Politics

Entries related to things political.

Inauguration and Protest Reflections

There have been a lot of discussions online recently about the Trump inauguration as well as the march the following day. Here are some of the things I’ve been seeing and saying:

One friend wrote about Trump saying he was giving the government back to the people and my friend hoped that the marches would be women taking him up on it.

I wrote:

Adapted from a friend: Trump said he was giving the government back to the people. Here's to the women marching today to take him up on that. Here's to the Muslims, and Mexicans, and people of every shade and color, every level of ability or disability who are also taking Trump up on this. Here's to the old white men, like myself who support those marching, believing in liberty and justice FOR ALL, believing in loving our neighbors, not matter how different they are from us.

Several people shared posts like this:

Posting this so it will come up in my facebook memories:
Inauguration Day: 1/20/2017
Gas $2.29
Dow 19,819
NASDAQ 5560.7
Unemployment 4.7%
Copy and paste so we can see if "America will be great".

I responded to these posts in various ways, ultimately ending up with something like thisL

Is this how we measure greatness? The price of gas and the value of stocks? How about other measures? Infant mortality rate? Suicide rate among veterans? Number of people who are homeless? Number of people uninsured? These are the numbers I'll be looking at. They must all go down for American to be great.

Here are some statistics that I’ve gathered:

Infant Mortality rate: 5.8/1000
Veteran Suicides per day 20
Homeless on a given night: 564,708
Uninsured rate: 9.1%
Happiness Index 7.104 (13th world wide)

Here are some of the sources I used:
CIA World Fact Book 2016 estimate of U.S. Infant mortality rate: 5,8 deaths/1000 live births.

“In 2014, an average of 20 Veterans died by suicide each day"

In January 2015, 564,708 people were homeless on a given night. Most (69 percent)
were staying in residential programs for homeless people, and 31 percent were found in
unsheltered locations

For 2015, the percentage uninsured at the time of interview was 9.1%

For Happiness Index, the United States currently ranks 13th with a score of 7,104

One person summed it up quite nicely:

America does seem great again today. Maybe it's just all those women in Washington.

Grant Ward Gets Touched by An Angel on Inauguration Day: A Meta-analysis of Gavin Stone

It is late Thursday evening, just over twelve hours until the forty-fifth President of the United States is sworn in. I am sitting in a movie complex in a shopping mall in New England with my fifteen year old daughter. I can’t remember what the last movie was that I saw in a movie theatre. Most of the great old art houses showing Kurasawa, Truffaut, Tarkovsky, and Wenders are gone. There is too much gratuitous violence and too little depth for me in most of the movies today.

Earlier this evening, I read a few of my poems at The Ghostlight Project event at a community television station studio, expressing hope that theatre, the arts, could remain a light, a beacon for diversity, in these troubled times.

I am in my late fifties, still trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do with my life. For the past few years, I’ve been exploring becoming an Episcopal priest. I believe it is what I am supposed to do, but the committee that accepts people into the ordination process don’t seem to think so.

My daughter is bright but struggles with her health. She is politically active and especially concerned for women’s rights and gay rights. She loves Brett Dalton and has been talking about this film since it was announced, and so here we are, at one of the first showings.

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone was exactly what I expected. It is formulaic, cliché-filled, predictable, and probably a really important film to see right about now. It is the sort of film that your aunt, who always tells you she is praying for you hopes you will go to. Her comments about praying for you has always made you feel a bit uncomfortable. God isn’t really something you talk about in the twenty-first century, but you know she is kind. She loves you and that she will sit through hours of binge watching Touched by an Angel, or Hallmark Holiday Specials with you as you eat ice cream and try to mend a broken heart.

Not only is the movie formulaic, cliché-filled, and predictable, but it seems like the backstory is as well; some Christian writers and producers getting together to make a movie, hoping to win a few converts to Christ. It hits all the right notes for the conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical crowd. A washed-up Hollywood elite coming to know God through having to do community service. A pastor who is kind, caring, and fixes the hot water heater in the church, not one of these celebrity preachers. The pastor’s daughter, who learns a little bit about grace and forgiveness herself after having been hurt by yet another person in the entertainment industry, and the hero’s reconciliation with the father, but his own father, as well as our Heavenly Father.

The cast is as diverse as nineteen-fifties middle America. There is a black person somewhere in the crowd, and perhaps some Asians or Latinos. If there is a gay person, they are so far in the closet you cannot see them. The references to sexuality are minimal. The stars don’t have sex. The only direct reference is recounting the scene of the woman caught in adultery.

Likewise, the only violence is in the re-enactment of the Crucifixion.

So why should you go see this movie now? Don’t go, to criticize it. Don’t take a friend to try and convert them. Don’t go for the narrative. Go for the meta-narrative, for the movie’s place in the twenty-first century. Take a friend who is seeking Christian Reconstructionism and another who is seeking Moral Revival. Take a friend who has been reading Foucault and Judith Butler.
Gavin Stone tells the folks at the church that a key to acting is listening. It is a message that we all need to listen to. The pastor’s daughter tells Gavin about the importance of humility. That is another message all of us, especially our newly elected leaders, need to listen to.

I am writing this on inauguration day. A lot of people are concerned about what is in store for America over the coming four years. I am actually feeling somewhat optimistic. Actors are speaking up at theatres. Women are marching. The rebellion against political correctness is now being seen for what it is, a lame excuse for self-centered rudeness.

Find someone different from yourself to listen to. You can start by going to see The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.

A New Journey

This week, I am setting out on a new journey. I am taking the online class English Spirituality and Mysticism at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. It is part of a larger journey of trying to make sense out of my experience of God at the ISM Poetry Conference: “Love bade me welcome”, which in turn is part of the larger journey of trying to find God’s will and meaning for my life.

One of the texts for this course is The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination by Esther de Waal. I’ve only read the introduction and the first chapter so far, but I’m greatly enjoying it, and thinking about how it, and the course will help shape my journeys. One quote from chapter 1, which is entitled Journeying puts it nicely into context, “The whole of life itself is for them a journey from birth to death”. The chapter spends a bit of time talking about journey prayers and journey blessings, spending a fair amount of time on St. Patrick’s Breastplate which I have always loved.

I write this all in the context of many journeys going on. Donald Trump’s journey to the Presidency. The journey of many friends to protests against things that President Elect Trump has said, the long foot journeys of two friends, one hiking the Appalachian Trail and another setting out to walk the Carmino de Santiago.

I pray for blessings on each journey that we all may act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

Obama and Racism

Recently, a Facebook friend posted, "Michelle Obama....your husband is the most racist American there is! Elated you are all leaving the White House!". It seemed a particularly odd post. Why is it directed at the First Lady? What does it mean to call President Obama racist? What are your hopes for the coming administration?

Those who understand that racism is "Power + Prejudice" may wonder how a member of a disempowered group is considered to have power. If you are going to talk about racism, please understand what you are talking about. A good starting point is Race and Racism.

13.2% of Americans are African American, but only 8% of members of Congress are African American, and this is a historic high. Yet President Obama is the leader of the most powerful country in the world. He does have considerably more power than the average black person. So, can we consider President Obama racist?

Perhaps we need to look at the source of President Obama's power. As head of the judical branch, he cannot make laws, only enforce them. Essentially, President Obama's power comes his role in making sure that the laws of the land are enforced. Yet those who are often most vocal, calling President Obama racist are white law enforcement officials.

In fact, the person posting this is related to several white law enforcement officials and in the comments goes on to rant about "black lives matter" saying that we should be talking about "all lives matter".

Recently, I went to the funeral of this person's aunt. When I spoke with family members, I didn't say, "I'm so sorry that all people die." I said I was sorry for their loss. Likewise, when a black person dies, I will say, "black lives matter". When a police officer dies, I will say, "Blue Lives Matter". I won't tell my friends grieving the death of a police officer to say "All lives matter" instead of "Blue lives matter."

Yes, all lives do matter. The lives of Mexicans, Muslims, transgendered people, women, black people, and police officers. When I say the pledge of allegiance, I am focusing more and more on the final words, based on a sermon by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, "with liberty and justice FOR ALL".

Instead of calling one another names, let's work together to make sure that we really do have liberty and justice FOR ALL.

The Unexpected Rabbit

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. Happy New Year. Recently, I asked my friends what they thought I should resolve for the New Year. I am facing great uncertainty this coming year, especially around my spiritual journey and our political climate. Will 2017 be a breakout year, in some unexpected way?

Kim, Fiona, and I have gotten tickets to go see Amelie when it opens on Broadway. So last night, we watched the movie. Will this be the year that I find an old tin box full of childhood keepsakes? Will it be the year that I set off to help others in my own quirky way? Will it be the year that I build up enough courage to let something truly wonderful happen to me?

I already have a wonderful marriage, a wonderful family, and a wonderful life (to bring in a different movie title), but is this the year that something gets added to that, in terms of life ambitions, the spiritual journey and the work (much more than my job), that I am to do?

I didn’t get a lot of responses to my blog post asking for suggestions, but one that did stick with me was a reference to #OneLittleWord. The starting point for me in thinking about #OneLittleWord is a blog post by Deanna Mascle whom I met through a community of connected learners. Last July, she wrote Write Your Future in #OneLittleWord.

What is my one little word? Perhaps, it stays with the blog post I wrote at the beginning of last year. Unexpected. 2016 certainly had some unexpected twists. It looks like more of the same may be in store for 2017.

Let’s hope for some unexpected joy this year as we, like Amelie, find the courage to let something truly wonderful unexpectedly happen to us this year.

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