Thursday, August 1, 2013

A big handsome butterfly on my back porch

I don't know a lot about butterflies, but this fellow looks like an impressive specimen to me.  I crept up on him while he was resting on my back porch.

Egypt’s quiet horror

The Egyptian coup that took place a few weeks ago is one of the most dramatic news stories of the year even though many aspects of it have been underreported by the American media.
Our media, led by the television news networks, tend to get focused on a small amount of stories that help with ratings. While that small amount of stories are important, an unfortunate byproduct of this approach is many newsworthy stories do not get the attention they deserve.
What kind of stories? Well, what about the personal economic impact we have felt because of the coup? Though not a lot of oil is produced there, the location of the Suez Canal near the country insures that unrest in Egypt will impact prices. The Suez Canal provides one pathway for oil to be shipped to the world. We have seen our local gas prices rise more than 20 cents since the coup, and it will be interesting to see where prices go from here.
Also, our country sends more than $1.3 billion in aid to the country. This is money collected from our taxes. So, when we view events there, we need to remember that our financial support leaves our fingerprints (especially when it comes to the Egyptian military).
However, the most underreported story of the coup may be the impact the event is having on Christians there. According to multiple sources, violence against Christians is growing.
When Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown, the Christian community was vocal about the need for him to be ousted. The Associated Press has reported the group is paying the price for its activism.
For example, Christian priest Mena Aboud Sharoben was killed in a drive-by shooting while a pro-Morsi crowd destroyed homes in villages that have a relatively large Christian population. As happens in most countries, when there is governmental instability, it is the minority groups that suffer. This is the case when it comes to Christians in Egypt.
There are plenty more examples that are similar to this, but if people want to read about them, they better be prepared to do some digging on the Internet. The mainstream media won’t focus much attention on these events because they are not ratings producers. I’m not holding my breath waiting for Nancy Grace and Sean Hannity to dedicate significant time to stories like these.
When considering these events, it should provoke questions inside us. Should we be sending so much money to an area that is so unstable at this point? I would answer ‘yes’ because Egypt is probably our most important Arab ally in the Middle East, and it would be a mistake to divest ourselves from them at a time like this. However, shouldn’t we be applying pressure when it comes to human rights?
As for Americans, situations like this should grab our attention. This applies to all people and not just to Christians here. As a nation, we have designated certain rights to be protected by our Constitution. Though I believe most of us understand that it is unreasonable to expect other countries to be carbon copies of us when it comes to government, we should still be vocal when it comes to issues we deem important.
When one country wobbles when it comes to human rights, it becomes easier for that wobbling to spread. Though Egypt is half a world away, don’t think that it can’t happen here. It is already here in some respects, and though we like to pat ourselves on our backs when it comes to our alleged enlightenment, dark times could come if we are not careful.

Eatin' good food at the Irish Picnic

Last weekend, a couple of friends and I went to the annual St. Patrick's Irish Picnic in McEwen, TN.  For only seven dollars, a person could have gotten barbecue or chicken, green beans, potato salad, slaw, bread, dessert (I had chocolate cake), and either water or sweet tea.  I think we can all agree that that was a pretty good deal.