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

Next Year In Deering

As many of you know, I still like comic books, or comic book movies, anyway. I was watching Thor: Ragnarock the other day and one of the best lines in the movie is this: “Asgard (the Norse version of heaven) is not a place. It never was. Asgard is not a place. It’s a people. That is how Deering is, and how apparent that has become this year.

There’s an old Jewish saying that I’ve become particularly fond of in the year 2020: “Next year in Jerusalem “. It’s something that people said before there was an Israel to go home to, I think. And so it is with Deering. Even if there is no Deering to go home to, there is a Deering to go home with. That is all of you. I don’t know that I have ever felt closer to a group of people in my life than I did this year. From whenever we got together at Gary Ciocci’s house until this very moment, it has been great to be with you all, even in the middle of a horrible, sucky, no good year.

Nancy Sweeney has been gracious enough to host Zoom meetings that we could all attend. Weekly, some combination of Julian McCracken, Boop , David and Kyle Hauser from Florida, Heather Bordeaux, Patty Kennedy and her husband from the Carolinas, Jean and Ruth Copelin, Judy Bragg, Kathryn Daniels, Em Ross, Paula Richards, Craig Cadieux, Rebecca Krause, and the list went on.

Music on line was great: Patty playing sweaty guitar in the summer, Charlie Russell playing gigs in Newburyport, and discussions with Mike Gatchell about albums mid year. Lindsey Sherman played flute, I think, and I coveted Gary’s PRS guitar and Charlie Hartman’s bass.

And through it all, there was the Shermans — Terry quite often, Claudia and family in Texas, Read and Stephan in Canada, and — of course — Oh, Cy. For Cy’s birthday this year, we pitched together and got her a laptop so that she could make the weekly meetings. That was incredible! All those who put it together — from idea to picking the computer out to picking it up to setting up. it was Deering extraodinaire!

I know that I have missed somebody, perhaps a lot of somebodies, in this recap. Because it’s after midnight by now, I’m going to stop writing now. But with all the crap in the world, Deering has filled my heart, even if we couldn’t all be in the same room this year.

I remember years ago, when camp still existed, Gino Kelly yelling “Hug time!” and all of the wonderful human contact that went with it. So, in 2021, I want to see as many of you as I can, for Hug Time! I hope we can get together in some form or another in person …. Next year, in Deering. wherever that is.

Peace and love to you all!

John

What Still Irritates Me About 2020

I’m trying to stop being angry, so I can enjoy Christmas and bask in all its holy joy. Yet, still, two days before the big day, I’m still cranky/sad/angry/overwhelmed. With that said, I want to get these things off of my chest and out into the universe. If you find them to be a bummer, don’t feel the need to read more. If you find comfort in knowing someone else has these feelings, I’m your man and this is your article.

#1, COVID. I’m sad because 2020 is the most lethal year ever for Americans. I’m angry because it didn’t have to be this way. We had a plan for how to deal with a pandemic. Trump threw it out. That’s on him. We only had so much patience for such a catastrophe, having not had anything like it for 100 years. What did we do with the time we had, before Round 2 came on? We wasted it! We wasted it with lies, and name calling, and bullying and straight out B.S!

Some people held political rallies, motorcycle gatherings, some “fought for their freedom” to kill others. The Narcissist in Charge held rallies, denied the existence of the virus, encouraged others to not wear masks, and — even when people knew he lied! — they went to see him! What the actual f… we’re they thinking?!?!

So what did that do to us? Did they get sick or not? Did they die? It doesn’t matter!!! What they did was was waste time… time where we could have stockpiled PPE, time where medical people could have rested, time when you and I could have had an economy. Yes, those who went did these things! They — not the cautious, or liberal or the believer in science — did this! They destroyed or economy! The virus killed people who didn’t ask for it. That’s the nature of a virus. But now, our whole f….ing health care system is broken, doctors and nurses have lost their energy to fight, and we keep shipping more and more people to them, to burden them even more! That is on the people who knew what they were doing and didn’t care! I want them to feel the full weight of their choices! I want them to feel guilty! I want them to feel regret… for the rest of their miserable lives! And I want to not be this angry all the time about it. Because anger is a secondary emotion, after hurt, I’m finally getting to the sadness I’ve felt about it. Damn, that’s a lot of sadness…..

#2 Is it too much to ask that Donald Trump just shut up! I’m so sick of hearing the irritating thing, the criminal thing, the challenging thing, the immoral thing, or the just plain stupid things he says every single day. Assuming we survive to see Joe Biden and Kamala Harris inaugurated, (and, yes, that’s still a orry of mine), I never want to hear that man or his family, or his sycophants, or anyone else to speak for him. I want my government to be boring for a while. I want to not think about politics for days, even weeks, at a time. I never want to worry like this again. Four plus years is enough terror for me..

#3, Sin. I’m really “sin-sick and sorrow worn” this year. I’m sick of being lied to. I’m sick of arguing with people that don’t have me or others in mind when they live their lives. I’m sick of half-truths and I’m sick of trying to decode what this person or that person really means. I’m sick of people saying hate isn’t hate. I’m sick of people yelling at me that they know Jesus, when Jesus wouldn’t recognize them on the street as followers of His. Lie? Cheat? Steal? People do them, and always have. They didn’t brag about it. Now, they’re mad if you don’t. Is it because they don’t know Jesus or have ever read his words? I’m not talking about salvation here. I’m talking about acting like Jesus, or Mohammed, or Buddha or any number of religious people lived. Salvation is great and all, but that’s “gravy” that Christians get. Caring, compassion, love, empathy… these are the things we should be aiming for in this life, here and now. In any case, I would like Jesus to be heard, so the planet and life in general can aim in the direction of those things.

#4, Children in cages. Families separated when they ask for help — and the effects of #1, #2, and #3 above on them. This should never have happened are should never happen again. The fact that I have to even say this makes me cry.

#5. Income inequality. Some of it is bound to happen. Maybe some people are worth more to society because of what they do. Ok, I’ll give you that. But, after a certain point — a point we reached years ago — its just absurd. If you have ever experienced the stress of not paying your bills — and therefore not eating, or having a roof over your heads, or being able to meet your children’s, or family’s, needs. You know how hard that is. It’s excruciating to know about or watch when people in the top 1% or 1/2 of 1% could feed a whole city for a year with their income … and won’t,

This world could be so much better if we just tried to do the right thing. I’m actually out of words right now because we are so very far off of where we should be. Some of us remember kindness as a norm. There are whole generations that don’t. I want to leave all of this behind in 2021.

It occurs to me as write all of this, that Jesus said a version of this… “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”

It’s that seventh verse that is what I mean. Things are going to happen in life. Could we just not be people that make things worse for each other intentionally? That’s all I’m asking…

Resisting in Peace,

John

New Rules For The Press

America is at war with itself because America is at war with the truth. As members of the press, your job, as I understand it, is to report the truth. Your integrity only grows stronger when you report the truth. It grows weaker when you report lies. Because a growing number of Americans have a problem with truth doesn’t mean your objective has changed. The way you do it must change though.

The first thing to acknowledge is that The Press is not A Thing, and it certainly isn’t monolithic. It is individuals doing a task and the task is getting at the truth of the life we live. There are number of reasons I point this out.

1) When President Trump said, “The media is the enemy of the people”, he didn’t mean FOX news. They were telling his narrative. He understood that “all media” didn’t exist. The ellipsis that was unstated was … “that disagrees with me”. Telling the truth, in this case, means challenging the ellipsis by calling it out.

2) When someone in media says “Media outlets are saying…” unless they are talking about you, they are lying. If they are lying, your reputation gets tarnished, and the integrity of all media is diminished. In psychology ethics, we are required to respond to lies told about us — good or bad. I believe you should do the same.

3) In the same way, when a politician says “Politicians are evil”, there’s nonsense involved in the question. This needs to be called out.

I began feeling better about the press when individual reporters began standing up for themselves, and breaking the fourth wall. When an Asian-American reporter asked, after Trump seemed to make an anti-Asian connection to COVID, “Why did you say that, Mr. President?” A light dawned. She was not just recording what he said, she was asking an open question. She was challenging him about his motives. She wasn’t accepting his truth as the “the truth”. She changed the rules of the game.

In the old days, truth was not a game. When politicians make it a game, you as individuals determine the rules of engagement. Until there is a truth again, you must choose what the game is. The idea, hopefully, is to corral truth and put a fence around lies.

There is a saying that “Sometimes, the only way to win is to not play”. This idea is tantamount when truth is a game. So another idea of how to work is this. If a politician is saying something you know is not true, you don’t need to publish it, air it or let it onto the internet at all. In the past, the rule was cover it, tell why it’s not true, and let it go. But why put the truth and your integrity in a hole in the first place? The liar will stop lying when it doesn’t get them anywhere at all. The lie can’t be put back once it’s out in the atmosphere, so please don’t put it out there. Note how much things changed when major networks, including FOX, cut away from the press secretary. That’s the point, so we can get back to a world of agreed upon truth.

Resisting with Peace,

John

STOP! Don’t Go!

I have to get this off my chest…

To people holding, attending, and covering Donald Trump’s rallies as the campaign wears down: It’s excruciating to watch a massive murder/suicide pact take place. Yes, you may say that not everyone at a massive rally will get sick, and — of that, fewer will die — but, as a therapist and a human being, I don’t know which of the people will get sick, and my head spins at the thought of worrying about tens of thousands of people’s physical and mental health.

JUST STOP IT! Why, on earth would anyone attend a rally with thousands of people, packed in like sardines, not wearing masks, and yelling. It’s like the anti-CDC guidelines are being followed. You know that. In some cases, that’s the point! No politician, no science, no authority is going to tell you what to do! Scream it away, with people who are as sick mentally as you are. You will lose this argument — not with politicians, or science, or authorities, or even with me. You will lose the argument with a virus. You will lose the argument with your illness. Some of you will lose the argument with death itself.

Folks, we are in the middle of two of the most major crises in our history — the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential loss of everything a democracy holds dear. People who attend these rallies contribute to the deaths in both cases.

Let’s say, for the sake of the argument, something you can’t even entertain as a thought: Donald Trump wants to kill America. What better strategy could a person come up with that 1) having people participate at mass super-spreader events in the middle of a pandemic and 2) making it unsafe to vote in places where he might be losing the his bid to become an elected dictator.

Campaigning two weeks before an election means the places he campaigned will become show symptoms two weeks later — on or near the election day itself. Because the virus doesn’t just stay in the place where you met, it goes with you, back to your community, the time of the election becomes the most hazardous to go out. If a person’s in the hospital, they won’t vote. The doctors and nurses taking care of those people won’t vote. People who just get sick won’t vote. Want to feel more hopeless about the election? This is the way to do it.

Trump knows better. Trump shouldn’t set up these rallies. You know better. You shouldn’t go to these rallies. News sources know better than to make this seem exciting. They shouldn’t cover them.

If Mr. Trump’s campaign suffers because of the virus, it will be like everything and everyone else in the pandemic. Furthermore, if you want Trump to win, it’s a lot more efficient to just go vote for the man than it is for you to stop at a rally along the way and get sick and infect others.

If you’re old enough to remember Jim Jones and the tragedy of his followers killing themselves in Guyana, you know how jarring it is to watch. Picture doing that every day for 2 weeks and you can now understand how truly bizarre and sad this is to watch.

I don’t care how outrageous Mr. Trump is. I don’t care how humorous Mr. Trump is. I don’t care that you can give the finger to The Libs. I don’t care why you go. None of that can be as important as your very life, or the lives of others — none of it.

So, I beg you, Mr. Trump, don’t hold rallies. I beg you, attendees, don’t go to these rallies. News outlets don’t cover these rallies. If you are the mayor of a city where these rallies are being held, don’t allow these rallies to take place in your city or state. This must stop, for all our sakes.

Resisting with Peace,

John