Ravening Wolves

Gray-Wolf.-Courtesy-U.S.-Fish-Wildlife-Service27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.

Ezekiel 22-27:29 


There is nothing to say about passion that hasn’t been said before, except this, it festers under the skin, like a wound that never quite heals. We search for that salve we can rub across the wound and for a brief moment, it works, then we realize the salve was full of grit and all we have done is taken the top layer off and opened it up to the air.

Damn that hurt, again.

I have become cynical. I weep at the history, I weep in pain some days as well. But I have become cynical. As I look down the barrel of another surgical intervention, I have become furious at the lack of compassion and empathy this nation has for the weak, the aged, the young, the disenfranchised, those different from ourselves. We celebrate the ignorant among us, whether this celebration is through their election to high office or their constant media attention, it is nonetheless a celebration. Meanwhile, we ignore sometimes even vilify those who do good works, those who deserve our attention through their contributions to society, our communities and our lives.

I weep when I consider the consequences of our apathy. I am appalled when I realized we are more concerned with the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass than we are with just how diminished the office of the President is by the disrespect shown to kim-kardashian-ass-memes-funny-6this President by every member of the GOP in elected office today. Really people, is this what we have become? I am disgusted that every single Sunday I hear the same tired conspiracy nut jobs (IRS, Benghazi, Sharia Law and Muslims, Guns Guns and More Guns, oh and let’s not forget there is no Global Warming and Make War not Peace).

I shudder when I listen to the first off the Clown Bus to enter the fray officially tell me to ‘Imagine’ a world he envisions,  one based on Christians values and morals. I cannot begin to imagine a world where all bets are off and corporations and people in his tax bracket will have all the rights and breaks while the rest of us suffer the consequences of his worldview. This though is the world of no empathy and no compassion Mr. Cruz wants us to imagine.

Of course, Phil Robertson falls right in line with Ted and his ideas. At a prayer meeting yesterday this is what Phil, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family had to say about those who didn’t profess a Christian view. This is what we would have to look forward to if Ted became president of the United States of America.

The worst part is, some of this is already happening across this land. Laws to strip those who are not Christian, White, Heterosexual are already being passed. Laws to enable businesses to discriminate against others based on their ‘Christian’ beliefs are passing state legislatures across the land. These new discrimination laws are enabled by people like Ted Cruz and encouraged by the fact that Phil Robertson and his network still exist on without any of us saying no, you are not allowed to say these things and stand on the First Amendment as your protection. You are not allowed to pretend it is just a joke ‘fantasy’ to threaten rape of young girls, decapitation of women, neutering of men simply because they are not of the same faith as you. What the hell is wrong with people they think this is ‘okay’.

Which leads me to the next problem, as a victim of violence I look at this nation and think to myself always when will it end? When is enough ever going to be enough, when will we say as a nation, not another child, another man, another woman will lie in our streets. When will we say not another parent will bury their child, not another child will pick up a gun in play and end up killing their sibling. When will we say enough? When will we say the police are not sanctioned to murder our citizens? When will we say enough? Surely, there comes a point in time when the lives of our citizens are of greater value than the profits of the corporations manufacturing the guns that are killing us. Certainly, at some point enough of us will stop and think, the laws in place today are not protecting anyone but those who are profiting most by our deaths, by the deaths of our children.

Then I saw this and I was brought to my knees. I realized it was us, Elyse over at Fifty Four and a Half simply put it out there and I found it stunningly simple and in your face.

Which leads me here to this, another great example the debate, of what is wrong with us as a nation and a people,. Is this ‘Free Speech’, the First Amendment at its finest? Or is it something worse, something so deeply disturbed I cannot even find the words. You tell me, with no lead in other than to say I had to watch it twice before finally realizing it is parody but also defines the the terrible ease with which anyone could do exactly what this video lays out, step by step.

Well that is my rant for the day my friends. Passion, if we don’t get it and soon we lose everything we stand for as a people, everything we once stood for as a nation. We have been slowly eroded; we have stripped down bare and shown the very worst of ourselves for the past six years. We have shown our dark and ugly side and those of us who should have stood up and spoken up, we did little and said little. We should be ashamed for allowing it to go so far. For those of us with the means to do something, we should be ashamed for not doing enough, for staying home when we should have been in the streets even where we might not have been fully embraced. It is time, it is past time that we push the boundaries and demand the change we need to make this a nation worth living in and fighting for, not just for some people but all people. We cannot afford to do otherwise.

Want to tell A & E what you think about Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty: aefeedback@aenetworks.com

Godless Liberal

The other day I was called a “Godless Liberal”, not for the first time, during a political debate; I pondered this for a few minutes before I responded. I understood my opponent was angry with me, furious if truth were told. If we had been speaking face-to-face, I suspect the ‘Godless Liberal’ would have been accompanied with finger pointing and looked something like this:Anger

GODLESS LIBERAL

Before I go on, by the way my response was “Yes, but you will never understand the nuance.”

Perhaps the words I used were too big, maybe he didn’t understand them. Whatever the case was, the discussion went downhill from there, the content of his argument went from senseless fiction regarding the state of police violence to comments regarding my gender and my relationship to canines (Fucking Bitch was one of the least offensive but most frequently used).

The entire exchange got me thinking about the state of our national conversation, not from a political standpoint, not from what we see in media but, from how we speak to one another. It got me thinking; outside the usually polite boundaries we maintain in professional settings, we have none anywhere else. We are perfectly comfortable with name-calling, crossing any previously established boundary to disparage our opponent and we have not the least amount of shame in our behavior. What made this complete faceless stranger feel comfortable denigrating me in the most sexist terms?

Just to keep this all in perspective, he continued to pound me and everyone else with his moral superiority based on his Christianity, which apparently also magically infused him with intellectual superiority as well. I was frankly astounded.

Right-wing-Christian-hall-of-shame

Of course we only have this group of truly wonderful examples to compare him with.

 

That said and his point made, he viewed me as ‘outside’ and unworthy of anything approaching civil discourse. I did not surmise this, he told me he was under no obligation to treat me with respect as I was a ‘non-believer’ and bound for Hell.

Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples, Integrity

Do these words have real meanings anymore? Can we say with certainty all societies have something akin to moral structures members willingly agree with and abide by? When my little friend called me a Godless Liberal, what did he really mean? Did he fully understand or was he just parroting mindlessly what he heard from others. Was this his only answer when he was no longer able to debate the issue at hand?

The question of Godliness and Godlessness, religious affiliation, worship both what and how, whether we recognize them or not, have been taking center stage in our public life for decades now. Though we are enjoined from doing so by our laws, even by our Constitution and by implication by our Bill of Rights, we judge each other by a set of Principles. Whether we subscribe to a ‘religion’ or not, we nonetheless subscribe to a common set of Principles, though some may be more porous, more flexible within the context of our day-to-day lives.

I have been thinking about this all week. This is what I have ultimately come up with, tell me what you think, am I right or wrong?

Morals: Primarily derived from religious thinking, all societies have basic frameworks that seem to be consistent though some are more deranged than others in their application of the rules.

  • Don’t be dishonest (Lie, Cheat, Steal)
  • Don’t be promiscuous and be faithful in your marriage (don’t covet either)
  • Don’t murder (killing might be okay though for the right reason)
  • Be compassionate to those weaker than yourself (feed the hungry, care for the sick and aged)

Ethics: Primarily defined for businesses to operate in the marketplace, organizations establish these to clarify the rules and ensure everyone knows them. Personally, I think in many cases Business Ethics are the organizations smoke screen but that is just me. I have seen these few from past employers they have rarely been adhered to.

  • Don’t pay bribes (Influence peddling)
  • Respect for individuals (Civil and Human Rights)
  • Respect for local culture
  • Respect for environment
  • Deliver profit to shareholders

Principles, Values, Scruples & Integrity: I have combined these because they are all personal in my mind. We develop personal and interpersonal relationships within society and with individuals, how we interact is based on our own evolution. Despite what some would have us believe we are not born Principled or with Integrity. When we come into the world, we are nothing more than empty vessels waiting to be filled.

I essentially filtered the 10 Commandments down to three (similar to George Carlin) and then added one of my own. Most religions agree with these as foundational notwithstanding the simpler language I used. I find myself in a quandary as I consider the issue of Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples and Integrity –

OpEdStarting at the reading of my four Commandments, I walk the walk every day. Thus, I have Morals.

If I read my Ethics, as a businessperson who has worked in a variety of roles for Fortune 100 companies and as an Independent Business Owner, I walk the walk and talk the talk. In fact, I have been in trouble for doing so in the past. With this answer in mind, I am also a person of Ethics.

Continuing with my reading through the last group of definitions, I know my answers and believe I am a person of Integrity, a Principled person.

Godless, perhaps if I apply the definition as society does it this is true; I am not religious only spiritual. I do not subscribe to any religion created by man to control society, engineer preferred outcomes or oppress entire segments of society by gender, class or in some cases race. In fact I don’t just not subscribe, I reject.

Liberal, indeed I have been an agitator, a protestor and at times an ‘in your face’ type of Godless Liberal. I am now and have been since I was old enough to understand the difference a Progressive Left of Center Liberal.

Being a Godless Liberal wasn’t an illegal or immoral political stance last I heard, in fact some of the greatest men and women of history were staunch Liberals, including our own Founding Fathers. It seems we have lost our way. Stoning, burning at the stake, dunking have all been outlawed in the US of A for many years now; with Godless Liberal and public Slut Walking making a comeback, I have to wonder what is next?

Out of Dreams Nightmares

OpEdMany things are weighing on my mind, it is nearly impossible to turn on the television, open a newspaper or even look at social media without being bombarded by the most recent human tragedy. The problem I have is the magnitude of those tragedies; our response, as a nation and frankly as human beings saddens me. I am not a Christian, I do though subscribe to some basic tenets of the Christian system, this is my favorite:

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life”.

Matthew 25:31-46 parables of the Sheep and the Goats

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I find myself in a quandary as I consider our current national and international crises and the response of our citizens to them. We are a nation full of individuals who presume to call themselves Christian, who gather together and stand on their Bibles demanding their Rights and Privileges using their Christianity as a justification for what I consider mean, ugly and nasty behavior toward those in need. It seems we are a nation that has forgotten the basics of compassion, empathy and humanity toward our fellow man, while standing on a shaky platform of Christianity.

“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources–because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.” 

Lyndon B. Johnson

I have been less than impressed by our response to the refugee problem at our borders, make no mistake this is nothing other than a refugee problem. Women and children, in some cases children alone, fleeing violence begging for safe haven, only to be met by screaming xenophobes telling them to turn around, die, starve no matter just go home. We helped create the problems in Central America, our money, our bankers and money laundering and our ‘War on Drugs’, we did this1. This nation helped create the cesspools these children are escaping from, where their lives are in danger, where they live in poverty so terrible none of us could possibly imagine even in our worst nightmare. We did this and some of us have the audacity to stand before buses and on borders, demanding they be turned away. We did this, yet governors of Border States find nothing wrong with patrolling with guns drawn and calling out the National Guard to shoot them as they come toward us, hands out begging for shelter and aid.

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Our President has found himself between a rock and a very hard place. Following a law signed by his predecessor, he is vilified by those who believe he is opening the borders to ‘thugs, criminals and disease ridden children’. With Congress taking Comprehensive Immigration Reform off the table for this year, everyone has something to say, it makes me wonder when some of these cretins will simply fade into the woodwork and shut the hell up. Everyone has an opinion, not a single one of them, from Hannity to West shows a bit of compassion, their snark and ugly shows only a partisan standard line of attack on the President, on those fleeing the violence and poverty we helped to create. Everyone who speaks up, attacking those in need and the President claims Christianity as their Rock, their guiding light yet fails to remember CHARITY, COMPASSION and LOVE for their fellow man as the foundation of that faith.

I have been anything but impressed; truthfully, I have been stunned by the actions of the city of Detroit’s Water Department. The city is in bankruptcy seeking any all means to pull themselves out of dire financial straits. The 04_Womenproblem with this solution is, water is both a fundamental human requirement of life and according to the United Nations a Human Right2, apparently the city manager and the head of the Water Department in Detroit didn’t get that memo. It has been suggested by some, famous and otherwise, those who do not pay their water bills can simply ‘tote’ their water from the lakes and rivers nearby. Others have suggested those private citizens who are not paying their water bills are doing so while they choose to pay other less necessary household expenses, such as cable and medicine. While the city cuts services to thousands of private residences they are remise in cutting services to businesses that owe hundreds of thousands, even the State that at last look owed $5M.3

To my mind, Detroit is a test ground for what the rest of the nation can and will become if we don’t stop this attack on basic human rights and humane treatment of our fellow man, now. This is an attack on at least two levels; one is the basic human level where those who have will continue to have (see Peter Brabeck-Letmathe4 and his assessment of what is a human right about access to water), the other is a continuation on the attack on women in particular. Wonder how this is an attack on women? How will women, in particular, be affected by a crisis of this nature, look at the world and ask yourself this question who will tote that water, who will be left to care for sick children affected by unsanitary conditions? Take women out of the workforce, cripple them economically and shove them backwards educationally, as a nation we are broken, we become the dreamscape of the nutjobs on the Far Right, a land of hopelessness for millions starting with women and extending to everyone else not of their liking.5

drought

For those who think racism and sexism are things of the past, think again. These are simply two stark reminders we are living in a nightmare reality only brought to a screaming head in 2008 by the election of Barack Obama. Every single xenophobic fear was outed when he shot to the office of President seemingly out of nowhere and fulfilled the hopes of those of us who believed he could begin to undo what eight years of the Bush / Cheney nightmare had done to this nation. His election flung wide the closet doors of all those who previously had agreed to keep their bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia and simple lack of core morality under the covers in favor of social acceptance. Of course, since the days of Ronald Reagan the Right had been working toward this moment, when White Sheets in the form of a well-tailored suit would find acceptance on the national stage and even a man or woman of color would join in the decimation of our nation, our civil rights and our laws.

Congress does nothing day by day but spends our money on conspiracy theories, threats of impeachment and lawsuits against the President; we sit back and shake our heads but do nothing. The Senate shuts down the government, deadlocks over things both vital and trivial; we sit back and do nothing. SCOTUS is bought and paid for, stripping us of our rights one by one; we do nothing but bitch and whine.

How do we change this trajectory of the United States becoming a feudalistic state? We stand up, get up off our apathetic asses and demand change. We engage locally, we stop whining and we start doing something, including Voting. We write letters. We go to City Council meetings. We hook up with local organizations and throw our name out there to volunteer.

Dammit we engage and we VOTE.

I leave you with this, I think it is appropriate for today.

1http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9252490

2http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/human_right_to_water.shtml

3 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/26/detroit-shuts-off-water-to-residents-but-not-to-businesses-who-owe-millions.html

4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2P7lqDsle4

5 Statistics: http://www.wateraid.org/us/the-water-story/the-crisis/statistics?filterEEF299BDEFB04B4A89206672AC6D5578=92B3B8726E5549ECB87EFAA64D5E5B05#filterContent

5 Sanitation facts: http://www.wateraid.org/us/the-water-story/the-crisis/sanitation

5 Hygiene facts:  http://www.wateraid.org/us/the-water-story/the-crisis/sanitation

5 Water facts: http://www.wateraid.org/us/the-water-story/the-crisis/sanitation

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