It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green

The initial video training is just enough information to be dangerous, at least in this author’s opinion.

kermit-3 In about 1972, Jim Raposo wrote a song made popular by Jim Henson singing as Kermit the Frog, ‘It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green’ and such words were never more true than in the world today for some who consult with international organizations and are painting whole countries green! Kermit, apparently has begun to understand the dangerous times in which we live. It is a shame that some of these consultants are not as kermit-2well aware. When I say it’s a shame, I mean shame in the most Asian culture seriousness of the word. Perhaps an allusion to another time in our country when being green was a euphemism for being a novice, inexperienced and in capable of functioning on their own, particularly in dangerous situations, is the best way to understand the color.  

I enjoy allusions to cinema and when those illustrations also include John Wayne, so much the better! In El Dorado, John Wayne plays Cole Thornton, a gun hand who refuses to go against his old friend who is the sheriff in the middle of a range war. Instead, he comes to his aid. The sheriff, J.P. Harrah, gets very irritated at a new friend of Wayne’s character, named Mississippi (James Caan) and turns toward him, gun drawn. Thornton (Wayne) says, “Now wait a minute J.P., he’s a little green…” el-dorado-1

Like an unripe fruit, he was not ready. In this case, he was not ready to be on his own in a dangerous situation.    

What does this have to do with this consultant advising this international agency on security and using the color green? The plan, apparently, was to review the security needs of every country in the international organization’s wheel house. They would then color code them as to the level of security training necessary. There were four categories, red being the highest risk and requiring the most training, orange, yellow and then green. Thirty-four out of sixty-five areas of responsibility worldwide, 52.3% were rated as GREEN and were considered LOW RISK. The most heinous part is that the LOW RISK countries required NO TRAINING. Some extremely basic 3 hour introductory videos are shown to everyone but beyond that – No Training!

Low risk countries included all of Europe; including Germany, France, and Spain and we all know how safe those places are today. Ukraine, recently invaded by Russia with war still prevalent in the eastern cities only rates a YELLOW – two days of training!

Although Eastern and Western Mindanao were considered separately, the Philippines was listed as GREEN, no training needed. Western Mindanao is RED and Eastern Mindanao is only YELLOW – requiring just 2 days of training! I could continue; but, you can imagine that if over 50 percent of an organization’s countries, or areas of responsibility, require no supplemental training at all, what is the level of situational awareness of the people working in those countries?

Let’s take a further look at Mindanao. The company divides it into Western and Eastern as we described earlier. Those were the names used before the emancipation. The correct name for Western Mindanao is the Zamboanga Peninsula. Remember, it is shown as RED and the remainder of Mindanao or what was labeled as Eastern is YELLOW – requiring only two  days of training so near to one of the most hateful bunch of Al Qaeda factions out there. Now, realize that all of Mindanao is only 37, 654 square miles. That is less than the State of Ohio which is 44, 825 and can be traversed easily in a few hours. The Zamboanga Peninsula is only 572.74 square miles, which is comparable in size to New York CITY which is 468.90 without its suburbs! So, here I am in Ohio saying that in NE Ohio I’m okay, only a yellow; but, if I travel a few hours to near Cincinnati, bang- I’m in red territory.

Let’s jump off the island of Mindanao and consider the rest of the Philippines which is GREEN – no additional training needed. Manila, the capital city is about as far away from Mindanao as you can get and still be on the archipelago.  By air it is only 561 miles to Manila from Mindanao and 1040 miles by land and boat. Forty two hours travel in the latter and only 59 minutes in the former. Plus, the airfare currently is only $91 one way. Employees of this company living in Manila are GREEN and require no additional training while they are only $91 and 59 minutes from some of the worst Al Qaeda terrorists in the world.

The United States is listed as GREEN yet shootings, stabbings, kidnappings are on the news almost every night. Should not every American have some understanding of how to be situationally aware enough to protect themselves? Apparently the employees of this organization do not require it. The initial video training is just enough information to be dangerous, at least in this author’s opinion.

No doubt, those involved in this organization went about their task in good faith and put a great deal of stock into what they were being told. I would really like to know what kind of a grid was used to determine the levels of risk.  I would also like to know how, any group responsible for the lives of their employees, and, due to their diverse spread across the world, their employees’ spouses and their children, can consider any of them to not require any real training.

Sadly, if I were to hazard a guess… a deciding factor was cost. To the organization’s credit, they weren’t specifically trying to save themselves money because the brunt of the cost of the training would be born by the employees themselves. That is the way this company is structured. You could say, that a company that was bearing its responsibility correctly, (or  I believe the argument could be made to carry their responsibility morally), should be providing the training at no cost to the employee; but that is not the way it is currently for most of these contract-type employees. 

Over fifty percent of this organization’s area (and probably an even much higher percentage of their actual employees and families) are living in GREEN areas. Very seldom in writing is there an opportunity to use this word, so here goes, I am flabbergasted!

If you could see me right now you might think you were intoxicated or had a head injury because you might just see two of me… because I am simply beside myself on this one!

I truly believe that the organization involved here is attempting to do their very best; but, internally they have almost no expertise by which to filter what they are being told by outside consultants. I have no idea the credentialing of these consultants. Maybe, in many areas they are considered experts. However, it is this one person’s seasoned opinion that they are very wrong in the way they are directing this organization.  I urge any group that decides to depend solely on the opinions of someone or some group from outside their own agency on how best to protect their own people to use the very utmost of caution.

One last movie analogy, in the Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade, the malefactor must decide which chalice he believes to be the cup of Christ. If he picks the right one, he receives immortality, the wrong one brings death. As the Nazis villain decays into a pile of dust, the ancient crusader left to guard the cup says very simply, “He chose poorly.”crusader

 

 

THREAT to AMERICA: Islamic State (ISIS) outside the Levant (al Sham)

Most counter-terrorism experts would agree that the threats or danger the nation faces when it stands against terrorism are to be expected and it is a calculated risk which is necessary to take. The risk is imposed by returning disenchanted citizens who favor jihad over the ballot box. It must be made clear that they are not welcome here and that Americans will do whatever it takes to meet the challenge.

9-11 Never Forget 9-11 Never Forget

The Ministry Minute: When there’s Only a Minute for Ministry

Ministry Minute
Ministry Minute

SEPTEMBER 10, 2014                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Dr. ROSS L. RIGGS

 

 

 

 

 

THREAT to AMERICA:

ISLAMIC STATE (IS – ISIS/ISIL)  OUTSIDE the LEVANT (al SHAM)

 

 

 

Arrow Diagram Threat to America
Arrow Diagram Threat to America

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Those who cannot remember…

It had been a lush grass field on the outskirts of Gdansk before the war and then it became nearly one square mile of human suffering, mud, blood and shoes.

George Santayana wrote a first volume titled Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason and in it he made a statement that has been quoted and misquoted (more the latter than the former) since he penned it around the turn of the 20th Century. Santayana was born in Spain during the American Civil War and lived in America through the ‘Great War’  and WWII and died while the Korean War was raging. It is a curiosity as to how he would have sided in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

In his book, on page 284 in fact, is the quote: “Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Perhaps it is appropriate that it is so often misquoted, since Santayana himself turned the phrase of Edmund Burke, a British philosopher who would have been about fifty years old at the time of the American Revolution. Burke was first to write: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” There is a slight turn of phrase, not remembering the past as compared to not knowing history. I don’t think the two are inter-changeable particularly in this instance. Not knowing seems to indicate and ignorance of or indifference toward history. Not remembering the past has different  variables such as physically being unable to recall or being negligent in initially retaining the information.

Memories can be fickle things; clear one moment and as a wisp of air, gone the next. We can come to a point where we are not sure if our memories are actual records of events as they were or as we think they might have been. They may even be simply as we were told they were so repeatedly. I prefer to know something rather than remember it. One is solid the other vapor. Often, as I have left places, particularly in the Balkans or Eastern Europe; I have prayed that God would not permit me to forget what I have seen. I took to writing a travel log of sorts for my Balkan memories. It helps me to know my history there.

My very first visit to a “Concentration Camp”, better understood as Death Camps, this one,  Stutthof, is in Gdańsk Poland and was run by Hitler’s SS (secret police) rather than like the prisoner of war camps run by the Luftwaffe (air force). Each was horrific in their own ways. This, the first camp built outside of Germany was near the town of Skopje where Hitler kept a residence in the early part of the war following the Blitzkrieg of Poland. It was first run by the local chief of police from 1937 to 39 when in September it was transformed to a deportation center and  a re-education camp by the SS. Eventually, Stutthof  had some of the most brutal female guards in Third Reich (perhaps world) history.

There is mostly pristine grass fields and woodlands there now, just a couple of buildings and a gate to let you know where you are. A small memorial stands solemnly to the victims of this Satan’s lair. I trust I will not forget the shoes of Skopje. Taken from prisoners after their death, they are all sizes; many of them are women’s and children’s shoes, even tiny pinkish slippers the size for a toddler. One building houses nothing but the largest pile of discarded shoes I ever expect to see. Other than a small area for visitors to stand, the pile of shoes fills the building. In the center of the long building, the pile of shoes stands as a silent memorial from the floor to the ceiling. Estimates of the number murdered there are around 100,000 but most historians believe that to be a low number because those sent during the  final solution for immediate execution were never registered. Two things stand out in my mind. The first the most horrific, I think, that a small factory near the camp made soap from human bodies. How can one human being do that to another? The other is this solitary hangman’s post. The center of the camp as it is today in the background, the image is stark against the quiet backdrop. But not so in the days of Stutthof. Graphic images from the days of its liberation in May 1945 should be viewed by those determined not to forget, but to know history so we do not repeat it. Hangman's noose Stutthof Nazi Death Camp Gdansk Poland

On the door frame of my home is a small olive wood box from Jerusalem with an inscription on the front depicting Romans 11. The passage describes new believers as grafted in to the tree that began as the Nation of Israel. Inside the small box is a scroll on which is the Shema passage that God instructed the Israelites to know and to pass down to the generations that followed them. They were to place them on their door posts and speak of them in their goings and comings, in their sitting down and rising up. Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength. I do not keep it there because of the commandment given to the Israelites in the days of Moses; I keep it there so I will not only remember, I will know. As I go out and as I come in, I am reminded again who is the reason for my hope.

We, as a people and particularly as Americans, need to know our history. We need to be reminded of why this country was founded and upon what and who it was founded. Do not ever say that what happened beginning in Gdańsk, Poland can never happen here. Remember, the first kommandant was the chief of police of the city whose full name was The Free City of GdańskI do not believe that on one day the chief of police just woke up and said, ‘today I will start imprisoning my friends and neighbors.’  Records indicate that, before the camp began in 1937, that since at least 1936 the SS had been secretly creating dossiers on the locals. They gathered information on political enemies of the government. We must also remember that Adolf Hitler was elected to office. 

Look past the hangman’s post and see the fresh grass growing green and new. It had been a lush grass field on the outskirts of Gdańsk before the war and then it became nearly one square mile of human suffering, mud, blood and shoes. Then, it became fresh, green and growing grass again. Gdańsk did not have to endure that interlude. Somewhere in the line of events, someone, some one, could have stood up and said No! Once it began, many tried to say, No, and they paid for it with their lives. But before that power was in place, somebody had the chance to say No! but they didn’t.

Sociologists and historians give us lots of reasons that Hitler was able to be elected and able to change his job title from Reich Chancellor of Germany  to Führer (father). We do know that a group of conservatives who understood the threats Hitler posed were loyal to President-for life Hindenburg. One, a vice-chancellor (Franz Von Papen) almost convinced Hindenburg to return the country to a constitutional monarchy. Hindenburg himself, dying at the age of 87 told Von Papen “…things are going badly, see what you can do.” Von Papen urged Hindenburg to put the declaration in his will that the country was to be returned to a constitutionally based monarchy. Rather than put it in his will, Hindenburg put the decree in a personal letter to Adolf Hitler. I wonder what Santayana thought.

I will leave you with this: first, there is hope… His Name is Jesus. Second, those who are unable to remember history must know history and be prepared to do whatever it takes to keep our society from repeating it.