And the Beat Goes On

Ah, Washington, how we love the drama. That was not a true statement….. Just for a couple of days, could we do without drama??

So, the latest in the continuing saga is Senator Al Franken. He has apologized and asked for an ethics investigation of himself. This after one (1) woman spoke out against him. In contrast, Roy Moore, despite multiple on-the-record allegations from children, even one that was 14 when Roy Moore, who was 32, pursued her and molested her. Apparently this paragon of virtue (Moore) was well known at that time for lurking in the local mall. And now the governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, said even though she believes the accusers, she will still vote for Roy Moore over the Democrat Doug Jones, because it is more important to our country to have Republicans in office, than to worry about the morals of our leaders. WHAT? WHAT? Never in my life would I put a political decision above the morality of the people serving in Washington. This is a sad commentary on our country, when “religious” people close their eyes to sins against children.

These same “religious” people put Donald Trump in the White House, by turning a blind eye to the multiple women who spoke out against him, and who listened to his own words, published for all to see, and thought that was okay. What are we teaching our children? Our children watch closely. They listen to what we say, who we admire, and how we conduct our business. If we admire a bullying, immoral president, our children absorb that information and use it to inform their decisions. It really is that simple.

 

Wreaths Across America

 

This is a wonderful organization that works to put wreaths out in cemeteries across the country at Christmas time. To learn more about this organization, watch this video https://vimeo.com/241184910

Wreaths Across America is a national 501(c)3 with over 1300+ participating locations nationwide, in all 50 states and 24 foreign veteran cemeteries on foreign soil.

What began in 1992 with a trailer load of wreaths, placed by a handful of volunteers at the graves of our fallen at Arlington National Cemetery, has now become a national organization with over a million volunteers – all focused on the mission to Remember – Honor – and Teach about the service and sacrifice of our veterans.

If this is something that calls to your heart, get involved.

A Great Loss

I read on Facebook today that Nancy Zieman passed away today after a battle with cancer. I had read of her cancer earlier this year, and she wrote in her blog that she planned to continue to work and sew as long as she could.

She was a young woman, born in 1953 (that’s six years after I was born). She leaves a husband, two sons, and grandchildren. We never know how long we will live, but sometimes we forget to live as if we believe that.

Tonight, I pray that each of us is ever mindful, not only of what we want in this world, but how we can be a positive light for others in the world. And in my mind, this is not some big, splashy prayer, but a quiet, whispered prayer for each moment to be attended to. Live as if you are new to life and each new experience is the greatest gift you have ever gotten. Embrace life!  Live as if each thing we do makes a difference. And it does. Our lives matter; our choice is to make them matter in a good way.

 

What A Mess

Does is seem we are in some kind of spiraling mess right now? Besides the natural disasters which threaten to swamp us, we have the swamp that threatens to drown us!  The president of the United States has been on a trip out of the country and the things everyone is talking about is the fact that he believes the Russian president (over his own security advisors) when he says he didn’t hack our election, and he practically hugs the president of the Philippines and thinks he is wonderful, despite the man being a dictator and killing people indiscriminately for any reason.  Yes, he is a hero in no one’s eyes but Trump.

I know these are bad times, and sometimes I feel fearful, but I just refuse to let this child man take my joy and my peace. If I say I am a person of faith, then my faith must lead me to feel we can overcome this evil, and yes, I consider the man child in the white house evil. We will overcome.

And then there is Alabama. Is Alabama really a state in the United States of America? I think it may be a foreign country. Maybe we should set them free to be a separate entity. They would be thrilled and we could send ambassadors and missionaries to try to change the natives.

Here is what I don’t understand. Seriously. A man, who is seriously weird anyway, and has been run out of elected positions before, is running for office. (Yes, Roy Moore) Anyway, he has a sketchy past already, and is so far right we can’t see the edges. So he wins the primary to be the Republican candidate for the Senate race.  Four women come forward, one of them recounts that when she was 14 Roy Moore molested her. The other women were younger than drinking age. The Republicans in Congress cannot bring themselves on the first day to say they want him to step down – unless the charges are true. (UNLESS THE CHARGES ARE TRUE) If you are a woman, that is the most damning statement in the world. Men, always believed. Women, only believed if, well, I am not sure when a woman is believed. This is our world. This is our life. What a crock. So today, a fifth woman comes forward, and finally Mitch McConnell says he believes the women. Well, three days late and all, but here we are. Good old Mitch. Poor Republicans, they are just about out of options. They bristled against the great molester in the white house and then accepted him, and this is what they have wrought. Now they have Roy Moore.

So I was watching one of the news shows this afternoon – and there was a Republican man on there on a panel and the question was put to him: if your choice was to vote for the molester Roy Moore or a Democrat, would you vote for a Democrat? And his answer: that would be very hard to decide. This man was so tribal, so partisan, he would have to consider mightily if he could vote for a Democrat over a child molester. Unbelievable.

Our country needs to reset. We need to have conversations, and more conversations. We need to let women decide health issues for themselves. We need to get legislators out of our bathrooms and our doctor’s offices.

When we look forward to 2018 and to 2020, let’s be smart. Let’s work together. Let’s ask the tough questions. If we have not figured out how to solve all the gun deaths, let’s be proactive and make sure that the people we elect are going to put common sense controls in to protect our children and our children’s children. Our sense of what is a second amendment right is way out of control. My desire to be safe from your gun is a viable reasonable opinion.  Again, let’s  have conversations, and then, and then, let’s do something. Just talking does not get the job done. Talk, then action.

 

 

Finding Balance

Balance – what an elusive word. The dictionary says it can be a noun or a verb. Under noun, there are two entries:

1. an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.

2.  a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.

And under verb, there are two entries. Balanced..

1. keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall

2. offset or compare the value of (one thing) with another.

It seems to me balance is a very tricky thing to achieve, and yet, our lives run better if we can find balance. How do we achieve this elusive balance? Sometimes even the very circumstance of our lives is completely out of our control; wait, that is the definition of life: a circumstance completely out of our control.

Oh, I don’t like that! How can I ever achieve balance if I can’t control the circumstance of my life? This whole balance thing is getting more complex by the minute!

So our lives are hurtling ahead at break neck speed, with people and relationships and jobs and LIFE throwing things at us willy-nilly.  What are we to do? We are supposed to find balance!

In my life, that means some time to read, some time to sew, some time to kiss grand baby cheeks, some time to cook, and with the busyness, not allow myself to let the process of being busy take away from my balance. I would like to be balanced, I really would. I just find it very hard to do, and the process of feeling unbalanced makes me more unbalanced.

I have tried yoga and meditation and trying to be still within myself, and I find my mind racing during those times.

It is a conundrum that I don’t think I can solve. I think my life will continue to veer along a path that is more obsessed than balanced. Perhaps if I finally accept there is no hope I will achieve balance.

 

 

 

 

And, On A Different Note

MCS is proud to announce the Pride through Education, Networks & Civic Engagement (PENCE) Campaign to fund scholarships for LGBTQ students creating change in their schools and communities through education, outreach, and community organizing.

To donate visit: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/mcs-pence-campaign.

For each donation, MCS will sent a note to the White House with a simple message: “I support LGBTQ students and their rights. So should you.” We must support LGBTQ youth at a time when bigotry and division are the most coherent messages coming from our nation’s leaders.

Let’s Talk About Guns

Oh, no, I can hear it now! Some radical nut case is going to take all my guns away! The gun lobby, the NRA, and perfectly reasonable people in every other respect, are saying those words now…..

I admit it: I am that radical nut case.  I feel passionately that guns have become the means to destroy our country as we know it, and it scares me to death.

But here’s the other thing: I don’t want to take  your guns away. I would like to have a discussion with you about guns, without the drama, without the exaggerated statements, and perhaps we can come to an agreement that will save lives, a lot of lives.

First of all, I would like to see universal background checks. I believe any person should be able to wait three days to purchase a gun.

Second, while that person is waiting for the background check, they can attend a gun safety class that will explain all the safety elements of their gun to them; and especially how to store it safely in their homes.

Third, I would close all the loopholes about not needing a background check if you either go to a gun show or buy a gun from an individual. If you know you are going to purchase a gun, get your background check. No background check, no gun. And yes, have a database that shows you have received the background check. We do that for many, many other things. Things that don’t kill us.

Fourth, instead of fighting over whether it is the guns or mental health, start making changes to improve mental health services, while increasing the checks and balances before owning a gun.

Fifth, if you own a gun, you must show each year that you still are eligible to have that weapon. We must get a permit for our alarm system on our house each year, and no alarm system ever killed anyone. Why not the same thing for a gun in your house?

Sixth, stop the sale of bump stocks, and reinstate the assault weapons ban. Period.

Weapons that hold clips of 30 bullets and shoot at lightning speed are meant to kill people, nothing else. Stop the selling of high volume clips. You are not going to use those to go hunting deer, or rabbit. If you do, plan on eating bullets, that is all that will be left of your target.

Seventh, conceal carry is a privilege. Show you are a responsible gun owner and know all your safety measures and then, only then, receive this.

If you feel strongly about this issue, please let your congressmen and women know. If you are a gun person, reasonable gun measures do not impact your ability to have a gun. They just protect those family members you say you want that gun for.

Why must we be held hostage by the gun lobby? We don’t have to be. Vote your conscience.  Put people in office who will help protect your family, not the NRA.

Good News & Bad

You notice I started with the good news, although sometimes it is better to have the bad news first. Yesterday was election day across the nation, and on that day we repudiated the mean spiritedness of the Trump administration. In Virginia, with Steve Bannon calling out the troops to vote for the Republican candidate, the Democrat won, and won resoundingly. Not just squeaking by, not winning by a margin seen before, but by a record breaking amount. And he brought a lot of people with him. The lieutenant governor, and ten (TEN!!!!) seats in the legislature. Republicans were saying they thought their man would win, he was establishment and well known and liked in the state. But awhile back, he decided to throw his voice behind Trump, and although he tried to downplay it at the last, it probably cost him. I think so anyway.

In the state of Washington, a hard fought race gave the democrats a victory which gives them the majority in the legislature. In Georgia, hard fought races went to the Democrats. In Maine, a referendum to expand Medicaid in the state was overwhelmingly passed by the voters. Whether their Republican governor will let it go through is a question, but it shows the tide turning.

In our state of Missouri, a young woman standing up to the established Republican candidate made a great showing, but she couldn’t win over  the dark money that fought her. But think of what she did! In 90 days her campaign knocked on 36,000 doors, and many of those were by the candidate herself. She got the backing of many fine organizations, and while starting with nothing in the bank, was able to mount a campaign that took 43% of the votes against the 50% her opponent got. So dark money got the seat for now. Hillary Shields said last night: I am exhausted. This morning she said: I am ready to fight again – hang on to your yard signs! I’ll be running in 2018!

We who support her are thrilled she is staying in the fight. She is a worthy opponent, ready to do battle for all Missourians, not just the rich.

Our Responsibility As Americans

I believe that as American citizens we have a responsibility to vote on election day. I understand that sometimes that is an onerous task: perhaps we don’t know enough about the candidates/issues we are to vote on, perhaps our lives are so crazy busy we hardly have time to eat and sleep, let alone find time to vote, or perhaps we are so discouraged with the political landscape we cannot see our way clear. Those are all good reasons to avoid going to the polls, but I would encourage you to put your big girl/big boy panties on and make an effort. Perhaps you know someone whom you trust and they can help you make sense of the issues/candidates, perhaps taking that time to go by and vote will help that last reason – the discouragement, by replacing it with a feeling that we have done what we could.

I think we have fallen into a mean spirited hole in our country. We have been letting others make decisions for us, and we suddenly find it is very hard to get a toe hold back for things we hold dear. Some, who may be more vocal than we are, have the upper edge now. Some, who won because of fear mongering or bullying, become emboldened by their win and seem impervious to our wants and needs.

Here is what I keep saying though. If we act as if there is nothing we can do, and we do nothing, then that is what will happen. Nothing. If we act as if our voice counts, and we do what we can, then things begin to happen. We might find that we have influenced someone and had a real conversation that made our lives better for both of us. We might find that we feel called to work toward a goal that had always seemed out of reach and now is within our fingertips.

The thing about the NRA and the arguments they put forth, which are then spouted by others who may not have thought those arguments through, they are just their view. Their view is colored by the fact that their business is selling guns and gun equipment and all things guns. To them, the more guns the better. They gain their power not by running for office, but  by spending money to support politicians who then feel a responsibility to vote the way the NRA wants. The politician says it is because he holds those views, and he spouts the NRA argument, but he cannot ever forget that big paycheck that came from the NRA to help him win that seat in his state’s legislature, or in Washington. This problem even goes lower than that, this is an issue in our very cities and towns. Local governing bodies face all the same issues as state houses and Washington. And when we elect people at that local governing level, and they go to state and then to Washington, we are part of the problem.

When we have a chance to vote, we need to always, always, ask if that person is going to make it easier for someone to carry a weapon designed for war, with large clips that can spew death in seconds. I know good people who have guns. They are everywhere. But the gun lobby is unconcerned if our lives are disrupted, as long as they are making money. Our concern should be for common sense rules on what types of guns and clips are being sold, and the requirements to buy and carry those weapons. *

We find many people coming out now to express an interest in running for political office. People who never dreamed that would be their passion. People who have decided to step up and put themselves in the race.

This is not a decision to be made lightly. What we see is that the party in power does not want to give up. They have swept through the elections and feel they have a RIGHT to win each and every time, and with the numbers they have it has been possible for them to mess with the districts so it is almost impossible for them to lose. They feel that is their RIGHT. When they are challenged, those deep pocket donors are more than willing to help out by creating ads that are slanderous and catchy; to lie about the opponent and make it seem they are not the person you would ever want in office. Take the time to meet that opponent. Listen to their ideas. Talk to people who know them.

If we take our responsibility as citizens to heart, we will all pay more attention to the people we elect to run our government. Local, state and federal. They are all important.

In 2018 we need to make a difference and show the NRA, that just like the tobacco lobby, they are not impervious to the will of the people. We can take back our theaters, our places of worship, our concerts. We can make our country safer again. Not by taking all the guns away. By making gun ownership a responsibility that takes time and effort to achieve. By not listening to the fear mongering of the Bannons and Trumps in this world.

I hope you got out and voted today, and I hope you voted your conscience. Your vote is a right and a responsibility. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

* “demand of our elected officials that gun safety laws be enacted as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, including: an assault weapon ban, the elimination of the gun show and private-party loophole by requiring mandatory background checks and waiting periods before all firearm purchases, a ban on high capacity magazines, and requiring federally enforced safe firearm storage. There is a distinction here. These high capacity weapons are not tools for hunting game. These weapons were developed to inflict the greatest damage possible. There is no reason that such guns should be available to civilians.” This is a quote from a letter from Christian Church (Disciple of Christ) General Minister and President Teresa Hord Owens.