Lament For My Twitter Feed

Lord, my enemies surround me on my Twitter feed.

There is talk of a need for a “Domestic supply of infants” by a Supreme Court Justice”

Breaking News: Republicans in Michigan have replaced election officials who certified Joe Biden’s win.

A white supremacist podcaster spewed QAnon conspiracy theories during a campaign event for right-wing Idaho Lt. Governor.

Aside from the voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering & new laws seemingly giving states the ability to overturn elections whose results they don’t like, how are most Americans supposed to learn about the accomplishments of this administration if the media won’t cover them?

Then someone writes: “This is what I find so worrisome. If the FIX is already in, what hope is there?? Please tell me there is hope”? I agree.

But there’s more :

A Senator slammed senators who “expected Brett Kavanaugh not to lie about overturning abortion”.

A judge sees a” far more ambitious objective to execute successfully in 2024 the very same plan they failed in executing in 2020 and to overturn the 2024 election if Trump or his anointed successor loses again in the next quadrennial contest.”

Someone writes: “I’m so effing livid this morning I went on a rant on his thread. He is making excuses for selling out to Russian luxury enabling the GOP led Trump cult and Putin enabling Ukraine tragedy. People are dying & our institutions are in disarray bc of their greed.”

About 100 protesters took the battle over abortion rights to the homes of two conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices Saturday night

New Report Raises Possibility Putin Sought to Infiltrate 2008 GOP Presidential Ticket Through Sarah Palin

I am scared to read this. Is it true? I don’t know. Is it a lie? I don’t know.

And it goes on, God. They are legion.

The same people who tell you gun laws don’t work, keep making new laws to control women’s bodies.

Republicans are exploring “new laws that prevent people from crossing state lines to terminate a pregnancy.” They are also building out a legal framework where red states can legally persecute abortion providers in blue states.

Arizona GOP Senate candidate wants to allow states to ban contraception use

Absolute power corrupts absolutely and if one man can purchase Twitter for 44 billion

Stories like this come out: “In 1979 I had an ectopic pregnancy. It ruptured in the hospital and yet I almost died from rapid loss of blood. These new laws could charge me with murder.

Britain’s new laws doubly criminalize Black, Asian and Gypsy people

We must “stop Blackstone’s takeover of our housing market?!?”

A Miscarriage Led To A Manslaughter Conviction.

There has been a dramatic shift by some lawmakers in one aspect of the fight over abortion: new laws have done away with rape and incest exceptions.

I don’t know who “they” are, but… “They are a bunch of criminals, whom believe they can continue to make new laws, to suit their needs, while leaving the tax payer, The Americans, the Rulers of this country out in the Cold!”

New laws for women in Afghanistan not even allowed to expose their eyes and must have a reason to go out.

Someone says, “I knew all of these new laws placed on women would happen. They pushed way too hard to reduce women to “birthing persons”.

I think they may be hypersensitive, but I don’t know what that is anymore, because next…

Someone on Twitter says: “If/When We get power back existing LAWS must automatically be enforced in spite of Biden/Obama. Plus new LAWS that immediately start collecting EVERY Illegal Person in America and DEPORTED. ALL including the over 26 million already here. DEPORT ALL OF THEM”.

Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS says: Immigration moratorium NOW, for 10 years – bare minimum. Build the Wall. Mass deportations

Just Another WTF>>>>>>>>>>> In order to prevent women from leaving the state for an abortion, Republican states will soon pass laws that women cannot leave their state unless they submit a negative pregnancy test.

This is very important. The GQP are pushing State legislation calling for a CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION. If they succeed Congress can re-write the US CONSTITUTION without we the people consent.

This Handmaid’s Tale bullshit is getting scary.

All the comments about how unconstitutional that would be. As if that mattered anymore …

How does this reflect on You, O Yahweh?

People say, “The pro-life movement was never about states’ rights—it was about crushing the civil liberties of women in the United States who don’t share the religious views of Christian evangelicals. The far right will now use new laws to compel its dogma nationwide.”

The backlash towards Christians we are seeing right now is why Christians should never have made politics their mission. They have completely obliterated, with these new laws & their unloving & uncaring actions, Christ’s reputation & our witness to a world in need of a Savior.

It is all too much for me, dear God. There is too much trauma and there are too many people doing the traumatizing. I have to leave this media. I praise You for Bono and the Edge singing in Ukraine, but “How are we to sing, in a foreign land like our own?

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Truth Will Win Out Or Morons Will Rule

I worry all the time about the midterm elections. I hear, quite frequently, that Republicans will win the majority in either the House or Senate and they have made it quite clear that they will not use their power for good. They will use it to destroy the party that stood up to them — the Democrats and anyone else they perceive as :”not pure enough” on one hand or too truthful on the other. They want revenge for being treated as criminals or treating Donald Trump as a criminal. The problem with that logic is that they are criminals. If re-elected, they would be criminals and bullies. That’s not a way to run a country.

To assuage my fears, I will support every democrat I can in whatever ways I can. Give money? Yes. Make calls? Yes. Check on lies? Yes. Finally, vote? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I only get one vote, but I’m going to do whatever I can to make that vote count.

But what if my fears are unrealistic? I will still support every democrat I can in whatever ways I can. Give money? Yes. Make calls? Yes. Check on lies? Yes. Finally, vote? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I only get one vote, but I’m going to do whatever I can to make that vote count until democracy is won or saved. There are only two parties in America and one of them doesn’t believe in the Constitution. That leaves only one choice.

I continue to hear that Americans have a short memory. I continue to hear that Trump’s minions control; our destiny because everyone’s afraid of them. I keep hearing that Democrats aren’t stepping up to the plate and pushing hard enough for justice, that states are making rules against people’s right to vote. I hear about gerrymandering and all the power plays that Republicans are making. I keep hearing about the Supreme Court supporting the fascists, because the fascists claim Christianity. Jesus, however, doesn’t recognize fascist Christians as Christians at all.

That’s where this other thing kicks in. They are not Christians — Jesus never carried a gun or thought it was a right to carry a weapon. Jesus wasn’t a nationalist. Jesus wasn’t a liar or a bully. Anyone who is a nationalist! cannot be a Christian. If the ideal nation comes before Jesus, that’s idolatry and Jesus is not a big fan of idolatry at all. If gun rights come before Jesus, that also is idolatry. Jesus is still not fan. Jesus is against idolatry because it only yields half a life, while pretending to be the a whole one. Caring about others yields more of a life than any thing, idea, or belief could. Jesus’ way is better than that even.

Jesus – the Way and the True and the Light — is, almost by definition, not a liar.The Truth will win out, if Jesus/God/The Holy Spirit have their way. But here’s the rub. Jesus is not a bully either. Jesus told people the truth, but he did not force it on anyone. The Truth needs to speak for itself.

All of this leads me June of this year and the January 6th Committee. At that point, the January 6th Committee will reveal the truth that it has found. Everything I hear says it’s going to be an ugly truth about whole swaths of the Republican Party. It will be presented as The Actual Truth. Ted Cruz will not get to shout it down. Marjorie Taylor Green will not be able to interrupt it every other minute like she did Jim Acosta the other day. Bill Barr will not be able to step in front of it and lie about it. It will just be whatever it will be.

I don’t know what that is because there are apparently so many details and side-effects that the Committee already knows about — and I don’t. Besides that, there are places in the mind that criminals can imagine, but I can’t. I expect to be surprised by the report. Whatever it is, it will be the truth. Lots of people seem to be afraid of it, so I believe that they should be.

Now comes the real important point in time: between the Committee’s Report and the voting booth. There are presently 31 members in the House Freedom Caucus. Of them,

  1. Rep. Mo Brooks (RAla.)
  2. Rep. Matt Gaetz (RFla.)
  3. Rep. Louie Gohmert (RTexas)
  4. Rep. Paul Gosar (RAriz.)
  5. Rep. Jim Jordan (ROhio
  6. Rep. Debbie Lesko (RAriz.) and
  7. Rep. Chip Roy (RTexas) seem to be coming up a lot as involved in the scandal(s)
  8. Then there is Marjorie Taylor Green,
  9. Lauren Boebert and
  10. Madison Cawthorn, who are almost certainly involved in one way or another.

That means, if I’m right, there will be 10 members of the Republican House that will not want to show their face around Washington D.C.

In the Senate, at least Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley seem to be involved in real way. I’ll add in Tom Cotton, John Kennedy, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and Tommy Tuberville to the list of possible suspects. This means that at least two Senators, and possibly eight Senators will be known to have tried to overthrow the government. They should be ashamed of themselves, but more to the point we will be ashamed of them. Some might resign. Some might go to jail, but their reputations will be destroyed, and their power with it. Hopefully, they will lose their seats as well.

Oh, and finally, there’s Donald Trump, whose actions are going to be all over this thing.

Whatever else you think about Americans, I’m pretty certain they don’t like being lied to, or robbed, or bombed, or other things that may come out in the presentation of the facts.

Whether or not the Department of Justice does anything about whatever happened, there will not be enough Republicans without correctly sullied names to take the majority. Whether or not the Supreme Court has anything to say about it, they won’t matter either.

This isn’t about lawyer-ese, this isn’t about spin. It’s about morals and bravery and patriotism. People without those things will be seen as the people they are. We will have lost confidence in them. We will not vote for them. They shouldn’t be able to comfortably pretend they are Senators. Support for them will dry up, including money for their campaigns and the Senators and Representatives who didn’t support the insurrection will glare at them until they leave. Knowing that the person you work with tried to kill you tends to do that to people.

We will know the truth and the truth shall set us free … or not. If whatever this Committee finds isn’t enough to keep people voting against them, or not enough to not change our view of them, and to be ashamed of who they are, then we will get what we deserve. We will have to be a country run by corrupt leaders who want to tear us apart. If we know the truth and choose to ignore it, we will be morons.

Human beings have free will, of course. In that free will, people can do the stupidest, most corrupt things, horrible things that others take years to recover from. It wouldn’t be the first time crowds of people turned against Jesus who, as I said, is not a bully. He won’t force us to accept the truth until the very final moment of history, according to our faith. At that point, the Supreme Court won’t matter, nor The Orange Man.

May we listen … and choose wisely.

Resisting with Peace,

John

A Question For Mr. Garland … and Us

I was listening to any number of podcasts, clips, and so forth today about the January 6th Committee and the pressure being put on the Attorney General to “do something, anything!”. The answer seems to be “because the process takes so long. These are important cases about important matters and we want to do it right”.

But here’s my question: A man goes into a bank and robs the place. Police catch him in the act. He’s arrested and taken into custody. Then he’s arraigned and waits for trial, either in jail or not. No one asks him who put him up to it. No one asks about his state of mind and whether or not he had intent to rob the place. He committed a crime. He was caught committing the crime. He was arrested. Done, done, and done.

If a man commits treason, or assaults someone with words or actions, and he does it on live TV, in the Senate chambers or in the White House, he’s not arrested. In that case, we have to figure out if he did it, if he meant to do it, who put him up to it, and what other charges he might be guilty of and then arrest him… maybe.

Donald Trump said out loud, in public, on TV, “You’ve got to fight like hell or you’ll lose your democracy!” and tells them to go to the Capital building. Is he arrested. Jim Jordan is involved in the revolt, and Liz Chaney tells him, “You did this!”. Now, a year plus later, she’s proving that he did it. Has he been arrested? Has she had him talk to the police? Has he even been before the committee? No. Why not?

Crime is crime is crime. Isn’t it? Why does there need to be more of a process when a crime is witnessed by millions? Because I listen to Maddox, I understand the *history*/of why we couldn’t indict a sitting President, but that doesn’t make it just, or fair, or right. We were offended for 4 years of Trump because we saw what he did.

Rudy Giuliani lied publicly. Isn’t that fraud? Why is the big threat that he loses his law license? Why wasn’t he arrested? It’s not that we don’t see crime. We see it all the time. We get punished for it, so we know enough not to make that choice, though some of us clearly still do.

That’s life. Why isn’t it for them?

Why is there “white collar crime”? Why are government people “corrupt” and the rest of us “criminals”? Are some criminals more important people than others? Isn’t the law the law? What’s “equal Justice under the law”? Is the law a matter of “separate but equal”, or just unequal? That’s why we care.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Take Off The Gloves, Sisters!

I’m watching the Supreme Court nomination hearings, and I’m watching the coverage of them, and I have to say, I don’t get it. Maybe it’s my White Privilege. Maybe it’s my Male privilege, but I long for the day when a Black woman doesn’t “have to” shut up and take it.

In watching hearings like this or other political situations where Blacks have been bullied or terrorized, there’s always a commentator or bunch of them, usually African-American, who say, “This is what we have to put up with, in order to get anywhere!”.

Here’s where I have a problem: That complacency doesn’t serve anyone. As an ally, I “get” that it’s not my culture to talk about, and I may be out of line here, but if you’re thinking, “I have to do this in order to not upset White men”, this White man says, “Go ahead! Say what you’re thinking! That guy’s disrespecting you and you don’t deserve that!”. Furthermore, if I was disrespecting you — publicly, for all the world to see — I’d deserve to have you upset at me.

The same is true for all women and women, all races, all socioeconomic classes. Disrespect is disrespect. For whatever it’s worth, you have my permission to tell off anyone, if that’s how you feel. If a (White?) man is big enough to talk to you that way, he should be big enough to handle your comments.

I could support you by standing up for you, Judge Brown Jackson, and I’ll be happy to do that. I heard Cory Booker brought down the house with his support, after I stopped listening, and I’m glad to hear it. But don’t be afraid to lose your patience, on my account. My concern is that anyone should feel that they “have to” do anything — especially someone as important as a Supreme Court Justice.

You may choose to because you think it’s expedient, but you can’t choose from only one choice. You need to have more than one option and anyone who tells you differently is missing the point.

Judge Brown Jackson, I heard you describe your faith as “Christian, Non-denominational” in the hearing yesterday. If the reason you didn’t show your frustration is because you think it’s un-Christian, I will respect your choice. I think Jesus calls us to be both pacifists and kind people — and sometimes I feel like a horrible pacifist and a horrible Christian for saying things in anger. My experience, though, is that sometimes I’m glad I did use the appropriate language for a situation. I have the right to be mad at a murderer or rapist or abuser, and the right to be mad at someone who “just” kills the Spirit, leaving a dead-inside body standing. I think Jesus himself got mad about just that.

The idea that any group of people should be expected to be courteous while being abused because “that’s just their lot in life” continues the cycle of abuse. In the same way, I don’t like the trope of the stalked city woman who is terrorized by a crazy ex because, it seems to me, it normalizes the behavior and says that “all” men are just that way. If we’re “just that way”, you should just cope. But that’s stupid. No one should have to cope with abuse — including verbal abuse and being disrespectful of your experience or wisdom . As an ally, I don’t want you to ever think your wisdom, your education, your kindness should be taken advantage of.

Again, if you think you need my (or any other man’s, though I can’t speak for them) permission to be upset, don’t wait.

I hope this makes sense.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Tired? The Cluster of the Pandemic

I was listening to a podcast this morning and the host asked something about “What effect has the pandemic had on women in the workplace?” Shortly after that, there was a story of the effect of COVID on Puerto Rican pregnant women, and I realized that there are so many things we will never know about the virus and its effects, simply because there are too many variables. Are we talking about Puerto Rican women in Texas? They’d be different from Puerto Rican women in Florida or Puerto Rican women in Puerto Rico. There are differences in health care based on location, medical care, insurance coverage, politics in the locale, and so many different genetics to be taken into account.

I have a friend who teaches likes to do research and I thought about her and her knowledge of stats, and I thought… “No way!”. In response to this, I began to draw a diagram of all the variables and things that need to be taken into account in life. This is that drawing:

As the chart grew more complex, I began to think of my clients and all they have had to deal with. It became apparent that COVID’s effects were “one giant cluster**** ” as they would say.

This led me to diagram it that way — in clusters of concentric circles — and that picture looks like this:

All of those little rectangular bubbles are things that you and I had to cope with during the last 2 years of this pandemic. The diagram could be thought of as a map of our thoughts in the pandemic. Every day in the news brought some issue or another to cope with — many for the first time ever. Besides the categories, there were the stories and the cycles of motion through the sectors. That would be us in the middle of the diagram.

For instance, a nurse or a doctor could be medical staff, giving aid. Then they could become patients receiving aid. If they survived their bout with COVID or multiple shifts of patient care, they would become exhausted and require Mental Health services, which were no longer available in person, but were via telehealth, a field that didn’t really exist prior to this. The learning curve for the whole of society was steep for a long while.

The government, under Trump, took a political approach to COVID, while under Biden it has taken a scientific approach. The same entities — CDC, the Office of the President, and The Presidential Task Force on COVID — were tossed in and out of different spheres. Sadly, so were the American people. Regular Americans can only process so much information, and there was simply too much to think about and feel about, so those of one political persuasion chose to go with the feelings only and they feel fear and anxiety often, causing them to act out their feelings. The other group chose the scientific way of coping, which left them alive but intellectually exhausted. By the third wave of COVID, we were all beyond our limits in dealing with all of this stuff.

Because I am a liberal Christian ahead of other things, (and because I like things simple, when possible) I looked for some moral view of the cluster that we have all lived through. In my head were two songs: “We Shall Overcome” and “Which Side Are You On?”. The songs were interchangeable in my head, with the lyrics of “Which Side Are You On?” to the tune of “We Shall Overcome”…. That picture is one I hesitate to draw (and so, won’t here), but the question that remains was this: Were you pro-solution or were you anti-solution to the pandemic? Did you get and give misinformation that made things worse or did you try to use credible information to make decisions about the pandemic? Were you more about your “freedom” to create a super-spreader event regardless of people’s conditions or were you were more about caring for others as best you could and willing to put up with the inconvenience/pain of it all. Are more people dead because of your actions, hypothetically, or are more people alive because of your actions, hypothetically? In other words, which side are you on?

The early church used to have as its statement of faith that “God sets before us the ways of life and death”. COVID is one more example of those choices.

Having said that, I don’t believe that death can ever be the final word, so here’s the question: which side will you be on? If, during this two year period, you have chosen the ways of death and you’re still alive, how are you going to fix what you have destroyed? If you’re a politician or a former patient who yelled at the doctor or nurse saving you because you wanted Ivermectin instead of the care you were getting — and they kept you alive and helped you get better anyway — what are you going to do now? Can you become a nurse or a doctor or a Patient Care Advocate? Will you? Can you learn about other disease and not spread bad information? Will you? Can you help out in a hospital or a social work agency to give back? Will you? You owe it to all the others who were affected by the cluster we just experienced , and maybe it’ll help if you were on the other side for a while — the giving side, not the taking side. Consider the life you have and what you’re going to do about it.

Resisting with peace of mind, sort of…

John

Aaaarrrghhhh!!! Give Me Truth, Not Lies!

I’m listening on C-SPAN to the Senate debate the Voting Rights Bill and at times I have to turn it off because my head will explode if I hear lies, fear, race-baiting, jingoism, and the classic psychology technique of projection used by Republicans!!!!

Let’s start off with Truth — Facts, Truth and Things like that…

  1. Joe Biden won the election fair and square, with a hard-than-it should-have-been fight against the most corrupt President ever.
  2. Donald Trump is … amazingly enough… still corrupt, telling lie after lie after about Biden’s victory.
  3. Senators who continue to tell the same lies know that Trump’s lies are lies. Therefore, they’re in there with him, corrupt and hoping not to get caught or they’re using the lie to create fear and obtain their own political aims. Either of those is immoral and corrupt.
  4. There was an attempt by Republicans to literally take over the government. WE ALL SAW IT on January 6, 2021. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a single Democrat involved in supporting the insurrection. Democrats aren’t the threat to our government. Republicans are! Not all Republicans, but a great portion of them, under the thumb of Mitch McConnell, who fashions himself as the Republican President/Power Broker.
  5. In states with Republican assemblies/state senates, more and more are making it harder to vote. In Florida, the governor has proposed cutting out Black districts and — more to the point — having a group of police to “watch” polling places and arrest people they suspect — just like the Ku Klux Klan used to (and he knows the tradition).
  6. The Constitution says that states can do what they want, but if things get out of whack re: people’s votes, the Congress can (and maybe “should”) make laws to straighten it out. That means that it’s not an illegal takeover of the electoral process. It’s well within Congress’ right to protect voters rights.
  7. While on that topic, it’s not illegal or a power move to make people protect themselves. I hate masks, but they’re an inconvenience, not “the entire loss of freedom!” Stopping breathing would be an entire loss of freedom. That’s what masks attempt to prevent. That’s what the vaccine is meant to prevent. Taking a minor bit of irritation and conflating it with loss of life is the very “victim mentality” that Republicans have said Democratic policies advocate.

So no one is trying to overthrow the government but the Republicans. They say it’s the Biden administration and Democrats. Once again, projection is not a policy. The Republican have no policy — theirs simply is “not what the Democrats say!”.

Now, with that said, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski proved me wrong today by talking about the bill, what she liked about it, what she disliked about it and how she has tried to reach across the aisle. I thank her for that. She proves that the entire party is not morally dead. By the end of her speech, I still don’t know if she’ll vote for it, but she at least discussed and debated the idea. The reason there’s such consternation about all of this is that Republicans, under McConnell, have said they won’t even discuss it. She’s at least done that.

Now, about the filibuster: I am generally not for making a structural change unless the house is falling. Congress’ reputation is broken and falling fast. Over the course of time, I have listened to the debate and I now believe that the filibuster as it currently stands is designed to kill legislation, rather than to make things happen. People change the filibuster all the time. Mostly, it seems, has been Mitch McConnell’s Senate, when it was in the majority.

The Republicans are still not debating (except Murkowsi). They’re throwing memes into the public sphere. They’re using talking points and spin. They’re using lies and projection. Even if their mouths are making sound, they are not debating.

If they have no good ideas and they have no real debate, the bill should pass. Voting Rights should be protected. Will it pass? Everything seems to indicate “no”. Why? Because the fillibuster is standing in the way. It’s time to adjust the fillibuster. It’s time to let more people vote, rather than less. It’s time to Pass the John Lewis Act.

Resisting with more peace, now that that’s off my chest…

John

A Call To Moral Justice… for Cat

My friend Cat posted a prayer today for preservation and repentance in our nation and our world . Though we have different religions, we see the same things, and we believe in the same way to get there: spirit and morality over the whole earth.

I was just reading an Advent devotional by John Pavlovitz and he talked about it being a awful lot to put on one kid born in a manger. And yet, here we are, thousands of years later, expecting the same thing because we believe in him, even if it doesn’t look like it. I say that it doesn’t look like it because we don’t act like we believe in anything like he talked about — not love, not neighbor, not forgiveness, or peace.

So here’s a reminder: you can’t do the same things and expect different results. You can’t hate and expect love. You can’t kill and expect life to be important. You can’t talk of God as Creator and think half of the population needs to be subject to the whims of the other half. You can’t love your neighbor and not let them into your country. You can’t claim the Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and worship a man, or a nation, or an AK-47 because you want to be master of someone else’s destiny. Don’t even try to tell me otherwise.

Enough is enough. People engaging in hate, and lies, and violence to the spirit, mind, body or soul need to just stop. In English, we say “repent!”, but the Hebrew is more instructive: Shoov means to turn around, go back, go the other way! That is what we need to happen if we want the Kingdom of Heaven to come near.

Yes, I believe that Jesus will come back and fix things, but I don’t believe we want to be on the wrong side of the line when He returns. That “line”is the timeline of history and our lives on it. If people tell you that you’re on the wrong side of history, maybe you should ask them why they say that. Then think about it. Then change, if change is warranted.

Alternately, I would prefer people repent not out of fear, but because love, and life, and sharing, and truth ultimately win. You can remind me of this when life looks hopeless for me, but look around you. After 4 years of hating, we woke up worrying if nuclear war wasn’t about to start. How is Biden fighting that? By not fighting at all. Building Back Better isn’t a threat anyone . Building Back Better is building. It’s not destroying. It’s giving people jobs. It’s repairing roads. It’s fixing things.

Forget the politics, it’s just a metaphor. What kind of a project can be described as building, giving, repairing , and fixing things and ultimately be wrong? It can’t. The actions work because they come from a place of love and the desire for better for more people. If you want to talk about “loving our enemies”, this is what it looks like. The plan doesn’t withhold from Texas, Florida, Arizona, or any of the states whose leaders want to make trouble for Biden. If this had been under a hateful administration, you can be sure that revenge would be part of the deal.

So, here’s what I think should happen.

If you want to destroy someone else, try to build them up.

If you think hate makes you powerful, try to feel the power of love.

If some has less than you, share with them until everyone has enough.

If you tell lies, tell the truth — to yourself and others.

If you want to curtail someone’s rights because they are “less than you”, be the bigger person and give them their rights.

“Love your neighbor” is as simple and directs as it sounds. Just do that. Fix what you have broken, everywhere you have broken it. That’ll keep all of us busy for as long as we live. Help people stop crying instead of making them cry. Help them to have long, happy lives rather than long, miserable or short miserable, ones.

First, though, stop and think. Feel all the feels. Listen to yourself. Are you treating others as you’d want to be treated? If not, try to do better.

That’s “repentance” — it stops you from hating yourself. “Justice”? It’s when you love everyone. If you can imagine a world where everyone loved each other, you can imagine what Justice looks like.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Hate Hurts Quickly, But Love Wins In The End

I am a pacifist. I have been most of my life, but I have to say that these past few years have nearly killed me by breaking my heart. This last week’s news and visuals were too much to watch at times, because human suffering, especially if we could have stopped it, is horrible to watch. In the case of Afghanistan, I believe we will find more to explain why it fell faster than anyone could have imagined it. To take over an entire country in 11 days is the pace of simply walking across that country and that shouldn’t be possible.

But that’s not the point of this piece. I finally had an answer to the question of why good things can fall prey to violence – and why Martin Luther King, Jr and Gandhi before him were right about love through non-violent means winning in the end. The answer came this morning on NPR with a discussion of the fall of Viet Nam in the 1970’s. After our army’s attempt at “nation building” in that country, the slaughter of innocents began fully. Now, in 2021, our new brightest ally is … Viet Nam. Love wins for the same reason hate never does – memory.

Once we have been to a country and attempted to bring Western Freedoms to other countries, to the extent that we have been kind and loving and living without repression happens, people’s hearts are gladdened.  They remember what it tasted like. It’s hard to identify a group of people who feed and clothe and house and listen to you and give you justice as “terrorists” or “oppressors”. When they are gone, it’s harder to remember them that way, because of experience. This is what the Marshall Plan taught us after we destroyed Germany and Japan. It seems the same in Viet Nam.

They will know we are Christians by our love” is a hymn because it speaks truth. “They will know we are Christians because we say so” and “They’ll know we are Christians by our hate” are not hymns because no one would believe that – and if they did, it would only be time-limited, at best, until reality set in. This goes for any country, and group of people, any military, any system. People do not forget freedom and hope and any experience of justice. Once a dream becomes real, it becomes real in people’s heads. That memory lives on, unless it is entirely snuffed out, but even that is impossible, it seems.

Two of the things we learned in this past year are about the combination of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the origins of Juneteenth, a celebration of the journey to freedom, kept by Opal Lee, who survived her family’s house being burned by the KKK in 1939.  After the destruction of Tulsa, in 1921, something must have survived because 18 years later, she wouldn’t let hate get in the way, and it took until she was 100-plus years old because her memory refused to let it. Does this mean that her one memory was worth all of the people who died at the hands of racists? No, it does not. But, as the old camp song says, “It only takes a spark/to get a fire burning”.

The memory of that burnt house survived all those years, as did the Massacre. What she did with it in the name of love will live on. People remember love when they have experienced it. If people in Viet Nam became our allies, they didn’t do it because we brought Napalm to them. It must be something else. I suspect it is kindness from soldiers who – despite the mission – didn’t want to kill anyone. Those men brought a realization of what kindness can do. Those men fathered children with the women there and went back to find them and their children and give them a better life without the war machine.

[Stop! Do I hear myself? Am I claiming pacifism prevails because war is a good thing?! This is the voice screaming in my political mind, but somehow, I think I believe it.] It’s not the war that made peace possible. It’s the love within the ridiculousness of the conflict and despite people’s worst intentions, it’s the humanity that never dies when people connect as humans that continues. By the same token that Tulsa’s Race Massacre wasn’t the cause of Juneteenth, war isn’t the cause of love for each other. Love, and that seeing of humanity (I would say bestowed by God) in The Other, is stronger than hate because it continues on as a marker to the path where others have been, and future generations can go again.

All of the women and men and children who have lived in Afghanistan will probably feel angry and betrayed at the US pullout – and they have a right to be. In those that survive, that anger will turn to loss when they grieve what they knew. It won’t be us that are doing the killing, maiming, corrupting, and torture that the Taliban is apparently capable of. To the extent that our people, or our mercenaries (“contractors”) did that killing, maiming, corrupting, and/or torture, we deserve what we get in the future.

But creating a climate of freedom for women to be educated, for children to grow up safely, for people to have stable food supplies is the closest thing to justice we know. Justice and acceptance/ lack of oppression is the working model of what Jesus called us to do. It is Agape. It is love. And it is seen in peace.

Does this seem like a sustainable model? Lose thousands or millions to violence and gain 1 long-term life of love? No, frankly, it doesn’t. But I swear to you, I believe it’s true. Life finds a way, healing happens. Healing is a horribly difficult path, but I see it in traumatized clients every single day.  Recovery is hard progress. Forgiveness is like pushing a rock uphill. We do these things anyway because something within us calls to want better in life. That something is memory, enervated by the Spirit to become hope. It is the steadfast resolve to not let hate or evil win because we’ve seen the right thing prevail sometime, somewhere.

So, in short, love wins because it survives. People run out of the anger that caused lashing out. When they run out of anger, they see with their rational minds choices that they could have made instead. Pacifists try to help society skip the step of violence and get to actual realm-building. It sucks to be us, but we will win in the end. Even when chaos and anger and mistrust and lies swirl about us, the truth of love and peace remains grounded in the core of our being, the reality of the Spirit of God within us. Because God will survive, love and peace will survive, and hate will lose in the long run. If we pacifists only run one or two legs of the race, the race goes on until love wins.

Resisting with Peace,

John

A Trauma Therapist’s Take On the Select Committee Hearing

I just spent the past 3 hours watching The Select Committee on January 6. I was surprised by a number of things that occurred during this first session that others may not have noticed, but have an impact on the wider world, so I thought I’d highlight them.

First, a semi-political piece: The Committee was chosen very well. On the Committee, there was a Black chairman, White people, at least one Hispanic person, and at least one Asian woman. There were men and women, and yes, Democrats and Republicans. Each and every one of them was affected by the events of that day. Traumatic events effect everyone. Diverse groups like this show the unity of our humanity, despite the apparent differences of the people in a group. Overwhelming events are overwhelming events. We may cope with them differently as individuals, but we are still overwhelmed by them, and we all need to cope with them,

The thing that most struck me in the testimony of the officers was this: their shame. There was an officer who was slammed in a door, who saved the lives of the Congresspeople, and he acknowledged/apologized for the fact that he spit on the floor trying to clear his lungs. Was anyone else concerned that he spit on the floor? Did anyone even notice it? No. Does it matter in the larger picture, such that he should be ashamed of it? No. Does he care about it? Is he embarrassed by it? Absolutely.

Inordinate shame about things that don’t matter in a situation they had no control over is a hallmark of trauma survivors. Some of them are defensive of those psychic wounds and lash out. Some of them just hurt as the event or events overwhelm their sense of self and they have what Joan Baez called “that haunted, hunted look”. In any case, trauma hurts and it hurts in ways unimaginable by those who have not experienced it.

In addition to that, there seems to be an inverse correlation between how bad the symptoms are and how strongly a person believed in the cause that was offended. In this case, those who had a strong belief in an ideal America, in an ideal Democracy, were the most broken when that ideal failed. They seem to have two choices: either the cause isn’t true or they failed it. This leads to disillusionment or shame, depending on the false choice they make.

In trauma patients, it is the ones who most believe in the ideal of goodness that are the most who are the most hurt by the lack of it in their abusers. Again, they often choose either disillusionment with human beings or feel ashamed of their “failure” in that belief. Neither of course is true, but creative responses are often gone in the shock.

The worst way to treat someone who has been abused is to blame them for what happened, as they are already predisposed to self-hate. Often people will say “you were (morally) weak” to a survivor, “and that’s why it happened”. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The beauty or strength of the person prior to the trauma, because it took such a huge event, that should be assumed.

More truth will be revealed by the hearings as they go forward, but this struck me for today. I hope it adds to your understanding.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Normal Older People, As Seen By An Old Man

[For my Deering peeps…hope it makes sense now…]

“Old Man, take a look at my life, I’m a lot like you” — Neil Young

I never thought I’d get old, until I was. Until about 50 years old, I felt like I was still my same 25 year old self internally. At my 30th High School reunion, I didn’t recognize nearly anyone at first … they were so…. old. The jinx was on as soon as I said that. The mirror suddenly revealed an old man: not bad, or ugly, but most certainly old. My classmates mostly were bank presidents, computer geeks making a lot of money, engineers making a lot of money, and so on. So what if they were old? They’d made something of themselves.

At about 40, my body decided I was old. My joints creaked, it was harder to get up from sitting down, I ran out of breath running to catch a bus in the winter and so on. Twinkies, Mac and Cheese, Ramen diet catching up with me? Nah. Couldn’t be. 40 was not the age people were supposed to feel old! But 40 hit hard. Of “sex and drugs and rock and roll”, the only one I’d really indulged in has cost me some of hearing — not much, mind you, but enough to miss little things or details in things. I could still be young but my body was not having it anymore on the larger scale.

Sleep apnea, a few too many car wrecks (related to the sleep apnea), diabetes, all took their toll. About age 50 or so, my legs would, for no particular reason, simply stop working and I would fall. Oops. Turns out some nerve in my neck had gotten messed up and contributed to the problem, and my C5/C6 vertebrae had to be fused. If something went awry in the surgery, I could either die or be paralyzed. Holy…. I had never even considered that. Death wasn’t even on my radar. “C’mon, really? No, really?’, were the thoughts that ran through my head, over and over. I got a grip on it all, had the surgery, and recovered. About 2 or 3 years ago, I rolled over, fell out of bed and hit my eye on the corner of the nightstand. I’m blind in one eye, but amazingly that didn’t make me feel older. It was just a weird thing that happened and hasn’t changed much. My depth perception — for picking strings on a guitar or bass was made much harder, and that part — the can’t learn new things/can’t get better at old things part? That makes me feel old. (See? I’m now “that old guy who talks about all his ailments, because there are so many of them”.)

Oh, yeah, then COVID hit. I didn’t get it. I don’t know many people that died from it, but all of that got old and now I want to get back in the world… sort of.

“I am an old woman, named after my mother… Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery. Make me a poster of an old rodeo”– Bonnie Raitt, “Angel from Montgomery”, written by John Prine.

In seminary, our class had the feeling that we were unique — a bridge between the very old and the very new. That feeling has followed me my whole life. I often think of the trajectory I thought we would take as a people… and how we’re really not there. Jimmy Carter, I recently learned, had solar panels installed on the White House. That was the future I envisioned — new, mellow life, loving each other, solar panels not destroying the environment, us living in harmony with each other and the world. In 1980, Ronald Reagan came into office and immediately ripped the solar panels off, and I haven’t understood the world since. Reagan brought back all the things I didn’t want in America — war, conservative ideas like not paying taxes for schools, racism, classism, sexism and so on, including the love of things. Conspicuous consumption was the order of the day. This led to, in my humble opinion, cocaine use and disco — two things I absolutely couldn’t stand. Also, Southern Rock was not my idea of progress, because I could hear the “America is No. 1” in it. I loved democracy so much, I thought it was too obvious. Flags and yelling “We’re number 1”! aren’t democracy. Democracy is a living, breathing thing that requires action and care for each other.

Music, by the way, never really got “back to where it once belonged”. Since 1980, there have been some incredible gems, but they are rare on pop radio. I think the last time I enjoyed the radio was during the “alt-rock” phase in California in about 2000. Roots rock, classic rock, blues, gospel, and Stax-type Rhythm and Blues are still wonderful joys that renew my soul. I no more need to hear about “booty”, “pimps” and “gangstas”, “trucks, tractors, and young girls in short pants” than I need a hole in my head — but that’s what’s on the radio. John Lee Hooker and Hank Williams, Sr, Ladysmith Black Mumbaza, Joan Baez and Harry Chapin will do me just fine.

That leaves me loving “my” music — from the late 1950’s to the late 1990’s — and not really growing. I’m actually ok with that. In the same way that previous generations thought singers with a Big Band orchestra was “real music” and the Beatles was “not real music”, modern pop, to me, is what Dan Ackroyd predicted: “pre-programmed electronic disco music”.

Yesterday, as I was at a huge party with 30 friends who hadn’t seen each other for a while, there was a soundtrack playing in the background. I knew every song, and pretty much loved every one. I’m pretty sure everyone else did, too.

“If weren’t all crazy, we would go insane” — Jimmy Buffett

I just started today (in 2021) re-reading Rudolf Otto’s book, The Idea of The Holy and the introduction talks about his being spiritual and liberal, just before Hitler came to power. Otto, the book says, didn’t choose to join the National Democrats, or National Socialists. He chose a smaller group — the Democrats — and that didn’t stop the rise of Hitler, of course. But Otto was dead by then, so we’ll never know what would have happened when he and evil faced each other.

My beautiful friends from that era feel like the smaller party that Otto joined. They had the right idea, but no one cared about it, because the world didn’t want to care about anything. I never gave up, my denomination never gave up For years, “liberal” was used an epithet. Now, as the country moves farther and farther right, liberals are called “far left socialists”. We’re not, but we haven’t moved. The rest of the country has. As they back onto a cliff, they yell at us, “You’re gonna fall!”. In the meantime, the world of the left is totally different, with an agenda we never could have perceived. I’m hopeful about all the incredible youth movements of the past few years, but I don’t have the energy for, or interest in, such urgency. Save the planet in 15 years from climate change? Did I mention I’m old? But I’ll try. Save American from racist Fascism? Absolutely, til the day I die, but that’s an old cause — being against racism, not fascism. Call me old-fashioned, but I thought we won World War II.

As I looked around yesterday at my friends, I thought, “Wow, they are great people. Not a one of them is famous, but I like every one of them. In a world that seems absolutely nuts at times, these people are … normal. My normal perhaps, but “normal”. I thought to myself, “I get it. We have become Harry’s generation”.

“I guess I just wasn’t made for these times” — Brian Wison and the Beach Boys

Years ago, when I was first married and lived in Bridgeport, there was a member of my congregation named Harry. He was retired, I think. I always saw him at the diner. I always saw him in church. Harry was old, and maybe looked lonely, but he fit in Bridgeport. Everywhere he went, people knew him, and said “Hello” and shook his hand, or gave him a hug. The people who did that had been friends for years. They all grew up during World War II or maybe Korea, but the world that they inhabited made sense for them. Nazis were bad. Frank Sinatra was good. America was righteous, and promoted peace unless it couldn’t help it. They all went to church. They all drove an American car. Communism was wrong. Democracy was right.The barber always had “Theme from a Summer Place” playing in the background on the AM station. Men shaved, and worked hard. Women cooked and worked hard. It was what it was, and it made sense to them. They were the inhabitants of that generation’s world. We were outsiders looking in. To us, they were ok people, with strange habits, and strong values that we didn’t always hold. I’m sure to this generation, we are the same, and I’m ok with that. I like my normal. I like it a lot.

Some of us are more neurotic, some of us are less. Some of us have seen harder times, some not so much. Most of us are liberal, some not so much. None of those things really matter. We all want what’s best for each other. We all want what’s best for the world. They are our people, and we are a part of them. We put up with them sometimes, and they put up with us sometimes. Do we look like a unified people? Not by ourselves, but we know each other when we see us. We know we’re not alone, even if COVID made us lonely for each other. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my tribe, my people, especially my Deering friends. They are good people.

“The end, my friend. My only friend, the end” — Jim Morrison and the Doors

While I’m talking about getting old, I probably should talk about getting really old, and that thing that comes after it: death. I don’t think about death very often. It’s not something that runs through my head. I’m a Christian. Because of that, I don’t have any fear of death. I don’t long for it. I don’t look for it. If it happens, I’m ok. If it doesn’t, I still have things to do, and people to see. I have tried — and still try — to make every day the best I have for the world. I try to be my best self. I try to tell the people that matter I love them. That’s one of the best ideas my generation had. We were smart to keep that one.

Do I “hope I die before I get old”, as Pete Townsend said? The answer comes from years ago, when Bob Kyte quoted Bob Dylan “Those not busy being born are busy dying”. That’s an old one from the memory banks, but it’s still true today. I worry about the world. I don’t worry about death. I don’t mind getting old, but I don’t want to be dying until I’m dead.

Resisting with Peace,

John