Posted by: minnow | November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving: It’s Not PC

Liking Thanksgiving these days is certainly not politically correct. And yet, it is my favorite holiday.

I am angered by the way we, white Americans, treat new immigrants. I am also embarrassed (is that a strong enough word? perhaps not) let’s say disgusted, by white America’s historical record regarding our treatment of Native Americans. Still, the story I grew up hearing every year as a child is one of the few that put Native Americans in a good light via a white lens. They saved us. They shared their feast with us. They taught us how to plant corn using fish for fertilizer. Does anyone else remember those stories?

As a child in Montana in the sixties, I wasn’t taught about how we tore families apart, put children in boarding schools, and destroyed every remnant of the Indigenous culture we could. I didn’t learn how the US government killed Native Americans with small pox infested blankets, hunted them down, rounded them up, and forced them onto reservations which became smaller and smaller as more white settlers wanted land. I wasn’t told about the trail of tears, a 1200 mile journey to “Indian Territory”, a march on which thousands of Creeks, Cherokee, and others died. I did not know the truth about white treatment of Indigenous people groups, many of which were completely obliterated. As a white person, I am ashamed of those facts, ashamed of my white history, and now ashamed of our treatment of new immigrants.

Still, I love Thanksgiving. To me it means family and lots of dessert! Stuffing is my favorite part of the traditional meal. And, since most of my children lean toward the mashed potatoes and gravy like their father, I luck out. Thanksgiving left overs are the best–yummy turkey sandwiches and more pie! Our family typically played board games after the big meal. If we were at the grandparents we could count on the Macy’s Day Parade in the morning and football in the afternoon. And laughter–in my memories there is always laughter around the table, in the telling of old stories, in the gentle kidding of siblings, and in the joy of being together. Though I have to admit, in the most recent Thanksgivings there has also been tension.

A dozen years ago I walked away from organized religion. Five years ago I separated from my husband. For four years we tried to make the holidays as “normal” as possible–I came back to town and sometimes even stayed at the house. We had a meal together and played games as a family. But it was confusing and created stress. We couldn’t recreate what we had because we were not all on the same page anymore. This year our youngest son invited everyone to his house. His youngest sister is joining him. I dropped her off on Tuesday. My oldest daughter is working Thanksgiving. And, my middle son had surgery on his wrist on Wednesday so is recovering today, Thanksgiving. (Fighting my own infection I couldn’t be with him).

Even before the other distractions, I had decided to opt out of the holidays altogether this year. I need to start over so, I am not going anywhere for Thanksgiving and won’t be going anywhere for Christmas. Instead, as fate would have it, I have another distraction and will be packing boxes for a move. (My landlady needs more space and has generously given me two months to vacate).

So, here I sit, on my favorite holiday of the year, trying to reconcile all my feelings. Guilt, sadness, and anger mix with joyful memories and a longing for family and friends. I don’t want to beat myself up, even if it’s not PC, for liking Thanksgiving. Instead, I want to renew my respect for this holiday and change its meaning. We need to repent of our history of oppression and abuse. And we need to find a path forward. For me, taking steps forward begins with thankfulness which is what this season has always, personally, been about.

I am thankful on this Thanksgiving as well as every other day of the year for the people in my life, my relative good health, and the opportunity I have to do things I enjoy doing. I am grateful for my five children who like to tease each other, don’t always understand each other, sometimes worry about one another, but always love one another. I appreciate having two months to find a new place, pack up my boxes and bags and stuff, and transition to a new roof over my head. I am thankful for that roof, wherever it may be. I appreciate this little town, as conservative as it is, because even though I’m a newcomer I’m greeted in the grocery, waved to from passing cars and offered help if I need it. I feel safe here, even if a few think I’m nuts for being a liberal. I am fortunate for a family heritage of hard work, honest dealings, standing on principles, and taking care of one another. And, I am thankful I can learn about my past and choose not to repeat it–personally or historically. I am thankful I can choose to be thankful and appreciate new opportunities to change and grow and give back. I cannot undo the past. I can acknowledge the pain that has been a part of it, however, and I can vow to make a different future beginning today.

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Posted by: minnow | November 18, 2018

When Will We Ever Learn?

Hey, Democrats–with Mitch McConnell still running herd on the Senate and acting like he’s the man of Kumbaya and let’s all get along, and President 45 revoking the press passes of people he doesn’t like, and US soldiers sitting at the border because you know, midterm elections were coming up and Beto O’rourke was running up on his buddy “Lick my boots after I kick you like a dog” Cruz from Texas, and the administration threatening to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t fund his billion dollar wall, and the GOP leadership in the senate suggestion Social Security and Medicare need to be fixed because you know they borrowed money from these self-sustaining funds instead of investing, growing, and taking care of them and now they don’t want to have to pay the people back, and a very expensive going on 17 year war still raging in the mid-east with no end in site, and a commander-in-chief who would rather hang out with despots and dictators than commemorate our World War I veterans with our ALLIES and the tweeter-in-chief threatening to pull aid to Puerto Rico and just threatening California in general–let’s just shoot ourselves in the foot.  I mean why not help Republicans vilify Minority leader Nancy Pelosi. I mean really, what’s she done for us other than take the hits for all the Democrats in the House while Paul Ryan shoved ever bit of the Republican agenda he could down the collective throat of this country? (Though his actually accomplishments are few and far between because Pelosi was good at her job and organized the troops to stop him whenever they could). After all, taking the hits is no big deal. Anyone could have done it (Though no one else volunteered).

Do Democrats actually want to get something done in Washington?!!!

Yes?! Then take a lesson from Representative Pelosi.

We don’t need to do that, you say. She compromises too much.

GET A TASTE OF REALITY, FOLKS!!

Big agendas are accomplished one painfully small step at a time. And Pelosi has written a pretty effective play book. Why do you think the Republicans denounce her every chance they get?

You have a better option? Good! But just so you know “Someone Esle” isn’t an actual person. And for God’s sake get it through your head that whoever your new person is–man or woman–that person is going to be the GOP’s new public enemy # 1; that’s how they work. And if they get a whiff of who you plan to champion they’ll start taking whacks before your new speaker can swear, “I do.”

SO do the country a favor. Stop proving you know how to shoot a gun by aiming it at your foot! Go ahead, make the transition to someone you like, if you really don’t think the job Nancy Pelosi has done is a good one. BUT–and this is the hard part evidently–make your voice about the person you prefer, about your person’s qualifications for the job or vision for the party. Thank Nancy Pelosi for her service and move on. AND for the love of God and this nation QUIT thinking you have to destroy one to get the other, when the facts are both want to lead the country in a positive direction.

Democrats don’t need to help the GOP vilify fellow Democrats. They do that plenty well on their own.We cannot afford to become that which we labels repulsive, unacceptable, and undemocratic in others and we won’t attract people to our cause by becoming as ugly, as self debasing, or as deceptive as our opponents. If the Democratic party is going to thrive after the midterm, it must not squander what it has gained. So what are we going to do to keep momentum going?

The Democratic Party needs bold leadership–because bold leadership, bright new faces, and a focus on REAL ideas captured the attention of the American people and Democrats lead the the rally cry that ushered them in. Perhaps Nancy Pelosi won’t be taking the hits as the Speaker of the House in the 116th Congress come January but we need to remember, while 35 new Democratic faces have joined Congress 196 old Democratic faces are returning to Congress. Yes, we need those new voices–because Democrats invited them to the table and some of the old voices will need to hand the microphone over so that all can be heard. BUT, a new Democratic Party is possible only if we build ourselves up and don’t leave anyone behind.

Posted by: minnow | November 4, 2018

I Believe

What do you believe? We hear a lot about how divided this nation is, how ugly this election is, and how stubborn the “other side” is. What we don’t hear much about just what divides us. Why do people think this election seems so ugly? What do we think the other guys are being so stubborn about? So, I’m asking you, what do YOU believe? Whether you call yourself conservative or liberal, practical or progressive, I would like to compare notes.

Here, I’ll go first. Since I call myself a progressive I’m guessing some of you might be surprised.

I believe in the strength and importance of healthy families. I believe we need people in our lives who always have a place at their table with our name on it. We need people who, when we aren’t at our best, will offer a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand, or a word of encouragement. We need a place to belong and people we trust will understand, especially when we don’t understand ourselves and are loosing hope. Most families, but not all families, have biological components, generational threads and gender crossovers, people we actually look like, some we might even sound like. All families have psychological components, shared experiences and deeply rooted places of emotional recognition.

My conviction about the need for family broadens my definition about what families look like. It helps me see that others need family that meets their emotional need for belonging as much as I do. And, it encourages me to not be afraid of what someone else’s family might look like.

I believe in community. In order for us to feel safe we need others we can trust. We need authorities who will treat us fairly, work for the greater good, and help protect our little corners of the world. To build that kind of community I believe we must be contributing members to the degree that we can be. Volunteering is important and paying taxes is important. Participating in activities with other community members is important. Whether that means playing in the all city band, running for the school board, or attending a city league softball game, our participation and contributions to others matter. Contributing and participating is part of what it means to take ownership. Rubbing shoulders with our neighbors, even our neighbors across town, is how we build safe places for ourselves, and our families.

My conviction about community drives my desire to increase the size of my table, to try to understand those who are not like me, and to make more safe spaces in my world.

I believe in God. Although I no longer go to a building for Sunday morning worship, my faith in a Creator has not diminished. And, while my faith has simplified, it has also expanded. I am convinced of the benevolence of God–that the Being which formed the universe is for the universe. I believe that we are each individually called by all that is Virtuous to be good, by all that is Love to show compassion, by all that is Grace to extend acceptance, and by all that is Merciful to offer humanity. My God is most clearly seen in the Jesus of the gospels, and is best emulated by the service of people like Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Corrie Ten Boon,…

My faith in God helps me seek the face of Jesus in those I encounter. It causes me to open my heart to the life realities revealed by other people’s stories. It reminds me that shared suffering and shared joy creates family.

I believe in lots of other things, too. Some of them, like self expression, the arts, and education, direct my passions and interests. Others, like excellence, dedication, and always getting up in the morning, inform my work ethic. But family, community, and God permeate every other aspect of my being. Remove or dramatically alter one of these and I would not be who I am. They are the foundation on which ever other part of my thinking rests.

For most of the people who read this I suspect Family, Community, and Faith are also foundational to who you are. Most of the people in my sphere of social media influence are willing to listen, desire to be problem solvers, and want what is best for the greater whole not just their individual lives BECAUSE they value Family and Community and are guided by their Faith. In her essay, “There is Nothing Virtuous About Finding Common Ground”, Tayari Jones states, “The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant than the issues over which we are sparring.” What Jones implies by that statement is that standing on the side of justice and truth and morality is far more important than trying to find compromise with those who do not value justice and truth and morality. I believe the vast majority of people with whom I have interacted on social media would agree with Jones’ sentiment. So, what is actually dividing us?

I believe the short answer is–fear. We do not trust that those who are not in our intimate circles love their families, want safe communities, are willing to work together, or are guided by a faith in a Good God in the same ways that we are. Fear stops us from seeing the truth. Fear keeps us from taking the chance that the Other is more like us than unlike us. Fear is disabling.

This November 6th, I hope you vote. I hope you vote based on what fuels your hope, not your fear. I hope you vote for leaders who listen to what gives them hope, who want what’s best for everyone, who acknowledge the journey is difficult, the problems complex, and the answers require sacrifice and courage; but who also know the road toward positive change is best travelled together.

Posted by: minnow | November 2, 2018

How Long

When is something no longer a story, from a journalistic point of view? Our president lies, daily, often about the same thing, over and over and over. When should that “story” be relegated to the ash heap? When he quits doing it? THAT won’t until a new president is in office. THIS President lies. It’s part of his MO and it’s working. He lies so he can direct the traffic about what we talk about. His lies to distract us from his racist, anti-democratic, potentially unconstitutional, greedy,  self advantaging policies and behavior. He lies so WE keep talking about his lying instead of the more volatile, relevant stories. His lies are intentional and they’re working.

WE NEED TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT.

Posted by: minnow | October 22, 2018

To Boldly Go

People are tired of division, and name calling, and of one group of politicians calling the other group of politician hypocrites when both groups are screaming the same childish rhetoric. Don’t get me wrong; I do not believe both parties are equally corrupt or equally unAmerican. I am only saying both can’t seem to get past their middle school antics.

Senator Schumer’s speech, encouraging people to vote if they’re angry about how the Senate handled the Kavanaugh nomination, sounded nice. But, convincing people to vote for Democrats in the next election is not enough. If the Democrats manage to win a majority in the House, and possibly the Senate as well, they will need to prove themselves worthy of the public trust.

If a BLUE wave hits Congress in November, the newly elected and re-elected Democrats must change how business is done in Washington. If that doesn’t happen, those who voted for them this time around won’t be voting for them again. Should Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi remain the Democratic leaders, they have their work cut out for them. The electorate will be watching and placating voters with angry sound bytes or pointing fingers at the Republicans won’t be tolerated. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Voters want action–and I don’t mean patting us on the head and taking meeting with wealthy donors. You should consider the following priority list your marching orders.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND ELECTION REFORMS

The public has a right to know where every penny for every politician originates. Dark money must be brought to light. And, every candidate running for office should be required to produce his or her tax returns for the past 10 years. If we are expected to entrust politicians with our budget we have a right to know how they’ve handled their own.

In a Democratic Republic we should be making it easier for people to vote rather than more difficult. All eligible voters should be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18. Polling places need to be centralized and determined by population density and voter accessibility. Districts, too, need to be refigured to undo the bias created by gerrymandering. One solution would be to strike down the 1967 law banning multiple-member districts and adopt a proportional system of electing representatives.

HEALTHCARE REFORM

The majority of Americans want single payer healthcare. No other developed nation spends as much on health related issues as the United States. In no other developed nation do individuals go bankrupt due to healthcare bills.Healthcare, health insurance, and prescription drugs should be non-profit industries. Our healthcare problems are a perfect example of capitalism run amok.

REFUGEE AND IMMIGRATION REFORM

The current administration’s refugee and immigration policies are a national embarrassment, but worse than that they are inhumane. Every effort must be made to undo the damage done by separating families at our southern border and banning people from certain predominantly Muslim countries without cause. We need to reaffirm the success of programs like DACA, find new ways to solve the problem of undocumented workers, and make immigration to the United States safe, timely, and possible, especially for those fleeing poverty, oppression, and danger in their own countries. American must take responsibility for the ways in which our foreign policies have contributed to the instability in the world–and change our behavior.

THE PROBLEM OF SYSTEMIC RACISM

Racial bias plays a key roll in our justice system, our educational system, and our economy. Recognizing this fact is a first step to finding solutions to the racial problems we face, but we cannot stop there. We must find ways to review arrests and sentences along racial lines and adjust biased authoritative behavior.  We must change funding for education so poverty ridden areas (which are often predominately populated by people of color) are not short changed. And, we need to empower individuals (especially POC) who want to start small businesses in economically oppressed areas so we can begin to change the atmosphere of those areas. Crises like the unsafe water conditions in Flint and the hurricane recovery efforts in Porte Rico deserve our full attention until the damage is repaired and the danger averted because as a nation we cannot afford to allow our compassion to be dictated by race based greed.

COMMON SENCE GUN REFORM

No other developed nation has the gun violence problem the US has. We need to regulate guns the same way we regulate cars–not to take guns away from law abiding citizens but to protect all citizens. We should have mandatory safety training and background checks, renewable licenses and registrations, and limits on the type of weapons available to the general public. It should be more difficult to buy a gun and ammunition than an over the counter cold medication.

CLIMATE CHANGE PROBLEMS

If not now, addressing international concerns about the environment will be too late. Our stewardship of the planet is literally a matter of life and death. We must reestablish our commitment to the Paris Accord. We must renew our commitment to developing green energy. We must join international efforts to clean the world’s oceans and reduce our carbon footprint. We must reverse the administrations assault on public lands and reaffirm our commitment to protect our nation’s waterways.

RUSSIA

We know Russia tried to influence our presidential election in 2016. We also know little has been done to stop them from continuing their interference. Democrats must act immediately to empower those who can protect our elections from outside interference to do everything in their power to do so. Safety from outside physical threats are no longer the only danger we face as a nation. In that light, the Democrats in Congress must also guarantee the Mueller probe has everything it needs to complete its investigation.

POLITICS AS USUAL is no longer an option. If Democrats are given another chance in November, they MUST listen to the people who voted for them. We want action. We want change. We want it now. And, we are watching.

Posted by: minnow | October 7, 2018

The Eye of the Storm

I’m told (though having never been in one I must take this information on faith) the eye of a storm is a calm place. From November 9, 2016 until October 5, 2018, I have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions which could not ever have been called calm. One moment I was seething, then depressed, then determined, then crazy, then seething again. Over the last 23 months, I often felt pummeled by massive boulders of despondency or fear or pain. And, after watching the testimony from Ford and Kavanaugh, debating multiple women about the call to blackout profile pictures as a protest against domestic violence, and listening to Susan Collins pledge to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Friday (October 5), I literally felt sick to my stomach. Then Saturday, October 6, 2018, arrived. In a 50-48 vote (one of the closest in the history of the Supreme Court) the Senate voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, a man whose behavior and verbiage during his testimony on September 27 revealed himself to be temperamentally unfit for a seat on the Supreme Court, never mind the actual assault charge leveled against him. Intellectually, I was prepared for Saturday’s vote. After listening to a series of speeches on Friday from several members of the Senate defending their votes, I was all but certain Kavanaugh would be confirmed.

Toward the beginning of summer, before the public knew anything about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations, I posted the phrase “winter is coming” on my Magnetic Poetry Board. I needed a reminder that the People still had power to change the political landscape so I borrowed the saying from the series, A Game of Thrones, as a personal message of hope. Since the 2016 presidential election, I’ve liked and reposted memes like the one accompanying this post as a way of dealing with the onslaught of racist policies and ugly rhetoric perpetrated by this administration and the Majority in Congress.  I have written numerous personal opinion pieces urging my fellow snowflake, liberal, activists to get involved, to speak up and to VOTE.

The government’s lack of compassion and calculated decisions to ignore the reality of other people’s struggle has only become more apparent the farther away from the election we have come. Those of us who were watching during Obama’s presidency already understood 45 was dangerous. We already knew Mitch McConnell was power hungry and controlling. The surprise was how many others lurked in the shadows. Some of us were stunned that the GOP base merely dug in its heels the uglier and more racist, and more misogynistic 45 revealed himself to be. By mocking a sitting senator and former prisoner of war, ridiculing the parents of a fallen soldier, mimicking a disabled reporter, and bragging about kissing and groping women against their will 45 showed us nothing was off limits–the weak were his to bully and despise. His base ate it up. By praising Putin, kissing up to Kim Jong-un, and defending white supremacists as good people the president revealed his true colors. And, while a few fell away, most doubled down on their support, defending his depravity as telling it like it is, national pride, or draining the swamp.

For some, the Sentate’s slap in the face vote on Saturday will be the final rip of the curtain hiding the true nature of the New GOP. Those who have recently awakened will feel an urgency to wake others. A certain momentum will build over the next month leading into the midterm election. I know because I’ve seen it being proclaimed in memes and status updates. But, I do not know if it will be enough. We are fighting an avalanche of curtailed freedom and discarded protections. The gap between those with money and power and those without has only widened over the past decade. In just one month we will learn if enough of us have woken to the menace threatening our Republic from within as well as from without. The New GOP is hoping we haven’t. Today we are poised in the eye of the storm.

Posted by: minnow | September 30, 2018

Call for Help

Many women are choosing to tell their stories of abuse–domestic violence, date rape, childhood trauma, and workplace harassment. I just want to remind those who are triggered by the events of the past few weeks and the telling of these stories there is help. Please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 if you are feeling vulnerable, if you need a connection that will hear you and don’t have safe places.
That said–I have had more than one experience with sexual assault, unwanted attention, and sexist behavior from authorities. The first time I was 9 or 10. Three older boys took me to a shallow hole dug into a dirt lot in the neighborhood. They threatened to take my clothes off and held me against my will. I was saved because I heard my dad calling for me to come home and the boys let me go because they were afraid of getting caught.
Later, in high school, a friend and I were cruising the strip (driving up and down the same piece of road with a bunch of other kids doing the same thing–yeah that was a thing in the 70’s). I wasn’t supposed to be doing what we were doing and would have gotten grounded if my parents found out. We picked up a couple boys my friend thought were cute and drove to a well known “parking” spot. What was I expecting? Right? Not what I got. I thought boys would take no for an answer when they went to far. I literally had to kick him off me. My friend and I never talked about it. I remember seeing Barney at school off and on and feeling unclean every time I did. Luckily I went to a large school and he was a year or two ahead of me so I didn’t have to see him every day.
My experience with Barney was an education I did not know I needed. He taught me to be afraid, to monitor my behavior and the messages (intended or not) that I sent others, and he began a life long lesson: that I would rarely be safe unless I was willing to hold myself in check in multiple ways men never needed to.
The final story I will share here, while not my last or even most obviously abusive experience, is actually one which dramatically changed the trajectory of my life. At the end of my sophomore year in college I was sitting in my advisor’s office trying to plan out the next two years of school. I needed to decide where a semester in DC would fit best. Out of the blue my advisor said to me, “Some day you are going to make a great politician’s wife.” It was 1979. In my mind, women were supposed to have equal rights, equal opportunities, equal futures. I’d been raised by my mother to believe there was nothing I couldn’t do if I put in the work to do it. I didn’t want to be some politician’s wife–I wanted to be the politician. My goal was to go to law school, get into politics and become a senator. Yet this man–who was my advisor, who was supposed to have my best interests in mind, who’d had me in class and who had picked me as a freshman along with three other students to accompany former President Ford at a dinner and be a part of the escort to his campus address–was now telling me the greatest achievement he envisioned for my life was as some man’s wife. I left his office and never returned. I never took another political science class, never went to DC or law school, and never became a politician.
I do not know why I let his comment derail my dreams. That I did is on me. That his thinking was so narrow and that he likely said similar things to his other female advisees is on him. Now, almost 40 years later, the fact that women are still hearing such messages from men, still feeling shame because men don’t like to hear no or STOP, still needing to be hyper-vigilant with regard to the physical danger of assault from men IS ON ALL OF US.
Posted by: minnow | September 27, 2018

There Once Was a Judge

“What boy hasn’t done this in high school?”

My three sons. My nephew. The two sons of one of my closest friends. The one son of another friend. And the two sons of yet another. In fact, most of the boys I have had the pleasure of teaching, have invited into my home, and have watched grow into fine young men did not behave that way in high school or at any other time in their lives. MOST boys do not shove a girl into a bedroom, do not push her down on a bed, do not cover her mouth in order to muffle her screams, and do not try to undress her against her will. MOST boys do NOT sexually assault young girls. MOST 17 year olds do NOT attempt to rape 15 year olds. And for ALL OUR DAUGHTERS’ SAKE, if your son does engage in this kind of behavior he ought to face the consequences of his actions. He ought to be removed from your home, stripped of his freedom, and pay the price for the CRIME he’s committed because sexual assault and attempted rape are crimes. Even if you’re only in high school, even if you have a promising future ahead of you, even if you’re drunk–assault and attempted rape are CRIMES.

How can we trust Christine Blasey Ford’s version of events? Being assaulted and nearly raped is a traumatizing event. It stays with you for the rest of your life, EVEN if the perpetrator can’t remember it. Ford not only knew and named the perpetrator, she named a witness. She related the details of this event to a private counselor years before the perpetrator was tapped as a Supreme Court nominee. She disrupted her life and the lives of her family–they’ve had to move and go into hiding–in order to bring forth this information. Her risks of being re-traumatized, of being newly villainized, and of losing security have all increased. Yet she still came forward. We can believe her because others are coming forward, others who know Brett Kavanaugh is no Boy Scout. We can believe her because officials report that fewer than 2% of women who report sexual assaults make false claims. We can believe her because she has much more to lose than she has to gain.

Still, even if you do not believe her, which is your right, take care in how you voice your opinion. You can repeat Judge Kavanaugh’s denial as much as you like but you do not have a right to offer up alternative narratives. I was appalled when I heard the group of Republican women defend Kavanaugh’s actions. I found it offensive when one suggested sexual assault and attempted rape are normal–to be expected behavior–from teenage boys. But the worst part about listening to these women, for me, was imagining their daughters listening to their mothers. One woman made up a whole senario about Ford’s possible motives. Another suggest Ford’s goal was to ruin Kavanaugh’s life after Randi Kaye, the interviewer, pointed out the damage being done to Ford. And then–each. one. agreed. the TRUTH DIDN’T MATTER. Even if Kavanaugh sexually assaulted and attempt to rape Ford, in their minds, he still deserved a seat on the highest court in the land. I could not look my daughters in their eyes if I had just said their sexual assault and attempted rape should not get in the way of some man’s promotion, that their safety was less valuable than his future, and that their pain was just part of being female–assault something to be expected.

Predatory behavior is NOT normal human behavior! The idea that some women believe it is, and are willing to tolerate it, literally makes my skin crawl. Yet, we are not just talking about the handful of women who sat down for an interview with CNN. We are not just talking about a group of old white men desperate to keep control and keenly focused on stopping women from reaching equality. We are talking about sexist attitudes and behavior that are deeply entrenched in our society, so deeply entrenched we barely notice. When, for example, did you last turn off a television commercial or organize a boycott because a woman’s body was being used to sell a product? Never, you say. Yeah, I thought as much.

It may sound like I am angry at all men. I assure you I am not. But, I am angry at some of you. And I do believe that you all must advocate for change. As a whole society, we must come to terms with the fact that we allowed these hostile attitudes toward women to permeate our culture. And, unless we actively work to rewrite the narrative society will continue to paint women as less than men–less capable, less worthy, less valuable.

Thursday, September 27, 2018, Christine Blasey Ford is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about what happened to her 30 plus years ago when she was only 15. In an unusual move, the committee has called in outside counsel to ask the questions of Ford and Kavanaugh which goes against Fords specific request though she still plans to testify. My thoughts will be with her. I cannot imagine being in her shoes. Though some Senators have already stated that her testimony does not matter to them; they plan to confirm him regardless, I pray the country does not share their attitude. I pray this situation, the sickening stance of some senators and of the current administration, increases our resolve to fight for women’s rights. I pray we take courage from the women who demand to be heard and who deserve to be respected. I pray we work for justice and for change. I pray we wake up, speak out, and act. And I pray we will elect people who will lead this fight.

 

Posted by: minnow | September 16, 2018

World View: the White Lens

I recently has a FB discussion with someone I didn’t know. It began about the economy but as soon as I suggested that the economy was not as “great” for others as it might be for most white men, I was accused of bringing race into a discussion that didn’t need to be about race. When I asked why race shouldn’t be part of the discussion I was accused of being a divisive liberal. When I suggested the individual was refusing to understand the ways racial discrimination impacts over a third of the population, the conversation deteriorated further. Soon after that, I was accused of reverse discrimination and told I knew nothing about the person to whom I was talking, neither of which were true.
Bold statement I know, but hear me out. I admit I did not know personal data about the person I was engaged with, though I could probably have visited his FB page and found out a few things, but that information wasn’t actually germane to the conversation. What I needed to know, since I wasn’t planning to have an on going relationship with the guy, I gleaned from what he said and how he said it. Based on his own statements and the way in which he wanted to direct our dialogue I actually discerned quite a bit. For example, from his statement: “Every AMERICAN deserves a voice.” I understood he thought he was being inclusive. Yet as soon as I suggested for some segments of the population (people of color) more than for other segments of the population (white men) the economy was not only not “Great” it was getting worse I was expanding the parameters of the conversation. By the end of the conversation the only reason I could get from him for why it didn’t belong in the conversation is because HE–a young white man–wasn’t talking about race; HE was talking about the economy; and I–a whining liberal, like all the other snowflake liberals–only play the race card because the economy is so good we can’t call it bad (or criticize the President, or be divisive, or hate on white men) any other way.
Yeah, I kind of lost it. I told him, “You say ‘every AMERICAN’ but then insist that YOUR experience, not the experiences of EVERY American, be the only plume line allowed in a conversation. YOU aren’t discriminated against so nobody else should bring race into the discussion. YOU don’t want to look at it, because YOU don’t think it’s pertinent, because YOU, YOUR voice, YOUR experience, YOUR agenda, YOU–a relatively young white man–are THE lens through which everyone else must see the world because that’s the only view YOU are willing to discuss.” Needless to say, he didn’t start listening to me.
The problems we face are multifaceted because we are a diverse people. The group who has current control of the Republican party and has taken over our government is unwilling, if not incapable, of looking at or wrestling with the complexity of these issues. When 45, a bold, somewhat crass, authoritarian, shouted at his rallies that he was going to drain the swamp, that he wanted to lock her up, that he was going to get things done, and he would return us to a time when America was Great, he was not talking about getting rid of government corruption, seeing that law breakers would be punished, or that more people, not fewer, would have a seat at the table. The corruption the Right is worried about has little to do with “law and order” but a whole lot to do with the order of society. 45, the current GOP, and the Religious Right want to return to a time when white men sat at the top and all others, including “their” white women, serviced them. Hillary Clinton was “corrupt”, not because she broke any written law but because she is a woman and dared to expect to be seen as an equal. President Obama was “corrupt” not because of his policy or politics but because as a Black man he actually showed himself to be morally and intellectually equal, if not superior, to the white men with power, certainly the white man currently in the White House. 
You really want to end the divisiveness in this country? Try to intentionally look at the problems we face through someone else’s lens–a woman’s, a person of color’s, a person of a different faith, age, or sexual orientation. Those who are NOT systematically discriminated against do not get to cry “reverse discrimination” just because those who face discrimination every day of their lives demand the same rights, the same control over the conversation, the same seat at the power table as the people in power already have.
Posted by: minnow | September 1, 2018

A Nation Divided Cannot

We must stop judging the success of this administration by how well the wealthiest 1% are doing, economically. The stock market and our productivity don’t tell the full story. And, until recently has never been the single standard by which Americans judged themselves or the world judged Americans. If we truly believe in America–the American ideal AND the American dream then other things matter more than wealth.

If we embrace the notion of that city on a hill, first preached about by John Winthrop and later resurrected by President Kennedy, than we need to look to what makes (at least until recently) this nation a beacon of welcoming light. The integrity of those in power and opportunity for the masses must once again become our country’s plum line. Human rights matter. Equality matters. Hard working Americans matter. Healthcare matters. The environment matters. A living wage for everyone matters. Curbing gun violence matters. Our relationships with our allies matter. Truly holding despots and dictators accountable for their heinous actions throughout the world matters.

YES, we have division in this country. We have moved away from a debate over ideas and methods to childish name calling. Instead of wrestling with problems we agree we face, we have begun to question one another’s motives for even bringing up those issues. In this decline of discourse both sides have played a role and both sides–independently–must change the tenor of the debate if they want to regain the trust of the American people.  HOW we talk to one another has changed and all who truly believe in the the city on the hill must seek a return to civil discourse and reject the yipping and yapping from the toothless mutts of petty prattle and ignorant moaning. Our nation is divided ONLY when we give in to fear and lazy rhetoric. When we chose to work together we build railroads, eradicate Polio, and fly to the moon. We cannot afford to lose sight of our true strength–the diversity of our ideas which emanate from a myriad of voices. We are divided about this truth only when those in power think holding on to their power is more important than our nation’s integrity. For them personal power is more desirable than freedom, equality, and a true Republic. And ALL patriotic Americans, on both sides of the aisle must resist their influence.

Those who follow power brokers either hope to benefit from their loyalty or have been brainwashed by fear and the pain of their own poverty and hopelessness. The latter have been fed the lie that sameness–sameness of faith, sameness of culture, sameness of skin color, sameness of class–equals safety. And, they are unwilling (or unable due to sheer weariness of spirit) to consider a different way.

As a Christ follower I am dismayed. By continuing to support this administration and those currently controlling Congress, the religious right has sold its soul. It has forfeited any rights to proclaiming “Christian values”. It has used the carrot of overturning Roe V Wade or undoing Marriage Equality as a means to maintain loyalty among their minions. Yet, the only way either of those things happen is if unqualified judges, nominated by a unscrupulous president, is forced onto the Supreme Court by a morally corrupt Republican Congress. And, what is actually gained? Abortion levels are already below what we experienced prior to the passing of Roe V Wade. The only “gains” here will be an increase in maternal mortality rates, an increase in the female prison population, a black market abortion industry, and an up-tick in child neglect and abandonment due to greater poverty. Before the Supreme Court decision about marriage equality in 2015, 36 states already passed marriage equality laws. Those state laws won’t be undone because the Supreme Court is packed with patriarchal pharisees who follow mammon while proclaiming Christ.

As the Church, we should be focused on advocating for the other. The widow and orphan (James 1:27), the homeless and imprisoned (Matt. 25:34-36) should cause us to pray, not for our safety but for theirs. And, we should pray with our hands and feet in service to mend the brokenhearted and restore their souls. The foreigner in our land should be treated like our brothers (Lev. 19:34) not like a threat to our way of life. If Church leaders were truly promoting Christian values we would be encouraged every Sunday morning to share what we have with the “other” in our path whether it be goods, services, or merely a smile. Our goal would be to build bridges, not walls.

Do not let the Power brokers preach to you about division because their version of what divides us demands loyalty to power–their power–and fear of change and growth and hope and dreams. To survive is not enough. When we work together, when we help one another, we can thrive.

You, my friends, can make a difference. Register. Get your friends to register. And VOTE. Vote out the racism, sexism, and obstructionism. Vote out fear. Vote out the greedy. Vote out hate. Vote out those who are supported by big money. Vote out those who do-nothing, who have done nothing for years, who pad and protect their personal bank accounts at the expense of the people they are supposed to represent. Change the face of Congress in 2018 and rid this nation of the leeches who currently hold power, the saboteurs intent on giving our democracy away to the highest bidder.

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