Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mixing state and religion.. gay rights and protecting kids

I read this today--

The copyright says I can't reprint what the article says so you will have to go to the link. What it comes down to is this: The state of Illinois has a Department of Social Services which has been contracting with Catholic Charities for about 40 years to find foster homes and adoptive homes for children. The state wants to end that contract, and Catholic Charities is trying to say that they can't end it. That somehow they are obligated to continue doing it because they have been doing it for so long.

The gay rights people don't like Catholic Charities because the Catholics don't support gay rights. So for the gay rights people this is a victory.

Lots of religious based charities do good work. Salvation Army is another big one. If I stopped to think about the religious beliefs of the Salvation Army I would probably never donate another used toy or pair of jeans to them. However I cannot argue with their success. They do a lot of community service, community outreach, a lot of good stuff. Catholic Charities does a lot too. I know that both organizations run homeless shelters and feed the poor.

Kids need good homes. We have a real shortage in this country, and around the world of homes for children. Homes where abuse does not take place. Homes where there is enough food to feed everyone who lives. Homes where there are heat, running water, and electricity. Homes where no one is passed out or doing illegal drugs. Home where kids have access to health care. Home where kids have access to an education. Homes where kids don't have to worry about being beaten or sexually abused. We have a huge shortage of homes for children. It is a sad but true fact in this country, and around the world. If you are a parent of schoolaged children then you probably even know some of these kids. Kids who are living without enough to eat, kids who go home to abuse, kids who live in homeless shelters with their families... these are the facts.

It is great that Catholic Charities wants to help these kids. However this work needs to be done by the state, or by a non-religious organization. It isn't fair to anyone to have religion play a part in who gets to take care of these children. This is not a job to be "outsourced" or contracted out to a particular religion. This needs to be done by secular society. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered parents are all capable of being good parents and providing loving homes. They should not be left out of the pool. Let them be parents, let them help. Let them be foster parents and adoptive parents if they want to.

Maybe an obvious post about Facebook and Google etc

I'm sure someone has said this better than I will, but here's my little rambling of the moment...

Back before the internet was invented, before 1990, we connected via bbses and modems. We connected from our computers to another computer pretty directly. When we connected to the site it was pretty obvious what we were connected to, who was in control, and what our limitations were.

Then in 1990 the World Wide Web was invented and we started to connect with things like AOL, CompuServe, the Spa (which was a bbs but then evolved), EarthLink, and others. When we connected this way it was still pretty obvious when we made our connections who was in control, where our email was stored, and where our "home zone" was most of the time. Even back around 2000 (give or take a year or two or so) AOL tried to be everything it could be. When I had an AOL account I sometimes did all of my searching and surfing through AOL. AOL could easily track my activities and that kind of seemed obvious.

Now... things have been changing a lot during the last 20 years... we have Yahoo and Gmail. These are not something that we connect to. We connect in other ways. I use Wildblue. A lot of other folks use Verizon or Comcast, or they use smartphones. (I haven't gotten as far as smartphones yet since we don't have cell phone service at our house). With Wildblue we don't even see the connection. It's invisible. We are immediately shot out into the internet universe. We can go where we want to go, see what we want to see, and who is in control? I don't know.

With this new invisibility comes... Facebook and Google and others... it's like a light switch went on and they realized "no one is in control anymore...." and they want to be in control. Facebook wants to be the "new internet". Google is trying to compete sort of, only Google is really trying to do it all. Google wants to be your search engine, your blog host, your email, offers you word processing and publishing, storage, and now social networking with Google +... etc, etc...  I just saw something this morning about "Google sites" which looks to me like "creating a page" on Facebook for a group or special event or something...  To be clear Google has gone way beyond Facebook on many fronts. Facebook has been a social network traditionally and now they seem to want to branch out. Google has been everything but a social network and is now trying to be that too. It's just crazy.

It seems like we're coming around full circle though. We're not quite there yet, but it seems to be moving in that direction. We used to know clearly where we were, who had access to what we were doing, and who was in control behind the scenes. We lost sight of that for a while, but now I think it's coming back into focus. Only now people are not sure they want it. It will be interesting to see where the future goes.