Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

A Christmas Wish for Peace

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With the holidays upon us, and Christmas a few days away, I thought it appropriate to ponder peace, and those who are serving and have served to protect the very freedoms and liberties we as a society at times take for granted. As we celebrate, eat, drink, and be merry with family and friends, let us pause for a moment to send prayers and well wishes to those who serve in our Armed Forces.

Regardless of political affiliation or ideology, it is my hope that respect is demonstrated to all those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. The irony in regard to the role our service men and women are undertaking is, in many respects, divergent to what our own government is doing within our own borders to deteriorate the very freedoms our soldiers are fighting abroad to protect. As American foreign policy promotes the creation of democracy in foreign lands, individual liberties of our own American citizens are being dismantled from within, and I am not strictly referring only to the present administration. As we witness more government intrusion into our lives through regulation, taxation, a centralization of economic power (the Federal Reserve), and a move away from Constitutional principles and free market, a social peaceful future may be in jeopardy.

As a West Point graduate and former Airborne/Ranger you may assume that I would be inclined to favor our wartime position. The truth is I am not in favor of our involvement at all. Listening to our President present his wartime strategy at West Point this past December 1 made me nauseous. The ever so frequent eyes closing and head bobbing of the cadets listening validated his lack of inspiration, commitment and motivation. For someone so articulate on so many issues, it was discouraging to listen to his lackadaisical rhetoric. The danger of having the “Commander in Chief” appear disconnected with those he is commanding is a very destructive message to send not only to our citizens, but our enemies abroad. A half-baked commitment towards any initiative personally, professionally or militarily will have an outcome resulting in failure. Vietnam is an illustration of a half-baked policy hindering a victory and putting even more American lives in danger as a result. I am not under the false pretense that I might be incorrect in my analysis, and in this particular subject I hope I am.

My hope for peace is to bring our fathers, mothers, sons and daughters home, for I believe we cannot change a society with such social, political and religious differences as Afghanistan. Military history will validate my statement, for there have been many before the USA that have attempted to do just that and failed miserably. Commitment to peace should not be looked upon by the world as just an American cause, but rather a definitive global one. To be the world police in an increasingly diverse and developing world is resulting in neglect of our own issues at home. I also believe every country, not just the USA, has a responsibility towards identifying and working towards eliminating human rights violations.

A global effort towards mutual social respect plus individual liberty is the fundamental catalyst for a peaceful world. As we celebrate the upcoming birth of the “Prince of Peace”, what is it we as individual citizens can do to be a peacemaker? A few suggestions include, * Think more of others than ourselves * Be more giving than receiving. * Put aside hurts and bitterness by forgiving and recognizing the goodness and joy around us. * Understand it is not our things that make a difference but our character. * Spread the word, and be an example of mutual respect, kindness, and humility. * Realize when all is said and done it will be the people closest to you who truly define who you were. * Finally, show love to those you love by being patient, empathetic and selfless. I wish all of my readers, friends and fellow citizens a beautiful, peaceful and fun filled Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.



Political Correctness Run Amuck

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Political Correctness is defined as, “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.” I believe we have reached a crescendo in this nation where political correctness has become a liability to our way of life, rather than a socially respectful and responsible form of tolerance and appreciation for difference. It has become a way to manipulate the masses, stir dissension, and create even further separation.

This social liability was best exemplified in the lack of action taken against Major Nidal Hasan prior to his terrorist attack against his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, TX. Yes, I did say terrorist attack and not “man-caused disaster”. I welcome rebuke from my readers who actually believe that this attack was not religiously based and motivated by Jihad. I do not believe this is a reflection of the Muslim people, but rather another example of extremism at its best. In regard to the motivation for this attack, political correctness also influenced our leaders to be less than courageous and forthright with those who witnessed and were victimized by this terrible tragedy. To spray pixie dust over what was clearly a religiously based motivated massacre is being dishonest. I would share the same sentiment if it were any other fanatic from any other religious affiliation.

The over use of political correctness has taken common sense to common fear, and sensible communication to an irrational feeling of guilt. There is no question of the importance of being respectful to those of all race, creed, color and difference, and I personally espouse to that belief, but to not take action in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings and a potential law suit with the end result being the death of innocent young men and women is preposterous. All the red flags were there for action to be taken against Major Hasan, but the fear of ridicule for addressing the issue because others may see it as being racially motivated is the purest example of political correctness run amuck. Jacques Barzun, a French-born American historian of ideas and culture, author of “From Dawn to Decadence” and still alive at the age of 102 stated, “Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred.”. Let us all be mindful of the potential sensitivity of what we say, but let us also use practical sense in discriminating between being sensitive and avoiding the truth. For example, we are not fighting a “Global War on Terror”, now it is an “Overseas Contingency Operation”. Are you kidding me? If our fellow American citizens cannot see through this manipulation of vernacular I believe we are in serious trouble as a society, oh I meant, societally challenged.

With the “Holiday” season upon us, I am wondering if anyone was insulted by a Cross, a Christmas Tree, a Star of David, a Menorah or a Crescent Moon and Star or any other religious symbol growing up. I grew up Catholic but never took offense to others celebrating their holiday in their traditional way. It was only when these symbols became a platform for dissension, and political gain, did I become aware of the negativity associated with difference. I doubt many Muslims are saying Happy Holiday during Ramadan, as I doubt many Christians are substituting Happy Holiday for Merry Christmas, or those of Jewish faith Happy Chanukah. Yes, I am aware I am politically incorrect for leaving out all the other religions. In this particular example, genuine tolerance is respecting those who may be religiously different, and who celebrate differently than you. There have been many benefits to an increased awareness of what we say, and what may be offensive to others, but to use political correctness as a platform for power, greed and a controlling of the masses deteriorates the very fabric of a society that was founded on freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.


 



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