Week Ahead

I will be doing an opinion post on the 2022 election on Tuesday, Nov 22.  If you wish to include a personal commentary, I’d be glad to include it in the blog.  Send as an e-mail response.  (My e-address is in the upper left corner of this blog.)

There is a very relevant Human Rights program on Ukraine on Thursday of this week.  Register, and more information, here.  I am an active member of the Board of the sponsoring organization, Citizens for Global Solutions MN.  The program is free, but pre-registration is required.

Episode 7 of Rachel Maddow’s Ultra podcast is now available.  I have followed this since the first episode, and it is outstanding and informative about the near miss of our country with Fascism in the pre- and WWII years.

If you have even the slightest interest in the threat to democracy we have been living through, you are urged to listen to all 7 episodes thus far; if only one, listen to #7.  Those with any connection to North Dakota – Bill Langer and William Nye become key players….  A Minnesota Senator is centerpiece in Episode 1.

There is one episode following this one, I presume it airs next Monday.  Each episode is about 45 minutes or so and all are accessible on-line.

POSTNOTE:  We spent the last four days – Nov 9-13 –  in New York State at a family event.  No politics.  People from all over the U.S.  Most time in Rochester NY.  My personal favorite snapshot in the four days at American Falls at Niagara.

Niagara Falls, U.S. side Nov. 10, 2022. (Canadian side too obscured by mist for a good photo.)

 

Armageddon?

The count begins: Clicking on publish, November 8, 2022, 6 p.m.  About now the first polls are closing and actual counting begins….

This morning I was on my usual walk at the local Sports center.  The usual crowd was gathering, mostly seniors like myself who know each other, like people do at such kinds of gathering places, not close kin, but not strangers either.

One lady pleasantly said “how’s everyone doing today?”  A man behind me said, in a normal sort of way: “I Don’t know.  I haven’t voted yet.”  Enroute home, I saw an older couple jay-walking, obviously going home from the nearby elementary school, a polling place.

24 hours earlier I was at breakfast with a retired teacher friend and colleague of many years.  We weren’t talking politics, but Kathy was remembering my homemade Christmas card from 2001, largely because it featured on its front, feelings about 9-11 from one of her 5th graders (who’d be in his thirties, today).  I used to send the homemade cards every year, and I saved 5 copies of each.  Here’s the front of the one she remembered.  It says it all, for me, today.  For me, today is like the day before 9-11-01, except back then we couldn’t have imagined 24 hours later.  Now we can, but nobody – I mean nobody – knows anything for sure what we’ll wake up to tomorrow and following days.

If you’re interested in the whole card: Christmas card Dec 2001 . (I voted last week; my wife votes today.)

*

One thing is for sure, today: I hope this is not an “oh, what the hell” election, where people really believe that it makes no difference who they vote for, or whether they vote at all.

I don’t know who the “call and response” people I saw this morning are voting for; nor for the jaywalking couple.  We have a secret ballot, but in a way it does feel like the Monday before 9-11-01….

*

Somewhere out east the first official tally of votes for the 2022 election has begun (I’m deliberately publishing this at 6 p.m. CST Election Day).  The speculation of many months will be confirmed…or not…over tonight and possibly the next weeks.  At some undetermined time, we’ll know what we decided as citizens, from the most obscure local office to our country’s leadership in Congress and Senate.  Truth will out.  There’s no do over, until the next election, which may be too late.

I’ll venture my personal opinions. about this year on November 22 – two weeks out.  Check back if interested.

*

A Personal Retrospective: The 2022 election season began, for me, May 28, 2020, the night Minneapolis and St. Paul were set on fire.

This was 2 1/2 years ago, over 7 months before the chaos of Jan. 6, 2021.

May 28, a relative called from North Dakota about how marauding gangs were coming to Minneapolis, about the same time reports were coming about burning buildings in south Minneapolis.  I succumbed to fear, and brought in the iron objects on our patio – weapons that could be used to break in.

Now I remember it as crazy behavior.  Which gang would pick my house among tens of thousands to break my windows and savage us?  But for one evening that furniture sat in our family room, and the next day I took the below picture.

May 28, 2020

Of course nothing happened at my house, my neighborhood, my community those nights.  You know how fear works.

But in Minneapolis and St. Paul, masked vandals (after all, it was at the worst part of Covid-19 and most people were masked), set lots of fires, including burning down my friends restaurant at 27th and Lake Street Minneapolis on the evening of May 29.

His lot is still vacant – I was over there on Sunday.

Gandhi Mahal block, 27th at Lake Street, Minneapolis MN Nov. 6, 2022 Gandhi Mahals vacant lot is the area fenced in by a reed fence, which has been there for over two years, and not damaged at all.

The post office, burned to the ground, is being rebuilt on the corner (to the photographers right), but the rest of the block is still vacant more than two years later.

There’s silence on indictments and convictions – my friend had security cam, but it burned along with the restaurant.

Because of the masks, we’ll probably never know who did the deeds in May 2020.  I can’t believe that it was the residents of the neighborhood who burned down their own locally owned businesses. Conversely, by no means is it a stretch, knowing what we now know, that this could have been orchestrated political gang activity.

*

In my trip to the site of Gandhi Mahal the previous Sunday, I saw one last, doubtless intentional, memory of the fire in the spring of 2020.

October 30, 2022. Gandhi Mahal would be to the left.

It is the only visible remnant of two nights of horror, May 28-29, 2020.

Commit to being more active than you’ve ever been, regardless of outcome.  Citizens are democracy, period.  We can build it, maintain it, or destroy it, just by the single act of who we elect.

 

 

 

 

24 Hours

For those who need info: Information for a Minnesota voter can be seen here.  National information here.  NBC has a Plan Your Vote site as well.

For folks who live in the same community I do: SD 47.  (The link is the local Democrat website.)

*

This morning (Sunday Nov 6) I was driving in to Minneapolis, and approximately at 3M headquarters, about 15 miles from downtown Mpls, a beautiful and almost magical view of the Minneapolis skyline appeared and held on the horizon.  It was almost like a mirage, perhaps a quirk of the morning atmosphere on a bright, chilly, breezy day.  It is the only view of the skyline I could see on my trip in.

No, I wasn’t hallucinating (at least, I don’t think so!)

In the 24 hours just passed I’ve been to downtown Minneapolis twice.  Last night to Minnesota Orchestra; today to Mass at Basilica.  Both days on the much maligned (per TV political ads) Hennepin Avenue, at night.  There were zero nervous moments, walking to a restaurant on Nicollet Mall; parking in a public ramp….

The Orchestra was its usual magnificent self, particularly with Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor for piano and orchestra.  Pianist Simon Trpceski, proud Macedonian, earned a standing ovation at the end of the piece, and did two encores.  Conductor Scott Yoo “born in Tokyo and now living in Connecticut” was superb.  There was a large crowd.  Afterwards, an evening crowd on Hennepin Avenue, and yes, an emergency vehicle at one of the bars on the street, where people were standing in line to enter.  Nobody seemed in panic mode.

A few hours later, to church at about 17th and Hennepin.  Attendance seemed pretty large this day.

The Sunday newsletter headlined “Realities are more important than ideas”.  (I first thought it said “ideals”.)  If you’re interested in the text, here it is: Realities Ideas. Personally, I think “Ideas” and “Ideals” are, in this case, synonymous.

The Pastor did his best threading the needle that is a divided church on the eve of the upcoming election.  I thought he did okay.  He made comments about a favorite song of his.  I think the song is Walk On by U2.  I looked it up, and it seems to fit the tenor of his comments.  Take a listen, here.  The emphasis seems on social justice, set in  Rio….

Hang in there.  Vote.  Then stay engaged.

NOTES:

  1. I expect to do a followup post about the time polls close on the east coast on Tuesday, purposely before the counting, which will go on for some days with endless analysis.  Then I’ll do my own post-mortem on Nov 22, two weeks after.  I likely won’t advertise either – just look back.  I may take some time away from computer, but comments are welcome any time.

2. I expect that Rachel Maddow’s Ultra series on America’s flirtation with Fascism will continue with episode 6 on Monday, with two more to follow on succeeding weeks.  It has been a very worthwhile and informative program.

3. Heather Cox Richardson’s near daily posts are outstanding summaries of what is going on in the national arena.  Here’s the most recent.

Have a good week.  Vote.

COMMENTS

from Jeff:  I am watching the latest Star Wars series spinoff on Disney+   , it is called Andor.  About a the backstory of a character named Cassian Andor who dies in the movie “Rogue One” which came out in 2016?…. It starts with, and has some of the star battles, etc…but it is a much more nuanced and heavier toward dialogue and slow developing story.  Basically it is about how fascism infects and then overtakes systems, and one persons realization of how fascism works.    Excellent casting and good dialogue and character development.  The last 2 episodes, 8 and 9, which take place on a work camp for prisoners, are written by Beau Willimon, who was the writer and developer of House of Cards, on Netflix.  The slow pace and creativity of showing the evil of fascism from both sides (victims and oppressors) is brilliant.

I like the sci fi stuff, and I don’t usually recommend it, but this one transcends the platform.

One Week to Go

Eight days from now we’ll have some idea what we have decided through our own ballots.  We seem to have a fantasy that it is the politicians who make bad decisions.  It is the voters who elect them that make all of the decisions about who will represent them; most especially, those who don’t vote at all, or vote with no knowledge of the implications of their vote.  In the end we have only ourselves to blame.

I marked my own ballot on Sunday night, and mailed it on Monday.  I have exactly the same power as anyone else.  No more, no less.

Never in my life have voters had such a stark choice as this year.  We decide our fate.  We truly are stuck with it.

*

I live in Minnesota.  Google tells me I’m 15 miles from Wisconsin – a very easy freeway drive.  Maybe 20 minutes.   Most recently, I was there in September.  It seemed every bit as hospitable as here…you wouldn’t believe this from television ads – in both directions.

A few days ago my friend, David, sent a photo he took of Mandela Barnes, candidate for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin.

Mandala Barnes rally, Hudson WI, Oct 26, 2022.

David’s comment was brief, but succinct: We attended a rally for the “other” Mandela on Wednesday in Hudson. He’s a very sharp and articulate guy.”  Of course, as a Wisconsin voter, he already knew this.  Who will prevail in that race?  We’ll see in not too long.

Wisconsin and Minnesota are separate states – I have as much authority over Wisconsin policy, as my friends across the river in Wisconsin have on Minnesota.  We may as well be Ukraine and Russia.  Especially this year, the decisions one state makes may have stark impacts on the others.

We’re in the same media market, so those in Wisconsin see the hideous ads about my state, as I see the hideous ads about theirs…Lying ads apparently work, otherwise, why spend millions of dollars on them?

But every one can make a little difference, and a little difference is all we need to make.  There is a single week to go.

*

A final note: Joyce sent along a Tom Sullivan commentary about President Obama’s stump speech in Michigan a few days ago.  She said “Well worth reading and listening”.  Here’s the link.  It’s worth your time.  I had heard substantial parts of the speech live.

*

Many of you have voted, as I have.  If you haven’t, exercise your right to vote based on the positive qualities of the best candidate for each office. And encourage others to vote as well.

For the last time, here are the links if you need information:

Information for a Minnesota voter can be seen here.  National information here.  NBC has a Plan Your Vote site as well.

For folks who live in the same community I do: SD 47.  (The link is the local Democrat website.)

*

Episode 5 of Rachel Maddow’s outstanding Ultra series is now available on line. I listened last night. The series takes the blinders off about this nations very close call with fascism…and we are by no means out of the woods yet.

COMMENTS (more at end of post)

from Molly: very strong clip by Rachel Maddow, and very well & concisely spoken, about 5 minutes.  Re Paul Pelosi being attacked, and the depth of its significance.

wow. and sigh.
Hugs to each,

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Tomorrow is the Day of the Dead.  The general story is here.

Generally it relates to All Saints and All Souls, with Catholic roots, and Halloween of course, and in a really general sense I would toss into the same kettle, Guy Fawkes Night in England (the video link, about ten minutes, is fascinating), which is November 5.  Nov. 5, 2001, we were in London, England, and our B&B, happened to overlook a small park where parents and kids were doing their thing with little fires, etc., celebrating the night.  (Guy has to roll over in his grave each year!)

One day, Day of the Dead, 2004,  I participated in the twin cities rendition of Dia de los Muertos, just north of Lake Street.  Most of the participants were of Mexico and Central American descent, and a few of us others came along.  It was a low key and respectful, and happy observance in memory of departed friends and relatives.

All of these observances, and doubtless others, relate to Fall (Autumn), in our latitude, a time of transition from summer to winter.  (Generally, Europe is more northern in latitude than the United States.). We all live in the natural world, and various traditions are borrowed from what we live….

Of course, there are endless variations of how these days are observed.  In the old days of outhouses, in my country, a tradition was to tip the outhouses and assorted other kinds of more-or-less sanctioned vandalism (“pranks”, not always innocent) on Halloween. It was expected.

Halloween night of 1991 I lived in Hibbing, and a cold rain on Thanksgiving night was the harbinger of what became three feet of snow in the famous “halloween blizzard” we lived through – and yes, there was three feet of snow.  I shoveled it.

The topic comes up for me today for a couple of reasons:

    1. Yesterday at the Basilica was the annual procession of icons, this year it seemed about 30, relating to All Saints.  Here is a photo of one in the procession:

      Basilica of St. Mary Oct 30, 2022.  Icon at right, held by the carrier.

2. Most especially, today, comes to mind my parents, both long deceased.  Dad died 25 years ago on Nov. 7, 1997; Mom long preceded him, August, 1981.  Ironically, that is 41 years ago, and I was 41 when she died.

Life goes on for all of us, with all of its aspect.  All best in this time of memories.

Two Weeks….

Postnote Oct 26:  Joyce Vance, today.  Note especially the last paragraph and the tweet following. Heather Cox Richardson October 25.

Two weeks from today it will all be over, but the counting.  I make no predictions.  There are too many variables that are unknowable, from the veracity of those responding to polls, to kinds of samples surveyed, to the spin of those who report on the mood, data and on and on and on.  They butter someone’s bread, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on them….

Vote by or on Nov. 8, and step a tiny bit out of your comfort zone and ask one other to vote as well.  You know the drill.  Vote.

Gov. Tim Walz, Vice-President Kamala Harris, Lt. Gov Peggy Flanagan Oct 22, 2022, Minneapolis. photo by Dick Bernard

Saturday I went to downtown Minneapolis in support of Vice-President Kamala Harris, MN Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.  It was an excellent gathering; and a demonstration of the diversity of the Democratic Party, in turn reflecting the diversity of the United States of America.  A colleague, also there, wrote a note later: “it was a great event. I thought it was maybe the best speech I have heard the Governor make. Terrific.”  I concur.  We have much to be proud of.

Those three folks on stage well represent the diversity of this nation of ours.  Tim Walz is a school teachers kid from rural America, and was a public school teacher himself.  From small town Nebraska, 25 years in National Guard, 12 years a Congressman representing a rural district, the last four years Governor of Minnesota, he’s walked the talk of leadership.  Vice-President Kamala Harris is a national figure, so needs no introduction.  Peggy Flanagan, Lieutenant Governor, is Native American and  highly accomplished.

Of course, nothing is ever easy, particularly in these days of smelly attack ads which infest television.

I’ve lived in the large Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area of over 3 million for more than half my life, 50 years in all, including the last 32, and were I to believe the attack ads, we’re crime sodden here, a haven for casual abortion seekers, on and on and on.  We’re basically a progressive (Democrat) area, and, of course, it is people like me, Democrats, who must be responsible for the not so creative fiction on television.

The lies must work, otherwise why spend millions on them?

The gathering I attended Saturday was in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.  It could have been in any town in this state.  I walked three blocks on downtown Hennepin Avenue and not even a single nervous moment.

This past summer someone I know was mugged in the city, and was injured.  I learned about it quite a while after the fact.  As I’ve said to others, it was the first time in my 82 years that I could say that I actually knew somebody victimized by a crime.  (The assailant was a juvenile, a passenger in a stolen car driven by another juvenile.  He and his accomplice were caught and brought to justice.  I don’t think any of this made the press.)  So it goes.

Last summer the Wall Street Journal carried a letter from someone who had left my town because of car-jackings.  There was a ring who’d caused some problems, but as always, it was a problem magnified far beyond reality: it took time and effort to find out what the real story was, nonetheless reported as typical in a major newspaper out east.

Sure, all of us, including myself, sometime or other have had uncomfortable moments sometime or other, not only in the “city”…but mostly the space that we occupy is safe.

Nobel Prize recipient Paul Krugman made an excellent case in a column in a recent NYTimes about the gap between perception and reality: Krugman Facts Feeling and Rural Politics.   I come from a very rural state, so I also know the reality of the surrounding rural country.

Two weeks from now we’ll know the direction this country is taking.  Those who actually vote will be the accountable ones.

My vote will be for the Democrats.

Two weeks.

POSTNOTE:

Here is the portal for Election Information, again: Information for a Minnesota voter can be seen here  (early voting continues).  National information here.  NBC has a Plan Your Vote site as well.

For folks who live in the same community I do: SD 47.  (The link is the local Democrat website.)

Segment Four of Rachel Maddow’s Ultra podcast is now available.  Sunday night we watched “Shouting Down Midnight”, about Wendy Davis and the Texas legislature. Check it out to see when it again comes available.  It is brand new and very worthwhile watching.

COMMENTS (more at end of post)

from Marsh: In our    world here in the southernmost part of California, it is astonishing that the elections that we see here are so brutal. A lot of the politicians have hit pieces either in written form or on television about how corrupt the other candidates are. It’s hard to figure as to who the good guys are. A big issue here is gambling and every Indian tribe has an opinion about to vote yes or no. You can’t really tell who the good Indians are to do a sensible vote. So in the end, I just voted no on everything.

from Chuck: Voting is the minimum for civic responsibility.  It’s what we do regarding our legislatures the hundreds of day between elections.

And, no matter who wins…you still have a monstrous influence if you work with others to prod them with loving persistence.

Unfortunately, our governing system is functionally flawed.  The Constitution has three valves for change…but we rarely use them.
Change is happening so fast…our brains can’t keep up with it.  And our government is essentially flatlined.

Read the preamble to the Constitution and give its seven intentions a grade.

from Len: AMEN. If we all remind our friends to go to the polls and remind them to remind their like -minded friends to follow suit, it could be good.  My friend, who was in the State Senate, was visiting the day after the election in 2002, with her neighbor. Her neighbor broke the news that she had forgotten to vote on Election Day. She would have voted for her neighbor.

My friend lost that election by 13 votes.

from Rich:

I voted yesterday. It was easy. I am among those who have never missed voting in an election.
My parents cancelled each other’s vote. We had many “cause & effect discussions” in our family on current issues of the day … all free of anger and name calling. When Parkinson’s disease limited my fathers mobility, my mother secured him an absentee ballot. This was my parent’s example.
Three days ago I requested a campaigner to leave my property, explaining that I considered a person supported by “his candidate” as treasonous, and his candidate an accomplice. Almost two years ago on January 6, a family member had been on national television in the Capitol during the insurrection … he was carrying a weapon and wearing SWAT Team gear. His response, and personal risk, solidified my now rigid position.
Entrenched division is now part of the political landscape … and I am part of it. But I did cast my vote.
May we have “the greatest good to the greatest number.” (Paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson)

 

The Union

Pre-note: For anyone interested, the Minnesota Orchestra is live on-line Friday night at 8 p.m. Central at MPR (public radio) and on TPT (public television).  I think both are accessible anywhere.  We were at the concert today, where the announcement was made.  MnOrch is a magnificent orchestra.  Check it out.

Sunday night at 9 on MSNBC is a new documentary, Shouting Down Midnight . Take a look.

The 4th episode of Rachel Maddow’s Ultra is Monday night.  Link is here.  This is a free and outstanding look at America’s flirtation with Fascism in the 1930s right before WWII.  I have listened to all of them, approximately 40 mins each.

*

Thursday I decided to attend the first part of what used to be called “The MEA Convention”, on the third Thursday of October.  It is called MEA weekend in the local media, a coveted four day weekend each year, for students, parents and teachers.

My visit took me in a direction I hadn’t expected to go, about the business of working together.

Mostly you’d have seen me at the convention every year since I came to Minnesota in 1965.  (It was cancelled in 2020, and I don’t recall it happening in 2021 either – the effect of Covid-19.  But it has a very long history.)

This year it is the “2022 MEA Conference” sponsored by Education Minnesota, since 1998 the merged teacher union of the former Minnesota Education Association (MEA) and Minnesota Federation of Teachers (MFT).

All but two years of a 27 year career, I was MEA staff; the last two staff for Education Minnesota.

I didn’t come to this morning conference with any agenda; what I left with are some reflections on division and reconciliation.

In the first 20 years of my career MEA and MFT were alien entities.  They did the same thing, for the same people, in the same way – representing teachers.  But the energy was devoted to who did it better, and why.  Viewed on the ground it made some sense; from outer space, no sense at all.  We were tribes, much like “Republicans” and Democrats today in the United States.

It was all a bunch of nonsense.  In 1993 the first Minnesota local merged, with the blessing of the state and national unions.  In 1998, the state merger came into effect.

The transition was not easy: the path from war to peace is never easy; but once peace takes root, one wonders “why the war?”

I know a lot about this particular merger, so do some other readers.  In my case, my career was between 1972 and 2000.  A great deal of what we encountered could directly apply to the current political insanity we are living with.  Division doesn’t work; Unity most certainly does….

*

I came early today, and I came out of the exhibit hall and saw a familiar face, and then I saw her again, sitting with four young teachers for a photograph.  I took a picture:

In the photo, the person at the right is Randy Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.  She asked if she could join them in the photo; I doubt they knew who she was.  I had most recently seen her on television, reporting on a recent visit with teachers in Ukraine.

The four teachers sitting with her probably were very young children, at best, when the Minnesota Teacher Unions merged in 1998.

All they know is Education Minnesota.

The distinctions so important in my early staff years is likely unknown to them.  The President of AFT at our Convention?  Unthinkable!

Getting to yes takes time, lots of time.  But nothing is impossible.

Breaking up the tribes, is a group project, that involves every one of us.

Enjoy the rest of “MEA Weekend”!

 

Three Weeks from Today

The 2022 Election is three weeks from today.  In the end, either you voted or you didn’t.  Most recently I was struck by data about the Italian election, which was reported to have a low turnout.  I checked, and the Italian “low” turnout was essentially the same as the largest turnout ever for the 2020 U.S. presidential election.  To me that’s the whole story.  We are, as a society, careless about our country’s wellbeing.

On most ballots, most offices, there are two political party candidates, and non-partisan (usually judges).   My ballot has me voting for 38 elected positions.

Once again:

Here is the portal for Information, again: Information for a Minnesota voter can be seen here (our early voting began on Sep 23).  National information here.  NBC has a Plan Your Vote site as well.

For folks who live in the same community I do: SD 47.  (The link is the local Democrat website.)

*

I am Democrat.  My personal mantra is the ageless slogan of Sen. Paul Wellstone: “We All Do Better When We All Do Better.”  My personal family circle is 30 or more people (parents, siblings and families thereof).  The members are of all sorts, all rooted in families of modest means.

The other party, which historically was called Republican, and is on the ballot as such this year, is no longer traditional Republican, and basically operates under the philosophy “Them That Has, Gets“.  Many millionaires and billionaires are in this class.  People like Ivanka, Erik and Donald Jr, are among the folks “born on third base”.

But far and away the biggest issue November 8 is our future as a free democratic republic with so far a history of 235 years.  There is no issue greater than that.

The Democrats have taken on the task of representing all of us – the great diversity that is the United States of America.  This is never easy, but a great responsibility.

*

Today’s R’s have a very different focus.  I thought this morning about the crew that DJT, and now his acolytes, quite certainly idolize as role models.  Russia’s Putin (Ukraine); China’s Xi Jinping; Brazils Bolsonaro; N.Koreas Kim Jong Un; Hungary’s Orban; Saudi Arabia’s bin Salman (oil), and on and on.

They are the pretenders to the old monarchies that divided the spoils amongst themselves (all of which ultimately failed – even greed has its limits.)

Authoritarianists have now united against democracy in our own country.  Over half of the “Republican” candidates for major office in the U.S. Nov. 8 have denied the fact that elections are free and fair.

The objective, all, is to rein in and strangle democracy.

*

POSTNOTE:  Other recent posts:  10/13 January 6; 10/15 Life Without Parole; 10/17 Jesus.

Episode 3 of Rachel Maddow’s Ultra, on the rise of Fascism in the United States in the 1930s, is now on-line, as are the first two.  Check them out.  This is a very powerful series.

Tonight (Oct 18) on Frontline PBS: Michael Flynn’s Holy War.

Thursday, the Golden Rule Project is the focus of Citizens for Global Solutions Third Thursday.  Zoom.  All details here.  Pre-registration required.

*

On August 25, 2022, I wrote a post which in part included the following, which anticipated the Rachel Maddow series.  I said this:

“Nov. 10, 1998, I wrote my Uncle and Aunt in North Dakota about an October 9-11, 1998, visit to the ancestral relatives and farm in western Germany, very near the Netherlands.

It was a standard letter, but it had an additional dimension, since I was visiting kin – Germans in Germany – in a place where the ancestors had lived for hundreds of years, including WWII.

This is what I said 24 years ago: “We don’t talk a lot about WWII, except to learn that WWII, the why’s etc., is still talked about by the common German citizen.  Even people my age – including my hosts – were very young when the war ended.  I wonder about how we in the U.S. would be if our country was taken over by a Hitler-type.  Probably we’d be no different than the Germans in the 1930s and 40s….”

Hitler and the Nazis envisioned a 1,000 year Reich.  They got about 10 years.  They could not see their ignominious end.  Lust for power has a way of overrunning common sense.  As I write, we have our current pretenders to authoritarian rule at all levels in all states.  Will we ever learn?”

Back in 1998, I don’t recall being aware of the 1930s tilt towards Fascism in the United States.  I was obviously aware of my own German ancestry, and World War II.

As the Maddow series thus far points out, and will continue to point out, as an American society we became very deeply involved in support of Nazi Germany.  In a recent previous post, I called back another recent flashback to the days of the “silver shirts” in Minnesota Fascism MN Weisman, hearkening back to the “brown shirts” in Nazi Germany, and the “black shirts” in Mussolini’s Italy.  We are not, my friends, “exceptional” in any sense of the word….

Here’s what I said anticipating this podcast on October 8 (at that point I was not yet aware of the upcoming podcast):  “…there has now been six years of experience, including near two years including Jan. 6, 2021, to learn from experience some life lessons of today’s “T” party infatuation  with authoritarianism.”

and

October 13: Monday evening Rachel Maddow presented the first two segments of her podcast on pre-WWII seditious conspiracy in the United States… It is powerful, given in context with today.  Here is the link.”

 

 

Jesus

The notion for this post came on Sunday, October 9, based on two unrelated occurrences the same day.

It was preceded  by a lawn sign down the street, “Jesus Loves You”, planted some time earlier; and by another recent appeal from a nephew in Texas who’s become very active in a most worthwhile charity called Covenant House.  These two activities were also unrelated.  Except all four, and countless others, relate to “Christianity”, which in some way or other relate to “Jesus”.

Those who read this space on occasion know my background and behavior related to Christianity.  Those who are people just stopping by, I’m lifelong Catholic, in the peace and justice ‘wing’ of the church.

Most of what follows relates to the two occurrences on October 9.  Having said that, a source which seems reliable, says that there are more than 200 Christian denominations in the U.S., and 45,000 world-wide.  Christianity is hardly a monolith, and its a very human institution.  And Jesus is certainly a player in Judaism and the Muslim faith, among others.  His story, as told by others long after his death and resurrection, lives on, to be interpreted endlessly, in assorted Bibles and sermons….

Here are a couple of vignettes, just to encourage thought, based on two recent occurrences, for your consideration.

  1. October 15 at Mass the Gospel was from Luke (copied below).  The homilist, a retired Pastor and a particularly gifted preacher, chose to emphasize the phrase “…one of them realizing he had been healed, returned…and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.  He was a Samaritan.  Jesus said…”Ten were cleansed…where are the other nine?….”

(Above text in pdf form: Luke Samaritan Leper.  See note at end of post.)

How does this apply to you?  What does it mean?

Father Harry’s focus was on the historically negative relationship between the Samaritans and the Jews…same God, different rules…he compared their relationship as roughly akin to the present day Israeli/Palestinian relationship.  The Samaritans were not the good guys in the Jewish way of thinking….  But they were not all that different, either.

In the Bible story, one of the Lepers healed was Samaritan, and per the Gospel he was the only one of the ten to come back and say thank you.  The focus was on the other nine, likely some or most may have been of Jesus’ group, the Jews. “Where are the other nine?”, was the question.

The Priest was not so indirectly calling attention to our own tribalism in our own country.  I wish his message had been  recorded.  He gave great food for thought.

2.  Back home, a few hours later, we tuned in Sixty Minutes, a usual Sunday evening choice.  This particular program had a segment on the new President of the Southern Baptist Convention – a large Protestant Denomination in the throes of change; attempting to come out of a major sexual abuse scandal.

This was not a compare/contrast recommendation…simply an opportunity to learn a bit about human leadership in another religious organization going through tumultuous times; a crisis in leadership.

The new President of the Southern Baptists was a younger man from a small congregation somewhere in Texas, and the interview – what we saw – revealed a sincere man committed to positive change, but nonetheless constrained by his own personal beliefs, and the beliefs of others in the leadership of this large denomination.  The segment is always available through 60 Minutes, (Church and State, Oct 9) so I won’t interpret it, beyond saying what I said above.

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Personally, I’ve long ago decided that I am what I am and to each his own when it comes to choice of faith, regardless of what  that might be.  I mused in an earlier post that even in my own parish, on a given day, the nearest 100 people in proximity to me in the church probably have different opinions about many things, including relating to theology.  We’re just another community, each of us there for our own reasons.

One way or another we choose the leaders who are supposed to represent, in my case, Jesus’ values as recounted in the scripture.  Not an easy deal.  We all are responsible.

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In the scripture reading above, I included, on purpose, the copyright designation: the source of the words used in the Catholic version.

I’m not a Bible reader per se, but I probably have ten Bibles here, and I decided to look up the wording of the above quotation from Luke in two of them.  I also compare with the few words that I emphasized.

Grandma’s 1911 Catholic Bible: “…one of them, when he saw that he was ae clean, went back…and he fell on his face before his feet,, giving thanks; and this was a Samaritan…Jesus answering, said, Were not ten made clean? and where are the nine?….”

New Revised Standard (red line version): “Thence of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back…prostated himself at Jesus feet, and thanked him.  And he was a Samaritan…Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?”

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Where do you stand?  Who are “we”?  I would submit, these are not easy questions regardless of belief or non-belief.

 

 

 

Life Without Parole

Thursday, Nikolas Cruz was sentenced to Life in prison without parole for the 17 murders on Valentine’s Day, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  A good summary article from CNN is here.

Three members of the Jury declined to vote for the Death Penalty, permitted under Florida Law.  This has led to outrage.  I’m not surprised that there was not unanimity on the death sentence.

The post-decision outrage was predictable. Cruz committed a heinous crime.

I think the Life Without Parole was equally predictable.  Three people, for whatever reasons, did not believe that state imposition of death on the perpetrator was an appropriate penalty.

I’m wasn’t on the Jury, of course.  Had I been in that room, I doubt that I could have signed on to Death, particularly since the penalty of Life in Prison had already been agreed upon.

Vengeance – ‘an eye for an eye’ – seems a default response to actions such as the one carried out by Nikolas Cruz and his companion, an AR-15.  So does Life in Prison.  If memory serves, Cruz wants to die.  Odds are that his life span in prison will not be normal for someone his age.

Of course, Cruz’s gun and its millions of companions go unpunished in any way, free to commit the next carnage someplace.  We have blinders on.

Life in Prison is unproductive, as were things like Debtors Prison in olden days.  It solves nothing.

Restorative Justice seems to be a useful concept to really learn about.  The identified link seems to be a useful portal for beginning.

Another place to learn is The Forgiveness Project.

I personally know people in both Restorative Justice and The Forgiveness Project.   At minimum, take time to learn.

Neither concept is easy, but the alternatives – vengeance and lifelong incarceration – are not good alternatives for either the convicted or the society which did the convicting.

What Cruz did was a heinous crime.  Do we solve anything by piling on?  Similarly, do we solve anything by not calling to account the kind of weapons which made his carnage possible?  In Cruz’ case, the accomplice was a legally purchased AR-15.

POSTNOTE: I’ll always remember seeing the then-new film, Dead Man Walking, in 1996.  It is still available on-line, and worth the time.