Thursday, March 23, 2017

Coping with distractions and frustrations

This week I've been distracted by the feeling that I am living in an Orwellian world. That a dictatorial force has taken over my life/the nation/the world. I/we've allowed this force – through its lies and distractions - to create mayhem and distrust.

Or perhaps that's just an excuse for my not having had time to compile and prepare the responses from last week's questionnaire about THE TEN MOST IMPORTANT THINGS THE AVERAGE CITIZEN CAN DO DAILY TO PRESERVE THE ENVIRONMENT.  I'm still working to compile them

Thus the best thing I can do is to refer you to last week's topic as I sincerely feel our nation is in the most perilous state I seen it in my 91 years. And encourage you to join me in seeking out valid/reputable news sources, express our views appropriately and find time from patience and wisdom through meditation (or whatever) can provide balance for our lives.

And if you haven't done so, I encourage you to check out the last posstings



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Some advice for the president! - That could also change the public's view of mental health service!

Once again I've had to change the major focus of my rant this week. I made the mistake of intensely watching the various television news outlets including Fox all week. And I feel compelled to offer the advice that I was reluctant to give a previous president who I feel caused us Democrats to lose three elections because of his dalliance with an intern.

President Trump needs to see a psychiatrist in my opinion!  Certainly from his behavior during the campaign and recent tweets from the White House, this should be obvious to any astute mental health observer. For me it was underscored as I listened to his recent Nashville "campaign" speech and appalled by the similarity it had with two European dictators I personally heard on the radio some 75 years, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. The same folksy, caustic prancing before adoring followers.  And I have also read about the wild exploits of Napoleon Bonaparte who also barged ahead without thoughtful reliance on knowledgeable advisers.  .

Think of the positive effect it would have on a society that still looks down upon anyone with a mental illness – especially an illness now so easily treated with proper counseling and medication. Indeed I felt this way during the presidency of Bill Clinton. What an example he might've set for seeking treatment for his very obvious reprehensible behavior in his relationship with a White House intern. It was however rather common knowledge to anyone, particularly those of us in the Beltway, that he at least was receiving counseling from spiritual and other advisers. Oh that I could see evidence that President Trump is following a similar course.


And it's even more important now that we have seen the president's proposal to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency! How often we overlook, or don't know of the simple things that we as individual citizens could do. We've gotten extremely good at rallies and protests but it is also time for us to take our care and love of the earth to heart and do what we can to overcome the failings of our government. So often we think only in terms of grandiose projects that must be done to save our fragile world. We have little specific knowledge of daily steps that we could do to conserve energy and preserve the environment. I know that in the Washington area particularly there are many Think Tanks devoted to the environment.  Have they advise to me/us?  Perhaps a check list with which we could remind ourselves each day?



Monday, March 13, 2017

I'm damned mad! The country I know is being hijacked.

And it's all because of the simple quote on the front page of today's Washington Post by House Speaker Paul Ryan, "People are going to do what they want to do with their lives because we believe in individual freedom in this country." 

I too believe in freedom, but I don't believe it "trumps" all the other American values that have been meaningful to me for 91 years. In Ryan's statement I hear the crescendo of the selfishness and greed that permeates American leadership today that rejects the true spirit of America that I have seen growing through my lifetime. I experienced it first in the spirit of volunteer sharing that saw us through the Great Depression. It was extended by a "New Deal" that sought to share "privilege" for more citizens. It was that spirit – sometimes "encouraged" through rationing - but it was also manifest by sacrificing not only comfort but ultimately the supreme sacrifice of lives to win a war not just for our country but for a future One World advocated in a book by a Republican. And then our eyes and hearts and minds were challenged by various minorities helping us see how myopic we had been and we envisioned a "Great Society" espousing justice and freedom for all.  And now I see that spirit led by women and a youthful generation that has taught us old folks about inclusiveness, respect and SUPPORT for immigrants and civil rights and protection for people of all races, creed and sexual orientation.

Perhaps the most important personal knowledge I have learned in my 91 years is how fortunate I am as a result of my privileged birth status - being born at home with the help of a midwife in a lower middle class family .  And yet one of the seven factors I recognize that has made my life so full and rich has been a caring government. When, in an earlier Rant, I listed a few of the many things a caring government provided for me (from my education under the GI Bill to kidney transplants for three of my immediate family - and so much more) I received this reaction from a reader:

"I appreciate your perspective re:a 'caring, supportive government ;...provided at federal government expense';  I ask that you recognize that everything the government gives to you, it takes from someone else. Please reserve some of your gratitude for the taxpayers, particularly future taxpayers. Also, I hope that your children are giving you lots of grand- and great-grandchildren, because someone has to pay for those transplants, and it won't be the 'government."

Eureka! Here's the gist of the problem today.  What do we see as  the role and function of government in an American society that prides itself in exceptionalism! Is it one that is competitive, taking a nd bestowing?  Is life a zero sum game of some sort?  

Personally I prefer to see America as a place where we have had a unique opportunity to learn lessons from the past.  We are still youthfully learning from some horrible mistakes.  We have an opportunity to blend people from the world who bring their unique cultural contribution -including their basic values and beliefs (often known as religions) to benefit one another. How wonderful to live in a country that is concerned with the common good - that is - or at least has been - working toward equalizing opportunity for all and continues to have a prominently displayed landmark stating:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these.......................Send these...............

P. S. Once again I've said more than I intended, but the true facts I hear each day almost compel me to have one more say.  Next week I hope to share something about the environment that calls for OUR involvement - not something to take to the streets in protest or have the government do for us.   

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Making America REALLY Great!

"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback."

A great many of us were exhilarated by those words of Michelle Obama upon the nomination of an African-American as the first presidential candidate of major American political party. Perhaps it is the loss of that pride and hope with the election of a candidate who thrived on hate and divisiveness that has been the major cause for the sadness that engulfs that majority of American voters who voted for someone else.

I must admit that in my 91 years of exposure to the American dream (and sometimes nightmare) I have never experienced such a roller coaster of emotions. Of course I have previously seen divisiveness beginning with the "American firsters" who opposed our entry into WWII. Hate groups were enthralled by Father Coughlin and Henry Ford and their antisemitism in that period. And then most all Americans finally stood up to Joseph McCarthy who "had no shame" as he viciously attacked the Hollywood establishment as he feared Communist influence in thoughtful films of the era. Jane Fonda was vilified as she took a stand against war in Viet Nam. And the exposure of Pentagon Papers and the questioning of the presence of mass destruction by government research was been questioned as being unpatriotic.

In my own mind I have renounced the hallowed slogan of the slogan given to my generation as "The Greatest Generation". How could a generation that interned Japanese citizens, we continued the long oppression of African-Americans, that mercilessly imported and used workers from other countries in building their cities and raised their crops in horrible conditions ever be considered as G R E A T!

My despair with the erosion of my countries declared values has grown even more since the election.  Yet unlike so many other, I felt compelled to follow the news ore than ever. Two things particularly stand out for me as I have tried to keep up. All my life I have valued the Free Press that has shown a light to cast out despair. There is no way that I can consider the PRESS as the enemy of my country. And secondly I have been totally dismayed that the followers of a man of history (yes, Jesus)  noted for peace, love and equality continue to embrace a man whose character discloses just the opposite values and behavior.  Yet we seem to pride ourselves a a Christian nation - and I this as an atheist who has attended churches all his life.

Yet it is in the long repeated term, "American exceptionalism" that I join Michelle in finding hope. I have long felt that the long trajectory of the American character has been pointing to an "Even Greater Generation"!. It can be seen in those brave citizens of the past who have fought injustice and place themselves in jeopardy in espousing unpopular cause. The American creed all has long stood for the right to protest. Furthering human values for all has been won by protests often led by women, youth, and elder sages, 

The struggle is never easy, but I see a determination in righteous people stepping forward using their voices and their feet to lead the way in setting our country on the right path once again. We need to accept our differences in technique and priorities to seeking and enjoy freedom and justice for all.

And then it came to me in a song. The folks who have stood against war, the folks who helped most in furthering civil rights and give opportunity for all including immigrants were actually revolutionaries. And that's when I realized that the song I was hearing was one that was used as an unofficial anthem for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, "'Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution". For me that's the hope for the future. This younger generation with its idealism is being joined by oldsters (perhaps more than the youth realize are "those timid" oldsters from the past) and together,.

We shall indeed overcome!


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Here's that man again..............

Clint Smith, the poet I heard about a year ago at an Aspen Conference on Race and Inequality. So very powerful!

Friday, February 17, 2017

I'm no proselytizer, but...........

................ I just have to share with you why this atheist attends church. You'll find it in the lead up to his sermon for this Sunday that the minister posted on my church's blog site.  Thrilling to me is also the great degree of social activism in this Unitarian Universalist church and the extremely large number of young people of all races, cultures, faith backgrounds and sexual orientation that are in attendance.

I truly believe that this introduction to his sermon shares a needed balm and comfort to surviving our present American dilemma.

A Great and Common Tenderness
As we wrestle with our own fears and anxieties about the direction of our country and the future of our planet, many of us have asked the question, "What do we tell the children?"
Here's the poet Rebecca Baggett's beautiful answer:
(for my daughters)
I want to tell you that the world
is still beautiful.
I tell you that despite
children raped on city streets,
shot down in school rooms,
despite the slow poisons seeping
from old and hidden sins
into our air, soil, water,
despite the thinning film
that encloses our aching world.
Despite my own terror and despair.
I want you to know that spring
is no small thing, that
the tender grasses curling
like a baby's fine hairs around
your fingers are a recurring
miracle. I want to tell you
that the river rocks shine
like God, that the crisp
voices of the orange and gold
October leaves are laughing at death,
I want to remind you to look
beneath the grass, to note
the fragile hieroglyphs
of ant, snail, beetle. I want
you to understand that you
are no more and no less necessary
than the brown recluse, the ruby-
throated hummingbird, the humpback
whale, the profligate mimosa.
I want to say, like Neruda,
that I am waiting for
"a great and common tenderness",
that I still believe
we are capable of attention,
that anyone who notices the world
must want to save it.
I love the poet's reference to Neruda's "great and common tenderness." I'm waiting for that tenderness, too.
My sermon this Sunday, "A Balm in Gilead," asks how, in this time of vitriol and scorn, we can treat one another with tenderness and compassion.  And we'll hear from the All Souls Choir, who will share the spiritual "Balm in Gilead" and other beautiful music.

And before long I hope to share a major thought stream of mine regarding my 91 years experience in churches that has led me to becoming an agnostic atheist who finds hope in attending "thoughtful" churches.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Blood of Emmett Till

I've had an opportunity to attend a great many author book reviews in my 23 years in D. C., but none has been more dramatic or surprising to me than The Blood of Emmett Till.  The opportunity is also yours at the youtube listing below. Obviously a southerner, Timothy Tyson worked almost 10 years on this book and is at Duke University and Duke Divinity School as Professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture.

More information about the book and the author may be found at:

Tyson's presentation is folksy, droll and challenging.  The large crowd interrupts with applause at many statements.  As a fellow southerner by birth (Texan) I could identify with much of his insight, particularly as he told of his grandmother and church up-bringing many decades ago singing the following in Sunday School as atrocities like Till's murder were not uncommon,

"Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Whether yellow, black or white,*
They are precious in his sight,
Jesus loves the children of the world.

*A better lyricist than I might add a line here like,
Neither atheist, Muslim,or Seik

The book is indeed worth your reading and perhaps discussing with others as Tyson credits Till's mother with the courage that actually precipitated the civil rights movement.