Thursday, October 13, 2016

From the Heart: The wellspring to action

Last Sunday in silent Quaker worship, I was obsessed by a “monkey mind” dominated by this absurdist presidential campaign.

Finally, I concluded, I simply had to let go. But how?

Then I realized the chaos was in my mind.

What if I moved all of that “stuff” to my heart?

It was surprisingly easy. I simply refocused on my heart.

I immediately felt peace move to my chest and then wash over me.

My mental churning vanished.

The hard turmoil in my mind had melted to a balm
in my heart.

The energy was still there, but I was different.

Everything had changed.

                  •  •  •

Could it be that we sometimes are “using” the wrong part of ourselves as we face life’s challenges?

Do some things require heart while others call on reason? Or is there a sequence of heart/mind or, more often, mind/heart that we should follow.

Quakers speak of “leadings.” Being led, almost compelled, to act. In the past, Friends have been led to women’s suffrage, the emancipation of slaves, civil rights, conscientious objection, prison reform. The list is long.

Thinking about those leadings, I see they have taken shape in both mind and heart, but ultimately heart spurs us to action.

The wellspring of leadings is in the heart.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A post-election, populist coalition must find common ground

A red swath of Trumpism still winds a lazy “S” curve from Idaho and Montana down across the nation’s “Heartland” to the Deep South to Georgia and South Carolina. Add in the “islands” of Alaska, Indiana and West Virginia.

How could this be in light of revelations in the past few days (and, really, weeks) about the sickening pathology of Donald Trump?

The answer lies in what these states have in common. They are largely rural, they are grounded in a strong sense of individualism and White nativism. Several feed on a history of racism and xenophobia.

Their economies remain stagnant or threatened or both. Several are economically dependent on the maintenance and expansion of a toxic fossil fuel industry.

They are grounded in a “gun culture” and swayed by media-hyped fear and machismo.

We can safely surmise that “locker room talk” like Trumps is more likely to occur here.

For all of this, most proclaim themselves Christians. That’s one reason I’ve concluded that the last thing a returning Jesus, a Jew, would do is convert to Christianity. The biblical table tossing of Jerusalem will be child’s play compared to Jesus’ fury in the “Prosperity Gospel” mega-churches.

Whether Trump’s predatory behavior toward women is more common in these Red states is an open question. But in such rural settings, the role of women has been relatively frozen for decades. It is vital but uncelebrated in the culture. (The children know better! Thank you, Mom!)

Community celebrations are saved for Friday night high school football games, preceded by adolescent “locker room talk,” which may or may not take the form of an absurdist prayer for victory. God is my quarterback etc…)

You would think that Trump’s behavior to women alone would shift these states to purple.

It hasn’t.

Apparently the “girls” accept letting the “boys” be boys…even when they are no longer boys.

So what else is going on in the sweeping Red “S”? Why does Trump still run so strongly in the Red “S”?

One explanation stands out.

On November 8, Hillary Clinton will not win the election; Trump will lose it. Our next president will be a non-loser, not a winner.

Clinton’s “victory” will have mostly to do with Trump’s scrambled, depraved and dangerous mental state.

But Trump did stake out several spot-on positions that the Red S took to heart, and rightly so. Who, for instance, would deny that political and economic elites are in league and “run the country”? NB: Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address.

Several of those positions, by the way, were shared by Bernie Sanders, but more thoughtfully and civilly.

Sadly, they are already forgotten amid the campaign chaos. Clinton’s base support is among the economic elites and the military establishment. They are the real winners of this election. The rest of her campaign support has come from folks, like me, left with no other realistic candidate to turn to.

My guess is that events of the next four years will revive these “Populist” issues.

After this election, we need to pivot and rethink what we are about. We need to think about who “we” really are. “We” need to listen and get to know each other.

That “we” is a coalition of the disaffected in the Red states and those in the Blue states who voted for Sanders in the primaries. Minorities of color need to be welcomed and recruited to join the coalition.

The Red State legions being victimized by political and financial elites must shake off the misplaced and false fears of racism, sexism and immigration. Reformers on both sides must coalesce, not around hate, but justice for all. Those “Christians” must search their souls and live in the way Jesus commanded them to.

After November 8, we must find a common ground that defines the political landscape of 2020.

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