Open doors and Pandora’s box

29 05 2008

If not by God, then by whose authority do we live by?

 

Not only our society but civilization is, and has always been, founded in the belief that a ‘higher authority’ exists. Either God Himself, and in his many forms, or in the guise of nature, or magic, or astrology. We’ve always depended on a moral authority ‘given’ to use in guiding our actions and interactions. This ‘higher authority’ grants to us a ‘moral authority’. It alone assigns morality, conscience, and also consequences.

 

If, as many now would have us believe, there existed no higher authority to guide our daily lives, what would we use as a benchmark between right and wrong? Could we even have such a benchmark? Majority rules? Might makes right? Accept that and you accept Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s China, Stalin’s Russia. Even Jim Jones’s Jonestown. Each thought that they were right in their beliefs. Their Rule. Majority ruled. Might, made right.

 

The world depends on an orderly, if not somewhat chaotic, dependency upon its own inhabitants. We humans don’t always appreciate, nor understand, the mystery that is our existence. We know that killing is wrong, yet death is necessary. The lion must eat. And to eat it must kill. Its justification comes in nature. So then, without moral authority, how can we say the rightness or wrongness in killing. All things will die. That for sure is one thing in nature that’s pretty much a given. It’s this moral authority that guides us, teaches us, if you will, the right and wrong of things.

 

Mankind has throughout the years had a changing perspective of morality that has always given in to conscience. We ‘conclude’ the rightness and wrongness of this by letting our morality decide issues, and our conscience guide our morality. But man, not being a perfect creature, has often seen fit to allow a certain amount of imperfection within the community of man. To an extent we live and let live, but only to an extent. It’s that matter of conscience and morals that has determined just how much “imperfection” we allow.

 

Our conscience is guided mostly by the strength of our belief in the higher moral authority. The less we believe in this higher authority and the consequences that go with it the less we are guided by our conscience. And the less we are guided by conscience the less moral we are. The less moral we are the more capable of justifying an action. Any action. Without this inward direction, outward actions become more selfish. We’ve slowly become centered on self, and not the right or wrong of an act. It’s easy to justify criminal behavior to ones self if there is no consequence other than “gett’n caught” and the legal aspects thereof. Self gratification becomes a priority. Catch me if you can, the “what’s in it for me” attitude that is slowly pervading society today. It creeps into our religious beliefs as well.

 

While abortion has been an ongoing issue of debate, the issue before us at present is homosexuality and the desired “right” to marry amongst a sex. Throughout our history homosexuality has been considered an abnormal and anti-moral behavior. Only in the last few years (and I’m talking about just a very very few years) have we found people accepting homosexuality as a normal behavior. And still today it’s far from universally accepted. The big debate today isn’t homosexuality itself , but whether or not the cohabitation of two of the same sex should be, not only legalized and codified, but  legitimized and moralized. To accept it as ’normal’ and right. The courts in California have now said that it should be. They have opened the door. How wide? Maybe too wide.

 

We’ve now moved from allowing a personal choice for living a lifestyle that many still feel, at the least abnormal, and codifed it as a legally established principal or right. 

When we begin to ‘normalize’, or legitimize what has been throughout history abnormal, and to many ‘immoral’, behaviors, where will the stopping point be. It’s no longer a private matter, but a public one. No longer a personal ‘choice’, but now a institution with legal ramifications beyond just an issue concerning consenting adults. If we cast aside our moral authority and cower down to an issue, what path are we choosing for ourselves and country?

 

Say we accept homosexual marriage as okay. We do so by accepting that feelings of right and wrong have no bearing on the matter. People can make a very strong argument on that behalf. That, if two consenting adults choose to live thus, then who are we to say no? By what right do we say no? And, if we don’t affirm moral authority over such matters do we abdicate the authority over other moral issues that confront us? Certainly the world changes, and along with it attitudes. But…, if it is perfectly fine for two males, or two females, to legally marry then why not three? Why shouldn’t a man be allowed more than one wife? A woman more than one husband? How do we criminalize prostitution? Two consenting adults is it not? The only real stake that the state would or should have in the matter would be whether or not taxes where collected. For what ‘moral authority’ would there be to say otherwise. And by whose authority would age matter? I mean, who says? After all, rights right and wrongs wrong, right? So, by what authority could you even assign adulthood? Maturity isn’t really age defined so much as a state of mind, isn’t it? And if it’s okay with all the concerned parties, who are we to make that choice for someone else? And what’s the value of our personal feelings in regards to our actions? The personal justification of “it’s okay if I say its okay?” The “I got away with it,” justification? The “no sweat off my back,” justification? We ARE talking about consenting people after all. But what would consent really have to do with it anyway? Wouldn’t might make right? Without moral guidance, what would be wrong with subjecting the weak to the will of the strong? Wouldn’t ‘right’ be whatever the strongest said ‘right’ was? Wouldn’t ‘wrong’ be whatever the ‘majority’ willed it to be? After all, what would be the consequences be? History does repeat itself however, and mankind has been down this road before…several times…never with a pleasant outcome…

 

In the 1930’s Hitler became Germanys ‘higher authority’. One of Hitler’s first acts was to attempt to rid the country of the ‘inferior’ human being. In that case it was the mentally ill. There must have still been some dying hint of morality there because he tried to cover it up. But soon the notion of ‘inferior’ became the non-Germanic person. First the Gypsy, then the Jew, the Negro, the Pole… Inferior came to mean that if you weren’t valuable to the German state you were disposable. Germany put itself over Humanity. It took hold of the notion that they were the mighty and “pure” race. They even disguised their lack of real morality within their religion. Might became right. They let evil pervade the notion of what’s right and wrong, and those that still had morals and values “allowed” it to happen. They stood by and did nothing. By not questioning the moral authority and conscience of the people as a whole, it was they that allowed the evil to exist. The good and moral people of Germany allowed the atrocities to happen. And not only Germans, but ‘moral’ people around the world turned a blind eye to what was happening. After all, it wasn’t really affecting ‘them’ was it. That’s Germany, and what happens there is only their concern, right? Certainly it was out and out evil that carried out the atrocities, but it was those that knew that what was happening was wrong, and did nothing, that are truly guilty. Evil will do what evil is allowed to do. It is only by our moral authority and conscience that evil is held in check. If we turn away from what we know to be right, and not at least lift a voice in opposition to that which our conscience tells us is wrong, we step away from that ‘higher authority’ that guides us. We find ourselves further removed from our morals and beliefs.

 

I believe in God. I believe that there is but one true God. I believe that He may be the same God that others believe in, and they may choose to worship Him in another way, or call Him by another name, but He is God. And in the beginning of mankind God allowed the choice of worshiping Him or one’s ‘self’ . He gave us conscience. Even though he knew God, man chose himself and turned away from God. But, even as man turned away from God, conscience remained. God remained near to man, and man near to God, but separated just the same. He gives us His authority through this conscience. But as we turn more and more toward ‘self’ we move further and further from God, our conscience and our morality fades. The more we interject ‘self’ into religion and push aside our objections to those things that we know to be wrong, the weaker our religion becomes. And the weaker our religious foundations and beliefs, this ‘moral authority’ that we have, the more vulnerable to evil and the immoralities of man we become. If we know God, yet turn to man and accept those things of man and not of God, will God continue to know us? How will we justify to God turning a blind eye to that which He teaches us is wrong? By not questioning this concept that morality doesn’t matter, and whatever happens is okay as long as it doesn’t ‘harm’ or do damage, we lose any justification of right and wrong. And when you lose justification of right and wrong, who decides what IS harm? What IS damage? Who are we putting in charge of our own lives? Do we stand still and allow that which we know to be wrong be proclaimed as right? Are we willing to abdicate a ‘moral authority’ over ourselves? Will our ‘higher authority’ just be whoever wields the most power? Will life become just survival of the fittest? Will might, truly become right? Will we still have a conscience to guide us?

 

I fight a battle each and every day between my ‘will’ and my conscience. I am nowhere near a perfect human and both God and the Devil constantly remind me of that fact. But, even though I’m not always successful and I do sin, I try to let my conscience guide me. It’s this conscience that lets me know when I’ve failed in the test between right and wrong. And it’s the pathway to where I want to go. Let your conscience be your guide. And follow the path which it leads.

 

 -Al





May 26, 2008…

26 05 2008

     “From faraway lands, they were returned to cemeteries like this one where broken hearts received their broken bodies. They found peace beneath the white headstones in the land they fought to defend. It is a solemn reminder of the cost of freedom that the number of headstones in a place such as this grows with every new Memorial Day.”

     “I am humbled by those who have made the ultimate sacrifice that allow a free civilization to endure and flourish. It only remains for us, the heirs of their legacy, to have the courage and the character to follow their lead and to preserve America as the greatest nation on Earth and the last, best hope for mankind.”

                                                         -George W. Bush, Arlington Cemetery, May 26, 2008

No one has paid the price required of Freedom and Liberty more than those we honor today. The heroism and sacrifice by them, put forth in the name of those they did not even know, can only be measured, however, when weighed against what we are willing to pay for that freedom and liberty today.

We should remember that we didn’t start this endeavor alone. As those that long ago sought this liberty decided that it was something worth paying the ultimate sacrifice to bring their fellow citizens, they also received the help of others. Likeminded in the knowledge that man yearns to be free, they took up arms in our behalf. They too, where willing to pay that price to endow this great nation with a legacy of freedom which has paid dividends in perhaps some of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind.

We should also note that, even today, others join in alongside us in insuring that legacy, and bringing the gift of liberty to others in far away lands. Our Armed Forces also have in their very ranks foreigners that have come here to taste the sweetness of what freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness really means. We honor the multitude of those individuals with the gift of citizenship to this great country. A citizenship that is often overlooked, or even criticized by those that hold by birthright such a gift in there own hands.

The overwhelming majority of our soldiers that we honor today gave that ultimate sacrifice on foreign shores. They fought to liberate others, knowing well the meaning of what it was they were doing. They also understood that freedom here must often be paid for there. For the threat of tyranny and oppression in far away lands also affects us here. We may be isolated by great oceans, but no man is an island.  There are great acreages of land on distant shores covered by symbols that mark the graves of our great brothers and sisters and sons and daughters that offered themselves up in the name of human sacrifice so others may still taste the sweetness of a freedom and liberty too often taken for granted. Still today our freedom is being challenged, fought, and died for in far away lands.

Also we should remember, that as we see those around us who have come here from far away homes, those that we often feel don’t belong here, that they only come because of something that they often can’t have back home. Something that most each and every one of our forefathers came here for, also. Something worth dieing for. Freedom. Liberty. And the Pursuit of Happiness.

-Al





Sorry ‘bout that…

25 05 2008

Well, I need to apologize. To those that have been faithfully checking my blog for new stuff only to find nothing, I’m sorry. It’s not that I haven’t been trying…

 

Sometimes stuff happens. That may not be strong enough to describe my last few weeks, but it sorta fits. My computer quit. Like a dummy I got a used laptop which when I connected to the internet it decided to download all the porn in the universe (only a slight exaggeration). Like a dummy I spent a lot of money cleaning and sweeping and washing and trying several different programs before finally having success. I should have dumped the hard drive a installed a new one in the first place. It would have been cheaper. Work has been holy heck the last few weeks, plus I do some ’other’ work on the side from my regular job and it seems to snowball all of a sudden (a good thing). Then I have been traveling a bit. Not much, but enough…

 

Like I said, I’ve been trying. I’ve started three different articles, but only succeeded in finishing one. The other two, well, things changed. One I will get back to, revamp, and finish. The other seems to have swung the way I was complaining it wasn’t going. Fooled me!  On that subject, let me say it was about the children of the religious group out in Texas that the state had removed. I was making the point about how it seemed to be a “rush to judgment” and without merit. One persons movement is another’s “cult”.

 

Of course we need to protect innocent children from harm, but at the same time we should remember the ‘Golden Rule’. But I’ve dealt with enough people that want to lump ALL denominations, or even all religions, together as a “Cult”. And if it can happen to them, it can happen to you or me. I was pleasantly surprised that the courts used some common sense and good judgment in finding that the state was overly hasty in taking those kids from their homes and parents.

 

The other subject I am writing about I’ll hold a bit close to my vest for now and see how it plays out. And, let me say with the recent ruling on gay marriage in California you can be looking for something on THAT shortly.

 

Read on, There’s a brand new one following this…

 

-Al





What are we?

25 05 2008

Cynical… Is that the word I’m looking for? Do we not really care anymore? Or is it that perhaps we don’t, or just flat out won’t, pay attention to the issues and facts of the goings on around us? Maybe all those problems with our educational system that they’ve been talking about the last so many years have finally caught up with us as a country, and, Heaven forbid, we’ve just gotten too stupid to know any better.

 

Barack Obama attracts HUGE followings wherever he goes. Large cheering crowds form. Change! They all cry for change. Obama promises change. What change they don’t know and don’t care. Just change. He’s different, so the promise of something different hits home with his candidacy. Different = Change. Obama = Different = Change. Hillary would be change… but with her it’s kind of ‘been there done that’ and that’s not really change as far as those with no other reasoning go…

 

Let’s stop for a moment and step back in time a few years (but not too many, I don’t want to confuse with too many facts). Let’s go back to say, a time when there was something called “The Contract With America”. Wayyyyy back then (just a few short years ago) everyone was pretty much fed up with big government and everything that entailed. We all felt like Washington had a mind of it’s own and wasn’t listening to “the people”. It was we who had put those Senators and Congressmen in power, but they weren’t paying attention to what we the people were saying we wanted our government to do for us. Big Government was more or less telling US what it wanted US to do. A group of conservative minded people came together and went about the task of finding out just exactly what it was that the people of these here United States wanted and expected out its government and its leadership, and then put in place a package and a plan to take back the government and give it back to the people to whom it rightfully belonged. All those things that Americans said that they wanted were put forth in a promise and a plan, and many an election was won on the promise of fulfilling those things that the American people had said they wanted and expected from their government. It was called “The Contract With America”.  It, too,  promised change.

 

But, it didn’t take long for those already in power (with sooo much to lose) to start with the whispers and the scare tactics. “It will hurt the poor…”, they said. “Education will suffer…”, “programs will have to be cut!”, “It’s a bad deal!!” The elderly!!! What about the elderly!!!!”

 

Pretty soon they (the Opposition [read that as liberals]) came out with the catch phrase – “The Contract ON America.”…, And once again they were able to convince the public that Washington knew best and back we went to the same old same old. Big Government and Big Programs and legislation that burdens Joe average. Right back to government doing what government wanted and the voice of the people just a lonesome cry in the wind. It didn’t matter that that ‘contract ON America’ was what the people had said it wanted, it was what government SAID the people wanted that mattered in the end. Just as quick as that the people forgot what all the fuss was about and went right back to the status quo. As a country we have a very limited short term memory.

 

In September of 2001 our nation was attacked by extremist that want to bring about a fundamental change, not just here in America, but though out the world. Oh sure, we were up in arms about it then, but again our memory is short. Once again they (the Opposition [read that as liberals]) came out with reasons for us not to be. Now now, it’s not that they didn’t believe that the attack on us was bad, or that we didn’t need to respond or anything like that. After all, they do have a love for this country that has provided them so much. But there was this little question of power. They couldn’t very well let the sitting administration (Bush and the Republicans [read that as conservatives]) run the show; and after all, Bush seemed to be doing a superb job of rousing the American spirit and response. Bush’s popularity was so high, and with an election coming, it looked like it might well be years before a democrat could have half a chance of getting back into the White House. Nope, they’d have none of that. In politics there are winners and losers and they couldn’t bare the thought of being on the short end again. And what’s that old saying? If you can’t blind them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshi…

 

Again came the whispers and scare tactics- “It took Bush like NINE WHOLE MINUTES  to leave that classroom of kids where he first heard of the attacks! That MUST show he was indecisive!” they said. “Bush ignored  all the warnings that the attack was coming”, “We warned him…”, “Say, he’s using the War on Terror as a pretext to violate our Civil Rights!”, “Bush is just a WARMONGER, he was probably planning 9-11 all along.” “Bush just wanted to attack Iraq because of his father…” “It’s really all just about Oil…”, “they know where Osama is…” “Bush wants to undermine the Constitution!”, “He dumb!”, ”He’s Evil”, “A Religious fanatic!”,  “He only joined the National Guard to get out of going to Vietnam!”, “alcoholic…”, “Darth Cheney”, “Torture…illegal prisons…Abu Ghraib…” –most all of that hogwash and bullsh*t. But everybody seems to have bought it. We’ll buy anything bad about anybody after all. That’s why the National Enquirer does so well; we love to believe the worst about people. Some even want you to believe Bush caused Katrina and blew up the levees in New Orleans. Seriously, they do.

 

Never mind that those nine whole minute where used by those around him to garner information and decide if and where to move him to. Never mind those “Civil Rights” issues were about insuring the safety of the American public from those that wished them harm. Never mind that Bush would have to be far more than genius to pull off planning and caring out the 9-11 attack under the watch of literally thousands of civilian government employees (especially as it was conceived and planned under Clintons watch). Never mind Hussein’s history of using WMD’s and the thousands of his own people he killed. Never mind we could have had their Oil with just the removing of a sanction. Never mind he has a Masters Degree from Harvard and the thousands of National Guardsmen that were sent to Vietnam and so on and so on…

 

Now we clamor for change. But what change? Are we sure we want change? After all, we’ve seen some fairly recent change, and it hasn’t been all that good. After six years of a soaring economy we’ve seen it start down after a change in the minimum wage. We should have expected that, after all, it’s happened each and every time we’ve done so. Since the last election, when the democrats took control over congress, we’ve seen some pretty radical changes with other aspects of our daily lives. Employment had been at its highest level perhaps ever, but that’s started south now. Interest rates had been low low low, but now we face a credit crunch. The stock market had soared to record heights, but there is a good bit of uncertainty in the market now with volatile movements with each piece of bad news. Lowered taxes had put money back in our pockets, but now the democrats say right up front that they will take more of our hard earned money from us.  Everybody says we need more oil, but the democrats just voted not to seek it here at home. We’re finally seeing the light at the end of the Iraqi tunnel, but Barack wants to cave that back in on everybody and pull out our troops (the only sure protection for a new hard won democracy that is so badly needed in that part of the world), and thereby assuring what would certainly be viewed by the world as an American defeat. Well, that would be change. Indeed it would.

 

What else has Mr. Obama told us he wanted to do? For one he says he plans to stop development of new weapons systems, at a time when several not so friendly countries are speedily developing their own. That sounds like a bright idea! Their threat becomes closer and closer to reality, so let’s make ourselves more and more vulnerable. That’s change. He says that it’s time we started talking to rogue regimes and terrorist organizations. That would be change. Not that we haven’t ever talked to those people, we have. It’s the context of those talks that is different under his plan. Some people don’t understand that difference. There is a big difference between negotiation and communication. Talk softly and carry a big stick we were always told. Obama says that we’d do better with them if we had no stick at all.

 

What other changes has he in store for us? Who knows… he’s kind’ a tight lipped about it. He’s a mighty good talker. Catchy phrases and all that. But how much reality is there in what he says? He has the most liberal record in the Senate, but he talks as if he’s more conservative than Hillary Clinton. He can tell you absolutely nothing in a speech and make you feel really good about what you heard. And for some reason his ability to articulate nothing but feel good niceties’ seems to have won him favor with those that put a lot of blind faith into popular  ideology and a sort of new age intellectual, almost hypnotizing, mind massage. He’s “one of them”, they think. Actually, he nothing like ‘one of them’, but they really don’t care, because it’s the perception that counts. He’s no Kennedy. Not even close. But they christened him as such. The adopted son.  An outsider by his own accord that now finds himself at the very center of the inside. He’s new. And like jeans and shoes, new is better. At least to that crowd.  Different, new, maybe even a bit… unique. Maybe.

 

He did write a book. In his own book we get a bit of a look into his mindset. A lot of what he wrote may come back to haunt him… That is if anyone cares.

 

-Al





Change? What change?

11 05 2008

 

     At the beginning of the last century, America began to take its place as the leader of the free world. Our entry into WW1 and the help we gave our European allies at that time established us as not only as dependable but a powerful force in the world politic. Even though we had reverted to an isolationist position our being drawn into WW2 firmly established the United States as the premiere and dominate nation in the free world. Korea pretty much established us as the worlds ‘policeman’. And even though we suffered setbacks with Vietnam, the Middle East and in parts of South America, WE eventually defeated communism in all but a very few places throughout the world. It was America and its leadership and power that caused the fall of the ‘evil empire’ and our support and call that brought down a wall that divided a people and nation.

     As a military power we have little if any opposition. While evil remains throughout the world, as it probably always will, America has taken the lead in the fight against it. And while other countries tend to roll over and make concessions to evil, in an effort to appease and coexist in comfort (an impossibility), America takes the heat and stands firm. The only position a true leader could take against the forces that seek to dominate the world is to be proactive and stand firm. And, though America isn’t a perfect country, we do strive to achieve that perfection, even as others concede to their own imperfections.

     But we have leaders right here in America that want us to back away from our position as a world leader. Wanting us to retreat back into an isolationist position such as we took prior to the last world war. Some of our current crop of politicians even fight as to show which one of them is more inclined than the other to not support our current fight to establish a peaceful democracy in the heart of a region of the world that badly needs that example. Some going so far as to promise a quick departure from the protection of that young democratic government we’ve spent precious American lives and treasure to establish, virtually guaranteeing its failure, and loss of our position as a keeper of our word on the world stage. They bicker over the degree of their past support, even when the danger seemed clear. Even in light of the fact that that danger, we now know, was real. Where will that degree of support be when more realize just how real that danger was? Will that “I told you so!” become a “I knew it all along!” then? It seems that leadership to them means to be able to quickly judge which way the political wind seems to blow.

     America remains the leader of the world. In its economy, its humanities, its charity, and in its morality. Whenever strife or disaster arises somewhere in the world, it’s America that the world looks to for help. Whether it be famine, natural disaster, or acts of terror,  it’s America to which the world turns. We give more in aid then most of the rest of the nations of the world combined. While Europe tries to expand it influence, with it’s ‘European Union’ and its past and current criticisms of our actions, it still fails to offer any alternative to our worldwide leadership. It fails to step up to the plate, if you will. Leaders there loved to complain about our actions, but offered only inaction in return. The United Nations still fails to be able to establish itself as a stable and respectable world leadership body, often trying to be an appeaser and not a peacemaker. Africa looks to us for help with its AIDS epidemic (the Bush administration increased AIDS funds by BILLIONS of dollars) and also help with its economy. Even with Hugo Chaves’ rabblerousing and hate speak from Venezuela, South America still looks north to America to help stabilize their economies and help with both the military and political fight against the drug scourge. To Asia we offer economic leadership and are helping establish it as an important world market, not only as a consumer, but as a producer. In many other parts of the world we are a vital protector. Our neighbors literally swarm across our borders. America, land of the free. The shining example of democracy. No doubt others are jealous of our country and its peoples! Most of the world focus is upon us. WE are imitated by almost the entire world.

     We now find that a lot of those foreign leaders only opposed our invasion of Iraq because they feared the exposure of various dealings that they had going under the table with Saddam Hussein. Some of them circumventing the U.N. Sanctions that sought to force Saddam’s hand. Some of them dealings in a corrupt “Food for Oil” program that was supposed to be for humanitarian purposes, but served only to line their pockets, and give Saddam money to build his palaces and grow his military power. After all, it was their very own intelligence services that supplied much of the information we had about Iraq, and who called the loudest for us to invade. Bill Clinton’s gutting of our own intelligence service put us in the position of having to depend on those foreign services to learn much of what we thought we knew.

     Funny thing politics. Germany, France, now Italy, all have voted those anti – American, anti – Bush, leaders out of office. Some of the new leaders elected there openly supported our invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein.  But here in America we now turn away from them. Some people want us to think that America’s position in the world stage has been hurt by Bush, but in actuality the opposite seems to have been the case.

     Politicians call for change here in America. They won’t say what that change might be, but they clamor for it. Was it that we haven’t been attacked here in America since 9-11 (even thought there have been numerous plots to do so)? Was it that we removed a tyrant in murderous dictator, and established a couple of democracies in a couple of places that badly need them? Maybe it’s the fight against terror in general that is the problem. Or is it that our stock market soared to record heights? That Bush had perhaps the best economy going, and employment was at record levels with number almost a full point over what is considered full employment, that needed changing? Was it that our country experienced record growth in GNP that they say was what it is that must be changed? Or is it those tax cuts that put money back into the pocket of the American people that they see as the problem? What is this ‘change’ that they want? Since the last election we’ve seen some of the changes that the democrats have brought us since taking charge of congress. Some mighty big change, …is that what they are talking about?

     With this upcoming election we need to be really careful, or we might just get what we ask for…, and change isn’t always for the best. 

 

 

 

 

-Al