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Heaven Help Us!

We are the same!

We are the same!

It is December and Christmas is in the air.  It is supposed to be the happy, family oriented holiday time. For Christians it is also the journey to remember the birth of Jesus Christ and the promise of our eternal salvation through our belief in God and living the teachings of Christ.  But this year, my heart is too heavy to feel anything more than sadness, shame and fear.

While the news and social media never lack a human interest story to stir the heart, challenge the humility or reinforce the activist instinct in me, I have been more sensitive to the racial animus in this nation since the election of President Obama and the kicks to my conscience just keep coming.  To say that even being a Virginian who grew up with racism and the “South’s gonna rise again” mentality should have prepared me for what ‘came out of the woodwork’ might be accurate, but it did not.  I was one of those foolish, foolish people who thought we were getting “past all that”.  I have been wounded on a level a 56 year old woman should not feel over the racism inherent in so much of the complaint, lies and distortions of the Obama presidency that is just hard to reconcile and still believe people are decent.

And then comes Ferguson.  The case of Officer Darren Wilson and the death of an unarmed suspect in a robbery was news but also and sadly, par for the course.   Next comes the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year old with a toy gun in a deserted park gunned down by police responding.  And just this week, no indictment for the choke-hold, crushing death of Eric Garner in NYC over a misdemeanor non-violent alleged crime.

With this and ALL of the cases that are making the news, the common theme is police overreaction with disproportional response and as decent human beings we recoil. Yes, all of these events involved people breaking the law or behaving in a suspicious or easily misinterpreted manner, no need to deny that.  But there are similar situations with white perpetrators that are handled very differently and with very different outcomes.  As Leonard Pitts suggests, “two clicks” can help clarify the problem. Yes, the police see some of the worst mankind has to offer and yes, they are in a relatively hazardous profession but the key here is that it is supposed to be a profession.

A profession has standards, procedures, protocols and judgment. Is such a take-down warranted when a summons would have sufficed? Was tackling him necessary when a drawn taser might have changed the dynamic? Did they try to calm the situation? Did they even attempt to consider the consequences of so many tackling such an obese man (common sense says don’t…)? When you are tackled, it is also human nature to fight back.

The cops who literally rolled up on Tamir and shot him within less than 2 seconds, Darren Wilson’s dehumanizing, self-serving and frankly ludicrous version of events in Ferguson, and this case of death by cop are all examples of a profession that is not in control, not in compliance with humanity and not “serving” or “protecting”. The racial element cannot be ignored and the comments from their defenders only reinforce the racism and institutional deafness to it. Police are NOT to be judge, jury and executioner. That is not who we are.

It is not possible to read the comments of people who refuse to see the racist element, who defend the police no matter how outrageous, unprofessional and dangerous their behavior is, without realizing that we are still a nation determined to label “the other” and diminish their legitimacy and rights in every realm it is possible in.  Even in sports, you are only as good as keeping your mouth shut and entertaining,  show support for the “wrong” side and you are too dumb to be allowed to protest anything.  The continued sharing of photo-shopped or mislabeled pictures that malign the black community, the white people who share the ‘black videos’ to bolster their clownish, ignorant and most important self-caricatures of themselves to prove they are ‘less than’ and then the black people who have turned on their own race by adding fuel to the fire of supporting the racism by agreeing with them as if that will make it better…it won’t.  They need to realize the severity of this divide and I think maybe they have given up even trying to speak to something that is so prevalent and yet so denied that they have to feel like they are in a “Twilight Zone” episode.

I feel we have failed as a people, there is no superior race, there is no superior religion, there is no superior person and perhaps that inner knowledge, though denied, explains the visceral need some people have to label, blame and belittle rather than try to understand, empathize or bridge the divide.  I know I get weary trying to help people see our role in the division.

flag of racism

Sandi Saunders:

I just found this awesome blog and this courageous man who finally has put it all together. He Rocks! Go give him a follow and enjoy!

Originally posted on The Weekly Sift:

Tea Partiers say you don’t understand them because you don’t understand American history. That’s probably true, but not in the way they want you to think.

Late in 2012, I came out of the Lincoln movie with two historical mysteries to solve:

  • How did the two parties switch places regarding the South, white supremacy, and civil rights? In Lincoln’s day, a radical Republican was an abolitionist, and when blacks did get the vote, they almost unanimously voted Republican. Today, the archetypal Republican is a Southern white, and blacks are almost all Democrats. How did American politics get from there to here?
  • One of the movie’s themes was how heavily the war’s continuing carnage weighed on Lincoln. (It particularly came through during Grant’s guided tour of the Richmond battlefield.) Could any cause, however lofty, justify this incredible slaughter? And yet, I realized, Lincoln was winning. What must the Confederate leaders…

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I keep hearing this phrase, “We can’t take care of all the world’s unwanted kids,” in response to George Will’s commentary on Fox. In fact, America can take care of “all the world’s unwanted kids” (nice strawman, by the way. Will is talking about border kids, not the entire planet. Regardless, they’re still wrong). We have an insane amount of wealth, a lion’s share of the world’s food production and more empty houses than we have homeless people. Their assertion is made from a position of forced ignorance. The powers that be (and they adhere to no particular political ideology, either) have a vested interest in keeping us from realizing precisely how ludicrously wealthy they really are.

The problem is that they can’t actually keep you from knowing if you choose to seek the information. In 2012, the world’s richest 100 people earned $240 billion dollars. For the sake of easy to follow math, we’re going to average the income between all 100 people. That’s one year. The average cost to raise a child from birth to 18 is $241,080. That works out to $13,393.33 per child per year. There are approximately 60,000 children at our border right now. To take care of them all would cost $803,600,000 per year, leaving those 100 people with a per year bill of $8,036,000. Keep in mind that their yearly income is still $2.4 billion each, leaving them with a paltry $2,391,964,000. That is just over 1/3 of 1% of their income!

Oh, it shouldn’t just be on the rich, you say? Let’s do the math on actual “notes and coins” US currency alone. There is approximately $1.3 trillion in circulation. If everyone donated 1% of their US money (that’s a penny from every dollar*) for the welfare of these border kids, there would be $13 billion available to feed, house, educate and assimilate these kids. One percent of our money. [* – we throw away $1.2 million in pennies every year. Many end up in our landfills.]

So, tell me again where/how we just can’t afford it? We certainly shouldn’t expect the world’s most insanely rich people to give up 0.4% of their wealth to help a hungry, scared and homeless child, right? Get out of here with that nonsense! Open your eyes and look at the numbers, people. Fixing this is easy, but we have to be willing to look beyond the curtain. If we can’t put aside our differences and unite for the sake of suffering children, we don’t deserve the many gifts that life on this planet has provided us.

Oh, and if you really feel like some fun math, the M2 figures for global currency in US dollars is $60 trillion. You don’t have to trust me, the people who like you divided and ignorant, or anyone else, for that matter. But you can trust the numbers. Math not only doesn’t lie, it can’t.



Chicago Bears Organized Team Activity Practice

In a comment today, someone claimed that “The natural right of freedom necessitates that one take responsibility for his or her individual life and decisions. Our present societal mindset is one in which we frequently allow, or even request, that our federal government eliminate freedoms we once cherished”. I argue that nothing in what our government does precludes that right to this day. 

“Our present societal mindset” has been formed by the ever encroaching freedom someone has expressed that ended in the oppression or some problem for someone else; ergo a law is written for all because of the abuse of some. That is what societies of people do. It is what societies of people have always done. True freedom is closer to anarchy than any of those bemoaning the loss of “freedoms we once cherished” want to admit. 

Nothing that the federal government “dictates” is without an impetus from citizens. Either a direct petition from the people or through their representative elected to do so. This pretense that things have been “taken” from anyone just to empower government is ridiculous. The quickest way to lose a right is to abuse it.

Why would the government care how you use your own property? Well if it is for a dump, for an animal sanctuary, a farm in the City, a hostel, a motel, a brothel, a business, band practice… 

Our economic system has always left us with the indigent who could not earn enough to support themselves and save for their retirement so again, the need was met with a program citizens supported. The federal government did not just decide to usurp. You are still free to save what you can for yourself. Why do you deny help to those who need it? Why do you pretend low wage jobs that need doing, can support workers existence and retirement? They cannot.

We have looked to the federal government to provide for the common good for a very long time for a very good reason. Society needs that equilibrium, whether you like it or not.

Modern Americans speak of wanting “to be free” but few mean it and fewer could afford it. Sure a “freedom-loving person dutifully accepts responsibility for his or her own life and the lives of their family” but that does not preclude a poor, disabled, orphaned, widowed, or low wage worker from also having a life and a family or desiring that freedom. 

In truth, we are all “afraid of real freedom” because of the multitude of laws we ask for. This notion you are free without having to abide by laws or pay taxes to help this nation be strong in all places (not just the well off) is just not honest or realistic. 

I see it as “tragic and disturbing that we live in a time when so many Americans view” helping the less able and fortunate as a “means of extracting assets from achievers with singular purpose of giving them to non-achievers” because that is virtually untrue. The real “two Americas” are the one where people think only their own hard work got them where they are and that they should not have to contribute and the one where those who are unable to achieve that level of success are still allowed a living and even a vote. America has always been a nation of producers and a nation of takers. Some just describe each through a different prism, Jesus, for example.

Our government gets as much “correct” as private business and industry does and for less than it would cost us otherwise, without the discrimination of judging. Government is a necessity to any society and so is charity and forbearance. We need reform in many programs, we certainly need better leaders and to get the influence of money and power out of our Republic, but the notion of less government is a fantasy 300 million people cannot indulge in.

Battle Flags are Drawn!


 W&L flags

Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia has finally decided to remove the Confederate Battle Flags placed in Lee Chapel long after Robert E. Lee was not able to stop them and to the great chorus of offended Southern pride that counts on those battle flags to speak for them. I applaud the decision. A good article on the subject is here http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/w-l-will-remove-confederate-battle-flags-from-lee-chapel/article_a13cae23-4367-56c5-9861-8ffd90e673e1.html

As a very proud Southerner, I understand much of the sentiments but clearly not all.  Some really are just bigots and racists letting the battle flag speak to their current anti-government, anti-gay, flagger, secesh mentality.  But not all of them are and therein lies the rub for me.

When a Southerner is not trying to defend the indefensible (slavery, secession and anti-government sentiments), it is still hard sometimes to describe the deep abiding love of place that many Southerners share. It also does not suppose that Northerners, Mid-Westerners, and Coastal regions do not also have that feeling about their own region and roots.

We honor our deep roots. We study and preserve them. From the heritage we keep alive, like gardening then preserving, hunting then preserving, vast swaths of public lands for preserving, to our recipes and food “events” we call meals, our work ethic, our faith, manners and value of things preserved by passing them down and keeping them with us, we do consider our past to be honorable, just as the United States does, in spite of wrongs, mistakes and lapses. In the South, you can go home again, and if you look hard, you will find yourself there.

We do not honor the South for the Confederacy or the defense of the despicable practice of slavery or wanting to continue it, or the bigotry and Jim Crow that grew from it, but for the ancestors who believed it was their duty to rise to the defense of their state. Fighting for a lost cause or even a wrong does not make your service itself dishonorable. If it did, what does that say of those who fought in Vietnam? Iraq? What does it say of those who decided to drop bombs on civilians in Japan? I am as liberal as a person can get and I am proud to be from the South. A racist, anti-government, secesh flagger is not honoring the South, they are hiding behind it.

In the South we are indomitable! We fall on our face, get back up, collect ourselves and walk gracefully from the room with regal bearing. That is the South in a nutshell. Laugh if you like, but that backbone has sustained us for many generations and will continue to do so.

FirstAmendmentGranted, we most often argue over the Second Amendment, but in my opinion, one of the most misunderstood of our civil rights is the First Amendment. The First Amendment combines several civil rights. The entire text of the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Most, though certainly not all people, see the “no law respecting an establishment of religion” as what we know as “the separation of church and state” and take that to mean that the government cannot favor one religion or one religious belief over others. It is essentially a hands-off our religious beliefs policy. In the England American settlers left, The Church of England was the religion of the land. The King and the Church were very powerful in the governing of the people. We have freedom of religion of our choice or no religion at all as well as freedom from religion being forced onto us. In my opinion, there is no freedom of religion unless there is freedom from religion.

Next is the short but monumentally important protection against the government “abridging the freedom of speech”. Here we are guaranteed that our government cannot ban speech it does not agree with, or speech critical of the government. James Madison considered free speech “a vital aspect of a healthy republic” and while tested to some ugly extremes it has stood the test of time. Until a 1925 Supreme Court case applied it to state governments as well through the 14th Amendment which basically applied “full and equal benefit of all laws”, it was considered only to apply to the federal government. We have been arguing over what it all means and how it all applies ever since.

One thing that I think many, many people, from the famous, to the pundits to local Facebook friends get wrong is that free speech means people have to agree with you or not challenge what you say. That was patently untrue in 1789 and it is patently untrue today. From Voltaire to Patrick Henry, it has been said in one form or another, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” There is no right to have what you say accepted, applauded or agreed to. There just isn’t. Far too many people on the right see any argument to their comments as an infringement on their right to free speech and that is so specious yet so deeply ingrained is has become an urban legend or adage that will not die the death it deserves.

Just as you have the right to boycott and publicly lash out at Bill Maher, Ed Schultz, or MSNBC, we have the same right to boycott and publicly lash out at Phil Robertson, Sarah Palin or FOX. That is simply and irrevocably the truth.

Free speech is abused to the point of mockery on a daily basis:
Using historical American Revolution quotes to bash Obama.
Using biblical quotes out of context to bash homosexuals.
Using statistics out of context to affix blame.
Using a false impression of America in 1789 to bash America in 2014.

On and on it goes, but that is and will remain your right. Just stop pretending that right does or should shield you from the mockery, criticism, call-out or argumentation it deserves, because THAT is what makes free speech “a vital aspect of a healthy republic”.

“If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it.” –Thomas Jefferson

Reason does combat every day.


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