Monthly Archives: November 2015

Who picks the American President? The People or the Press?

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As we inch closer and closer to the beginning of the United States presidential primaries, it seems increasingly apparent that the American public faces an enormous challenge.  The challenge I speak of is making the choice you want, even if that choice isn’t what the media deems “electable”.

Although the fact that the system is a democratic one where every eligible voter can choose whomever they want, voters are increasingly shunning their choice if the polls say their candidate won’t win. Here is the problem with that and why this severely damages the credibility of the entire process.   First of all this is a problem on both sides of the aisle. There are staunch supporters of Bernie Sanders who will vote for him regardless, but there are many people who may like his views but won’t vote for him because they feel their vote is wasted on someone who is considered to have no chance of beating any Republican candidate in the general election.  On the Republican side, many Americans may like a candidate such as Ted Cruz, but because of his very conservative stance and what is deemed as combative relationships with other elected officials, many of those supporters will back off in favor of the candidate who is growing in popularity and leading the pack.

I understand the philosophy of everyone loving a winner, but the facts are very simple.  Ask around and you’ll find many people who like candidates other than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton but will vote for one or the other only because they are front runners who can get elected.  The process of displaying so many candidates and having multiple debates, although entertaining, is showing itself to be somewhat  of a waste of time. People may come away from a debate liking John Kasich, but will they vote for him? Probably not.  After all the general consensus based on polls is that he has no chance.  As a result only 60% of Americans eligible to vote actually do vote. I’m guessing that not all of the other 40% neglect to do so out of apathy.  I am sure many just don’t bother doing something they feel won’t have any impact on the outcome anyway.  I’ve heard a number of people say that they didn’t like anyone only to find out that they did like someone, but the candidate they liked had “no chance” so why bother?

I understand and appreciate the importance of not wasting one’s vote, but isn’t voting for someone you don’t really like, or even more so, don’t trust even worse?  Isn’t it time people made choices on what they are hearing from the candidates instead of the media and pollsters?  If not, don’t bother watching a debate or even reading comments by the candidates.  Just wait for the next poll to come out and get ready to follow the hoard.

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Open Letter of Gratitude to my Readers

menow

Dear friends,

It’s about life.  It’s that feeling you get when for a moment life makes complete sense and you know who you are and what you want.  It’s a magical feeling not everyone is blessed to ever feel. It is giving of yourself, sharing your soul and pouring your heart out.  It is knowing that for a short period of time you gave something to people that matters to them, and at the pinnacle, even made them happy.  This is what writing is for me.

I would love the life of a rich and successful writer.  Who wouldn’t?  I dream of a day when I can make enough people feel something important from my writing that the financial value provides me with what I need to live.  When I write I feel good, when I write something people like I feel great, when I write something people love, well that is nothing short of a spiritual sensation.

I want people to enjoy my writing, but the act of writing is so meaningful to me that it would be important in my life even if no one ever saw my words.  But when other people are part of the process I feel more alive than I ever imagined I could, and that has felt like God’s greatest gift to me.  Any misfortunes or failures I have experienced in my life only remain in my mind for the lessons they teach, but the pain they caused me are almost wiped out by the joy I have in recognizing and understanding what it is I want to do more than anything else, not just today but for the rest of my life.

For those of you who have always encouraged my writing I want you to know how grateful I always am for the warm words of support and appreciation.  But the truth is I want to thank anyone whoever takes even a few minutes of their time in their life to read the words that come from my mind, my heart and my soul.  The connection it makes me feel to the world around me is unparalleled.

When you find something you love, life becomes more meaningful, the future less scary, the past more acceptable, and maybe most importantly the present more exceptional.  And when you find it, you wish that same good fortune for everyone, as I do for all of you.

Thank you and God bless,

David Groen

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Lest We Neglect

Colorado Springs Shooting

COLORADO SPRINGS,CO – November 27: Police escort a shooting suspect out of a armored vehicle at the intersection of Centennial and Fillmore November 27, 2015. Four police officers have been injured with unknown number of casualties. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post

 

Although I don’t consider a shooting in a Planned Parenthood facility the same as an attack by radical Islamic terrorists, I nevertheless feel that as a society we must realize how serious incidents like these are, we must address them, and we must address them now.

Don’t mistake my distinction of the issues as making the deaths of the people in Colorado any less tragic and horrific.  On the contrary, it is incumbent on us as a society to tackle this head on and deal with it in a way that minimizes the chances of this happening again.

Although I am pro-Choice, I presently find myself leaning towards presidential candidates who are more conservative in their viewpoints. That being said, I pay close attention to what they say about all issues, not necessarily because it will be the determining factor on how I vote, but because I want to make sure whomever I choose to support is not encouraging this type of behavior.  I am willing to vote for someone with viewpoints on domestic issues more conservative than mine, but I will not vote for a crazy lunatic whose rhetoric incites violence.  And make no mistake, there is a difference between  someone extremely conservative on an issue like abortion and someone whose words rally someone to murder people at an abortion clinic.  What causes someone to murder someone at an abortion clinic is either a tendency towards evil, mental illness at its worst, or a combination of both.

It is without question a very serious matter.  One of the biggest threats Americans face as a society is allowing the global dangers we face to distract us from the dangers causing the deaths of innocent people. Even more importantly,

In a time when the war against terror is correctly the most important issue facing the American populous, to forget the importance of protecting citizens from acts of violence on all fronts, be it in an abortion clinic or a 9 year old boy in Chicago would be a neglect we will pay for dearly, sooner or later.

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Open Thanksgiving Letter to Those Celebrating(and anyone else who wants to read it)

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Dear Fellow Turkey eaters,
As we get ready to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving, I think we can all agree on how important it is to  recognize those things we should be grateful for. Sure we have problems, and the future is sometimes scary, but as a country we’ve been rather fortunate, and for that we should be thankful.

Even with the increased importance in being diligent and alert in the wake of increased terror attacks throughout the world, we must acknowledge how fortunate we have been to live in the free society that is the United States of America.  Granted it is not always as free as it should be, and there are some tragic examples of how we still need to evolve, but when you look at the overall picture we’re still in pretty good shape.

Even with its flaws, and it unquestionably has many, the United States of America is still one of the greatest countries this planet has ever seen.  Yes we need to grow.  There are still serious racial problems to overcome. The whites and blacks of this great country have come too far to allow a small percentage of people to mess up decades of progress, but if the issues are ignored they will only get worse.  That being said, there are so many examples. in public and in private lives of the equality of all Americans that to ignore it would be a tragedy in and of itself.

We have economic issue to overcome.  Too many people are either hungry or struggling for their next meal.  But we still do better in feeding our people than so many other nations, and although we are sometimes desensitized and turn a blind eye to the needy, we still recognize that a problem exists.

What am I getting at?  We are clearly a flawed country with significant problems, but that doesn’t mean we’re not a great one.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be very thankful for all the great opportunities living in this  US of A provides us. And most importantly that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t cook a turkey, watch football, drink plenty ,eat a great meal with people we care about, and say a prayer for those not as fortunate as we are.  If anything it’s exactly why we should.

I wish you all a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,

David Groen


While Israelis Suffer, American Jews try to learn the best way to be supportive

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Earlier today someone I know through Facebook made a special request to her fellow Jews living outside of Israel.  Her request basically was that her Jewish brethren recognize the difficult times facing the citizens of Israel and refrain from posting pictures of their enjoyment of trivial or recreational activities, she referenced a ski trip, while so many Israelis fear for their lives as they just go about their daily routines .

I’ve been struggling with this since I saw her post. The most significant emotion I have felt since reading it is sadness.  I am the son of Holocaust survivors.  I use whatever forum I have to defend and honor the Jewish people and Israel according to my personal interpretation.  I consider myself a realist, very likely due to my parents relaying the stories of what they experienced prior to, and during the Nazi occupation of Holland.  Compassion for my fellow Jews and the awful problems they currently face in the State of Israel is not a feeling I need to dig down deep to feel.  It comes naturally, as it does to so many others.  So my reaction to this person would be nothing but supportive and positive if I would address her directly. The problem I have is a more philosophical one.  Not because I passionately feel one way is right and one way is wrong, but in this case it is because I just don’t know.

From the perspective of supporting her and others like her I would certainly understand toning it down a little, but then the question becomes, where does it end?  I would like to reiterate that I am not making a case in one direction or another since I continue to struggle with this tremendously. If I go out on the weekend should I tone it down?  Forget Facebook, having once lived in Israel and appreciating what it means to all of the Jewish people, am I wrong for going out and having too much fun just days after an 18 year old boy got shot to death and a 21 year old woman got stabbed to death just for being Jewish in Israel?  Have I become so desensitized to the suffering of my own people that I am able to party on the weekend while my fellow Jews in Israel mourn the losses?

I honestly do not know the answer to this question.  Like the rest of you I don’t really have any real frame of reference.  I rationalize with thoughts of, the terrorists want to disrupt our lives so we shouldn’t let them or life must go on no matter how bad the circumstances.  Both of those arguments  are reasonable and by no means eliminate compassion and caring, but I still feel for my Facebook friend and others like her in Israel who might feel better if we expressed a pain more similar to theirs.  Let’s face it.  Although things aren’t getting better, living in America as a Jew is relatively safe and easy. It certainly is in the New York City area.  We can care and empathize all we want for those who live in Israel, but the reality of humanity is that unless you are living it, you don’t really feel it.

There are individuals who have as great of a love and connection towards Israel as anyone else but are presently going through a great time in their lives. Maybe their personal and professional lives are so in sync and successful that everything they would post at this time would be positive, and often an exhibit of pure and exuberant fun.  Are they insensitive if they share it with their friends?  Do they lack compassion? Do they care any less about Israel than anyone else?  I would certainly say that sharing their good fortunes and celebrations of life with people close to them doesn’t make that the case, but nonetheless I wind up back to my friend in Israel and the sadness I feel for her pain, and I wind up no less confused than when I started writing this article.

The answer may just be to take it as it comes.  I have all the respect for my friends’s request while having no negative judgment for the person who posted the picture of their ski trip.  All I can do is try to be as sensitive as possible to the feelings of my brothers and sisters in Israel, and pray very hard that peace comes to them very soon.

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Open Letter to Patriots owner Robert Kraft in acknowledgment of the tribute to Ezra Schwartz

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Dear Mr. Kraft,

Finding myself overcome with appreciation and compelled to write something in acknowledgment of your organizations actions, I decided to go straight to the source and thank the individual I believe most responsible for very publicly showing the world the value of all lives, but in this particular case, a Jewish life.

I tend to write these letters more as a means of expressing my displeasure with the actions or words of individuals in a position of some influence.  However, given the opportunity to recognize exceptional actions is something I am always extremely happy to do.  With that in mind and I am sure I speak for many when I say  thank you to you and your New England Patriots organization for the beautiful tribute you made tonight for Ezra Schwartz.

The words spoken by the PA announcer, remembering and honoring all the recent victims of terrorist attacks was moving and appropriate. I have no doubt that the same thing would likely have been done for any young 18 year old Patriots fan and resident of Massachusetts had they too been murdered under similar circumstance and the fact that Ezra was Jewish is not the main reason for the ceremony, but as a Jew that does not matter to me.  You see Mr. Kraft, in this day and age far too many people, Jew and non-Jew alike, don’t seem to put enough value on Jewish lives and it is not so much the fact that it was done because he was Jewish that matters, it’s the fact that this tragedy wasn’t ignored even though he was Jewish, something the Jewish people see far too much of these days.   For that I thank you personally.

As the camera cut to you during the ceremony I saw the genuine sadness in your face and couldn’t help but think how we need more Americans and more Jews like yourself who use their position to honor those who would otherwise be ignored. I also couldn’t help but think something that my fellow Philadelphia Eagles fans might find unacceptable but I was thinking nonetheless, and that is, Lets Go Pats.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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The Impact of ISIS on American Politics

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Like it or not, ISIS is influencing the American electorate. It would appear that the horrific terrorists attacks in Paris had an effect on much of the country not felt after any of the many and equally horrific terrorist attacks in Israel. Suddenly the dialogue changed from attacks on “those people over there” to an “attack on us and our way of life”.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe Americans to be good people.  I am proud to be one. When they do hear about terrorist attacks in Israel, a large percentage are for the most part supportive and compassionate.  But there in lies the first problem.  When an Israeli citizen gets gunned down or stabbed it’s not given the same significant coverage by many of the news outlets. Last week when 18 year old Ezra Schwartz, an American, was killed in a terrorist attack in Israel, CNN still headlining with the search for one of the Paris attackers, listed the other top stories on the bottom left of its website.  The terrorist attack in Israel and Ezra’s death was one story down from Carly Simon’s revelation that Warren Beatty was the subject of her 70’s hit “You’re so Vain”.   Hard to blame the average citizen if as a result many do not even know who Ezra Schwartz is.

Ironically the murder of Ezra, an American citizen would by itself not have done much to influence the average person nor most of the presidential candidates, but since the attacks in Paris national security and the war on terror have now become that issue the candidates clearly deem as the one they are choosing to exploit to get elected.

Forgive me if I seem cynical, but prior to the attacks in Paris the only Republican candidate I heard make mention of Israel in the previous debate was Ted Cruz.  Granted I didn’t watch the entire debate, and I am not saying there aren’t others who clearly support Israel; Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush clearly have shown a tendency towards friendship towards the Jewish state;  but in this particular debate it was only Ted Cruz who appeared to make a point of the importance of the relationship between the 2 countries. All candidates expressed the importance of stopping ISIS, but since no one in either the Republican or Democratic field is a supporter of terrorism, I would expect nothing less.  What did strike me is that until Paris, no one seemed to be making it clear how important of a fight the fight against ISIS really is. Now all of that has changed.

With the threat of ISIS finally being taken as seriously as it should have been at least a year ago, presidential hopefuls are doing their best to impress the American electorate with their tough words and strategies.  The impact it seems to be having on the American people is when presented with a choice between a more mild-mannered intellectual approach or a loud bombastic aggressive approach, the polls suggest the people prefer the latter.  Henceforth the increasing popularity of Donald Trump.

I actually think the reaction of the people is just another example of what makes the United States of America such a great country.  In previous times when a global power was faced with bad economic times and the threat of an aggressor looking to destroy its country and kill its people, the backlash lead to vicious dictatorships and the murder of countless numbers of innocent people.  In America our backlash is Donald Trump. Might not be my first choice, but in today’s political climate worse things could happen.

The big question is, do any of the candidates on both sides of the political aisle have what it takes to defeat this global threat?  Loud words and exuberant proclamations may get someone elected, but when push comes to shove the actions taken and decisions made by the next president may very well determine the future of the entire civilized world.  With the increased attacks and ongoing threat from ISIS, it would appear that the Islamic State has, willingly or unwillingly, impacted how we choose to shape that future.  Hopefully the choice we make will be in our favor not theirs.

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