The Line in the Sand

If you voted for Trump

You voted for the KKK
You voted for suppression of women’s rights
You voted for the suppression of LGBT’s rights
You voted for a man who doesn’t pay taxes
You voted for a man who has never served his country
You voted for a man who abuses and insults women
You voted for a man who doesn’t pay his debts
You voted for a man who condones torture

And you know all this.

And whatever fears and frustrations and anger you have inside of you that convinced you that all of the above was not enough to disqualify him from the office of President of the United States says, unequivocally, that you are morally bankrupt.

Know this about yourself.

I live by principles that delineate a line in the sand I will not cross:

I accept personal responsibility for my behavior and my decisions. I don’t blame others and I don’t blame circumstances.
I cultivate compassion for others because there but for the grace of God go I.
I cultivate my own education because I believe an educated mind is one of the duties of being a responsible member of society.
I cultivate the personal courage to face my fears so I can learn and grow from them.

No amount of personal anger, fear or frustration will let me abandon these principles. Because if they go, I go.

What is your line in the sand?

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No More Misogynist Feminists

The title of this blog post is thanks to Madonna, who tweeted out same recently.

It took me a long time, I am embarrassed to say, to understand Madonna. I thought her in-your-face sexuality was a cave-in, a return to the subjection of women by sexualizing them. When, of course in fact, she was taking charge of it. Her “Boy Toy” belt buckle particularly rankled me. But just like the LGBTQ community co-opted “queer” to become a statement of power and ownership, Madonna co-opted and empowered her own sexuality by taking ownership of it.

Now Madonna has, in a succinct sentence, captured what I feel about women who aren’t voting for Hillary because they find her “untrustworthy.” Oh for God’s sake. Hillary has devoted her life to public service, her every move is scrutinized. I find it trust-inducing that the only thing her detractors can find to detract is missing emails that have not resulted in anything detrimental happening to our country–unlike the propaganda of WMD that led to the Iraq war, or the deliberate dishonesty that led to the housing bubble meltdown. . . Oh, the Clinton Foundation? The donation detractors point to was signed off by nine separate government agencies, not Hillary.

Ladies, tell me what it is about having a woman in the highest office in the country—a women who is more prepared to do the job than anyone in recent memory—that you just can’t abide. Perhaps it will be the illuminating of women’s rights—just like President Obama’s terms have illuminated the rights of Blacks—that you find disturbing. Equal pay for equal work, the right to decide what to do with one’s own reproductive system, the exposure of the casual, insidious sexism all women live with—these will naturally rise to the surface when a woman is President.

If you say you “distrust” Hillary, please form a thorough, coherent, fact-filled argument as to why. Vague intimations about her “corruption” or “untrustworthiness” are not facts. And when you’ve gotten your argument down and you think it’s a solid one then do a little more thinking and determine why this makes her uniquely unqualified to lead. Unlike, say, the generations of men in government, whose lives, when the rug has been lifted, have been rife with mistakes, corruption, and cronyism. I believe Hillary’s life of service is more committed, honest, and authentic than her peers. I believe she is more intelligent and prepared than anyone else has been for the job. If all you can muster against her is “untrustworthy” then your attitude is misogyny, plain and simple.

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What’s at Stake

This creature, Trump, has a following and I, along with millions of others, struggle to understand why.

This is what I have come up with:

I think about Pope Francis and the thing that he exhibits so strongly—compassion. Having compassion means you’ve suffered some or more than some and you’ve come out the other side with a sense of humility. Because you understand what suffering is and how it forges bonds with the rest of humanity–because  everyone suffers.

Compassion is a state of empathy. By developing compassion, you acknowledge the interconnectedness of all beings.

Non-compassion, or hate in the general vernacular, is the opposite of interconnectedness. It always arises from fear. Always. And fear is the state of feeling oneself alone, powerless, not connected. It is a primal emotion and it is part of our reptilian brain, the one that controls our fight or flight responses, our heartbeat, our breaths—the basic responses that keep us alive.

Our frontal cortex is our reasoning brain and the reason we can develop other traits beyond simply survival—like compassion. Everyone with a frontal cortex has the capacity to develop compassion, but it is a trait that will wither without nourishment.

When life becomes suffering, as it inevitably does at times, ask yourself: do you strive to learn from that suffering, thereby developing compassion and connectedness with others, or do you stay mucked about in the primal instinct of fear—blaming others and outside situations for your suffering?

Compassion unifies; fear divides. That’s pretty much it.

A Little Something Called Self-Responsibility

There is something weird going on this week. Nothing is running smoothly. The propane company, after 8 years of filling up the propane tanks on schedule, now can’t seem to fill up the correct tanks. They have filled up the shop tank twice now, and left the house tanks unfilled. Not a good thing in the middle of winter. I even put a big sign on the shop tank that said “NOT this tank, the tanks at the HOUSE” with a big arrow pointing toward the house, and they STILL filled up the shop tank.

Then just this morning, a whole passel of ice fisherman glibly trespassed across our property sliding their sleds 10 feet from our house and when Richie told them it was a private pond, they said, “So call the police.”

What is going on here? Is the repugnant presidential campaign persuading people that incivility and incompetence are acceptable ways of behaving?

There is a little something called self-responsibility. We all have power and that power is the power to behave decently. Let’s try that for a while and see where it gets us.

Image converted using ifftoany

Image converted using ifftoany

Not One More

We drove past Sandy Hook and Newtown on our way home from Virginia this Memorial Day and next to the exit sign was a hand-lettered placard: “Free coffee and doughnuts.” This community had twenty first-graders and six teachers and administrators massacred by a man with an assault weapon. And what were they doing on this Memorial Day? Trying to keep drivers alert…and alive.

I hear people defend their right to own assault weapons because they say they need to be safe from “bad guys with guns.” I hear people say they need to protect their own. I never hear them say they want to protect their neighbors. I never hear them say they want to help. I hear them only expound on themselves and their rights.

But Sandy Hook, a town whose children did die from a bad guy with guns—they care about keeping you, anonymous you, alive.

Who has the bigger heart? Who has the richer soul? Who holds the future of our species? Do you want higher walls, bigger guns, more rampant paranoia? Or do you want the compassion of a town trying to keep holiday drivers alive, even as they continue to mourn the senseless slaughter of their children?

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2014/05/christopher-michael-martinezs-father-gets-it-right.html

The Fetish of Individuality that is the United States

I wish I had thought that up, but I confess I heard it in an interview and I can no longer remember who said it.  At any rate, for me it gets to the heart of a warped belief system in this country.

The other night I watched a documentary on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, where girls and young women burned to death because there were no laws in place to make their workplace safe. The staircase door was locked, the elevator could hold only a few people at a time and the fire escape was so decrepit, it collapsed. Girls as young as 14 jumped to their deaths, while others died wreathed in flames.  Predictably, public outrage was great, and that outrage led to federal laws being passed to protect workers in their workplace. At the end of the documentary, the narrator said: “but before this could happen, women had to burn.”

When I heard those words, a chill ran through me, because it brought to mind Sandy Hook and the massacre of 26 people, 20 of them first-graders. Public outrage was great then, too. But not enough to pass new laws to protect other children from the same fate.

We have sunk to the level of making our children pay for our fetish of individuality. We think our personal freedom to carry an assault weapon is far more important than the lives of our children.

If a society cannot keep its children safe from itself, then it has failed its primary purpose—that of perpetuating itself—not to mention a certain reverence for life. Fetishizing personal freedom spells the end of a civilized society.

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Just a Thought Re: Congress and the Space Station

I’m not getting the impression that our Congress is feeling the effects of their own incompetence. What can make it more real for them, I ask myself? Then I think: Let’s send them all to the Space Station.

There they will eat freeze-dried food and be in uncomfortably close quarters. They can talk to each other or not, but until they work something out, they have to stay there. Maybe they will stare at the round globe of Earth, pushing and shoving each other out of the way to get the best view from the little portholes. And maybe, after a month or so of this, they will notice that the Earth intrinsically does not have borders or blue states and red states or Muslim countries or Christian countries.

And maybe after another month of being in the dark vastness of space, they will perceive the miracle of this planet that sustains life and how fragile it has become. Eventually, sick of eating freeze-dried ice cream, they may (the more with-it ones) come to grasp that, actually, there’s isn’t any other place we can live. And that to destroy the Earth, is to destroy our species (not to mention many others.)

Then maybe they will begin to talk and to compromise and to learn to get along. And that’s when we will let them come back, to join us at the adult table.

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I thought about using a photo of the monkey that Russia sent into space here, but then I realized that would be maligning the monkey.