Thursday, June 16, 2011


At a recent conservative political gathering, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who recently ran, but lost, for Colorado Senator, discussed the group he is co-chairing, “Pass the Balanced Budget Amendment.” With the country teetering on the brink of financial collapse due to out of control Federal spending, hopefully this time this amendment will pass. It was quite disheartening to learn that in 1977 it lost by only one vote in the Senate. How different the situation in the country could be today had only that fight been won.

As Coloradans, we missed two opportunities recently that could have changed the whole conversation in Washington. If we had worked a little harder to elect Republican Bob Schaefer as Senator in 2008 over Democrat Udall, having that one extra Republican vote very possibly could have blocked Obamacare. As Medicare is one of the main entitlement programs threatening to bankrupt the Federal government, expanding government financed health care will hasten the end. We missed out again in 2010, letting Democrat Bennett win over Ken Buck. As DA Buck explained, the hurdle in getting the BBA passed again is the Democrat majority Senate. The Republican led House can pass the BBA, as well as a sane current Federal budget as in the Ryan plan. Maybe in 2012 Republicans can take a page from the Democratic playbook, and not put all our efforts into the big prize – the presidency - but realize that winning the lower races can be just as important. Due to funding by “millionaires and billionaires” (a phrase used often by Udall in his newsletters - odd that Democrats often accuse Republicans of things that Democrats do. While it’s a fact that billionaire Pat Stryker and millionaires Jared Polis and Rutt Bridges financed CoDA – Colorado Democratic Alliance, as a Tea Party organizer, I’ve yet to see a dime from the Koch brothers, who supposedly finance us) and a methodical, business-like plan, the Democrats turned Colorado from red to blue in just a few years by focusing on state-wide races. For details, read the book, The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado, by Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer.

While I highly support the BBA (go to if you would also like to sign the petition), something that ex-Colorado Senator John Andrews said in the introduction has been on my mind. He stated that while everyone recognizes the fiscal deficit of our country, is a bigger problem and (and contributing factor of the fiscal deficit), the moral and spiritual deficit into which the country has fallen?

In one of those seemingly coincidental circumstances that affect my life, I recently started reading a book on tape I’ve had laying around for a few years. The book is Plain Truth by Jody Picoult. On the face of it, a political speech on the BBA and a book about an unwed Amish girl who is put on trial for allegedly murdering her newborn infant would not seem to be related. It could be considered a sign of what John Andrews is concerned about – moral and spiritual decline of the country if even the Amish are being corrupted. But ironically, I had the opposite reaction. In learning about the Amish community, I wonder if they are onto something that could help the larger community.

When people talk about the moral and spiritual decline in our society today, they are almost exclusively referring to two issues – homosexuality and abortion. Does anyone else find it quite convenient that the main moral issues our country is concerned about are the two events that can’t happen to heterosexual men? Adultery, stealing, lying, lack of respect for others– no biggies; but we must march to stop abortion and homosexuality! While I understand biblically the prohibitions against abortion and homosexuality, even if both those conditions were gone overnight, our country would still be in big financial trouble. If we could eliminate lying and stealing, however, we might be onto something.

While I’m not proposing we all go join Amish communities to save ourselves morally, there are some aspects of their life and faith that may be quite beneficial. For one, they put a huge emphasis on forgiveness. In order to be forgiven, even by her future husband on whom she cheated, the girl in the book merely has to confess her sin publicly. She will be shunned for a period of time, but after that life will go on. Perhaps more importantly is an acronym learned by Amish children in elementary school, J-O-Y, which stands for, put Jesus first in your life, Others second, and Yourself third. I can’t help but wonder if we would all have much more “joy” in our lives if we followed that simple acronym.


  1. A good and well written column Lady Burke. Whether it be the Amish, Christian, Jewish or Buddhist faith to name a few, the thing held in common is an experience of "sacredness," a sentient presence that is as certain as it is exquisite, a sense of integration into an experience that runs so deep in the soul it connects us one to the other and to this sacredness. Some call it God, others Yaweh; the Buddha referred to it as the ground of being, a place beyond birth and death, indeed, beyond time itself.

    We are in decline because too many have lost sight of this sacredness, or denied the fact of its existence or in an act of pitiful arrogance (hubris) sought to place themselves above the gods. In such abandonment is spiritual and cultural drift and decay; and a lurid downward path in which the virtuous become ordinary, and the ordinary, mean and the mean, human predators.

    It is a process that unfolds of its own accord and which, at a certain point become irreversible. What then is the individual to do. Well, I think, the only person over whom we have potential control is ourselves. Shakespeare said it best.

    "First to thine own self be true and it follows as day the night,thou can be false to know man."

    One must approach this rule with deep humility this, because the path is fraught with failure and discouragement. Still, it is the only game in time.

    Thank you for your thoughts. Robert

  2. Thank you for your encouragement. I agree that true spirituality transcends many forms of religion.

    Another interesting aspect of Amish life I found interesting is the complete humility. The buzz word when my kids were little was self esteem. A well meaning dance teacher had them say, "I am terrific" before every grand jete. It was supposed to make the kids confident and well adjusted. But despite all our emphasis on self esteem, many kids don't seem confident or happy.

    The Amish try very much to avoid standing out - their main goal is conformity. Being proud would be putting yourself above others.

    Again, I'm not saying their approach is perfect and something we all should adopt, but it is something to think about.

    You are very much correct that rather than trying to fix others, we should concentrate on fixing ourselves.

  3. Dear Lady Burke, The Amish are wonderful. They have realized an existential principle that eludes most of us. In striving for recognition, the appreciation of others, perhaps a bit of fame or power we unwittingly make our ego the measure of all things. Our ego, however, because of its essential structure is a 'delusion machine." It is when we cease striving that we begin to understand and experience this "sacredness" God, Yahweh, or self realization.

    A friend, a Zen Buddhist, described his experience at Rohatsu, the most demanding sesshin in Japanese zen practice. Rohatsu entails as much as 10 to 15 hours of seated meditation (Zazen) per day for eight days. There is much pain, sometimes boredom, anxiety, fears, angers that arise, One's hearing becomes acute, a distant crow caws into the night and appears to speak a language filled with understanding.

    Here is what he said as he reached a deeper understanding. "Here I am in my boat. In utter darkness. I see vague images of a shore on the horizon. I paddle with all my might toward this destination or that but never reach it; I change my mind; I paddle in all directions. I become lost, confused. I paddle until exhausted I throw my paddle into the dark waters. I became silent. I strive no longer.

    And then, and then, I feel the most subtle current touch my boat, It becomes gently stronger until finally it cannot not be resisted. Then I see in the firmament suddenly visible to me a first star. I see exquisite landscapes that take my breath away.

    I realized that I have always had a destination. I simply ignored it. All that I needed to do was to throw away my paddle, embrace a still mind and a true heart.