Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Prayer of St. Francis

In this election season, and in all the turmoil of this world, this prayer has been coming to me over and over.  So over and over I repeat it and remind myself what things are most important.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Separation of Church and State

In an online conversation a few months ago, when she felt like she had me against the wall she laid a trap: "Don't you want a Christian president?!"

I've been mulling that over.  And I can't decide if you will attack me for this position or not.  Maybe you know me well enough by now.  The good thing?  I know myself well enough.  I feel really comfortable with the hard questions, and after a lot of deliberation, this one is no different. 

Do I want a Christian president?

Meh.  Not important, really.  Look.  The past 44 presidents have been Christians (I think?).  In our history, we've had plenty of presidential scandal, right?  Wars that were based on greed.  Marital infidelity.  Stealing land and natural resources from people just because we could.  Because they had something -- land, resources, that we wanted.  Authorization to occupy countries to protect "our" investment in oil, and diamonds, and other valuable resources.  We've had presidents who were married, and single, and divorced.

Here's the thing -- while I am a very proud follower of Jesus' teachings, I don't think that Christians have a monopoly on morality.  The longer I live and the more people I meet, the more I realize that we're all basically the same.  We're mostly inherently good.  My friend Beth, an atheist, is one of the most generous and accepting people I know.  I have friends who are Jewish, and Muslim, and Buddhist.  I have friends of many sects of Christianity.  And mostly, they're good.  And the ones that aren't as kind, well, some of those folks are Christians too.

I want the president to be honest.  And kind.  And care more for The People than him or herself.  I want the president to place value in hard work and education and caring for the less fortunate.  I want him or her to place less importance on a dollar, and more importance on humanity.  I want the president to love peace, and reject evil.  And choose diplomacy first. 

And wherever they draw their sense of right and wrong from, I pray that they are wise and good.  That's what's important to me.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


She'll be two months tomorrow, the little-girl-I-always-wanted.  Be still, my heart.

What Matters Most

I used to be single.  I used to be bored, and wonder if I was going to have a family of my own.  And then, suddenly, I woke up and I have all these crazy little loves in my life.  And luck and good fortune and blessings hardly begin to describe it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Political Party

It's a Political Party up in here.  Hang out, or don't.  I have a lot to say in the next few weeks.  Not to change your vote, necessarily, but to share with you some of my thoughts/feelings/concerns, and to record what's going on in political history so I can look back and see how things changed throughout my lifetime.  My blog, my geeky rules.  My football season.  God bless America.

Money in Politics

If you ask me what the biggest problem in our political system is (and there are many, of course), I would tell you that there is too much money.  Too much money in the election process and too much money in the legislative process.  Special interest groups spend a ridiculous amount of money to lobby Congress to get their bills passed, or our bills shut down.  Corporations spend money on politicians' campaigns and then, in turn, those politicians pass the kind of legislation promoted by said corporation or special interest group.  And then, in another kind turn, that company hires the politician after their time in office and gives them a great salary and wonderful benefits package.  Win/win/win.  For everyone but you and me.

There is a lot of focus on voter suppression (voter ID) this election season.  I've yet to see a report where election fraud is an actual problem.  Someone told me that there was a gentleman who got caught voting four times.  Let me say this:  1.  He got caught.  2.  Four misvotes does not a national crisis make.  We have actual issues to solve; this is a complete waste of our energy.

Do you know that our electronic voting machines are corporately-owned?  Right. They're not even owned by us, the taxpaying citizen.  Tonight, I saw a story that alleges Tagg Romney (Mitt's son) is part investor in a company that owns a block of voting machines in swing states.  Fishy?  You tell me. 

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I'm not making this up (and don't automatically assume I'm wrong because I'm a liberal.  I have many conservative/libertarian friends who understand this issue well and who absolutely agree with me).  We don't even own our own voting machines.  Because that wouldn't turn a profit...heaven forbid. 

This past year, the United States Supreme Court basically said that the government cannot limit the spending by special interest groups in the election process (Citizens United).  Brilliant.  Money buys advertising, and advertising works.  We're very gullible people, programmed to believe what we see and hear at face value, partly because we're lazy, partly because we're fearful of the truth, and frankly, partly because we have access to so much information...it's simply too hard to wade through.

I believe in a democracy as it was intended.  I want my voice to be equal to the voice of each and every American citizen.  I want to discuss the merits of a particular piece of legislation without worrying that it's being purchased and paid for by someone who has no interest in the welfare of America, but in the welfare of the almighty profit.  Once again, it's my humble and very resolute opinion that the bottom line is not the only way to measure success.

If you are even the slightest bit intrigued by my position on this (even if you think I'm blowing smoke), I suggest you look into it.  At the risk of being an alarmist, I'll say this:  The only way we're going to change what's happening here is by getting involved. And we need to do it now, before it's too late.  Let not our democracy be for sale.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Social Services

Among the discussions I have with my other political friends (and those who aren't), frequently the conversation steers to social services.  And recently, I think I actually lost a friend who disagrees with me (man, I hope that's not true).  But there are some things that don't have a "right" or "wrong" answer, just different philosophies.  Allow me to share mine.

I realize that our experiences largely shape our political opinions.  So it's no surprise that my friend, whose mom has repeatedly "abused" the system by taking everything the government was willing to give her, has the opinion that "welfare" is a system we cannot afford, and should do away with.

My experiences are with people who, by almost no fault of their own, do not have access to healthcare or income, or have served their country and are dealing with some kind of disability.  Do I know people who take advantage of "the system?"  Sure.  But they are less in number than those I know who legitimately need the help of the government.  Some examples:

A man who worked his whole life by the rules, paid income, property, and sales tax.  Now is sick and cannot work.

A woman whose husband works three part-time jobs, none of which offers health insurance to their employees.  One of her children has chronic illness and needs care.

A man who has lost his job because of outsourcing, and his children are hungry more often than they're not.

My philosophy is this:  A government should have a vested interest in the welfare of its citizens.  A nation of educated and healthy children will be stronger and more prosperous. 

The argument is that we can't afford it.  My question:  Can we afford not to?

The argument is that we won't help people by giving handouts.  My argument is that its hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you haven't boots to begin with.

The argument is that its not the government's job to take care of people.  My question: Then whose?  (Please do not say The Church.  Or The Community.  If those were effective, we wouldn't be having this conversation at all.)

I learned recently that Michigan has a great program for kids who are uninsured or underinsured.  You can purchase a plan through the State for a nominal fee that covers treatments that your normal plan might not.  People can take advantage of this plan so that their kids get the medications and treatments they need to be well, and takes so much stress of families who are dealing the stress of having a sick kid.  Brilliant.  This, my friends, is what is basically a public option, and something I have long supported as a federal solution to a very serious health insurance industry issue.  How great would it be if my little friend Kendall's parents didn't have to struggle and fight with their insurance company for a medication that Kendall needed to be healthy.  See that story here.  How wonderful it would be if families didn't have to go bankrupt just because they were given a child with chronic illness?  I wish we all had that option.

There is no right or wrong here, just philosophical differences.  And watching people suffer brings me so much sadness, that I feel compelled to share mine with you.  We can care for our people.  We must.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ill Equipped

Okay, so know what?  I realized recently that I do not have the necessary requirements to parent a teenager.  Seriously.  Who decided I am qualified to do this?

Last week, one day after school, Cole called to see if he could go to Caribou with some friends.  My first reaction was, "I don't know!  Why are you asking me?"  After brief internal deliberation, I told him he could go, but be home in an hour.  Then I called my mom and said, "Can my teenager go to Caribou after school?"  And she said, "Oh, I suppose.  For a little bit."  And then I was super relieved that I said the right thing.

I mean seriously.  When you're parenting a teenager, you need to think about things like:

Who are his friends?  Are they nice?  Do they drink coffee drinks nicely and study together or do they run around the coffee shop like idiots?  Is it okay to drop in and check on them?

Who are their friends parents?  Do they let their kids go to Caribou after school?

What happens if he goes out after school?  Will he get his homework done?  Is he with who he says he is?  Is he where he says he is?  Is it okay to buy spy gear to ensure I have necessary intelligence to make good decisions?  Do I trust him?  How will I know if I can't trust him? 

Truthfully, I do trust him.  I think he's an incredibly grounded young man.  I think he will make good decisions.  I think he will choose good friends.  I think he will be a Democrat.  (What??)  I think he will be a really good human being and we will survive these years.

But I also think that for good measure, I'll make sure to have a pair of night vision goggles and maybe a lie detector kit on hand.  And my mom on speed dial.