While riding on the bus here in DC recently, I’ve noticed another in a series of ad campaigns by atheist, agnostic, and non-theist groups. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has been particularly persistent and prominent. Their basic advertising technique displays a quotation advancing an anti-religious view from a series of important Americans throughout time. They seek to best advance a basic message that religion and government have no part. While I agree that a strict separation or wall between the two is necessary, I would not agree to remove moral teachings with a religious focus altogether from the process. Real religion and spirituality, not its watered-down, adulterated, self-serving imitation is never plentiful.
Jun 01 2011
Dec 22 2010
What I have copied over the fold is a declaration issued recently by a self organized group of French workers, a statement of solidarity and strategy in the face of the global neoliberal push (putsch?) for “austerity”. They call for global resistance based on the following principles:
– We can take control of our own struggles and organise collectively.
– We can discuss together openly and fraternally, we can speak freely with each other.
– We can control of our own discussions and our own decisions.
Can the workers of the world unite?
Oct 02 2010
I like Numbers, Statistics, Facts.
They have a way of cutting through the Rhetoric.
Facts have a way of lifting the “fog of inaction”.
So, it is within that context of “fog clearing”, I present to you …
The Obameter: Tracking Obama’s Campaign Promises
PolitiFact.com — St Petersburg Times
2009 Pulitizer Prize Winner
PolitiFact has compiled more than 500 promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign and is tracking their progress on our Obameter.
The Obameter Scorecard
* Promise Kept 122
* Compromise 39
* Promise Broken 22
* Stalled 82
* In the Works 238
Sep 11 2010
There is a crack daylight, that may topple the Republican’s Wall of Inaction.
Voinovich breaks with GOP to push for small-business incentives
Lori Montgomery, Washington Post Staff — Sept 10, 2010
Retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) said he plans to help push a package of small-business incentives through the Senate next week, a move that would give President Obama and congressional Democrats a key victory on the economy in the final weeks before the November midterm elections.
In an interview, Voinovich said he could no longer support Republican efforts to delay the measure in hopes of winning the right to offer additional amendments. Most of the proposed GOP amendments “didn’t have anything to do with the bill” anyway, Voinovich said, and amounted merely to partisan “messaging.”
“We don’t have time for messaging,” Voinovich said. “We don’t have time anymore. This country is really hurting.”
Finally a Republican Senator with some Integrity, who is willing work for the folks, that Voted him into Office (instead of working against their interests, for his own gain …)
Sep 05 2010
The first Rule of Holes: When you’re in one, STOP digging.
Stop Digging? Check!
Heck, even Erin Burnett (of CNBC) admitted the Stimulus is working, today on MTP … that
“Without the stimulus we would be significantly worse off than we are now.”
— any serious economist says so. … She has the charts.
so do we.
Sep 03 2010
Instead of wringing our hands and exchanging insults and blame —
We should be, getting up to speed on,
How the Republicans Keep putting the Brakes on Progress!
Republicans block small business plan in Senate
Donna Smith, Reuters – Jul 29 2010
Obama has been pushing for passage of the lending measure arguing that getting more capital into the hands of independent community bankers would lead to more small business loans. It is supported by independent bankers and business groups.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, small businesses have found it difficult to obtain loans that would help them expand as the economy recovers from the recession.
Senate Republicans blocked a $30-billion plan to help community banks boost lending to small businesses […]
Some Republicans have cast the small-business proposal as part of what they consider government overreach by the Obama administration.
Helping Small Businesses to put people back to work — that’s government overreach?
On what planet?
Jun 03 2010
I’d rather not entertain current events for a while, and instead tell you a bit more about the Quaker Young Adult gathering I recently attended. Primarily this is because it is supremely depressing to contemplate the oil spill. The beaches on Alabama’s Gulf Coast that I visited every summer as a child and young teen might be forever changed as wave after wave of oil washes ashore. I may return to that at another time, but right now I am avoiding even thinking about it because it hits so close to home. Returning to my original point, there are so many stories to share I hardly know where to begin, but I’ll start with one and go from there.
May 17 2010
I wrote this originally for a Quaker audience, but would like to share this with you as well. I’ve added a few notes in the text to aid the comprehension of those who are not Friends. I’ve also expanded the message to include those who are not people of faith.
Feb 24 2010
In deciding what I could write about today, I acknowledge I could go in any number of directions. I could strongly express support of President Obama’s health care reform guidelines while being sure to note my extreme displeasure with the lack of a public option. Or, I might chart a different course altogether and add some new wrinkle about the blame game currently raging inside the Obama Administration and the Democratic caucus as to how a supposedly sure thing all began to slip away. I could take a populist angle about how the scourge of big business and monied interests that have a concerted interest in making a profit at all cost leaves the rest of us in the poorhouse. Each of these would likely be received well and be in good company to what others have already written.
But what I’ve chosen to write instead about are the times that working together towards a common purpose succeeds. My decision to enter a woman-centric space gave me an understanding of what minorities often feel like when they set foot inside spaces reserved for usually white men. I would not describe what I experienced in negative terms, but I would classify the experience as uncomfortable and uncertain in the beginning. I would not seek to blame anyone, including myself for what I felt up front. Adjustment to any challenging situation requires dexterity and an open mind and I tried as best I could do keep those two life skills close at hand as I stumbled through deeply unfamiliar subjects while keeping in mind the responses of some, not all, who may have been just as uncomfortable with my being there as I was. Challenges need not be negative or unfortunate, after all.
Over the past nine months or so, I’ve begun to take an active role in contributing to the group discussions and controversial issues which are always in debate within young Feminist circles. Finding my footing at first, as I’ve noted, was difficult, since I was instantly aware upon arrival of the fact that I was in unfamiliar territory. This was predicated purely upon the fact that I am male and most of the contributors and regular readers are not. Still, my desire to learn and then to make my thoughts known superseded any reservations I might have held at the beginning. Male allies within the movement as a whole have never been plentiful and I recognized going in that I was going to have to be a bit of a trailblazer, whether I wanted to or not. A part of me, whether motivated by romance or noble purpose has always wanted to be a leader, especially in circumstances where role models or models of any kind at all are often minimal or altogether nonexistent.
Months of absorbing content and the opinions of others has led to a greater understanding on my part not of how we are different, but how we are very similar. Moreover, I recognize that all of these supposed truisms regarding gender identity and strict delineation between that which is “male” and that which is “female” has given me the ability to recognize that aside from a few undeniably biological differences, men and women are really not all that dissimilar. Even so, I can understand the skepticism many women feel about any male who claims the label “feminist” for himself. The implication is “How can you really understand?” My answer is, and will always be, “I listen and I try to draw parallels to my own very human experience”.
Whether wrongly or rightly, anyone who is different within any movement or group ends up drawing some fire. I recognize that within Feminist spaces my ideas and commentary are more heavily scrutinized then they would be if I were a woman. I am also aware that anything I say in a public forum is going to seen by many as the Official Male Response™. This could make me angry, resentful, or both, but I have made a concerted effort to remove those sorts of instant responses from my canon of emotions. Anger has done nothing but make me miserable and keep me there. Indeed, if the situation was reversed, I’d probably make the same assumption myself.
That few of us are willing to brave this sort of often uncomfortable transition period of acclimation and discovery is what often keeps us separate. In an ideal world, we would have no massive barriers in place that stifle communication and dissemination of information, but this is the world in which we live. For better or for worse, we are are need of more trailblazers, more allies, more brave souls willing to clear the path for those who would follow after them. I have discovered in my own admittedly limited experience that once the hard part subsides, true growth and true unity follows, and with it comes friends, allies, and supporters beyond one’s wildest dreams. Once we begin to trust and not fear each other, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. Until we do so, however, we should expect little beyond what we have now.
Jan 07 2010
I rarely write about sports because to me they are a fun distraction from more pressing matters, one ultimately of far less importance to the grand scheme of things. To be sure, I’ve always been aware of the base inequalities lurking underneath the surface, whether it be the pro players who make obscene amounts of money to play a game or the college kids who are treated as prized endowment cash cows for their individual universities, colleges, or conferences. Though I watch the games, once they have drawn to a conclusion, I turn off my television or internet feed and go on about the rest of my life. What has always troubled me the most is the extent to which some will pursue the minutia and exacting analysis of fandom, which if applied with even half the effort and half the obsession to a cause that would make strides to say, educate the illiterate or aim to reform a societal malady of choice, would produce impressive results.
Dec 19 2009
I have recently been musing over a particular passage of scripture. The frustration I and many have felt regarding the health care legislation that has stalled in the Congress has led me to wonder if perhaps a solution exists that has never been attempted prior to now. The power of the blogosphere has provided me a sense of solace and inspiration that comes from rational explanation and insightful commentary, and I cannot overstate my confidence in the visionary souls among us. It is a temptation to lament and understate our own capacity to bring about change, but quite another one to solicit answers from the passionate, knowing that through collective action, much good can be brought to pass. It is in the spirit of facilitating dialogue that I write this post, my prayer being that it will find an audience and give rise to subsequent discussion.
As a bit of needed exposition, St. Paul wrote an epistle to the church in Corinth, a city which had fallen into division and disorder. The Corinthian church, mirroring the makeup of the city where it existed, had been fraught by immorality and spiritual immaturity. In a letter whose endearing images and passages are still in wide use today, an age where strict devotion to organized religion is increasingly on the wane, our own skepticism cannot yet overtake the power and thrust of the text itself. Shortly after outlining a beautiful definition of the concept of selfless love, Paul spends several subsequent chapter, talking about incorporating this degree of unconditional devotion into practice in one’s daily life.
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially the gift of speaking what God has revealed. When a person speaks in another language, he doesn’t speak to people but to God. No one understands him. His spirit is speaking mysteries.
But when a person speaks what God has revealed, he speaks to people to help them grow, to encourage them, and to comfort them. When a person speaks in another language, he helps himself grow. But when a person speaks what God has revealed, he helps the church grow.
Now I wish that all of you could speak in other languages, but especially that you could prophesy. The person who prophesies is more important than the person who speaks in another language, unless he interprets it so that the church may be built up.
Language is a construct of humanity. To someone who does not speak a particular tongue, the sounds themselves appear mysterious, impenetrable, and indecipherable. Moreover, there would be no point to a system of language at all if only one person spoke it. Language, and indeed, the richness of language depends on the number of people who speak it and whether or not they share their own spiritual gifts with everyone else. At times, we seem to believe that talking one-on-one with God or with our muse of inspiration is sufficient to undertaking the vast number of challenges which face each and every one of us. Injustice is rarely ever consigned to one singular person, nor can one individual begin to turn the tide without help from others.
Our earthly existence is a basically selfish, self-centered one. What drives our economy and feeds our desire for riches is a sense of private ownership. We would go so far as to copyright our own thoughts if we thought others might use them without permission or if there was money to be made in selling them to others. I, me, and mine are the search engine keywords that drives capitalism, but they are utterly incompatible with one’s spiritual life. Imagine if we all believed that our own innovations were to be used for the benefit of all, rather than for the benefit of a privileged few. Indeed, if we spoke what God has revealed to us and translated it into the common vernacular rather than insisting it be phrased in a different language that locks out others from understanding, how many problems could be solved!
Far too many people are covetous of what has been granted them by God and in so doing, they fail to understand that spiritual gifts are given to benefit all of us. If one’s spiritual gift is that of forming a new language of a new social movement, how much richer would that language of reform be if everyone spoke the same tongue, not just the inner circle. Ego has no part in the metaphorical church of which each of us is a part. I have seen far too many movements and far too many groups established for altruistic means collapse under the weight of division caused by elitism or by covetousness. If one is blessed by the gift of far-sighted analysis, don’t lock it away from sight! Explain it to us, since which that which was granted you may have come from your brain, but it is God who gave you the ability to think it.
The members of the Corinthian church were using the gift of language for their own benefit, to make themselves feel better about themselves. Clearly, the problem stemmed from the fact that there were too many foreign language speakers in the gathering and not enough translators. This runs contrary to the health and growth of any established group. Our greatest aim is to treat others in the same way we wish they would treat us and if we are granted talent in other areas, well and good. But our talents are worthless if they merely lift us up and lock others out. Humility isn’t merely a virtue we are to follow for its own sake for some sort of aesthetic rationale—it is a moral guidepost that points us towards a healthy society. Lest we forget, it isn’t all about us. It was never all about us. It never will be all about us.
In this circumstance, we have the answer. We have always had the answer. The answer, of course, is complicated by a day to day existence which runs contrary to that which we need for health and peace of mind. Isolating ourselves from the madcap pace and twisted expectations of the world is no solution. Any worthy challenge seems daunting at face value. I have said this before and I will say it once more. We must get our own selves and our own house in order before we can ever expect to reverse course. One cannot begin to love anyone else until he or she loves himself or herself. By this I do not mean romantic love or narcissistic obsession, but rather a genuine point at which we make peace with our own failings, our own shortcomings, and our own flaws. Until we do this, ego will drive us and with it a lust for individual achievement will follow close behind. Those two things give rise to the inevitable hierarchies and unfair systems which are the antithesis of equality and social evolution. The only requirement in life is love. Everything else, as the saying goes, is just commentary.
Dec 02 2009
With the slow demise of old media has also come the demise of niche media like websites which cater specifically to women’s studies and women’s interests. Prompted by the demise of Double X, an offshoot of Slate, itself an off-shoot of the financial troubled Washington Post, one can tell how both female-centric media and academic fields are usually the first to go in times of economic crisis, budget cutbacks, or higher education famine. While part of me laments that such sites end up being placed first on the chopping board when revenues plummet, another part of me wonders if we are finally ready to rid ourselves of the need for specific media designed for identity group solidarity. In another time where persecution was harsh and undeniably swift to those outside of the mainstream who dared tread into uncharted territory, I think we may be ready to draw up tentative plans for full unity.
Last week I visited Philadelphia and the historic Arch Street Meeting House, a Quaker house of worship that prides itself as being the largest gathering in the world and the oldest still in use in the United States. The main part of the building was separated into a larger worship space and a smaller one directly adjacent to it. A faith committed resolutely to equality among all its members deliberately made accommodations to female attenders by giving them the option of using a women-only space during worship services. There, ladies who would have otherwise felt constrained to speak from within their hearts and their convictions because of the close proximity of their husbands or out of fear of broaching social protocol could have a safe space of their own. Within it they were allowed to verbalize that which they had every right to be express but too often kept inside themselves. It need be noted, of course, that this arrangement no longer exists and that now the voices of women have been welcomed into larger fellowship. I rejoice that progress has been made and hope it continues.