The American Character

I woke up this morning thinking, “Racism is part of the American character.” It is our unique shadow that permeates all that we do. It holds back our progress, it messes with our belief systems corrupting even our religions. It directs how we spend our money. It is the reason people fight so for their right to bear arms. It is the corruption in our courts and in our election process. It is the driver behind American’s worst decisions: who to keep out of our country, where our troops are sent  to die, which heroes we celebrate. It drives families into poverty. It causes sickness, disease and pain…it kills. It makes the history we are taught basically useless if we are to face our truth and change.

How many times have I heard liberal leaders say after racist events, “This is not who we are.” They are wrong. It is.

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.

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.

 

Caucus Night, 2020

Caucus Night. It is fun, I love it and have gone for several years now. I like seeing my neighbors. Most of those I meet I never see any other time of year. That is because I have only lived here for 20 years and neighbors out in my township know each other for all of their lives. I am still a newby.

This is a difficult time in our country. People are so deeply divided it is frightening. I don’t hear disagreement. I hear hatred. I don’t hear compromise. I hear fear.

There are members of my family on both sides of the political divide but, thankfully, we have as yet not allowed our differences to divide us. We love one another too much. Rather than condemn one another for our individual allegiances, we shake our heads at the inability of the other to see what we see. I know this goes both ways.

Allow me to go deep for a moment, deeper than our differences, deeper than black and white or even right and wrong. This is about my own spirituality which I have have written about in past blogs. I believe that we each have “that of God” in us. I call this our True Selves, the person God created us to be and nudges us to become more fully in this particular lifetime. This True Self, while unique, is also divine because it is God’s Spirit breathed into the body at creation (see Genesis) but at the creation of ourselves today as well.

This True Self is different than the other earthly self that we take on at birth. This is the Ego, a self that is useful to us in order to survive in this earthly world. I know it as the little self or false self, not really me, yet I can’t really do without it. The problem with the false/ego self is that its message is different from the True Self. This is where politics comes in.

My True Self, because it is one with God, is also one with you, my family members, friends, and neighbors, one with everyone in the world, for everyone has this Spirit of God in them. My ego self is always in self-preservation mode, is divisive. It looks to ways we as humans are different from one another, better than or worse than others. It notices behaviors in others and assumes the worst in them. It has character traits like anger, judgment, irritability, paranoia, and fear. The Spirit within has character traits, too. These are patience, kindness, and selflessness. It is forgiving, does not enjoy evil or harm done to others, happy with the truth, faithful, and hopeful. It does not judge or assume the worst in others. Some of these may sound familiar to those who read the Scriptures.

I cringe as I watch the debates in preparation for the election. I don’t hear oneness. You can argue the necessity of this in order to distinguish the candidates, but I would find it much more hopeful to listen to their plans and decide which one’s I think would be better for the country. This will only get worse when the debates are between the incumbent and his opponent. It will be ugly because we will be witnessing two egos going at each other, not two Spiritual beings.

I suspect when I go to the caucuses tonight I will hear a bit of ego’s judgment, fear, hatred, etc. I will do my best to keep my Spirit in tact. Spirit is needed everywhere. I suspect that when my friends and relatives go to Trump rallies they hear a lot of ego stuff, too. I hope that when they go, they don’t get sucked into believing in the judgment, fear and hatred.

We need to hang onto love. We need to reject the voices of hate no matter where we hear them. Perhaps dropping out of political involvement might make one feel better, but I am not sure what would happen if all places of darkness were bereft of any light at all. Jesus told us to not hide the Light. So I will go wherever I go. As one of my heroes, St. Francis, said, where there is hatred, I will try to sow love.

 

Democratic Socialism????

I thought I would look up this idea called Democratic Socialism instead of reacting to all sorts of red flags. Some people think that Bernie Sanders needs to drop the title if he expects to get elected. I am one of those. The word “socialism” is too scary. But after doing some research, I realize that it is scary to older people my age more so than young people. We tend to equate socialism with communism, but as I read, I realize the two are not at all the same.

When I think of socialism, I think of Marx and Lenin and the Soviet Union. But these were authoritarian regimes, basically forcing a way of life upon their populace. Democratic socialism is “of the people”. The people have to agree to it. They may be giving up some individual rights, but they agree that it is better for their country as a whole.

Already in the United States, we have a system that is quite socialistic, public schools, which are financed by taxes, money that comes out of people’s paychecks via taxes on property or purchased goods. Most people agree to this arrangement even if they don’t have children or their own children benefit from private education. I like it because I believe all American children are ours collectively and because an educated populace makes for a healthier country.

While schools are payed for at a number of levels (national, state and local), most decisions about schools are in the hands of local school boards elected by local citizens. No matter what you think about education in public schools, there is one thing that I can support: in this country, all American children can attend.

Currently the idea of universal health care is being discussed (hotly). I try to be open to people’s opinions on this one, but I can’t stop thinking about those who don’t have adequate health care. My husband and I are privileged. We have Medicare plus affordable supplemental insurance. These two so far have covered our needs. Neither my husband nor I have catastrophic medical situations.

But there are people who can’t afford health insurance and will choose not to purchase medication or have life-saving surgery because they simply can’t afford it. Medical costs are the most common cause for bankruptcy. People who are in crisis but are not insured often us emergency rooms because it is the only way to get the help they need. This costs all of us because it impacts the cost of hospital care in general. But worse than all of the above, people and children suffer and die without health care.

Socialized medicine? I don’t think Medicare is socialized medicine. We get to choose our own doctors and care. The kind of care we get has a lot to do with the offerings of our local clinics and hospitals. There is some good competition around here for outdoing one another. Every time we go to a doctor, get surveys coming out of the kazoo asking about what we think about the service. I would vote any day for my fellow Americans across the country to be able to have the care we have. It should be a right of citizenship.

I don’t know about the rest of the agenda for socialist democrats. I plan to learn more, however. The one thing that seems to be clear, however, is that if it is “by the people”, that means the people have to believe in it and want it. The idea that it can be forced upon us seems contradictory to the whole idea. “Forced upon” implies a dictatorship. None of us wants that.

 

One Question About the Trial of a President

I am finding it hard to blog right now. I have been watching the proceedings in  the senate and I get a sinking feeling. As we head down the path where the balance between the three branches of government is toppled, I wonder when and where there a point of no return.

The one question I have for the president’s defense team is this: If what the House laid out as crimes that should remove a president from office don’t  qualify, what action would qualify? Is there such an action? Trump  himself once said that he could kill someone and his supporters would still stand behind him.

I don’t know. DT is looking more like a monarch each day.