I Want An America That… (Why I’ll Vote November 6th)

I just listened to Joe Biden giving a speech in Hartford, Connecticut and I’m feeling a little nostalgic and patriotic, so I thought I’d channel his energy to write this …

I want an America that treasures all of humanity.

I want an America that treats every person with dignity and respect

I want an America that listens to its people, that allows itself to listen by encouraging the vote.

I want an America where all people have a place to live, food to eat, clean water to drink, and clothes on their backs.

I want an America that thinks, and sees thinking as a good thing.

I want an America that wants our planet to exist.

I want an America that loves and cares for children.

I want an America that doesn’t lie, cheat, or steal from its own people.

I want an America whose government understands that it works for us.

I want an America that works for all its people, not just some.

I want an America with dignity because it lives and acts morally.

I want an America that knows what’s real and what’s not.

I want an America that doesn’t make it illegal to be poor.

I want an America that takes care of itself.

I want an America without mass shootings.

I want an America where people are interested in each other, not afraid of each other.

I want an America where being in love is a good thing and the sex lives of others are none of my business.

I want an America that welcomes people not from here.

I want an America that wants peace.

I want an America where no one is above the law, and the punishment fits the crime.

I want an America that sees itself as part of the world.

I want an America that doesn’t have Republican judges or Democratic judges.

I want an America that, if you take a walk and you aren’t doing anything wrong, police leave you alone.

I want an America that acknowledges that people get sick.

I want an America where no one gets raped.

I want an America that I can be proud of.

Yes, it’s a long list, but I don’t think I’m asking for that much. In these times, though, it seems that many of us have forgotten these things or never believed in them at all. Because it feels so far from who we are right now, I will vote for people who share my values.

I will live against those who believe in a divided, hateful America with my every breath. But, on November 6th, I was will do the one thing that matters. I will vote.

Resisting with Peace,

John

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Existence Is Not Futile!

There’s a story in the New York Times Thank says “Trans Category May Be Erased From Forms” if the Trump administration has its way.

I am not amused, nor amazed by this news.

What I have found in the last two years is the number of people who already don’t exist to our government. I liked to think I knew history, but clearly, I didn’t.

If your island can be decimated and the President can withhold aid, you don’t exist. You have no voice that matters.

If you don’t like having your body parts grabbed, fondled, mutilated, or otherwise handled with your consent, Brett and the Boys don’t think you exist.

If you’re escaping from criminals in your country, you can’t exist in ours.

If you’re a child separated from your family for no reason but your skin color, you also don’t exist. The law knows you are in a camp, but the law doesn’t apply to you. You do not exist.

When one white man in Georgia can take away the votes of 50,000 people in an instant, those voters don’t exist.

When a town in Texas can keep an entire college community from voting 30 years after they won a Court case, those people are silenced. They don’t exist in our democracy.

When a pipeline can destroy Native American lands because our government says so, those people have no voice in America. They, too, do not exist. That’s not a new thing, but I thought sovereign governments had to respect other sovereign governments.

….. But here’s the thing….

For years and years now, people have been suddenly appearing in our world.

In 1954, Black folk appeared at lunch counters, and on busses, and in our neighborhoods. Before that, the world was made up of White men. We survived it and thrived as a country because of it.

In the late 60’s and early 1970’s, women started materializing on the scene as human beings with their own thoughts and feelings. We are a better country because of it.

In 1972 or so, at Wounded Knee, Native Americans appeared on our continent, not as TV caricatures, but as people with a history, and pride, an appreciation for the earth that we didn’t have. If we survive on the planet, it will be because we saw our land as sacred, something we learned from them.

In the early 1970’s, in a corner of New York City, people who had sex with the same gender began to appear. Shortly thereafter, gays and lesbians existed all over the country. As they became full human beings in our minds, they became people who love each other, adoptive parents, husband and husband, wife and wife, artists, and musicians, and sports players. Now they’re here, they’re queer, and most of us have gotten used to it. Those of us who have taken the time, are better for knowing them.

After September 11th, there were suddenly Muslims in America. We hadn’t noticed them before, and they were scary for a long time, but then they became classmates, neighbors, store owners, and people with regal-looking headgear.

Now, in the 2010’s, there are all these “non-binary” folks with thoughts, feelings, actions, and preferences that I’d never heard of, and still don’t always understand. Those are the ones the government says might not exist on forms. Still, if history serves as any kind of measure, these people will become human as our eyes change. They will exist as surely as we do. They will be us, and our lives will be richer for knowing them.

Life was a lot simpler when only White Men existed or mattered. It wasn’t just or fair to others, but it was simple for us and some of us, sometimes, wish it could be simple again. At least we’d know what we’re doing. Still, those “other” people exist now, and we can’t exactly put them back. We have to cope. We don’t have a choice.

Try as they might, this administration cannot put them back in a bottle or closet or out of existence or keep them out of sight for long. I like oatmeal as much as the next guy, but after awhile, spaghetti and burritos and General Tso’s chicken come into memory. When things get too spicy, oatmeal still exists. I now refuse to let those other things be taken away. More so, with people.

…. and then there’s this other thing…

God knows those people exist — all of them — and if you try to erase them, even a single one of them, God, whose eye is on the sparrow — will be very pissed at you for destroying what God has created. No one gets removed from this earth — no one — and God doesn’t see it. God saw Cain and Abel. God knows anytime a life, or freedom, or a voice is taken away by human hands or hearts. God doesn’t forget. Neither can we.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Hidden Misunderstandings: Pain, Anger, Truth, and – Isms

There’s a meme going around the internet that says, in essence, that women prepare for going into the world in a certain detailed way that attempts to protects them from being raped. I don’t know that it’s true. I don’t know that it’s not true. I am certain that it never would have occurred to me to ask. Why? I don’t know what I don’t.

None of us know what we don’t know, but I was reminded, as I read this, of the stories a few years ago, of Black families that gave “the talk” to their kids about how to behave when pulled over by the police so that they didn’t get shot. Again, until I asked, I didn’t know if it was true or not (it is). Again, I wouldn’t have even known to ask. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

While I’m on the topic, I know many blackout drunks who will tell you, on one hand, that they had blackouts. On the other hand, they’ll say, “But I never hurt anyone while I was”. An honest assessment of this, via an alcoholic I know, is that if you blackout, you don’t know what you did or didn’t do. Again, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Whole classes of people have factual experiences that others don’t. For many of us who don’t have those experiences, there is often shock and horror that such things happen. For others of us there is shock and denial that such things happen. Such is the case with sexual abuse victims and those who have never been sexually abused.

Here’s the pattern: 1) X event happens and it is sooo horrific (literally “unimaginable”) to those for whom it has never happened.

2) The listener says, “Why would anybody do such a thing? It’s too horrific to think about.

3) The listener searches their memory and thinks, “Have I ever done such a thing or thought of such a thing?”

4) If the listener has done or thought such a thing, and they have any emotional capacity to do so, they will feel ashamed. I have seen examples of this in male friends recently regarding the #MeToo movement re: unwanted sexual contact — not rape, necessarily — but things akin to it. Those who are ashamed apologize.

5) If the listener hasn’t done or thought to do such a thing, the experience remains “unthinkable” and often comes out like “That couldn’t happen” or “I can’t imagine that!”. These are two, for them, “true” statements and their revulsion to it makes it powerfully true. The problem, of course, is that for the victim of such a thing, these are the very words you should never say. Their experience is sooo powerful to them, and true, that denying their truthfulness creates absolute chaos — anger, sadness, confusion all at the same time — in the experienced person.

++++++HERE’S WHERE THE ISMS AND BLAME HAPPEN +++++++++++++++++++++++

The experienced, hurt party (understandably) says, “because you can’t see this, you are racist, sexist, ageist, classist, homophobic” !

The inexperienced, previously un-hurt person (understandably) says, “I am not a racist, sexist, ageist, classist, homophobic person! And now they are hurt, having been now accused falsely.

[Note here: confusing matters, people with no ability to, or interest in, feeling shame also do this, making things worse]

But here’s how the divide happens, and it happens all the time in each respective camp.

So how do we heal the divide? First, maybe not do so many horrible things in the world.

Other than that: Here’s how to break the cycle of blame/shame:

1) Never, ever say “I can’t believe that” or “I can’t imagine that”. Instead, try, “That’s hard for me to understand, but tell me more so that I can”.

2) Believe that the experienced person is not saying this to hurt you. Their experience is not your guilt. It is simply their experience. Them labeling you “racist, sexist, ageist, classist, homophobic” isn’t helping matters, but understand that they are hurt, and they probably have been for quite some time. Say, “I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ll think about it, but I don’t think so”. Then think about it. If they are right, apologize. If not go back and tell them you’ve thought about it and disagree. This keeps you engaged.

3) On the other side, be able to imagine that the other person isn’t racist, sexist, ageist, classist, homophobic, or isn’t aware that they are. The possibility that they are just being a jerk shouldn’t be the first “go to” response. Assuming they are intentionally being a jerk — racist, sexist, ageist, classist, homophobic — isn’t helpful . It may be true, but assuming it always is just isn’t helpful.

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this. I’m just coming to grips with some of the ideas in it.

Resisting with Peace,

John