I recently finished the second volume of Mark Twain's posthumous (by 100-plus years) autobiography and was struck again by how he came to have little respect for the human race, despite individuals whom he loved and admired.
Evidence that he was on target in his assessment came again last week when the U.S. State Department issued its annual report on human rights abuses around the world.
It is a sad litany of what, in the pre-gender-inclusive-language days, we used to call man's inhumanity to man.
In country after country we find governments and renegade freelance groups making life miserable, if not at times impossible, for countless individuals.
In addition to the "Secretary's Preface," which will open when you click the link above, I suggest you read the "Overview." When you do, I hope that you, too, will be struck by what I sometimes think of as the difference between serious (and even deadly) oppression and first-world problems of "religious freedom." In the latter case, certain members of a country's (U.S.) religious majority (Christians) say their freedom is being limited because of a lack of laws that allow them to practice the kind of open discrimination against gay people that the nation once practiced against black people.
If you really care about the crushing of human (including religious) rights, read the sections of the new State Department report about such places as Syria and the Central African Republic.
Like Twain, I can't see that anything has changed in recent centuries about human nature, which means that the species is constantly doing damage to itself and its home, Earth. This does not, of course, mean that there aren't loving and profoundly inspiring people in the world seeking to do the right thing (and often succeeding), but it does mean that 100 years from now, if there's still a U.S. State Department, I bet its annual report on human rights abuse will say pretty much the same thing, if about different countries.
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COULD JESUS HEAL MOVIES ABOUT HIM?
I haven't yet seen the new film "Son of God," though I've seen enough of "The Bible" series on the History Channel from which it was drawn to know that series wasn't very good. But this critic is so distressed by the lameness of this new film that he swears he's never going to see another Jesus movie again. Maybe I'll spare myself the aggravation and stay home. If you go see it, tell me whether you agree that it's lame or think it's simply fabulous.
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P.S.: For information about my new book, Woodstock: A Story of Middle Americans, click here.