Friday, January 2, 2009

The Great Morality Question ~ Late Morning Thoughts

There's the Pillsbury Bake-Off, the Pun-Off in Austin and a small town in Minnesota has started the "Think-Off."

This challenging contest began (as far as I can tell) in 1993 with the question: "The Nature of Humankind: Inherently Good or Inherently Evil?" According to the website, a priest, a newspaper editor, a 15 year-old cheerleader and a former tribal police officer made such strong arguments that the audience couldn't decide if mankind is good or evil, leaving the question forever unresolved.

Since then such questions have been "thought-off" as:

1994: "Does Life Have Meaning?"

1998: "Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?" (again from the wegsite) A record year, the 1998 Think-Off received over 820 essays, and the final debate was broadcast live on C-SPAN. As the country grappled with the spectacle in the White House, the Think-Off audience and the C-SPAN viewing audience, agreed with a soft-spoken priest from New York--honesty is not always the best choice

2002: "Is the Pen Mightier than the Sword? (and the web site says) Paul Higday of Richmond, Virginia said No. It's not a matter of which has the right, but which has the might. In today's world it takes the sword to change societies so the pen can flourish. In order for the pen to be mightier, the people in whose hand it lies must be 'entirely great', said Higday, referring to the 19th century novelist Bulwer-Lytton who said, "Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword?"

The event is organized by Minnesota's New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the cultural and creative opportunities of rural Americans. New York Mills is a farming town of some 1,200 people in central Minnesota, about 170 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

Anyone can enter by submitting an essay of 750 words or less. Four finalists will be chosen to debate the question on June 13 before a live audience.

Last year's question was “Does immigration strengthen or threaten the United States?” The audience decided Craig Allen, of West Linn, Ore., was most convincing with his argument that the system of immigration and immigration policy is broken, that it encourages illegal immigration and poses a threat to the country.

Here's how it works ... go to --> this website <-- and you can read previous essays and debates. There is a link to the entry form --> here <-- . You compose a 750 word essay on this years question ~ "Is it ever wrong to do the right thing?" You submit the essay and it will be judged along with all the others received. And the four finalists will be chosen to debate the topic on June 13th before an audience that will decide. At least one of the debates has been broadcast by C-Span and given all that happened in 2008, I suspect this years topic will generate a lot of interest.

The prize for the four finalists is travel, lodging and $500. They also will appear in the parade on the 12th of June. The final prize(s): Gold, Silver & bronze medals and title of "America's Greatest Thinker".

From the website again:
"Entering the competition is easy. Just submit an essay of 750 words or less by April 1, 2009 (postmark date). You may send your essay in one of three ways: through the mail to Great American Think-Off, New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, P.O. Box 246, New York Mills, MN 56567 or email to (no attachments)".

My challenge for this year ~ enter this contest . . .

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's That Time Again ~ Early Evening Thoughts

It started in New Zealand

- followed about an hour later in Sydney.

The New Year is being celebrated around the globe - and each area hopes that this year will be better than the last, and not worse!!!

But behind the fireworks, cheers and cheery drinks is an amazing combination of hope and fear. I have to agree with a commentator I heard last night that this combination is almost 50-50 in people. It will be interesting to see which side gains strength in 2009.

The most amazing part - it's up to each of us individually and collectively to decide whether fear or hope will rule. There's an intersting verse in the Bible that talks about "men's hearts will fail for fear" . . . I have NO intention of letting mine go that route. I already went down that road once before, and am NOT going down it again.

Am I doing resolutions - no. Am I making commitments instead - yes. I'm convinced I will have better luck with that then resolutions. Of course, if I really want to make sure I continue on with the commitments/resoltions - I could use the services of -->this web site<-- to keep me on the straight and narrow!!

I am going to continue to blog, with a lot greater frequency and relevancy this year. I'm going to continue to loan money to individuals around the globe through -->Kiva<-- and challenge each of you to take $25 and put it to good use through them AND you get it back . . . it's a loan program after all. Welcome to the New Year

Hey, my lad, ho, my lad!
Here's a New Broom.
Heaven's your housetop
And Earth is your room.
Tuck up your shirtsleeves,
There's plenty to do-
Look at the muddle
That's waiting for you!

Dust in the corners
And dirt on the floor,
Cobwebs still clinging
To window and door.

Hey, my lad! o, my lad!
Nimble and keen-
Here's your New Broom, my lad!
See you sweep clean.

- Eleanor Farjeon

This is probably one of my favorite New Year Videos ~ ABBA around the piano is what it is normally called - and is usually played in Sweden around midnight!!

New Year’s Resolutions

Each year I resolve with the strongest intent
To be better this year than the last.
And I work very hard; the rules hardly get bent,
But this discipline gets old so fast!

But with this new year I just know I’ll win out,
Just watch how I do and you’ll see!
I’m not going to have yet another blowout;
I’ll be good as I know I can be.

But, if wicked things beckon, and I’m not so strong,
If I weaken and fall on my ast,
I’ll be thankful again that you’ll help me along
As you have during all new years past.
I'm so glad you are all my friends!!!

-- Karl and Joanna Fuchs

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!!!