Posts Tagged ‘politics’

A reflection on Matthew 5:38-48

February 16, 2017

A reflection on Matthew 5:38-48 delivered during a prison communion service

We seem to be living more and more in times of division – deep division. There is a tendency, a human tendency, to group and label anyway. In scriptures we find the bad and the good, the just and the unjust, your neighbor and your enemy, the sheep and the goats.

So if we look at today’s society, we have divisions that are pretty normal. But there seems to be, now, an animosity, a distrust, a disdain, a willingness to judge rather than engage and listen.

There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground in many instances. There are those who love the Packers, but hate the Patriots, love the Cardinals but hate the Cubs, love or hate Democrats or Republicans, love or hate immigrants, refugees, people of color, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, unions, Planned Parenthood, the NRA.

But don’t we live in a pluralistic society with many philosophies, many viewpoints, and many beliefs? Brothers, that should be our strength, not a crack in our foundation. I am reminded of the strength when different entities are brought together. In biblical times, mud and straw made bricks. Today, carbon fiber-reinforced compounds are used to build jet fighters.

Why shouldn’t a society made up of many separate parts be stronger, more effective, more resilient, more growthful, and more life-giving? Sometimes what is needed is more confidence in our own principles and beliefs so that we can respond to differences with more tolerance, more patience, more humility … more love … that we may all reveal ourselves to be children of our heavenly Father.

I continue to hope

July 1, 2012

Fear, hatred, and bigotry. A palpable presence in our civil and political discourse. The coded language, positions taken, and policies subverted abound. Nevertheless, come Wednesday I will put up our flag and continue to hope.

An Immigration Reflection

May 7, 2012

A reflection on an interview of Luis Alberto Urrea by Bill Moyers on PBS, May 6, 2012


He says he looks Irish
He does –
His mother’s side.
Once had an accent
From Tijuana –
His father’s side.
An American –
With a border heart
That feels and shares the pain
With ears
That hear and convey the hope
With eyes
That peer through the desert heat waves
Toward a better life – a mirage?
Writing and writing, he writes
Writing for us to read
Reading that we might listen
Listening that we might understand
Understanding that we might share
And lend a voice
How many voices
To fill the silence?
How many “illegals”
Before our brown brothers and sisters
Are seen?
How many rejected souls
Before we give refuge,
A loving refuge?

© 2012 Thomas W. Cummins

More Music, Less Politics.

March 19, 2012

Here it is beyond mid-March, and my New Year’s resolution seems to be holding: More Music, Less Politics.

It has to do with my desire for inner peace, really. I had found upon several occasions over the past few years that I was in a different state at the end of days when I had the radio tuned to classical music rather than any of my favorite political talk or news shows.

Politics, the state of our economy, the country’s divisiveness and polarization exacerbated by the 9/11 crisis, and a host of other issues tend to unsettle my awareness and enjoyment of the present moment. It’s the things I can’t do anything about, the things over which I have little influence over the short run, that cause unnecessary and meaningless aggravation.

So now my days begin differently. For the past fifteen years, I would get up at 4:50 a.m. in order to wash my face, brush my teeth and get down to the kitchen in time for the 5:00 news. The radio would remain on until breakfast was complete, the dishwasher unloaded, and the newspaper retrieved.

After the newspaper was consumed, my quite time – candle and all – would begin at 6:45 and run until 7:30. Any of the day’s driving around, trips to the prison, or working in my office, would be accompanied by whatever non-music stations I could find. Needless to say, many political websites are also bookmarked on my desktop PC and my laptop.

Now when I get up at 4:50, I get to the kitchen when I get there, the radio stays off, and the rest of the routine proceeds in silence until 7:30.

If it’s a prison day, my 90 minute morning drive is accompanied by music or nothing. I had gotten in the habit of listening to the P.O.T.U.S. channel on XM radio or the Diane Rehm show on NPR.

On the way home from the prison in the afternoon, I will listen to a variety of news, opinion, and talk shows. I do want to stay current while avoiding a day-long saturation or total immersion. I admit to listening to biased programs as long as guests present opposing points of view, but I completely avoid the shrill extremes of either political party.

This morning on the way to the prison I was loading a variety of CDs onto the car’s hard disk drive but not listening to much of it. Instead, I decided to have the car be quiet and direct my attention to the red bud trees all over the Ozark countryside.  It was a peaceful ride, filled with reflection and preparation for my visits with the offenders in solitary. With my previous practice, the beauty of our early spring would have gone unnoticed.

Without knowing the reason or, perhaps, not noticing any difference, the men in solitary confinement experience a different “me” than they would otherwise. Most aren’t interested in politics anyway, and my being pretty up-to-date on the NCAA basketball tournament proved to be more useful.

As I write this, the entire evening has been without radio, TV, stereo, or internet music. It’s quite nice.

Less politics, more music!

January 4, 2012

New Year’s Resolution: Less politics, more music!

I spend quite a bit of time in the car traveling to the prisons five time per month (an hour and a half each way) and driving to northern Minnesota three times each year (fourteen hours each way). About 16,000 miles per year with all the other driving.

With XM radio, I have the P.O.T.U.S.  channel on quite often, Politics of the United States for the People of the United States. Commercial-free political coverage, the only commercials are for other XM programs and channels.

I have found, even while in my office, that the days when I listen to mostly music find me more content at day’s end than when I am getting all worked up over the philosophies and behaviors of our elected officials.

So what aggravates me now?

To me, shrinking government is code for not being willing to pay any taxes which could be used to help somebody, anybody. All they need to do is work harder or save more or utilize promised tax credits or vouchers. Yeah, right.

States rights would leave any social programs  (my term, an unutterable for one party) to each and every  state … regardless of resources …  showing an indifference to the consequences of “separate and unequal” care for those who struggle in today’s economy. And what kind of care for those who continue to suffer the fallout from centuries of slavery? We are already seeing this in voter ID laws, proposals to opt out of the healthcare law, etc., Draconian laws to purge undocumented residents.

Those who want our country back are those who have enjoyed and benefited from the privilege of their race, of having access to jobs and opportunities with little to no competition from people of color. And now there is “one of them” at the helm of our country?

Taking our country back is also a reaction to having black folks living in the White House. I suppose blacks serving coffee and vacuuming are OK.

By the way, if the reader believes we are in a post-racial society, I suggest getting out of your comfort zone a little more, away from your own crowd, out of the echo chamber, out of the house. If nothing else, note who is riding in your warm car and who is waiting at the bus stops.

Bogus charges of an agenda to take our country down the path to socialism, an agenda from the GOP’s playbook much of the time. I’d love to hear an example of socialism being pursued.

Charges that Obama’s policies have made the economy worse … no evidence. That Obama has been a failure, and McCain would have accomplished what?

Charges that Obama has taken the country off track. And it is off track because …… ?

So less politics, more music!

An unwillingness to govern for the common good.

November 22, 2011

I have said before, and I’ll say it again: One need not fear our country’s being under a theocracy of Islamic law. What we need to be vigilant for is the prospect of a Christian theocracy. Read what GOP candidates were talking about the other day in Iowa.

This is the kind of talk that has kept me away from voting Republican for the past several years. But it does fit right in with their platform of selfish indifference and an unwillingness to govern for the common good.