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.

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“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



I Don’t Care Why. Just Don’t Do It.

I have tried to think about it. I have tried to parse out the reasons why cops kill Black people. I have prayed. I have marched. I will continue to do those things, but it won’t stop because I’m not shooting people. I’m not assaulting people of any color. Police are. I’m done trying to understand. How do we stop police from killing innocent— or even not so innocent — Blacks? Here’s the answer:

Police, don’t shoot Black people.

That’s it.

Don’t’ “shoot first and ask questions later”, as cool as that might seem on TV or the movies. Don’t shoot because you’re scared. Don’t shoot and learn about racism later. Don’t shoot and learn to manage your anger because a judge said to. As citizens, we’re often told to “show some self restraint”. You need to show some self-restraint! The first thing that should happen in any situation should not be to pull out your weapon. Police in Britain don’t, at least I think that’s still true.

If someone ran a red light, or was driving erratically, or fleeing, none of those things require guns. Don’t shoot. Be careful, of course, but don’t shoot! There must be some way to stand and get the license and registration without getting anyone hurt or killed. As a therapist, I can say that if people want to figure something out, they can. Actually figuring it out will prove that you, as police, want to.

Is a car , even a stolen one, worth a life — of another Black person or a police officer? Do you want the country to blow up for the sake of a license plate? Really?

Seek peace in our streets by making peace in our streets. I don’t care why, but the tack being taken now isn’t working for anyone.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Let’s Not Miss The Point…

I’m listening to Morning Joe and the pundits are talking about the trial of Derek Chauvin for allegedly killing George Floyd. Even as I write the word “allegedly”, I want to throw up. There is no way around the fact that one man kneeling on another man’s neck was at least (partially?) responsible for that man’s death. This is gravity and the laws of physics, which over-rides human laws and police policy. Given that, Mr. Chauvin’s knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd caused the death of George Floyd. Anyone with even a remote bit of knowledge knows that.

Apparently, the defense will argue that Floyd had a heart attack, secondary to his use of the drugs that were in his system, and that Chauvin felt frightened of this “drug-crazed” man who passed a fake $20.00 bill minutes before. Even if Floyd did have a heart attack (others have testified he died of lack of oxygen), and even if he had drugs in his system. It’s a long way from passing a $20 bill to “he’s violent and needs to be restrained”. It’s a longer way still from “he needs to be restrained” to “he needs to be restrained until —and after— he stops breathing”.

One has to ask if the officer hadn’t been involved whether Mr. Floyd would still be alive and we wouldn’t know how or care about who George Floyd of Minneapolis, Minnesota even was. Without the type of police involvement here, George Floyd would still be alive. With it, George Floyd is dead.

None of that is the point, really. The granular argument looks at the individual tree but avoids the forest altogether.

The point is that one man wanted to kill another man for no apparent reason other than he could. Did he want to because he was White and the man was Black? That’s certainly a good possibility. Did he want to because he was police and Mr. Floyd was a civilian? This is also a distinct possibility. So far, we don’t know what was going on the mind of Chauvin and even if we do hear it, we won’t know if it’s the truth., as he’s already tried to hide the truth of what happened.

The law usually talks about “if a reasonable person saw X, what would they think?” So ask anyone who has had dealings with the police, have they ever seen police use too much force for a given situation ? Yes, they probably have. Ask any Black person in America whether they believe a White man can, or will, try to kill them simply because they are Black and the answer is probably yes, as well.

That’s the point. It’s a scary truth that police and White people —White policemen in particular — have killed enough people that a reasonable Black person could assume they might try to kill them. When it’s reasonable to assume that a person might do an unreasonable thing, that’s a problem.

The fact that pretty much every Black person I know saw George Floyd die and they think of their own brothers, fathers, friends, and selves in the situation and can picture it gives us some idea of the scope of the the problem.

This brings us to the second thing that the pundits talked about: Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta after Georgia lawmakers passed a series of restrictive laws that will make it harder to vote. The argument made is that it will actually hurt the community of Atlanta due to the change in laws and make matters worse. People are mad at the commissioners of MLB for the decision, but it seems he didn’t really make the decision as much as the players did.

So we’re back to the “reasonable person” test for players. Would a reasonable person who plays baseball think that Georgia might have made changes in the law for racial or political reasons? No one truly believes that the laws were changed for any other reason than racial and/or political reasons. As the former candidate in a Florida race once said, “even the racists think it’s racist”. The idea that Georgia lawmakers have a lengthy history of making racist laws, that Georgia might be a historically racist state and these legal changes do nothing to assuage that guilt is all the explanation needed for reasonable people, including baseball players, to assume bad intent and a bad experience there. That’s the problem and that’s the point of the action,

Is it the right/proper/correct decision? Is it the right tactic? Stacey Abrams, John Ossoff, and Raphael Warnock — Democratic leaders in the state disagree with the action, but every one of them knew that it was a possible, if misguided, reaction. Why? Because reasonable people can easily believe that the White men in power in Georgia are racist and do things for racist reasons.

To straighten out this mess, one doesn’t have to fix the politics of baseball players, one has to fix the politics of Georgia’s current Republicans in power. That may take a long time to do or it may take as few as two years.

If Georgia’s Republicans want to not be punished politically for being racist, the answer is not to act in racist ways. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, If policemen like Derek Chauvin want to not be thought of as not being racist or murderers, they need to stop doing things that a reasonable person could see as racist … or murder.

Yes, it’s that bad, but George Floyd didn’t make it this way, and voters in Georgia didn’t make it this way. Those who made things this bad must take responsibility for doing so must fix the problem.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Cuomo, Franken, Jordan, Trump, And What To Do?

[Author’s note: I write this not because I want to “mansplain” anything. I write it to clarify my own thoughts about all of this. There are so many pieces to these issues. I share it for people’s thoughts and feedback.]

My wife and I were talking the other day about Gov. Cuomo’s predicament and the issues swirling around on Twitter. A lot of folks on Twitter saw it Cuomo being “Frankened” that is, dealing with a host of allegations designed to remove a strong and intelligent leader on the Democratic side, while Republicans never step down, no matter what.

My wife reminded me that “actions have consequences”, no matter which”side” you’re on. “We’re talking about women being harassed and sexually assaulted”. Of course, she’s right…. except when she’s not. So am I, because we’re talking about at least two separate issues in this context. All issues should be talked about here. I say this because once Cuomo was accused, someone on Twitter said, “What about Tara Reid (who accused Biden during the election)?” After President Biden has given us the most progressive bill in decades, and defeated the former guy, preventing the spread of fascism here in America, I’m not willing to throw him under the bus for anything without a whole lot of proof.

So, with all of that said, let’s make clear the basics of morality, in the political sphere and everywhere else.

1) Sexually abusing, harassing, and/or raping anyone is wrong. Statistically, and sociologically, of course, it’s more likely to be a man abusing or harassing a woman. Still, men and women can get harassed or abused by any gender, any person, any preference, any anything… There are feminist theories about why these things happen, and they need to be taken seriously, but I’m not the right person to make those cases because, well, I’m not a woman. I’m also trying to be clear about proactive steps we can make.

2) Anyone who has abused, harassed, raped another person should be held accountable and face serious consequences for this because people who have this happen to them suffer for long periods after it does. It’s a big deal, and it requires big consequences in order to have justice.

3) There must be a way to fairly figure out what happened. Generally, that would be the court system, but it doesn’t have to be.

4) What justice looks like in these cases must include the victim’s idea of what it is for them.

Now, where it gets tricky…

There seems to be a conflict between politicians and the legal system. Politicians don’t seem to believe — for whatever reasons, some codified into law or regulations — that their work is too important to be interrupted by accusations, court days, etc. In short, because their work impacts a lot of people, the questions that any one person might have raised can’t be dealt with now. Good, bad, or otherwise, this seems to be the calculus for the public, the press, the politicians, and the legal system.

Also, of course, is the spectrum of charges that go under the category or “sexual [whatever]” from harassment to touching to sex with or without consent, to full-on abuse or rape or child abuse and pornography, using prostitutes and sex trafficking. All of these go under the heading of “Sexual…” Once that word is used, reaction gets heightened. Curiosity gets piqued. The press gets involved and chaos ensues.

Here, we add in what we want to believe. In this category, I will never believe that Al Franken did anything worthy of his losing his seat or giving it up. Kristen Gildebrand has stated multiple times that there’s a lot more to the credible allegations against Franken than is known, that she, too, likes Franken and misses his presence in the Senate. I don’t care what she says. Until I know differently, I will always see this as a political decision. In order to keep Sheriff Roy Moore from getting elected, Democrats required the perception of purity when challenging him, and Franken “had to go”. This is a political tragedy that did not have to happen. [Just to be clear my biases are: Franken is ok. Cuomo, I don’t want to be true, but may be. Jim Jordan and his knowledge of athletes being molested in college by their coach? Hell, yes, I think he’s guilty — but very little press coverage has been given to this. Why? I don’t know. Finally, Trump has admitted such on the famous “Access Hollywood” tapes, and — with 20 plus women accusing him of deeply disturbing behavior, some of it violent — I absolutely believe that Donald Trump should be held accountable for what he’s done. Getting into the weeds further, I believe Christine Blassey Ford that Brett Kavanaugh is guilty. I also believe that Roy Moore is a pedophile, that Al Gore hurt some woman, Bill Clinton had an affair (multiple affairs?), and that the guy that was going to be Gore’s running mate was a sick man who hurt a lot of people with his affairs and coercion].

Whether Cuomo is being “Frankened” is yet to be determined in three ways — 1) What is the motivation of the accusers at this time and place in history? Are they paid political shills or are they actually accusers? As much as I would like to believe that all accusers are actually accusers, the way politics has been played for the past 40 years, I am not sure that political operatives aren’t involved. More on this later… 2) Whether Cuomo is guilty of the same level of things that Franken was, and 3) Whether Franken was “Frankened” or if there’s more that we don’t know. As yet, we don’t know if any of those things are true. That’s a problem.

Here are my conclusions:

  1. There shouldn’t be a difference between politicians and elected officials. For justice to be served, there should be The Law, and it should be applied to all cases. If somethings warrants an investigation, it warrants an investigation. If it warrants a trial, it warrants a trial. If it warrants jail, it warrants jail. If you can arrest Joe the Janitor while he’s at work, you can arrest Jim the Senator while he’s at work. It’s as simple as that.
  2. Politics and importance to the wider community do need to be considered in case of a sexual scandal when dealing with the political side of things. It should not regarding the law.
  3. Accusations, investigations, etc. should not be done in the press only. If a lawyer wants to say that their client is making accusations, the first stop shouldn’t be a press conference. It should be to the law. In political circles, there may also be ethics committees and such, but each allegation should be taken seriously and the law should make a determination as to whether there’s enough to file charges. The legal system should explain why or why not. If there’s not enough “there” there, that should be explained. If the accused is innocent, that needs to be acknowledged to and by the press. If the accused is found guilty, that needs to be acknowledged by the Press. The public deserves closure on these stories. Sexuality, Violence, Politics, and the Law are all different things. They should be seen as different combinations in different systems. Each should have it’s own lane.
  4. Public pressure absolutely needs to be applied for removal of a politician if they actually did something wrong. If they didn’t, then more people like Al Franken — good people, to my knowledge — will be lost in the political sphere. We need real justice, not just shame, for authorities who commit crimes.

So, did Governor Cuomo hurt women sexually? I don’t know. Should the accusers be believed? Yes. But if the truth is that the person is innocent, believing a lie isn’t justice. Politicians of both parties should be dealt with the same way, and anybody who hurts people should face consequences for those, at least somewhat determined by the victim.

That’s all I can come up with for now.

Resisting in Peace,

John

Back To Basics, Politically and Economically

Nothing has changed, in my 60 years of life, on the basic questions of politics and economics. We used to ask “What if the military had to have a bake sale to buy weapons and teachers had what they needed?”. The same question applies now, but we haven’t asked it in years. We used to talk about the “military/industrial complex” and believe that it took food from our children’s mouths. It’s still a thing, but now it is just an assumption, figured into budget plans. We used to talk about corporations as being inhuman and our “being just a number” as being a bad thing. Now corporate profits are at all time highs, and we are all Facebook algorythms. The questions still need to be asked and thrashed out before we make policy decisions. Is war more important than education, food, and housing? Are human beings valid, in and of themselves, or are they only cogs to make the machinery of the economy work? What is freedom? Who is human? Who matters in a democracy?

These questions need to be asked again, so that we can get our bearings as a society.

I was listening to Morning Joe this morning and they had an economist from the New York Times on, talking about the $1.9 Trillion bill being passed by the House and inflation and its effect on the national debt. The complaint was that it was trafficking in play money and fantasy and we would get to inflating both the debt and prices, and the Democrats weren’t worried enough about these things. Joe Scarborough went on to talk about how the deficit had gone up under each successive President: Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama… He used numbers from the end of each President’s term, I believe. If, in fact, those were real numbers (and I assume they were. I like Scarborough.) They told a story, but didn’t tell the whole story, or even most of it.

Under Bush the First, we had a war which put us into debt, as wars will do. Under Clinton, the deficit started high and became a surplus. Under Bush the Second, we went back to war, spending all of the surplus and putting us back into huge debt and leaving us with a horrible economy. Obama spent a lot of money to bring back the economy, and save the auto industry, etc. Under Trump, the “promise” of free-market capitalism was simply let loose. The Republicans reduced taxes again and the income/outcome of government was again thrown off balance, but the deficit and the debt were not issues, according to the sitting President and the Congress of Paul Ryan. The deficit went through the roof!

In all of the above, at no time did teachers, or education budgets or the average person in general get mentioned. The only operators were the government, corporations, the military, the debt, and the deficit. There’s no farm worker. There’s no factory worker. There’s no teacher, or hunger policy. After 40 years of “those people” making all the decisions about their lives and what’s best for them, and what it means, teachers started striking, students started marching against guns in our streets, but not in the military. Black people had to start marching just to say they mattered. Implied in all of the above were that Whites could be in the military, could run the economy, could determine what patriotism was, and so on. Until Obama, the discussion in the halls of power wasn’t even about Black people. In fact, the one powerful Black man in the halls of power — Colin Powell — was told to lie to the UN. He sacrificed his reputation, so that we could go to a war with no justification.

The problem is not debt, or deficit. It’s about human will, and political will. It’s about what we’re willing to go into debt about. When there was a surplus, the money went to the rich. When there was debt, it was caused by the rich and benefited the rich. The rich, and the military/industrial complex (Not soldiers, by the way, either. The money went to arms manufacturers who invested in the stock market). In short, the question to ask is: “Who owns democracy?” Who does the government work for? Asking these questions means there is a question to ask, and that there is a choice to be made.

The time has come, after all these years, to say that if the government is going to spend money, then we want it to spent on people, and not just one set of people. If we’re going to go into debt, let’s do so for people who don’t have what they need, rather than for those who have more than enough. If we’re going to go to war, let us do so because we have to, because it’s the last option we can think of, and let’s take care of the soldiers more than Haliburton or Blackwater or Wall Street. If we want schools, let’s give them what they need. If we want firefighters, let’s give them what they need. If we want roads, let’s use our money for that. If people want jobs that don’t require education but do pay enough for them to live on, let them get to work on infrastructure, building roads and bridges and other things that need to be done.

I don’t care if we talk about abortion, but I want to talk about the living first. I don’t mind talking about being liberal or conservative, if we can first talk about whether people eat. I don’t care if we talk about capitalism vs communism, after people have housing. Politics right now, and for at least the last 6 years, is about … just politics — talking and arguing. It’s not about people who aren’t in D.C. And yet, 99% of the people don’t live in D.C.! Let those people’s lives matter. Let them vote. Let their votes count. Then, if we go into debt, at least it’s about things we have chosen to go into debt for, and people we have gone into debt for. Our budget reflects our priorities as a nation. Let’s actually reflect the nation, rather than 1% of the people. Maybe after we get what we need, we’ll stop spending so much, and get the budget back to where it should be. Until people get their basic needs met, there will always be arguing, and impulse buying, and raising debt and chaos.

In the words of Larry The Cable Guy, “Let’s get ‘er done”. (Oh, and by the way, even I can’t believe I’m quoting Larry The Cable Guy, but that’s how far back we have gotten).

Resisting With Peace,

John

FYI: Lots of People Get Raped

I’m watching a video from CBS This Morning and they’re saying there’s a new movement called #WeAsOurselves, whose purpose is to acknowledge that Black women get raped. I guess the point they are making is that Black women don’t acknowledge it for complicated reasons. If you’re being oppressed everywhere, I guess personal abuse is the last thing people think about. If there’s pressure to not talk about the community you’re apart of because White folk will blame your entire race, that’s a complication that they think should be taken into account. As a therapist who counsels Black women, I can assure you Black women get raped. Why? Because they are alive, they are women, and they know horrible people who do horrible things to them. I don’t know if the perpetrators are Black, White, or any other color. I don’t care. If you are a Black woman and you have been raped, I’m sorry that happened to you. It shouldn’t have. It’s not your fault. You are not alone. You need to talk to somebody about it, so that you can process it. I don’t care if that person is professional or not, though I think it’s preferable that they are. They must be someone you trust. Your community (however you define it) needs to know you’re in pain, so it can deal with it and make sure it never happens again. If you’re not up to that, okay. It’s your life. You deserve to be healed. You deserve to feel safe. Your deserve to feel loved.

While I’m on the subject, though, I want to tell you that there are plenty of people who get raped that you probably can’t imagine. Men, for instance, get raped when they are boys or sometimes when they are men. They just do. I know men who have been raped, or sexually abused. I don’t care if they’re supposed to not be. They are. Men face particular challenges about being believed because 1) Myth says “men want it all the time”; 2) Myth says that men have all the power in society; 3) Myth says that men can only be raped by men; 4) Myth says that gay society is worse that everybody else on the planet. I suppose if you’re responsible for climate change because you’re gay, or the collapse of Western civilization, then that makes sense — except you’re not responsible for those things, either!

Trans people also get raped. Gay people get raped. White people get raped. Asian people get raped. Native Americans get raped. Children, teens, and seniors get raped. Rape is a thing that happens. In absolutely no case is it their fault. Rape is the fault of the rapist. It may be suggested as acceptable by a certain culture or another. It’s only a suggestion. Most men don’t rape. Most women don’t rape. Most Black people don’t rape. Most children don’t rape. Most gay people don’t rape. Most trans people don’t rape. Most people with any sense of compassion at all don’t rape. In fact, most people who survive rape don’t go out and rape. There is no excuse. If you were raped, it’s not your fault. If you did the raping,you need to take responsibility for your actions. It’s as simple as that. The people who are responsible for it happening are the people who are responsible to make sure it never happens again.

Are there societal structures that make it more or less likely? Sure there are. Even they aren’t totally to blame. They must become less likely to lean toward rape culture. But those structures will never change until we accept that rape happens to a lot of people within them.

Resisting rape with Peace,

John

A Lenten Reflection For The Politically, Psychologically, or Religiously Inclined

[Author’s introduction: I find myself pulled in three directions these days, each of them a form of service and caring: As a therapist, I care deeply about my clients. As an American, I care deeply about my country and its politics – especially regarding the lives of those very same clients in the area around Springfield, Massachusetts. Underneath it all, or over-riding it all, is my faith in Jesus of Nazareth and his expression of God’s will for us in the world. I treat my clients in the ways I think Jesus would want me to. I treat my country in the ways I think Jesus would want me to. I treat Jesus in the way I think he would want and deserves. Since I don’t have a church right now, I write this as an expression of my belief in that Jesus of Nazareth and the faith which he inspires in me.]

The Christian church has two periods of year specifically for reflection, in preparation for a biblically Big Event – The Birth of Jesus (called “Advent”) and the Death and Resurrection of Jesus (The events of Good Friday through Easter, called Lent)

On this day where Donald Trump has been impeached twice and not convicted either time, it seems like a good time to reflect on the first text often used in Lent:

Matthew 4: 8 -11

“…The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”

The text is about knowing who seems to run the world, who inevitably does run the world, and the choices I think we all have to make in our lives about the two.

To be clear: Donald J. Trump is not a bad person because he is a Republican. He is a bad person because he is a bad person. One can make the case that is the logical extension of Republican politics in the same way that murder is the logical extension of anger. While Republicans traditionally have stood for Conservative Values, Trump stands for Fascist values.

He embodies everything that is wrong in the world and he is loved by parts of the world for it, including people in my own beloved faith. Trump’s brand is about saying hateful things to people who live in fear and hate. Trump’s brand is about raping women, because he believes he is in a position of power. Trump’s brand is about running the country not “just like a business”, as many churches do, but with the worst that Capitalism has to offer. Trump’s brand is about saying he’s a Christian, but never acting like it. It’s about holding up the Bible as a symbol of force and authority, but never having the good sense to open it up and read it. Trump’s brand is about oppressing anyone not exactly like him… and everyone is not exactly like him. Racism? Trump loves it. Sexism? Trump loves it. Wealth, especially at the cost of others? Trump loves it.

Contrast this with Jesus: He embodies everything that is right in the world and he was hated by parts of the world for it, including people in his own beloved faith. Jesus is about saying kind things to people who live in fear and hate, and challenging those who do the hating without fear. Jesus never raped anyone, though he knows he is in a position of power. Jesus didn’t run anything “just like a business”, and in fact owned nothing. Jesus is Christianity incarnate, but never acting like he’s above anyone. Jesus is the Bible as a symbol of authority, but not as a symbol of oppression. Jesus is about caring for anyone not exactly like him… and everyone is not exactly like him. Racism? Not Jesus.  Sexism? Not Jesus. (Jesus argues with a woman of another nationality, and loses the argument, and gives to the woman anyway. Trump, is, notoriously never wrong.). Trump’s wealth at the cost of others? Nope, not Jesus, not even. They are opposite sides of the same coin: power and authority.  Jesus uses his for justice and healing. Trump uses his for injustice and hurt.

At the end of Lent, just before Jesus is crucified, the people of Jerusalem will be offered a choice between Jesus, the Son of the Father/God and Barabbas, literally, “the son of the father” in Hebrew. The people of that day chose the lesser version of the two – the criminal Barabbas. We are offered the same choice. Kindness, justice, caring, truth, and love for all or the “earthly” values of power over others, injustice, indifference to pain, lies, and hatred.

The choice is about who we think is running things here. If we think that Trump runs the world, we accept the offer to bow down to him and hope he will give us what is his because that is what he promised. If we think that God runs the world, like Jesus, we won’t take that bet. Jesus knows who he is, and who ultimately will have the final say on everything.

So what does this have to do with my clients? Everything. I see so many people who are victims of trauma and oppression. Some have come to oppress themselves through addiction, and forget the truth that lies within them. But all of them are oppressed. It is my job to show them who they really are, where their power is, and what they can do in the world. If they know how incredibly and wonderfully made they are, they experience that love can rule their lives. Survivors of all forms of oppression — physical, mental, sexual, and spiritual — come to realize that they are more powerful than their oppressors, whether that is a single person, a group of bullies, or a system. They ultimately outlast their oppressors and they ultimately see themselves as worthy of a rich life. And, I believe, at the next life, they experience all of the beauty and potential that they were born with and deserving of, seeing where they ultimately fit.

In political systems, it is our job to do the same – to value, and not disparage, all of God’s people, to let them experience and speak the Truth as they know it. A fully functioning democracy is a place where all people are free to (in the words of Virginia Satir) “see and hear what is here, instead of what society says should be, was, or will be, to say what they feel and think instead of what the system says they should, to feel what one feels, instead of what others say they ought to, to ask for what they wants, instead of always waiting for permission, to take risks in their own behalf, instead of choosing to be only ‘secure’ and not rocking the boat”.

From those freedoms, we can make democracy or society all it can be. Those freedoms, that mental and physical health, that spiritual ability all come from believing that we (because we are worthy of God’s love and mercy) can take charge of our lives and be more powerful than The Oppressor, who convinces us that they have it all and that we should bow down before them.

That caring, because of The Powers That Be, will insure our suffering at times, much as those who told the truth suffered Trump’s wrath. The more oppressive the systems created by people are, the more goodness looks radical. At times, it may look like the Trumps, or Mussolinis or Hitlers of the world will win. January 6th was one of those days. Maybe today’s acquittal seems like one of those days, but – like all days – we have a choice. We can feel our worth and tell the truth, or we can forget our value and give in to cynicism, racism, sexism, phobias of all sorts and believe they won. Certainly, the temptation has been there, but we can also experience the calm and joy of a more diverse system that attempts to care for more people. Let us know who is really in charge of our lives, and let us choose wisely. Amen.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Why Impeachment Matters In America

I can’t speak about other governments, but it seems to me that American government was supposed to be a different than the rest of the world. We used to speak of American exceptionalism. I still do. American exceptionalism doesn’t mean we’re better just because we are American. It means we have an exceptional form of government and we’re all a part of it, and important to it. As I understand it, it was inherently different at its inception because it was the first and only “democracy”. We had decided in our Revolution, we weren’t going to have a king anymore. Why is that?

There are those who want to say that America is founded on Christian principals. I believe that, as well. Even the Founding Fathers couldn’t agree on what being a Christian is, so they went with Christian principles. First among those principals is that we stand as equals in the sight of God. A king isn’t the same as you and me. They are sort of semi-human. A king was above the law. A king is above the law because the king is the law. The King decides what should be law, decides when it should be applied and when it shouldn’t apply to them. If you watch The Crown, you know that there’s part of becoming king or queen when — through the ritual performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury — where the person who was just human the minute before becomes a representative of God, a person who is infallible now, and this makes all of their laws just and right.

“So let it be written, so let it be done” is a phrase that describes the way royalty works. When the Bible speaks of God as “King of Kings”, it means God is a level above the kings of the world in the same way that kings are a level above other humans. “Because I said so!” is also a phrase that describes how royalty deals relates to law, for good or bad. Little kids have their own version of “because I said so!”: “I want it!” usually is accompanied by stomping of feet and a good cry. In either case, the person wants something to happen simply because they said so. They want to be in charge of others, just because. This is the difference between a good king and a bad king — the way they view or use their authority. It’s quite possible, depending on the people or circumstances, to get an immature king or queen. Democracy, however, requires a mature leader — one who can prove their wisdom in the day-to-day leadership that is required by the job. “Because I said so!” will not work for the President of our country. Only success and wisdom can bring authority — and then only for four years.

Say what you want about Donald Trump — mature is not the word that comes to mind. He shouldn’t be given authority to run this country. During his time in office, success isn’t the word that comes to mind, at least for me. There are those who will credit him for the economy, and for mid-east peace, and other things. That doesn’t balance out the destruction he did as President, and people can disagree about that. In a democracy, we settle our disagreement at the ballot box. The President can’t weigh in, because the voters speak and what would be the King doesn’t. When Trump and his cronies tried to, any success he might have had was over-ruled by his immaturity and fits. In short, Trump behaved like a king, and we don’t have kings. Democracy is different.

Instead, we have human leaders and we have laws. The President is no different than anyone else. The President’s a human being, has no claims to divinity, and — as a human being — is not above the law. Because we don’t see divine authority in our leaders, we rely on the authority of the law. Either there’s both law and democracy or there’s neither. There are, among our Presidents, some really good ones and some really bad ones and many in the middle. All of them believed that the law applied to them, whether they like it or not. Nixon resigned because it was apparent he couldn’t respect the law and do things in the way he wanted. The law won.

Bill Clinton, the only President to be impeached prior to Trump, also believed in the law. I’m not sure what law he broke sleeping with Monica Lewinsky, but he was impeached and he accepted that because he believed in the law. He will always be impeached, having the political version of an asterisk next to his name, because he believed the law was more important than he was. Like all Presidents, Trump could be a good President or a bad President, but he must be a law-abiding President. If he’s not, he has to be stopped. Impeachment is the way to do that. If it’s really bad, the President needs to be removed, done the way the law says.

In a democracy, human beings are all equal. The President comes out of the vast collection of humans, and goes back to being a part of the vast collection of humans who make our society better or worse. Because the highest person in our country has consequences for their illegal behavior, the person who steals or assaults or whatever can have consequences for theirs. There’s a certain logic to it.

If a President can get away with murder, and they’re “just” a human being, why should anyone else be held accountable for their crimes? On the other hand, if they can be held liable, then why shouldn’t a criminal be subject to laws as well?

Life ought to make sense– for all of us. If you or I go to work and do a terrible job, we can get fired. If a President does a terrible job, he or she should be able to be fired as well. If we do well, we should get recognition. One of the odd things that this particular former President bases his argument on is that he gets in trouble because people don’t like him. “They pick on me”, he says. People aren’t supposed to be in trouble because people don’t like us. We probably should be in trouble because we’re bad at what we’re doing. If we are the absolutely worst at our job, we will get in trouble no doubt, but it shouldn’t be because people don’t like us. It should be because we’re doing the wrong thing. If the President does well, they should get recognition as well — and they do. If the President doesn’t do well, they should get in trouble as well.

When a regular person goes to court, no one asks them if people like them. The court asks if they did something. The court seldom wants to hear why the person did this or that. Yes, Trump has been under fire since the very first day of his President, because he has done bad things from the moment he arrived. That’s not singling him out, that’s treating him like anybody else. If any other President’ or his team did what Trump or his team did, I would expect them to be in trouble.

This is why impeachment is so important: It can and should happen to anyone, not a member of a party. If we are to believe that any person can be President, than any President can — and should be — treated the same under the law.

I don’t want Donald Trump out of office because I don’t like his hair, or his wife, or his friends. I want Donald Trump out because he broke the law — from the beginning of his Presidency to the end of it. Impeach him and keep him out office forever. Prove he is one of us, despite what he says. Prove that the law means something, because it does, and we do.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Salvation Is Messy — For Joe Biden, Kamala Harris & Us

I was writing a prayer for Martin Luther King tonight and it all came down to this: Salvation is messy. It takes work to go through muck and create something with utility. Whatever else people can say about Biden & Harris, I never want to hear anyone say they didn’t work hard enough.

In order to bring us across the finish line to Martin Luther King’s “Beloved Community” and finish our country’s revolution, we need to save ourselves. In order to save ourselves, we have to go from pre-contemplation to contemplation to action, and that’s just the start. Somehow, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have to convince us that we need saving. As excited as people are to raid the Capitol, and worship Donald Trump, Biden/Harris need to turn that energy in the right direction. They need to convince those cultists that a just society for everyone — including them— is possible. They need to convince people who love power, anger, and violence that they don’t need those things to calm their fears. They need to tell they can cope with reality fine, even if everybody’s included.

There will be some who cannot save themselves from their addiction to primal instinct. We will lose some human beings in the wreckage of that turnaround. It is inevitable, because addiction is hard to fight, and because propaganda is a deep hole. As a friend of mine says, “If you walk ten miles into the woods, you have to walk ten miles back”.

It took us a long time to get here — I would say since the “Reagan Revolution” and “trickle down/voodoo economics”. It’s going to take us a long time to live into the Beloved Community. In our consumer society, we are not a patient people. Part of the reason 400,000 people are dead is because they couldn’t wait long enough for the virus to get under control. Granted, Trump encouraged that belief, but he pushed us over a ledge we were already headed to. In reality TV, a “problem” like “I’m not super rich” can be solved in an hour. In reality living, it takes a lot longer.

So, Biden and Harris’ task is to convince people that we all live together, on the same planet, and —if we want to live at all, we’ve got to get on board with reality. If people don’t want to acknowledge reality, they will die, and they will take everyone else with them. We may be forced to cut them loose to save the Republic.

They will have to prove, with steadfastness, that stability works, even if it’s boring; that a reasonable salary for everyone is better than wealth beyond imagining for a few; that truth can be spoken and old wounds healed; and that people need to have basics before frivolity and fun can be a national pastime, By “basics”, I mean “life” for most (health care, food, and place to live, a planet not about to explode or drown in its own excess) before “liberty” and “the pursuit of happiness” can happen for a few.

In doing that, oddly, they will discover that sharing, caring for each other, and working for the good of others is happiness all by itself. As we reclaim our soul as a nation, we will become grateful In ways we never could have imagined. Life will have meaning again, rather than idols like money or violence and military might.

Let’s start by defining all of the challenges the Biden/Harris team faces:

1) Getting a pandemic under control.

2) Getting our debt under control.

3) Define justice once again, and stick to it.

4) Rebuild our roads and bridges

5) Get the environment clean enough to prevent global warming.

Then there’s dealing with student debt and getting everyone healthcare. Oh, yeah, those…. and they will have to do it all while people sling mud at them politically, or in media, or just in bad jokes around the water cooler. Did I mention that it will be messy getting from where we to where we want to be?

This is a gargantuan task. Did I mention salvation being hard work? Joe is willing to put his aging body to the grindstone and Harris will learn about all the things she doesn’t know she doesn’t know. I assure you, with their histories of being poor and outcast, they know the value of work and the importance of doing it.

So, liberal, Far Left, conservative, or Far Right, I don’t want to hear bellyaching or whining “It’s too much, it’s too fast, it’s too slow, it’s too …. whatever”. Cut them some slack. Listen for a while, then respond. Forget all the epithets for people you’ve never met before or seen in action. Try it for a while. Let them build some success before you finesse their programs. At the worst, we’ll survive and be closer to King’s “Dream”. At the best, we’ll have a country that works again, that lights the way for democracies around the world — not because we told them what to do, but because we got it right, and they can see it.

Resisting with Peace,

John

On Patriotism…

Over the next few weeks, and then months, you’re going to hear a lot about patriotism. I want to weigh in before all of the chaos deepens.

As a Christian, I have trouble with allegiance to a land or to a culture. My allegiance is, and should always be, to God. If I have to choose between my country and my God, my God has to come first. That said, I’d prefer not to have to choose. I want my country to have the same values as my God, to the extent that that’s possible.

What values are those? Compassion, care, love for creation, seeking to know each other rather than hate each other, valuing life and making sure to “do unto others as I’d have them do unto me”. While the Biblical God did engage in wars and manifest destiny and crushing empires, the Christian belief that Jesus is the best example of what God looks like in human form means that if Jesus did it, we should. If Jesus didn’t, we shouldn’t.

  • But that’s just me. In saying my piece about my religion, I’m not saying anything about non-Christians. I’m neither speaking for nor against other people. My denomination is at the root of democracy – We were the Pilgrims and Puritans way back. That means we believe in one person, one vote.

Okay, back to patriotism. Since I do live here, and do believe in democracy, American patriotism must have some standards. There must be a way to know if we’re being patriots. What do we say makes us patriots? Oaths. I looked at the President’s Oath of Office, the oath that Senators take, the oath that Representatives take, and the oaths that new citizens take.

Presidential Oath of Office:1 https://www.usa.gov/inauguration

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Congressional Oath of Office 2 https://www.usa.gov/inauguration

Senators, Representatives, and other federal employees: 

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

Citizenship Oath

In order to become a U.S. citizen, you have to say this:3 https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learn-about-citizenship/the-naturalization-interview-and-test/naturalization-oath-of-allegiance-to-the-united-states-of-america

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

  1. First thing to notice, the President doesn’t officially say, “under God”. That’s a tradition, but it’s not required. Why is that? I would suspect that it’s because the President’s vision of God shouldn’t be enforceable as the vision of God. The President isn’t God, doesn’t have to know God, and should never claim to do so. In America, we want everyone’s voice to be heard. Many people who claim to not be my religion or any religion know how to be kind, know how to be fair, know how to be compassionate. Do I understand how? No, but it’s true.

Beside that, (again, my opinion) God is a mystery, and unknowable being. God is bigger that us, and knows and understands things in ways that we can’t.

2)Next thing to notice: Everyone on this list takes an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” By definition, then, that must be the definition of patriotism.

  • The third thing I noticed is that the lower you are on the totem pole, the more work you say you have to do.

The President doesn’t have to protect the country from “all enemies, foreign and domestic”. Everyone else does. The Congress doesn’t have to perform noncombatant service or do work of national importance. New Citizens do.  Finally, nobody but new citizens have to “absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen”

In thinking about this, there are tow ways to read it: People not in office have the most work to do to make this a democracy. We make the democracy, the President and Congress do the democracy. We provide the raw materials of our values, needs, and voices. They try to make something of it.

Another way to look at it is to say it’s assumed that the President will defend the country from its enemies. It’s assumed that Congress will perform service to the nation. That’s their job.

In any case,  the country is made up of more of us “regular citizens” than it is of politicians. If their going to do their job as officials, we have to do ours as citizens.

  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, people who are just born here, and are therefore citizens, don’t have to say any of these things.

What that means is that your average Joe or Mary doesn’t have to make a conscious choice about things in America. They don’t have to say what they’re faithful to, or what it means to be an American, or anything. They can go through life never thinking about democracy but getting it’s benefits anyway.

There is the problem. For years, there have been anecdotes of people reading the Constitution and thinking “ it’s some kind of socialist document. It’s not ours”. When America went to war in Iraq, Jay Leno said, “Maybe we can give them our Constitution. We’re not using it.

The point here is that your average citizen may never have thought about what it means to be a citizen, a patriot, in democracy. Those people might never know what they’re talking about. You can’t make good choices if you’re not making conscious choices. You can’t make conscious choices if you don’t know what the Constitution says.

So, in order to be a patriot, it seems, you have to

  1. know what the Constitution says.
  2. preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”.
  3. I would add, you have to “protect it from all enemies, foreign and domestic” in whatever ways you understand that.

In the coming weeks, you will hear people  — many of whom don’t know what the Constitution says – tell you they are patriots. They can’t be. They can’t defend what they don’t know.

In the coming weeks, you will see people who have read the Constitution, argue about what it means to be a patriot. If their idea of what that means doesn’t preserve, protect, or defend the Constitution”, they are not patriots. If their ideas of what that means does attempt to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, they are patriots. It doesn’t mean they got it right. They are still human after all. Still, if it’s clear they were trying to do those things, their trying makes them patriots.

In the coming weeks, you will see people take actions which either protect America from its enemies, foreign or domestic or don’t. If their actions destroy America or democracy, they are not patriots.  If their actions violate the Constitution, they are not patriots. If they support democracy and build a stronger union, they are patriots.

You will note that I never said anything about Republican or Democrat, Red or Blue. There will be people in both of those groups who will be patriots. There will be people in both of those groups who are not patriots at different times. As of this time, I don’t know of an antidemocracy (or unpatriotic) Democrat.

As a Christian, I don’t think that violence, lies, hateful actions are ever helpful. I don’t think you can be a patriot if you don’t know facts. Using your voice is your duty as a citizen. Propagation of lies isn’t.

For the future:

Every American need to have civics lessons in schools. Every American needs to have critical thinking skills and knowledge about things that are important to them.

Every elected leader needs to put that knowledge to good use, benefitting the country, not themselves, and creating a stronger union rather than “playing politics”. Politics is not something to play with or trivialize. It’s a part of our lives – all of our lives.

Resisting in Peace,

John

People Thought We Were Kidding…

Let’s start from the beginning. “Fascist” is not a word I use lightly. “Racist” is not a term I use lightly. “Psychopath” and “Narcissist” are not words I use flippantly. If I (or any of my friends) use them, we mean them. If I use them here, I mean every one of them.

For at least four years, we have seen a leader of our country who hates more and more of the people oft his country. He is a liar. He is a cheat. He is a racist. By that, I mean he is a White Supremacist. He, and members of his staff, believe that America is a White, Christian, male-run country. He will tell you he likes White people. What he “forgets” to mention is that he hates everyone who is not.

As a White, Christian, male myself, I can tell you there is a problem with this logic. Among the pilgrims, probably 1/2 of them were women. Non-Christian people already lived here. Beside that, it’s hard to have an all-white nation when you bring Black people to the country, even if it’s in the bottom of a ship, wearing chains.

My point here is that America as a White Christian male nation has a built-in lie that can only be kept in place by force — Men and women believing men were more important than women, Englishmen believing they were more important to God than the natives who were here, killing them to “prove” it, and White men forcing Africans into slavery.

Beside that, there is some confusion about Christianity. Jesus saw women as equal and never forced them to do anything. Jesus never killed or enslaved anyone. So the “Christianity” that was proclaimed on our shores has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus. In short, we started with two lies, and kept them in place by force. The problem is compounded by the fact that we, and our ancestors, thought that was normal.

So, what Donald Trump believes in is a bunch of lies… on steroids! It is not Christian, even if nice believers in Christ thought that kind of Christianity was the Truth. Also, there are good things that White Christians in Europe produced … democracy and the Magna Carta, for instance.

So, the “America” that Trump wants is all of those bad things that White Supremacy brings, but none of the good things. Trump, because of psychological conditions he has, can’t and won’t, believe in democracy. Democracy is based in the will of the people. Trump is psychotic (not seeing living in reality) narcissist. In his brain, he is the only one that matters, and he, and he alone, is always right. It doesn’t matter what the question is, or who he’s talking to, he believes that only he matters, and that he is always right. That kind of, in his mind, makes him God. He is definitely not God. On a good day, he can compromise from that and be king. Under stress, he goes to the “I’m God” idea, and — as God — he gets what he wants and force is justified.

Narcissists are incredibly good liars, and salesman. You know how most people get antsy when they lie? It’s because we know we’re lying. Narcissists don’t know, or care, that they are lying. They believe what they are saying to be true because they want it to be. They are convincing salesmen and always seem to be telling the truth.

That makes him seem to be a good, loving person if you believe him, and a really, really nasty bully if you question him. Anything that comes from this person is bound to fail, and be nasty when it does. If you follow him, or get sucked into his orbit, YOU are bound to fail, and be really nasty when you do.

So, we have a guy who thinks he’s never wrong and gets angry if you say otherwise as our President. For example, masks don’t stop COVID because he doesn’t like them. 300,000 dead can tell you that masks do. Even if he gets the virus, it can’t stop him because, in his mind. he’s indestructible, even if you aren’t. Science doesn’t apply to him because he can’t understand it, and he gets really mad if you point it out. Never mind that science does apply to you.

Narcissism and White Supremacy ==> “Fascist”. Trump is a fascist. He just is. He can’t be anything else.

If you believe in what he believes in, you are a fascist, or at least a White racist and a bully. You have choices, unless you also are a narcissist. Trump doesn’t have that choice.

All of this brings us to today. He is lying about losing the election. He is really lying about the election being stolen. It never was stolen — ever. It’s easy to believe he’s telling the truth, because he believes it’s the truth. It’s not the truth, and never was. All of the little fascists followers of his will ultimately get in trouble but he “won’t”. In his mind, he can’t, so he won’t. And it doesn’t matter to him if you do.

You both deserve to be in trouble, but he doesn’t believe that and never will, He can only be stopped. He will never feel guilty, so he will never believe he should be in trouble.

So, why did liberals and people from other countries see this and conservatives not? Fascist are conservatives on steroids. Liberals on steroids are Communists (not Socialists, by the way — actual communists only) Europe has seen a psychotic fascist: His name was Hitler. We really haven’t, though Nixon might have been close, sort of.

Non-Whites see racism, women see sexism, because they are generally the actual victims of such things. Trump will tell you he’s the victim. He’s not. He hurts people and doesn’t know it, or doesn’t care. People pick on him because not because they’re jerks, but because he is.

So, here are more lies that Trump believes, and a lot of White Americans do as well, because they don’t know any better:

1) Non-Whites are always violent. They commit crimes. They must be prevented from committing crimes.

2) Women are inferior to men because they don’t have penises. They can’t be trusted around people that do. They must be kept under control.

3) Liberals are a problem because they think people should share even if they didn’t do anything to earn their keep. Liberals are mooches. The person who does the deed, did it all by themselves, with no help from others. They are the only one who deserves anything. They have to be prevented from taking what’s not theirs.

4) Non-Christians are demonic because they don’t know Jesus and can’t be saved from sin. They can’t be trusted to stay out of hell.

How do I know this? At the storming of The Capitol building, out of all the faces in the crowd, none were Black, so police didn’t try to keep them down. No one in the crowd claimed to be a “feminazi” or a liberal. Only (White) Christians had flags featuring their religion.

What will FOX news say? What will Trump say, and believe? Those people were good Americans. They can be trusted. Why? Because they Are White, mostly make, Christians. They can’t make trouble. Violence can only be caused by Blacks or non-Whites, because of liberals, who are really “antifa” or “socialists” who are really “communists”, or people who have “the gay agenda” or women who want to be men, or “demonic” Muslims, or secretly evil Buddhists . It’s “obvious”, except for not being based in facts. Breaking into a building is violence, attacking the press or people in the government is violence. Attacking people you don’t know is prejudiced.

We all have choices to make. Get to know and like people or fear and hate them, Think you’re great because of what you were born like or be great because of the way you act. Trump has made his choice. People at the Capitol made their choice, led by him. We can be better or we can be worse than others. The choice is yours. Don’t blame me for it. I can do that all by myself.

Resisting with Peace,

John