Dysfunctional Is As Dysfunctional Does…

“A nation divided against itself can not stand” — Abraham Lincoln

Wow. The Republican Party is falling apart. Actually, the insane wing of the Republican Party is falling apart.  They presently have a candidate running who is doing better than they expected, and yet he is their candidate. When is doing better than expected a bad thing? The other candidates, that the party wants to win, can’t seem to get any footing at all. So, if the party’s candidate wins, the party loses? Is that right?

At the same time, the party’s senators, who hold the most power in the senate, by virtue of their numbers, refuse to do the job they were elected to do. They are getting grief for that because they are in an untenable situation. The President can make them look like fools by offering them what they want (for instance, a Republican governor on the Supreme Court) and they can’t do it. So, the party with the most power can’t use it. Why? They are committed to not being reasonable. The press is harassing them, the White House is giving them fits, but they maintain their irrationality.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting. The reason that they are not going to let Obama choose a justice is because they want “the next President” to pick the justice. At this point it looks like the three possible candidates are: 1) Donald Trump from their party, who they don’t like; 2) Hillary Clinton, who they have not liked for years, and 3) Bernie Sanders, who — if elected — their going to really hate on political grounds.  So they are saving a seat from someone who might not embarrass them, to give it one of three people who already do.  Why? Because they are standing on principles.

Which principle is that, you might ask? The principle of people in power  not governing. Why would they elect someone to government to not govern? That is the Million Dollar Question. Republican people are fed up with government, so they go to the polls to vote for someone who will kill Washington from the inside.  Those people elected obstruct everything because that’s what they were elected to do. This leads to a government that doesn’t work, which makes people hate their leaders even more. All of this leads to many disgruntled people voting for a man that the party wants to distance itself from. Anyone see the absurdity yet?

Voters who put the Tea Party into office wanted government to work for them, just not anyone else. But governing isn’t multiple choice. You either do it or you don’t. Being “good at the job” shouldn’t mean destroying the very job you got elected to do. In essence, they sent haters in to do a job that requires people who love their country. The only other way to not serve the country is by quitting the job you were elected to, thereby not governing. Sarah Palin has done that, and she’s still roaming the country but her time will come to.

The entire system is now doing exactly what it is designed to: implode. Being the “Party of No” paints people into a corner as people who can’t govern. Being rigid and uncompromising about being  against all ideas might not work.  People who are good at destroying things aren’t particularly good at building things — amazingly enough, that includes their own party.

From two very different generations:

“Haters gonna hate, hate, hate” — Taylor Swift

“If you want money for people with minds that hate/ All I can tell you is brother, you have to wait” — The Beatles

It’s going to be an ugly election season. May we all find some…

 

Peace,

 

John

 

 

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Kesha and “The Girl In The Book”

My daughters often listen to music that I can’t imagine listening to, sometimes with lyrics I can’t imagine or don’t approve of, but — after sharing my distaste (and I always do),  their rolling their eyes — they continue to listen to it. I have parented, they have been kids, and it’s their music. I trust them to make their own decisions.

For example,

Let’s make the most of the night like we’re gonna die

Young hunks, taking shots
Stripping down to dirty socks
Music up, gettin’ hot
Kiss me, give me all you’ve got
It’s pretty obvious that you’ve got a crush (you know)
That magic in your pants, it’s making me blush (for sure)

Looking for some trouble tonight (yeah)
Take my hand I’ll show you the wild side
Like it’s the last night of our lives (uh huh)
We’ll keep dancing till we die (till we die)

The music seems like “rape culture” to me. This week I learned why. It is.
Ke$ha as she’s known, has had a contract with her record label, a part of Sony records. She wanted “out” of the contract, not because she wanted more money or didn’t sell enough records with Sony. She wanted out because her producer, according to her, had been sexually abusing her and she no longer wanted to have that happen at work. This is not the portrait of a rich brat wanting more. This is a portrait of a victim fighting back. The court said no, she couldn’t get out of her contract. (They didn’t rule that her reason was true, so that may be part of it), but it came down to “it’s a business decision” according to the court, and she had to abide by it.
As one who works with sexually abused women and men frequently (often the underlying trauma for addicts), my head wants to explode.  It sets an incredibly horrible precedent. It says to women that they have to put up with abuse or they lose their job and their fame.  It says to employees that they have to put up with abuse or lose their job. It says to abuse survivors, “we don’t care”. It says to the rest of the human community that business is more important than human beings. Everything I know and believe tells me this is wrong. Remember, slavery was the law, but many people never asked if it was a good law. Abuse was allowed, and if the slave said “no more”, they were on the wrong side of the law. This is the same thing.
To have a client of mine work with her abuser every day is like sending her to hell. Triggered people can’t live with themselves, with the memories, and everything. Therapists teach them to stand up for themselves and take back their lives, including going to court. But what if going to court only makes it worse for the client? The sense of helplessness here is palpable and people slowly kill themselves acting out in one way or another. This includes denial that they dislike by pretending that they LOVE sex MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE. It includes promiscuity. On the other side, it includes isolation, depression, and loneliness because relationships invariably lead to sex and sex is just too darn freaky to be engaged in.  The only way to avoid sex is to avoid relationships. The only way to avoid relationships is to not see or talk to people or be mean to them to proelltect yourself.  Can you imagine being forced to face this kind of anxiety every day?  It would be hell. What kind of a world do we live in when the law’s “justice” looks “hell” and that’s fair? The judge’s ruling needs to be overturned for all of our sanities, not just this one. But, then one person’s sanity should be worth fighting for.
Abuse survivors tell lies so as not to hurt their perpetrators, Abuse survivors tell lies to themselves so they can cope. Sadly, abuse survivors also tell lies to society. This court and the press re-telling of the verdict are why. So we get rape culture.
A prime example of the lies and bad coping skills — and the damage it does to everyone — is found in a movie you’ve probably never seen or heard of — “The Girl In The Book”, which can be found on Netflix this month. I came across it because I was bored one night, was planning to wind down, and didn’t want to see anything too loud like buildings blowing up or car chases. An “art film” seemed like just the thing, so I started it and decided to watch the whole movie, to see how the story resolved the issues that it’s character has.
There are two actresses that play the lead character, Alice: 1) Emily Van Camp who places the adult Alice and 2) Ana Mulvoy-Ten who plays the younger Alice while she is being victimized by an author. Both do an excellent job of explaining how complex trauma victims  are, and how poorly this can be dealt with by parents, businesses, and the victim themselves. I suspect that this is what Kesha’s life is like.
If you watch it, you’ll understand why I call it “hell” to be living inside their heads and in the presence of others. Alice’s boyfriend, Emmet, (played by David Call) has to set limits with her, as do all of her friends. It is only that type of loving reality-giving that forces Alice to confront her issue.
This is a movie for everyone old enough to handle the subject matter.  Abuse victims are nearly everywhere around us, and people who have to deal with it — knowingly or unknowingly — seem to include our entire population. It will make sense of rape culture. It will make sense of life as survivors/victims and of survivor victims. It will certainly make sense of Ke$ha’s case.
Though it doesn’t show actual recovery (e.g. with a therapist or a group) which is sometimes a long process, it does show the beginnings of recovery and I highly recommend it. It’s a good movie to watch, but it’s not an easy movie to watch.
Back to real life: assuming that Ke$ha’s reason for wanting out of her contract is true — and yes, I believe it is — The verdict in that case needs to be overturned, and when it is, that needs to be publicized for the lessons it teaches.
Peace,
John

Man’s Inhumanity To Man…

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

Matthew 15:7-9 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

About the language: When I was a kid, “man’s inhumanity to man” had a certain dignity as words. Modern inclusive language makes it “humanity’s inhumanity to humanity” which doesn’t even seem possible, so I chose the older style of complaining. Perhaps that’s the problem — all the crazy-making of our lives has finally gotten to me.

“Crazy-making” is a technical term where people see one thing, and are told they seem the exact opposite of it and, furthermore, they had better say it loudly. I see people all day who are, “officially”, some form of crazy because they have been living in families like this and I have to convince them, for the sake of truth and healing, that they are not crazy, they are not making this stuff up, evil things really did, and/ or continue to happen in their lives. Then I come home and watch the news or read the paper or see people’s experience on Facebook, and I see just how crazy-making our whole society is. I made the mistake of reading a recent copy of The Nation magazine and the truth within its pages was just too much to bear — truth about Flint, Michigan and voting rights. Later I saw another edition of the magazine that talked about the Paris terrorist attacks and asked for “justice, not revenge”, so I knew their heart was in the right place. Experience has taught me that they are truthful, which made reading the pieces even more difficult.

I am writing from a place of rage today, and it’s not all politics, nor personal, nor therapeutic, but some combination of them that has brought me to this place. I thought I might write until the rage changes to just plain anger, then drains down to peace or understanding or light or something.

I can’t believe what we do to ourselves on a daily basis as human beings. This is not America as I know it. This is not the world as I know it. It can’t be. Evil makes no sense, at all, but we’re getting good at it. I never want to hear another person say “America is a Christian nation”. It’s not. By that, I don’t mean that Christianity should or should not be our national religion. I mean that we don’t act like Christians. In fact, we are so far from it, that we have become demonic. The more we scream that WE ARE CHRISTIANS the more I swear we are not. If we were, we wouldn’t have to say it. The world would “know we are Christians by our love”. They don’t. Can we name one thing in the last year that America has done for others? Can we name one thing daily that we have done against the world?

Jesus says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. That is the standard for claiming Christianity, as it is the core of Christian teaching. I don’t expect people to actually live up to that standard 24/7, but I do expect them to try to live up to that standard. That seems reasonable to me.

What part of the crisis in Flint, Michigan says we did that?

Was it leaving them high and dry years ago, when GM moved out? Was it then taking over their political system because, supposedly, they couldn’t do it? Was it refusing to spend money on an infrastructure when we know that people need clean water? Was it choosing to use contaminated water because we refuse to spend money on it? Was it trying to cover up the problem with chlorine because we didn’t want to acknowledge the problem existed? Did we love our neighbor when they complained for months and government did nothing? Did we love our neighbor when lead levels began killing brain cells? Have we loved our neighbor yet? Let me know when we do.

What part of our attitude toward the poor says this? When we believe that “if you’re poor, it’s your own fault”, does that sound like loving our neighbor? When we make people scramble for a few extra dollars in their welfare checks or social security — when we make them work harder for less, does that seem like “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you”? When we get angry at people for being victims, does that seem like loving our neighbors? When we shoot them in the back, because they are running in fear, what part of “you shall not kill” do we not get?

When we create a fear of “voter fraud” which hasn’t happened or been reported, does that sound like “don’t bear false witness”? When people then vote for voter ID laws that accept gun licenses as ID, but won’t accept student IDs as proof, what part of taking away people’s rights seems like “loving our neighbor as our self”?

When politicians try to be meaner to fellow humans than their rival in order to win approval from the voters, which ones are the Christians there?

When children die and our system doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it, again — what part of “you shall not kill” didn’t we understand? How Christian do we seem? Which part of Christ’s words justify this?

When we get angry at, or dull down the message of, people for saying that their lives matter, which part of Christianity are we invoking?

When an appellate court says, “Certain semiautomatic firearms deserve the highest level of protection the Constitution allows”, how do we square that with the ban on false idols?

When we try to divide people against each other, when we say “this group’s rights are more important than that groups” how are we modeling unity of Christ? When my daughter asks me if I’m “an ally” to a whole group of people, why should there be any question?

When I see client after client whose experience is that they aren’t loveable because they have been abused by more people than have cared for them, how does this happen? How does nobody notice? When I see women who finds a decent partner in middle age and doesn’t know what to do with the possibility, how can we say that God’s love is apparent in our society? How do some people abuse others and expect love to come from it?

How do we justify the existence of the Ku Klux Clan as a Christian nation? How do we create members of ISIS, or Al Qaeda in America? How do we create kids like the boy who shot up Newtown? What in our national psyche explains this hate?

If Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the light”, how do we justify denying climate change? Why do we need laws to protect whistleblowers? Why is “telling on someone” worse that whatever it is they’ve done. If we believe that the truth will set us free, why do we have whole industries whose job is keep it from us? How do we justify “spin doctors”?

 

By now, I’m feeling better, having gotten it off my chest, but the questions still hang around. I see what we could be as a nation, or as Christians, and we are so, so, so far from that dream/fantasy, I just can’t imagine how we got here.

Let’s start working instead on actual Christianity and finding…

Peace,

 

John