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Friday, September 28, 2012

Moods of Autumn.....

for me are a blend of anxiety and serenity, annoyance and contemplation, bewilderment and vulnerability. This is the season when they semester of study begins again, and the books are cracked open again, for better or worse. The pencil sharpener starts buzzing. The pencils start scratching. Scrap paper with scribbled equations and historical tid-bits pile up in the trash. Students like me are always in a race or a steady plod to reach an invisible finish line. Some of what we learn will remain with us for the rest of our lives, while some will leave with nothing but memories of a bad headache. But we all hope that scholarly pursuits will help us get somewhere in life, and better ourselves and our world. I think of St. Edmund Campion, and how insistent he was about the value of study. "Bury yourself in your books", he told his students at Oxford. "Finish the course. Do not degenerate from who you are."

    This is the season when the temperature drops to a chilly level and an unseen icy veneer settles in the air. Short-sleeves and shorts are replaced by turtlenecks, leggings, and denim skirts. Mittens and scarves come out of their summer hibernation in the closet. Big burly coats must me slung on before heading out of doors. I am an official summer baby who loves warm weather, and cold temperatures make me feel like curling up in a ball and hiding from the world. Perhaps this is compounded by the fact that my hands get red and chapped and my ears start to burn up when it's too chilly. Also, my allergies kick in mercilessly during this season. My eyes water, my throat gets scratchy, and my nose gets clogged. However, I will admit that I fancy myself in fall clothing and enjoy wearing longer skirts and higher collars. Also, I enjoy the comfort foods like chicken noodle soups, grilled cheese sandwiches, and raspberry zinger tea that we eat when we want to warm up. It's wonderful to munch and sip whilst viewing a nice long BBC drama or something of the like.

    Some people would say that football is the supreme happening in the fall, and fans of The Ravens (a team hailing from Baltimore) have been tromping around our locality decked out in the team color: PURPLE! Some people even have their houses, garages, and mailboxes draped in purple. I'm sorry to say, but I really think there a fine line between having some athletically-charged fun and going over the top. This is an age of hero-worship to the max, and it seems as if some people have replaced God with football. I personally am not a sports fan, and I particularly dislike football. I see clips of it on Wal-Mart big-screen TVs occasionally, and I am repulsed each time. I know, I know, some people appreciate the skill and sportsmanship of it, but I just dislike watching people engage in bodily collisions in which they can seriously hurt themselves and others. Whatever your opinion on the sport, we must all be careful to keep our priorities in order. God, family, country.....and football....somewhere way down on the list!

    The idea of priorities also brings to mind the constant swirl of politics that is inundating the news in this presidential election year of 2012. I listened to the Republican and Democratic Conventions on the radio and am shocked the intense nature of this race. A line has been drawn in the sand between two totally different mindsets. The Republicans are leaning more towards Traditional Conservatism, while the Democrats have flown into the arms of Progressive Liberalism. The economy has sunk under the presidential term of Barack Obama, even though he promised to rescue it during his "stump speeches" in 2008. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan of the Republican ticket say that cutting programs and balancing a budget will be the only way to save the nation from going the way of Greece. They've asked America to give them the chance to implement their plans in Washington at election time this November.

    The issue of government assistance programs is also on the agenda. I know from experience that there are those who truly are in need of monetary assistance from the government, who worked hard and paid their taxes all their lives, but who endured hear-breaking set-backs, illness, and loss of income. They are law-abiding citizens of this nation, and should not be looked down on for the small benefits they receive when other options are closed to them. However, I also agree the perspective that realizes the need to cut spending in reasonable ways or else sink beneath the waves of economic degeneration. I also realize that are those who abuse the governmental assistance programs, who are able-bodied and capable of working, but instead refuse to pull their weight, cultivating a generation of entitlement and "lost" sense of purpose. Furthermore, I utterly reject the Communistic concepts of "redistribution", taking money from those who worked their way to the top to even off the score. This is a free nation, and we should never limit put on individual success by an all-consuming government. "You didn't build that", said Mr. Obama of private businesses. Oh? And the government did? That's scary.

    National security and international relations were brought to the fore in a number of ways. First, the Democratic Convention cut references to "God" and "Jerusalem" as the capital of Israel. After receiving numerous complaints, the words were reinserted - but against the tide of a chorus of "boos" from the Democratic delegates, who most certainly did not vote two-thirds in favor of the motion! Then the attacks on the American embassies in Benghazi and across the Middle East by irate Muslim activists stirred up controversy. Casualties were sustained and our ambassador to Libya was killed. Some say all this started because of a YouTube video depicting the Prophet Mohammad in a hideous fashion. But others believe that the real reason was to deal the U.S. a blow on the anniversary of 9/11 and the attack on the Twin Towers. Either way, Mr. Obama's decision to handling the situation by apologizing to the attackers rather than standing up to them will no doubt effect the rest of the campaign.

    To be continued……

Autumn in Scotland

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