Monday, December 21, 2020
Christmas story, The Gift
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Democracy Under Assault
I’m not an expert, just a citizen looking at the condition of America’s democracy. Throughout my memory, America was looked up to and admired by most of the world . . . but I now see an unrecognizable America. The man who has occupied the position of president for the past four years had sullied our image. He entered the office ready to withdraw from world treaties, rescind environmental advances made by his predecessor and self-aggrandize at every opportunity. He has fulfilled those objectives. He befriended dictators and alienated allies and in so doing opened the eyes of citizens of other nations—America had lost its shine. No longer a beacon to the world; it would be the laughing stock were it not so serious a calamity.
I ask, “Is there no way to stop the damage he revels in?” There was an impeachment trial following his attempt to manipulate a newly-minted national leader to ‘dig up dirt’ on the man he thought was to be his opponent in the next election. The evidence of malicious intent and abuse of power was overwhelming, but Republicans feared a loss of power. They held the deciding vote—while admitting to impropriety—they insisted that the exact words used to describe his crimes did not match the constitutional words, and thus was he not found guilty. That emboldened him to commit further egregious abuses. He continued to fire qualified people in important positions to replace them with his unqualified financial supporters; make choices for the armed forces that were not supported by the military commanders; continually shout that the honest reporting of our free press was manufacturing ‘fake news’ while he himself was doing just that. For months prior to the 2020 election he repeatedly denigrated our voting system saying it was ‘rigged’, that mail-in ballots were not legal—preparing for himself the means to question the results should he lose.
When he lost the election, he refused to acknowledge that Biden won. Throughout history, even during contentious campaigns and during the worst of times, there has always been a cooperative transfer of power—it is the ‘shining star’ of the democratic process. Only Trump has refused to accept defeat and will not engage in the required transfer process that includes allowing the president-elect into security briefings and access to the financial funding for future planning. He thereby handicaps Biden’s ability to prepare to take the reins of office and this endangers our democracy.
His most shocking offence was to ignore the life-threatening pandemic. He refused to listen to scientific evidence, gave no direction and support for combative measures, and in the weeks before the election he went on a blitz of rallies before huge unmasked crowds providing the opportunity for massive hot-spots of infection. The virus spread explosively. He is indirectly responsible for thousands of Covid deaths.
He has blatantly used executive power to try to nullify the election. He is a megalomaniac, obsessed with his delusion of superiority. He denies reality, holds the paranoid belief that everyone is prejudice and plotting against him—he can’t recognize that it’s not prejudices, but an awareness that he is unfit for the job.
The Founding Fathers could never have imagined a crazy man would one day hold the office of president. Constitutional scholars should begin exploring ways to withdraw decision-making powers from one who has lost touch with reality to prevent such things ever happening again. Our precious democracy has been under assault for four years; may such never occur again.
Monday, November 9, 2020
of Serious Thoughts: Fighting for the Soul of America
Friday, October 23, 2020
Fighting for the Soul of America
The phrase ‘fighting for the soul of America’ has become part of the political battle of the 2020 election. ‘Soul of America’ is used in the Biden campaign and by the Lincoln Project—an American political action committee formed by a number of Republicans in 2019, whose goal is to prevent the reelection of Donald Trump.
That phrase is associated with Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address; he concluded with the plea not to yield to hostile instincts but to act upon ‘the better angels of our nature’. The ‘soul of body politic’ is an ancient philosophical and theological metaphor . . . so with a nod to Lincoln we look at the words more closely.
The soul is where our ‘better angles’ reside. The soul is the incorporeal (without material form or substance) essence of a living being—the seat of reason, character, feelings, consciousness, perceptions and thinking. Its main goal is to seek ‘the good’. In our time we seem to have put a higher value on material things than the essence of the soul—surely Trump does.
A Trump campaign ad mocks Biden’s use of ‘the soul of our nation’ with a video showing conflicts between protesters and police with the words ‘save America’s soul’ and a request to text SOUL to make a campaign contribution. He knows nothing of what is meant by ‘soul’. Donald Trump has stoked fear in our nation with endless lies about our institutions—science & health, the free press, CIA & FBI, the voting process, etc. None of our institutions are perfect but have served us well. We need to ever work to improve them, not tear them down. Biden understands this.
How have we turned from seeking a leader of moral and ethical character, to one who delights in insulting and disparaging people, who lies constantly, who uses his white house position to amass personal gain? One who seeks friendship with dictators while turning away from our allies? One who uses fear and misrepresentation to divert and divide the populace?
Trump is at odds with our nation’s values and its soul is crying out for rescue.
I pray: All of our nation’s noble principles, all of its hopes and dreams, all of the bloodshed and sacrifices . . . cannot be to deliver our nation into the hand of a narcissistic, self-serving megalomaniac. God, hear our prayer.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
of Serious Thoughts: Complex Issues
Friday, September 25, 2020
I begin with reference to an anonymous comment to my last (August) blog.
“You should be shocked….Dems in general and Biden in particular are viciously supportive of abortion rights….The scandal is that the Bishops should be condemning any political candidate who supports abortion….Wake up and truly be a Catholic.”
The first point I want to make is that Biden is not ‘viciously supportive of abortion.’ He is Catholic and personally does not favor abortion. He is supportive of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Row v Wade because it became the law of the land in 1973 and as an upholder of our nation’s laws he must do so. What he does firmly support is a woman’s right to control her own body—and that is the central issue in this fight. This is an infinitely complex issue. On the one hand abortion is a moral issue; but it was made a legal issue when abortion was decriminalized by the Supreme Court in 1975. Only women get pregnant so it is a women’s issue. What may be needed are guidelines for its appropriate use. I am a woman and a Catholic. I believe abortion without just cause is morally wrong; but I also believe that as with all moral choices it is that individual’s right to decide.
The next point I want to address is the matter of the Catholic Church meddling in secular politics. These issues are complex and multi-faceted and the Church trains its subjects from childhood to accept its authority without question, and thus when proclaiming a condemnation of a political position that is complex with many nuances it unfairly distorts it for subjects who tend to accept that judgement as they were ‘trained’ to do. Life is not all just black and white. Jesus knew that. He did not order and condemn; he said “Go thy way and sin no more” and “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He was not an authoritarian.
Limiting an issue to one black or white answer is both dangerous and destructive. When the Church saw the decline in the number of men entering the priesthood as the population was increasing, thereby needing more priests for its functioning, it allowed pedophile priests to be re-circulated rather than dismissed.
It is narrow minded and unjust to approach voting with only one issue in mind. Governance of a nation involves multiple issues. Currently we are faced with the Corona virus pandemic and a Climate crisis. Also, we are in need of a viable health plan, international cooperation to avoid war, a humane way to manage refugees, a sustainable way to manage our resources . . . to name just a few. There is a need to struggle long and hard over complex issues; there are no easy answers.
I return to the main reason for last month’s blog—the multiple mailings from ‘Catholic Vote’ which is focused mainly on the abortion issue. Control of that issue, abortion, is in the hands of the Supreme Court, not the Presidency. ‘Catholic Vote’ is not considered an official arm of the Catholic Church yet I know of no opposition from the Church to its widespread circulation. It is a sneaky underhanded way to exert influence on Catholics, by appearing to be ‘The Church’ telling Catholics to vote for Trump without giving consideration to all the reasons NOT to vote for Trump. First and foremost, he is a danger to democracy—he strives to be a dictator.
The most important qualities for the presidency are strength of character, integrity, honesty , willingness to accept responsibility and admit errors in judgement. It is a fact that Trump insults and libels his enemies (anyone who doesn’t agree with him), he cannot face criticism and responds with crudeness and insults, he is dishonest and takes no responsibility insisting he alone knows all the answers, he is without principles and moral character and an inveterate liar. He is unfit to lead a democracy.
Two recent deaths, John Lewis and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, are politicians for whom the whole nation mourned. They demonstrated the desirable qualities of a leader.
Friday, August 28, 2020
of Serious Thoughts: Protesting the 'Catholic Vote'
Protesting the 'Catholic Vote'
I am a life-long practicing Catholic and I am angry and deeply offended by the group that calls itself ‘Catholic Vote’. I have been flooded with at least 4 multi-page ‘information pieces’, several carrying three slightly different four-page surveys titled: 1) ‘2020 Catholic Voter Registration Confirmation & Presidential Preference Ballot’; 2) National Survey of 1,000,000 Catholic Voters Concerning the Democrats’ War on Catholics; 3) 2020 Elections Catholic Vote Survey Concerning the Left’s War on Catholics and Faith in God. On each are listed: Your US Representative: John B. Larson, and Your two US Senators: Richard Blumenthal, Christopher Murthy. Thereby suggesting the reader inform their congressmen and senators of their position as ‘Catholic voters’. My mailings were targeted to Connecticut voters; I assume they likewise identified congressmen for the other battleground states.
This is not a simple little flyer favoring a single candidate. It is a vicious attack against the Democratic Party and Joe Biden designed to strongly influence the recipient to vote against Biden and for Trump. It offends me on two levels: First, it flies in the face of the Constitution that calls for the separation of church and state. Secondly, it opposes the official church position that Church refrain from political involvement. One of the mailings contains a post card addressed to Connecticut Secretary of State requesting voter registration materials sent to the addressee (the person named on the letter.)
Every ‘opinion question’ is strongly slanted against Biden and for Trump with bubbles of various words of gradations from which to choose. Examples:
--What is your opinion of President Trump’s performance on getting America’s economy growing again after 8 years of stagnation under the socialistic anti-business policies of Barack Obama?
--What was your reaction to the openly anti-Catholic stance of the Democratic Party leadership?
--How concerned are you that Christianity (which includes Christian morality) has been criminalized in America—especially in Democratic-run states and cities?
--What is your opinion about the Democratic leadership’s total opposition to President Trump’s efforts to secure American borders?
These 3 slightly different ‘surveys’ are each heavily loaded to lead the reader to affirming Trump and demonizing the Democratic party. Why three? I presume to give them more opportunity to apply pressure to to their audience. There was of course an appeal for financial support in a brightly colored orange return envelope identified as:
The 2020 Elections Project
Campaign to Educate America’s Catholics
On How Anti-Catholic the Democratic Party Has Become
PO Box 7047
Merrifield, VA 22116-7047
Thus calling loud attention to their hostility toward the Democratic Party even by way of the US mail.
In referring to the similar 2016 campaign one of the letters stated:
“In all, Catholic Vote made more than 50 MILLION contacts with Catholic voters—with digital video ads that went viral, email, our social media campaigns, traffic to the CatholicVote.org website, and our CATHOLIC VOTER EDUCATION postal mailings. This made the difference.
CatholicVote is undertaking a very similar Battle Plan this year—educating Catholics in the key Battleground states how anti-Catholic the Democrat Party had become. But we aim to double what we did in 2016.”
I have found this so shocking I’m almost embarrassed to call myself a Catholic. I was unaware of the extent of the so called ‘Catholic Vote’ in the 2016 campaign, I received no such mailings, perhaps because I was not in a battleground state at the time. Although it is not an officially sanctioned church organization, I have heard no formal objections from the clergy.
Catholics I know are shocked and strongly object to this slander. How can there be—in the name of ‘Catholic’—such a blatant wide spread bias against the Democrats while giving support to a president known to be amoral, immoral and an inveterate liar? It is inexcusable that there has been no official Church opposition to this. It reflects the same silence that was demonstrated by the hierarchy regarding the Church’s sex-scandal.
Saturday, July 25, 2020
of Serious Thoughts: Toward Justice
Monday, July 20, 2020
I received a note-worthy comment on my June blog on violence. Only last week did I realize how to make comments appear after the recent updates—technology is not one of my talents. I want to repeat that comment as the lead in to my July essay.
‘Your insight - that the only formula for success is to put the self at risk in front of the offending party - is correct and difficult. It doesn't satisfy a sense of "fairness" because it is not fair... but it is the way that the arc of history is bent towards justice. (And that arc doesn't bend itself) Anonymous’
Thank you for that wisdom, Anonymous. Surely life is not fair! Throughout my children’s growing up years, each time one came in whining ‘it isn’t fair’ about some perceived injustice done to them my response to them first was ‘and what did you do before that?’ followed by my stating ‘Life isn’t fair, but it is our job to make it more fair’. Making it more fair includes standing before the injustice and refusing to resort to violence. That is what Gandhi, the Suffragettes, and MLK did and they made gigantic progress against the odds. We celebrate, respect and admire what they achieved.
The arc of justice doesn’t bend itself; the moral universe is not inevitable. Humans are the only species capable of envisioning and understanding morality which involves principles of right and wrong, good and bad, truth and falsehood. We know of it because of having reflective awareness—the ability to see forward and back to realize the consequences of our choices.
It is for that reason I wrote ‘violence is never the answer’. Returning violence with more violence can only and will always escalate to ever more violence until someone is defeated or something is destroyed. Violence has as its objective to crush, defeat, and/or destroy—to WIN. The wiser objective is to raise awareness to the injustice and negotiate a solution.
Our desire for fairness sometimes gets in the way of reason. When there is unfairness, tempers rise and indignation fuels anger—but it is within our ability to control the anger and not return the violence with more violence. The marches of the 60’s did that. Violence will never cure injustice; it will only expand and extend it. Justice can be reached only by awakening to moral order; standing against violence and putting the self at risk.
The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and subsequent murder of George Floyd by white policemen has awakened world-wide awareness to legal systems being unjust. Our law enforcement system unjustly targets blacks and minorities. But consider: it is the job of police to control crime and keep order. It is a fact, that in general, police unfairly treat people of color—as with George Floyd. This attitude arises from a white supremist belief that all non-whites are inferior and more prone to crime and violence . . . so when those protesting retaliate and become violent (even if it be for a valid reason) that violence serves to reinforce their view and confirms in their minds the need to ‘levy control’, i.e. bring out stronger weapons.
There is such a thing as righteous anger. It is correct to be angered by injustice . . . that is what we see in the marches, a voice raised against injustice. MLK did it without resorting to violence
--the million-man march and other 60’s marches were morality-based protests. They were completely non-violent on the marcher’s part; the only violence was perpetrated by the ‘controllers’ . . . and their violence was witnessed. The cost was the loss of a great leader and many other ‘innocents’, but the gain was that a huge measure of justice was won with sweeping changes in the law.
Humanity is progressing but progress is slow . . . bringing primitive man through inventing and learning to use language then how to preserve ideas by writing, to awakening to the need for laws, learning how to plan for future needs, recognizing the wrongness of invading and plundering, finally relinquishing slavery as incompatible with civilization, becoming aware that all people have inherent value . . . now we are struggling to understand justice and its place in the world we have created.
It has taken thousands of years for mankind to begin to see justice as a goal. Even as short a time as 150 years ago, mankind knew the words but not the meaning of ‘justice for all’. It will take many generations to inch toward its achievement. Having recognized there is a flaw in our justice system is a giant step in the right direction. I’m not suggesting to stop there, but I am suggesting there is a need to stop the violence that breaks out, because it causes the loss of our objective toward justice. Keep marching, keep protesting, but temper the anger, be persistent but don’t throw rocks or antagonize those whose job it is to keep order. When they choose violence be willing to put self at risk.
Today we mourn the passing of John Lewis. In his lifetime he was demeaned, jailed and beaten but he never resorted to violence. Let his example lead. He is highly regarded by people of all colors and in both parties. He will remain among the great American heroes. He was a true moral leader.
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
of Serious Thoughts: Violence Is Never the Answer
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Violence Is Never the Answer
Friday, May 15, 2020
Friday, April 17, 2020
Awakening Our Humanity
Humanity has a purpose--we are here to build a better world.
Friday, March 20, 2020
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Legal System vs Justice System