It’s Midnight

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It’s midnight in Washington. Indeed, it is midnight across America. And with the coming dawn, comes the realization that we are not that once great nation that we’ve proclaimed to be. How can we be the same country that beat the Nazis? That abolished slavery? That turned away from McCarthy’s Red Scare? That knew right from wrong? Who have we become?

But with that realization, and before that dawn comes, the people of America need to understand that the President is not only not well (physically and mentally), but his autocratic tendencies, coupled with Republican enablers have the potential to take our republic to totalitarian rule. We’re almost there. I am not exaggerating. Anyone who’s even casually watched what’s been happening for the past three years should see it. For someone like me, who has followed the President’s inappropriate actions and criminal behavior since before he was elected, it beams like a neon light; a giant bat signal in the sky. At this point if you don’t see it it’s because you don’t want to.

In retrospect, I think the impeachment trial was something of an act in futility, but something that still needed to be done. Truly, how much more were we expected to ignore? Not just inappropriate, but illegal behavior. Ukraine was only part of the President’s misdeeds.

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Are we a Nation of States What’s the State of Our Nation?[*]

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i wrote a piece, a second part to last week’s Now What? about Dr. Christine Ford’s testimony and the fall out. It was supposed to post Wednesday morning. I had intended to re-read it, tweak it a bit, and then post, and I did finally do that last night. However, the last two days since the original first draft have been a minefield of emotion and anger. Rage. Continue reading

Journeying Without Hypocrisy

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“Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.” – Matthew 23:1-5

Yesterday’s Gospel is one that I struggle with every Lent as well as throughout the year. How do I continue my spiritual journey, the path to find me and do it authentically, and sometimes that’s hard to come by? I go to church and I’m seen by people. Whether or not their judging me, and nine times out of ten, they are not, I still feel uncomfortable. Am I worshipping in the right way?

I did do it before my baptism, but it took me forever to make the sign of the cross and the crosses on my head, lips and heart before the Gospel is read. I wasn’t ready, but then one day, without thinking about it, I just did it. I almost didn’t realize it. One day it was right.

I did feel that part of me was worried at how I looked, did people think I was genuine.

This was one of the reasons I didn’t talk about what I had given up for Lent or about the daily reflections that I had planned on doing. To me it sounded like bragging even though I definitely didn’t mean it like that. When I put money in the collection basket, I feel like there are looks, and I wish that there was another way of making my contribution.

How do we join the two sides to do what is important to us individually to do?

Today is the fourteenth day into Lent. I haven’t been counting down, but as I mentioned one of the Lenten commitments I made to myself (and to you, although unknowingly to you) in that first week was to write a daily reflection. It doesn’t matter how long it was or what it was about, but it was spontaneous, something that came to me at some point during the day, and so far as almost exclusively been related to my daily readings. Yesterday was the exception.

Most of them have been kind of eureka moments. I’ll be going along with my normal day, I read something or hear something at mass, and it makes me think, or go aha! Or slap my head or stop whatever else I’m doing to jot down a few thoughts and post it. This is really where my kindle has come in handy. In fact, today is probably the first day in the last month that I’ve actually used my computer to write. I can thank the bad roads for that. I ended up staying home with my television and my computer. I’m hungry, but that can wait.

I love to write. It makes me feel alive. It is part of every aspect of everything I do. I need it and I need to do it every day, constantly throughout the day. One of the objects I want to get out of these daily reflections is to continue to figure out who I am and where my mental priorities lie. I’m forty-eight years old and I don’t fit. I’m still trying to fit.

Remembering to do what feels right and leaving the hypocrisy at the door is a struggle that we all have to push through, and we all can in our own ways.

An Uncomfortable Conversation

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Recently while I was driving, my eight-year old daughter started a conversation asking how people had babies. After a moment of almost going off the road I realized that she wasn’t asking how they are made but how they were born. She already knows they grow in women’s tummies. I’ve had three C-sections, so I started there, but eventually had to get into vaginal birth and it was still very basic, no problem.

Then the tougher questions came.

Do I need to have a boyfriend to have a baby?

Okay, good moment to express my equality stance by saying, no, you don’t need a boyfriend. You don’t need to be married. You can have a girlfriend. You can be married if you want. (There was a tangent taken that you do need a boy and a girl to make a baby, but you’re too young so we’re not going to talk about that, but no, you can be single and have a baby.)

So far, so good. Or really just satisfactory because this is the most uncomfortable, but necessary conversation to have with your child.

Then it got tougher still.

What if I don’t want to have a baby?

You don’t have to have one.

What if someone wants to make me?” (No idea where this came from, but she was concerned about it.)

I won’t let them.

What if you’re not there?” (Thanks for reminding me of the fragility of life and my impending mortality.)

If you don’t want to have a baby, there will be people who care about you who will make sure that you don’t have to have one. Or a boyfriend if you don’t want one. But don’t worry about that now, okay? You have a long way to get there.

Okay.

I could feel us both near tears by the end of this conversation, and I guess I put it out of my mind.

She was satisfied with the answers; I was satisfied-ish with my answers and all was well until the next time this subject (or another one like it) comes up.

This was weeks ago, and this morning at about 3am, I suddenly woke up and realized that with the way things are going in this country, my daughter may be more prescient than I thought. The irony that this came to me unbidden on the eve of the birth of Jesus is not lost on me. Perhaps he is the child of the most famous, single teenage mother to date. Not only a single mother, but a person of color living in her parents’ house, struggling with some tough decisions that a teenage girl should not have to make. Obviously, we know how her story ends; the Archangel Gabriel asked her and her faith led her to her decision, her assent to becoming the Mother of G-d.

I tried to ignore the replay of that conversation with my daughter in my head. It would not go away. I spent two hours tossing and turning and not sleeping when I realized sadly how relevant that exchange was.

What I thought of as a little girl’s worries about things she doesn’t understand are more relevant to today’s women than I realized.

There are women today who are forced to give birth against their will because someone else decided that they can’t have an abortion.

They became pregnant in the first place because someone else decided that they can’t learn how to prevent pregnancy.

Someone else decided that they can’t choose their own birth control and family planning; that their reproductive rights are nothing more than an antiquated notion as they are patted on the head and sent on their way.

These same people, who find the names of their football teams sacred, who can’t say the word vagina even when legislating against taking care of it, who choose to have vasectomies and abandon their own children are deciding that my child can’t make her own choices.

I realized that this world is not as far off as I thought it was.

In stating that I wouldn’t let anyone do that to her, it was the knee-jerk reaction of a mother protecting her child, but I won’t be there forever. Who will protect her rights when I’m gone?

We need to fix this now.

Right now.

No more Rick Brattins, representative of Missouri who wants a woman to have the permission of the father to get an abortion.

No more Bob McDonnells, former governor of Virginia, who wants to force women to undergo an unnecessary and invasive medical procedure before having an abortion (which has thankfully been ruled unconstitutional recently in federal court.)

No more Joe Walshs, Republican representative who said that there should be no exceptions to anti-abortion legislation including if the life of the mother was at stake.

No more Sam Brownbacks and Scott Walkers, governors of Kansas and Wisconsin respectively who followed Bob McDonnell’s trans-vaginal ultrasound stance.

No more Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks.

This needs to stop.

Abortion needs to remain safe and legal for ALL women regardless of circumstances and socio-economic disparity.

We need to teach girls and boys alike that abortion is a last resort, but it is always an option. If we weren’t so afraid of premarital sex being the official bogeyman of a teenager’s life, we could talk about real reasons why teens should wait for sex. We could teach comprehensive sex education including PREVENTING pregnancy, which in itself would prevent abortions.

We wouldn’t be demonizing contraceptive drugs in their non-birth control use and glorifying and making easily available men’s erectile dysfunction drugs which are held up in every advertisement as take this, have sex.

I won’t be around to protect my daughter and make sure that her wishes for or against pregnancy are followed.

I need the rest of this country to look out for HER INTERESTS instead of their own.

At eight years old, my daughter should not be worrying about people making her have a baby or forcing her to have a boyfriend or be married if she wants a baby.

At eight years old, she may not fully understand it, but she knows it’s wrong and it worries her.

It worries me too.

The Republicans win the Senate

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The headline I woke up to was ‘seize’ the Senate, but really it was simply apathy that won the day. And before someone says it, two more Senators does not a mandate make.

Where would we be if every eligible voter votes and voted their conscience? I think Congress would have a completely different make-up.

For the most part, the Republicans I know personally all have good hearts, but the money disparity in the campaigns (thanks to Citizens United) can no longer be ignored. When “corporations are people, my friend” and women aren’t, there is a serious misconception (no pun intended) in what constitutes equality and fairness.

Does anyone who voted Republican truly think they’ve made a difference? Do they think that Republicans will turn this dwindling economy around? They won’t. They’ve had six years and have focused on social politics that get them money and votes, but not jobs when even registered Republicans have answered the polls negatively; have stated that the focus on marriage equality and reproductive rights/conception is their platform even when their constituents don’t want that.

They have had the power in the House to take care of the economy and help Americans but instead, they’ve provided gridlock worse than an L.A. freeway or the NJ Turnpike on Thanksgiving weekend and if humanly possible it will only get worse. They will concentrate on making their fortune while continuing to do nothing.

They’ve contributed to hate talk, fear-mongering, to fact-ignoring and in its place they’ve offered “if I say it, it must be true, no matter how ridiculous.”

We’ve become a nation of paradoxes:

a land of immigrants who are anti-immigration.

a land of GI Bill recipients and subsidized housing that wishes its disabled veterans would go away, preferably quietly.

a nation that promotes the porn industry in private and then blames the subjugated for how they are treated.

a nation of individuals unless your individuality is that of transgender youth wanting to use the bathroom without harassment.

a nation of equality unless you’re a woman exercising your reproductive rights or a black teenage boy walking down a street.

It’s hypocrisy at its worst, and it will only get worse.

I propose a solution to this lame duck Congress. Instead of wasting two years getting nothing done and paying for it, waiting for the next election and watching the blame game dance of pass the House & Senate, vetoed by the President, we banish them ALL and hold the election again.

We have seven weeks.

Everyone back to your corners, everyone given the same exact amount of campaign funds, no interest groups, no DNC, no RNC, and EVERY AMERICAN ELIGIBLE VOTES.

Let’s see where this country stands when push comes to shove because this – what we have now – is worse than 1775 and we know what happened then.

Instead of GOTV, how about GOYA!

Vote.

Serve jury duty.

Help your neighbor.

It’s not someone else’s problem; it’s everyone’s problem.

Where is the respect for a differing opinion? Buried under piles of interest group money.

It’s time to fix this system before it’s too late.