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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

your guardian angel   [Rick Barry]

Hi Vedant,

I don't have anything especially profound to say about your experience with Henry Edward Lee. I just wanted to let you know I read it, and that it is a really great story. It is wonderful that God was able to speak to you through this man, and remind you of the power of love over hatred. There is nothing we can do to change other people who have hate in their hearts, other than to show them the love of Christ and hope that that transforms them. I think Henry Edward Lee proves that point. It seems to me that, through love, he was able to change your heart. It is a fantastic lesson for us all.

Hope your summer is going very well.

Rick

my guardian angel   [Vedant]

i don't know how philosohpical this is, but tonight was one of the most profound, spiritual, moving times i've had in dc. it wasn't the march for women's lives, attending economics forum at a think tank, or rallying for some famous politician. the rest of the world could care less what happened in the span of about 15 minutes over an issue of just pennies, but the timing of everything was just overwhelming. anyway, i feel i need to write it somewhere, while the details are still vivid in my head.

i went to the e street cinema to purchase advance tickets for fahrenheit 9/11. other people in our condo were getting together to see it and invited us to come along, so my roommate and i decided to take them up on the offer. anyway, it wasn't that humid out when i went outside around 9pm, so i decided to walk there, all i had was some change and a credit card. got a fruit empanada on connecticut, which was very delicious, and made my way to the cinema while chatting on the cell. getting there, the sales office was closed since about 6pm. i should have checked beforehand, but oh well, that's a sunk cost. frustrated, i spent my change, barely enough to buy one ride on the metro. i went to one entrance of metro center and proceded to get to the red line platform.

for those of you not familiar with dc, sorry if this is confusing. anyway instead of taking crossing over to take the escalator down, my absent-minded self exited through the gates with my metro card. those from dc know that even if you didn't use the metro, it takes money off. i realized this right after i put my card in, and the guard was watching me the whole time.

i immediately explained my error and he started laughing at me. i tried to explain my confusion, which he was entertained by. he told me that i learned my lesson, and i should pay for it, absolutely pleased with my misfortune. after calling me a few very bad things and laughing again, i cussed him out, and left the metro. he said something over the loudspeaker as i left, but i flicked him off. granted, it was my fault, but his attitude was anything but warranted. i probably shouldn't have reacted that way, but oh well, that was how i felt at that instant. i decided not to use my credit card to buy another metro card, but just walk back, maybe to get out frustration on a wasted night. i wasn't angry because i just wasted a bunch of time and some money; i do that more often than i'd like. i was so angry because people like that actually exist. people that get excited by other people's misfortune.

walking back all this anger was flowing through my head, almost irrationally. i yelled on the empty street, "God, curse those people!" at that instant a homeless man walking behind me called to me.

"what the fuck do you want! i don't have any money. take my stupid metro card with five cents on it." as i handed it to him. he looked at me with shock, and a hint of pity. he handed me a pair of sunglasses that he was selling.
"take these."
"what?"
"i don't want you to be mad, take them."
"why?"
"i'm a guardian angel," he said very calmly. at this point i was freaking out. i just yelled out to God, and now this guy is telling me he's a guardian angel.
"no i don't need those, keep them."
"why are you so angry."
i tell him why i'm angry at people who take pleasure in other people's misfortune, in my best translation to 'street talk'.
"who fucked with you. i'm going to fuck with him and set things straight."
"nobody. it's nothing, really."
"what do you need?"
"i was trying to use the metro to get home, and i don't have change to get another card."
"i know the supervisor in metro center, i can get you a free ride."
"no it's alright."
"you need a buck or two?" he shows me his money. how ironic is that, a homeless man offering me money.
"no, really, it's alright."
"okay, well i just wanna say, i'm a good man, i'm not trying to do anything bad to you. i try to make people happy, and i saw you so angry and wanted to help you. i thought someone was fucking with you a block away or something. i wanted to make sure you were alright. this is my street, and nobody fucks with people on my street."
"well thanks a lot."
"you know, God knows i done some bad shit, i drink and do other shit, but i'm gettin over it. my name is henry edward lee, i'm in NA (an alcohol addiction program apparently). look at this." he showed me his registration paper for NA with his name on it. "i sell this stuff so i have dinner money and breakfast money, and then tomorrow after breakfast, i do the same thing. i'm just trying to get my shit straight, you know. i'm tryin to be a good man, ask any of these cops."
"i know."
"my name is henry edward lee and i'm a guardian angel. i don't want you to be mad. i'm here monday through friday. you come here any time and i'll be here. where you goin to?"
"around dupont."
"oh well that's not too far." he tries to give directions, but i tell him i know where to go.
"thank you, you made me happy again."
"thanks for talking to me. making you happy makes me happy. i'm just a guardian angel. if i don't see you ever again, just remember me," he yelled while walking away from me.

he could have very well been an angel. i don't know if it's detailed enough to convey what was going on in my head and heart, but that was pretty much my encounter, not necessarily verbatim. it gave me such a high that there are people out there that actually do get pleasure from helping others, right after i thought that it was an impossibility. everything he said, he was completely understanding than anyone has been to me in a very long time, and this from a homeless stranger. my heart cracked after this. i was angry about $1.20 and someone poking fun at me, and someone who had nothing tried his best to make me feel better, however stupid it was what i was angry about. i felt like a spoiled brat who just got worldly. misguided happiness, help, love, etc is always great. but when someone knows how and when to focus that stuff on another when they most need it with whatever they can, it makes all the difference in the world.

my philosophical question. why do some people get happiness from hurting people, while others get happiness from hurting people. the metro guard definitely had a smile on his face, as did henry edward lee, but for completely opposite reasons. i had dinner with state department diplomats on sunday. maybe this sunday i'll have dinner with a homeless man. i love this city. any thoughts or comments?

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Remembering Ronnie   [Kyle]

Today is a sad day for me and for the rest of America. On this, the 5th day of June in the year of our Lord 2004, the sunset on the life of Ronald Wilson Reagan, our 40th president has come. The world has lost a great leader today, but even more so, a great man. President Reagan was a man of character, a man of conviction. A true patriot, Reagan will be remembered for the hope that he gave to America. Under Ronald Reagan our nation truly came to experience morning in America. Reagan rediscovered the best in America. He did not invent the concepts of freedom or liberty but he resurrected their spirits in the American people. From his entrance into the political arena with his monumental speech, A Time for Choosing, through the final letter he penned to the American people, Ronald Reagan rode the wave of optimism from Dixon, IL through Sacramento, CA and finally to Washington, DC. There are very few people save my family and a handful of close friends who have influenced my life in a meaningful way. Though I never met him and he served in the White House while I was in diapers and training wheels, I am proud to say that Ronald Reagan is a man who has changed my life. Through Ronald Reagan I have discovered the beauty of America and the American dream. I have seen the power that an idea can have and the progress that freedom can make. The dream of one of our greatest presidents lives on in the hearts and minds of many today so that we can continue to strive towards that shining city on the hill that Ronald Wilson Reagan steered us towards.

God Bless Ronald Reagan.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Re: Liberal Education   [Kyle]

Hi Vedant! Great to see you blogging again. While your article raised many interesting points, I believe that some of it is findings are based on faulty logic.

Connecticut: Has a Republican governor who is serving his third term and a Republican majority in the House (3R/2D).

Massachusetts: This liberal state has a Republican governor as well.

New Jersey: The state Senate of New Jersey is equally divided between Republicans and Democrats (20R/20D).

New York: Has a Republican governor.

Rhode Island: Has a Republican governor and 1 Republican Senator in the U.S. Senate.

Hawaii: Has a Republican governor.

Maryland: Has a Republican governor.

New Hampshire: The state which baffles your top ten system continues to display ignorance when voting as they have a Republican majority in all seats of government.

Illinois: Seeing as how I am a dumb conservative, I must be the one to pull down the state to its place as number 9. But I am not alone in my conservative foolishness, Republicans have a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives (10R/9D).

Delaware: Republicans hold a majority in the state house (29R/12D), a majority in the U.S. House, and one Republican senator.

What happened to all of these intellectual giants when they elected their governors and state officials? Either their intellectual prowess is not as great as you would suggest, or they have somehow outsmarted me. And what about the dumb states that voted for Bush? Perhaps they are not as idiotic and conservative as would like to think.

Alabama: Democrats hold a majority in both houses of the state legislature (State House: 63D/42R, State Senate: 25D/10R).

Louisiana: Not only do Democrats control both state houses in this dumb state, but the ignorant citizens also happened to elect a Democratic governor (State House: 67D/37R, State Senate: 24D/15R).

Montana: Has one Democratic senator.

Oklahoma: Democrats hold a majority in both houses of the state legislature (State House: 53D/48 R, State Senate: 28D/20R).

South Dakota: The dumb voters of this state have voted in two Democrats as U.S. Senators.

South Carolina: Has one Democratic U.S. Senator.

Wyoming: Has a Democratic governor.

Mississippi: The dumbest of all states elected a majority of Democrats to both houses in the state legislature (State House: 76D/46R, State Senate: 29D/23R), while 50% of the U.S. House members are Democrats.

To me, it is rather clear that the basis of voting alone cannot be used to determine the intellectual level of a state’s citizens. Of course, being the dumb conservative that I am, all of this could be wrong.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Re: Liberal Education   [Vedant]

you're complaining about colleges set up to give education but filled with liberal bias on a web board set up to flirt with sophia but filled with conservative bias. i find that painfully redundant. conservatives have their own fair and balanced bastions, but college isn't one perhaps because they're generally not smart enough to get in. i refer to last weeks economist:

"So Democrats really are smarter":

Presidential vote and states average I.Q:
(national ranking, state, presidential choice in 2000, average I.Q)

1 - Connecticut (Gore - Democrat) 113
2 - Massachusets(Gore - Democrat) 111
3 - New Jersey (Gore - Democrat) 111
4 - New York (Gore - Democrat) 109
5 - Rhode Island (Gore - Democrat) 107
6 - Hawaii (Gore - Democrat) 106
7 - Maryland (Gore - Democrat) 105
8 - New Hampshire (Bush - Republican) 105
9 - Illinois (Gore - Democrat) 104
10 - Delaware (Gore - Democrat) 103

40 - Alabama (Bush - Republican) 92
41 - Louisiana (Bush - Republican) 91
42 - Montana (Bush - Republican) 90
43 - Oklahoma (Bush - Republican) 90
44 - South Dakota (Bush - Republican)89
45 - South Carolina (Bush - Republican) 87
46 - Wyoming (Bush - Republican) 87
47 - Idaho (Bush - Republican) 86
48 - Utah (Bush - Republican) 85
49 - Mississippi (Bush - Republican) 85

now that i've offended everyone else, let me use your anger-filled interest in my post to get to my point. i am by no means asserting i'm smarter than conservatives, but let it be said that i'm glad to see illinois up there =).

why education, and other institutions (art, music) are generally 'liberal' is that it is the best stage to introduce new thoughts, theories, and eventually facts. the church hasn't really the best place for that. however, college is one of the most friendly stages for academic discussion. people now and in the past feel the need to break the mindset of people by introducing some of the most bizarre ideas ever contrived. it is because of those bizarre ideas, that we are where we are today in academia and society, for better or for worse. if you ask me, i'd say it's better. just because someone publishes a controversial phd dissertation doesn't mean it's fact. i've been wondering exactly how long it takes the academic world much longer to treat it as that, and often theories and papers are refuted. i don't know about your studies, but my economics professors recognize some things to be incontrovertible and other things to be open for speculation and inspection, and those wishy-washy areas are what defines liberal and conservative. i don't think college education is the way it is because a whole bunch of smart liberals got together and decided to hijack higher education. it's just seems that it's the best mindset for the academic process.

*side note:the economics department is one of the most diverse. democrats, environmentalists, socialists, libertarians, republicans, christians, you'll find all of them, very well represented in economics. libertarian seems to be the most popular mindset. not all liberals are close-minded to conservatism. one of my best professors was a hard-lined republican bush supporter and a genius.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

re: Liberal Education   [Rachel]

College education takes on a new passion for these academic folk, because they take it upon themselves to indoctrinate their political ideology into the minds of their impressionable youth. The name they give this: applied. History, biology, whatever the field, liberals tag on the term to denote this abominable practice. Case in point, my anthropology class this semester on “Religion and Human Rights”, my professor spoke of “applied” anthropology, which basically means disseminating liberal beliefs.

Interesting point... just to add to that, the reigning fetish for the applied betrays a sort of close-mindedness that can be antithetical to liberal education. Take one of the most liberal fields, sociology, for instance. It was founded upon the premise that man is the measure of things. Just read Comte's Introduction to Positive Philosophy (the Mein Kampf of progressive close-mindedness) the and you'll see that his way of thinking is not just the innocuous pursuit of knowledge (as most other sciences claim), but a quest--among other things--to destroy earlier modes of thinking in the march of "Progress". Of course, most liberals I know have never read Comte, but may have taken sociology classes because they "want to understand human life better" and get the "applied" version of Comte's positivistic philosophy/sociology instead.

At the end of the ceremony the 8th highest paid university president in America admonished the graduates to “turn their tassels from right to left”. Our beloved Stephen Joel, thinking that his voice had not apparently been heard enough in the two hour long ceremony, quipped “as we hope your politics have turned in the last four years as well.” Though the off-the-cuff remark was meant to illicit a simple chortle in the line of a generally irreverent ceremony (I have to question any university that has to cut the student newspaper program and yet can afford to hire two professional actors to dress up as George and Martha Washington for the sole purpose of walking across a graduation stage)...


What an interesting thing for SJT to say... I bet Maggie loved that part, eh? Good thing she wasn't packing. J/K

As you may have guessed I'm fully in favor of cutting the student newspaper program because of the deleterious effect of the daily news on intelligence and virtue ;) Cutting the program might also spur exciting and new experiences for college students like paying for things and original thinking. I think that they should also cut the graduation mascots as well as Little George and use the handsome and delightful hippo in their stead. The extra funding can either go to financial aid or a pay raise for the Amazing Professor Kennedy. At least, that's what I would do if I were SJT.

Note: Just to show how quickly my brain has become moldy post-finals, I had a tough time finding the words for this post. I have, as Lisa Simpson said, "lost my perspicacity."

Monday, May 17, 2004

Liberal Education   [Kyle]

Hello all! Summer is finally here - which means that in between my readings, playing with my namesake (a.k.a. my nephew, Aidan Kyle), and watching re-runs of Star Trek, I will be able to once again give ol’ Sophia a slap on the ass and a wink from time to time. I know that I am not the only one who has been anxiously awaiting her amorous return.

I had the fine pleasure of attending The George Washington University’s 183rd commencement this past weekend and it is this occurrence that I will reflect upon today. Though the ceremony forced me to nervously question myself and think, “Oh crap.....what the heck does one do with a religion degree” as I frantically calculated whether I would graduate summa or simply magna cum lade, it is not my over-obsessive mind that I will write about. Readers be assured that I calmed myself with the soothing thought that there is still graduate school which, if nothing else, can delay my entrance into the wretched workforce for at least another two years.

At the end of the ceremony the 8th highest paid university president in America admonished the graduates to “turn their tassels from right to left”. Our beloved Stephen Joel, thinking that his voice had not apparently been heard enough in the two hour long ceremony, quipped “as we hope your politics have turned in the last four years as well.” Though the off-the-cuff remark was meant to illicit a simple chortle in the line of a generally irreverent ceremony (I have to question any university that has to cut the student newspaper program and yet can afford to hire two professional actors to dress up as George and Martha Washington for the sole purpose of walking across a graduation stage), I think that the comment reveals a rather strong insight into the minds of the liberal intelligentsia. The so-called champions of ‘diversity’ and ‘tolerance’ simply cannot fathom, and will not accept, that there is an intellectually satisfying opposing view to their dogma. In the minds of liberals (a scary place indeed), conservatives are simply “dumb” and it is therefore part of the liberal creed to root out conservative thought wherever it may be found. College education takes on a new passion for these academic folk, because they take it upon themselves to indoctrinate their political ideology into the minds of their impressionable youth. The name they give this: applied. History, biology, whatever the field, liberals tag on the term to denote this abominable practice. Case in point, my anthropology class this semester on “Religion and Human Rights”, my professor spoke of “applied” anthropology, which basically means disseminating liberal beliefs.

The liberal mind set of branding conservativism as “dumb” extends well beyond the ivory towers, however. Note how all Republican presidents or presidential candidates are played off as being ignorant folk while the Democrats are always to be men revered for their powerful intellect. Bush is the stupid idiot (who received an undergraduate degree from Yale and a graduate degree in business from Harvard) while Gore and Kerry are always the men who are “too-smart” for the common man. Ann Coulter, the long-legged goddess of conservativism, has a great chapter on this in her book, Slander.

How good it is to get this off my chest. I hope to engage in quite a bit of stimulating dialogue this summer and I look forward to voyeuristically watching you flirt with Sophia (the slut!).

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The March For Women's Lives   [Rick Barry]

I was at the March for Women's Lives as a part of a counter protest, a silent vigil of prayer and remembrance for the millions of lost lives since Roe vs. Wade. We stood with a group of amazing women from (ironically, since it was a silent protest) Silent No More. Most of the people in our group were young, around the age of 20, and most were female. We stood as a pro-life witness against the deceit and acrimony propagated by many of the marchers.

It was certainly one of the most moving, if not life changing, days of my life.

Silently we stood there holding our "Women Deserve Better than Abortion" signs, and we were the object of great hatred. I realized that we were, for the protesters, a physical group upon whom they could heap their disgust, and so we had the burden of receiving their hate. For no less than five hours we stood our ground as every conceivable insult was tossed our way. I was proud of how we, for the most part, remained silent, allowing their words to fall at our feet.

Even so, it was an incredibly sad day. At one point, after maybe the first hour, I wondered how anyone could love such cruel people as these. By the second hour, my heart began to rouse. I saw past the hatred and fury; I saw heartbreak. Most of these women have ended the lives of their own children! Undoubtedly, there is great pain and suffering in this. They didn't want to kill their babies, but something told them they had no choice. They need to march for "choice" because the only alternative was to repent, and repenting is a very painful labor. The more women I saw pass, the more pain I saw in their eyes, the more hurt, the more sorrow. These were broken women who at some fundamental level missed their lost children--they longed to embrace their irretrievable babies. How could we respond with anything but love and compassion?

That is why I am proud of the pro-life group we were with. There were a handful Christians who preached a message of hate, but the vast majority of us came in love. Ours was a witness of compassion. We proclaimed that women deserved better that abortion...that they need love, not abortion. I was honored to stand there along that angry road with amazing women, women who have had abortions. These precious ladies have felt the great emptiness and horror of abortion. In their hands they held tissues to wipe away their tears, and signs confessing "I Regret My Abortion".

I know it was a powerful message. I saw what it did to one woman. As she passed by the young ladies in our group, she said (in a pathetic, yet angry way), "You don't know what you are talking about! I was younger than you when I had my abortion!" These words struck my ears as sorrowful, though said in anger.

Then an amazing thing happened. She walked passed Georgette Forney (the head of Silent No More...a truly incredible woman) who was holding her "I Regret My Abortion" sign. And this woman...who had just recently told the young girls they don't understand...she froze. She stood before Georgette, and there on that road, as others marched by, she started to cry. In Georgette she found someone who did understand the agony of abortion. Her husband (boyfriend?) soon pulled her away; she was made to March on.

This story, for me, epitomizes the March for Women's Lives. These women bear a great burden, a grievous yoke around their necks. They want healing, they cry out for it. But as their cries emerge from their lips, the words have changed. They cry for help, but they hear themselves say, "choice." Maybe the only way to deal with the pain is to try and justify it, to even fight for it. But what they really desire is to heal their deep hurts. Even still, their "sisters" tell them to march on. Their husbands and boyfriends tell them to get over it. These are not real choices.

"Choice" is an empty option for women. Make a choice, and then shut up about it. But there is submerged suffering, deep in the deserted recesses of the soul. The "March for Women's Lives" people don't want to talk about those places. They don't care about the gasping soul, they care about the feminist agenda.

I am convinced that we must reach out in love to the millions of heartsick women who have made this most dreadful decision...to end the life of their own young. They need real options, and abortion is not a real option. Yes, abortion is a choice. But the March for Women's Lives failed to address this question: is it a good choice? The women of Silent No More were an incredible witness in silent response to that question. They need not say the words, for most of the women at that march had memorized the answer long ago. It reverberates in their belly. They know it by heart. The answer, alas, is a teary-eyed "no."