New Year’s Eve

Today is the last day of 2018. Both 2017 and 2018 have been challenging years for me and 2019 is likely to continue that trend.

I do retain some hope that 2019 will be a better year for the United States with more shared responsibility in Washington. Perhaps there will be some consensus building and more attention to the common good.

We can hope.

Best wishes to you all for 2019!

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What I am voting for

This election cycle in the United States has often focused on what people are voting against but I want to focus this last post before the election on what I am voting for.

I am voting for:

  • candidates who want government to work to uphold the common good and to “promote the general welfare” as our Constitution states
  • candidates who have experience working together with others to accomplish goals
  • candidates who understand science, law, and history and who articulate their policy positions clearly
  • the most progressive candidates who have a chance of being elected, which in my state means voting on the Working Families party line
  • ground-breaking women candidates, including Hillary Clinton for president and Kim Myers for Congress
  • candidates who accept the climate science concensus and who will take action to protect the environment
  • candidates who are at least as smart as I am

My state does not have early voting or voting by mail except in very limited circumstances, so I will be going to the neighborhood volunteer fire station to vote on Tuesday. I am very confident in the integrity of our voting process, with experienced poll workers from our town ensuring that only eligible voters cast ballots, in our case, paper ballots read by optical scanners.

I hope that all registered voters will vote in this election and accept the results. Most importantly, I hope that all people will come together in support of a government that works to pass and implement laws and budgets that respect and support human dignity and community.

Our Constitution begins with “We the people.” As a democracy, we are pledged to each other and called to cooperate with each other, regardless of our individual differences, “to form a more perfect union.”  Hyperindividualism, greed, prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry are destructive to our country.

The United States has a lot of healing to do. We had best start now.

[I am writing this at an (obnoxiously) early hour on Monday before launching into what is likely to be an intensely busy next few weeks with a lot of important transitions and events happening simultaneously. I considered disabling comments because I am not sure of being able to respond in a timely way. I decided to allow comments, but reserve the right to close or delete comments if they get out of hand.]

Independence and the art of compromise

Today is celebrated as Independence Day in the United States. July 4, 1776 is the date on our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, written by future president Thomas Jefferson and edited by committee and by Congress.

It contains many stirring passages such as this:

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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Then, you realize that “men” meant adult males, excluding women, and, furthermore, that ownership of people through slavery and indentured servitude was still permitted.

Two hundred forty years later, our country still grapples with the legacy of those exclusions.

Why were they made? Despite Abigail Adams’s admonition to her husband John to “remember the ladies,” the declaration was totally silent on the matter. Jefferson’s original text would have abolished slavery, but the slave-holding colonies refused to vote for the declaration until that statement was removed.

The final document was a compromise, giving up freedom from slavery to create a new nation of all thirteen of the British colonies. I leave it to historians and social scientists to argue if the compromise was appropriate.

What I do know is that the art of compromise has been severely hobbled in the present day and the consequences have been disastrous, leaving the United States with a Congress that has not been able to pass a budget and all the requisite appropriations bills in years; a judicial branch struggling with too few judges, including being down a Supreme Court justice, due to refusal of the Republican majority in the Senate to hold timely hearings and votes on nominees; a similar problem in the State Department with ambassadors waiting months or years for Senate approval; and a general refusal by the Republican majorities in both houses to bring up a vote unless nearly their entire delegation supports it, giving enormous power to their most conservative members and precluding bipartisan consensus bills. The amount of gridlock has caused damage to both the public and private spheres and has made recent Congresses the most unproductive in history, undermining the purpose of government for the common good that Jefferson outlined.

This inability to seek consensus and compromise has infected large segments of the population as well. Some people will not support a candidate unless s/he agrees with their views 100% of the time, which is an unrealistic standard. Worse, some people can no longer even engage in a reasoned debate, preferring to follow the example of those in public life who dismiss all other viewpoints than their own and resort to name-calling, character assassination, bullying, and threats.

Enough.

It is time for the governed to withhold their consent/vote from any officeseeker who is not committed to governing for the common good. This entails educating ourselves about all sides of the issues and engaging in respectful inquiry and debate. It also entails compromise so that we can move forward together.

It is our duty and honor as citizens to do so.

There is no better day than July fourth to renew our commitment to our country and its highest ideals.

SoCS: what I long for

Things I long for – or long for more abundantly:

peace
sleep
more hours to write
more hours when my brain is operating clearly enough to write
love
good health for my family, friends, and everyone else, too
co-operation for the common good
caring about important things
for public sanity and good will in the face of so many challenges
unity
an end to hunger, oppression, and deprivation

*****
This short and impossible list is  brought to be Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. This week’s prompt is “long.” Come join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2016/07/01/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-216/

SoCS badge 2015

 

One-Liner Wednesday: climate

“Climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”
— Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ paragraph 23
(With the Paris climate talks underway, I am sharing some quotes from the papal encyclical.)

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays!  Find out how here: http://lindaghill.com/2015/12/02/one-liner-wednesday-they-lied/

Francis at Congress

This morning, I listened to Pope Francis’s address to the joint meeting of Congress with a group of other Catholics.

It was a bit strange to see the formality of the proceedings which looked very much like the annual State of the Union speech given by the President. Besides the Representatives and Senators, there were most of the Cabinet Secretaries and only four members of the Supreme Court, which was disappointing, given that three of the six Catholic justices chose not to attend.

A few things that stood out for me from Francis’s address:

  • He very carefully made the speech as relatable to people in the United States as he could. 
    Even though it was a long speech, he spoke in English, a language which he knows but in which he is not fluent. It was obvious that he understood well US history, values, and sensibilities, and the speech was organized around the ideals and example of four Americans, President Abraham Lincoln, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton. While the first two would be familiar to everyone, the later two may not be, each being a 20th century convert to Catholicism. Day is known for her work among the marginalized and for her dedication to social justice and human dignity. Merton is known for his capacity to enter into dialogue and integrate seemingly contradictory viewpoints.
  • Francis very strongly advocated for ending the death penalty worldwide. The United States is one of the few countries left in the world that exacts killing of those convicted of crimes.  While there are many people who oppose it in the United States, executions are still taking place. Some states have abolished it, but others have not. Pope Francis described it as an affront to the dignity of the person and said that the goal of prison was to foster hope and rehabilitation. The US bishops are currently renewing their efforts toward abolition of the death penalty across the country. As an opponent of the death penalty since childhood, I was grateful to hear such a strong message against it.
  • Francis was especially bold in addressing the issue of arms sales.  When Francis was speaking about Thomas Merton, he spoke about bridging divides and how good political leaders seize opportunities for dialogue and peace with openness and optimism. He called for an end to armed conflict and then went on to say that profit gained from selling weapons to those who will use them against people is “blood money.” Given how many of the arms in the world originate in the United States, this was a challenging thing to say. I do agree with Francis on this, but the Congress was pretty quiet in reaction.
  • Francis most frequently mentioned the common good as a value that is both spiritual/religious and civic.  Francis touched on many themes, including immigrants, the treatment of the First Nations, freedom of thought and expression, combatting fundamentalism and polarization of all kinds, human dignity and justice, the Golden Rule, care of creation, family life, and giving hope to the younger generations. He mentioned over and over how government, businesspeople, and the society as a whole must co-operate to bring about justice and promote the common good.

I say, “Amen!”