me of an endless truth…

… a truth, I believe, we each wrestle with.

In fact, it’s one we say we don’t believe, but when push comes to shove and the moment hits us squarely in the face, we’re forced to ask what we believe…

 

Can I truly celebrate the success of another?

Or do I look as someone else’s success as one less opportunity for me?

 

(Examples, please…)

 

… be that the kid who plays on the soccer or baseball or any other team before my beloved child…

… be that the older teen who is awarded the lead before any of those other talented teens I love…

… or be that the business man who is more successful than me in my adulthood…

… be that even the adult who is more successful than me?

 

Can I celebrate their success?

 

The reality is that if you and I view someone else’s good fortune as something lesser for you and me then we can’t truly celebrate their success; we can’t be happy for them.  We will instead look at them with displeasure or disdain, thinking that’s one less opportunity for me.

 

And then…  yes, then… we justify all sorts of things.  We justify:

 

… looking down upon them.

… playing (dare I suggest) “victim.”

… and yes… actually… (let’s say it…) physically confiscating from them…

 

… ah, do I dare even argue such taps into the inherent definition of socialism?  … in other words… a unitary controlling of goods and services regardless of who has worked hardest for them?  … regardless of who is most deserving?

 

This past weekend, my oldest sons have been involved in a national show choir competition in Nashville, Tennessee.  Several of the nation’s best performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage.  It has been a beautiful, emotional, awe-inspiring weekend.

 

After the preliminaries that spanned 2 entire days, the audience seemed thankful to witness the varying, amazing talents on display from high schools donning from Florida, Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia, etc.  It was no doubt a talented, uplifting time; it was also an incredible opportunity for our teens.  After day one, I wondered how the exiting choirs would feel, as a mere six were named finalists.

 

Would the competitors feel positive for one another?

Would they wish each other well?

Would they see opportunities as limitless?

Or would they only focus on what they, personally, had won or lost?

 

On Saturday, I woke that morning in prayer… praying that this day for my boys would be a confidence builder… that regardless of the result, it would be a day of enormous blessing… that they would gain confidence and self-esteem… and that they would realize the unparalleled rewarding of effort and hard work.

 

My boys’ choir won first place.  It’s a special, special group.  Yes, yes… like all good parents, the Intramuralist sobbed.  (Call me a grown up “softie.”)  But I sobbed most due to the humbling answer to my prayers…

Opportunity is not limited.  And blessing is undoubtedly bountiful.

Always and still… yes… always and still.

 

Respectfully,

AR

Kevin Ware (yes, again…)

Of all the heartwarming insights and anecdotes shared regarding University of Louisville basketball player, Kevin Ware — the guard with the gruesomely shattered leg — the wisest words I’ve yet to hear have come straight from the young man.

 

After surgery to repair his compound fracture, Ware was asked what it was like to awake and see the regional championship trophy, which Coach Rick Pitino had personally delivered to his room.  Ware said, “It brought tears to my eyes.  It was one of the greatest moments of my life.”  He continued to cry, when asked about the encouragement he’s received from his teammates.

 

In other words, here when one man has the motive and moment to…

 

… play the victim…

… focus on the negative…

… claim ‘woe is me’…

 

Or when one could easily…

 

… blame someone else for his circumstances…

… shake his fist at the divine…

… or deny his current day reality…

 

Here is this 20 year old college sophomore…

… with negative circumstances suddenly thrust upon him, who has remained upbeat, thankful, encouraging, and even, actually others-focused.  Ware poignantly added in this week’s ESPN interview, “I know my situation isn’t the worst.  I’m truly blessed.”

 

How many of the rest of us — perhaps even older than 20 — continue to count our blessings when the consequences seem bleak?

 

Not Ware.

 

Earlier this season, Kevin Ware was suspended for 1 game by Coach Pitino for “disciplinary issues.”  At the time Pitino said Ware “isn’t coming back anytime soon.”  While the specific details of the suspension were never released, those close to the program believe it was due to an attitude problem.  Upon his return, Ware said the circumstances prompted him to re-evaluate his priorities and his place on the team.

 

Note:  once again… no victim, negative, nor ‘woe is me.’  Note also… again no blame nor shaking that fist at God.

 

Looks like we can learn much from young Mr. Ware.  Looks like he continues to see how the negative can become a positive… how each of us can learn and grow from the most challenging of circumstances… how always, no matter what, we are truly blessed.

 

I pray Ware continues to heal.  I pray the world continues to watch…

 

… and hopefully we’ll listen to him, too.

 

Respectfully,

AR

praying for you

There was no time to prepare.

How we’d feel… how we’d react… what we would do.

 

Would we respond in unison?  Would we be encouraged go our separate ways?  … act our separate ways?  Would division be encouraged?  And when all else crumbled to the ground, who would stand as our support?

 

Would we fight? … would we chastise?  … would we judge?

 

Or… would we embrace what is good?  … together?  Looking not to what divides but instead to what unifies… what brings about the strongest, most lasting sense of unity?  … what is real?  … and what has actual power?

 

Somedays I am discouraged by how we react as a nation — and how those within leadership often use and abuse their leadership in how they rhetorically encourage us to react; it’s like we repeatedly miss the big picture because we’re so embroiled in life’s little battles.  Hence, we’ve made molehills into mountains and scratches into scars.  We so often miss the bigger picture.

 

Except last Sunday night.

 

In Indianapolis — in what was supposedly just a game — University of Louisville sophomore basketball player, Kevin Ware, suffered one of the more visibly gruesome injuries in the immediately-gone-viral age.  As Ware jumped to defend a 3 point shot, he landed awkwardly — so awkwardly that his leg buckled in 2 places, seemingly shattering, bending a way that legs don’t bend, breaking the bone in 2 places, with his bare bone sticking 6 inches out of his skin.

 

The injury prompted immediate shock, horror, and grief by those on the court, those in the stands, and those watching on TV.  It was spontaneously gut-wrenching.  (At the time, allow me to say the Intramuralist was incredibly thankful to be tuning in solely via radio airwaves.)  Thus, there was no time to prepare for how we’d feel and how we’d react as a body… as a nation… as a society.  What did we do?

 

All over the nation — as spurred on from sportscasters whose amplified words suddenly paled in comparison to the reality before them — we were encouraged to pray.

 

As grown men cried — visible arguably most clearly in the eyes of the typically, fashionably, completely composed coach, Rick Pitino — all over the nation, people prayed.

 

From Robert Griffin III:  “Prayers up for Kevin Ware, his teammates, & family”

From NBA’er Kevin Love:  “I don’t even have words. Only prayers right now.”

Fellow professional Stephen Curry:  “Pray for him!”

From baseball’s Bryce Harper:  “Wow! Speedy recovery for Kevin Ware hopefully! Scary moment! Prayers and blessings to you bud!”

From football’s Eric Wright:  “Kevin Ware injury was crazy, gotta send a prayer up for that young man”

And even from Lil Wayne:  “May God be with Kevin Ware and his family. Ya in my prayers bro”

 

When life is hard, we humbly fall to our knees and pray, submitting to a power and authority far bigger and better than ourselves.  Sometimes in those moments of crisis — when reality looms larger than rhetoric — wise men encourage one another to bow down.  There is no question then as to what is real and what is not — what is appropriate and what is not.  Sunday we witnessed the reality of the reaction in college basketball.

 

God bless you, Kevin Ware.  Heal fast.  Be wise, and cling to the bigger picture.  You now have a nation praying for you.

 

Respectfully,

AR

blessing

(…previously posted although edited… but still worth considering…)

 

Studied religion?  Ah, yes… I’ve heard it can be controversial.  Then again, controversy should never impede the way to truth.  Our goal should be to handle truth well.

 

The Intramuralist has long studied other faiths…  Hinduism, Islam, Scientology, etc.  You’ve seen the posts over recent months.  Truth told, I find religion fascinating.  (Just ask my friends, the Jehovah Witnesses, who have visited me 3 times in the past 6 months… egad.)  Through study, no less, the more I learn.  The more I learn, the humbler I become.  I am humbled because it begins to make sense…

 

Truthfully, it would be easier to treat this topic more as a cafeteria plan.  You choose what you like.  I’ll choose what I like (usually the cinnamon rolls).  And then we’ll just eat, drink, and be merry together.  But while considering all faiths as equally true may be easier and more convenient, it may not be factually correct.

 

On the day billions around the globe honor Jesus, the Intramuralist believes it’s important to be factually correct.  Let’s offer 2 facts:

 

  1. Jesus is the only leader of a faith whose body was never found decaying in a tomb.
  2. In most all prominent religions, the life and teaching of Jesus is acknowledged.

 

Again, it would be easier for us to eat, drink, and be merry.  But it would be wiser to embrace what is true.  If it is true, and we are not embracing it, is that a problem?  I wrestle with the following words…

 

     …The basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is!  By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.  So nobody has a good excuse.  What happened was this:  People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives.  They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life.  They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

 

     So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.”  It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out.  And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them — the God we bless, the God who blesses us.

 

Let me add a fact #3:

3. Christians have not always handled the truth well.

 

Although tempted to respond to those around us, we should never allow the behavior of man to blind us from truth.  Otherwise, we, too, may be trivialized into confusion.

 

Happy Easter, friends.  Feel free to dialogue and/or express opinion.  We walk this life together…  even enjoying the eating and drinking.  Let me also be very clear:  nothing else other than Jesus makes any sense.  Granted, there’s a lot to figure out there.  People get confused.  They omit grace.  They omit truth.  They even — we even — then sometimes, actually omit Jesus.  He, however, is the one thing that remains, that makes life make sense.

 

Wishing for blessing for us all… with generous grace… and full truth, too…

 

Respectfully,

AR

gay marriage

Can we talk?

Seriously, can we talk?

 

As I watched the red equals sign go viral on Tuesday — knowing the Supreme Court was hearing arguments in regard to California’s Proposition 8, a voter-approved backing of the Defense of Marriage Act — I was struck by the lack of dialogue of the day.

 

In all seriousness, friends, in regard to this issue — in regard to gay marriage and its approval, constitutionality, and societal acceptance — allow me to say this:  there are some of you on both sides of this issue that I have significant difficulty talking to.  Why?  Because you don’t listen.  You don’t listen to me.  In fact, you don’t listen to anyone… well, at least anyone you don’t know ahead of time will automatically agree with your perspective.

 

It’s not that I don’t respect you.  It’s not that I don’t respect your opinion.  It’s rather because you feel so emboldened that you are right that you have no respect for the opinion of any other.  Listening, my friends, is a sign of respect.

 

Let’s face it; this is an emotionally driven argument.  Many of you who support gay marriage have had an experience that has propelled you in that direction.  Perhaps either you or a beloved friend or family member is gay and thus you have passionately painted this as an issue of equality.  Perhaps you see it as civil right…  an equal pursuit of happiness, and each of us deserves to be happy!  Thus, anyone who feels differently than you is a bigot… or a homophobe… or perhaps, egad, something far worse.

 

Similarly, many of you who oppose gay marriage have read all the scriptures that have caused you to condemn it — and condemn it with a spewing passion.  You have read the old… and read the new.  You have then weighted this sin above all others… overlooking “specks” elsewhere in order to zero in on this huge “log.”  Thus, anyone who feels differently than you is a blatant sinner…  or a gay sympathizer… or yes, perhaps, egad, something far worse.

 

The reality is that I find it challenging to talk with both of you.  I don’t always enjoy it.  Why?  Because with all due respect, my friends — really — you guys stink at dialogue.

 

I don’t say that with any articulation of hatred or meanness or even disrespect.  There was a time in my life when if anyone in my physical presence actually opposed the obvious, enduring greatness of baseball’s Cincinnati Reds, I couldn’t talk with them either.  I had no desire to listen.  I was right.  They were wrong.  End of story.

 

Here, however, is where a huge problem lies…

 

This is a tough issue.  Gay marriage is hard.  This is an issue where not everyone who supports it nor everyone who opposes it is some arrogant, blind, or idiotic zealot.  Not everyone who supports it is a weakminded sympathizer nor everyone who opposes it is a prideful homophobe.  But yet, far too many of us act that way; far too many of us judge those who possess a differing perspective.  And far too many of us find solace in the facade that if we keep shouting a little louder the other side will recognize the obvious error in their ways… forgetting that hardly ever — ever — does shouting prompt positive, lasting change.

 

We have forgotten that it isn’t just law either side wants changed.  Law is only the law.  Hearts are far greater… far, far more powerful…  far, far more influential.  Whether you believe either side is sinful or wrong, a change of heart is more meaningful than any change in legality.  And heart change, friends, will never happen as a result of one side shouting louder.

 

Hence, I return to my original question…

 

Can we talk?

Can we — will we — are we brave enough — bold enough — humble enough — to ask why each feels the way they do?  Is there a way to work together?  … that is, as an actual, united state of America?

 

Or is it sadly acceptable to simply stink at dialogue?

 

Respectfully,

AR

go eagles

Stop the presses.  Postpone the previously planned post.  Forget (albeit momentarily) about the seizing of individual savings in Cyprus and the Defense of Marriage Act currently contemplated before the Supreme Court.

 

Forget, too, the 3 year anniversary of Obamacare — and the increasing wearying of the public, growing incrementally more knowledgeable about the actual, massive, embedded costs.

 

Ah, even forget for this day the promise of spring — especially as God’s sense of humor is once again evident, poking through the flakes of yet another Midwestern snow.

 

Yes, forget all of the above in today’s tribute to one event, one little school… a school of only 12,000, with pretty much zero famous alumni, residing just south of Fort Myers, Florida… a university which only offered its first class in August of ’97, which has now arguably, easily evolved into the sweetest story of the NCAA’s Sweet 16.

 

On Sunday, Florida Gulf Coast University became the first 15th seeded basketball team to ever advance to the 3rd round of the NCAA’s notoriously maddening, men’s basketball tournament.  With all due respect to their (now obviously disappointed) opponents, the 2nd seeded Hoyas of Georgetown and 7th seeded San Diego State, the Eagles from Florida GC are the sweet story that has stopped the presses.  Note captions from an increasingly captive audience:

 

“Cinderella Story Florida Gulf Coast”

“Florida Gulf Coast University:  They’re for Real and They’re Spectacular”

“Florida Gulf Coast Makes NCAA History”

 

Perhaps best expanded upon by Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports:  “They came from a made-up place called Dunk City, a rollicking, refreshing GIF-machine consisting of nobodies who became somebodies with dunks and oops and just enough sass to raise an eyebrow.  And now the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University have made history:  They are the first 15-seed ever to be one of the top 16 college basketball teams in America.  But it’s not just that.  No, not at all.  It’s the way FGCU has leapt and heel-clicked and chicken danced into America’s hearts.  It’s the memories they’ve made during games with their above-the-rim aerials and their below-the-backboard antics.  In a college sporting world of corporate fakery and soiled amateurism, FGCU stands for pure joy.”

 

In the most recent prior post of the Intramuralist, you will note that we acknowledged the reason this tournament is so fun to watch is because a group of young men come together — undaunted by the impure influence of arrogance, money, and power — and humbly recognize that this game is “not about me.”  There is a joy in that pursuit that an intelligent, watching world so often misses… perhaps because, too often, we omit that humility, and too often, it is the “me” we are about.  Very bright, intelligent people still pursue the “me” first.  And thus, very bright, intelligent people so often make foolish mistakes.

 

On the day before the tournament began, in the Intramuralist’s household, each of my sons completed their annual basketball bracket.  My youngest son, Josh, an insightful 11 year old who also has Down syndrome, completed his as well.  (Just for the record, he picked Duke to win; it’s the most fun school name to say.)

 

As we worked our way through the brackets — with me reading to Josh the name of each team, attempting, no less, not to over emphasize any opponent — he would articulate his forecasted winner.  As we came to the Georgetown/Florida GC match up, without delay, Josh confidently proclaimed, “Florida Gulf Coast.”  Wanting to steer my son wisely but not wanting to pollute the purity of our household’s competitive process, I hesitated, stared at my young son, and slowly said, “Really, Josh?  Are you sure?  Florida Gulf Coast?”  To which, Josh paused, smiled, and while attempting to heed his parent’s caution, he then nodded slowly but affirmatively, saying, “Yes… Florida Gulf Coast!”

 

I, too, had obviously made a most foolish mistake.

 

(Go Eagles… go.)

 

Respectfully,

AR

billikens?

What’s the beauty of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament?

Why do so many of us get so excited this time of year?

Why is it that even the non-sports fans find themselves tuning in?

 

Perhaps it’s because of the madness.  “March Madness!”  We are a curious people.  When something maddening occurs, the cameras tend to roll and the audience begins to swell, witnessing something that totally stirs our senses.

 

Perhaps it’s because of the diversity.  Only in the 2013 tournament will you find Spartans and Shockers and far more than waddling Ducks; there also exist multiple masses of Rams, Tigers, Wildcats, and yes, even Aggies!

 

We sure are a bird-and-bear loving society.  We have Cardinals and Jayhawks, even Bluejays, Owls, and Eagles, which are sometimes, actually Golden. Also included are multiple Bruins and Grizzlies.  Neither acknowledges our adoration for the dog-family, as we love on those lovable Lobos, Panthers, and wolves — whether belonging to the Wolverines or a Wolfpack.

 

And can someone please tell me:  what is a “Billiken”?

 

Perhaps it’s because political correctness has flown out the nearest window.  Forget those ole’ Mississippi Rebels or the Rebels that run from Las Vegas; look at those agitated athletes (a little violent if you ask me) heralding from Illinois and Notre Dame.  We’re actually ok acknowledging that sometimes Fighting is appropriate and necessary.

 

Perhaps it’s because no one is attempting to convince us that the inexact science of global warming is fact and that the divine has nothing to do with it.  We can simply celebrate the domination of Cyclones and Hurricanes, absent the rhetorical, persuasive analysis.

 

Perhaps it’s because no one works tirelessly to make sure there’s a total separation between church and state; it’s actually ok to acknowledge that good and evil both exist.  Why else would we pay homage to both Blue Devils and Demons in addition to the Crusaders?  (Granted, society does tend to pay a little more attention to the evil…)

 

Perhaps it’s because there exists no racial nor ethnic discrimination.  Aztecs and Gaels — multiple Gaelic groups, in fact — receive ample attention.  So do the Crimson and Orange.  Thank God, there is no criticism based on the color of their skin nor the distinctiveness of their heritage.  There is also no praise solely for that reason either.  The true colorblindness of this tournament is attractive.

 

Perhaps it’s because it fulfills our societal fascination with the royals.  Princess Kate and Prince William can effectively reside outside the paparazzi’s limelight, while we focus on James Madison’s Dukes instead.

 

Perhaps it’s because there’s no loud, articulated fears of extinction.  Bison and Buffaloes are equally hunted, although they do face the possibility of elimination, just not this year via the hands of the Explorers.  (Note that there’s no passionate pursuit of increased gun control to tame the Cowboys either.)

 

Perhaps it’s simply that it’s fun.  How often do we cheer on athletic Hoyas, Hilltoppers, and speedy young Jackrabbits?  And the Zips?  Oh, how I love to say their name!

 

Or perhaps… perhaps… it’s because in this 64 team tournament, what wins is the humility it takes to play together, to develop effective teamwork and admirable chemistry.  The person who plays for his own power and praise does not typically succeed.  It is a team sport.  It is not about “me.”  And at the end of the game — win or lose — there is a shaking of hands; there is a respect for not only the game but for the people who play it.  Perhaps as much as possible, this is one activity where arrogance, money, and power have not polluted the outcome.  Thank God.

 

P.S.  Go Big Ten.  Go Ducks… waddling or not.

 

Respectfully,

AR

protecting

On Tuesday, newly elected Pope Francis delivered the message at his installation service.  Now as previously stated amidst these postings, this semi-humble, creative blogger is not a parishioner of the Roman Catholic Church; however, I have tremendous respect for the church, and there is zero doubt that powerful potential for influence rests upon the Pope’s leadership.  Few men have such potential.  Fewer still use their potential for good.

 

While the Intramuralist rarely cedes its pen fully to another, I was struck by these words to us all on Tuesday.  Francis begins with the example of Joseph — Jesus’s dad here on Earth — sharing how God called Joseph to be a protector…

 

“How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand… 

 

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

 

The vocation of being a “protector,” however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

 

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

 

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

 

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!”

 

Recognizing that tenderness is a sign of strength… knowing that pride and envy are just as defiling as hatred… respecting God’s creatures and creation… and building one another up, as we protect one another via trust, respect, and goodness…

 

A message to us all… no matter our faith.  Using potential for good.

 

Respectfully,

AR

Cyprus

 

Right now, in a galaxy not so far away…

 

(As reported by Forbes…)

 

“Why is a dot-sized European country causing outsized effects?  Because what starts in Cyprus, a tiny isle of 1.1 million people, could soon spread to London or New York or Hong Kong, making misery for many millions more.

 

Cyprus experienced severe turmoil this weekend after its prime minster agreed to force a tax on all bank deposits in order to receive a bailout.  The prospect of a tax set off a run on ATMs and made observers worry that financial contagion could spread throughout the continent and then beyond…

 

How unpopular is this in Cyprus?

Forgive the understatement.  It’s deeply, deeply unpopular.  Cypriots made a run on all available ATMs this weekend, depleting cash reserves across the country.  Cyprus, in response, also suspended electronic transfers.

 

Why are we even talking about this?

To receive a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout, [Cypriot President Nicos] Anastasiades agreed to the taxes.  Cyprus badly needs foreign aid, and a deal has been in official discussions since June.  The complexity of any package delayed it, as did the opposition from Anastasiades’ predecessor.  The money, in part, comes from the Troika: the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank.  But the tax on depositors ensures a major portion comes from Cyprus, too.  And here’s the larger picture. Cyprus is badly indebted. Its debt-to-GDP ratio pushed to 127% in the third quarter of 2012…”

 

[One more tangent comment from Forbes…]

 

Did the president really get elected while supporting this tax?

Anastasiades rejected the idea during the campaign.”

 

So here are the facts:

 

One federal government.  So deep in debt.  Owes billions to foreign countries.  Has a history of overspending.  Has never prioritized a specific plan to pay back the debt.  And has a debt-to-GDP ratio over 100%.

 

(Note:  A general debt-to-GDP guideline is that a ratio below 50% is considered healthy, while a ratio above 90% is regarded as potentially, economically dangerous.  If economic growth is strong, a country can support higher debt.)

 

How have the leaders of Cyprus determined to stop the economic bleeding?

 

Government agreed to seize the citizens’ income.  Those in power decided it is legal, moral, and appropriate to confiscate what belongs to the people.  Call it “seizure.”  Call it “confiscation.”  One could inarguably also make a case for “theft.”

 

Quoting Forbes once again, “why are we even talking about this?”

 

Because one American government… so deep in debt… owes billions (now over $1 trillion) to China… has a history of overspending… has not prioritized a plan to pay it back… and has a debt-to-GDP ratio that crossed the 100% mark in early 2012, with current projections hitting 113% in 2013.  How will our leaders stop the economic bleeding?  What will they determine to be legal, moral, and appropriate?

 

In response to the mandated confiscation in Cyprus, there was a rush to withdrawal money from the country’s banks.  In response to the citizens’ withdrawal, the banks have now closed.  Hence, more are making a valid case for “theft.”

 

Respectfully,

AR

geepers

Perhaps this is news to you.

 

I can’t always tell my son what to do.  I can’t.

 

Sure, sometimes I tell him, and perhaps, yeah, maybe, he means well.  He might even say “yes, madre,” but then he doesn’t follow through.  He has a mind of his own.  He has choices to make.  And perhaps this is even more news to the waiting, watching world:  sometimes he makes bad choices.

 

I’m sorry, but that’s the reality.  Sometimes my son — sometimes you and me — sometimes we make bad choices.  But thank God we’re allowed to make bad choices!  It’s my past bad choices that instrumentally influence my decisions now.  In wisdom we weigh outcomes, discerning cost, benefit, prudence, etc.  Bad choices are God’s way of allowing us to figure life out.  Thank God for bad choices.

 

But there are times we are undoubtedly uncomfortable with the bad choices of another…

 

Can we then force people to do what we want them to do?

Is it even appropriate to force people to do so?

 

There’s a lot of things I’d like to force…

 

… people to act maturely…

… partisans to get along…

… the Senate to finally pass a budget…  (geepers…  why in the world does our federal government not pass a budget these past 4 years?  … why is there this obvious, discouraging evasion of accountability?)

 

But yet, we continually attempt to mandate behavior…

 

… mandating drivers and passengers to each don their seat belt…

… mandating our teenage boys commit to what’s nothing less than basic, moral hygiene…

… but also mandating Americans buy medical insurance…

… and mandating New Yorkers don’t buy too big a soft drink…

 

Geepers.  What is ok to force people to do?

 

It seems to this semi-humble, casual observer that forced behavior must initially pass through the following conditions:

  1. Does the person in question possess the ability to make a rational decision?  And,
  2. Does the person’s decision negatively impact anyone else?

 

Hence, the Intramuralist is comfortable with the example of mandated car seats for infants, as the infant does not possess the ability to make a rational decision.  Equally true, the Intramuralist advocates the additional example of prosecuting drunk drivers; drunk driving puts other people on the road at risk.

 

But if the mandated behavior fits neither condition above, what is the logic behind the restriction?

 

… that we are incapable of making rational choices?

… that we wish to be a more socialist society?  (egad)

… or that government is both arrogant and naive — thinking they know best, that people are incapable, and forgetting the great teacher of negative consequences?

 

As said multiple times previously, “geepers.”  Let me add an affirmative “egad.”

 

Respectfully,

AR