Tag Archives: politics

Why I March

image1-1I still can’t believe it’s actually happened. That Donald J. Trump is president of the United States today. Tomorrow, I’m going to Portland to march.

I’m a bit nervous because I’m not great with crowds, but I don’t care. I want to make myself uncomfortable. I want to push myself. Suffering with others is one of the cornerstones of my faith, so this is just one way I can do that. I know it’s very little, and in the grand scheme of things, I’m not going to be one of the people most affected by a Trump presidency, but that just means I have to fight for and with those who will be.

It’s called The Women’s March, but I’m marching for a lot more than just women’s rights. I’m marching for the LGBTQ community, which includes my brother and friends. I’m marching for everyone who, like me, has a preexisting condition. I’m marching for refugees and immigrants. For Black Lives Matter. For children. For people with disabilities. For American-Muslims. For those trapped in the prison system and unjust legal system. For the homeless. For the elderly. For anyone who is going to be oppressed by this incoming administration.

This Is Not Normal

It has been a week since Donald Trump became the president-elect. In that week, protests have erupted across the country, hate crimes are rising, people are making plans to move to Canada or Mexico, women are looking to get IUDs, couples are getting married, and division has arguably never been more blatant or destructive in this election cycle.

I’ve heard the endless mantra of “We need to be united.”  First of all, it’s really difficult to be united when the president-elect is a person who built his entire campaign on dividing people. It was always us vs. them, “them” being any group that Trump thought a particular audience was afraid of. When I hear, “We need to be united,” I’m really hearing, “Get in line.” I’m hearing, “Conform.” Now, I know that President Obama has said to be unified, and I’m not sure what exactly he means by that, but I know that his role is a unique one. When I hear “unify” from someone random on Facebook, that’s when I’m hearing, “Stop criticizing Trump and Trump supporters.”

That’s not what unity is. Unity is not when one side of a divided pair shuts up, while the other gets to run the show. Frankly, I don’t know how we can be unified right now, because it’s like our values are on total opposite sides of the spectrum. A Trump presidency looks like it’s going to be about restricting women’s rights, gutting healthcare, demonizing Muslims and Mexicans, restricting LGBTQ rights, denying climate change, and so on. What can we unify around? People who voted for Trump are either racist, are willing to tolerate racism, or deny that a Trump presidency is even racist at all. The same goes for sexism. Freedom of religion seems it will only apply to Christianity. Good healthcare is not nationally recognized as a basic human right. WHERE IS THE COMMON GROUND?

People are also saying, “Protests didn’t happen when Obama became president, so accept it and move on.” Okay, so people weren’t necessarily flooding the streets like they are now, but for his entire presidency, they were questioning whether he was born in the United States. That’s definitely a form of protesting the election results. For 8-freaking-years. Also, after every election, there are groups that don’t want to accept the results. It’s just what humans do when something happens they don’t like. However, there is a big difference between the national reaction to Obama and Trump, because TRUMP IS NOT A NORMAL PRESIDENT. I’ve heard the word “normalization” a lot recently with Trump coverage, and that’s exactly what’s happening. The media is normalizing Trump and treating him like he’s just your run-of-the-mill president-elect. Yes, he’s a bit of an outsider, but there’s a silence about just how outside-the-norm he is. What do I mean by that? Here are just a handful of reasons:

The typical “accept and move on” response to the peaceful transition of power following an election does not work in the situation America finds itself in. That’s why we’re having these protests. It is the peoples’ way of shouting, “This is not normal.” Eventually, the protests will stop, but we will need to keep shouting through our actions and activism during Trump’s entire presidency. Even when good things happen, we can’t forget that this is not normal.

Because once we start believing it is normal, America, as we know and love her, is dead.

 

The Day After

I’m still in shock. I don’t want to read any articles, watch any videos, or do anything that would allow my mind to accept this as reality.

But I have to. We all have to. Trevor Noah put it best: “Feel discouraged and upset, but don’t let it turn into fear, because fear is what Trump uses.”

Trump won because of fear. Fear is the enemy of love.

Even though it seems like we’re doomed, it’s not really over. Love can still win. Our job now is to protect those who suffer under a Trump presidency, including those who voted for him. That’s what loves does.

God give us strength.

The Most Memorable Quotes from the 1st Debate

Secretary Clinton

I can only say that I’m certainly relieved that my late father never did business with you.

Too many young African-American and Latino men ended up in jail for nonviolent offenses, and it’s just a fact that if you’re a young African-American man, and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted and incarcerated. We’ve got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. We cannot just say “law and order.”

I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.

Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities and nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.

Donald Trump

My father gave me a very small loan in 1975.

I will release my tax returns against my lawyers’ wishes when she releases her 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted. As soon as she releases them, I will release.

I have a son, he’s 10 years old. He has computers, he’s so good with these computers it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very very tough. And maybe it’s hardly doable.

Hillary is hitting me with tremendous commercials. Some of it is entertainment, some of it—somebody who has been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell. I said very tough things to her and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her. But you want to know the truth. I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary and to her family and I said to myself, I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate. It’s not nice. But she’s spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me, many of which are absolutely untrue. They’re untrue and they’re misrepresentations and I will tell you this, Lester, it’s not nice and I don’t deserve that.

If you think I’ve been biased in the quotes, you should go back and watch the debate. These were truly the most memorable. It’s not my fault that “memorable” for Trump tends to mean “bizarre.”

 

5 Ways To Keep Your Kids Safe From Murder

We’re getting political again here, folks. This is a satire I wrote for my Literary Humor Writing class. 

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The world is a dangerous place. Though the lamestream media doesn’t cover it, every day young people are murdered in “safe” places by insane criminals who are more than likely part of gangs and/or terrorist cells from “no-go zones.” As a parent, you love your kids and want to keep them as safe as possible. Therefore, it only makes sense that the more guns around your kids and the more experience your kids have with guns, the better adapted they will be to defend themselves when the race war inevitably begins (thanks, Obama). The following list will provide you with comprehensive ways to educate them on how to protect themselves when they get their first gun on their fourth birthday.

1.Teach them about safety from a very young age

A child is never too young to learn about safety. Many people go to shooting ranges to hone their skills, but even smaller kids can benefit from lessons. Exercise your constitutional freedoms by holding “Mommy and Me” classes in your backyard where infants can gather and learn how to load, clean, disassemble, and reassemble a variety of weapons in a matter of seconds. Babies already take swimming lessons as young as 6 months; why not bring guns – humankind’s greatest form of self-defense – into the mix?

2. Make safety fun

A big problem with making society safer is the unfair stigma and censorship surrounding guns. Making safety as fun as possible will help make young kids less afraid of what should be their best friend. Change up classic lyrics and sing along to child-friendly songs like “Turkey in the Straw, Because I Shot Him,” “Itsy Bitsy Spesco Falcon,” and “Ba Ba Beretta.” Repetition is key, so sing these tunes as frequently as possible so the concept of safety is imprinted on your child’s mind clearer than the red dot of a sniper’s rifle.

3. Envelop them in safety

You can never be too safe. Everyone knows the more guns the better. Decorate your home with wallpaper printed with gun images so your young ones can feel the cold-steel embrace of ammunition at all times. Duct-tape guns under tables, chairs, beds, and inside cupboards. This will desensitize them to the rampant anti-gun messages that the media constantly shoves down their throats. Come on, Stallone, Bullet to the Head? Why not Bullet to the Head, Back, Face, and Torso?

4. Confront people who want your kids dead

It’s hard to believe, but there are groups solely dedicated to making the world less safe. Confront these dangerous lunatics by approaching them carefully with your guns and staring at them without speaking. If you do speak, make sure you shout, so they know just how important kids’ lives are to you and how upset you are that they are supporting mass murder. If they are still not responsive, consider waving your weapon around in case they didn’t see it. The presence of guns will ease everyone’s worries and will no doubt help facilitate a civil discussion.

5. Defy attempts to make your community less safe

No gun-zones? What is this, communist Russia? Or London? Set an example for your kids by refusing to enter any business unarmed. Who knows when an al Qaeda or hoodied gang banger might leap through the window at Dairy Queen, showering down a storm of bullets upon the unsuspecting crowd? Show your children that you love them by proudly displaying your semi-automatic at any and every location, including fast food restaurants, salons, libraries, and aquariums. If the business in question refuses to serve you, you now know who in your community hates children and wants to see them all dead.

Why I wish “Alpha House” Senator Gil John Was Real

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John Goodman with Odetta, the dog who plays Senator Biggs’ dog, Buster

Gil John Biggs, Republican Senator of North Carolina, is a retired UNC basketball coach and is played by John Goodman on Amazon’s “Alpha House.” In the first season, he is facing a tight race, and decides to skip an event with the govenor to get back in touch with his roots. He ends up filming a video on a beach hit by Hurricane Sandy, and the result is something I wish existed in the real world. It is honest, unfiltered, and it wins him the primary election. Take a look:

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I decided to play a little hooky today.

I drove down to my hometown of Ruby Shoals, which is right on the shore.
Angie, show ’em a bit of where we’re at.
Go on.
OK, so it was tore up some by Sandy, but you get the general Oh, grab a shot of them gulls there.
Cute little suckers.
Anyway, being back on this beach reminds me of what a privilege it was to grow up in a place where you could run through tide pools, hunt for sharks’ teeth, blow up crabs with cherry bombs Man, that’s just good times.
Anywho, Ruby Shoals has always been pretty conservative.
Soid Republican.
And as Republicans, the thing we believed in most of all was opportunity.
Which meant we believed in building stuff to create opportunity.
Like roads and schools and power grids.
It was a Republican, Ike, who built our highway system.
And another, Nixon, who created the EPA to protect what we are looking at right now.
As conservatives, we believed in conservin’ and free markets, which is why most of us used to favor cap and trade to fight climate change.
Anyway, that was then.
We don’t believe in climate change now.
Or any research into it.
Same with mandates or infrastructure or background checks or a dozen other things we used to support before we got within pissin’ range of the Tea Party.
I’ve about had it with all that.
Remember the old Gil John Biggs? The one who used to bring home a new clinic or research center or whatnot without apology? Sure, I named ’em after myself, but I don’t mind future generations knowing who invested in ’em.
You remember Coach Biggs? Who made college loans a huge priority because he’d seen how they changed lives.
And remember the guy that never voted to shut down the government or wreck our credit or suppress voting rights or compared people to Hitler?

Remember that guy? He’s back.

Heartbroken by the Church

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I’ve known for a long time that I’m bitter about the Church. The last church I went to consistently went through a lot of big changes very quickly and left me feeling abandoned and betrayed. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was a bunch of little things. I was disappointed in the direction (or lack of direction) I felt the church had. There was a lot of division about things like worship, prayer, and leadership. People left. People got hurt. In the end, it just became a building.

It isn’t just the one church I’ve been heartbroken by. It’s the Church. I’ve always had trouble with the Christian community and feeling like I fit in. Youth groups and Sunday school were agonizing for me on a social level. I never felt spiritually challenged or like issues that I was facing (like depression and anxiety) were being addressed at all. It seemed like curriculum for teens was based on gender stereotypes and the idea that young people have no attention spans or interest in depth. It didn’t really change as I got older; so many small groups for women met during the day and centered around motherhood or crafting. There’s nothing wrong with that, don’t get me wrong, but it is limiting. It just serves to confirm my long-held anxieties about not fitting in.

Those anxieties have gotten worse. Politics has been the defining battleground between me and the Church. I’ve discussed this a lot on my blog, about how religion and politics become one and the same, about how I’ve been personally attacked by people I trusted just because I don’t agree with their ideologies. These are fellow Christians. These are fellow Christians who do not see a problem with either directly or indirectly questioning my devotion to the faith based on my political beliefs. I may disagree strongly with conservative Republican ideas and question why people agree with them, but I would never- and have never – judged someone’s Christianity based on those ideas. It is a repulsive attack. I know I’m bitter about it. I know that holding on to bitterness hurts me, but I’m not holding on to it intentionally. It has become sort of this weird shield against getting too close to being disappointed by the Church again. If I expect people in the Church to judge me, I won’t be surprised. I don’t know how to find the balance between not getting hurt and not being bitter.

I’ve also been heartbroken by all the people in the Church who don’t say anything about the attacks against people who have different political beliefs. These are the people who don’t stand up against ostracization and subtle segregation. These are the people who think that ignoring someone’s beliefs is the same as accepting them. For me, my political beliefs are directly influenced by my faith, and I want people to know why and still respect me and see the value of our differences. I’m practically desperate for that acceptance. I think it’s why I’m so insistent on still dealing with people who have shown they aren’t going to open themselves to new ideas, who see my beliefs as dangerous or ungodly. I still want a church family, after everything that’s happened, but I’m terrified. I can’t tell who is going to be responsive to my beliefs or who will shut me out, either because they think I’ve strayed from the faith or because they just don’t want to deal with the conflicts of iron sharpening iron. There is no defining characteristic of that sort of thing. And in my experience, churches are more likely to be filled with the kind of people who would attack me, so is it any wonder I’m really cautious?

But I’m also really lonely. I thought it was possible to stay strong spiritually without any help from other Christians, but I was wrong. God help me.

Why I Love America

Equal laws protecting equal rights are the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country. –James Madison

Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever persuasion, religious or political. — Thomas Jefferson

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It’s difficult for me to be patriotic. I’m never filled with pride at the mere sight of a waving flag. I never liked “pledging my allegiance” to anything other than a cross or my fellow human beings every morning at school. I never bought the whole “America-is-exceptional” story. I know too much history and read too much news for that.

It’s difficult for me to be patriotic. At least according to the definition that society has crafted over the years.

Being patriotic is not about denying the fact that America has a dark past and continues to portray itself as a savior of the world while playing the same game that all empires have played for thousands of years. For me, patriotism is about holding America to the standards that the founding fathers established. They may have been a group of old, white, and most likely racist men who would be shocked at cars, the Internet, women’s rights, gay rights, and so on, but they were smart enough to know that America would change. Their values were purposely vague, and I believe that’s because they knew that the America they founded would not be the same America hundreds of years later. A lot of people make a big deal about “what the founding fathers intended,” but if we asked them, they would probably throw their hands up in the air and say, “That doesn’t matter now! Things are different. Why are you asking us? We gave you some guidelines, now make it work.”

Patriotism is also about unity. There are two things I cannot stand: 1) Questioning someone’s religious devotion based on politics and 2) Questioning someone’s patriotism because of their politics. Assuming someone is not outright saying, “America is the worst. It shouldn’t exist. I revoke my citizenship,” they are most likely invested in politics and what is going on because, ultimately, they love their country and the people in it. You can say, “Your idea is terrible for America, mine is better,” but DO NOT say, “You hate America, and that’s why you have this idea.” A bunch of conservative pages on Facebook featured two pictures, one of President Bush and one of President Obama, and were trying to make a statement about the “difference” between the two’s patriotism. This was on the Fourth of July. That is a very low blow and the Fourth is not the day for partisan politics. Come on.

I love America because it is my home. Something about this country drew my ancestors from Europe, Japan, and Okinawa, and something about it is keeping me here. I have been given great opportunities and because I love America, I want to make sure that everyone gets those same opportunities.

 

 

 

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The Middle East is erupting. There are politicians running around and promoting going to war. Again. To not go to war is being painted by some as a cowardly move, to appear weak. To be strong, we have to kill. We have to blow things up. It doesn’t even matter that we acknowledge how terrible war is, it kind of makes it worse, at least in my mind. We know that war is hell, and yet we still encourage it.

I absolutely hate going to church services that revolve around Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. I hate that the American flag is placed in front of the church alongside the Cross. Why is being loyal to your country so synonymous with being willing to go to war for it? Why isn’t avoiding war, negotiating with hostile nations, and doing everything that can be done to save lives, something that is seen as admirable? And I’m not talking about just American lives. We are responsible for the deaths of so many because we are literally sending out robots to do the killing for us. As if by washing our hands of it, much like Pilate did when he handed Jesus over to the crowd, we are somehow avoiding the damned spot of guilt?

America loves to compare itself to other nations in terms of how “merciful” or “noble” we are. At least we haven’t killed as many as (insert other nation here). Sure, we go to war, but it’s for (insert reason here), which is a good reason. And then we have the audacity to get upset about gay marriage because America is a “Christian nation,” and letting gay people get married isn’t “Christian.” Because the internship of Japanese-Americans, nuking two Japanese cities, and participating in any war that results in the deaths of innocents is Christian. We haven’t been a Christian nation for a long time. Were we ever? America was born from war.

I’m not saying that I wish America never existed. I’m saying we’re not a Christian nation. It’s kind of impossible to be “Christian” and a “nation” in the same sense that all other nations have existed. America has literally been described as an empire. Rome was an empire, too. Maybe we’re like Rome not because “debauchery” exists, but because we wage war to spread our message of democracy. Alexander the Great did it. Genghis Khan did it. Jesus…did not. People expected him to do it, but He didn’t.

I’m also not saying that I don’t respect soldiers. They do what I could never do. I do believe that as a nation, we are grossly unequipped to help returning men and women, because we don’t fully explain to them what war really is. Commercials show strong, sturdy units, and the military is based on the principle that there are no individuals, there is only the group. You work together. But that’s not how the world really works. You can’t ignore your individuality and your own responses to the absolute horror that war is. When you come back, how are you going to deal with it? With continuing your life as an individual, in a nation that is obsessed with individual rights and individual happiness? We’ve seen what happens when soldiers return and they aren’t treated like heroes. The aftermath of Vietnam is notorious for its lack of parades and celebration of victory that WWI and WWII produced. Vietnam vets were bitter and angry. They didn’t know how to handle what they had gone through in a society blissfully unaware of the realities of war. Are parades necessary to somehow justify what soldiers have done in order to survive? That they’ve killed, but it’s different than murder? But what if a soldier doesn’t really believe that? Soldiers are part of a system that is inherently violent and inherently based upon not loving your enemies, but killing them, so how do we deal with this fact?

I don’t know. But as Christians we have to stop treating war like it’s something God would approve of. I know, I know, in the Old Testament, God sent His people into war, and I know it’s risky to draw a  line between the Old Testament and the New, but the fact of the matter is, it’s called the NEW Testament for a reason. When Jesus died and resurrected, everything changed. Including the idea that war was something we would be commanded to participate in. Jesus did not go to war with those who wanted to kill him. He did not raise his whip against the people in the temple who were selling and buying. He overturned their tables, he overturned the system, and when He willingly went to His death, he overturned the entire system of blood-for-blood that the world has completely bought into.

I credit my thoughts on this to the book “A Farewell to Mars,” by Brian Zahnd. It’s pretty much blowing my mind.

Photo: http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2013/079/5/0/19058_war_is_hell_horst_faas_by_americanrussian-d5yo5r4.jpg

Is It Worth It?

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..my question for those evangelicals is this: Is it worth it? Is a “victory” against gay marriage really worth leaving thousands of needy children without financial support? Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth losing more young people to cynicism regarding the church? Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth perpetuating the idea that evangelical Christians are at war with LGBT people?

            -Rachel Held Evans

I’m exhausted.

Every day, through news and through people I know, I see a divide growing between “Christian love” and actually daring to love. It’s become an act of rebellion against fellow Christians to stand up for LGBT, for pro-choice, for strangers in this strange land, and even for the poor.

The title of the article Rachel wrote (from which the above quote is from) is called “How evangelicals won a culture war and lost a generation.” This is what Christianity in America has become. A war. Love looks like a sword, but instead of destroying powers and principalities that oppress, that sword is slicing through people and then the wielder dares to say “I love you.” It’s become more important to “make a stand” than to serve the needy. World Vision did not reverse its decision to hire married homosexuals because it had a change of heart. Thousands of Christians were “making a stand” and threatening to abandon their sponsorships. Pastors exhorted their congregations to “make a stand” and stop financing World Vision. Sure, there are other organizations that do similar work, but isn’t that more about how you feel than anything else? You abandon one child to just pick up another? So everything is fine? WV admitted that the reason they backed away from their revolutionary decision was because they had not considered/consulted their partners and their supporters. They had not expected that kind of fury to rise up from the ranks of kind, selfless Christians and actually threaten the state of their organization.

This is the biggest news in the culture war as of late, but there are others. I have seen the film “Noah” simultaneously mocked, and from others shunned as demonic. None of them have considered that perhaps this movie was not intended for them. Perhaps it was intended for an audience that is sick and tired of white-bearded and (frankly) boring Sunday School stories, and is more accustomed to action heroes who cut instead of pray their way through evil and do things that most of us would regret later. Russell Crowe’s Noah is more than a little rough around the edges and the religion of his cinematic world looks like more like Wicca than Christianity, but what the hell, is this surprising? This is a world that is further from the Ten Commandments than the number of years the US of A has existed, and it’s a world where there is little to no divide between the spiritual and physical realms. Is Noah supposed to just fold his hands and sadly shake his head while outside his door humanity is raping and murdering itself into oblivion? This generation is moving farther and farther away from traditional Christianity and as my family has said, perhaps this movie will at least get their attention again.

The war rages on. Discussions on abortion are littered with words like “murder,” a clear attempt to consciously or unconsciously shame those struggling with the decision. Behind closed doors, I have seen discussions where the abortion topic is saturated with unveiled death wishes upon pro-choice women, name-calling like “bitch,” “slut, ‘whore, and “c–t.” There is no distinction between women who voluntarily have abortions with those who have to choose between preserving their own lives, or inflicting both their death and the death of their child upon their grief-dizzied families. To these people, anyone who has an abortion is a murdering whore, or at the very least, an ignorant, selfish victim of politically-liberal ideals.

My convictions continue to separate me from supporters of “traditional” evangelicalism. I have had my Christianity questioned in ways as direct as being told I am “straying from the straight and narrow,” to micro-aggressions such as vague questioning of how anyone could be a Christian and believe what I believe. I am terrified of attempting to go to a church because I have no idea what kind of opposition I might face when my beliefs inevitably come out. I am not alone in this increasingly bitter pulling away from evangelicalism and instead of looking inwardly, I find that Christians are blaming the generation they are losing, claiming we are losing our morals, becoming infatuated with “political correctness” and “liberal propaganda,” or are just plain stupid.

Maybe we’re just fed up with being told we have to rally against our neighbors in order to be a good Christian.