My Blog

A Post the Day After Yesterday’s Post

One day after writing a post on how unconcerned I am about the Coronovirus, I am starting to feel different. The governor of New York, talking about the first death there, said we need to put things in perspective. The 85 year old woman with compromised lungs would have probably died from the regular flu, he said. I hear his level-headed words, but I can’t deny that I am more anxious today. An event I’d planned to attend today was cancelled and my daughter and I together decided against shopping this afternoon to avoid the crowds at Cosco. Bernie and I can go during the week when crowds are low if we need to. I have another event tomorrow that I am starting to question. The numbers at this gathering usually low, 30 to 40, but it occurs in a fairly small space where distancing is difficult. Another event, later in the week, will involve more people but spans a longer day as people come and go and there is plenty of room for distancing.

My thoughts are shifting from how to avoid getting the virus to how to keep up social contacts so that I, and relatives and friends, keep from getting lonely. I have started a list of people I know who are likely to be shut in so that I can touch base with them. After my knee surgery a couple years back, I got depressed from the isolation.

My husband and I are already talking about how to fill our time at home. There are so many projects to attend to, but with so much time anticipated, for some reason nothing sounds interesting to me. Under other circumstances, I would be thrilled to have a free day. There isn’t much you can do to please this gal, it seems.

I saw on Facebook that the president declared the 15th (tomorrow) to be a National Day of Prayer. I think we already have one but we can always use another. I would suggest every day be a day of prayer, with the world in mind, not just our little American selves. That is something worthwhile to do when stuck at home. It benefits those being prayed for as well as the pray-ers. I like it. I will put it on my list.

 

Coronavirus…what I do

I realized today, I am not afraid of the virus…but I sure am obsessive. I am cleaning my house with disinfectants which I haven’t really done before. I like most germs and I don’t want to harm the friendly ones. But for this virus, I have gotten serious. At 75, I am among the more vulnerable and with my husband having COPD, there is added risk if her were to get sick. Here are some of the things I am doing;

Washing my hands more than I used to. Added to after going to the bathroom and before handling foods, I wash as I enter any building and again when I leave.

Not touching my face is a special challenge…I didn’t realize how often I did so until now. I realized that if I fold my hands in my lap or fold my arms, I don’t tend to do so.

I never touch a door nob with my bare hands. I have always done this in public bathrooms but now  do so for any doorknob. I will usually pull my sleeve down over my hand or I will wear a scarf and cover my hand while I grab the knob. Stylish.

In my house, I use sterile wipes to clean knobs and light switches before and after guests. Hand towels are changed more often and I am considering paper towels for guests.

I no longer shake hands but I am having a problem with hugs. A hug is so much more intimate and often a gesture for someone who needs support. I am going to have to trust God on this one.

I clean off my phone, my keyboard and TV remotes.

I do what others do when I cough or sneeze, use my arm or, if I am fast enough, a handkerchief.

I will for sure stay home if I feel ill.

Most of these have been recommended by the experts. As I said above, I am not afraid. I figure I either will or I won’t get the virus. If I do, I will or I won’t get seriously ill. If I get seriously ill, I either will or I won’t die. I don’t think the warnings are overblown. I think the experts need to be adamant because so much of the population is resistant to change. Those who don’t believe this is serious and won’t take precautions put others at risk.

 

The Problem of 24-Hour News

There certainly isn’t a shortage of topics for blogging in the world of politics. My intention as I write, is to be as open as possible. I have my own political leanings but I am just as apt to criticize those in my camp as I am for those in the other camp. Today I would like to consider a broader topic that spans all political opinions and contributes much to the troubles we are having today with misinformation. I am talking about 24 hour news stations.

The first station that was designed to report news all day and night was CNN, founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Discerned by conservatives to be too liberal, Fox News was founded by Rupert Murdock in 1996. Since then, several others have come along. Having news being reported continually for 24 hours under one umbrella leads to a number of problems that have been recognized but are rarely acknowledged as people listen.

The first problem is that moderators have the challenge of filling time with comment and discussion. This can be a good thing as it enables them to look more deeply into issues with comments by experts, eye-witnesses, and supporting stories. Unfortunately, those brought in to do such deepening are not always experts and often give misinformation. Frequently these people give their own opinions rather than information based on history, science, or inside knowledge of a situation. It is about filling the time when there is not enough material available.

The second problem is the race to report. So often a story is reported before all the facts are in. Even when corrections are made, viewers are left with incomplete or false information that they heard first and never got the update. Social media becomes the perfect platform to pass on the misinformation.

A third problem which I believe is more recent is that there is no correcting done before putting information out. In the name of freedom of speech, misinformation and lies are allowed. To screen information before it is released in the media would be considered a form of government control. I believe that some news agencies are better at checking their facts before sharing them with the public, but ordinary viewers have no way of knowing this.

Finally Americans are not well educated about history, world affairs, economics, or legislation. We depend on our leaders and those more educated than we are to guide us. When we elect our officials we assume they are better informed than we are and that they will act with good will on our behalf. We are at the mercy of newscasters to do their research to be sure that what they report is accurate.

These are some of the challenges of any 24 news station. The problem of bias is another whole issue but it is not related to having too much time to fill. Bias is to be expected as we all look at the world through different lenses. In fact, good moderators of news shows will often select people with different views to better educate their audience. These individuals should be experts in their fields, however, not angry Joe-blows-off–the-street to makes the show more lively.

I am not sure what can be done. The advantage of 24 news reporting is that any American can tune in at any time to catch up on the news. This, in theory, should result in a more educated, better informed populace. Leaders in media are being challenged to figure out how to keep misinformation or lies from being introduced and spread.

My only suggestion is that we each take responsibility for how we take in our news, (use fact check) that we are skeptical even of those in our own camps. I try to use opportunities to point out misinformation when I see it posted on Facebook. I will correct people with discussing politics out in the community. I have occasionally written letters to the newspaper. I use my blog. I like to think there are experts out there with ideas that would not violate the freedom of speech but would control misinformation that causes harm to our society.

 

 

 

Biden Needs to Look to Bush for Guidance

I was thinking this morning about the support Bernie Sanders is getting from Hispanics. If I were a person of Mexican origin living near the southern border, I would support him, too. Here is the reason why:

The current president during his campaign 4 years ago called those coming illegal immigrants murderers and rapists. He supported his statement by citing isolated cases where an immigrant did commit a crime ignoring the statistics that suggested that there is less crime, percentage wise, done by immigrants than by white Americans. People who are afraid have trouble trusting that just because one person of a race does harm, that doesn’t mean all people of that race would do harm. So I suspect that many folks in Texas and Southern California who are  or even who look like they might be Mexican have suffered profiling by police or discrimination in jobs or housing, or just plain disrespect. I also suspect that this is worse because of the attitude and the verbiage of the president of the United States.

Having supposed the above, I will also say that if I were in these people’s shoes I would be angry. When people are angry and doesn’t  have a safe outlet to express that anger, they will often look to others who have more power to do so on their behalf. After all, if a person in power expresses your anger, they are more likely be able to do something about it.*  For Hispanic people, Bernie Sanders seems to fit the bill.

Joe Biden is touted as a man of peace and civility. He really is an easy kind of guy and has a history of being well liked by his fellows in Congress from both parties. He reminds me of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Those of us that just want the country to heal are looking for someone like Joe. If the Republicans were to bring forth a person of peace, I could easily support that person. This is why I struggle with Sanders. He is too angry and we don’t need more divisiveness. We need unity and respect.

If I were to be an adviser to Biden, or any of the centrists, I would suggest that people’s anger needs to at least be recognized and named. I haven’t heard the crisis at the southern border mentioned in the debates for some time. I think it is time. The reason Hispanics supported George Bush was not because he could speak Spanish, but because he respected them and he had a good plan for solving our immigration problems. I think, if Biden wants to win,, he may need to look more to Bush than Obama for guidance.

* Rallying behind a person of power when they are able to express your own anger, I believe, is why Trump is in the White House right now.

The Attitude of Hope

As I read my old journals, I see quotes from books I was reading on a particular day as I sat in the quiet of my morning. This quote comes from a student of Henry Nouwen. I was reading Matthew Fox’s “Original Blessing” at the time and it is likely there is where I read it.

“Hope is an attitude where everything stays open before me. Not that I don’t think of my future in those moments, but I think of it in an entirely different way. Daring to stay green to whatever today will offer me, a tomorrow, two months from now or a year from now, that is hope. To go fearlessly into things without knowing how they’ll turn out, to keep on going even when something doesn’t work the first time, to have trust in whatever you are doing.”

This lifts my soul today…as it did thirty years ago.

Approaching the Bible

It seems appropriate today to write about interpreting the words in the bible since one of my readers responded to yesterday’s blog with an interpretation of a biblical text. I welcome people’s opinions and don’t mean to single this person out but I learned many years ago about the ins and outs of how to read and understand the scriptures.

Years ago I was part of a community that interpreted the words in the bible quite literally. One day a priest, designated by the bishop, came to visit our group. He prayed with us and we did some reading together. Then he gave a teaching in which he held up the bible and said, “This is not a Ouija Board.” He told us that we need to be careful about applying the words too literally, especially if we hope to find guidance in how to live our lives.

Sarah Hurwitz, in her book Here All Along, has the same concern. Writing to a Jewish audience, she says, “…rife with ambiguity, the Torah* lends itself to multiple – often contradictory – interpretations. One traditional Jewish teaching claims that there are ‘seventy faces to the Torah,’ meaning many different ways to understand it. Another declares: ‘Turn it (the Torah) over and turn it over, for everything is in it.’ ”

Her experience was that reading the ancient texts “was like an ancient Rorschach test: What did I see? How did I fill the gaps? What did that say about me? How have Jews understood the Torah over the years? What does it say about us as a people?” (Italics is mine)

Lest you dismiss Hurwitz’ ideas as not applicable to Christians, remember that Jesus was a Jew and the Torah was his scripture. Judaism is our “parent religion” and we aught to pay attention to the wisdom coming from Jewish experience with the Word.

Once I let go of buying into only one, literal, meaning of a biblical text, I discovered a plethora of other meanings. In order to do this, I needed to set aside those voices that insisted they knew the true meaning, even for me, and have the humility to say, “I don’t know.” That is when the scriptures really began to open up for me as the living Word that began to change my life.

*The Torah is the first five books of the Old Testament and the most sacred text for the Jewish people.

Super Glue It

Caucus night was slim pickin’s. There were more township tables empty than ever before. At my table there were three of us. At another table, there were two, the mayor of that town and a former legislator. This was very discouraging to me. For one thing, there were fewer to pick from to go on the the county convention. I signed up along with the other two to fill three positions.

After writing what I did yesterday, I went to the caucus with a different set of eyes and ears. I was not for looking people who support me in my beliefs. I was looking for divisive and unifying language. I found both. I heard words of divisive anger and unifying compassion coming out of the same mouths. I felt discouragement and hope at the same time.

When Jesus woke up to the the Divine within him, I think he also woke up to the fact that the wholeness he’d found was not evident among his own people. He said to a woman seeking healing that he’d come to reach out to his own people, the children of Israel. In the end he healed the woman (who challenged him for being so rigidly attached to his agenda) but the point is, he realized that healing the brokenness among his own people was a first step to healing the brokenness in the world.

I got home last night in time to see the last half of the Democratic debates. What a mess! People yelling at each other or yelling just to be able to finish their own sentence. I heard hurtful accusations. One mistake and you are out, it seems. Only perfect people allowed here. I had trouble sleeping and ended up moving to the couch where I played games on my phone until I finally dozed off. I couldn’t handle the divisiveness.

This morning, the noise and tension in me has subsided.  I can see more clearly. I prayed as the sun rose for unity. I made a decision to look for a spirit of discord and division in those who lead our country. These I will not support and may work against them. I will look for a spirit of respect and oneness to support and may work for them. I will try to be a voice for unity as I go forward in my writing, my political involvement or simply as I go about my life.

Truly, I don’t know what else to do. Our country is so deeply divided. I think right now of my daughter-in-law, Wendy, who showed me how to pull torn flesh together, apply super-glue and hold it in place until the glue dries. The image makes me smile. It gives me hope.