Tag Archives: current-events

REFLECTIONS ON 2012 – HOPES FOR 2013

I love New Year’s Eve. I love celebrating the year that has ended; I love the anticipation of the New Year about to begin. I love contemplating the possibilities and potentials of the coming year and I love not knowing what lies ahead; the unknown intrigues and entices me with its mystery. As we close the book on the year gone by, the next adventure begins. New Year’s Day is only the first day of that adventure; it is the first page of what will become the book of the year 2013.

The book of 2012 is written; it is history. By all accounts, 2012 was a tumultuous year, filled from the beginning and throughout with dark and light chaos and uncertainty. Personally, for me, it was a very good year, a year of fun and adventure, filled with the love of family and friends and the safety and security of knowing I am loved, of knowing I belong. Sadly, for many, it was a very difficult year; a year filled with crisis, of financial hardships or tragic personal loss. For far too many, it was a year of unspeakable pain and unbearable sorrow; too many hearts were broken; too many dreams were senselessly shattered. Some overcame the year’s numerous challenges with grace and aplomb, elegantly circumventing obstacles in their path, while others valiantly struggled to hold on to their dignity as they stumbled or fell into every obstacle along their way. Political animosity reached a fevered pitch, and the quality of the discourse among politicians, as well as the electorate, deteriorated into contentiousness and acrimony; communication too often disintegrated into partisan posts on Facebook or rancorous tweets on Twitter. The important work of electing our president often became a silly farce; politics and politicians suffered a severe lack of gravitas this year, as the ridiculous all too often replaced the serious. It would have been funny had it not been so sad.

The senseless war in Afghanistan continued, as did the turmoil and violence in the Middle East and Africa. The war of violence against women around the world also continued, most notably in Afghanistan, Pakistan and witnessed most recently in India. In the United States, the self-anointed righteously superior used religion as a moral justification for truly immoral behaviors including verbal and legislative assaults on the rights of the LGBT community, the rights of voters, and the renewed and reinvigorated attack against a woman’s right to have self-determination and dominion over her body. In the fight to win battles women thought we had won years ago, this past year felt like déjà vu all over again.

In 2012, the working poor were shamed and union workers were demonized, while corporate titans greedily reaped the benefits of those working poor and union workers’ labor. Corporate insatiability for bigger profits was condoned in the name of “free enterprise,” while those seeking a share of those profits in the form of a decent, living wage were condemned as union thugs. This year, the disparity between the rich and poor grew wider and deeper, and sadly all too often the blame for this disparity was placed by the rich on the poor – the poor just didn’t try hard enough or want success badly enough; they were lazy and let’s face it, they were “moochers,” wanting something for nothing. The social safety net that so many Americans rely upon, and contribute to, including Medicare, social security, unemployment benefits, and food stamps, was vilified; “entitlements” became a dirty word and one more thing to disparage and ultimately, dismantle. The American middle class shrunk as the ranks of the working poor grew. Millions of children went to bed hungry. The effort to grow the middle class and enhance the lives of the working poor was frustrated every step of the way by a few self-serving politicians who were willing to pursue their own personal political agenda to the detriment of millions of Americans and the entire country’s economic recovery. The energy expended by the political few on behalf of the corporate few was simply astounding.

2012 was a year where we witnessed in so many ways the worst of humanity; however, it was also a year where we witnessed the very best. Around the world, there were amazing acts of individual courage and sacrifice. People, despite personal hardship, continued to show kindness and caring towards one another. People, despite threats to their personal well-being, continued to fight for greater freedom and stand up against tyranny. People continued to work selflessly and tirelessly on behalf of the less fortunate, providing shelter, food, medicine, emotional support and comfort. People steadfastly worked for the protection of the weakest and most vulnerable in society, defending the voiceless and the marginalized and the forgotten. There were human rights activists, animal rights activists, LGBT activists, union activists, environmental activists, anti-bullying activists; if there was a worthy cause, there were decent people ready to fight for it. People came together to provide emotional support and financial aid for those devastatingly impacted by natural disasters. And when horrific, unimaginable violence was inflicted upon 26 innocent lives, the whole world wept in sorrow with the families of Newtown.

Yes, 2012 gave witness to both the worst and best of humanity, but 2012 is done; it is now history. Today, within the still lingering resonance of all that was the year 2012, we look to the future; we each begin writing the story of 2013.

I do not know with certainty how the story we write of 2013 will evolve, and certainly, not how it will end. However, I do know some things. I know what I want our story to be – I have desires, I have hopes, I have dreams, for myself and for my world. I know that these things will help shape the form of 2013 – my personal energies, my imagination, my creativity- they will have impact, they will matter. I know that although there will be darkness, there will always be light to take that darkness away. I know that for every act of cruelty committed, there will be thousands of loving acts of kindness. I know that for every harsh word spoken in anger or hate, there will be many more spoken with understanding and love. I know that the path each of us has chosen to travel is ours alone; I also know that we do not have to travel our path alone. These things I know reflect the very best of humanity; knowing these things to be true fills my heart with an abundance of gratitude.

2013 is a book filled with blank pages, waiting for us to write the story that we together will create. I hope that the pages you write will be filled with a joyous spirit of adventure. I hope you fill your pages with kindness, compassion, caring, peace, joy, and gratitude; I hope you fill them with your passion, hopes and dreams. I hope you dare to fill them with love.

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Why I Will Vote For President Obama

I am a Liberal, a Progressive, a Lefty, a Radical Feminist. I proudly embrace these labels because of the values they represent. These are my values and why I have supported and continue to support President Obama – I believe he has proven that he shares these values and therefore shares my vision of the values I believe will be at the heart of the American future we are creating.

For me, this election is all about a choice, a choice between 2 different sets of values. Values matter. Personal values reflect what matters most to the individual in the living of her life, of what gives her life meaning and significance. Political policies reflect the values of the politician proposing the policies; what a politician chooses to spend tax dollars on reflects what she values. Party platforms reflect the values of that political Party – what the Party says matters most – which is a clear indication of how they would govern. Our vote is our way of claiming and owning the values we want to see reflected by those in whom we are placing our trust to govern.

So what are the values I hold that define me as a liberal, progressive, lefty, radical feminist? (They are not really that far-out in my opinion but there are those who seem to think these values are somehow un-American and that I am someone to fear and from whom they have to take America “back,” whatever that means.)

I value the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe we all should have the liberty to choose whom we love and whom we marry. In that pursuit of happiness, we all should have the liberty to create our family according to our choosing and not have government mandating what the proper definition of family (or marriage) is and should be.

I value our democracy so I value voting and believe in voter’s rights. In the democracy I value, it is the right of every citizen to vote and have her voice heard. The government should protect this right for all citizens and not actively seek to make it harder to vote for those who are senior, poor or are a minority.

I value the separation of church and state. No God and no religion should ever be mandated the “right” God or religion for America (or the rest of the world, either).

I value women so I believe women should be paid the same amount for the same work. I believe women should be the deciders when it comes to their healthcare. I believe in a woman’s right to choose when or if she has a baby. I believe women should always have their voices heard and valued when politicians debate issues that concern women.

I value community. We are individuals on our very unique life’s journey but a shared path on that journey is the community we have co-created, the community that is The United States of America. Everything that is America is the result of what generations of Americans have created together with their combined strengths and weaknesses, their combined dreams and aspirations, their shared hopes and fears; their sweat, blood and tears. America is a community of 300 million people, and no matter how independent each one of us is, we are not separate from one another – we have impact, we have presence, we give and we receive from each other, in both small and large ways. We work together for the common good. We support each other in times of need. We care about our mutual welfare.

I value Government. Corporations aren’t people but community is and government has a vital role to play in providing for the safety, security and well-being of the people of this community because no individual can do all that on her own. We pay taxes to support the general welfare – taxes are a form of shared contribution to the community of which we are a part and from which we benefit. I can’t protect the community from those who would put profit above the safety of the cars we drive, the trains we ride, the toys we buy for our children, the drugs we take, or the food we put on our table, but government can. I can’t help protect my community from those who would put monetary profit above clean air and clean water and from those who would put monetary profit above the protection and preservation of our natural habitats and the wild-life that shares these habitats, but government can. I can’t protect my community from discrimination in employment, education or housing because of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation, but government can. I can’t provide access to affordable, quality health care to those in need so they can live life free from the burden and fear of medical bills that could put them in financial ruin and negatively impact the rest of my community, but government can. Public schools? Fire and police protection? A social safety net for seniors, the sick, the poor, those struggling to provide a safe home for their families? Explore space?  Invest in infrastructure?   These are just some of the “big” things that only can be done well when we do them together, and we do them together through our government.

It would be nice if we didn’t need laws and regulations, if everyone did the right thing by everyone else out of mutual respect and caring, but that is not the world in which we live. At least, not yet. Government is not the enemy – government is the governing arm of our community, designed to do the things we can’t do alone. When we lose sight of the fact we are a community, that we have certain moral obligations to one another and that government of the people, by the people and for the people plays a significant role in that, then we lose a fundamental value of what it means to be an American.

As Abraham Lincoln said so well: “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all or cannot so well do for themselves in their separate and individual capacities.”

I value the global community and so I believe in coalitions, in partnerships, in respecting and working together in cooperation with other members of this community. I believe in patient diplomacy. I believe in always seeking a non-violent solution to a global threat. I believe in restraint on when or if to deploy military force. I believe it is inhumane to demonize others, to diminish others in the world who are different. My community is a member of the larger global community and therefore should do its part for the safety, security and well-being of that community. I believe the United States should be an example to other nations in the way we respect others and in the way we honor our core principles even when times are challenging.

These are not my only values but they form the core of what I believe matters in the living of life.   So as I look at my choices this election, it is clear to me there is only one candidate running for president who shares my values, and that is the man who is president, Barack Obama. Do I think he is perfect? Of course not. Have I agreed with everything he has done? Again, of course not. But I am not voting for perfection in either the man or the policies – I am voting for a set a values that I believe are critical for the future of this country and a president who at his core knows the values that matter most in the living of life; values that reflect a more just and fair society where individual success is not measured only in dollars and cents. President Obama has proven to me that he shares my values and my vision for the future of the country I love.

I also value and admire Barack Obama, and not only because he shares my values and my vision for America. I value his  intelligence, his patience, his calm demeanor especially during these turbulent times.  I value his depth of character, his integrity and his family values.  I value his deliberateness in dealing with issues and his ability to focus on the current picture while never losing sight of the bigger picture – a true sign of wisdom. I admire and am grateful to him for the policies he put in place and the actions he took after taking office and discovering the economy was in worse shape than anyone had predicted – it truly was in free fall, we were on the brink of a depression, and he stopped the fall and has slowly brought us back on the road to recovery. I admire his regard for human dignity.    I admire  his ability to withstand with such grace the constant onslaught of the “haters” – those, including politicians with whom he has to work, who from day one and to this day continue to assault his character, his religion, his patriotism and even his legitimacy to be president. They constantly accuse him of things he doesn’t believe, hasn’t done and has no plans to do. While I can understand disagreeing with him on issues and believing there are better options for dealing with the economy, I do not understand this constant barrage of lies and hate. I know it has nothing to do with his policies, because the lying and hate began before he ever stepped into the office. This is not policy driven, it is driven by something else, something that to me seems completely irrational and is sourced in something much deeper than legitimate political differences.

And besides the “haters” he has been faced with a Republican opposition that also began on the day of his inauguration and has been relentless ever since. When the stated goal by those with whom he has to work to get things done is to make sure he is a one-term president and they agree to oppose everything he proposes – even stuff that they used to agree with! – so that he will not be able to claim any victories or successes, well, I am amazed President Obama has been able to get so much done anyway . And I only think of how much better off the country would be today if these men who trumpet their patriotism at every opportunity would have demonstrated that patriotism. What they demonstrated by their concerted effort to thwart President Obama’s every attempt to revive this economy – an economy they had helped put into financial ruin with two unfunded wars, an unfunded entitlement program, and 2 tax cuts that exploded the deficit – was their cynicism and their contempt, not only contempt for Obama the man, but for Obama as the duly elected leader of this country, the country they supposedly love.

I still believe in the power of hope and the change that is possible when that hope is shared by many. I still believe that greatness is possible, for President Obama and for our country. I still believe it is not too late to create that reality.  And that is why I will proudly cast my vote on Nov. 6th for President Barack Obama.