Level the Field

Amoral: a) having or showing no concern about whether behavior is morally right or wrong: b) being outside or beyond the moral order or a particular code of morals

Immoral: conflicting with generally or traditionally held moral principles

soapboxpileAre the members of the GOP both of the above? It is a fair question in light of their actions and active participation in the attempted coup by Donald J. Trump, outgoing President of the United States and his team of legal geniuses. What is there to say about those who took the following Oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

It is such a simple thing; just pick the very first line thing in the Oath; support and defend the Constitution. Not a person, not a party but the Constitution of the United States. The interesting thing about this is that the incoming President and Vice President swear similar oaths of office to protect and defend the United States’ Constitution.

So what we have is a conundrum.

Is the GOP’s entire elected membership, with very few exceptions nationwide, seditious, oath-breaking, villains?  Or are they simply brainwashed cult members ready to die on Trump’s bonfire of vanity?

That is the question we have to ask ourselves as we watch the nation tear itself apart on falsehood and conspiracy theories so farfetched even those telling the stories cannot maintain their equilibrium. There is a pervasive sickness infecting not just those at the bottom but also those at the top. Elected officials willing to turn a blind eye to the erosion of traditional norms, ready to break the rules bound by centuries of standards simply to appease a single man, his temper and his apparent hold on the perceived base of voters easily swayed. I have watched Congress members say without blinking an eye what has been done in the past is not relevant today; time and again, norms are no longer valid.

“The courts will decide disputes; that’s the way we do it in this country. mcconnell_2Having close disputed elections is not unusual.” Mitch McConnell

Senator McConnell is not wrong; close votes are not unusual where he goes off the rails is the pandering nonsense that these require courts to decide. What is staggering is we suddenly must wait for states to certify elections before the GOP leadership will acknowledge Joe Biden as the President-Elect.  It should be noted, Donald J. Trump had already declared himself the winner on November 3. Laying the groundwork for what was to come, weeks of nonsensical legal filings in various states that went nowhere fast. Weeks of news conferences from washed-up has-been sycophants spewing unsupported claims of voter fraud, with guarantees their master would be king come January.

What have we learned from all of this? What can we take forward into the future?

One thing we should learn is what comes around goes around, always. If you don’t like the polarization of Washington, D.C and the partisanship of politics today, blame Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats of 2013. The Nuclear Option eliminated the Senate filibuster for all nominations to Article III Federal Judiciary except for the Supreme Court and the President’s picks for his Cabinet. This led the way for Mitch McConnel to pack the federal judiciary with 300 unqualified lifetime appointments and three Supreme Court Justices. Additionally, it allowed the Trump administration to select uniquely unqualified members for his Cabinet, including his own children, without a single protest in the Senate. Finally, as we look at Joe Biden taking office next year and the Cabinet he is putting together, the GOP Senate members are already raising their hands and saying that they will not be approved despite their qualifications.

What else should we learn? What we have relied upon as traditional norms must become hard and fast rules with consequences. That we must demand more of those who sit in the oval office or walk the halls of Congress as elected leaders. We must look closely at our minimum standards; we must raise the bar and codify some of what we have considered ‘norms’ into Trump-visits-St-Johns-Churchbasic job requirements. Our future must never see another person so utterly unprepared and ill-equipped as Donald J. Trump sworn into the Presidency. We can never again allow the last four years to be repeated; honestly, we can never again allow the previous twelve years to be repeated.  Make no mistake, the polarization and partisanship began when Mitch McConnell uttered this famous phrase, signally the top GOP priority under the Obama administration:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” October 23, 2010

How do we address these issues? What can we do to turn the tide for a future that looks more like the one intended by the original Constitution and in the Federalist Papers?  Despite the entire Biden presidency is a lame-duck administration, there is much that can be done. Even with a pandemic looming and an economy failing, both at home and globally, some steps can be taken that I believe could gain bipartisan support. Despite all the evidence, I remain hopeful that Republicans remain in Congress who want a better tomorrow and save America. I think what comes next is in the hands of the people, not the government. What we demand will become the priorities in Congress.

  1. Term Limits on Congress, maximum of 3 terms for both House and Senate.
  2. Change in Lifetime appointments to a maximum of 25-year for all Federal Bench. All appointments must pass a minimum of Qualified by the ABA to be considered.
  3. Change in use of Executive Orders. All Executive Orders should be subject to review by Congress.
  4. New laws enshrining ‘norms’ (e.g., the release of 10 years of taxes, health records including a phycological test, requirement to quit all business interest before taking office, strengthening emoluments clause, strengthening nepotism clauses). These new rules must include the President, Vice President and all members of Congress. These must not be a wish list but instead requirements for the office.
  5. Reversal of Citizen United. Congress to pass legislation to include all campaigns limited in fund raising activities. A gentle reminder, money is the root of most evil and there should be limits.
  6. Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine with teeth. Let’s start holding the media, including social media, accountable.

biden_HarrisThat is it for me as a starting position. I know there is plenty to keep them busy in the first 100 days. There is more to keep them busy bickering and backbiting going forward after that. Yet, we the people have the power and we the people must demand a better nation. If we want the big stuff to get done, we must demand that they start changing the rules in our favor.

Next Up, Heal or Revenge

Soapbox LogoWe have a long history of partisanship within our state and federal legislatures’, power begets power. Those with power want to hold on and those without power snivel, whine and plan their next move. This is the way of the world since history began to be recorded; it is undoubtedly the way of the Divided States of America. The one thing missing from the above? We the people, we seem to be the silent and all too frequently forgotten victims of the one-upmanship and gameplaying that takes place in the halls of power.

Donald J. Trump is the consummation of fifty years of GOP scheming and planning. He is the payoff of Right-Wing backroom deal-making. He is everything they hoped for and more because he is ignorant of their manipulation and takes credit for each disaster as if it were a success. The Federalist Society has all they could wish for, a Judiciary that leans right from top to bottom. In the final two years of his Presidency, Mitch McConnel blocked Obama’s nominations, resulting in over 100 open seats to fill when Trump entered office. What did Trump have to say?  He found his predecessor must have been complacent (lazy) in nominating despite McConnel’s very public obstructionism. We focus on the Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination, but in truth, the Republican majority under McConnel had created a contentious do-nothing process long before this; in fact, it started from the moment they took control of the Senate.

With our national election today and the potential of Joe Biden winning, the question must be asked, what will we do if we win it all? What is in store for America and its citizens if we pull off a complete annihilation of the Republicans and what they have stood for? What will happen if there is a full power shift, the White House and both houses of Congress belong to the Democrats in January. If recent days events are any indication, violence will escalate, and this President has no intention of going quietly. We should not expect a peaceful transition of power. Truthfully, I do not expect this President to accept a loss. I expect there to be multiple challenges between now and December, if not beyond.

Nevertheless, this is about what we will do and what we expect those we elected to power to do? Will we become crazed in our victory? Will we revenge-destruction-health-life-symbolized-word-revenge-hammer-to-show-negative-aspect-revenge-d-revenge-173790748demand revenge? Will we escalate the cancel culture and just like the current administration demand, all our political enemies be ‘locked up’ for real and perceived crimes.

Will we punish our rivals and gloat in our victory? Will we become what we have despised? Demanding the Democrats in power ‘grow’ backbones?

I ask these questions in both curiosity and fear. As cities board up in preparation for election night violence, walls are built to surround Layfette Square and the White House; this isn’t the country I know, even during previous times of deep unrest.  As this President spends his time complaining about how unfair it all is, he would be winning if it weren’t for COVID, he says. As he abandons his supporters freezing in dark fields after his events, this isn’t the behavior of a true leader. This truly isn’t the nation I knew once upon a time.

Our history of protest is long and storied. From the Germantown Quakers of 1688 and their written protest against slavery to today and the Black Lives Matter protests in every major city of this nation. Some have ended in violence, some have continued for years before moving us toward a more perfect union. Each though had a purpose; each had supporters and naysayers as well. Never in our history has there been a President who has actively called for violence against protestors as this one has done. Don’t mistake me. Many protests have ended in violence. Much of that violence was sanctioned by the state and done by police and National Guard. This President, though, encourages violence by those who are simply citizens with guns and MAGA hats.

So I ask again, should we win it all, what will we do? Who will we be after that euphoria wears off and we are done dancing in the streets from joy; who will we be in our victory? We will have a choice. We will only have four years with Joe Biden at the helm of the Presidency and then we will go dancinginstreetthrough this again. Perhaps Kamala Harris will run, maybe not. If the Democrats get the next two years right, they will hold onto both houses of Congress and there will be no divided government during Biden’s tenure in the White House. If they get it really right, come 2025, we will have a shoo-in for the next 8 years.

What should we be? In my mind, we should play the long-game, and we should be focused on the American people and healing the nation. We should ignore the petty revenge scenarios. We should forget the nonsense of who did what to whom. We should be focused on fixing what is broken for all of America and what can be done now. Here would be my plan for America if I could sit with Joe and Kamala for just a few hours:

  1. Focus on the pandemic, get the resources to the states first and work with the Governors on practical test, track and trace plans. Pull all the Federal Emergency Response levers to make available to state and local governments all necessary resources. Finally, work with Congress to shape the right Bill and pass it through both Houses to get the necessary resources into the hands of individuals, state and local governments to keep everyone whole while we get the virus under control.
  2. Form a bipartisan committee to look at the entire Article III Judiciary branch, including currently seated judges, the nomination process, qualifications, confirmation process. I want everything looked at. I also want to assess current acts, behaviors and actions of current seated Judges and Justices where there is anything questionable. This committee has 120 days to return their initial review and recommendations; if there are specific issues that require additional assessment, they must include these in their initial report. This report will be entirely transparent and made public.
  3. No Senators from either party to be named to Cabinet seats; Joe Biden cannot afford to name any Democrat to a Cabinet seat even if he wins, and the Senate returns to Blue, it will be by a small margin. Rather than ‘play’ favorites, simply put a moratorium on the entire Senate and leave all elected members in place.
  4. Form a bipartisan committee of Black Lives Matter Community Restoration and place VP Kamala Harris in charge. Give them 120 days to produce an initial plan of actionable priorities that can be taken to Congress. This should be a citizen committee but should also have sponsorship from both House and Senate so Bills can be produced quickly from the actionable priorities.
  5. Form a bipartisan committee of Police and Justice Reform. This group will need to include citizens, police, educators in the field, and others with specific knowledge in the area. Were it me, I would put Jeh Johnson at the head of this one; he is clear-eyed and clear-headed. This one would have 150 days for the initial analysis and report. I give them a bit longer because they must look at two separate and very unequal parts of our system. Policing and Justice, while intertwined, remain separated by layers of implementation. Ultimately we have to consider all the individual layers of Federal, State, Local and overall Justice Reform if we are to truly ‘fix’ what is broken today.

Those would be my first day in office; those committees are formed and off to the races. Are there other pressing issues? Certainly, there are and they would have to be taken on post-haste. This nation needs so many things, Joe Biden Accepts Presidential Nomination At Democratic National Conventionso much healing. Each item seems to be a priority. But if we could at least seem to be moving toward action, that is something. Gloating and revenge doesn’t heal us; it might give us a momentary thrill, it might make us feel good for a minute or two, but it does not heal us as a nation and healing the nation is what we most need now.

So I ask one more time, who will we be, should we win it all? Will we emulate the Administration of the past four years? Will we be monsters? Or will we be something finer, something more generous, and begin the hard work of healing.

Dear God V

sad-angel-1Dear God, it’s me again and I have a small bone to pick with you this morning. I am certain you must be exhausted now with all the terrible down here, but if you could just take a minute or two, I think I can convince you we are worth saving. I know it seems as if we are intent upon our own destruction, determined to extinguish all that is good and raise up the worst within us. I look around and see this every single day. Nevertheless, I also see much that is good, much that is worthy of saving. I know, God, I know it is hard to forgive the terrible that lies within us, the horrible that continues to rise up and tear us apart, given even the smallest of openings. Yet, God, I believe there is so much that is good. If we simply crack that door, there will be a great awakening and the good will prevail.

Dear God, I am not saying that rising up will not be without pain and great upheaval. We are a nation founded on some terrible acts that, even today, we cannot bring ourselves to recognize and embrace as our real history. Many in this nation find it impossible to accept their ancestors’ acts, from genocide, slavery, Japanese internment, Jim Crow, Redlining, and all the other horrific crimes against humanity and nature. In stunning acts of ignorance and denial, entire swaths of our nation continue to worship at the feet of bronze statues of traitors and fly the flags of the losing side in a Civil War fought to preserve the enslavement of human beings.

Dear God, it is difficult sometimes to look at my fellow citizens with compassion. We need your help; we need your healing. No matter the outcome in a few days, angry people will likely take to the streets. This nation can’t take much more without implosion. Already armed citizens are claiming to be keeping the peace or supporting the police, depending on who you ask. Others march for peace, demanding an end to violence against their sons and daughters, and now they too are armed to protect themselves. God, we need peace and compassion; things are going badly down here.

Dear God, a pandemic sweeps our nation taking more of us each day and our leaders laugh at our sorrow. More of our families slip into poverty meme-the-invisibility-of-poverty-2every single day. Our leaders prance off on unearned and undeserved holiday, paid for by us. They laugh and joke at our misery, knowing they have created this maelstrom. Acts of brutality are committed in our streets, so many of us are numb. We turn away rather than be outraged; we blame the victim, searching for justification. We grow heartless because our leaders are heartless. We grow numb because we are full up and hopelessness seems to be all that is left for us.

Dear God, I want to believe we are not the terrible. We are not the White Supremacists, the Boogaloos, the Militants and Militias infecting our cities and our media today. I want to believe they are an aberration and will fade back into their hills, hollows and caves. But God, this time, I think it will take more; they are greater in number and have infiltrated all walks of life. We cannot ignore their toxicity; thinking they are not worthy of our attention, we turn a blind eye while they burn down our cities or plan government officials’ kidnapping and execution. They are the greatest danger to our recovery; they are the greatest danger to our children’s future. Our leaders create the great distraction pointing anywhere but there, to anything else but them despite their own Intelligence stating clearly this is the greatest threat.

Dear God, there is nothing down here that can’t be fixed with some willingness to reach across these great divides we have created. There is nothing we cannot repair; even the depth of the current divide can be bridged with perseverance and will. We are losing our perspective, God; we are losing sight of who we are and who we can be. We have failed our fellow citizens; our brothers and sisters are nearly lost to us due to our own acts of violence, whether direct or indirect. We have much to make up for.

Dear God, you probably think I am wearing rose-colored glasses with all my trying to convince you we can fix what has been so terribly broken. God, I shattered_glass_portraits_tbelieve there are enough good people, enough fair-minded people, enough willing people that with some time and focus, we can fix this and even make it better. I know we are terribly fragmented today; it seems we are almost irreparable in our brokenness. We chose the lines in the sand we have drawn that divide us today. We can choose to rub them out just as easily; it is a choice. It will only take a few to cross the great chasm of fury currently occupying our time, our minds and our hearts. This terrible fury taking over our nation is destroying us all.

Dear God, if you are there, touch enough of us and lift this fugue. Remind us the good we are capable of even as we remind ourselves of our imperfections and begin the work of building toward the promise of a better, more equal nation. God, I know how we got here. This wreckage is forty years of concerted effort, planning and nearly perfect execution to create an illiterate and angry population. Look where we are God, even those who claim to know and love you are filled with fury and hate; they no more represent your Son and his teaching than Lucifer did in the first temptation of Eve. Dogged determination and a willing population though got us here, to this crossroads. Will we fall the rest of the way, or will we prove we are not the terrifying and terrible we seem to be.

Dear God, I believe we can fix what is broken. Give us a chance to look forward, and I believe there are enough good men and women who are willing to try. I know we are broken and habitually, we fall from grace, yet I believe there are enough with compassion, empathy and eyes open to the truth. Do not allow what is the worst in us win this battle for our nation’s soul, Please God, from me.

On the Bench

 “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of the transgressors shall destroy them.” Proverbs 11.3 KJV

Lepore-RBGpostscriptShe is the Federalist Society’s darling, and for excellent reason, she is by far one of the purest Constitutional Originalists I have read in over thirty years. She goes much further than her mentor Scalia ever did in his interpretations. She absolutely terrifies me, in part because she is bright, pragmatic but even more, she is an absolute ideologue. She hides it well; she dances brilliantly. Still, it is there, and she is the antithesis of everything Ruth Bader Ginsberg stood for. Yet after hearings that were polite and without real merit, Lindsey Graham, without qualms and without a full committee, pushed her nomination to the full Senate for a vote that will be taken on Monday 26 October 2020. For those of you that are counting, that is six days before the next president’s election. She will be the next Justice unless some GOP members of the Senate find their moral backbone and say NO to Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the spineless enablers and say YES to the American People.

Just to make clear, I am not an Attorney and have no formal legal training. What I have is decades of watching the court in action and reading legal briefs and scholarship. It is an interest of mine. Do I get it perfectly? Absolutely not. So for those of you who know more than me, feel free to correct my understanding. What follows is simply my understanding of what I have seen and been able to discover of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

I watched three days of hearings before the Republican-led Senate Judicial Committee. Farcical is the most polite term I can come up with. Three days of Republicans, grandstanding, campaigning and praising her laundry skills, mothering skills and, of course, the brilliance of her legal mind as an afterthought. The comparisons to Ruth Bader Ginsberg were, for most of us, insulting. She is not now and will never be, except perhaps in the mind of the Federalist Society and those who put her on the highest court in the land, comparable to the Notorious RBG. The truth of the matter, Amy Coney Barrett, is the dream jurist of the Right and a nightmare for the rest of us. Most notable for me and many others were three items she would not commit her ‘brilliant’ legal mind too:

  • A president could not unilaterally change or delay an election.
  • Voter intimidation is illegal under any circumstance.
  • A president cannot pardon himself.

Add to the above, when pushed by several Senators on recusal, she refused to commit. Despite the president’s public statements of his reason for fast-tracking her nomination, his desire to have her on the bench to tip the balance in his favor when he challenges the election outcome should he lose. 

It is difficult to truly explore Judge Barrett’s legal thinking. She has only Prof_Amy_Coney_Barrett_2_10been on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals since October 2017, three (3) years. Prior to her short time on the bench, she was a Professor of Law; much of her time in this role was spent at Notre Dame, where her published writings are protected. Her limited exposure to litigation was in private practice, with the only notable case being as research assistant on Bush v. Gore. She never argued a case, certainly not in front of the Supreme Court. I do not want to entirely dismiss her; she clerked on both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. She has earned a great deal of praise for her research, writing and teaching. She is beloved by her students. However, none of this makes her ready for prime time; none of this makes her a worthy inheritor of the seat left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Consider some of her available publications first; one that stood out for me was Catholic Judges in Capital Cases. While there were no surprises, there was a significant discussion surrounding the loyalty owed to the Church and its teachings. There wasn’t a suggestion that the judge should ever attempt to align the law to the Church, but that their moral behavior must align instead; ultimately, where the two did not or could not recusal was the answer. What does this mean in cases she might hear in the future? Either she will ignore her own advice, or she pushes the agenda, we all believe she has. Areas where the Church and the law are out of alignment? Abortion, IVF, several Civil Rights areas, including protections for LGBTQ people (e.g., housing, medical services, marriage, adoption). What is her answer? She has said she can judge without bias; however, I have to ask the question based on this single item. Is she?

The next read for me was actually three separate essays written over five (5) years on the subject of Stare Decisis[1]. The Stare Decisis doctrine directs the court to stand by the established precedent set by the court. The court rarely overturns its own precedent, though it has, in some cases, which signifies it has a new way of looking at a legal issue that has been presented. Based on her writing, though, it seems she is only supportive of courts and judges taking the initiative of ignoring precedent when that precedent is not aligned with the court or the judge’s thinking. It is frankly a very murky area. An example of a previous court ignoring precedent is Brown v. The Board of Education (1954), where the Separate but Equal doctrine established in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was ultimately overturned. This is an example where a Super Precedent existed and was challenged. During her hearings before the Judicial Committee, she would not say whether she agreed with the Brown decision.

Judge Barrett says she does not believe Roe v. Wade is a super precedent simply because of the number of challenges. For an interesting read on precedents and super precedents, try this one, which provides an overview of how we should view them[2]. The reality is it would be inconvenient for Judge Barrett to view Roe as a super precedent, just as it would be inconvenient for her to recuse from the ACA battle that will be her first Court case on being seated. She has written more than once regarding the ACA and has even taken issue with a decision by Justice Roberts to uphold the ACA.

In my reading, I found a common theme in Judge Barrett’s view of the courts’ ability to create common law[3], even overruling legislative authority. I was fascinated by this view as it derives from her reading of the Constitution and her ‘Originalist’ stance. While I think we all agree, we have separate but equal branches of government, each with their own powers, now we have a nominee who will shortly be seated on the highest court view that court with the ability to legislate from the bench. In my opinion, she puts us all in great jeopardy.

I have had several discussions about Judge Barrett since her nomination. In my mind, her own words condemn her. Listen to what she said in 2016 at the death of Antonin Scalia. I believe those we put on the Supreme Court should not only be legally able, but they should also be morally and ethically sound. Someone said Presidents serve for 4 years, not 3, and certainly not 5. Her nomination extends the current term of Donald J. Trump to five years, even if he is by some terrible chance re-elected her nomination and confirmation should wait until after November 3.

If she had an ounce of moral fiber, she would withdraw herself until after the elections.

[1] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1219801

https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/law_faculty_scholarship/767/

https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/law_faculty_scholarship/450/

[2] chrome-extension://nacjakoppgmdcpemlfnfegmlhipddanj/http://www.georgemasonlawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/14-2_Sinclair.pdf

[3] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1014661.

Tragic Nations

Soapbox LogoThe United States of America might be a classic tragedy if we saw it from a historical perspective. The American people would either be victims or villains, no middle ground this time around. Full disclosure, I have always been in the middle, always an Independent who thought both sides had valid points of view and legitimate ideas. In the forty-five years I have been registered to vote, I have missed two Presidential elections. I have voted for Democrats, Republicans and third-party candidates over the years at both a national and local level. I have voted in person and by absentee ballot. This year is the first year I believe every single vote matters. We are voting for the very soul of America; one outcome means the end of our nation as we understand it, the other the potential for something better.

There have been other great nations that have risen and fallen throughout human history; two come to mind as I watch the tragedy this past three-year debacle;

The once-great Roman Empire was brought low by the rise of Christianity, political corruption, monetary devaluation and economic problems, water and food shortages and Imperial incompetence.

The jewel of Asia from 1299 to 1922, The Ottoman Empire was a bastion of religious tolerance, economic stability, arts and architecture. The empire was dismantled by infighting, political intrigue,  conspiracy, and European trade competition, WWI’s final devastating blow.

The tragedy is that those who would lead us are wholly disinterested in history and make no connection to the similarities. I could weave a tapestry with the parallels, the threads of catastrophic human error, ineffectivenesssinglemask and ultimately ego in each. It can’t be just me that sees a trend. Unless we force a change, it will be too late. We will simply be a footnote in history.

We come now to why I have looked at other lost empires and why I think of tragedy when I think of our nation. Truthfully, I believe there is much to learn from history and there is only one word that fully encompasses the state of our nation today, tragic. We started with hopes, grand dreams and obviously many nightmarish problems that would eventually tear us apart. We started with men who wrote the future yet ignored they were building upon the backs of enslaved and disenfranchised people. Today many rise up, they march in the streets and demand justice for the terrible and the terror of not just current indignity, but all that has led to this moment in time. Are they correct in their fury? I have no answer; I am not them and do not have their lived experiences. What I know is we have collectively enabled the roots to rot, we have encouraged the worst of us to rise to the top and have failed to prune the branches to allow the freedom and opportunity to shine equally across all within our diverse nation.  We have continued to deny the truth of our beginnings and maybe hoped someone else would come along and fix our collective problem.

I often think I might be a masochist; I can frequently be found spending more time than I should talking to people across all political alignments. I say I might be a masochist because, at this moment in time, it is difficult to have civil conversations with those who feel so strongly about a subject they are willing to go to war. Yes, I said it and it wasn’t hyperbole or rhetoric; there are those on both sides of the aisle ready to go to war over ideology or, in some cases, insults to their candidate. Frankly, it is sometimes terrifying to engage in conversations, even if it is nothing more than a question of why; nevermind a discussion of differences.

As we draw closer to election day and with many states having kicked-off early voting, the stakes grow ever higher for both sides.  Thus far, record turnouts indicate a tidal wave is building, one that will potentially sweep from high to low through the Administration, Senate and even statehouses and other elected offices. The nation is tired and may perhaps be rising up in a tangible way to demand a real opportunity to right terrible wrongs and potentially avoid a tragic outcome.

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There is still a long road ahead of us, much work to be done, and no guarantees of this election’s outcome. Once before we were fooled into complacency. That complacency was the end of a long game played by the GOP; Donald Trump is the personification of everything that brought down the Roman and Ottoman Empires in one ignorant, egotistical, narcissistic, bloviating package. Mitch McConnell, the real power behind the throne, has seen his dream of a packed federal court system come to fruition under this Administration.

The Trump machine of 2016 convinced enough angry White folk in key states he was one of them. Despite his golden penthouse, his utter disdain for their poverty and their lack of education, their Christianity or their middleclass morals; he hated the same people they hated and acted like they acted, bullied the weak and made fun of those who could not or would not fight back. Over time, he continued to do the same and 38% of those same voters stuck with him, going so far as declaring themselves ready to start a civil war if he failed to win re-election. It didn’t matter what he said or did; there was always an excuse. When I say I speak to those on the other side, some are friends of decades and some are family. Oddly, they will tell me excuse anything, any act, any statement; direct quotes are “Left-Wing Lies” because their news stations are not reporting them. One of my recent favorites was from a New York Times interview, asked what his policy would be should he win:

But so I think, I think it would be, I think it would be very, very, I think we’d have a very, very solid, we would continue what we’re doing. Donald J Trump

If this doesn’t scare you, nothing will. My friends on the Right think this is the best policy; just keep doing what you have been doing; good job.

We have all the makings of a failed nation. No country is ever perfect and we surely have a long ways to go to make right what is wrong today. There is much that must be addressed with clear eyes and a willingness to come to the table prepared to listen first and then begin the real work of fixing what is broken. We all have to acknowledge there is no possible way to fix the a-frame-of-trusthistorical evils this nation was built upon, no reparations that can repair all the harm done. The only real fix is one of progress and future remediation. As a nation, we can address the evil of ‘isims’ in only one way, by making them anathema to all but the very lowest in society, those who have no place and must be rejected.

When we begin to stand up and say no to traitors flags on public buildings and at political rallies as signs of heritage and not for what they are, signs of racist intimidation, then we move our country forward. When we stand up to bullies in our courthouses, our town squares, our media and our highest offices, then we can move our nation forward. Only when we stand up and demand those we elect to our highest office serve us rather than themselves will we move our country forward rather than backward.

Now is the time, do we progress or regress? Do they win, or do we prove we are the people who will save the promise of the United States of America.

Vote because your life depends upon it.

Reality Bites

LVal_01I wasn’t ready, not for any of the realities that are settling around me in these terrible days. I suppose I believed I was invincible and would be ‘exotic’ forever. Exotic was my beloved step-mother’s word for how I looked, not beautiful, not ordinary, not ugly but ‘exotic’. I also believed my body would never betray me and my brain would someday be as valuable as my body. Of course, these things were all fairytales; I always did have a vivid imagination.

Confidence is a grand thing when you are young and can afford it. When you have bouncy houses to fall back into and plenty of friends and relatives to catch you when you stumble. Truthfully, an overabundance of confidence in the young and not quite ready for prime time is a necessary ingredient to success. When we are young, we wander through life fluffing our hair, flexing our muscles and demanding attention for achievements we have not yet truly completed. When we are young, we are thrilled with the monumental triumph of being voted ‘most likely to succeed’ and decimated by our first broken heart.

It is all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? As we age, we gain insight into what is what matters. When we were young, especially if we are women, that first grey hair devastates us; it signals the loss of something we have been Going Greytold is vital to our success; our youth. We stare at that grey traitor for long minutes before we grab our tweezer and pull it out by the root. From that moment on, every morning, we inspect for more. If you have dark hair like me, they are obvious those bright white streaming ribbons throughout your head. Today I keep my hair its original dark chocolate, but this is one of those luxuries up for reevaluation as reality digs its claws into me, striping me of vanity and confidence at once.

I wasn’t ready for what aging meant. There was what my mind and heart thought and there was the truth. These were so distinctly different; I was never able to reconcile them. There was what those who loved me said; brilliant, exotic, funny. There was what society said; pushy, fat, odd, too smart, different. There was what I thought; smart, not ugly, fat, damaged. None of these assessments ever fully aligned; mostly, we agreed I was smart, but in some cases, too smart was a condemnation. I realize now, decades later, it was rarely, maybe never, a compliment. How can anyone be too smart?

Too smart means you intimidate others, not through intent but simply through your existence in the same space as them. Too smart, if you are a woman, means you make others feel small or dumb. Too smart is never a compliment when it is offered by any person in a position of authority. For twenty-five (25) years, I have heard the backhanded compliment of ‘too smart’ and had one woman manager suggest I dumb myself down when interacting with certain peer groups. Looking back, perhaps I would have been better served following her advice.

I wasn’t ready, not for the pandemic, not for another round of long-term unemployment, not for being alone at 63 and not for growing old like this. Honestly, I thought it would all be much different. I had this fantasy in my head, fueled by my overabundance of confidence and the fairytale. I thought at this stage of life, I would be in my last career stop earning a good living, retirement settled and money in the bank. I thought I would be FairytaleCottagehappily ensconced in a relationship with someone who loved me, respected me and thought exotic equaled beautiful and brains were sexy. I thought, because of that damnable fairytale, career and personal would somehow finally have merged into something resembling a life of shared travel, backyard barbecues, friends and family mixed in with laughter, sex and shared secrets.

I simply was not ready for the reality that is pounding me with the potential of losing everything I worked for my entire life. A lifetime of hard work being of zero value on a market that wants bright, shiny and new. Being too smart, too experienced and too damn old is a bitter pill to swallow.  Reality has finally shattered the fairytale I held for decades. Mine were so closely held and so finely built, I weep as they tumble around me, knowing I cannot save even small pieces of them any longer. Now it is merely a question of how to let go knowing I have weeks, not months left before there is nothing more to keep me safe.

Reality settles around me like a miasma of bitterness, and each day I try to push it aside in the hope there will be something that rescues me. I realize this abyss is mine. I allowed this to happen to me. Perhaps I could have prevented it, but I chose differently. I chose others over myself too often. I have nothing left of a safety net. I will soon lose everything which allowed me to keep body and soul protected and some semblance of normalcy around me. There was a time I thought never giving up was important, a sign of strength. I no longer have anything left, certainly not that strength that says I can go another day being beaten down. one_eyeland_desert_woman_by_christopher_wilson_30325

I was not ready for this and do not have it in me to do this; my strength and my will to rise have been battered out of me. I wonder how many others are saying to themselves I have nothing left and nowhere to turn, I am done. I wonder how many others, like me, are saying what now and how will I survive after everything is gone. I wonder how many others ask these questions and find no answers in a world that seems to have become more heartless.

Too smart? I clearly wasn’t ready for this and my brains will not help because they reside in a body to old and I am unable to change any of my history or dumb it down from here. Now, choices are what I cut from a budget already sliced and diced to almost nothing; of course, I know what is next and am terrified.

Yet, I know I have more than others, so I am grateful for my small blessing even in the wake of my terror. I have had decades more than I was supposed to, so I have been blessed. I have known great love and seen all of my family’s next generation grow into extraordinary human-beings, so I have been blessed many times over. I cannot even in my terror and fury say that I haven’t had immeasurable blessings in friends and family over these many years. Even in counting my blessings, as I contemplate where I will be soon, I find I have a difficult time being grateful. I wonder how many of us will survive this intact.

Notorious

The Kaddish Prayer

May His great name be exalted and sanctified. In the world which He created according to His will! May He establish His kingdom during your lifetime and during your days and during the lifetimes of all the House of Israel, speedily and very soon! And say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever, and to all eternity!

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, above and beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world! And say, Amen.

May the prayers and supplications of all Israel be accepted by their Father who is in Heaven; And say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life upon us and upon all Israel; And say, Amen.
May He who makes peace in His high places grant peace upon us and upon all Israel; And say, Amen.

Justice Bader Ginsberg: March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020

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Ruth Bader Ginsberg spent her life giving, as a fighter for our rights, as a mother and wife, as a Judge and finally as a Justice on the Supreme Court. She was our shining light, our hero and an asset to our nation. With her passing, we are left with nothing but gratitude. May her memory be a blessing.

We lost a titan, an American Treasure. When the news of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s passing rolled across my screen on that Friday night, my first thought was, please let this be not true. Then, as it became clear she had finally found her rest, I contemplated the tragedy for her family, the courts and us, the nation she so loved. I considered what it would mean in the coming days and wondered how long after she was laid to rest it would take before the battle for her coveted seat would commence.

I scrolled social media and news for reactions, allowing this loss to sink in. I was heartened and dismayed in equal measure. I was stunned, though I should not have been, when without twenty-four passing, without letting her body cool or her family and friends to process her loss, Mitch McConnell announced to the nation he would fill her seat on the highest court before the next election cycle. To say I and many others were dumbfounded would be an understatement, to find more proof of how far we have fallen saddened and angered me. I was engulfed by fury, just as so many others were at this proof we were not only living with bipartisanship but something on the verge of far worse.

So now we come to the battle for her seat, the battle for the heart and soul of our nation’s future. The President decided to throw all decorum aside and have a party in the Rose Garden. He invited close ‘friends’ and associates and family to attend his introduction of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his pick to replace Justice Ginsberg. As is the norm at gatherings hosted rose-garden1-gty-ml-201002_1601659831186_hpMain_2_16x9_992by this President, masks were optional and social distancing was not observed. While it may not be factual, the Rose Garden event is suspected of being the epicenter of an ever-broadening circle of COVID-19 infections beginning with the President, though currently, the blame is being placed elsewhere. The one clear thing, ignoring even basic safety protocols, has caused a tsunami of infection throughout the upper echelon of the GOP and those closest to the President.

What else do we know?

We know there are several attendees to the Rose Garden party who have tested positive. We know several people within the Presidents inner circle who were not in attendance have also tested positive. We also know, this man has a complete lack of empathy and an utter lack of concern for any other person but himself and thus continues to put other people at risk. Finally, we know the President continued to move around the country, without precautions and without telling others who may come into contact with him for anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after his first positive test result. Donald J. Trump is a regular Typhoid Mary of the twenty-first century; what should we call him? COVID Potus has a nice ring, but maybe too pompous. Well, something to think about when we have more time to consider the total body count to lay at his feet.

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In the meantime, we have just under thirty (30) days before the election. The current President is pumped up on steroids and telling us to not fear the reaper. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham are driving hard to approve Amy Coney Barrett through the Senate Judicial Committee and onto a full Senate floor vote before November 3. The problem with this? Two members of the Judicial Committee are down with Coronavirus thanks to COVID POTUS and his Garden Party, Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina). Added to this, Mitch McConnell has delayed the full Senate’s return until October 19, although vowing to move ahead with Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearings despite having three senators out with Coronavirus.

For Mitch, there is nothing more vital than stacking the court, nothing.  On this subject, Mitch McConnell and the President are 100% aligned. Stacking the court may mean their future if the vote isn’t a landslide to remove them on November 3, they will use SCOTUS to declare themselves winners. Neither of them can afford anything less than a stacked court.  This nation’s future depends on a landslide to remove them both from power and save us from future disaster.

In the coming days, so close to the election of a lifetime, there will be many battles to fight. We will see masks come off and we will see the true nature of those who would be kings and kingmakers. Our friends may become angrier, and our neighborhoods more dangerous as we navigate this terrible time in our history. Now is the time where every vote counts. We have to remember no matter the obstacles placed before us, we must not rely on any other person but ourselves to cast the vote that matters. We might lose battles between now and November 3, including the battle for the open SCOTUS seat. We should not be silent; we should not be discouraged.

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Go Vote. Vote early, if possible. Vote in person, if possible. Do whatever you have to do, but Vote as if your life and the lives of your family and friends depend on it.

Dear God, IV

LindaDear God, I haven’t checked in for a while and have to point out things are getting worse down here since our last chat. I don’t think there is anyone down here that will measure up to Job, Noah, Lot, or others from ancient days, just in case you might be looking. Times were simpler, the choices perhaps more black and white. We do not seem to have heroes in our midst these days and the ones we do have are not universally lifted up as they once were. God, I don’t think this is an issue of nuance but rather just a sign of how far we have fallen.

Dear God, you and I talk every single day. These letters are to help me address the things I think shatter us as a people. They are to make a more public stand and be more vocal in my entries to you. Yes, I know much of what I say to you in my letters are broadly spoken. I try not to be too pointed in my placing blame at the feet of the humans I believe are at fault for much that is wrong today. But God, you and I both know the terrible we see is growing exponentially every single day. The violence is expanding, fires are burning hotter both in the cities and in the souls of our people. Those who claim to speak in your name are turning their backs on your word and those in the greatest need in favor of what can only be described as evil.

Dear God, it seems we have not found the bottom of the abyss yet. We keep falling, tumbling further down into the darkness. Shouldn’t there be a bottom? Are we all misidentifying what is happening right now as evil? Is this just the standard everyday ‘bad’ and evil is what is awaiting us? God, I have to tell you I don’t think we are ready for anything worse. Corruption, plagues, catastrophic storms and just plain old human meanness, this is all just taking the heart out of most of us. When you combine this with the terrible isolation, ongoing lack of work and families facing eviction, hunger, and the unrelenting deprivation of so many in our midst. I think we are on the brink of devastation and when I look around God, I see some people cheering it on as they did in Rome during the Gladiator Games. It seems we are both a failed nation and a failed people.

Dear God, what is going to happen to us? I am grateful, my family continues to be safe and secure. Most of those I love continue to be safe and secure, though some have lost jobs and are struggling to keep body and soul together. I am afraid though, afraid for all of us. I think we are all at a loss for what to do next. People we know are sick, even dying and we cannot lay them to rest or grieve them. Our friends and family are losing jobs, losing homes and we cannot help them; we are also without a sanctuary to offer in these terrible times. God, I am frightened. Not just my typical afraid, but genuinely terrified of what will happen to us as a people. I have been watching as our humanity seems to be slipping further away, our empathy and compassion disappearing from our emotional make-up. Is it just me?

Dear God, I believe there is a lesson to be learned in all this; I simply don’t know what it is. When this plague started, I laughed and said it was made for people like me. I thought to myself in the beginning, this is an Introverts paradise. When this began, I laughed each time someone asked me if I was okay in my home alone all day; of course, I was better than okay.   Then I was furloughed, and the days grew much longer with no focus and no outside human interaction. I realized many things about myself in those first long months. God, you gave me the personality I have and the strengths I have. I will be forever grateful for these gifts; without them, I would not have made it this far in life. Those strengths created a terrible wall though, I trained everyone around me that I didn’t need them, that I was good without regular interaction or communications. I have learned a powerful lesson in these six months of being truly alone, I am an Introvert, not a Hermit. Even true Introverts can suffer loneliness, and it can be spiritually crushing.

Dear God, I don’t often talk to you about me personally; I just assume you know. These days though, well, I have to ask you could you look down and just push things along. It is not my intention to add to the cacophony that must be constant for you and I know compared to the needs of others, mine are so minor.  God, I simply need work and security. I am sure I could have done better over the years; I will fall on my sword and acknowledge my failures to you; I spend so much time beating myself up I am sure you are as aware of them as I am. I hope though part of my failure was in my generosity to others, my willingness to help even when I had little myself. Now, at the end of my productive life, I simply need one final opportunity to rebuild. So, God, I know this is a selfish ask, but if you wouldn’t mind, please provide the extra push to finally be working again before I lose everything and have nowhere to go. It is truly my only ask, the rest of what I dream of for myself I will work on for myself and if you see fit to add those blessings to my end of days, I will, of course, be grateful.

Dear God, if you could, please look into our hearts and help us all see the brilliance that could be against the darkness that is. Help us to come together and begin to build together. Not rebuild but to indeed seek what is best in us and to build what is needed for us to progress as a people that understand the need to do better. God, these nearly four years has been a reckoning for many of us, one we sorely needed. For some, it has torn the scales from our eyes, and we have had to acknowledge our own weaknesses and faults. For others though, it has been a time where they have celebrated their release from social restraints and the very worst of their instincts have emerged. Today we are a nation divided by politics, culture and class. The difference between this and the last time is our leadership is driving the wedge further and encouraging the violence.

Dear God, I hope you have a plan. I and so many others are fearful of what November will bring, no matter the outcome. Every Allie is against us and every border closed to us. We are caught.

What do you have to Lose

Barack Obama said in his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in April 2004:

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.

Barack Obama was a Senator from Illinois when he said these words, I think he might have still been idealistic and hopeful. It is a very different world today than it was in 2004. I hate to think just how different it really is.

Several years ago, on a stump speech in Dimondale, Michigan, Donald J. Trump stood in front of a crowd and appealed to Black voters specifically with these words, “What the hell do you have to lose?”

Well, now we know, everything.

Justice, Peace, Equality start there though these are more ideals than truth, we have to start somewhere.

The Constitution, The Republic, Voting Rights, The Right to Gather Peacefully in Protest. These are real and necessary if we have even one single hope or prayer in the world of rebuilding a tattered nation.

Finally, let’s add the simple things that we have taken for granted, even if they were at times spotty for some of us; economic security, health security, freedom of movement.

Everything, and if all that isn’t enough, let’s add some things that many of us never thought about until we realized they mattered: human kindness, manners, compassion, morality, ethics, values.

What did we have to lose? Every single thing that made us a great nation and sometimes great people has been stripped from us and we have left a smoldering wasteland. We are exposed to our very core. We are stripped bare for who and what we are. Now we have a choice, at once terrible and perhaps telling. Is this who we truly are? Is this what we truly are? Or instead, do we desire something more, something better? Do we finally demand what was promised to us in the Declaration of Independence in 1776;

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Scholars have long debated the source of Thomas Jefferson’s philosophical roots. Many believe them to be found within the writing of John Locke, specifically Two Treatises of Government and Essay Concerning Human Understanding. When reading the original text of the Declaration, it is easy to see Locke’s influence on Jefferson, both philosophically and later, in how he governed.

“We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.” 

This, though, gets us back to our dilemma of the here and now, the dilemma of 2020 and Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America; con man, shyster, dilettante, liar and thief. The Founders of this nation, imperfect though they were, attempted to place safeguards into the Constitution to prevent a Donald Trump from ever rising up to the position of President. They created the two houses of Congress and gave them specific powers, the check and balance against Administrative overreach. They created The Judiciary, with powers of their own and not beholden to any other branch of government with power extending over all controversies, whether between branches of government, states or persons.

Finally, in 1804 they created the Electoral College. Love it or hate it; this was an attempt to create a more balanced means of electing the President and Vice President separately, ensuring those in more rural parts of this new country had a voice. It wasn’t until the Civil War under Lincoln that it became common practice to run a single-party ticket, thus preventing the President and Vice President from being from different parties, creating divided administrative branches.

Yet, despite all the safeguards, here we are today with Donald J. Trump as the 45th POTUS and a Senate so firmly in his pocket it is hard to tell where he ends and they begin. With an Attorney General so deeply corrupted, those of us with any sense of history or love of country are so profoundly outraged we are finally and wholly at a loss for words. With a Federal Judiciary overrun with lifetime far-right appointments carefully chosen by the unholy partnership of Mitch McConnel and Don McGahn. With a Congress at a bi-partisan standstill, doing no business for the people and close to another government shutdown.

What do we have to lose he asked, do we know now? Everything, we have the soul of a nation to lose. This election isn’t just about whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden wins; it is about whether we remain a Free Democratic Republic or a Fascist state under a Dictator and his sycophantic minions. The issue we have today? It is the same one we had in 2016, understanding how the system works and how to win. For four long years, I have heard the same whine from those on the left, Hilary Clinton won the popular vote she should be our President. My answer is always the same; that isn’t how it works. She isn’t our President because she and the DNC failed and they did so miserably. Nothing is guaranteed, but one thing is damned near certain in Presidential elections and that is whoever wins the swing states wins the Presidency. Kellyanne Conway, in her role campaign manager, knew this and focused all her attention on those states; it is how she drove Trump into the White House. The fact of the matter is Clinton lost the election on her own, Clinton lost Michigan along with several other Battleground states and thus she lost the election.

We do not have the luxury of arrogance in 2020. We don’t have the luxury of ignoring the battlegrounds, nor do we have the luxury of believing the polls. This is war and if we are not careful, it will be bloody and long, not just a war of words shouted in the streets but a genuine conflict with lines drawn and innocents lost to ideology, classism and American against American once again. This America we are living in today, this is Trump’s America.

So what do we have to lose? Everything.

What do we have to gain? Not everything, but a start toward something new. Just like when you or I find ourselves cleaning out our garage, electing the Democratic ticket and the Blue down-ballot, we are saying to our government, we want a new start. We need a new conversation and a change to the old ways. Is Biden the perfect candidate? No, absolutely not, but we all know he is a transition candidate. He will be President for four years and then retire. Will Harris be the next President, maybe if she proves herself in her role as Vice President. Then perhaps this nation is still not ready; we will have to see. What I do know, the Biden/Harris ticket gives us the best opportunity to start having much needed and long overdue conversations about the things that have simmered under the surface and corrupted our national progress for four hundred years. It is time to rip that scab off and let it all out, time to begin to truly address what is going to burn us to the ground if Trump wins four more years.

What are you going to do? Stay home because Biden isn’t your guy, wasn’t your pick? Maybe you will throw your vote away on the Green candidate in a protest vote. Here is my only word for you in 2020:

Not Voting or throwing your vote away this year is not an act of Protest; it is an act of Surrender.

Dear God, III

Dear God, it is getting pretty awful down here and I think you might be ignoring us. Have you finally had enough of our pettiness? I know so many of us are acting like children with our favorite toy taken away. Unfortunately, our favorite toys can kill and I think we need more than a nudge in a better direction if we are going to save ourselves and the world. God, I just don’t see it getting better soon; do you?

Dear God, it doesn’t seem like we know how to talk to each other. I don’t know that we ever really knew how to talk to each other without the veneer of ‘polite’ society, but that veneer has cropped-1960-lindabeen ripped away. Now what we have is fury, hurt feelings and offended people everywhere. You can’t turn on the television or read the news without hearing about it, you know what ‘it’ is, right?

Dear God, I have to tell you right now I am gutted my heart stuttering, barely finding a rhythm each morning to lift me out of my bed. Though I try to find those moments to gladden me, to raise me up and thus offer up to you my gratitude, it becomes ever more difficult the longer this goes on. I think I and so many others have terrible sensory deprivation and we shrink ever inward. God, I think we need you to give us a path out of this, show us the way or we will lose ourselves. Truthfully, what we hear from these TV fakes, they are terrible and those of us with discerning hearts we know they are not speaking in your name yet so many are listening to them it is terrifying.

Dear God, I am afraid. I know many of us are scared right now. Certainly, you hear from people you haven’t heard from in decades beseeching you for help, money, jobs, maybe even salvation, and a host of other things right now. Likely you feel like Santa Clause at the mall with children lined up to sit on your lap and give you their wish list. I am sure the “Oh God” prayers sent your way every single day sounds like a cacophony rather than the pleasing sound of true worship.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3 ESV

Dear God, it is terrible and terrifying down here right now. I have watched friends turn into enemies at the drop of a misplaced word. I have watched fools say stupid things and bring low entire communities. I have watched children die for nothing and not a word be said, not a word. I have been crushed reading the words of those I thought I knew, sometimes even loved as they repeated the bigoted tropes from one side or the other, accused me of merely trying to ‘fit in’ angelweep2when I simply act on my conscience. God, I don’t think my moral philosophy has changed even in the midst of these trying times; how, though, do I remain detached and not take personally all these terrible over-simplifications and attacks coming from ‘friends?’

Dear God, it is growing more lonely by the day. People are becoming meaner without the ability to touch, I think we are learning physical touch is vital to our very humanity. People are losing their connection to one another, forgetting we are, in truth, part of one great, diverse and beautiful family. We may not always agree, hell we all too frequently do terrible things to each other for petty reasons. But, now God, we are so very disconnected from each other we are forgetting even those we claimed to love, nevermind the stranger on the street. I fear what and who we will be when this is over. So if you wouldn’t mind a nudge is all I am asking, just a reminder for those who can still hear your voice. I fear those who can’t hear you it will require something far more calamitous and I don’t think we could bear that right now.

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