Politics in its Rightful Perspective

I had an awakening this past week. I realized I had politics in the wrong perspective. My goodness, I have been confusing the two kingdoms, heavenly and earthly.

In high school I took civics. I don’t know if this is still taught in schools…it sure should be. A citizen of any country should understand how his government functions. I recall the definition of politics: The work of the People. Yes, I learned the definition, but I failed to grasp its meaning. Work brings to mind words like effort and labor, trial and error, differences of opinion on how to do something, the dangers of cutting corner. It is healthy for me to look at the work of politics in the same way. It is less judgmental. When we are less strong-willed, judgmental, and cooperative, outcomes tend to be better for all. Working together. Many hands make light work.

More important than all of the above is the awareness that politics is about the kingdom of earth, the one Jesus suggests we ought to penetrate with the other kingdom. “Thy kingdom, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I realize that even as people make political decisions they hope will make life better for others, they are still operating in the earthly kingdom. Bringing the Kingdom to earth is bringing into each moment the spirit of love. It is transformation from within. The reality of the earthly work is still there, but one can look into it with the new eyes.

I would compare it to an adult watching children play. When a child pushes another to keep them from taking their toy, we don’t go into a panic. We see a learning experience in process. We are looking from a lifetime of experience and an understanding of child development. This is a perspective I need to have. A political idea put forth may be flawed as hell, but it is just an idea. It may be tainted by greed and power mongering,  but from a higher place, one can observe like a parent expecting lessons to be learn, sometimes the hard way.

I may sound like I am placing myself higher than others. Worse, I may sound like I am diminishing the serious harm people are doing to each other, individuals and whole communities because of bad legislative decisions. I know. I know.

I am only a member of the human community. I live the sins of the world every day, inside myself. I have done harm to others by stupid decisions. I have struggled with the same pride and greed I can accuse any legislator of. The only difference is the the scope of influence.

I can also be a channel of God’s love…this is the calling of all. It is our purpose for being here. Bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. Be free of judgment, pray for transformation for oneself and others and for the whole country. Mourn the pain humans cause one another.

The earthly life is messy. We can’t fix it but we can do something about one part of it…ourselves. And we can assist others who seek to change. One day, one moment, at a time.

The Trump Effect

I don’t know how your life has been effected since Trump came along. Before the election of 2016, I didn’t really know much about him. I don’t follow the rich and famous because I find them boring. For me, rich is meaningless. particularly as a reason to be popular. Give me character any day as a reason to pay attention to someone.

I never supported Trump. I didn’t even have to know what his policies were for me not to like him. Here are my reasons:

  1. He was unkind, even abusive in his rhetoric. My first introduction to him before he ran for office was a scene from The Apprentice in which he shamed a woman who failed to win whatever it was she was competing for. It was awful and it felt crushing to watch. There was nothing he could do after that to redeem himself.
  2. He was dishonest. There are many excuses for not telling the truth. Among these are…just joking…not having all the facts…everybody does it…trying to achieve a good end…it is just a little white lie…not hurting anybody. None of these hold any water with me.
  3. He was paranoid. He couldn’t seem to handle anyone disagreeing with him – anyone!. You were either 100% with him or !00% against him. Worse, those against him he treated as enemies and set out to destroy them.
  4. He was known to screw people for his own benefit. He claimed to be a great business man, but there was a trail of money he owed to contractors and workers that somehow managed to stay out of the headlines during the election process.
  5. He was sleezy. People who supported him didn’t seem to mind his treatment of women, even how he talked about them, but I did. He made me squirm. I thought that I would never allow him to be around my granddaughters if given the opportunity.

    No matter what I thought or felt, Trump became our president and served his four years. I don’t agree with all of what Biden is doing but he isn’t any of the above and that helps me to relax.

If we could say goodbye to Trump and move on, that would be great, but it isn’t happening. I am not talking about his control over his a party or anything like that. I am talking about the effect he has had on us, all of us. I don’t know about you, but I am struggling to remember how much I liked certain people before Trump came along. At one time it didn’t concern me whether a person was a conservative or liberal. There are definite political differences in my family, but we don’t allow these differences to get in the way of relationships. Don’t get me wrong. There was a time when our family was indeed nasty when it came to politics. There were some heated arguments. But over time it became apparent that we needed to make a choice to either let go and allow others to believe differently or to ruin the family. We chose love and respect. What little discussion there is about politics today, family members choose respect over trying to prove they are rights. Unfortunately, not all families have managed to find this level of acceptance.

Families are not the only communities impacted by this negative spirit of which I speak. A change has come over the country. Political parties don’t just disagree -there is genuine hatred between people. People are being threatened. Some have been physically harmed. The attack on the Capital Building on January 6 is one thing, but the continued threats to the members of congress and their families and the concerted effort to “punish” those who don’t agree is sick. I am seeing in the political world, national and state, all of the above traits of our former president. He left behind a poison and we are all effected by it.

I am genuinely worried about the families, neighborhoods, our country and the world at large. This spiral downward feels evil. I fear more people suffering, even being killed. To me there is only one answer: Jesus preached love, love with NO EXCEPTION! Remember “Love thy enemy”? Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King taught us how to disagree without violence. All of the major religions preach the Golden Rule as a guide to living in this world where others are different from ourselves.

It seems over-simplistic: LOVE. I remember the words of a song, “Love isn’t Love until you give it away” Love as an idea is worthless. We each need to grab hold of it and figure out how to apply it. Change our thinking. Stop the judgment,  Act kindly. Don’t just avoid abuse, but avoid abusive language. Don’t gossip. Don’t hold grudges. Show gratitude. Help those who are different from us.

As for political news, I now avoid listening to angry and judgmental rhetoric even by those who hold the same political position as you do. There are liberal news shows I no longer watch, not because I disagree with what is being reported, but because of the cynicism, sarcasm, and judgment in the voices of the hosts. I find they have the power to increase my anxiety level and throw me into a fearful stance.

I hope and pray we pull out of this dark place. I am working on it.

On President Biden

Bernie and I listened to the president last night. I had posted on Facebook people should watch because it was their civic duty. I meant it, but the truth is, I didn’t watch the former president when he spoke to the American people. It had nothing to do with civic duty. I was protecting myself from what felt like abuse. I find it hard to sit in a room with anyone who gossips and berates others present or not or is basically trying to entertain people instead of being real. It is exhausting. If such a person is the president of the United States, I would rather listen to what others tell me he or she said later. Of course, this isn’t the same as having my own reaction, but it does protect my soul from being wounded.

I have always liked Joe Biden. He is a real person with compassion and lots of life experience in politics and who grew from his personal tragedies. People don’t need to agree with his policies, but at least appreciate the calmness and kindness that distinguishes him from the last president. In his message to the Nation, he refrained from blaming the opposing party for anything, even mentioned the good work of Republican leaders. Not a diminishing word!

I happen to agree with his priorities. I have to trust that those folks who know about how to manage  such huge amounts of money know what they are doing. There are just a few things I disagree with, but overall, I approve. But this blog isn’t about his policies. It is about the kindness, the peace, the love that I feel he has in his heart.

I remember when President Obama went to support the parents who lost their children killed at Sandyhook Elementary. He was brought to tears as he spoke. The response by those who were against him? “He is faking it.” They couldn’t accept the possibility that someone they hated so much could have even one good thought or emotion. This is black and white thinking. One is either all good or all bad. But this is not reality. None of is is all one or the other so we must know this is true of others as well.

I heard a commentator on TV yesterday say, “Biden is exactly what the country needs right now.” She wasn’t talking about his policies. She was talking about his healing demeanor. I agree with her. Let’s all take a breath, invite spring, look forward to reuniting with our loved ones, and appreciate the good things in life. Disagree with the President’s plans, write to your congress people, complain all you want. But follow the example of this good man. Don’t berate individuals for their beliefs. Listen to people. Speak only kind words.

You, along with our new leader, can help heal the nation.

Conspiracy Theories

I am reading a book by Brene’ Brown, Rising Strong, and this morning, she addresses why people believe conspiracy stories. Quoting Johnathan Gottschall, she observes that conspiratorial thinking “is not limited to the stupid, the ignorant, or the crazy. It is a reflex of the storytelling mind’s compulsive need for meaningful experience.” He says that conspiracy theories are used to explain why bad things happen. “To the conspiratorial mind, shit never just happens, and the complexities of human life are reduced to produce theories that “are always consoling in their simplicity.”

This makes a lot of sense to me. How difficult it is to realize that the causes of a particular problem, like violence in one’s neighborhood, is due to a whole list of coexisting problems, from racial attitudes, too many guns among the populace, violence in the media, too few police officers, joblessness, alcohol and drug abuse…the list goes on. The problem with realizing the complexity of problems is that it makes one feel helpless, vulnerable and even hopeless. If one can reduce causes to one explanation then the solution seems manageable – just get the bad guys and all will be well.

There seems to be no solution to the above reflection. Understanding why people are quick to latch on to conspiracy theories helps me not to judge and prods me to try to calm a person’s fears. “All will be well,” I want to say. Yet I am not sure I myself believe that all will be well. I do know that for me, realizing that problems are complex and have many contributing causes is actually empowering. I can look at the list and simply pick one to work on. Violence in the media, for example. As a parent I can control the media my children partake in. Raising kids not prone to violence is one step, one small piece to solving a much large problem.

As for the bigger problem, helping those who are deeply afraid because of conspiracy theories, I do not know. Nor do I know what to do about those who deliberately spread such theories in order to achieve sinister ends. I just try to trust that my small contributions effect the whole and eventually conspiracy theories will lose their power

 

 

 

Finding Hope at Three in the Morning

I had hoped that after the election, my mind and heart would rest, but alas, there is still a trembling in me. Awake about 2, I am up at 3, the first time in a while since my sleep was so disturbed.

I had hoped that after the election, the news would be less frightening, but alas, it is more so. I had hoped that the hateful, divisive rhetoric would fade. But it seems that the former president doesn’t have a corner on hate and divisiveness. We are hearing it from the top of the heap, from those who crave to lead rather than to serve.

I had hoped my fear that there could be a civil war would prove to be silly nonsense, overreaction, naïve, but alas, each day I see and hear things that support the possibility. Those who would choose to fight such a war are well armed. Those of us whom they would want to defeat tend not to be.

I had hoped that my government could return to the path of “forming a more perfect union”, but alas, it is disunity that becomes glaring. It seems almost like some get a high on hate and disunity. Having an enemy makes one feel stronger. I have not doubt that to some, I would be the enemy.

Where is hope? My heroes are those who treasure life, who speak of a language of non-violence, of listening and cooperation. Some of these are Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi, Peace Pilgrim, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King. There are heroes among us today. I have found some of them and I eat their words like honey on warm toast. Comfort food for my soul.

I thought to share a favorite passage from the sacred scriptures as I seek hope on this early winter morning. May it stir hope in you today:

I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels,
but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell.
I may have the gift of inspired preaching:

I may have all knowledge and understanding all secrets:
I may have all the faith needed to move mountains-
but if I have no love, I am nothing.
I may give away everything I have,
and even give up my body to be burned-
but if I have no love, this does me no good.

Love is patient and kind;
it is not jealous or conceited or proud;
love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable;
love does not keep a record of wrongs;
love is not happy with evil, 
but is happy with the truth.
Love never gives up: and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.

Love is eternal.
There are inspired messages, 

but they are temporary:
there are gifts of speaking in strange languages,
but these will cease;
there is knowledge, but it will pass.
For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial;
but when what is perfect comes, 
then what is partial will disappear.

When I was a child,
my speech, feelings and thinking were all those of a child;
now that I am a man, 
I have no more use for childish ways.
What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror;
then we shall see face-to-face.
What I know now is only partial:
then it will be complete-
as complete as God’s knowledge of me.

Meanwhile, these three remain:
faith, hope and love;
and the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians 13

 

What Will the News Commentators Talk About Post-Trump?

I am thinking about the news. One commentator said she wasn’t sure what news will be like post-Trump. She was joking, but I thought it worthy of some thought.

First of all, I anticipate hearing more world news or broader news. We have been so anal as a country the last four years. How are people doing in other places in the world? We hear a few things, like what is happening in the middle east right now. But what about the third world countries? I used to know where people were suffering from drought or flooding. I know I knew because I remember praying for them. I miss hearing about inspirational leaders in the world who are doing great things for their countries. What about global warming? Are we the only country having fires, floods and storms? I remember Americans stepping up to help people suffering from earth quakes and tsunamis.

I would like the news stations to do more teaching of history. This is happening on CNN and MSNBC right now. I hope they don’t stop. Yesterday I saw a discussion between three presidential historians about the current election process and how past presidents managed the shift between leadership. It was fascinating. I learned that history tends to repeat itself because, while times change, people tend to be fighting the same battles over and over again. It seemed dire, but also hopeful. I hope this continues.

I would also like to see more civic teaching. I don’t even know if civics is even being taught in the schools today. I took civics, but I was quite young and am not sure I really got hold of the ideas. I wish I’d had a teacher who not only taught me how government works, but how it was being played out in current affairs. I have learned more about civics in the last four years than I have ever known before. George Washington suggested that a democracy will only work with an educated citizenry.

We watch public television where we have seen some great specials like the lives of past presidents and the stories of American wars. Unfortunately, most people don’t choose to watch this kind of programming. I think presenting info in bits and pieces tucked into other programs that the greater number of people watch might be one way of getting information out.

Having said this, my husband pointed out to me that people choose the news media that corresponds with what they believe. History and civics could be part of any news media but it is possible that not all will tell the same story. We live in a new age when facts are not always accepted as the truth and there are even voices that suggest that information being presented is part of some deep state, some master deceiver.

I don’t feel very hopeful. But I can choose to be an educated person. At 76, there are still more history books to read, more documentaries to watch. I don’t know what to do with the information. I will always only have one vote. But maybe, just maybe, some truth will come out in a conversation that will enlighten another just a little.

 

Trump’s Most Heinous Action Comes to an End

I am watching President Elect Biden select his leadership team and my heart is starting to heal. He chose Alejendro Mayarkas to be head of Homeland Security. The Cuban American lawyer will have his hands full from day one with the first order of business to begin reuniting the last 500 children separated from their parents at the border. I don’t know if there has been another action by President Trump that has been worse for America than this one. It was during this time of separation that I recalled hearing people comparing Trump to Hitler and the actions he took akin to the Holocaust. Thank God, this is over.