Speed Limits, Traffic Rules and More

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Each bending or ignoring of the rules does not seem like much when viewed in isolation.

I have read about corrupt governments, terrorist enclaves, lawless no-man’s lands and places of weak law enforcement around the World. Maybe you have too. Maybe you think or even say, “I am sure glad I live in The United States.” You may also wonder how people around the world could tolerate or even support such despicable behavior from their fellow citizens.

Do we have the best country in the world?

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Quadrilles--La Pastorelle an avant, 7th" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ea485310-0256-0133-db6b-58d385a7b928
Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. “Quadrilles–La Pastorelle an avant, 7th” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ea485310-0256-0133-db6b-58d385a7b928

Statistics can be manipulated, politicians can pander or spin things to suit their purposes – which are often linked to special interests – media can try to subtly sway public opinion . . . and I can go on with describing ways in which everyday citizens can be mislead or even completely fooled yet, what is one really big source of influence that can be used on us all? It is the threat of being labeled disloyal – or even treasonous – because of what we believe, say or do. This can be alluded to or even directly hurled our way when we ask too many questions, want to know how money is being used or disagree with a popular movement. In a country populated with at least 320 million people and in as large an area these United States of America exist in, a myriad of differences of opinion, views and expectations suggest life here can become very complicated if we let it. It is unrealistic to expect that all the people will agree about everything all the time. Still, as a Nation we have a remarkable history of sticking together despite our differences ( at least usually).

In The U.S.A. differences have been a source of strength.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "Ausstellung Palast in New York." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-7d08-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Ausstellung Palast in New York.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-7d08-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

I can say for a vast land with a large population we have a remarkable ability to remain united (for all practical considerations at least). We do have poor people in depressed areas (and some exist almost everywhere), we do have some people discriminated against and we do have some people living in areas that are below the national standard in terms of what services are there or the quality of those services (i.e. Internet connection speed). Still, we produce plenty of food, have many great roads and even offer some alternative transportation options, provide mostly good quality fresh water for people to use and decent sanitary conditions utilized a very large-scale that is probably is unmatched globally. Still in the interest of fairness and truth, there are a few negatives I should mention.

In this world we know that nothing is perfect; imperfection exists even in the U.S.A.

Injustice does happen, disrespect happens, bullying can threaten some school children, there is hunger and homelessness even in affluent areas; yes some needy people do fall through the cracks of our social safety nets. World comparisons (though often distorted by scale differences) indicate we can do better, in education, in holding the cost of health-care down and in getting more young people into post high school education or job training. We also can do better in correcting the ddiscrepancies in income levels for men versus women, for different races and different regions. We also can do better with managing beneficial government programs especially when they are undermined by special interests and corruption. I have read that each year as much as $50 Billion dollars are lost to corruption in Medicare: if we spent $2 Billion dollars on enforcement of Medicare rules and recovered half of $50 Billion dollars, the enforcement costs would be worth the expenditure. Still, none of these (and a few others not delineated) upset me more than a negative trend I recognize in the everyday experience going about my quintessential daily routines.

Trend: Increasing willingness to bend the rules even break some laws.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "Monkey's Sculpture at Nikko: Mizaru Kikazaru Iwazaru (See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil)" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-c695-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Monkey’s Sculpture at Nikko: Mizaru Kikazaru Iwazaru (See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil)” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-c695-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Income inequality, corruption, over or under regulation and the subterfuges hidden in business practices of large entities (private industry or in government agencies) may be a big part of the root cause of this increasing lawlessness. To me is not a valid excuse for this trend but with bad examples I suppose we must expect it; to me these acts in fact reveal selfishness and greed that is even moving toward a disregard for the sanctity of human life – or at the very least a loss of respect for one another. Phrases like, “Every body does it,” ” it is a stupid law anyway,” “How else am I going to get what is due me or get ahead?” Comments like these indicate that the hearts of the people who try to excuse or defend this trend are being worn down by lax moral teaching or strong influence from bad examples. Before I write about the more serious aspects of the decline in the rule of law and weakened practice of civility, I want to tell you about the seemingly “little things” that for the most part do not require assistance from law enforcement, but, degrade the quality of life for many of us and, may be becoming more than just a nuisance or annoyance. These behaviors if they continue to increase encourage rational for bad behavior or the disregard for our fellow citizens‘ rights.

Little white lies and minor violations.

In 1955 when I was eight years old my father started to tell me about “little white lies” but my mother promptly intervened and with a chuckle tapped my father’s shoulder and said, “Stop, he has plenty of time to learn about that.”  That was true, and later I did learn that sometimes not telling the truth about what appears to be a trivial matter could spare someone’s feelings, avoid a senseless argument or avoid admitting to a seemingly benign “something” I may have done.  In all of these situations and many similar ones the “ideal” of always telling the truth, or emulating the myth that George Washington could not tell a lie, produced an inner conflict within me: my religious training contradicted the concept of “how things really are” and what in reality was the sliding scale used to judge what good and bad actually meant.  And now I have even learned that George Washington a father of our country practiced espionage during the Revolutionary War; though for obvious good reason  but learning of this demystification of a national hero, did and does make me feel like I had been fooled when I studied history as a child.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "Evil counsel" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c84c4530-56bd-0130-bc4b-58d385a7bbd0
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Evil counsel” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c84c4530-56bd-0130-bc4b-58d385a7bbd0

Like most of my friends and family I gradually learned how much disinformation, omissions of truth and denials worked well to hide my guilt so it would be recognized. I deftly learned when to own up to something so I didn’t get deeper into trouble or deceive in order to stay out of trouble altogether.  in fact the whole culture around me as I matured became a delicate balance of truth verses “little white lies.” Then one day “Bam!” I crossed a line and flirted with doing more serious duplicity; from then on my game of “truth and lies” matured into actually breaking rules willfully, consciously bending laws and even violating a couple of the “Ten Commandments.”

I had to admit some, pay the consequences for some, confess sin sometimes and wrestle with an annoying conscience even if I thought I got away with something.  In order to function I developed a keen “streetwise” sense about daily life and, often that spared me the worst of possible consequences that I could have experienced, for whatever breach of a rule or a law I was responsible for.  I vow that this article isn’t going to become an article of true confessions, I’ll save that story for another time.  I will only say this: the norm of the milieu from which I matured within wasn’t perfect but, there were invisible lines that almost everyone knew not to cross, or unspoken limits not to pass. Comparing that to today’s norm however, almost makes the past look like the days of innocence touted in urban mythology.

The problem with saying, “Yes that is the ideal but this is the way it really is,” allows for a gradual process of ever-increasing tolerance to whatever we may consider in our own minds to be just a “little white lie” and therefore “no big deal.”  Later I will comment on the standard I believe in by which human behavior is judged and why we are incapable of achieving “perfect honesty”, but, I want to emphasize this: in the absence of striving for honesty at a high moral standard lessens the quality of life for most people.  A better trend: trying for the highest standard one can achieve thus reducing life’s negative effects that come from one another.

Now what is the trend toward more serious disregard for others?

So, we accept some degree of hypocrisy in our world and even sometimes come to practice it ourselves – even if inadvertently.  After all, “Nobody’s perfect. Right?” One big problem with that: How and where do we draw the line? Who becomes the person (or persons) who draws the line?  Is where the line sits arbitrary?  Is it immovable?  Is the line extant at all?

Well, we have a government that creates laws and various “police” entities that enforce them.  Still with so large a population as in The United States of America there are way too many people to manage easily, way too laws (sometimes elected officials pass laws as to appear like they are doing something I think) and way too many people willing to bend them.  Even way too many people willing to even break them, so as a matter of practicality the degree of enforce is at best a selective process.  Having to decide which laws to enforce happens out of necessity because of the complexity and huge undertaking it has become.  And so, ignoring some laws and definitely ignoring some immoral behavior results in a de facto allowing them to continue (perhaps with a wink and a sigh) with little or no restriction.  Isn’t this the reality of life now?  So why do I have so much trouble accepting it?

In my lifetime I have noticed the gradual increase of the kinds of lawlessness that degrade the quality of life for many people: headlights too bright (or misaligned), increased recreational drug use creating a bad atmosphere (especially for children), the disregard for speed limits (especially in highway work zones), snow allow to fly off the roof of a vehicle and smash the windshield of the vehicle behind, non physically challenged drivers parking in disability reserved parking, using extra-large tires without mud flaps to stop flinging stones, non courteous driving (non use of directional vehicle lights, no vehicle lights in low viability situations), non courteous shopping behavior in stores or sloppy services provided by technicians, and, a sense that cheating is alright as long as you don’t get caught.  In a climate of “I can pick and chose which laws or rules apply to me, a degradation of the quality of life for the people you share space with is easily achieved.  The lax attitude also makes graduating to perpetrating more serious transgressions a lot easier.

A trend like this is not a joke.

Cheating on taxes, insurance fraud (especially with Medicare) passing in no passing lanes, shoplifting, Affluenza type excuses for failures to obey laws, pilfering, theft, larceny, brutality and with the diminished value of life where even murder for absurd reasons is happening.  Murder for a piece of fruit, for shoes, for a belt or even worse, just for fun.  One more thing, I do not believe there is such a thing as a “victim-less” crime in any case.  Someone does experience physical or emotional (psychological) harm even if the negative effect is not immediately recognizable by an act or behavior.

So to those who scoff at religion, especially “The Ten Commandments” and, scoff at the people who try to obey God’s Law, shame on you; I hope your distorted view of freedom in some way teaches you a personal lesson someday and you come to realize you do need God in your life. I hope you learn that lesson before it is too late.  We all need God.

 The Christian culture and tradition is the best for all people.

First, we Christians become Christians, not because we are better than anyone else, less likely to violate a law, never have bent a rule or have always treated everyone we have encountered with perfection. We have not always been guided perfectly by honoring “The Golden Rule,” have done unto to others what we would have them do to us.  We know we are not perfect.  We know because there is nothing we can do to gain favor with God.  Therefore we accept that Jesus paid for our imperfection (our sins) with his life and from the moment we believe in Him, He covers our faulty image and we begin to change because we are grateful for His work and the ability to begin to acquire a new nature.  We are being transformed from the inside out and that increases our sensitivity to sin so we can learn to turn away from doing wrong more and more each day.  But if we stumble, then we confess, ask for forgiveness and continue on with our transformation of becoming more “Christ-Like.”  We study God’s word and apply what we learn concerning good and bad, what is right from wrong and thus live a better life a little at a time as an ongoing process.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. "Botticelli, Uffizi, 566. [Nativity.]" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-6c65-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Botticelli, Uffizi, 566. [Nativity.]” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-6c65-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Yes there are fake Christians who exploit others, mislead others or violate others but those who are sincere, bring good into a world deeply steeped in selfishness, greed and revenge.  I believe God, not because I can be certain of anything.  I accept His truth on faith using my own free will.  For that, I avoid life’s worst pit falls that would be of my own doing; I believe I have eternal life; I strive to do unto others what I would have others do unto me. Yes through Jesus I am assured salvation for eternity and out of gratitude I try to act better everyday.

Conclusion.

In a fallen world we will never experience perfection but with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, we can do better and, at the same time bring a glimpse of heaven to a world that seems oblivious of God’s desire for all people: God wants all people to enter into His Kingdom and experience eternal salvation and become true children of God.  Free Will makes it your choice.

Excerpts from the Bible that promotes “The Greater Good.”

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV (Future)

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

A Or peace

Philippians 2:4 ESV (better attitude)

4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

2 Timothy 3:2 – 4 ESV (The way it has become today))

2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, Jeremiah 29:11 ESV (Future) swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

Proverbs 21:13 ESV ESV (Ears that do not want to hear)

13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.

Isaiah 5:20 ESV (Calling bad good and good bad)

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Romans 2:8 ESV (payment for evil)

8 but for those who are self-seeking[a] and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

a Or contentious

John 3:16 (Salvation through Jesus)

16 “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

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Solid Marriage; Happy Family; Strong Nation

Marriage Basic Human Unit

Since the beginning human life has centered on the family unit. For example the Bible begins with Adam, Eve, Cane, Able and Seth in Genesis. Sadly the human race had only just begun when Cane murders Able out of envy because God accepted Abel’s offering and not his. I am not going to write about the myriad of human failures that permeate history however; I am going to discus one of the great success stories instead: Marriage.

Zyg Fam001   First Hand Experience

My experience begins in the mid 1950’s when despite human shortcomings the family unit functioned pretty well. My immediate family was not one of them though because my father ran off and eventually divorced my mother. Their story is a story movies are made from as he eventually returned and remarried her and then lived out his days with her, but, that is a story for another day.

Family 1957

Yes my immediate family was unique, for in those days most people stuck to their marriage even when from a human perspective it seemed not to be working. My brothers and I suffered some negative societal effects because of this since for the most part everyday people did not divorce. Being from a family with divorced parents at that time (called a broken home) gave people reason to shun and even ostracize you; not just the men and women involved but also their children. Yet back then, the vast majority of children I knew enjoyed a complete family with well-defined roles for fathers and mothers and many seemed to have a happy home.

Yes the society in the 1950’s that I became aware of was working very well, the Great Depression and World War II were in the past and the hostilities of the Korean Conflict were in remission. Dad’s had good jobs and Mom’s stayed home and cared for house, home-life and the children. We as children were taught how to act in public within our homes so even before we became students we had manners and understood right from wrong. What was some of this social knowledge that we had as we left our home? We should respect others, we should be polite we should not steal or fight and we knew very well that when we strayed from this norm, some form of punishment was due us when we got home – when our parents found out that is. No it was not a perfect society but it was better than what I perceive society to be now in many ways.

Through history marriage and the family unit survived times of war and catastrophes often by forming blended family units out of the survivors. Even when survival fostered these new marriage situations love developed from the commitment to make it work.  This tradition reestablished order within damaged family units and therefore they improved the recovering societies they lived in. Again, It was not perfect, but the striving for something better overcame the damage (sadly often human self-inflicted damage) that humans endured. Yes when the basic family unit was reestablished, order and stability followed and the people who had suffered calamity returned to a life as close to normal as possible.

New and Old Influences in the U.S.A.

Old foes of marriage? Relaxed standards for curbing lustful desires, mistrust for a spouse, financial stress, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and often spouses asserting very different philosophies and expectations for the marriage relationship. Yet negatives can be (and often were) overcome by a commitment to honor vows, and allow love to grow.

New foes of marriage? Exaggerated self-importance, conditional commitments, mistrust, too many opportunities of temptation leading to unfaithfulness , misconceptions of love and confusion between love and lust. In some cases even a good thing like an increased average life span can allow negative influences the time required to break down our best efforts to remain faithful.

Yet the greatest danger to healthy enduring marriages may be trends in popular culture that glorify the negatives and thus encourage people to live for their own personal pleasure and satisfaction.

Post-Modern Society

The backlash from societal failures to avert old human calamities such as war fostered a very seductive form of persuasion on society: individual fulfillment is paramount, truth is relative and morality is not absolute but functions on a sliding scale. Some verbal indicators: “We are not wrong, we just are different.” “You have just changed too much” or “I have changed my mind about you.” “No one wins until we all win.” “You are inhibiting my freedom to be me.” “Circumstances warrant the bending of rules or ignoring a law in my opinion.” These comments not only shed light on threats to our traditional view of the foundational family unit in my opinion but, have had, and continues to have, a negative effect on marriage.

It Once was Bad now it is Good

Jokes about a spouse and marriage in general are very much a part of popular humor today: in cartoons, in cinema, on television and especially exploited by comedians. Tabloids spew the sordid details of celebrity weddings, their break ups and even their sexual escapades. Having a child out-of-wedlock seems to be perfectly fine today, even when a single parent must raise the child. Cohabitation, then having children, and, then getting married is fast becoming the norm in my part of the world. Progressive thinkers applaud these changes, yet in my assessment the weakening of the aspects that have made our Western Culture so strong, especially within the United States, are having a negative affect and usurping one of our great strengths: The American Family.

The lack of stable quintessential family units robs us of a bright future. Stable family units that provide us with a new well-balanced generation, that has a clear sense of right and wrong, that demonstrates respect for others, has a keen sense of purpose and behaves with civility would continue what has been so good about our way of life. Isolated examples of a child doing good that has emerged from foster care or he or she came from a dysfunctional family fuel supporters of these new ways; they point out that this indicates fragmented and altered family units do no harm. I believe a closer look at what goes on in our schools tells a different story.

My Perspective Changed

In August 1984 I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. From this vantage point of my age it was about the mid-point of my life. The way I lived before that moment was characterized by a hedonistic drive: I dabbled with drugs in my teens, ultimately became an alcoholic who kept the most negative effects less apparent to those around me, I was liberal concerning sex, I even had two marriages fail and was at a loss to explain my lack of success.  A lack of success even though I was told I had talent and a good mind and would be very successful. After 1984 much had improved though life was not perfect: consequences for my per-Christian life lingered (even challenged me at times) , but, since 1985 when my wife and I married (she also is a Christian) we have weathered many a storm together and God has blessed us in just the right measure to fend of the worst life has hurled at us. We were, and still are blessed in so many ways. It is clear to me which way of life is best for my wife and I and our family. I am quiet sure when people turn to The Lord their lives will change for the better and this improves our society as well.

Yes I am a Bible Believing Christian fully convinced that humans can never live up to the standard God has provided, but an earnest desire to strive for His standard yields the best for all humanity not just for us here in These United States of America.

 

What the Bible Indicates

Hebrews 13: 4 – 5 (ESV)

4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

Proverbs 11:29 (NIV)

Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.

 

Mark 10: 6 – 9

6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

 

Exodus 20:12 (NLT)

“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”