Archive for the ‘Social Justice’ Category

A withering stigma

November 14, 2011

Comparisons of the sex abuse scandal at Penn State to those within the Catholic church are being made easily and without hesitation.

An examination of how things have been handled, however, yields little in common.  The cover-ups and disregard for the consequences of such indifference by the Vatican and involved dioceses are inexcusable. Such inactions and obliviousness have, in my opinion,  rendered the hierarchy  voiceless for some time to come on nearly any pronouncement or directive they bring forward,  especially any regarding pelvic issues – their ever-present, uninformed fixation.

Penn State’s Board of Trustees cleaned house. Perhaps if a few red hats or mitres were sent home to live with relatives … years ago … things could have been different, fewer young children would have been irreparably harmed, our faithful and effective priests would not be living and ministering under a withering stigma.

Let’s not hold our breath.

July 2, 2011

Our flag is up for the 4th of July weekend. Always a beautiful sight: the red, white and blue against the green trees and blue sky. The flag is a symbol of all that our country stands for, hopes for, strives toward.

Even those of us who are called progressives or liberals have a love of country (and a love of God). But it’s a love as one loves a child, filled with expectations that it will grow and mature, that it will be a force for good. That it will care about all people, and especially care for many whenever it is a necessity.

Liberals tend to not have a blind, flag-waving patriotism filled with exclusion and indifference toward any and all who fail to measure up or toward those who fail to march to the tune we hear rather than their own.

Nor do we hold a  patriotism embracing exceptionalism. As I hear exceptionalism, it carelessly and recklessly manifests itself through a global entitlement free of any sense of wrongdoing. An entitlement to deal with others through a heavy-handed and punitive diplomacy. We liberals seem to have a sense of gratitude rather than privilege.

Liberals exhibit compassion toward those who struggle. We recognize the difference between “won’t” and “can’t” when thinking about benefits and assistance for the poor, homeless, physically and developmentally disabled, jobless, sick, and those subjected to abuse and discrimination. I never met a poor person who was in it for the money.

Liberals aren’t afraid of foreigners, gay people, Muslims, immigration. In general we are a pretty understanding and accepting  bunch, comfortable in our own skin … most of the time.

If you can, listen to talk shows on the right and on the left. Which one finds it necessary to yell and scream, as though talking louder makes any more sense? But those who scream outrageous and unfounded comments do have their followers, and their followers do vote. Often against their own self-interest, but they do vote.

Some of the talk show hosts on the extreme right confuse Nazis, fascists, socialists. It’s a shame. Otherwise they would have seen how far we were being driven into becoming a fascist state during the 2000 – 2008 time period. What was going on was  much more intentional and vigorous than the  current administration is (perceived to be) moving toward socialism.

It will be interesting to see whom the Republicans choose to help rid the White House of those black people. So far, there isn’t one I would trust roaming those halls. Anyone who doesn’t think race is behind the obstruction and lack of cooperation in an effort to have President Obama be a one term president, doesn’t get out much. “Take our country back” means what? if not a thinly veiled display of white privilege.

Many think Obama is doing a lousy job, completely forgetting about the alternative. Oh, boy! Wouldn’t we be having fun now with the McCain/Palin leadership team while McConnell and Boehner kneel before the throne.

My congressman, Todd Akin, says liberals have a “hatred for God.” That’s funny. Most of the liberals I know are quite the opposite. One only has to look at which party cares about whom, which party really follows the social justice agenda of most major religions, to draw some conclusion as to where God fits in one’s life. Take any piece of Republican legislation and see if it helps people who need help. Of course I mean current day Republicans, not those who used to be committed to moving the country forward.

Our flag will fly all weekend. Maybe Grover Norquist’s pledge-puppets will work all weekend. Perhaps wisdom won’t take a holiday. But let’s not hold our breath.

A remarkable program

November 13, 2010

This afternoon, I will head downtown for a donor appreciation gathering for those who donated cars during the past year or so. Should be fun.

A remarkable program of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, St. Louis Council. Donated autos are fixed up via “Vinnie’s Autos” and sold for$960. The recipients pay $80 per month for one year. Cars donated typically have values  several times that amount.

Our old 90 Honda Accord needed a life other than sitting in the driveway. We donated our car around Thanksgiving last year. Someone should get another five years of use. The new owner may even be at the dinner.

We’ll have once again put our republic at risk

November 1, 2010

Keep my American Flag off your Foreign car” Saw that the other day as a stick-on decal  on the side of a van. I wouldn’t know where to begin. Probably with the word “my.” When anger and ignorance mix … well we’ll see tomorrow, won’t we.

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Tomorrow is election day. Some observations are in order:

First, my voice, as well as the voice of millions,  has been diminished due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s misguided and unwise decision on corporations’ having the same rights as individuals. I’ll buy that when I see a corporation in the voting booth.There is no constitutional imperative to see corporate buying of influence with obscene contributions as a free speech issue, especially when the free speech of others is drowned out.

Tons of money have poured in with no donors taking any responsibility for stuffing the war chests of a most peculiar and unqualified bunch of candidates. Of course when one takes a close look at some of the Tea Party favorites, I’d resist being pointed out too. Maybe hiding  is good.

I’m afraid we are about to get the congress we deserve.

I was listening to the radio today where a panel was discussing how tomorrow is mainly a protest vote. Fine. But aren’t people aware that a vote against someone is a vote for someone else? And do we have a collective amnesia about who that someone else is?

People are frustrated and angry at the slow progress of a messy and unpredictable economic recovery. So they are opting instead for those who were asleep at the switch while their cronies presided over a very controlled and predictable economic train wreck. A train wreck powered by selfish indifference, greed, and a compliant regulatory system.

You want to shrink government, cut spending, reduce taxes? You want to get government out of our lives and let the markets prevail? An economic collapse followed by a huge loss of jobs is what we got most recently as a consequence of such thinking. Does anyone predict a different outcome? If someone cost me my job or my retirement portfolio, I don’t think I’d want to see them sitting in the locomotive at the controls anytime soon … if ever.

You want to extend tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 because small businesses are the job creators? The claim is that economic growth would be stifled with the tax increase. Never mind that 10 years of those cuts didn’t create any jobs. In fact, millions of jobs were lost.

BTW, very few small businesses have a profit of $250k or more. First of all, your revenue would have to be very large … an elite group. Secondly, bonuses are paid, equipment is purchased, employees are hired. Anything to avoid paying taxes at the end of the year. Is it possible higher taxes, or the threat of, stimulates some activity?

If anyone thinks Nancy Pelosi is annoying and a threat to “real Americans,” wait til we’ve listened to John Boehner for a while. It looks as though he could be the next Speaker of the House. If that guy thinks about anything from the position of a statesman, could someone tell me when that is?

Mitch McConnell isn’t far behind as a  man devoid of a stature of governance. His job description, in his words, is to assure that Obama is a one-term president. This is from a congressional leader! I smell the “r” word everytime he opens his mouth … and I don’t mean Republican … and that feeds red meat to the base.

Does anyone else wonder what has become of the Grand Old Party? Has it gone the way of the Pontiac? (Come to think of it, traditional middle class cars: Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Mercury, are being eliminated … as is the middle class itself. Cadillac, Lincoln, Lexus, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Acura, etc., are doing fine.)

In any event, I’ll head to the polls tomorrow and do what I can. Fear has been whipped up. Those with limited information will dance to the music of intolerance and hatred. The trouble is that most of those who choose to follow the extremists will find themselves on the outside looking in. That trojan horse of down-home folksiness will disgorge the monied country club set, and we’ll have once again put our republic at risk.

There must be some hurry

October 20, 2010

Even though the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Roderick Nunley’s stay of execution yesterday, and the U.S. Supreme Court did likewise, Missouri’s Attorney General will continue to press for his execution. The state has until midnight tonight to complete the  execution on its planned date of October 20.

I wish, often, that our legal system was as interested in justice as it is in vengeance. Why, if there are legitimate legal issues surrounding Nunley’s case, would anyone want to press on toward taking his life? There must be some hurry I don’t understand.

A small attempt to be present

October 13, 2010

Missouri has an execution scheduled for 12:01 a.m. on October 20. I have known Roderick Nunley for nearly 5 years, and we have talked on a regular basis during my chaplain visits at his cell door.

On the evening of October 19, I will hold my own personal vigil as a small attempt to be present to the reality of what’s happening in that space and time.