Category Archives: politics

a thought for thursday

Where after all do universal human rights begin? In small places, closes to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: The neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

Eleanor Roosevelt in remarks at the United Nations, March 27, 1958

The Abbreviated Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(from the University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Resource Center)
(click here for the unabridged version from the UN)

Article 1 Right to Equality
Article 2 Freedom from Discrimination
Article 3 Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
Article 4 Freedom from Slavery
Article 5 Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment
Article 6 Right to Recognition as a Person before the Law
Article 7 Right to Equality before the Law
Article 8 Right to Remedy by Competent Tribunal
Article 9 Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest and Exile
Article 10 Right to Fair Public Hearing
Article 11 Right to be Considered Innocent until Proven Guilty
Article 12 Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home and Correspondence
Article 13 Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country
Article 14 Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
Article 15 Right to a Nationality and the Freedom to Change It
Article 16 Right to Marriage and Family
Article 17 Right to Own Property
Article 18 Freedom of Belief and Religion
Article 19 Freedom of Opinion and Information
Article 20 Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Article 21 Right to Participate in Government and in Free Elections
Article 22 Right to Social Security
Article 23 Right to Desirable Work and to Join Trade Unions
Article 24 Right to Rest and Leisure
Article 25 Right to Adequate Living Standard
Article 26 Right to Education
Article 27 Right to Participate in the Cultural Life of Community
Article 28 Right to a Social Order that Articulates this Document
Article 29 Community Duties Essential to Free and Full Development
Article 30 Freedom from State or Personal Interference in the above Rights


Maxim Monday: Do not trust wealth

The Delphic Maxims have a bit to say on the subject of riches, as well as advice that isn’t specifically directed towards wealth, but none the less can be applied towards what one does with it.  They remind one to govern their expenses, to work for what they can own, to shun what belongs to others while guarding what one possesses.  They tell you to give what you have, and to pursue what is profitable, and always…nothing to excess.

But there is one more piece of advice that they give on the subject.

delphic maxim 128

It seems particularly fitting given the political climate and fiscal situation (and, as far as the debt goes, somewhat manufactured) as we get ready to go over the fiscal cliff of sequestration (which really will harm the economy and people, lots of people) to discuss this maxim.  Now, there a number of ways to interpret this maxim–we could talk about the love of money as the root of evil (to paraphrase St. Paul), or perhaps the idea that wealth can be fleeting if one isn’t careful, or even that wealth can be a way to cover up ugliness underneath (the so-called Gilded Age).  But honestly, when I hear this maxim, I think of Enron and World Com and the housing bubble and Goldman Sachs and the Koch brothers and…I could go on, but I won’t.

When I read “Do not trust wealth”, I don’t think of money itself, but the people behind the wealth.  Honestly, I’m reminded most of a Christian scripture–that its easier for camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to make it to heaven.

Perhaps that is unfair.  Rich people are not, after all, evil.  I’m not trying to say that wealth makes one malicious towards poor people.  Instead, I’m saying that good deal of people with money (politicians especially, and many Republicans in particular) seem to have lost touch with the reality of life for the rest of us.

hedgefund

Studies of charitable giving are quite interesting in this regard.  Poor people often give more of their money to charity (generally through a church organization) than wealthy people (wealthy people give more money overall, but poor people give a higher percentage of their income).  But, when wealth people live in economically diverse neighborhoods, and are reminded of the day to day realities of being poor, they tend to give more than both groups because they a) can afford it, and b) see the disparity of wealth in a personal way on a daily basis.

I was raised in a lower middle class neighborhood, I’ve never gone to bed hungry from lack of access to food or been homeless.  But I know what it is like to live from paycheck to paycheck.  I know what it is like to make the decision between an apartment you can barely afford so that your child can go to better school and a place you can better afford with an awful one.  I know what it is like to cross your fingers driving home from work because payday is tomorrow and the gas light has been on since you left in the morning.  I know what it is like to take half the medication you need, hoping it will get you to the point where you can afford to refill it, without landing in the emergency room.

And I count myself lucky, because I have a roof over my head, I have food in the pantry, and I have a job.  Simply by virtue of being poor here, I’m ahead of the game compared to the rest of the world.

blessed

But I’m still pissed off.  Especially about the sequester BS.  I four days, we will be laying off air traffic controllers, cutting the funding for Poison Control Centers,  a 22 day furlough for federal employees (BTW, this one reduces our family income by 20% over 6 months), reducing food aid for some 600,000 families, and nearly 400,000 people with assistance for mental disabilities risk losing out on needed services.  Instead, Congress (mostly House Republicans) is at a showboating stalemate over of closing loopholes in the corporate tax code and ending CORPORATE welfare (why the hell are companies like GE getting billion dollar refunds and why the hell are politicians giving multibillion dollar profit corporations like oil companies subsidies anyhow?).  This is completely and utterly asinine.  And the fact that a surfeit of Americans aren’t paying attention to this is infuriating.

We don’t make very much money, and we mostly live pay check to paycheck, but we already set our taxes up to take the max out–so at the end of the year, we get a pretty good tax return. We use it to pay bills and fix the car, and go out to eat a time or two, to pay the security deposit if we move apartments…but we don’t need all of it. Our family is compassionate and patriotic enough to let you raise our taxes, if it means feeding families that need food, ensuring that schools have enough money to teach kids, keeping ships and planes and tanks working and our military is ready and trained, preserving our wild spaces for future generations, maintaining our roads in good condition to promote transit and trade, ensuring clean air and water to promote health and welfare, and putting people back to work, so that they can take part in supporting the place where we all live.

Because, in the end…the wealth of our society–in its human capital and the worth of its natural resources for the future of that human capital matters more than how much wealth I have.


some random political ranting

Thoughts on the GOP: Apparently, the Republican Party is concerned with their image, and seems to think that the problem lies with the public’s perceived “lack of diversity”.  They are even asking for input (though you have to give them your email address to do it), so feel free to let them know how you feel!

Here’s my input (with some minor adjustments made for the transition from answering a survey to posting on a blog)…

The Republican Party needs to decide if they are going to be a party that supports a strong economy, or not.  We can only support the economy in a long-term, sustainable way by supporting workers (who are, after all, the people that put the most money into the economy), through investing in the environment and education (both of which offer the raw materials that the economy is based upon),  and ensuring equal rights for all citizens (which fosters the environment in which innovation is most successful). The current platform of the Republican Party denigrates women, racial minorities, and homosexuals by sticking government in places where it doesn’t belong–which seems hypocritical for a party that used to believe in small government.

Looking back, it seems that the Republican Party has been in a decline since Reagan and Bush Sr–it has become a downward spiral of intractability, ignorance, and bigotry (combined with a healthy dose of lack of common sense or compassion).  In the aftermath of debacle the Tea Party became, any remaining ideas of compassion before conservatism and prudence before partisan ideology seem to have completely left the building.  Once upon a time, Republicans believed in abolition, in an end to segregation, in conservation of the environment for future generations, in reasonable restrictions of firearms…now they just seem to believe in making rich folks richer.

The problem with this party isn’t a lack of diversity (although they seem to think the symptom is the disease).  The problem is the platform–it doesn’t appeal to the basic needs of a diverse culture.  There will never be enough women, racial or ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and/or homosexuals willing to compromise their personal and collective rights to overlook their restriction of them, even if they have ever agreed with (what used to be) a primary message of fiscal conservatism and small government.  As the youth of this nation, whom have grown up in a diverse culture, get to voting age, the power of this party will only continue to dwindle, unless there is a radical change of the current platform.

Republicans: If you are really concerned with your “diversity issues”, stop the fight on reproductive rights, stop the disenfranchisement of minorities, the elderly and the poor, stop the ban of same-sex civil marriage, and start acting like grown-ups in Congress.  It only serves to reinforce your image as a bunch of civil rights and social justice Luddites.  And then maybe, just maybe, people in the middle can come back to your party again (because if the Republicans move back to the middle, the Democrats will have no choice but to move further to the left)…and they will have regained their edge as the reasonable party, rather than the crazy one.

Of course, if this doesn’t happen, that’s okay too.  Since I’m not a Republican, I don’t care too much if you go the way of the Whigs.  As long as you take Eric Cantor with you.


Friday Musings

First tea of the day: None.  Today was a day without tea.  And it was a rough start.

#firstthrityone pics: I mentioned the rough start for the day without tea, right?  Part of that rough start included losing my good SD card which had the past week of pictures.  Needless to say, I had to get out the not-so-good SD card for Mom & Chickadee Day Out today.

This picture would be better for tomorrow, but our weather is totally uncooperative to this challenge

26-Chill(a day early)

26-Chill
(a day early)

:

Kale Fail:  Kale chips hate me.  Seriously…I either burn Kale chips or over salt them.  Or both.  Mostly both.

I love them enough that I keep eating them anyhow.  Which apparently is why I’m in such a good mood, even when I eff up the kale.

Organized blogging…I recently (like last week) went through my “drafts” folder.  It was a mess.  I have several posts in there from last year (and by last year, I mean last January) and before (one was from 2010).  So, I’ve been inspired by one of the bloggers I follow (I forgot whom and where, because it was a post from a while back, and I forgot to save the link) to try to be more organized and scheduled and stuff.  If I remember correctly (since I didn’t save the darn link), she has a low tech solution since she’s not always at the computer (which is so me, no matter how it might seem), and uses a planner to plan topics and a notebook to sort of plot outlines and stuff ahead. Or something like that.

Anyhow, check out my organized awesomeness (and my bangs):

Yup I know, I'm a dork!

Yup I know, I’m a dork!

BTW, I have bangs: So…I have bangs.  And I did not do it because the First Lady had bangs on Monday!  I swear!  Although, I don’t doubt that when I thought to myself “Gee, I wish I had the money for a hair cut right now!” the fact that I just saw bangs on the First Lady contributed to my subsequent thought of, “hey, I can cut my own bangs!!).

I’m not sure if I like them or not.  The ladies at work seem to–I was told that I looked about 10 years younger than I really am (they weren’t suffering from hat hair at the time).  But…there is part of me that looks at them (even after I’ve done them and they are cute) and feels like a kindergartner whose mom just trimmed her bangs too short right before picture day.

Moment of Zen: Sauntering, not hiking

There are always some people in the mountains who are known as “hikers.” They rush over the trail at high speed and take great delight in being the first to reach camp and in covering the greatest number of miles in the least possible time. they measure the trail in terms of speed and distance.

One day as I was resting in the shade Mr. Muir overtook me on the trail and began to chat in that friendly way in which he delights to talk with everyone he meets. I said to him: “Mr. Muir, someone told me you did not approve of the word ‘hike.’ Is that so?” His blue eyes flashed, and with his Scotch accent he replied: “I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike!

“Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”

John Muir lived up to his doctrine. He was usually the last man to reach camp. He never hurried. He stopped to get acquainted with individual trees along the way. He would hail people passing by and make them get down on hands and knees if necessary to see the beauty of some little bed of almost microscopic flowers. Usually he appeared at camp with some new flowers in his hat and a little piece of fir bough in his buttonhole.

Now, whether the derivation of saunter Muir gave me is scientific or fanciful, is there not in it another parable? There are people who “hike” through life. They measure life in terms of money and amusement; they rush along the trail of life feverishly seeking to make a dollar or gratify an appetite. How much better to “saunter” along this trail of life, to measure it in terms of beauty and love and friendship! How much finer to take time to know and understand the men and women along the way, to stop a while and let the beauty of the sunset possess the soul, to listen to what the trees are saying and the songs of the birds, and to gather the fragrant little flowers that bloom all along the trail of life for those who have eyes to see!

~~by Albert Palmer, from The Mountain Trail and Its Message(source)

Parting Thought: Sometimes (rarely), the news makes me smile.

Hoo-effing-RAH!  Its about time! (or how and when I might get arrested and live up to my senior superlative of “girl most likely to get arrested for chaining self to tree”)

And…Hoo-effing-RAH! Its about time, #2! (its nice of them to finally make it official, since we’ve been doing it since 1776)


Monday Maxims: Practice What is Just

Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for rights.*

At the beginning of this Maxim Monday enterprise I wrote about “being overcome by justice”, and its intersection with the 2nd principle of the Unitarian Universalist Association.  In it, I quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. a couple of times.  Somehow in a stroke of kismet or coincidence, I picked its companion maxim for Martin Luther King Day, not really thinking about the timing, until just before I sat down to write.  I had an entirely different post in mind until then…something in line with service (which I’ve talked about before) as a form of practicing justice…

The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.*

I think that this maxim happens to be one that Martin Luther King, Jr. might have been a fan of.

practice what is just

I’m not sure there is much I can say on this subject though, that he didn’t say.  And on that matter, I’d prefer to let him speak for himself.

There will be hundreds of posts and articles and news clips on Martin Luther King today, as a historical figure, as an icon for justice and civil rights, and as a husband and father.  I encourage everyone to watch or read them–the Civil Rights era is an important period of our time that we could all use to be more cognizant of…but this post is not about that, not precisely.

I think we all can agree that practicing justice is a good thing to do, even if we differ on what that means in our own lives, and how we feel compelled to express it.  Men (and women) like Martin Luther King do (and have done) a far better job of orating and demonstrating how we can be more just than I will ever be capable of doing.  But what I can do–probably my most important contribution towards bending the universe towards justice, is to teach my children what it means to be overcome by justice and to practice what is just, by talking to them about justice and our failings in living justly with honesty and integrity to the best of my ability and demonstrating just actions in my dealings with them and others.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.*

Today my Chickadee asked me a very serious question that I wasn’t quite ready to answer,”Why did a white man kill Martin Luther King? Is it because he was black?”  For an almost six year old, this is a serious question that she just didn’t know the answer to.  But for me…this question was just a little bit heartbreaking.

Just last week, my baby girl though of skin color as nothing more than nature’s Crayola box.  Just last week, my baby girl would tell you that “I’m not white, I’m peach” and would correct anyone that might suggest her bus buddy with brown skin was “black”.  As far as she was concerned, our skin colors were no more significant than the colors of flowers, and they should be accurately described.  In a mostly white neighborhood, the most significant physical trait of her bus buddy was not the color of her skin, but that “Miss M has ponytails that are better than mine because they have poof.”

And now, not only did she want to know about The Man With A Dream (as she has taken to calling Martin Luther King)–a question much easier to answer than what would follow, but she wanted to know  why someone would be mean to someone for having a different color of skin.  And then she wanted to know why people would think that they were better than other people for having a different color of skin.  And then she wanted to know why people had owned other people.  And she wanted to know why we are white, when we are really peach, and why people that are brown are called black, and why any of that matters, because we are all just people.  And then she wanted to know if having white skin made people do bad things.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.*

…And I had a hard time answering some of her questions.  I was raised in a family where skin color was treated like eye color…and I come from a place of racial privilege–I’ve experienced prejudice, but never on the basis of my skin color, and never as overt as that sort of prejudice can be.  I might intellectually understand that racism exists and where it stems from (we *do* do Civil War reenacting), but I don’t really understand the depths of hatred that it can and has descended to–I don’t get that kind of hatred, and I sure as hell don’t want my children to.  I might be guilty of saying something that is prejudiced simply because I come from a place of racial privilege, but that would be/would have been from ignorance, and not maliciousness (and I sincerely apologize if that has ever happened).

How do you explain all of that to a six year old?  Especially a six year old with a heart like butterfly wings (seriously, the kiddo gets upset at the idea of hurting someone’s feelings on accident), especially when there are six year olds around the world that LIVE this, on a daily basis. And if not now, from us, when and how will this lesson be taught?

The Hubby and I did our best to explain that people’s minds and hearts can and do change over time.  And that people that lived a long time ago had different ideas of what was right and wrong from ours, and that even then they argued over what was right and wrong like we do today.  Just because something was right (or wrong) then, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way…as our sense of morality grows into one that is more compassionate and more just, we can change what we do and say to be more equitable and to embrace equality…not just on a basis of race, but everywhere, for every quality that makes us different from one another.

We tried to tell her that sometimes people are afraid of people and things that are different from what they see or do on a daily basis and that sometimes people are afraid of change.  That sometimes when people are afraid, they think they need to fight against what they don’t understand, that the fear makes them hate, that the hate can poison their hearts, that poisoned hearts can make them do bad things.  We talked about the fact that people are just people, different and beautiful for it.  We talked about Martin Luther King, and that he believed in justice for all people that were disadvantaged, whether it be because of skin color, or economic status, or any of the other things that divide us, and we watched The Man With a Dream talk about the day when “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

I think that he might have liked to see Chickadee and Miss M skipping down the sidewalk, hand in hand, on their way for a play date.  I think that maybe, for all that practicing justice often means protesting, it can also means two heads bowed together over a coloring book, drinking cocoa, and watching My Little Pony.  Practicing justice is about doing what is right.  And what is more right than two six year olds than playing, together, oblivious to the controversies that might have stirred before they were even born?

*quotes are from Martin Luther King, Jr.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,217 other followers

%d bloggers like this: