Last Night, A Dream: About The Handmaid’s Tale? The Supreme Court? Or Depths I haven’t Yet Realized?

I woke up from one dream and found myself in another. The first dream, which I barely remember, returned me to when I was a teacher. A school trip I was helping lead had gone bad. In the dream, a young man I don’t remember ever knowing was caught trying to steal from our group. I was holding him by the upper arm⎼ and then I was catapulted into a totally new scene.

 

I was in a city, like Manhattan, still holding the upper arm of the young man from the previous dream. We looked around us at a world gone crazy and which neither of us knew. It had all the energy of a war movie. Many people were running, rushing fast through the streets. There was a group of 5 or so white men, dressed in dark, maybe black clothes, walking deliberately, and carrying signs. “Join the chorus.” “Become a chorister.”

 

The apparent leader of the men with signs approached me and said, “You look like you could do it. Join us. We need you.” I didn’t respond and the group moved on.

 

We turned a corner of the street. I let go of the arm of the teenager and we talked about what we were seeing, and what we should do. “What do you think is going on?” I asked him. We were now allies, refugees together. I thought to myself maybe I should find the man with the sign and ask him what was going on. What is the chorus, besides people singing together? The horror of the novel, The Handmaid’s Tale  came to mind. Would it be better for me to be a chorister or leader than a foot soldier? Or maybe not? Could I be a leader? And of what?

 

I imagined myself reading books of fighting strategy. And then I woke up to daylight, morning. In my bed.

 

Is this related to the white men (and one woman) in dark robes now trying to turn our society into a Gilead, a patriarchal, white supremacist, totalitarian Christian state that treats women as property? The dream came to me a few days before news reports revealed a draft of a decision by 5 Conservative Supreme Court Justices to overturn Roe vs Wade.

 

Was my subconscious giving me a warning? Or trying to wake me from a sleep of inaction? Was the dark robed man in the dream trying to get me to join other white men as oppressors? Or to fight them?

 

Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, said the story just exposes trends that she saw happening back in the 1980’s in the US. Her work was a response to people saying such events could happen in other nations, but never here. But here we are. We have 5 Supreme Court Justices taking away rights and health care from one half of all of us.

 

And how do they justify this? They say they are saving the lives of unborn children. They don’t seem to care about the lives of children once they are born, since many support executing people, including women who have had abortions. Many in the supposed “pro-life” movement supported cuts in programs to feed hungry children and deny affordable healthcare coverage to those with “pre-existing conditions.”

 

In the leaked draft opinion on the issue, Justice Samuel Alito relied heavily on 17th century English judge Matthew Hale. As Deanna Pan writes in an article for the Boston Globe, Alito argued that prohibiting abortion should be upheld because it has an “unbroken tradition” in the law. But slavery, in the 17th Century, had an unbroken tradition as did denying women the right to own property. So did, according to Hale, sentencing women to death for witchcraft and allowing husbands to escape criminal liability for raping their wives.

 

Human rights, democratically elected governments, also television, computers, baseball goes against what was established tradition in the 17th century.

 

Alito ignores the fact that Roe has been accepted legal precedent since 1973, almost 50 years. It was upheld in three previous cases, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Whole Women’s Health v. Herllerstedt, and in 2020, June Medical Services v. Gee. Alito’s arguments come from a time when only a few white men had any political power.

 

Or maybe the dream had nothing to do specifically with denying women the right to control their own body. There have been so many reasons we have protested lately, including Black Lives Matter, ending gun violence, and calling for DJT to be held accountable for treasonous acts. But there also are people forced to run through the streets due to the horror of Putin’s war against Ukraine.

 

Maybe the dream was about the need for action by anyone who thinks the whole drift toward Gilead is not only wrong but threatens the very future of democracy. And because many of those who push an anti-women agenda that criminalizes abortion also deny human-caused climate change, they threaten the ability of our planet to support the life not only of human children but of all living beings.

 

So, we must all ask ourselves: if we think this attack on women is wrong, what are we ready to do? How can we speak out? What creativity or specific skills do we have to make our speech heard and honored? What tactics have we read about in the past that have led to successful political actions or in evoking the attention and compassion of the nation?

 

Brian Resnick wrote an article for VOX outlining 4 Rules for Making A Protest Work, like keeping the protest nonviolent and more proactive (preventing an action) than reactive, making the message very clear and salient, joining different groups or issues under one banner, and aiming for specific actions or legislation.

 

We might think of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. We might think Lacie Wooten-Holway, a mom and neighbor of Justice Kavanaugh, standing outside his home holding a candle of protest. We might think about the protests against the GOP Graham-Cassidy Health Denial Bill in 2017; the women’s wall in India in 2019, or the wall of Moms in Portland in 2020. Or the first Earth Day events in 1970 or maybe placing flowers in gun barrels and levitating the Pentagon during the anti-war movement in the sixties.

 

And especially joining the upcoming Women’s March on May 14 and working to protect and get out the vote this November.

 

The fight here is first for a woman’s right to abortion. But it is equally for equal justice for all before the law, voting rights and protections, environmental justice and protections, healthcare for all, and the advancement of public education.

 

**This article was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

Collective Trauma Will Only Be Solved by a New Dawn of Compassionate Action

 

President Biden is sometimes criticized for not helping Ukraine get fighter jets from Poland, or for not pushing NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the country so Russian jets can’t bomb and strafe the Ukrainian people. Biden says he can’t risk escalating the conflict and starting a World War, but critics maintain we’re already at war and so should go further in supporting Ukraine.

 

But the strategies endorsed by some critics would mean NATO pilots either flying jets to Ukraine or flying over the country and could result in NATO, including Americans, shooting it out with Russians. Maybe, they think, we should just bomb Russian troop convoys and artillery.

 

Where is the line between helping an invaded nation and going to war alongside it? Or where should it be? What constitutes enough of a motivation to risk World War? To risk nuclear war? Does anything warrant that risk? Talk about an environmental crisis.

 

The President is expertly weaving a very fine line here. He has moved that line as he has led NATO to come together like it hasn’t before.

 

The World is not at war. Ukraine is at war with Russia, or with Putin. Ukraine is being attacked. The Ukrainians are dying. The Russians are losing not only in world opinion but often in the ground war and so are purposely targeting the civilian population. Ukraine’s cities are being destroyed. Their democracy as well as their homes, bombed. The rest of Europe, the U. S., most of the world is not.

 

Yes, Russia, especially, has facilitated cyber-attacks against us, against our elections and businesses. But so has China, North Korea, other autocrats. Yes, our sense of humanity is at war and our nation is divided against itself. Yet, we are, or most of us are, relatively safe.

 

Yes, we are paying higher gas prices. We face shortages. We face rising anxiety and fear. We face a constant news assault on our sense of shared humanity. On our future. But we are not facing bombs. Disinformation bombs. Yes. New strains of COVID. Yes. Organized hate and 5 years of assaults on our rights. Yes. On our education systems. We are facing a climate emergency. And now, this war against a people, a nation, against democracy.

 

That is where we need to put our effort. Into strengthening our humanitarian work, into helping Ukraine defend itself and into stopping autocracy here as well as Ukraine.

 

If we think we are at war, now, in most of Europe and the US, as many say we are; if we stop maintaining a conceptual as well as physical line between supporting the Ukrainian war effort and refugees and actively, militarily fighting Putin, then we are lost. We must find other ways to oppose autocracy and stop the killing.

 

Putin’s War can show us what we might face if we don’t do whatever we need to do, not only to stop Putin, but stop autocrats in this country, too. If we say we are militarily at war with Russia now we might create the false impression that we can go on with a relatively normal life while autocrats are attacking us⎼ or if Putin and those who support him, like DJT and other GOP, continue their attacks. That is a dangerous idea.

 

Every time we see it in the news, we might imagine ourselves being bombed. And this empathy might actually help us take appropriate action⎼ as long as we can also let it go. We also need to be able to find moments of peace in ourselves. When we respond to a crisis with inertia, we seed anxiety. When we respond with compassion and action, we seed a sense of agency. Strength. We respond more fully, think more clearly, and feel more alive. Feel more powerful.

 

We need a new dawn of caring. Of compassionate leaders. Of listening and collective action. This is what will, hopefully, save us all. We can diminish the collective trauma here by using mindfulness and studying ourselves, psychology, philosophy, history to uncover and dissolve the hidden pain, hooks, biases, and expectations that autocrats use to seize our attention, manipulate, and hurt us even more. We can send resources to Ukraine and help get out the vote here. And we can find our own ways to care for our families and neighbors, be creative, join hands with others, and stand up together to end this war.

 

 

*This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

Giving Thanks Has Special Meaning Today; Celebrating Safely

I almost can’t believe it. Almost. I am going to visit friends, share a Thanksgiving, not virtually, not remote, but in person. Face to face. Maskless. We will be able to see each other’s lips move. We might even hug, not elbow bump. Might. Don’t know yet.

 

We are all boostered. All of us will do a home COVID test beforehand. New hoops to jump through to enable the celebration of a holiday, the first such celebration for us in almost two years.

 

And there is so much to be thankful for. We are alive despite the pandemic.

 

We are relatively sane now one year after suffering four years of a malignant, wanna-be dictator. A man who did his best to shock us into letting him destroy democracy right before our eyes. Who tried to destroy the rule of law as well as truth so we wouldn’t believe the obvious and the factual. Not only about what he was doing to our right to vote but the fact of the earth itself suffering and maybe dying.

 

I am so thankful that President Biden is in the White House, and not the white supremacists, who still disturb the halls of Congress and plot the overthrow of decency and democracy. But, at least for the moment, they don’t totally control things.

 

The tension in the nation has certainly lessened compared to two years ago but is still too high. President Biden has not been perfect by any measure, but he has pushed for more legislation to significantly help the mass of people in this country than I thought he would. He has restored relative rationality to international relations, to facing the climate crisis, as well as ending the pandemic.

 

I anticipated that it would be difficult to get anything done in Congress, due to the GOP’s new identity as the Destroy Democracy Party, and the Party of No, where almost every Republican tries to destroy almost anything Democrats try to pass, especially what would be most helpful to us the people. So I will be even more thankful when Biden and the Democrats end the filibuster, so voting rights legislation passes, along with legislation to promote better childcare, extend the Child Tax Credit, develop clean energy and other environmental legislation.

 

Considering the death threats and incitements to violence coming against him and several other Democrats even from GOP members of Congress, I am so thankful for those who agree to serve democracy.

 

I give thanks to the fact that I still have a voice. The smaller voice of my body and the bigger voice I try to join with, of all those who remember what compassion feels like.

 

And I want to give thanks that I have family and friends, wonderful people, who I’ve known for forty or even fifty plus years. Who care for me and yet aren’t afraid to speak their own truths. Who I can just relax with, be “myself.” Create a holiday with. A celebration.

 

That we also remember, on the fourth Thursday in November, the National Day of Mourning, or Native American Heritage Day. This day reminds us that the story that used to be told of the Thanksgiving holiday is a myth hurtful to Native American people ⎼ and to us if we celebrate and ignore such a painful lie.

 

I wish for all of us a wonderful day of thanksgiving. To remind ourselves of whatever we can be thankful for, to remember those we’ve lost, and what we could’ve lost during the regime of DJT. And of what needs to be done now so we can be safe and celebrate other holidays in the future.

 

*This blog was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

A July 4th Question: How Do We Feed and Care for Democracy, So It Feeds and Cares for Us?

It is July 4th and I have these questions for myself: how courageous am I? What must I do, what must we do, to make this democracy work?

 

We celebrate today our independence from monarchy and autocracy. We say we celebrate the birth of democracy, or at least the quest for democracy in this place, in this time; a quest for a home where we might have, as the founders later described it in the Declaration of Independence, the right for all to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Or in the pledge, we say “with liberty and justice for all.” In 1776, these grand statements were not even close to reality. Only white, male landowners could vote. But how courageous would I be in advancing that reality, that quest for democracy for all?

 

Yesterday, I was listening to an NPR podcast, This American Life, about the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The movement was being torn down, suppressed, demonstrators jailed, or worse. But they went ahead anyway. The quest is worldwide and ongoing.

 

In the US in 2020, following the murder by police of George Floyd, in Minneapolis where he was killed, in Louisville, St. Louis, Austin, Seattle, Portland, New York, Washington, D. C.⎼ all through the U. S. and the world, protests were held. The protests I attended were peaceful.

 

2020 was a year when the federal government itself had become the greatest threat to democracy itself, and we had the most protests in our history. Black Lives Matter became the biggest protest movement in our history, mostly peaceful protests, calling for justice for George Floyd and other black people. There were also demonstrations calling for equity in education, for protecting the environment, protecting school children from guns or immigrant children from being separated from their parents, for protecting our humanity, voting rights, civil rights, the rule of law, etc. This is one way to care for democracy.

 

Peaceful protests were met by a President who fueled the flames, sent in armed forces and created even more chaos. DT tried to blame much of the violence we saw in 2020, and the beginning of 2021, on BLM, or on non-existent “anti-Fascist” groups, while he was the person most fueling violence. Yet, the BLM protests went on despite threats against them.

 

This morning, I was reading the summer issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Guide. There was an article by Kaira Jewel Lingo titled “How Equanimity Powers Love.” She quoted a poem by Vietnamese Buddhist teacher and activist Thich Nhat Hanh. During the war in Vietnam, Thich was seen as a traitor by both the North and South Vietnamese armies. Yet, he demonstrated, spoke out anyway against the killing and destruction.

 

He wrote a poem, “Recommendation”⎼

 

“Promise me… Even as they strike you down

With a mountain of hatred and violence…

Remember…

The only thing worthy of you is compassion…”

 

The article also quotes Martin Luther King, Jr’s essay “Loving Your Enemies” ⎼ “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering.”

 

And then there were the wars fought, the Civil War, World War I and II.

 

I don’t know if I have the strength for such courage, equanimity, or love. I know I will resist the start of a war. And I know I lack the capacity to ignore what the followers of DT, the GOP, are doing now to deny us voting rights, to deny our humanity, deny the science of global warming as they did COVID-19. To lie about their coup attempt on Jan. 6, or their drive to turn the many colors of this nation to one color. Or to turn back the clock, to turn this nation back to an autocracy, maybe a worse autocracy even than the one against which we fought a revolution.

 

On July 4th, isn’t this the question we should be asking ourselves? What does democracy mean to me, or require from me? It is clearly not something at a distance from us.

 

Maybe in the past, maybe before DT and the pandemic, we let this question fall to the back of our minds and hearts. But now, we all know its central place in our lives. We know democracy is not simply a holiday we celebrate one day in July and one day in November. It is a form of relationship, or something living we are part of, that is constantly changing and constantly in need of care.

 

How do we feed and care for it, so it feeds and cares for us?

 

*This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project. Feel free to take look.

The GOP Are Not Just Trying to Suppress the Vote. They Are Trying to Control the Count.

When DT took office in 2017, the novel 1984 by George Orwell became a popular read. With DT in the White House, the fictional portrait of our future was moving closer to becoming reality. The GOP are, today, trying to keep that movement alive.

 

As journalist George Packer wrote in The Atlantic in 2019: “The week of DT’s inauguration, when the president’s adviser Kellyanne Conway justified his false crowd estimate by using the phrase alternative facts, the novel returned to the best-seller lists. A theatrical adaptation was rushed to Broadway. The vocabulary of Newspeak went viral. An authoritarian president who stood the term fake news on its head, who once said, ‘What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,’ has given 1984 a whole new life.”

 

And it is so blatant. The GOP are not a political party as we have known such for most of our history. They are more like a camp of oligarchic terrorists, employing techniques used by Fascists and other authoritarian regimes, and excoriated in 1984, to attempt a slow-moving coup, whose aim is the destruction of voting rights and constitutional democracy, and the creation of a one-party state.

 

In the novel, the threat of invasion by other nations was used to maintain a state of permanent emergency, create a totalitarian regime, and control all aspects of life, even people’s thoughts. In our nation, for four plus years DT tried to keep us in constant shock, not through lies about invasions by other countries but lies about almost everything, for example, about invasions of immigrants, even children of color. They used doublethink, and newspeak to portray what could reveal truths or save lives, like masks, and turn them into assaults on community and freedom.

 

Many GOP claim to value freedom, but the only freedom they value is to agree with them. They attack, try to frighten, basically try to unperson those who oppose them (Liz Cheney, Jay Raffensperger, Marie Yovanovitch, and Democrats) or who they want to hide, deny and show no empathy for their suffering (thousands who died from COVID-19). And then there’s DT’s Big Brother DOJ illegally seizing emails of Democrats and their staff.

 

Political strategist David Plouffe said on MSNBC last week, “They`re not hiding what they`re doing. …they`re not only trying to make it harder to register to vote, they want to change …who gets to decide who wins elections….” “[T]his is existential. If you think that this Republican won`t go to the …furthest extremes to hold on to power, to steal power, to deny voters their franchise, I don`t know what you`re watching.”

 

The New York Times reports that, for example, the GOP in Georgia are eliminating people of color, especially Democrats of color, from local election boards. In Arizona, not only did they create an audit of the 2020 vote based on a false narrative; they also introduced a bill to strip the Democratic Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, of her authority over election lawsuits, for her term in office only.

 

The aim of the GOP is to control not only the teaching of history but how each moment is remembered. They continue the “Big Lie,” to divide the nation and falsely claim DT was the winner of the 2020 election despite losing by 7 million plus votes, despite having no evidence and losing in any court where they tried to fraudulently claim the election was fraudulent. Doublespeak. They try to steal an election by claiming democrats are trying to steal it.

 

Many GOP are still denying the reality of the Jan. 6 attempt to steal the election, even though millions saw it happen on live tv. GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said federal law enforcement was “harassing peaceful patriots.” And Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., added: “It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others.”

 

But we know about the lies. We know the GOP are trying to create their own version of a Ministry of Truth so we the people cannot get accurate information, and not only about January 6.  During the DT administration, they hid information on the coronavirus, which led to possibly thousands of deaths, and on global warming, which threatens all our lives.

 

Historian Kellie Carter Jackson wrote in the Atlantic that, as of last Thursday, Juneteenth is now a national holiday, which honors the “history and memory of emancipation, liberation, and advancement” of Black People in this country. Yet the GOP in control of the legislatures of many states are trying to hide the history of slavery while banning the teaching of critical race theory, despite the fact that no public schools now teach it, and ban curricula focused on the lasting effects of slavery and racism.

 

On June 16, NPR had a wonderful program on the Alamo, revealing not only that Texas was born out of a movement to protect slavery. But even today, the Governor wants to make sure no one knows it.

 

The aim of the GOP is to make daily life so burdensome to most Americans that we go along just to survive. They have shifted the tax burden, for example, so the rich now pay such a small percentage of their earnings in taxes. When the rich and corporations pay less, the cost to the rest of us goes up⎼ the costs for education, health insurance, electricity, bridges, roads, water, protection from pandemics, etc. will all rise.

 

Once we lose the vote, and constitutional protections, the right to speak out, and protest, the right to a fair trial, can be eliminated. The GOP could also more freely sell off or mis-use our natural resources, land, air, water to sate their greed, ignore the effects of such use on the health of citizens, and ignore increasing natural disasters from climate change.

 

Now, with a Democratic administration, we have the opportunity to pressure Congress to protect the vote. Let’s take it. Speak out. Join about 70 groups and hundreds of activists working to get a voting rights bill like the For the People Act made into law. The GOP won’t even allow the bill to be debated in the Senate and will use the filibuster to stop it from being passed. Call Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Urge them to honor their oath to protect the constitution, get rid of the filibuster, and stop the GOP attempt at a coup to end democracy⎼ stop them from making their fiction our reality.

 

*You can also read this post on The Good Men Project, which syndicated it.

 

Treating Each Chance to Vote as Our Only Chance to Vote: When to Remember, When to Forget

We want to forget the painful, the frightening, the disturbing, or usually we do. Sometimes, we hold on to what hurts as if the immediate pain could stave off what lies deeper. Sometimes, we just don’t know what to do.

 

And sometimes, we can’t forget for other reasons. It has seeped too far into who we think we are. Or the pain or discomfort helps us act, so we think we can’t allow ourselves to forget. But how do we learn from pain without hurting ourselves even more, and without making ourselves sick? Sickened, yes. But not sick.

 

Many of us so want to forget DT. It has been an amazing relief to not see his face or hear his ravings on tv. But we can’t forget the crimes he committed or the vulnerabilities he exposed in democracy. He and his GOP supporters are doing all they can to force themselves back into the headlines, to get us to focus on our fear of him returning to power instead of the desperation in his efforts to manipulate media and politics to prevent arrest. The list of possible crimes he has committed and possible criminal and civil litigation is extensive.  It is largely up to us to determine how and what we remember.

 

For example, he is planning to re-start MAGA rallies. His GOP never let the “Big Lie” die and are doing all they can to resuscitate it. We remember how DT tried to steal the election from President Joe Biden by falsely claiming the Democrats had stolen it. Most of us saw this live on tv. To distract us further, he and his GOP minions spouted disinformation from Russians claiming Democrats were in the employ of communists.

 

Now, the GOP are saying the insurrection attempt on January 6th never happened. On May 12, during a House Oversight Committee Hearing, GOP Representative Andrew Clyde said “the House floor was never breached.” “To call it an insurrection is in my opinion a bald-faced lie,” he continued. “If you didn’t know that TV footage was a video from January the sixth, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”

 

He, with the support of most of the GOP, are attempting to turn the “Big Lie” into an ugly reality. Remember, the goal of “The Lie” was to crown DT as the Savior-King and deny political power to the majority of Americans⎼ deny the right to protest and the vote. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, in 47 state legislatures, the GOP have introduced 361 bills to restrict and suppress voting, despite no evidence of voting fraud.

 

Of course, they tried this before, just minutes after it happened. They feel they have created an unscalable propaganda wall and their followers will never try to scale that wall and hear, remember, or believe the truth. And they try to eliminate anyone who stands in their way. Remember how they treated conservative Liz Cheney for speaking truthfully about January 6th or how they tried to intimidate Democrats and other government officials.

 

But we remember that if the GOP win, we lose. No justice, no peace….

 

*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

This Is Our Moment: Giving Breath to the Government of, by, and for the People

Our problem is that we don’t believe it, or don’t want to believe it. It’s too incredible. We know it intellectually. We can see it and feel it. Every time DT’s face appears on the tv screen or we hear his voice we have a stress response. We feel our stomachs fall to the floor or we shout out curses involuntarily.

 

Or we hear numbers of new COVID-19 deaths or of states experiencing spikes of illness or disenfranchising voters or of the incredible concentration of wealth in the hands of the .1%. Or we hear the name of a brown or black person murdered by police and we get angry. We demonstrate. We make phone calls. Or we wonder⎼ what can we do?

 

Or we hear about a plot by white militias to kidnap, maybe murder, Gretchen Whitmer, a sitting Democratic Governor, attack police and incite a civil war. And what we don’t hear from the President and his party is outrage. Instead, DT tweets attacks on the threatened Governor. He supports the terrorists. Even though one of the terrorists called him a tyrant, it was DT who augmented and manipulated the extreme division in this country that helped incite their actions. And we wonder⎼ how can this be? It is too incredible. We have moved to a state called shock.

 

Democracy is a government of, by, and for the people, and must be about maintaining a quality of relationship amongst all its members. We must recognize the need for a diversity of viewpoints and the rights of others, and all can, must take part.

 

But politics, like any competition, can become, like Mao Zedong said, war without bloodshed. Right now, one group is trying to divide the nation into two exclusive and conflicting sides. One group is trying to remove the restraints on violence, not only to frighten both sides but to stroke the flames of frustration, fear, and enmity into murdering democracy itself. They are trying to set the constitution in flames. They are not trying to win an election but to eliminate them.

 

They are trying to make us feel that ‘order’, and the ‘rule of law’ are impossible, mere dreams, and the words are meaningless sounds, by calling themselves the law and order party or their leader, the “law and order President”.  They are the enemies of the rule of law. For them, ‘order’ or ‘rule of law’ is twisted to mean rule by one side, one person, only. For them, the only time there will be peace is when all opposition is terminated, all diversity of viewpoint has ceased. …

 

To read the whole post, go to the Good Men Project.

 

 

Pandemic Time: Replacing a Future We Dread with A Present We Can Handle

I am sitting outside, on my deck, looking at the garden at my feet⎼ red begonias, lavender impatiens, white zinnias and other flowers. It’s early morning. Last night there was, finally, a good rain. And although the sky is relatively clear and the sun is out, the air is beautifully cool. There is a sense in the air, or in me, that all this is fast disappearing. That I need to dig down deep into this moment before it, and all these flowers, are gone.

 

Part of this feeling is because it is the last week of August and summer is nearing its end. After teaching for 30 years, and going to school for nearly 20, August often feels like it’s a slide into autumn, into school and work with winter to follow.

 

This is especially true this year. Due to the pandemic, I have so much more unscheduled time, and so much time is absorbed by news reports and worries about the future. When will the pandemic end? Will there be a second wave? What new atrocities will DT commit? Will we have a constitution after November? With the election in front of us, the end of summer is fraught with so much more anxiety. And if we’re not observant, it could vacuum up all our attention.

 

Living through DT and the coronavirus in the spring, summer and even the fall, when we can be outside much of the time, is one thing. Doing it in winter will be much more difficult.

 

And how do we or our children face going back to school? There are just too many unknowns. Too many dangers. And whatever is decided about how school will look at the end of August or in September, could all change quickly and dramatically, as it did last spring. School used to be a stable part of our culture. No more. Very little of what used to provide stability and clarity can do that now.

 

So, how do we find a sense of stability and clarity during the time of the pandemic, or when everything inside us cries for, or dreads, dramatic change? When we can’t wait any longer for an end to the pandemics of the coronavirus and racism. When we want justice, now. When we want leaders who will put the needs of the nation and we, the people, first. No half measures are acceptable.  We want so much because things are so bad and so little is predictable.

 

Maybe we can find ways to work both on social-political issues and to find stability and clarity inside ourselves. By taking action, we show ourselves that we have the autonomy and strength to do so. We face our anxiety over the future by working now to create the future we need….

 

To read the whole article, go to The Good Men Project.

What Would We Do? ⎼ Celebrating the 4th by Fighting for Democracy

After listening to the news about a consultant for the T campaign creating a fake Joe Biden website in order to deceive people about who Joe Biden is, I realized T is borrowing from what Russia did in our 2016 election to once again undermine the electoral process. He is adopting techniques used by Russia to undermine the last presidential election in order to undermine the next one. And I asked myself: what would I do if I truly believed what my intellect was telling me about T and his supporters?

 

What would I do if I truly digested the fact that the President of the US joked with the Premier of Russia about eliminating journalists, and joked with Putin about interfering in our elections, not long after the GOP blocked bills in Congress to prevent campaigns from working with foreign governments to undermine our own?

 

Meanwhile, T called the New York Times treasonous for attacking him, just like, in Congress, he thought it treasonous that Democrats did not applaud his comments in his State of the Union Speech in 2018. And instead of a 4thof July to unite us, he divides us further by hijacking the government’s Washington, D. C. celebration and uses it to inflate his name and raise money for his campaign.

 

What if I truly allowed myself to feel my response to T inciting violence against journalists or against anyone who disagrees with him?

 

What would I do if I truly allowed myself to feel what it meant that he praised the Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un? That he said, in regard to the North Korean Dictator,  “it was an honor that you asked me to step over that line…I was proud” to be with such a brutal dictator responsible for not only the torture of an American citizen but of his own people.

 

What would I do if I truly let myself feel the pain and inhumanity of his border policy and treatment of young children? T calls asylum seekers fleeing gang violence in their own countries illegals. Meanwhile, he or his policies violate both US and international laws regarding asylum seekers, violate the law and court orders regarding the treatment of children. He is being investigated for violating so many laws ⎼ regarding emoluments, campaign finance, etc., obstructing justice⎼ it is laughable that he even utters the word ‘law.’

 

What would I do if I truly felt how T and the GOP are attacking women, refusing to renew the violence against women act and trying to deny women the right to control their own body.

 

What would I do if I let myself truly feel how the GOP are eliminating the chance to vote for thousands or millions of people and even, in some states like Florida, creating a poll tax?

 

What would I do if I let myself truly feel how T and his supporters are giving so much of the wealth of this nation to just a few thousand people, in a nation where 3 individuals own more wealth than the bottom half of the population?

 

What would I do if I truly felt how T and his supporters are attacking education, attacking scientific research, attacking protections on our food supply, attacking our future and making it more and more difficult for the U. S. to respond to emergency situations or to global warming or even to economic competition with other nations?

 

T has done so many inhumane, unjust,  bigoted, hurtful things, lied so much, ignored so much, that it is impossible to keep track of it all. My head spins, my heart hurts. Can I use this pain and confusion to teach myself how to go beyond my comfort zone, how to act with more strength?

 

I keep thinking: What if everyone who reads this piece talked with their friends, pledged to vote in the next election, worked for a candidate, worked to get out the vote, to speak the truth at a town hall of a GOP candidate, gave money to those fighting for civil or immigrant’s rights, and made 5 calls a week about one injustice or another ⎼ and shared this blog?

 

Let’s do away with T anxiety and sleep disorder and replace it with the excitement of defeating hate and recognizing the humanity of everyone we meet.

 

I think we all have to ask this question: what will we do? What political, social, compassionate or creative actions will we take if we truly allow ourselves to feel how T is robbing a great majority of us of our rights, freedoms, justice, and a sustainable environment? What will we do?

 

And then ⎼ we do it.

 

This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project

 

 

A Scary Supreme Court: Oppose The Nomination

T announced Monday night that his choice for the Supreme Court is judge Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh, according to a New York Times analysis, is possibly less conservative than Neil Gorsuch. As an assistant to Kenneth Starr in the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, he wrote an argument giving a broad definition of impeachable offenses, so much so that he disturbed some conservatives. What he thinks today, or would think facing T, is beyond my knowledge. But he was then speaking about a Democratic President.

 

However, Kavanaugh is deeply conservative in his views, so Roe vs Wade is certainly threatened. The NAACP considers him a dangerous ideologue, a strong proponent of the rights of the wealthy and a deep threat to civil rights, women’s rights, voting rights, etc.

 

There are so many viewpoints on this issue. My own view is that all those who support Democratic institutions, civil, consumer, and women’s rights—hopefully, all Democratic members of Congress should do everything they can to delay, oppose, stop the nominee from being approved, certainly until the new Congress could be elected and seated.

 

Please call:

Heidi Heitkamp (D, N. Dakota) 202 224 2043

Joe Donnelly (D, Indiana)    202 224 4814

Joe Manchin (W. VA)            202 224 3954, 304 342 5855

Susan Collins (R, Maine)      202 224 2523

Lisa Murkowski (R, Aaska)   202 224 6665

 

I say this not only because Republicans for a year stopped any vote to confirm Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court, saying (dubiously) they should not vote on a new nominee in the year of a Presidential election. 2018 is not a Presidential election year, but it is one of the most significant elections I can recall. It is also because the President himself is under several investigations, for possible collusion, corruption, interference in the Mueller probe, etc. and these investigations might wind up before the court. The President’s nominees should not be given the chance to defend the man who just chose them for the position. (Or who possibly asked for their allegiance?)

 

According to an article from the New York Times, this is especially relevant to Judge Kavanaugh. “In two law journal articles — one published in 1998 and another in 2009 — Judge Kavanaugh raised questions about whether a sitting president could be indicted, and suggested that presidents should be shielded from civil suits and criminal investigations. Both explore issues that are deeply relevant to Mr. Trump and the ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.” We could have a court that instead of enforcing a separation of powers, concentrates power in one person’s hands, and protects T from anyone who tries to hold him accountable.