Thursday, January 19, 2017

Two topics concerning me: 1.Trump and the Inaugural Church Service at Washington National Cathedral and 2, More important than D. C. statehood to me................

1. I know the immediate reaction of some to the tradition of a prayer service on the day after the inaugural might well be,"Doesn't it violate the separation of church and state?" But it is just one of a number of those well-established traditions in this field such as the fact that there's a chaplain in the Congress who provides prayers every day. And so I was gratified that the tradition lives on and that Trump would be away from his tweeting long enough participate in a service that might provide divine assistance. Little did I realize that he was expanding the authority of the executive branch of government to the church. Consider this quote from The Washington Post:

According to the Right Rev. Marianne Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Washington, “Trump asked that there be no preaching during the interfaith service." 

Rather than attributing this to his tendency to follow the historic action as certain dictators I'm wondering if his patience is so limited that he is unable to sit for this length of time or if he is unable to have his tweeting curtailed for this long a period.

2.  More important to me than statehood for the District of Columbia is the loss of freedoms we have as individual citizens to make basic decisions effecting our lives. The recent election has only underscored how increasingly difficult it will be for District statehood to gain any traction.   Yet the front page of The Washington Post on Thursday, January 19 discloses the enormity of our continued loss of ability to control our lives as individual citizens. Even more important to me than "taxation without representation" is the loss of my ability to control the basic and essential aspect of my life.  The article speaks of rolling back gun control laws and the availability of local tax dollars for abortions .And for me personally at 91 would be be the denial of my right to die with dignity.  I'm personally offended by the affront of someone like "United States Representative Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah) vowed last week to use his perch atop the House Oversight Committee to roll back the law making the District the seventh jurisdiction to allow terminally ill patients to legally in their lives."

Who is he to tell me how to live or die?  Just because I live in the District!  I realize and respect the great effort and strong feeling of many who have sought statehood for the District. It's time, however to realize it's politically (and to some degree, in my mind, logically) impractical and impossible. Is not perhaps a new strategy and/or legal venues possible for achieving basic human dignity and rights?

A good place to work to make America truly great would be to give the people of the District an opportunity and resources to work with the president and Congress to make it the "Shining City on The Hill" it has the promise and potential to be!



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How have you continued to maintain such a youthful countenance?

Sorry I forgot the totality of the question, but this is an answer I gave to one of Ask Me Anything?
As I recall, it was a question from someone struggling with some of the pressure and issues of life.

OMG, this is such a marvelous question and one that I wish I were insightful enough to give a brief, meaningful answer. At first I was struck by how simple it is and that the answer is found in your question. "Keep... childlike wonder". Eureka, there it is, "Keep Childlike Wonder". In many ways I sincerely believe that has been my "Fountain of Youth". (I realize this sounds a great deal like one of the most forceful teaching of a man called Jesus, and yet I consider myself for the past 10 years, an agnostic atheist.")
And so for the nonbeliever (a term I disdain) let me try to list a few "childlike" characteristics" that I have found helpful.
  1. Upon arising in the morning try to focus solely on the beauty of this day and the good I have around me. 
  2. Reach out by really look at (and possibly) greet people on the street
  3. Read biographies to look at the lives of others.
  4. Seek and accept the friendship and joy of others.
  5. Take time during the day for some type of meditation
Such a good question I may put it on my "rant and rave blog

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sharing one "conversation" I've had on Reddit's ASK ME ANYTHING!

I've been amazed at how often a question of this nature has been asked. I wondered why, and one response was that it was a curiosity about when our society changed from a simpler time to a more hectic frenetic lifestyle.  Any other thoughts?


What is your favorite decade and why?

Monday, December 5, 2016

The importance of a caring, supportive government!

Last week four of my days were absorbed by visits to a doctor. Each one was an expensive specialist. And the week before that I had my annual physical. The cost to me will probably be minuscule. I am so grateful for a federal government that supervises Medicare and a state government that provides me with supplementary insurance because of my years of service as an educator. Yet the cost of my much appreciated physical well-being is minuscule in comparison to the finances the federal government provided in extending the life of my wife (now deceased) for many years thanks to a kidney transplant. And further that two of my children are alive because of the kidney transplant also provided at federal government expense. The expense of ANY ONE of these operations without such assistance would have wreaked havoc upon my ability to enjoy life in retirement.

And I leave it to the reader to regularly look for those things "governments" provide to enrich our lives that we all take too much for granted.

PS – But I would be remiss if I did not also pay tribute to individuals and family units that made the transplants possible:

– The family of the individual whose organs were used in transplants.
– The student who donated one of her kidneys to her former professor.
– The friend who donated one of her kidneys.
– And of course all those in the development of science and its application to make such "miracles" possible.

I think it was Barbra who sang about, "People who need people.........."

Ron

Monday, November 21, 2016

Here are some thoughts I "just had to get off my mind" from a week ago!

DON'T JUST DEMONSTRATE EDUCATE and COMMUNICATE I have nothing against demonstrations! There's a time and place for them and they have resulted in a great deal of progress in improving the world's and particularly the American social structure. But to put it crassly and crudely, we are dealing with a different "animal" than we have confronted before. Here is an individual whose egotistical, perverse and illogical thinking has found a response in a frustrated segment of American society. An individual whose nihilistic quest for power divided the American populace and was expressed through lies and falsehoods that were reminiscent of dictators of the past. But the people have spoken. He is our president and we must not follow recent precedence and do everything in our power to have him fail. So what is my plan? Here's a man who thinks only of power and that any means justify his ends. Here is a man who has little understanding of the nuances of the American democracy and the subtleties and tradition of government. Just consider two of his first pronouncements as President-elect as he confronts two of the most "hot button" issues that have faced the electorate over the past half-century: abortion and marriage equality! An alert electorate should know how much he has waffled on both these issues in the recent past. And now in trying to satisfy a greater audience he shows his ignorance by passing one issue off as established law and the other as something to be decided by the individual states. How limited is his knowledge not only of the law but also of the injustice and unfairness to individuals. What is his belief? Legal in Oregon and criminal in Texas? How can a woman in Texas with limited funds make the trip? How can she follow her conscience and not bring a severely dis-formed fetus into the world and create unspeakable misery for herself and society? So what possibly can be done? Rather than succumb to power, there are other vehicles for bringing change. 1. Here is a man who believes in communication who has used social media to his advantage and has adroitly manipulated the free press to get his message across. Let's inundate him with truth and a greater understanding of the complexities of society for those who have not been blessed with life's advantages as he has. Let's so overwhelm the postal system with conventional mail that it will no longer be in the red – thus helping the economy – and getting his attention in this one way. At the same time let's use the social media so thoroughly that it might even cause his twittering to cease. 2. Here is a man who is the epitome of the elite American who has no knowledge of the real essence of America. He needs to be educated. Indeed I feel sorry for a man who thinks only of control, manipulation and is so self-centered that he thinks only of his own welfare – who flaunts the conventions of American society by doing everything he can to keep from paying federal income tax and not even being honest with America by failing to disclose his financial status. A man who in business dealings thinks only of himself and the privileged few who are investment partners with him. The essence of America is change. The power of the protest was extremely valuable at one time. It's time for the moral fiber of America to step forward and take a stand bringing enlightenment and opportunity for all through the moral force spoken of by recent leaders and the founders of the great religions of the world. But I must take leave for Thanksgiving. But I feel compelled to again bring you the 20 minutes of thoughts from my Unitarian minister who compares Trummp's WALL with a TABLE - the traditional THANKSGIVING TABLE where all are welcome. It can be heard at http://www.all-souls.org/past-sermons

Friday, November 11, 2016

Putting the election in perspective through a remarkable experiene

How dramatic to see some 250 Muslim men and 25 Muslim women giving their rapt attention to their Imam for Friday noontime prayers in the basement of our Christian church. It was striking to see the beauty of their rugs, the prone, prayerful position of the participants, the rapt attention to their Arabic prayers (indecipherable to the three non-Muslims in the room) and the inspiring spiritual words delivered by the Imam that we could all appreciate.

I attended because I felt that I (and two others of our church members) could provide succor and support as we had done previously when the initial outbreaks of Islamophobia "broke out" in our land. At that time we provided welcome signs before and coffee after their service. It was gratifying to make friends and have our welcoming attempts so warmly appreciated. This time we felt the need to do more – to help them and show our support in joint worship.

While old friendships were renewed and appreciation expressed for our support, the most amazing aspect of the experience for me was the emotional spiritual impact I received during worship. How striking that it was I who was comforted by an "immigrant from Sudan" reminded me that "our countries system of checks and balances provides protection"!  How moving were the words of the Imam in one service as he spoke of the need for understanding that justice and love would prevail. In the second service a different Imam stressed that while we cannot control what others do we can only continue to show patience and understanding within ourselves.

How remarkable that in trying to reach out to others I was helped and finally able to put the events in a broader perspective.

And how confirmed I feel in a view I have been attempting to express ever since I began "Ranting and Raving": that religion has been a major culprit in separating people and causing heinous division and conflict, but that it is only through an fuller understanding of religion that we will achieve world peace and understanding.

I look forward to increased discussion and dialogue in the few years I have left to try to continue the arc of justice and equality for all.

Ron

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The only way I know to vent my frustration about election 2016!

What can I possibly say after an election that results in having elected as my president a man who has constantly lied and used language and techniques that offend me? Certainly I'm tempted to follow the pattern set by Republicans recently when Barack Obama was elected president – to hope that he fails.

But how counterproductive that would be! The past eight years of heroic leadership by Obama has shown how difficult it is to make progress when obstructionism is the major focus of the opposition party.  How bleak it is when one realizes that this new "leadership" will be the face of America for the next four and possibly eight years.  How sad that the progress of the last eight years of more inclusiveness is vulnerable and can be overturned by the union of a conservative party led by an egotistic showman.

But the historic leadership of the United States as a bastion of freedom and opportunity for all has been built on a democratic foundation that enables constructive change to be made. While the results of the election have been extremely disappointing, I find a "path to the future" in the recent Democratic primaries and the pronouncements of the party platform. THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAKING CHANGE IN THE TRULY DEMOCRATIC WAY CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION!
We do not have to put up with four years.  With a "know nothing" preside we do not have to put up with four years (using words that sink to HIS level).  It is in Congress* that the action can (AND SHOULD) take place,  And it calls for ALL OF US who were so energized by the Bernie supporters and all who were so repulsed by the candidacy of Donald (including responsible Republicans) to
BEGIN NOW TO START CHANGING CONGRESS IN TWO YEARS.  It is the nitty gritty work of democracy and something we must all commit to.

To me, the lessons of this election are myriad and begin with the need for all who want true justice and opportunity for all and the progress of the last eight years to ignore petty differences and unite to CHANGE THE MAKEUP OF CONGRESS IN 2020!

Indeed in my almost 91 years I have never seen such a disappointing election.  I'll have much more to say in the next few weeks.  I hope you will stay tuned.

Ron

*See Franklin Foer's article

 http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/11/what_donald_trump_might_do_with_the_powers_of_the_presidency.html