T Is A Hurricane of Historic Proportions

I have many calm moments, when I meditate, exercise, walk in the woods, talk with friends or simply breathe. Beautiful moments. And then—I turn on the radio or my phone and who knows what insanity might ensue.

 

I just heard the latest news about Hurricane Michael, which struck the Florida panhandle with winds of up to 155 miles an hour. It is now called the strongest hurricane to ever strike the coast. It grew so quickly, from a category 2 on Sunday to almost a category 5 today, probably due to waters overheated by global warming, the same global warming the GOP deny despite the overwhelming scientific evidence against their position.

 

Yesterday, a neighbor called to tell me of two sightings of Fishers, a carnivorous mammal related to weasels. They have only recently returned to this area and have been known to kill squirrels and other small animals, including porcupine and hare, occasionally wild turkey, bobcat, and even house cats (although rarely). They are excellent climbers and can be vicious. I immediately went to the front door of my house to call in my cats. After the Kavanaugh abomination and almost two years of T, I am, like everyone I know, a bit sensitive to bad news.

 

This administration puts us all on a continual threat alert and I think this is exactly what they want. People continually stressed are not as likely to think clearly or feel powerful.

 

The last two weeks and the hearings and discussion on Judge Kavanaugh were especially bad. They were a continual assault, a political hurricane of historic proportions threatening not only women but all of us who are not misogynists, not white nationalists or sycophantic supporters of the President, or who are not in favor of considering corporate rights or the rights of the wealthy as more important than any other rights.

 

These GOP attacked anyone who called for a real investigation into Kavanaugh’s past and were particularly vicious in their attacks on any of the women who came forward. In fact, T even mocked Dr. Ford.  He called for holding those who made “false” claims against Kavanaugh liable. What about false claims by, or in support of, Kavanaugh? Would Kavanaugh or any his supporters who lied or rushed to hide the truth be held accountable?

 

Many wondered: was the GOP rush to judgment due to fears about what will happen in the November election? Or was something else involved?

 

The Supreme Court is going to hear a case called the Gamble v US. It involves a felon arrested for possession of a firearm. It could, however, have grave implications if T is ever impeached, indicted, or tries to use his power to pardon anyone from his administration or campaign who have been prosecuted for crimes or called to testify to the Mueller investigation.

 

The Gamble case involves the question of whether “double jeopardy” is limited by “dual sovereignty.” In other words, whether a state can separately prosecute anyone after they were tried by the Federal government.

 

Right now, T can pardon people for Federal crimes, but anyone so pardoned can still be prosecuted in state courts. T wants to destroy this possibility. And Kavanaugh could help make that a reality. He might be the deciding vote in expanding T’s and the GOP’s power, so they can’t be held accountable for crimes they commit or their assaults on the rest of us.

 

While hurricane Michael was striking Florida, hurricane T was in Erie, Pennsylvania at a fundraiser and then a rally, yelling “lock her up” and such. Even a threat to the lives and property of millions of citizens did not stop him from focusing on himself and trying to rake in money.  He needs to be stopped.

 

And let me repeat what many have been advocating: each of us needs to vote, make calls, volunteer as an election official, write postcards to get out the vote—to do whatever we can to energize ourselves and throw T and his supporters out of office.

 

**Thank you to Jill Swenson and other friends who first posted on FB about Gamble v US.

When Feeling Bad Leads To Doing Good

I get angry and a little depressed, probably just like most of you, at the increasing social inequities, at the actions of many of the richest individuals to undermine public schools and the public commons (our air, water, even the parks and common spaces), the lawlessness and intractability of our political system, at the instability of the weather, etc. It’s a crime that, in the richest nation in the world, one million school children are homeless, one quarter of all children live in poverty. Last week there was a report of drones getting in the way of aircraft fighting fires out west. Such shortsightedness and delusion.

 

Many people tell themselves things like: “There’s nothing I can do. Politics is a waste of time. The system is rigged. I’d rather just go about my life.” Such an inner dialogue is probably responsible for the fact that, in most U. S. elections, fewer than 50% of Americans vote or protest or, possibly, even educate themselves on the state of the world and the campaign issues. (In 2012, 58.6% of registered citizens voted; in 2014, 36.6%.) In a democracy, this is your life. Politics is personal. To have a say in politics, you must speak.

 

The fact that you feel discomfort, outrage, depression is an indicator that you care, not that you shouldn’t. It means that you want to take action, not that no action can be taken. Maybe you grew up feeling there is no way to face discomfort or you must get rid of, medicate away or let the emotion take you over. Instead of attacking, hiding, or letting the feeling take you over, you can feel the feeling, rest in it, and understand it. Only by knowing your feelings can you know what they have to tell you, act on them appropriately or let them go.

 

Schools need to educate young people about how to participate in democracy, and how to understand and be mindfully aware of their own emotions. To do that, they need to teach mindfulness and become democratic communities where students can grow up familiar with taking responsibility for their lives, communities, and nation. Students need to be given the space to verbalize, analyze, and discuss what they feel and think about the state of the world today. In my school, community service is a graduation requirement and some teachers build political/social action into the curriculum. In my historical development course, on the first day of classes, I often asked: “What are the biggest problems with our world today?” Once students named the problems or concerns, I then asked: “Which of these is most basic?” Each student then had to decide which named concern they considered most basic and follow its historical, cultural, and intellectual (and sometimes artistic or other) roots through all the times and cultures we studied during the year. The final assessment became analyzing and describing how this problem developed, and how other cultures dealt with it. Students need to be helped to recognize that their way of conceiving the world and themselves is crucial in how they act and in the responsibility they assume for the state of the world.

 

In our concern and outrage lies our salvation. Our loves, our willingness to act not just for our own welfare but for the welfare of others, combined with our openness to study, analyze and understand what might be in the greater good–this can counter hopelessness. And a comprehensive education, which includes learning mindful self-awareness in a democratic school, serves the possible realization of that salvation.