Krokodil: The Zombie Apocalypse

I make no apologies that I have become a huge fan of The Walking Dead TV series.  I find the acting to be superb, the writing even more so.  It is a wonderful metaphor on situational ethics and morality.

That said, I have no desire to live in the era of the Zombie Apocalypse.  But that might soon be unrequited.  The homebased created Krokodil drug has arrived to America.

This drug is rampant in Russia where it is estimated that up to a million users are addicted at last count in 2010.  The drug a concoction of readily available ingredients including gasoline and iodine gives a brief 90 minute high comparable to the high that Heroin gives.  Heroin fixes however last several hours.

The consequences of the drug is not the high it gives but the literal zombification of the flesh rotting away from the body from the inside out.  Krocodil gets its name from the  thick scaly, greenish effect it causes to the skin.  The flesh rots off exposing bone while the person is living. This is the Zombie Apocalypse.

Kicking the habit of Krokodil is excruciating.  Heroin users can detox within 5-10 days, but Krokodil users need 30 days or more before the pain from detoxing subsides. They need to be given heavy tranquilizers and pain killers because the pain is beyond imagination. This fact alone is going to upend our Insurance industry mandate of 28 day stays at rehab facilities.  The user will still be in excruciating pain when discharged. The users are dead within the year without intense medical intervention.

Now if this doesn’t make you to stand up and take notice, here is one more fact about this drug in Russia.  “It is the drug for the poor.”  Heroin has become so expensive in Russia upwards of $120 per dose that the poor are resorting to creating Krokodil for about $4.

Given the linear thinking of our politicians, there will be increased regulations on purchasing codeine products in this country. This is the response we created to address methamphetamine use, another homebased, highly addictive, destructive drug epidemic. Krokodil makes methamphetamine seem like the cold medicine it was created from.

Just as our response to meth didn’t curb its production, a similar response of increased regulations on codeine isn’t going to work.  We need leadership to address not the symptom of this problem, the creation of the drug Krokodile but the cause of this drug’s creation; poverty.

Our politicians have been driven to create an ever widening gap between the uber rich and the middle class in this nation.  More and more people in the middle class are slipping into poverty.  If the middle class are slipping into poverty where are the people in poverty slipping into?  If this country continues on the course of removing the safety net that millions of Americans are forced to fall into, drug use like Meth and Krokodile will continue to rise in this country.

Drugs become the only thing that supplants the pain that poverty causes because once addicted, the person no longer feels the pain of poverty, they only feel the rollercoaster of a momentary high and then the crash and burn.  The ability to feel alive, bliss, not a care in the world, even for a moment becomes the ultimate quest.

We need to stem the threat Krokodil is in our nation, but not through the usual means. We need to give our people reasons to stay away from recreational addictive substances, legal and illegal.  How about providing living wages enabling workers to not simply survive paycheck to paycheck with no ability to enjoy the fruits of their labor save for a drunken weekend or a hit of crack?  How about reducing the cost of student loans so that our young people do not graduate with a $100K plus mortgage payment that they need to begin repaying within 9 months? How about creating jobs instead of sequestering the Federal government which lost 750K jobs this year?  How about our politicians stop their nonsense in DC with reading Dr. Seuss books that they don’t even understand and actually work together to find solutions to our problems as a nation?

One of the metaphors of the Walking Dead that I appreciate is the realization that the real Zombies in this show are not the people who are the undead, but the living who have lost all sense of who they are, they live each day simply trying to make it to the next day any way they can.  This show helps me appreciate the life that I have, more importantly the show helps me realize that I have a purpose and a destiny in this brief lifetime.  But I don’t want to see my nation continue in this path where we are all infected with the Zombie apocalypse and it is just a matter of time before what is on the inside is revealed on the outside.  Krokodil.


The Truth about Cats and Dogs

READING: Looking in the Mirror by Lyle E. Schaller

Approximately one-hundred thousand Protestant congregations in the United States and Canada average fewer than thirty-five people in attendance at the principal weekly worship service.  Together these very small congregations account for more than one-fourth of all Protestant congregations on the North American continent and for approximately 5 percent of all Protestant churchgoers on the typical Sabbath.

It may help us to understand the distinctive characteristics of these congregations if we liken them to a cat.  Have you ever owned a cat?  If you answer yes, you do not understand cats.  No one owns a cat! You may keep a cat.  You may work for a cat.  You may have taken care of a wandering cat who came to live with you.  You may have a cat in your house as a pet.  You may have a cat as a landlord, but you do not own a cat. Cats take care of themselves. Cats do not like to be dependent on others.  Cats have very powerful instincts that direct their behavior patterns.  The female cat instinctively knows how to be a good mother to that litter of hungry kittens. No one has to develop a training program to teach that four-legged mother how to take care of her kittens.


More than one-third of all Protestant churches on the North American continent average between thirty-five and a hundred people at their principle weekly worship service.  In this classification system these congregations can be likened to collies.  Collies come in all different sizes.  Some are big dogs.  Some are relatively small.  Occasionally one will encounter a mean dog that has been abused by a previous owner, but almost all collies are affectionate creatures.  They enjoy being loved and they return the affection.  Collies are responsive to sensitive human beings and can be trained to respond to external expectations that run counter to the dog’s natural instincts.  … Collies tend to have a strong affection for members of the family, but they often bark at strangers.

Another 15 percent of the Protestant churches on this continent average between 100 and 175 at worship.  These middle-sized churches resemble a garden.  Some gardens are much larger than others.  Some gardens have the benefit of rich and fertile soil.  Others are located in barren ground.  The gardeners work is never done.  If the gardener is away from home for several days, the neglect is very obvious when that gardener returns.  Usually there is considerable work awaiting the gardener’s return.  In some seasons of the year this is a more severe problem than in others. While there are natural forces that limit how large a cat or a collie can become, a garden can be greatly increased in size without any radical changes in character. Growth on a large scale means more work for the gardener, and it may be necessary to employ some part time help, but gardens respond to the concept of quantitative growth more comfortably than do cats and dogs.  …

The collie wants to love and be loved.  The garden needs someone who loves gardens, but is willing and able to accept a leadership role in planning and decision-making, and who has the ability to think in a longer time frame than either the cat or collie believe necessary.  Cats and dogs live in today’s world, but the garden is dependent on someone who can plan at least one season in advance.  The enabler or trainer may be remarkably effective when working with the collie, but the garden needs someone who is willing to take charge.

Finally, several young ministers have complained that the theological school they attended trained them to serve as gardeners, but offered little preparation in the care of cats and dogs.


SERMON: The Truth about Cats and Dogs”

We are a congregation in transition.  When I first began here five years ago we had 58 members with an average Sunday attendance of about 25-30 people.  Today we have a membership of 90, and over the past several months our attendance on Sunday has hovered around 45- 50 people. Our largest attendance was 80 and our smallest attendance was 43.

When I first arrived here, there was still some talk of expanding the size of this building by extending the Religious Education classrooms and adding a Sanctuary over where the current Peace Circle is located.   I believe this is still the dream for those people who were here five years ago. That dream however was contingent on growing the congregation in size.  But growing the congregation in membership size cannot be the goal of the congregation. Membership growth is a side effect to what is happening in the congregation and in the community in which the congregation lives and breathes.  So our growth in membership over these past five years is not because of any specific goal for membership growth but rather is the result of the wonderful attention we have made towards fulfilling our mission.

Our goal, our priority is increasing our ability to articulate and expand our cause into the world.  We are getting relatively good at this.  The number of first time visitors to our congregation over this past year has been an amazing number.  Where did they hear about us?  The first place that is mentioned is the internet and the second place is word of mouth. Every single person who walks through our doors is in marketing terms, pre-qualified to become members of our congregation.  Every. Single. One. They have read our materials, asked questions, and thought to themselves in some form or another; this place sounds like a place I would fit in and maybe join in promoting its mission.

Former Unitarian Universalist Association president Bill Sinkford shared this encounter that occurred, “ In 1999, when we held our General Assembly in Salt Lake City, Stefan Jonasson, (now our Coordinator of Large Church Services), (Ed.: and past president of HUUmanists) through a series of intentional and unintentional actions, wound up meeting with the head of missionary work for the Mormons. Since we were coming to town, the Mormons had done their homework, and knew a lot about us. And this man said to Stefan, “you know, Unitarian Universalists have a remarkable ability to attract visitors—proportionately many more than the Mormons do. But,” he told Stefan, “you’re lousy at holding onto them.” After some discussion, he concluded with the observation that “if your churches were half as successful at integrating and retaining members as we Mormons are, then Unitarian Universalism would be the most dangerous religion in America.[i]

Could the reason our congregations are not integrating and retaining members be as Lyle Schaller suggests in our reading today that cat congregations are aloof and distant and collie congregations bark at strangers?  Cats adopt their owners.  So a cat congregation adopts its members.  You might think that the new member chooses the congregation to join, but not so in a cat congregation it is the congregation that chooses the member.  If the cat does not adopt you then you do not have a cat.  One of our members reports that a cat has shown up at their house and has decided this is home.  This is how cats operate, they are independent and decisive in who they invite in to their circle.   This makes it hard to grow the membership of a cat congregation because cat congregations are just too finicky as to who to ask to join.
The other size congregation that is also predominant in our religious movement is the collie or dog congregation.  Collies are very affectionate. The collie congregation is warm and friendly and wants to play with others up and until the other decides no and then the dog will bark at them.   These two size congregations make up the majority of our congregations in the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

So the universal question across our religious movement is how do we grow our congregations to enable a lasting and positive change in the world?  The Pew Research Institute indicated that Unitarian Universalism is growing and particularly in the South but when looking at our 50 year history we are still the same size we were in 1961  making up only 3 tenths of the adult population of the nation.

We are a religion made up of cats and dogs. If it is any solace, so are the majority of Protestant congregations regardless of affiliation.

Just go down any major street in Tuscaloosa and you might see two or three small congregations.  Some of the buildings are smaller than ours so you know their membership has to be of equal or smaller size.  And they probably, like us, display similar behaviors, both positive and negative characteristics of cat and dog congregations.

So let’s bring this down from the general to the personal.  I stated this is an exciting time for our congregation.  People are intrigued by the values we profess on our webpage, in our newsletter, on the minister’s blog, and they come here expecting, hungering to know if it is true what we say.  Do we live what we preach?  Or are we like every other cat and dog faith tradition out there that talks a good game but in reality are just like everyone else? Leaving the visitor to remark either openly or privately, I’ve seen this show before—just when I think I like what I see, the storyline falls into clichés and predictable plot lines and the actors over dramatize each scene.

So here is the truth of the matter.  We are somewhere in between.  I would say most of us are reaching to fulfill our ideals as a faith community here and in the world.  But sometimes we fall short.  We are looking for others of diverse backgrounds and experiences to join us to move forward in our cause to create a world where liberty and justice for all is not just a sound bite or a dream in a cloud but a living breathing reality.  We are looking to begin that here in this place and then take it into the world.

In order to do this we need to start thinking of ourselves not as a clowder of cats or a kennel of dogs which only appeals to certain groups of people, but rather as vanguard of a movement that is seeking to promote a cause that invites everyone to join. Our cause is large enough for everyone to find their puzzle piece to contribute in advancing it.

This is our cause: To ensure that every one is treated with inherent worth and dignity. To be in human relationships filled with justice, equity, and compassion.  Foster acceptance of each other and encourage spiritual growth. Enable everyone to have a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. To work towards a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.  And finally, we live in this world, on this planet and everything that is on and in this planet is intricately and powerfully linked to everything else in an interdependent web. So our cause is also tied into how we can live in harmony with the web that supports our very being.

If these words sounded vaguely familiar that is because they are a paraphrase of our principles found in the front of our hymnal.

Now I mentioned this congregation is in transition.  We are.  There is every indication based on current trends that we are in a wonderful growth pattern. I believe that we are on the trajectory to becoming a garden sized congregation very quickly and by quickly I mean over the next three to four years.  What is great about garden sized congregations is that they are able to have friendly dogs and the aloof cats in the congregation as well as flower beds, vegetable and herb gardens, and topiary landscaped lawns and even a farmers’ market, a nursery, and lawn service in the community.  These are all metaphors for the variety of people who would be able to find this as their church home and the difference we would be making in the community if we were to become a garden sized church.

We get there by inviting people to join our cause and our mission to create a better world. We get there by listening and forming relational connections with those who come here. As I mentioned last week, we are the right faith group to do this because our values are inclusive, our ideals are solidly grounded in creating relationships and partnerships with others.

We have had some experience of this recently with our partnering with the National Day Labor Organizing Network, NDLON, when we hosted their stay in Alabama for immigration rights.

We invited people into our homes and hearts for five days.  All we really knew is that they were traveling across the country to make a stand on immigration rights and that our denomination asked us to welcome them.  In faith, we invited them in, shared our church space and our homes with them.  We heard their stories or their families stories of hardships in their homelands, listened to their experiences of crossing the desert and living in this country as people seeking a better life. This is not an example of a congregation that is a cat or dog congregation.  This is an example of a congregation that is a garden.

This is where we are headed.

It is in the nurturing the seeds that are planted by sharing our values with one another.  Seeing and learning how those values intersect with the life experiences of people who have lived very different lives than we have.  We invite others to join us in our cause to covenant with us to create a better, more just, world.  And in the inviting, we, too, are changed and transformed by others; our lives are enhanced, deepened and enriched by the experience of diversity.  As Eboo Patel states as a spiritual principle in his book Acts of Faith, “Humanity was meant to be diverse and in relationship.[ii]

We do not arrive to having a more diverse, more inclusive spiritual home if we run the congregation like a business.  We are not a business.  When a company diversifies its product base too greatly, it collapses in on itself, when a church diversifies its membership, it is able to transform the spiritual lives of its members in depth and breadth.

Businesses have very different goals than congregations.  Businesses are created to sell a product, a service, and to make money. They have a very specific bottom line of increasing profits for their shareholders.  They operate by a doctrine of economic rationality. One tool of this doctrine is the cost-benefit analysis to aid in making decisions.  Businesses also make decisions based on objective and factual data. They run well on this type of information because it supports their bottom line.  Businesses in the United States often assume an adversarial relationship between management and the worker. It is the reason why unions are important to protect the rights of the workers. Without such protection, the businesses whose focus is on the bottom line and not on supporting the wellbeing of those who make their products, the workers would be exploited beyond their capabilities. Businesses look to do what they were created to do and do more of it.

Religious communities on the other hand are created to advance a cause, to change the world to be more compassionate, more loving, and more community centered. The churches bottom line is not so well defined and few within it can agree what the bottom line is for a congregation.  We are not seeking to increase the profits of our shareholders so this cannot be the bottom line. Do we look at membership numbers as the bottom line?  Do we look at whether people are finding spiritual fulfillment as the bottom line?  Is making a difference in the community a bottom line?  Is covering our expenses the bottom line?  Is our religious education curriculum instilling our Unitarian Universalist values?  And the questions continue all in an attempt to define the bottom line.

The church makes decisions not on cost-benefit analyses but on traditions, rituals, community building, customs, and other practices that do not make economic sense.  If we were to do a cost-benefit analysis on the use of our building we might decide the number of hours we are here do not outweigh the number of hours this building lies dormant.  Yet, from the point of view, does having this building advance our cause? –it makes perfect sense.

Churches run well on the subjective data that supports the advancement of a cause.  Values, dreams, ideas, and personalities are the data streams that move a cause forward into the world.

If Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech I Have a Dream was based on an objective cost-benefit analysis for integration vs. segregation, the south would still be segregated in every facet imaginable.  And where schools have resorted to cost-benefit analysis of keeping schools integrated, those schools have re-segregated.  We only have to look at Tuscaloosa public schools to see segregation once again being prevalent under the guise of neighborhood schools. Cost-benefit analysis says busing children is too expensive but in terms of advancing the cause of racial equality, it is one possible decision.

When a congregation attempts to focus on objective data and objective data alone the result is tension, discordance, and conflict. Objective data might conflict with our values and dreams.  We tend to see this tension around budget creation time because budgets are more objective based than subjective.  Schaller states, “While churches can and should formulate goals, that process should be modified to accommodate the unique characteristics of the organization to advance a cause and to serve humankind. No one has been able to program the Holy Spirit or to budget the grace of God.[iii]

Churches, more specifically, this congregation has set up a shared ministry model where staff, minister, and the congregation are partners in advancing the cause of the church.  But where there are churches drifting towards adopting a business model grounded in economic values for running the congregation, adversarial relations tend to develop and these are harmful to the advancement of the cause.

Churches are not created to do but are created to be.  We are called to be a presence of loving witness in the world. We are called to be in relationship with one another.  Just like Eboo Patel, I will repeat his quote as it is that important; “Humanity was meant to be diverse and in relationship.[iv]”  It is in the being that we find what we are to do in the world.

I invite you to join us in our cause to create our community garden filled with diversity and in relationship with one another.  Blessed Be.

Sermon delivered to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tuscaloosa on September 22 2013 (c)

[ii] Eboo Patel, Acts of Faith. Beacon Press 2007.

[iii] Lyle E. Schaller, Looking in the Mirror:Self-Apppraisal in the Local Church, Abingdon: Nashville 1984

[iv] Eboo Patel, Acts of Faith. Beacon Press 2007.

Published in: on September 22, 2013 at 2:11 pm  Comments Off on The Truth about Cats and Dogs  
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You Keep Using that Word

We still do not get it. We have learned nothing.  We who proclaim freedom from sea to shining sea, from purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain, we do not yet understand the meaning of the word.

Freedom does not mean free to impose our will upon others.

Freedom does not mean arrogantly tread on others soil because we want their resources for our own like we have done in the Middle East, Africa, and Central America.  Nor is it found in the exploiting of their workers in sweat shops or taking advantage of their lack of child labor laws or environmental protection laws.  Or taking advantage of an ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “Our government and a $5 million Citibank loan maintains the rebel presence in the Congo. Their control of mineral rich areas allows western corporations, such as American Mineral Fields, to illegally mine.[i]

This is not freedom.

It is not to topple other’s governments because they no longer serve our desires or bend to our will.

This is not freedom.

Twenty nine times in the last 65 years we have covertly sought to overthrow governments or instigate regime changes where governments did not see eye to eye with American interests. When we succeeded, we thwarted democracy with putting into power ruthless dictators like the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein.  All of these choices backfired on the USA with undesired consequences of untold suffering.  And then we have these countries that we have sought to cause regime changes to our liking:
Italy in 1948,
Syria in 1949,
Iran in 1953,
Guatemala 1954,
Tibet 1955,
Indonesia 1958,
Cuba 1959,
Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960–65,
Iraq 1960–63,
Dominican Republic 1961,
South Vietnam 1963,
Brazil 1964,
Ghana 1966,
Chile 1970–73,
Argentina 1976,
Afghanistan 1979-89,
Turkey 1980,
Poland 1980–81,
Nicaragua 1981–90,
Cambodia 1980–95,
Angola 1980s,
Philippines 1986,
Iraq 1992–96
Afghanistan again 2001,
Iraq again 2002–12,
Gaza Strip 2006,
Somalia 2006–07,
Iran again 2005–present,
Libya 2011,
again Syria 2012-present.

This is not freedom.

Freedom is not do as I say and not as I do.  We condemn the acts of Syria but we committed those same acts in Iraq at Fallujah[ii], and prior to that supported Saddam Hussein in the use of chemical weapons against Iran.  This is not freedom.

It is not to demonize another country’s democratically elected government because they point out the truth about our flaws.  As we did Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
This is not freedom.

All of these actions define another word.


A Stitch in Time

We live in a relational universe.  Everything in the universe is in a fragile tension with everything else.  Pull on one thread and the whole world can unravel, perhaps without much notice at first but that thread pulled creates a larger and larger hole in the fabric.

Our Unitarian Universalist faith teaches us that we are interconnected, interdependent not only with each other of the Human species but with the entire universe. This relational aspect of our existence makes it difficult to know how to right the wrongs of injustice.

Unfortunately, what may have worked as an intervention as a child when defending a friend who is being beaten up by the schoolyard bully begins to not work as well when expanded to a neighborhood, or a community, a state, a nation, many nations.  Bernard Loomer, theologian from the mid-to late 20th century, stated that the potential for doing both good and evil expands the larger the size of the entity.  So the fight between two individuals is easily seen in the simple contrast of right and wrong but when right and wrong are extrapolated to the size of governments, the right and wrong actions become harder to discern.

They become harder to discern because the notion of what is good is harder to decipher.  What may be good for the USA might not be good for the other country, in fact, it could be downright evil.

Such was the case when Iran elected to office as Prime Minister in 1951, Mohammad Mossadegh.  Oil was discovered in Iran by the British and they developed the processing of it but paid very little of the revenue to the Iranian government.  The British also were abusive to the Iranian workers paying them sub wages and treated them horribly.  Mossadegh sought to nationalize the oil industry in Iran but Britain and the USA were opposed to this action.  Mossadegh believed that in order for a nation to be politically independent and democratically free it must first be economically independent and free from foreign exploitation of its resources.[i]

The CIA began a smear campaign against Mossadegh.  They not only stirred anti-Mossadegh sentiment in Iran, they stirred anti-Iran sentiment in the USA as well through the media. All of it fabricated and false in order to cause a coup in Iran and topple this government so that oil revenues will continue to flow into US and British coffers.  The CIA were successful in 1953 to oust Mossadegh, a democratic leader and put into power, the Shah of Iran, a ruthless monarch.

The good for the US was evil for the Iranian people. The 26 years of harsh rule by the Shah fueled the religious right’s anger.  Khomeini’s rise to power, the 1979 revolt against the Shah, the US hostage crisis, Khomeini’s calling the USA the Great Satan, the rise of terrorist groups against the USA; all of these events are consequences to the 1953 USA supported coup. The limited good, if securing oil for 26 years is considered a good, is outweighed by the evil it has spawned.

There are additional seemingly unrelated actions and events that are facets to this gleaming diamond of evil in this region brought on by the belief that such would be good for the USA.  For example, during the Iraqi-Iran war, Iraq used chemical warfare against the Iranian people. The USA supported the use of such weapons and gave Iraq satellite targets for their chemical war campaign.  The USA was still smarting from the year of stalemate with the US Hostages in Iran. The USA was terrified of the thought that Iran could win this war and shut down another source of oil and therefore sought to give Saddam Hussein the advantage and allowed this war to be punishment on Iran.  When it was advantageous to us  we used as one of the many excuses for our invasion of Iraq in 2003 Saddam’s use of chemical warfare during the Iraqi-Iranian War.  We neglected to remind the American people of our complicity in their use. We chose to support his use of chemical warfare and then we punish him for doing so years later.

The USA needs to learn the lesson from these events and soon.  We are about to step into a mess that is far more complex than the world was in 1953.  It is more complex precisely because of this history of USA’s foreign policy of only doing things that will benefit the USA and no one else.

There are no clear sides in the Syrian civil war.  The rebels are not a unified entity but made up of several factions.  Some backed by Turkey, others backed by Saudi Arabia.  Bashar Assad is backed by Iran and Russia.  Some of the rebels are backed by terrorist groups like the Moslem Brotherhood while other terrorist groups like Hezbollah are supporting the Syrian government.

While it is atrocious that Assad would use chemical warfare against his own people, a military strike by the USA will not convince him of the errors of his ways. It will only strengthen his resolve.  It will only serve to recruit more terrorists who believe we are indeed the Great Satan who gives with one hand and destroys with the other. It will only result in more deaths of innocent people living in Syria.

Given our history in this region, any good we might do will be seen with suspicion and rightfully so.  We have never done anything in this region that was not motivated by profit for corporations.  Our addiction for oil has caused us to be erratic in our foreign policy.

As others have also voiced, we must end our dependence on oil, remove that motivation from the equation.  Syria does not have oil, one might argue.  True, but Syria is roiled in internal conflict in a region where such conflict has spilled their borders before and in a region where access to foreign oil remains crucial to the USA economy makes any intervention in Syria as a potential benefit to our oil interests.  We need to be clear about our motives here, the public may be outraged in the use of chemicals, but the USA government is outraged this may prohibit access to our drug of choice, Oil.

Our oil companies must begin converting their products to alternative clean energy sources like solar and wind. The time has come not only in stopping our addiction to fossil fuels but also to stop the destruction of our planet.

We must use whatever diplomatic measures available to us to urge Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, and Iran and foreign terrorist groups like Hezbollah from supporting the civil war.  If they can be convinced to remove their support in ground troops, in arms deals, in monetary support, then the oxygen in this war will be removed and it will be snuffed out.  But such an action takes resolve and every current player and potential players need to be on board to take this bold action.

We cannot repeat the mistakes of our past.  The fragile interconnection and interdependence that we have with one another depends on our being willing to seek to strengthen relationships and not destroy them. When one strand of a spider’s web is broken and not fixed, it only takes a gust of wind to tear the web further into dysfunction.  A military strike does not fix the web; it destroys it with untold suffering and generational consequences of untold damage.

If we had not intervened with another people’s right to self-determination, then so much of today’s world would be the better for it.