Social Media – Friend or Foe

Think on: “All the lonely people, where do they all belong?” PAUL MCCARTNEY Eleanor Rigby, 1966

Tumbleweed recently reengaged with social media and tested the Facebook waters.  I was quickly reminded of its addictive allure.  It can be enslaving.  I was reminded why it’s both friend and foe, as I viewed posts from family and friends.  In some instances, posts were downright startling in their lack of social engagement.  Liberals especially see things as black or white and often express views in rather sanctimonious fashion.  One of the scariest aspects is how people hide behind the masks of Facebook, Twitter, and their ilk.

Social media has become like a second skin to many, especially to what they call the Millennial Generation.  Whether in life or in the business world, it is an environment that must be faced.  It is defined as online digital communications between individuals and communities.  Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, and the like represent an all-to-real contrivance of communities.

This 21st century phenomenon has a global reach; is mostly blind to race, gender, nationality, or intellect; enables far-reaching densely networked communities; fosters narcissism, loneliness, and isolation; and enables cultural tribalization.  “Whoa!” you might say, “How do communities foster loneliness and isolation?”  Well, we’ll talk about that.

First off, why is it importance to balance social media in life and business?  Anytime you have an imbalance, the implication is that something is out of whack.  Anytime that you obsessively or compulsively – or addictively – use anything to excess, other aspects of life and business necessarily suffers.  So, as with any excess, it is vitally important to achieve balance.  For example, drinking alcohol isn’t bad, but drinking to a drunken stupor is; having plenty of money isn’t bad, but worshiping the hoarding of money is; material things aren’t bad, but accumulating far more than you can reasonably use is; and so on.  Similarly, we cannot function in society, in God’s world, if we overly isolate ourselves from it.  You get the picture.

Tumbleweed suggests that there are three principle components to this isolation condition.  There is solitude defined as a physical condition of separation; there is independence which is a conscious choice; and there is loneliness which is psychological.  Social media by its very nature interferes with “real friends,” creates artificial distance (invisible protective barriers), fosters loneliness, and passively consumes yet broadcasts disconnection.  The social media disciple fails to recognize that it is the quality of social interaction, not the quantity, which predicts the degree of loneliness.  In other words, quantity creates a place in which you can become effectively anonymous.  The social media addict physically meets fewer people and by gathering less creates fewer bonds.  It also shields them from the realities of society.

Amazingly, most people fail to comprehend how social media has, as a consequence of its isolating nature, had a cocoon-like effect on our society as people struggle with interpersonal relationships.  It separates.  It divides communities.  Sitting in front of a computer or tablet has also led to more physical and mental ailments, as less exercise breeds obesity coupled with susceptibility to illness and mental health has deteriorated.  Little wonder that the behavioral health industry is flourishing.  You may wonder what this has to do with you and your life.  I would hope that answer is obvious, but you really must ask yourself, “What would Jesus have done?”

Solitude should be an overtly planned act, not one dictated by a smart phone.  We need solitude to recharge our physical batteries.  What do you do during this solitude?  You apply introspection, especially accompanied with prayer, to talk to yourself.  One of the best ways to do that is to talk to another person, one you can trust, to whom you can unfold your soul.  Oh, that other person is God.  Try it.  Trust me, it’s far better than the distraction of 846 supposed “friends” on Facebook, and the feedback is far more trustworthy.

If you’re feeling especially frisky have some friends over, check smart phones at the door, and actually talk.  Is social media your friend?  Social media can be friend or foe; but you make that determination.  Just sayin’.

Tyranny of the Left

Think on: “When one gives up Christian belief, one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality.  FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

Tumbleweed doesn’t believe Nietzsche for a nanosecond, as old Friedrich never truly understood the fundamental Christian tenets of faith, salvation, and forgiveness that transcend evil.  That would require humility, and Friedrich was anything but humble.  Recall that Friedrich famously said that God was dead.  (Maybe the first five letters of his name describe his brain.)

Having had my fun with Nietzsche, let’s briefly examine how the excising of faith contributes to the title of this post.  The tyranny Tumbleweed refers to here is that of public opinion as driven by morality.  Imagine if the United States were to be ruled by the public opinion of the moment.  It might resemble the great coliseum in Rome where the fate of gladiators rested on the whim of the crowd’s thumbs up or down.  Thankfully, we’ve got a democratic republic and the Electoral College to prevent such tyranny of the masses.

Tumbleweed contends that there is a direct correlation between the continuous removal of religion from the public square and the steadily declining morality in our nation.  Recall “separation of church and state?”  It was defined in a 1947 landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Everson v. Board of Education which incorporated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as binding upon the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The decision in Everson marked a turning point in the interpretation and application of religious disestablishment law in the modern era.   Then on June 17, 1963 the Supreme Court in Abington Township School District v. Schempp made its famous “school prayer” decision.  This prohibited school officials from organizing or leading prayers and devotional Bible reading in public schools.  Few of us have actually read the decision, which means that we’ve been susceptible to successive opportunistic religious and political leaders – like a bunch of Nietzsche Chicken Littles blabbering about “kicking God out of the schools.”  It turns out that the Supreme Court ruling never banned prayer or the Bible from public schools. Students do have a First Amendment right to pray alone or in groups, bring their scriptures to school, share their beliefs with classmates, form religious clubs in secondary schools, and in other ways express their faith during the school day as long as they don’t disrupt the school or interfere with the others’ rights.

Tumbleweed contends that especially since the Schempp decision, our nation has devolved into near moral bankruptcy as Christian morality has been systematically excised from the public arena.  Ironic how a mere 60-second daily devotional exercise – feared by left-wing atheistic zealots – is viewed as threatening the outcome of a social-justice-based curriculum indoctrinating children every day for 12 years.

The bottom line is God-centered versus man-centered worldviews.  It’s whose you are versus who you are.  For those never exposed to or accepting of Christian values, it can be a slippery slope to cultural decay.  And even for those who claim to be Christians, too often human pursuits ease out Godly pursuits.  We dare not forget Romans 13:8-10, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Love your neighbor.  That can be a bit of a challenge in today’s social media driven society.  Love is mentioned as many as 538 times in the Bible, depending on the translation.  Tumbleweed has observed a not-so-subtle cultural engineering prevalent in social media, as the persons who control the menu control the choices people make.  This self-centered view fostered by social media has bred an intolerance that tears away at freedoms in schools, courts, and communities.  It’s a logical leap that the more social media with its aversion to Christian morality picks informational winners and losers, the less freedom Christians and others will enjoy.  It isolates us and presents easy socio-political targets for our enemies.  Indeed, we wind up with a mechanism that enables left-wing progressives and their socialist ilk to deliver on their tyrannical social, economic, and political views.  They wield the establishment clause as a hammer to remove every last vestige of religion from the public square.  With it go our freedoms.

Dare we be surprised that Biblically-based morality is fast-disappearing from our nation?  Dare we fight back against the tyranny of the left?  Why not?  Just sayin’.

Gold Gets Bad Wrap

Think on: “Non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum.  ALAIN DE LILLE, Parabolae

Tumbleweed’s having a bit of fun with y’all here.  In plain English, “All that glitters is not gold.”

So, my family tells me that writing a post about the “gold standard” is simply too heavy for most folks to absorb.  Well, that may be because most people don’t know what it is, and when they do hear about it, it’s usually being treated with derision as something archaic.  Interesting.  Once again, our education system has let us down by giving in to the progressive lefties in our mix.  Heaven forbid that our founding fathers and capitalism should make sense.   By definition a gold standard is a monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is based on a fixed quantity of gold.

Currency manipulators chalk up a win!  Actually, the United States was technically on the gold standard until President “Tricky Dick” Nixon signed its death warrant on August 15, 1971.  That’s not really that long ago.  The question is why was it dumped?  If you follow to economists like Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, or Nathan Lewis, you’d understand that the key to great economic booms is stable currency.  Oh, and you may have heard of a fellow named Adam Smith who framed capitalism in his Wealth of Nations treatise.  Effectively, hardly anything in an economy is created without combining goods, services, labor, and capital networked through use of money and shared via prices, interest rates, profits, and losses.  Whew!  That’s a mouthful and likely pretty dry stuff for many people.  Bottom line, a stable currency is critically important.  An unstable currency in an economy is like a computer virus, corrupting “bits” of the economic program to create destructive bubbles not unlike 2007.  For example, in 2001, our beloved Federal Reserve deliberately weakened the dollar, and that drove oil from $20 a barrel to more than $100 a barrel.

Gold lost its luster.  Gold affords a fixed weight and measure to the value of products and services.  (For those concerned with today’s fluctuating price of gold, it’s simply a reflection of wildly fluctuating world economies based upon U.S. paper – not gold.)  The gold standard’s demise pretty much began in the 1890s with Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s pro-inflation, anti-gold presidential run.  The Great Depression – of which the gold standard was a victim not a cause – gave the left-wingers the ammo to further sow the seeds for playing vague paper-money games via central bank theory, aka, the Federal Reserve.  They embraced John Maynard Keynes (Heard of Keynesian economics? Try socialism or social capitalism.), and stable monetary value went down the toilet from there.  Throw politicians into the socio-economic mix, and we’ve got a volatile concoction that has throttled the U.S. economy ever since.  People don’t understand the complexity, and this translates into fear that politicians prey upon.  While capitalism may seem complex, the seeming simplicity of socialism becomes attractive until you learn its fatal flaw as articulated by George Orwell in Wigan Pier.  That is, socialists actually don’t like the poor; they merely hate the wealthy.  Unstable currency enables the socialist mantra of power in the hands of a few and keeps the road to serfdom wide open.

President Ronald Reagan tried and failed to restore the gold standard in the 1980s, as he was blocked by Keynesian progressives sowing fears that social justice causes would be destroyed through economic stagnation, rampant inflation, and political upheaval.  Hmmm.  It seems that’s exactly what the Keynesian central bank acolytes have wrought for us today.

So, my family is probably right.  The gold standard and its critical importance might be too much for most folks to grasp.  For my part, I wish more citizens would get a hot branding iron in their pants toward returning to the gold standard.  Just sayin’.


Think on: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.  GEORGE SANTAYANA

In mentioning in passing the other day to an acquaintance that history afforded insight into our future, Tumbleweed was reminded how our education system and even many parents have failed to instill interest in our past.  Indeed, the past is but prologue, and to ignore it is – as some say – to relive both the good and bad of it.  Heaven forbid that we should relive some of history’s darker moments.

Okay, Tumbleweed admits to have minored in history in college.  It’s a fascinating subject, and I thoroughly enjoy engaging in discussions about history.  Lately, I’ve found myself caught up in Irish history and the history of the U.S. west in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The link between the west and Ireland comes from my ancestors who immigrated from County Kildare to Texas in the mid-1800s.  Looking back at Irish history, I’m taken with how it forms a sort of microcosm of the sorts of social, economic, religious, and political upheavals that have marked history throughout the ages.

Okay, ancestry.  Tumbleweed is getting there.  Have you ever dug out your family tree; not simply who is related to whom but how they lived and what they accomplished?  Truth be told, I was blessed by several family members actually writing about their experiences.  It’s led me to expand upon their stories by writing a couple of historical fiction novels and even used as a basis for straight fiction not to mention poetry.  So, my cousin John Hilliard Dunn’s writings about five Irish brothers leaving Ireland and settling in south Texas to build ranches, farms, smithy and grocery shops, railroads, museums, and churches fully enthralls me.  Couple that with John “Red John” Dunn’s book about his experience as a Texas Ranger, vigilante, and more.  Then, there’s my cousin Mary Maud Dunn Wright (a.k.a. Lilith Lorraine) of sci-fi and poetry fame.    Learning about family in the context of dealing with Comanche, Apache, Mexican bandits, outlaws like John Wesley Hardin, yellow fever, War Between the States, and more has been an exhilarating experience.

So, I’m blessed with a Texas family tree of more than 2,200 folks descended from Lawrence “Long Larry” Dunn in County Kildare, Ireland.  And so many have great stories, from my great great grandfather Nick Dunn’s ranching to cousin Red John’s exploits eliminating bad guys to John H’s experiences with railroads and helping build the Panama Canal.  All the stories aside, finding old photos has been an amazing part of the experience, as you see family facial resemblances over the years.  To see that my great grandfather Frank Evans resembles my brother Glen or I resemble my great great grandfather Nick Dunn (except he had red hair).  To see a photo of my cousin Red John as the prototypical Texan from cowboy hat to boots to red handlebar mustache, conjures up realistic images of the west of 150 years ago.

Ancestry?  It’s part of our personal history.  If you haven’t, I encourage you to start digging.  Just sayin’.


Think on: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” Declaration of Independence 

Leave it to Tumbleweed to tackle what many regard as politically incorrect issues.  How about secession?

There exists a core of folks who ardently support “dissolving political bands.”  Anyone tuned to a broad range of today’s media, hear rumors of secession from Texas and California and even states like Maryland calling for splitting off its westernmost more politically conservative counties.  Recall that West Virginia was separated from Virginia in 1861 and accepted into the Union in 1863.  In any case, a recent Zogby Strategies poll found that fully 39 percent of U.S. citizens believe that each state has the ultimate say over its destiny, and 68 percent of voters are open to the idea of secession.  Tumbleweed feels that’s a rather startling revelation and a sad commentary on citizens’ views as to the state of our nation.

There are, of course, historical considerations as to the constitutionality of secession.  For one thing, would the Supreme Court of the United States have jurisdiction over a now separate nation?  The question was never really fully litigated, despite the Civil War and follow-on reconstructionist actions.  The Texas v. White (74 U.S. 700, 703 [1868]) decision of 1869 held that individual states could not unilaterally secede from the Union and that acts of the insurgent Texas legislature in 1861 were “absolutely null.”  That recognition having been the case; it is seen as ironic that President Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation readmitting Texas to the Union in 1870.  If they never left, how could they be readmitted.  Actually, it was to put a new Texas Constitution in place.  And notably, the U.S. Supreme Court led by Lincoln former cabinet member Salmon Chase was at a loss to reference any text from the U.S. Constitution in the Texas v. White decision, because the Constitution is fully silent on whether states can withdraw from the Union.   A 2006 opinion letter from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stated, “The answer is clear.  If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”  With due respect to Justice Scalia, did the Civil War actually resolve any Constitutional issue?  The Texas Constitution contains no provision for seceding from the Union, yet it’s not implicitly or explicitly disallowed either.  One thing is for certain, the U.S. executive branch by virtue of Lincoln’s actions already has a history of violent suppression of secession.

But does the Constitution govern in this case.  Does permission actually emanate from the Declaration of Independence?  The founding document of the United States – just as the founding document for the Republic of Texas – is the Declaration of Independence.  In continuing from the “Think On” quote above from the Declaration’s preamble, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Thus, the right for a state to secede from the Union is found in the Declaration, not the Constitution.  The latter sets the form of government and basis for the law, but it is the Declaration of Independence that sets the legitimate rationale for states to secede.

Folks will argue the points of secession legality pro and con; each side firm in its resolve as to what is right and proper by law.  But it seems that there is ever-greater critical mass forming in certain states that gravitates toward secession as a viable solution to escape the tyranny of the ever-more-intolerant progressive liberal bureaucracy and their “moderate” Republican enablers.  Psalm 2:1 asks, “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?”  So, the progressives set themselves up to wallow in their own vanity toward possible destruction of the Union.  Just sayin’.

Words Matter in Art & Life

You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Most folks know by now that I’ve become increasingly immersed in my writing craft, creating poetry and fiction books.  I’m a member of the Poetry Society of Texas, the Pennsylvania Poetry Society, and Catoctin Voices, a local poetry group for which I have twice served as featured poet.  As Tumbleweed, I do manage to tumble around to various literary events.  Recently, I was confronted with a shocking reality.  I attended poetry readings at a Gettysburg-based poetry group.  These events generally consist of an hour of “open mic” whereby local poets may read their creations, and this is followed by a featured guest poet.  The featured poet is usually a published poet, is often a college professor, and likely has received awards for their poetry.  (My cousin Mary Maud Dunn Wright [pseud. Lilith Lorraine] was a much-awarded poet and novelist.)

Back to the event.  There were about 20 open mic participants, many of them local college students.  There was some really good word art delivered, and there was some arguably very bad material.  In my experience, what is good to one person may not be so good to another and that’s to be expected.  My concern, however, is with the trend toward ever more frequent use of truly vile language.   The student poetry in particular was liberally laced with expletives.  I was shocked.

My English teachers taught me that folks tended to resort to vile language, when they lacked language skills.  As an English major back at University of Maryland, I recall two semesters of Shakespeare as taught by a professor whose doctoral thesis was on the Bard’s use of sexual imagery.  They were fascinating courses, and I expect that in Shakespeare’s time the material was considered quite racy.  However, the audiences had a pretty good idea of what to expect.  There were no surprises.

I did leave the poetry event early, because I simply couldn’t tolerate the language used by the featured English professor poet and her student acolytes.  Pity, as there were some worthy poetic subjects shattered on the rocks of ill-chosen verbiage.

I don’t consider myself a prude, but I wouldn’t dream of inserting expletives in my own poetry.  In Proverbs 16:23, we are advised “The hearts of wise people guide their mouths.  Their words make people want to learn more.”  Surely, our poetry should reflect that advice.

I don’t believe in censorship on the one hand, but I believe the choice of receiving offensive material should rest with the receivers.  There were certainly guests in the room that Friday evening who were shocked by the language (their discomfort was obvious).  In fact, shock was likely the poet’s goal.  But few in our culture today are likely to take such abominable purveyors of poetic license to task.  It’s a sad commentary indeed that the morality of our culture should be so low.  After all, Ephesians 3:7 tells us that there’s a time to keep silent and a time to speak.  I suggest it’s time to speak against the corruption of our morals and of our language.

Justice in Justice

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. (Thoreau)

These days, it seems every “minority group” seemingly worth its salt is crying out for justice.  I think it’s fitting to kick off my Tumbleweed blog with a free-verse poem I wrote titled “Justice Enslaved.”  I hope my readers find it thought provoking. Where indeed is the justice in justice?

To what…to whom are we enslaved? Who forged our chains?

Is enslavement just?  Where is the justice? Who decides what is justice?

Slavery justified from the Hammurabi’s Code to Bible scrolls.

Neolithic times segue to Sumer, ancient Egyptian pyramids, Greece,

To China and Hebrew kingdoms, to the ancient Levant…even to the West;

Slavery as punishment, debt repayment, spoils of war, or birthright.

Christian, Hindu, Islam; all find justice enslaved to the law.


Is there justice in slavery?  From slavery?

Be it medieval Europe, Vikings, Tartars, or Barbary Pirates;

Slaves were as booty, a mercantile undertaking, a way of life.

Justified in economics essential to the culture, a fact of life!

Whether issued by Dum Diversas, Romanus Pontiex, or Sublimus Dei.

Pope or Imam, King or Sultan…made no matter; misanthropes all!

Justice stood as mute sacrifice to some larger, greater need.


Where then is justice?  What indeed is the justice?

Reparation, rehabilitation, retribution…mere slogans.

From Aztecs to Cortez’, Incas of Peru, Comanches of our plains;

To southern cotton fields and tobacco barns enslavement flourished, justice died.

Despite Wilberforce, Newton, and Lincoln, slavery forever prevails.

EBT cards replace chains, urban plantations defy any escape;

Khartoum, Delhi, Jakarta, or Detroit; enslavement abounds.


We cry out for justice.  Cry to end enslavement.

Yet its pervasive tentacles imprison all nations, all people;

Justice seems such a shallow game, a losing default setting for life.

What is justice to the enslaved?  What then is justice to the enslavers?

And what is justice for those who would end slavery? Such optimistic fools.

Only our souls offer protest, unshackled by iron chains;

Yet justice rings hollow as payment for our past enslavements.


Dare we dwell on justice for past and present sins?

Can money or lives truly compensate for injustice perceived or real?

For justice remains an elusive charade, be it divine or natural,

Be it distributive, egalitarian, social, fair, or utopian.

Retributive and restorative justice stand as inherently unjust;

We find ourselves mired in justice, mine or yours, the red pill or the blue pill;

God forgives, and in the end only “the truth will set you free.”


Indeed, the truth is all that really sets us free; the only justice.