Aldon Hynes's blog

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself: Vote

This morning I read an article, Why I Refuse To Register To Vote and various comments about it. I have many different reactions to this, which I’m trying to put into the Guidelines for Mutuality (developed by VISIONS, Inc) that is frequently used in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

The teaser for the article says, “I refuse to register because direct action is the only way to make our city better.” To me, this sounds very much like either/or thinking. The guidelines urge us to practice “Practice ‘both/and’ thinking”. Voting is a direct action. It does not preclude other forms of direct action. In fact, it can lead to and facilitate other forms of direct action.

Many of the responses include things like, “This author is white, right?... Total privilege here in this article….” As an older straight white cis guy who feels called by God to vote, these comments capture a big part of my reaction as well. However, going back to the Guidelines for Mutuality, we find “It's okay to disagree. It is not okay to blame, shame, or attack, self or others.” Some of the comments, while raising important points, feels a little too much like an attack on the author for my comfort. I disagree with the author, but I hope we can all learn from him and from one another.

Towards the end of the article, the author asserts, “To vote is to do nothing.” This is a place where I fundamentally disagree. I currently work in health care. Every day, I run into people whose lives have been significantly impacted by voting, people who would not have had the access to health care that they have if it weren’t for people who voted in officials that expanded access to health care and community services.

Before you say voting does nothing, spend some time with those for whom every day is a difficult struggle. Spend time with a young black Muslim woman who suffered from domestic violence, lost her son to brain cancer, and has faced many other difficult struggles, supported by her neighbors, including those neighbors who helped elect people who would pass laws to protect her. Spend time with old black men who had been injured in their workplaces and are now fighting chronic pain and mental health issues as the live on the streets whose lives would be even worse if it weren’t for parts of the safety net. Yes, if you’re a young white man living in Brooklyn who knows where your next meal is coming from and where you are sleeping tonight, if you’ve never been pulled over or harassed because of your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, maybe voting doesn’t have a big effect on your life, but it does have a big effect on the lives of your neighbors, and we, as Christians are called to love our neighbors.

The author quotes Thoreau, “A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.” Yet not voting is part of leaving the right to the mercy of chance and allowing what is not right to prevail through the power of the majority.

The author also talks about the idea of being “an ambassador from another country as we read in Jeremiah 29“. Yes, we are called to be in the world but not of the world. We are admonished not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Most importantly, we are called to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. What is the best way to love our neighbors? We need to listen to our neighbors, talk with them, help make sure their needs are met, advocate for them. To me, this means voting, and doing much more.

(Categories: )

Tai Chi with Seals

With skins of freshly picked
wild blueberries
lingering on my lips
and the oil
of freshly crushed
sassafras leaves
on my ankles
and wrisrs
to ward off
those pesky black flies
that interrupt
concentration,
I faced the sea.

With knees slightly bent,
wrists, elbows, and shoulders
relaxed,
I inhaled
and felt the energy
of the vast ocean and sky
gather
in my belly
and then down
through the soles of my feet
through the sand
and into the sea
where the seals
gently waited
and watched.

They watched
as I struck
the tiger pose,
unafraid.

They seemed more curious
about the deer pose
and they joined with the seabirds
who seemed amused
at the human
standing on one leg
flapping his arms
like an awkward crane.

Once more,
I sank my chi
thanked the birds
and seals
that joined me
and sent them
good fishing energy.

(Categories: )

Poor Man’s Food

I never realized
when I was young
on those Friday evenings
at the end of the month
when we had a special meal
of sardines and crackers
that we were eating
poor man’s food.

And when my mother said
she wasn’t really hungry
because of a lump in her throat
or a pain in her chest
I’d worry a little bit about her health
but be grateful
that there were more sardines
for the rest of us.

On Saturdays
when we had that gourmet meal
made from the left over eggs
and cheese
and the last of the dried out bread
and if we were lucky
some cut up cubes
of an old piece of ham,
I didn’t know
the recipe came
from necessity
and not
a culinary magazine.

On Sunday mornings
when the people were so kind to us
as we savored
our weekly pastry treat
and a Dixie cup
of lemonade
after sitting in church
eating
a small piece of bread
and taking
a sip of wine
I didn’t realize
that this too
was poor man’s food.

(Categories: )

Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Recap, Part 1

I am home where Falcon Ridge meets the confluence of other rivers in my life. My notebook and mind full of thoughts to organize and post in my blog. Snippets of songs play in my head. Patty Larkin sings, “I read the Bible everyday, Trying to keep the demons at bay”. Brother Sun sings “St. Christopher protect us from the cold and stormy sea”. All of this is followed by “St. Anthony Lost and Found” sung by Gina Forsyth.

Soon, I will post more; poems that I wrote, reflections on various performances, and whatever else comes to mind, but first, I need to get back to my day job. I need to fit all of this into the greater journey; poetry group on Tuesday, an important meeting on Wednesday.

As I prepare for my daily get ready for work shower, different from that wonderful first, home from Falcon Ridge shower, I think, twenty-four hours ago, I was sitting on a hill talking with my neighbors and best friends for the weekend, preparing to put out the tarp I would sit upon for the rest of the day. I think of the song we all stand on the hill together and sing, as we head back home, “never turning back”.

Ticket sales for next year’s Falcon Ridge go on sale in February.

(Categories: )

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, Raclette.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, Raclette. A new month starts. The last one didn’t see as much writing as I would have liked and this month doesn’t look that much more promising. It is Swiss National Day. I remember working for a Swiss bank where they would serve raclette every year on the first of August. The pungent smell of ripe melted cheese would fill the building. I like strong cheeses, but raclette was always a bit much for me.

It is also the Feast of Joseph of Arimathaea and I read lessons about tombs. I read the news, and try to focus. There are a lot of things going on for August and a lot on my mind. Again, I hope to find time to write more later.

(Categories: )
Syndicate content