The Other Beautiful America

I have always loved what America has the ideals to be.  As my friend Jen apparently knows as a history teacher, those ideals can be found somewhere between the Magna Carta, The Plymouth Covenant, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Constitution — each laid claim to in Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” Speech and his understanding of “the Beloved Community”. Since King, there have been moves toward equality of the sexes, and President Obama’s decision to support gay marriage, as a new generation stakes its claim to America. So much of this is under threat with the current administration, but the ideals of the country still hold in many places among people who care for each other, who still believe that human beings have dignity and worth, that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

“Seek first the community where God reigns” — my paraphrase of Matthew 6:33

As of this week, my blogs  “Like It Matters”  and “Because It Matters” have reached a combined 20,000 hits so I want to celebrate those people who make up the America I believe in . 

This should in no way diminish the incredible natural beauty of America — the one of song and story. Having toured America and  written about it in the blogs, I can tell you that the Grand Canyon is a miracle of nature and there is so much more which reminds you that no human being could keep up with God’s creativity. Yes, the natural beauty is also threatened by the current administration, but everybody talks about that. This blog began out of frustration that I wasn’t hearing opinions or stories I could relate to. I was astounded after writing the very first blog that other people shared my opinion. I had begun to believe that good religious people and liberals no longer existed. They do. This blog has become about them and their stories, their thoughts, for all 20,000 hits. 

So, enough about me. Let’s talk about the other beautiful America.

Every church in America — if it talks about Jesus — has the right intent. Nobody starts a church with the intention of hurting people. If it takes Jesus seriously, however, it is part of the beloved community that makes the world –via the people around it– better off. Most every church in the UCC and liberal Protestant denominations believes in kindness and taking care of each other — until recently the norm, now radical concepts.

When I want to listen instead of talk, the Society of Friends (Quakers) is where I go to be filled.

Certainly, without a doubt, all of the clergy or ministerial types mentioned in these pages do that. People with specific stories here (or mentioned) include:

Gordon Sherman and Cy Sherman, Rick Fowler, John Hudson, Jeff Brown, Pat Speer, Lynn Carman Bodden and her husband Peter, Char Corbett and her sister Sioux Wilusz, Greg Coles, David Ratz, George Harris, the late Prophetess Gerry Claytor and her late husband, Rev. Benny Claytor, their daughters, Kim and Bennyta (now called “Bee”), Caroll Cyr  and the staff of Silver Lake, Cat Chapin-Bishop and her husband Peter, Peter Wells, my wife Michelle Madsen-Bibeau, Todd Farnsworth, Linda Lea Snyder, Lisabeth Gustafsen, Ken Ferguson, the entire staff of CYC Senior High camp, and Camp Wightman, staff and campers from the now defunct Deering Camp and Conference Center, the late Newt Perrins and his still very  alive wife, Val and the staff of Skye Farm. The late Charlie Crook .

While I like them doing “charity” work, my friend Pat Speer (covered in a blog) and his organization Christian Activity Council believes the church is called to push for justice, so that churches don’t need to do charity. Until Jesus returns, I’m ok with both.

********************************

“People are people, so why should it be, that you and I should get along so awfully?” — Depeche Mode

(thoughts on beautifully American groups…)

There’s a group of people I grow to respect more and more in this country, precisely because they have no reason to be kind, but do it anyway: the LGBTQ community. A few weeks ago, a lesbian saved the life of a Senator in Washington. She’s married. He doesn’t believe in gay marriage. If it were up to him, she’d have a much harder life. When it was up to her, he got to keep his life. She could have forgotten how to use her gun, or lost her way to the Senator’s location, but she didn’t because it would be a dereliction of duty and apparently out of character for her. After this event, she could go home and look at herself in the mirror. Could he?  Of course, not all gay people are like her  and not all Senators are like him, of course. It’s just that there’s no reason for either of their behaviors and she did the Jesus-type thing.

I make the case also, because I know my friend Leigh McCaffrey — an ordained minister in the UCC and a lesbian herself. She lives near Orlando, Florida and when a hateful man from another religion killed a room full of gay folks, that community came together. They didn’t go Muslim-blaming. They didn’t flip out about terrorism, they didn’t attack back. They came together, became tighter, supported each other, celebrated life and grieved the loss. Given that there still many place where Leigh and her partner Sue can’t go, for fear of death, that seems incredible to me. Still, Leigh knows Jesus personally, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I just am.

In these pages, I have talked about Patty Bucchieri, whom I called “the nice lesbian” because she was, and is, good to our children. In our church, there are lots of nice gay folk. Patty is just so kind and a good Christian, I wanted to highlight her . In these pages, there are also in-the-closet gay folks covered — but of course, I can’t say who they are, just that they changed my life.

NAACP, Bridgeport’s IMA, Black Lives Matter, Jeff Brown’s ministry of peacemaking in Boston, Bridgeport Food Pantry, The Geraldine Claytor Magnet School in Bridgeport, CT, Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester, NY, Beyond The Moment

I’m old. I like old causes, obvious causes, things that make sense to me. Race relations makes sense to me. Promoting harmony and rights for some of the coolest people I know makes sense to me. It seems like many of my friends have moved on to new causes, but this one still remains  unfinished. We ended the war. We’ve had the sexual revolution. We have had the equal rights movement, but pretty much racism has gone unchanged in this country. Yes, the women’s movement has lost ground for years. Yes, it seems that every single good thing is being threatened by this administration. But somehow, after the Civil Rights movement and MLK’s death, everybody else realized they could get their rights, and the fight against racism went untouched by the White community. Like the last case of smallpox, it came roaring back stronger than ever over the last few years , as some pockets of America want to go back to straight-out oppressing Black folks. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to finish one project before I move on to the next one so I have tried to write blogs about racism and racist violence whenever it happens. I now write prayers at night because it took too much out of me to write and grieve that much — sometimes 3 times in a day. There is so much to treasure about Black culture (No, I still don’t like most rap, or dance songs that are only about sex, but my kids do) that I hate to lose it. The groups above or individuals, like the rest of beautiful America, cares when it’s hard and still talks to White culture even though the abuses of that culture should have had us written off years ago.

That said, there are other organizations that make the world better and deal with some of the issues: The Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, N.O.W., People For The American Way and National Coalition Builders Institute in Washington, D.C.

Some organizations making the world better every day aren’t run by anybody, or anybody you’d know: Alcoholics Anonymous and every other 12-Step group in the world is an incredible gift to humanity.  You can change your life, find meaning, and be a part of change for free at these places.

In the same vein, there is Celebrate Recovery that my friend Dave Ratz (mentioned in blog years ago) ran a local chapter of in New Britain, CT. Also a fine group, the religion piece of it might be off-putting to some and life-saving to others. In New Britain, at 500 Main St., there is an offshoot  of CR called Recapture Healing and run by Marie Bachand.

Jean Milo is now a big mucky-muck with Save The Children.

Organizations don’t have to be big to do good things. Cunningham Tire in N. Reading, Massachusetts, will balance and install tires for free. Bob and Derek are brothers who want to help motorists for free. They consider it a ministry, and it is. They are great guys.

I know I have already discussed churches, but under groups, I want to acknowledge the no-longer kids of Center Church Lynnfield, MA, Union Congregational in Hall, NY, and Mountain Rise UCC who have grown up to make the world better in so many ways. I remain in awe of them for the kindness and intelligence they share in the world.

Also covered in a blog: Ability+ Sports who get people with any number of disabilities to the slopes in Vermont and do incredible work creating spiritually/emotionally whole people who are better skiers than I am.

Finally, I have decided recently to get involved with “food justice” issues. Who could be against people eating? Let’s not go there…. Who is for people eating? WhyHunger, started by the late musician Harry Chapin and Bill Ayres, its mission is to end hunger, by connecting up with grassroots folks all over America. They do incredible work and their monthly newsletter is full of agencies and organization that connect to the cause. Literate and intelligent and caring all in one organization.

***** healers and helpers *****

“There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul” — hymn

America is full of teachers,therapists, social workers, nurses, doctors who help people every single day. This became apparent especially after a Deering Reunion where people talked about what they had done with their lives since camp. Shout outs to:

Dawn Cunningham in Massachusetts is a great school teacher. Liz Solomon Wright is a college professor in Texas. My friend Cat Chapin-Bishop won the non-existent  “Mary Lou Brewer Award” for teaching in these pages, honoring both Cat and Mary Lou, ML is my favorite teacher of all time.  Barbara “Bobbie” Fox at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT is a teacher of healers. All of the staff at Charter Oak Elementary, Sedgwick Middle School, and Conard High School have taught my daughters to be fine citizens. Pam Shuman is a psychiatrist and teacher at Brown University (or was).

My former sister-in-law Marlene Sanford has worked with the developmental delayed for 20+ years.

My mother, Donna Rae Zoller Bibeau, was –and wanted to be — a nurse for most of her life. Deb Bercovici is a nurse. Maryanne Maccullagh is a chaplain to nurses … and patients. Karen Ross Gardener Gatchell has been a nurse for years.

The staffs of River Valley Counseling in Chicopee, MA, Petaluma People’s Service Center in Petaluma, CA, South Bay Mental Health in Attleboro MA, BHN in Springfield, MA and the staff of the Institute for Living in Hartford, CT ( at this age, I’m old enough to have worked at most of them) help clean up the messes life inflicts.

The Virginia Satir Global Network is, for me, the mother lode of all good things in family therapy and systems theory.

****** Arts and Artists**********

“Paint a pretty smile each day./loving is a blessing/never let it fade away/it’s all about love” — from “All About Love” by Earth, Wind, and Fire

“If I had a hammer/I’d hammer in the morning” — Pete Seeger

In the blog, I have featured/reviewed many an artist’s work.

MIchelle Beebs is one of the kindest people I know. She has an incredible ear for music. Both solo and with her band, the Money Makers, they are enlightened indiduals who kick butt as a tight-knit group with a groove.

Joan Osborne has a musical dexterity and a love of the world of roots music I admire. I have yet to pick up her new CD tribute to Bob Dylan, but I will.

Chapin, Chapin, Chapin…. The late Harry Chapin is one of my heroes. I have had the absolute pleasure to interview Jen Chapin, whom I admire in so many ways. The Chapin Family, The Chapin Sisters, Tom and Steve Chapin, the Jen Chapin Trio, Howie Fields, and Big John Wallace have all been positively reviewed here.

The Blues Brothers changed my life.

Larry Baker is a great author.

Ron Bottitta is involved with 99-seat theaters in L.A. And does good, provocative work with Rant and Rave out there.

Comic book and comic book movies show us the best in ourselves. The most recent one, Wonder Woman, is incredible.

TV show “Chuck” is a great show about kind people thrown into a very unkind world of danger.

This is the America I know, the beautiful human America. There isn’t a militarist or a corporation or Russian spies among them. They are just people with a belief in a just and kind world. And these are just the people I know or know of. No doubt, reader, you know people just like these. On this 4th of July, 2017 acknowledge and celebrate this beautiful America. Feel free to add organizations or people who also in the comments section. If any of it has typos or you’d rather not have it included, let me know that as well. 

Resisting with Peace,
John



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A Retelling

And behold, in the first year of the Trump administration, a pundit asked Jesus “Who is the strongest political candidate in the race… is it the one whose base watched Fox News or the one whose base watched MSNBC?. People are asking on Facebook and your answer will be placed against theirs. Jesus responded: “What exactly does a politician do?”. The pundits asked, in unison, “They wield power and affect the lives of those around them”. Jesus answered, “The person who does that best”.

But the troll, seeking to justify himself, said “And who is that?”.

Jesus replied, “There was a town nearby the capital of a country, not so far that it had no influence, but not so close that it wasn’t independent and free-thinking.” And lo, there was a town looking to elect a candidate from their district. The town was burdened by a changing economy, a lack of jobs for years, poor education, a lack of food, and rampant addictions had fueled a great anger amongst the people which led to violence among its citizens…

Three candidates approached the people of the town. One was a Law-and-Order candidate who said to the people, “I understand your anger. I feel the same way. I’ll go to the Capitol and give them what for! They can’t tell us how to run our lives while desecrating our Laws and Traditions! I’ll bring your anger to them!” He threatened to use his anger to overthrow the educated, elite people in the town if he won. That candidate lost.”

“The second candidate had compassion for the people, but no knowledge of how to fix things, as they didn’t agree with the Laws and Traditions of the people. They were determined to rid the backward ways of the people. That candidate also lost”.

“There was a third candidate, a transgender woman, who both loved the people and knew how to fix things, because she knew the law and had compassion because she understood their pain. She made no such promise of retribution. That candidate won”.

Jesus asked the troll, “Who do you think was the strongest candidate?”. The troll grumbled… “The one who won.”

“And how did that candidate win?”, Jesus asked.

The troll, lacking any understanding, said, “I’m as confused as you are”.

Jesus answered, “Because she cared about the people, including those she didn’t agree with. of Go and do likewise”.

And the troll remained confused.

Resisting with Peace,

John

John

We Were ALL Right! 

I frequently tell clients that they know what they see and feel.  America, you know what you see and feel. All of you.  American government does not work. It hasn’t for quite some time. You work harder and get less. Your kids can’t afford college, but school departments don’t fund High Schools. They can’t. The money is gone to politicians and bankers and lobbyists and lawyers, and yes, politicians who are all of those, depending on whether they are in office or out of it. 

Yes, many elected officials no longer go into the job to represent you. They go into office to represent themselves. They like the power. They like writing the rules to benefit themselves. They like getting rich and having the “freedom” to get richer.

Now, here’s the thing. Is Donald Trump corrupt? Yes, in ways we can’t even imagine yet. Is Hillary Clinton corrupt? With Donna Brazile’s new book coming out, it seems that they answer is yes, as well. Both things can be true. Are Donna Brazile’s hands clean. I gather they aren’t. The system is rigged. And we have been too busy fighting among ourselves to notice.

In the last election, populism raised its head. On the right, people were fed up with Clinton and voted for Trump. On the left, people were fed up with every Republican that wants to turn back the clock and bows to the god of “trickle down”. Meanwhile, 90% of Americans lives don’t work financially. Yes, Bill, “It is the economy, stupid”. What you did about it didn’t help. Nor did what George W did. I still think Obama was a statesman, and a good man, but that doesn’t matter anymore. He may have been too late to save politics, especially post- Citizen’s United. In any case, he’s not the President anymore, and he’s not coming back. 

So what’s the solution? We are the solution. If it’s not working, make it work. 

Since some politicians are still in it to represent us, support them. You know if they are. Your life works better than many. But if your elected official is in it for the power, or the money, get involved in politics yourself. My friend Rick is. Other people are. Even if you think you don’t have the brains God gave a horse, could you be any worse than who is in power now? If you have an iota of morality, intelligence, and willingness to serve others, to make people’s lives better, you’ve got what it takes! The rest is style points and details. You can figure it out from there. The joy of having this many corrupt politicians, is that you — even on your worst day, could do better than that. Why? Because you know what you see, America. You know what you see.

Resisting with Peace,

John

One Guy’s Thoughts on Sexual Violence and Equality 

There is a new story in the Huffington Post that talks about Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood producer, and his alleged history of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment. The headline says “men’s silence is deafening” about the issue. On Twitter there is a flame war about who’s worse, Trump or Weinstein. There is so much to talk about here, so I will expand the topic beyond those two men and deal with related issues, as well.
 As a therapist, I see this kind of deflection all the time. “He did it first!” “Yeah? He did it worse!” In politics, as in my office, this kind of shit must stop. [That’s not a polite to say it, I know, but this isn’t a polite subject. Sometimes you have to use the appropriate clinical terms. ] I don’t give a rat’s behind about what some other person did. The person who did whatever it is needs to a) stop doing it; b) apologize for doing it; c) do what they can to fix it and d) realize that the victim and relationship may never be the same; e) cope with that. 
The amount of wreckage that comes from sexual assault or sexual harassment is absolutely incredible. The number of people I see in my office that are coping with sexual trauma and the length of time that I have to work with them about it is huge. The effect that this has on relationships of all kinds is staggering. People who have been abused often hate themselves so much for “letting” it happen and spend their entire lives trying to kill themselves, either quickly or slowly. Ways they try to cope: drugs or other addictions, cutting themselves, suicide attempts, banging their heads against walls, developing multiple personalities to wall off their feelings, and the list goes on. If you think about how much of our mental health and justice system is involved with these coping mechanisms, you see just how tragic it is.
In addition to that, there are quite a few people that act out their anger violently, or try to control everything and everyone around them, trying to quell their feelings of powerlessness and being out of control. That takes less of my time as a therapist, but takes up way more of the justice system. All of that comes from sexual abuse. So many of our resources, so many lives destroyed, so many relationships crushed beneath the weight of this thing, that we must address it as a society, not as titillation, but as the disgusting thing it is.
Sexual harassment is harder for guys to understand, because we don’t experience it much (even if, like myself, we know we’re gorgeous. Guffaw. Just kidding). The knowledge that abuse can happen, and does, makes harassment all the more toxic for those who have been abused. But, as I understand it, wolf-whistling, making comments about breasts, butts, legs, is harassing a woman. Putting pictures up in the office of naked women when women work there is considered harassment. Being a boss to someone or in charge of their fate in some way and making sexual advances is harassment. They distract from the day’s work. They’re an irritant, and they simply suck the energy out of the woman being harassed. Don’t do these things.
All of this harassment comes from two ideas 1) the idea that men are more important than women; and 2) men know women better than women themselves do. With those two ideas, men and women can get into all kinds of stupid, horrible stuff. What those two ideas, women can be made to do all kinds of things that they shouldn’t have to — giving up education, giving up birth control, or other reproductive rights, not driving cars, being genitally mutilated, sexual slavery, being raped as the spoils of war, giving up a career to tend to the family because that’s the way it’s supposed to be (versus consciously making that choice), having boob jobs done, or injecting botulism toxin into their foreheads, being forced to wear a certain type of clothes so they don’t get raped, and so on. 
Those two ideas make society hell for women around the world and are all feminist issues. 
Therefore, we have to have these beliefs if we’re going to change things, decrease trauma and its resultant crime: 1) Women and men have equal value; and 2) Men need to listen to women to find out what they actually think and feel, and take those thoughts and feelings seriously. That is the feminism I believe in. If we think that way, the world will change.   
                     
                    ****** Ok, the guy stuff no one else is probably telling you*****
1) Having male genitalia doesn’t mean you hate women. Some guys do, in fact, hate women. We call them “assholes”. Men do not respect a man who beats his wife. We never really have. We think that means that they’re out of control. Men aren’t supposed to be out of control. If you hit a woman, you can’t think of anything else to do. So now, in addition to being out of control, you’re stupid as well. Men aren’t supposed to be stupid. 
Actual men think that any kind of mutilation is gross. 
Actual men take responsibility for their sexuality. If a man gets a woman pregnant, he is responsible to take care of that child in one way or another. I don’t know of a man alive who doesn’t think getting someone pregnant and abandoning them and the child isn’t being a loser. If a man had sex with a woman, he has promised that he will take care of the woman (whom he loves) and the child that results from sex. A man’s word is his bond. 
Yes, men like sex. Yes, that’s a given. But having a woman choose to give herself to you/be intimate with you/have sex with you may well be the best feeling ever. Less than that is much less fun.
2) Women have expectations of men that are too low. 
Men are not walking penises. Sometimes, men think with their “little head” rather than their “big head”. They still have a brain. Their brain has to walk their body over to you. Not using your brain makes you an idiot. Sometimes, men are idiots, but it’s not a permanent condition. They’re still responsible for being an idiot. 
“Boys will be boys” and “girls will be girls” aren’t particularly helpful ideas. Boys shouldn’t be having sex. Girls shouldn’t be having sex. Only adult men and women should. If a guy isn’t man enough to take responsibility for his actions, he’s just a boy. If he is man enough, he doesn’t like little girls. 
Men can do dishes, take out the trash, wash clothes, change the baby, and so on. We’re not crippled. It’s ok to expect that, unless of course we are crippled. Guys hate not being able to impact their environment. We don’t probably have as much experience or training or belief that we should do those things, but it doesn’t mean we can’t. Cut us some slack, but don’t let us off the hook.
3) Men and boys get raped. Yes, and they get raped by men and women. Women rape women. Men rape men. Adults rape children. That’s the thing that throws off the idea that all men have all the power in society, that it’s some conspiracy, that all men want to rape all women. That’s the part of identity politics that no one talks about. It certainly happens less often to men, and harassment far less. 
All of the things that I have described about women’s response to sexual trauma, are also true about men’s response to sexual trauma. Anybody can be an asshole. Anyone who chooses to be — or thinks they can’t stop themselves from being one — has stopped being human. They don’t earn respect, and they don’t deserve it. That blows the whole idea that one sex is better than the other. If you can’t control yourself, you’re not better than anyone. If men can’t control themselves, they are not better people than women. They’re just not. 
4) Most men don’t think of themselves as “MEN!”. They think of themselves as guys. Guys don’t want to have power over anybody. They want to have power over themselves. Yes, they have genitals, and yes, they have sex drive, but so what. If you’re playing hockey or football, or baseball, or bowling, that’s what you’re thinking about most of the time. Even in competition, the most competitive guy isn’t necessarily the most liked – respected, perhaps, but not liked. Ty Cobb was extremely competitive. He was also an asshole that no one liked. 
Guys who want to prove their manhood are just plain weird. Who has to prove what they already are? Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast” is a boor. He’s not Everyman. And every guy there knows it.
I hope this clarifies things. Among other things, it proves that Weinstein and Trump are not men, they’re not guys. They are assholes.
Resisting with Peace, 

John

One Guy’s Thoughts on Sexual Violence and Equality 

There is a new story in the Huffington Post that talks about Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood producer, and his alleged history of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment. The headline says “men’s silence is deafening” about the issue. On Twitter there is a flame war about who’s worse, Trump or Weinstein. There is so much to talk about here, so I will expand the topic beyond those two men and deal with related issues, as well.

 As a therapist, I see this kind of deflection all the time. “He did it first!” “Yeah? He did it worse!” In politics, as in my office, this kind of shit must stop. [That’s not a polite to say it, I know, but this isn’t a polite subject. Sometimes you have to use the appropriate clinical terms. ] I don’t give a rat’s behind about what some other person did. The person who did whatever it is needs to a) stop doing it; b) apologize for doing it; c) do what they can to fix it and d) realize that the victim and relationship may never be the same; e) cope with that. 

The amount of wreckage that comes from sexual assault or sexual harassment is absolutely incredible. The number of people I see in my office that are coping with sexual trauma and the length of time that I have to work with them about it is huge. The effect that this has on relationships of all kinds is staggering. People who have been abused often hate themselves so much for “letting” it happen and spend their entire lives trying to kill themselves, either quickly or slowly. Ways they try to cope: drugs or other addictions, cutting themselves, suicide attempts, banging their heads against walls, developing multiple personalities to wall off their feelings, and the list goes on. If you think about how much of our mental health and justice system is involved with these coping mechanisms, you see just how tragic it is.

In addition to that, there are quite a few people that act out their anger violently, or try to control everything and everyone around them, trying to quell their feelings of powerlessness and being out of control. That takes less of my time as a therapist, but takes up way more of the justice system. All of that comes from sexual abuse. So many of our resources, so many lives destroyed, so many relationships crushed beneath the weight of this thing, that we must address it as a society,  not as titillation, but as the disgusting thing it is.

Sexual harassment is harder for guys to understand, because we don’t experience it much (even if, like myself, we know we’re gorgeous. Guffaw. Just kidding).  The knowledge that abuse can happen, and does, makes harassment all the more toxic for those who have been abused. But, as I understand it, wolf-whistling, making comments about breasts, butts, legs, is harassing a woman. Putting pictures up in the office of naked women when women work there is considered harassment. Being a boss to someone or in charge of their fate in some way and making sexual advances is harassment. They distract from the day’s work. They’re an irritant, and they simply suck the energy out of the woman being harassed. Don’t do these things.

All of this harassment comes from two ideas 1) the idea that men are more important than women; and 2) men know women better than women themselves do. With those two ideas, men and women can get into all kinds of stupid, horrible stuff. What those two ideas, women can be made to do all kinds of things that they shouldn’t have to — giving up education, giving up birth control, or other reproductive rights, not driving cars, being genitally mutilated, sexual slavery, being raped as the spoils of war, giving up a career to tend to the family because that’s the way it’s supposed to be (versus consciously making that choice), having boob jobs done, or injecting botulism toxin into their foreheads, being forced to wear a certain type of clothes so they don’t get raped, and so on. 

Those two ideas make society hell for women around the world and are all feminist issues. 

Therefore, we have to have these beliefs if we’re going to change things, decrease trauma and its resultant crime: 1) Women and men have equal value; and 2) Men need to listen to women to find out what they actually think and feel, and take those thoughts and feelings seriously. That is the feminism I believe in. If we think that way, the world will change.   

                     

                    ****** Ok, the guy stuff no one else is probably telling you*****

1) Having male genitalia doesn’t mean you hate women. Some guys do, in fact, hate women. We call them “assholes”. Men do not respect a man who beats his wife. We never really have. We think that means that they’re out of control. Men aren’t supposed to be out of control. If you hit a woman, you can’t think of anything else to do. So now, in addition to being out of control, you’re stupid as well. Men aren’t supposed to be stupid. 

Actual men think that any kind of mutilation is gross. 

Actual men take responsibility for their sexuality. If a man gets a woman pregnant, he is responsible to take care of that child in one way or another. I don’t know of a man alive who doesn’t think getting someone pregnant and abandoning them and the child isn’t being a loser. If a man had sex with a woman, he has promised that he will take care of the woman (whom he loves) and the child that results from sex. A man’s word is his bond. 

Yes, men like sex. Yes, that’s a given. But having a woman choose to give herself to you/be intimate with you/have sex with you may well be the best feeling ever. Less than that is much less fun.

2) Women have expectations of men that are too low. 

Men are not walking penises. Sometimes, men think with their “little head” rather than their “big head”. They still have a brain. Their brain has to walk their body over to you. Not using your brain makes you an idiot. Sometimes, men are idiots, but it’s not a permanent condition. They’re still responsible for being an idiot. 

“Boys will be boys” and “girls will be girls” aren’t particularly helpful ideas. Boys shouldn’t be having sex. Girls shouldn’t be having sex. Only adult men and women should. If a guy isn’t man enough to take responsibility for his actions, he’s just a boy. If he is man enough, he doesn’t like little girls. 

Men can do dishes, take out the trash, wash clothes, change the baby, and so on. We’re not crippled. It’s ok to expect that, unless of course we are crippled. Guys hate not being able to impact their environment. We don’t probably have as much experience or training or belief that we should do those things, but it doesn’t mean we can’t. Cut us some slack, but don’t let us off the hook.

3) Men and boys get raped.  Yes, and they get raped by men and women. Women rape women. Men rape men. Adults rape children. That’s the thing that throws off the idea that all men have all the power in society, that it’s some conspiracy, that all men want to rape all women. That’s the part of identity politics that no one talks about. It certainly happens less often to men, and harassment far less. 

All of the things that I have described about women’s response to sexual trauma, are also true about men’s response to sexual trauma. Anybody can be an asshole. Anyone who chooses to be — or thinks they can’t stop themselves from being one — has stopped being human. They don’t earn respect, and they don’t deserve it. That blows the whole idea that one sex is better than the other. If you can’t control yourself, you’re not better than anyone. If men can’t control themselves, they are not better people than women. They’re just not. 

4) Most men don’t think of themselves as “MEN!”. They think of themselves as guys. Guys don’t want to have power over anybody. They want to have power over themselves. Yes, they have genitals, and yes, they have sex drive, but so what. If you’re playing hockey or football, or baseball, or bowling, that’s what you’re thinking about most of the time. Even in competition, the most competitive guy isn’t necessarily the most liked – respected, perhaps, but not liked. Ty Cobb was extremely competitive. He was also an asshole that no one liked. 

Guys who want to prove their manhood are just plain weird. Who has to prove what they already are? Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast” is a boor. He’s not Everyman. And every guy there knows it.

I hope this clarifies things. Among other things, it proves that Weinstein and Trump are not men, they’re not guys. They are assholes.

Resisting with Peace, 
John

NOW I’M MAD!!!!

Hear these words from the prophet Jeremiah, Chapters 11 and 12

“The Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey me.” But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’”

Therefore this is what the Lord says about the people of Anathoth who are threatening to kill you, saying, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands”— You are always righteous, Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts. Yet you know me, Lord; you see me and test my thoughts about you. 
I am done with this administration. I want Trump impeached as of yesterday. 

Remember how Trump sucked the air out of the room during the Republican debates? Remember him humiliating Hillary while talking to her? They are politicians. They signed up for this. I could even allow that we as a nation signed up for this, though I did not vote for him.

American children did not sign up for this. The people of North Korea, South Korea, or Japan did not sign up for this. The people of Puerto Rico did not sign up for this.

What is “this”? “This” is death by the President of the United States’ hand. Honestly, I’m not given to hyperbole.  I am serious, and now I am mad! 

This is today’s news, just one day’s news.

1) President Trump gleefully tweeted today that he “… told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…”  “…Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!” “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I will not fail”.

No leader of any country with nuclear capabilities can ever suggest that negotiations are over. If negotiations are over, that only leaves the military option… the nuclear military option. As we now know, any military solution with North Korea risks nuclear weapons and mass casualties , possible destruction of the planet. That is the ultimate failure.  How can anyone make the case for freedom (remember, America used to stand for freedom) if people die in the hundreds of thousands? 

2) That same man, the leader of our country, said that a group of America citizens who are without food, water, power, and internet have “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help,” Trump tweeted in part. “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.” She had just begged for help from anyone would help because the leader of her country couldn’t be bothered for a week about her plight. She is quoted as saying, “This is not a ‘good news’ story. This is a ‘People are dying’ story”.  Those deaths, yes, deaths are on his head.  We, as American citizens, will be complicit in more deaths if we let him stay in office.  I, for one, refuse to let that happen.

3) The final straw came today, when the CHIP program was allowed to lapse. Why will it be out of money? It happened because Congress can not deal with anything but Trump. He has sucked the air out of Congress’ time to govern. Mitch McConnell in the Senate and Paul Ryan in the House have gone along with the President’s agenda, and had to deal with his outrageousness, and had to set up committees to deal with his behavior, leaving precious little time to actually govern. I was happy watching the circus of Republican ineptitude at his command until now. When the healthcare of American children is threatened, this game must end. We hardly pay enough lip service to “children as our future” as it is. Now, we’re going to prevent 9 million children from getting medical and dental services because we couldn’t get to them! The people who choose what the government will do, chose poorly

Enough is enough. They should all be removed — the President, The Speaker of the House, and the Majority Leader of the Senate — before they do any more damage. 

Mr. McConnell can be contacted at tel:(202) 224-2541.  Mr. Ryan can be contacted at ph: (202) 225-3031. 

Still resisting with Peace, but angrily…

John

Have We Learned Nothing?

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  —George Santayana

I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Today I’m listening to my news podcasts and these are the stories:

1) We march closer to the possibility of nuclear war with North Korea.

2) Congress is trying to repeal the board that Elizabeth Warren helped set up before she was a senator.

3) The nation is arguing about Donald Trump’s tweets about kneeling in the NFL.

4) Donald Trump tweeted about an Iranian missile program which is “fake news” (aka not true. The incident didn’t happen.) and angered the Iranians.

5) Ken Burns is doing a PBS documentary on the Vietnam War

6) 60 years ago, Eisenhower (a Republican) sent the military to Little Rock, Arkansas so that 9 little Black kids could go to school with their White counterparts.

 

Historically,

  1. We’ve seen what nuclear war could do. When we dropped bombs on Hiroshima and later on Nagasaki, Japan, we destroyed everything for miles. According to one report, The two bombings … killed at least 129,000 people. Just two bombs and at least half of that number simply evaporated. Others had burns that killed them shortly thereafter, others died of radiation sickness weeks or months later.  Radiation from tests of these types of bombs stayed in the wind over the entire earth for some period of time.  We blew the bombs up over there and the radiation came here.  But that’s just tests.                                                                                                 Most of my childhood was spent trying to walk the Russians (then the U.S.S.R.) back from the brink of nuclear war under a thing called “The MAD doctrine”, which meant having seen what nuclear bombs could do, we could keep that from happening because it meant Mutually Assured Destruction — everybody would die, because we now had enough bombs to destroy the entire earth over and over.  Apparently, our government now doesn’t think the MAD doctrine isn’t valid anymore. I don’t know that the science has changed all that much. I’m pretty sure that people will die if nuclear weapons are used, and they will die the same way they did before, but the bombs are bigger and there are more of them.  As they said in a movie from my teen years, “The only way to win a nuclear war is to not play”.

 

2.  In what has to be the most short-sighted mistake ever made, because it’s so  close   in time… banks and Wall St. caused “the great recession” at the end of the Bush era and were rescued by Obama in the beginning of his term.  At that point, it wasn’t at all uncommon to have a “$35.00 cup of coffee” if your debit card overdrew and the bank charged you a fee for it. People lost their savings, their pensions, their houses, and their employment because of it.  Now Senator Warren — then a private citizen — helped to prevent that from happening again, by creating new laws and government board to oversee it all.

3. In 1968, when the country was divided about the Vietnam and the President (at the time, Richard Nixon) was losing his poll ratings and wanted to be re-elected, he criticized some protesters who had attacked his car, causing a counter-demonstration and riots between construction workers with pipes and anti-war protesters. Nixon won the election by dividing the country and we elected perhaps the most corrupt President ever.

4. Something happen in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1955 between ships at sea that got us involved, in the Vietnam war. There is controversy to this day about whether or not the events ever actually happened.  64,000 American troops died in the seventeen year war, with over a million people .  This was shown in Ken Burns’ documentary in the last two weeks.

More recently, we invaded Iraq when the President said Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction”. There were none. At least 50% of the population knew that to start with. People are still dying from the effects of that war, also caused by a lie.

5. The Little Rock 9 — Little kids, for goodness sake! — had to go to school with an armed escort because the governor of Arkansas blocked the children from going in, and the national guard was on the governor’s side. This began the desegregation of schools where people of different races got to know each other and saw that the other wasn’t all bad, and we could have one America.

According to Wikipedia the students were still subjected to a year of physical and verbal abuse (being spat on and called names) by many of the white students. Melba Pattillo had acid thrown into her eyes and also recalled  an incident in which a group of white girls trapped her in a stall in the girls’ washroom and attempted to burn her by dropping pieces of flaming paper on her from above. Another one of the students, Minnijean Brown, was verbally confronted and abused.

Of these 9 children, 2 have doctorates, 1 more has a master’s degree, one became a soldier and fought for our country, 1 became an author, 1 is on the list of 75 most powerful Black people in America, 1 became a teacher in Little Rock. In other words, they were a benefit to American culture and they were abused getting there. They have all received the Presidential Medal of Honor and attended the the inauguration of the man that conservatives say divided the country, Barack Obama.

 

Honestly, have we learned nothing? The Earth could end if we don’t learn from Hiroshima and Nagasaki Thousands, perhaps millions could die if we don’t learn from the Gulf of Tonkin, and Iraq. Even in peace-time, Americans can lose their homes, their jobs, and faith in our economy if Warren’s Board has its legal standing gutted by Congress.  America can erupt if politicians pit us against each other for their own gains. Good Republicans and the gifts of the Arkansas 9 will be forgotten if we forget Eisenhower’s work and call neo-Nazis “good people”.   Our best selves will be gone if we choose to forget  them. I, for one, refuse to have that happen.

 

Resisting With Peace,

 

John

 

 

 

The Foundation of Justice: Fairness and “Equal Justice Under The Law”

This one has bothered me for awhile and it gets back to the very foundation of democracy. We have at least two systems of justice in this country. Until about two years ago, I believed that Justice was blind, because that’s the only way the world made sense. It’s still the only way that makes sense morally, but it is not the way the system operates, and thus the world makes no sense. When the justice system doesn’t operate ethically, we give up hope. When there is no hope, people get desperate, lash out, try anything — what we in Psychology call “acting out” — and then, oddly enough, get either punished for, or exonerated for, doing so.

Let me explain. Man walks down the street. He hasn’t done anything wrong. If he’s White and not too unseemly, that’s the end of the story. No one thinks twice. There is no story. 

If he’s Hispanic and he lived in Joe Arpaio’s county, even if he’s wearing a suit, he could be an illegal alien. Because he could be, he can be arrested and held without charges. Try explaining to your boss that you didn’t show up for work, because you were arrested. Then try to convince the boss that you didn’t do anything wrong

As if that weren’t enough, the President of the entire country you live in calls the man who did this to you “a hero”! Furthermore, he pardons the man, so you know you will never get justice. Turn on the TV and there are 50,000 people cheering for the sheriff believing that “he was only doing his job”! How does anyone live here under these conditions and believe in the American Dream? 

Why did this issue come up for me today? Today, six policemen in Baltimore were told that they would not receive jail time for killing a man. The man, Freddie Gray, already had physical problems you could see when he was unceremoniously dumped into a “Paddy Wagon”. The police in question drove over bumps in order to show him who was “in charge” and, if I remember, broke his spine. Forget the circumstances of whatever crime he committed, forget whether race played a part in this, forget whether or not this was an accident. The police (a group of men) killed a handicapped man and nothing happened to them. They are free to roam about the earth. 

The idea that there might be two justice systems started become clearer to me when the riots in Ferguson, Missouri happened. The sheriff who killed Michael Brown was seemingly exonerated by the police after a Grand Jury. I wasn’t happy about that decision, but the law had a process and I believed in it. Then I discovered that the Grand Jury in question was a “highly irregular” Grand Jury! What does that mean? In this case, the defendant got to make his case (usually done at trial) to a nearly all-White Grand Jury! He also is free to walk the streets. 

As I drive home through Hartford from my office in Springfield, I often see a sign that says “Blue Lives Matter!”, to which I say “All Lives Matter!”, knowing full well that they don’t. 

There are those who really believe that I don’t like police. There are a whole lot of cops that I do know and like — clients, family members, friends of family members. I believe in the idea of police who are just doing their job, and I believe in the idea that they should be fair. I also acknowledge that it’s an extraordinarily difficult job to do. They see the dregs of society. You know what, though? So do I. No one comes into my office because they are fine, or because their family is totally functional, or because there’s not drugs and violence involved. They come in because they have problems and some of those problems are so disgusting that they weigh my spirit down. Still, I don’t beat them. I’ve had to restrain clients in my job, but I’ve never used a billy club on them. Neither do many police get overly hostile. I really believe that most cops are good people with a very hard job to do, but in a world where everyone else is supposed to be responsible for their own behavior, police should be, too. But they are not.

Finally, of course, there’s the whole Donald Trump /Russia affair. Every day that goes by brings new news of the scandal. Forgetting all the rumors, the innuendo, the press reports, and without knowing what the Special Prosecutor will find, the President himself said he fired James Comey over “the Russia thing”. Donald Trump Jr acknowledged in public that he and members of the campaign had a meeting with the Russians. Cabinet members lied on forms for security clearance.

Did Trump obstruct justice? If I said derogatory things to a judge over parking tickets, would I be in jail? You’re darn right I would! If I was involved in a meeting with an enemy of my country, would I be in jail for treason? Of course, I would! And I would deserve to be there! If I, or one of my clients, lied on a government form, would I avoid jail? If the form was my taxes, or some client’s disability form, I would be in jail or needing to pay thousands of dollars in fines, but I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to keep a job with the government! And yet, without even a trial or a process, we know that these people committed crime. They said so. And yet, they still have jobs, they still aren’t in jail, they have faced no consequences for committing crimes!

How can we possibly believe that “justice is blind”, that the law is fair, that American law means anything at all if people who have done nothing wrong go to jail, if some people who commit a crime get one system and others get something different, and people who admit they have committed a crime face no punishment? And yet, most of us believe that right is right and wrong is wrong. We have to fix this. I don’t know how, but we have to fix this.

Resisting with Peace,

John