Moving along the path …

I am now posting primarily to HolySmokeOnTheWater.com because its structure is better suited to my rambling interests: theology, Christianity, my opinions, snippets of what I am reading and hearing,…  NotesFromTheMargins.wordpress.com is where I put the dialogues I have with people.  I will continue to post items addressing Teachable Moments here.  Please join me on these other sites.  I miss you.

Thank you.  Catherine (Kitsy) Stratton.

Call it ‘Resistance Aikido’

President Trump is intent on busting up bureaucracies and destroying regulations.  Before you protest, think.  Have you ever been hampered by a governmental rule, limit, or regulation when attempting to further your causes?  Although your interests and values may run opposite to Trump’s, you can benefit from his actions and momentum.

Here are some strategies I have recommended to local resistance movements:

When the regulations are dropped, push things through. Don’t wait. In the confusion, much ground can be gained.

Can you benefit from a reduction in ethics rules? For example, government employees are (or were when I was an employee) restricted from accepting fees for public speaking. If similar regulations get dropped, how can you benefit? What have you been prevented from doing because it may be misconstrued as being unethical? Are there people, agencies, or groups you can approach now that were off-limits before? Is there information or other assistance you can get now that was not accessible or was too-classified before?

What benefits, that Trump intends for the wealthiest few, can we get in line for? What about asking the wealthiest few to pass along to the needy what has now been lost. Are there members of the wealthiest 2% that support the weak, disabled, uneducated, marginalized, or poorly tended to? Would the wealthiest tech billionaires consider devoting the money and benefits that they will soon gain, by way of Trump deregulation, to (continue and further) the efforts to provide internet, cell phone, and digital information access to the poorest communities? Has anyone asked them to?

When bureaucracies are busted up, other agencies my be able to address issues (particularly if there is a law stating that said issue must be addressed) without lots of limits yet in place. For example, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the White House was restricted in what it could put on the internet (long approval processes) but a branch of NOAA had no such restrictions, hence my posting of data and analyses supporting VP Gore’s briefings on climate change. When we lose a government service due to the loss of an agency, try a work around. Ask someone else.

Will limits and restrictions on what is considered a non-profit be reduced or dropped? The ruling that political statements and endorsements cannot be made from a pulpit (because it calls into question a church’s non-profit standing) is going to be, or has been, dropped. Go to it. Start preaching from pulpits. Get church endorsements for legislation or community action. Take up collections for causes during the service. Both sides get to play by the change in rules.

Going back to capital punishment in schools may possibly be addressed. What works when kids act out? Is there a method that really works? Solitude? Time alone with music or inspirational messages? Counseling?  If school prayer is implemented, then try also school meditation. What about proposing teaching kindness as a required subject in schools? What about courses on cooperation and success? When they push pledging allegiance to the flag, make sure they emphasize “with Liberty and Justice for ALL.”

Play their game. Use their changes. Call it ‘Resistance Aikido.’

Celestial Navigation

On my former blog, The View from 5022, I wrote about making necessary adjustments to one’s life and efforts by using the analogy of sailing.  The post is titled “Coming About.”  A few nights ago, I performed the equivalent of pumping out the bilge, trimming the sails, and charting a new course.

To continue with that analogy, since the end of last year, I have experienced stalls, squalls, and I’ve run aground a few times.  But more recently, there have been breaks in the clouds and a freshening breeze.  When I crawled into bed Monday night, I knew there was much to be thankful for but, because of all of it, I felt a bit battered.  I grabbed a pen and the closest thing to write on, a prayer and praise journal (which was fitting), and made an assessment of the gains and the losses.

I had been struggling for months with a particular Canadian-born bank which had mismanaged my account and reversed a payment to the IRS, costing me hundreds of dollars in penalties, fees, and increases in interest.  The government consumer protection agency and the senator’s office helping me with the issue informed me Monday that the issue is being dropped.  To stay upset would only hurt me.  I tossed the issue over-board.

Inspired by the marches on Saturday, I enthusiastically volunteered my services to the senator’s office and was told someone might be in touch…at some point…maybe.  Issue tossed.

Since just after Christmas, I have written (actual letters on actual note cards in actual cursive handwriting) to 9 friends and family members.  None of them have responded.  Looking for addresses of others to write to, I came across an old phone list.  On it was the name of a former doctor who, earlier last year, had been enduring cancer treatments and surgery, a long time friend who, earlier last year, had been reeling from the emotional blow of retirement, and a former coworker, from 2001 time-frame, who was likely concerned about the future of her career with a governmental climate science agency.  I made the calls and was met with instant re-connection, filling my emotional sails with billowed hopes.

These issues and more were lined up down both sides of the pages like small fishing skiffs bobbing in the waves…but there was something else still disturbing me…

Last Summer, when preoccupied with my sister’s arrival from Alaska, I stopped attending the small Episcopal church on the other side of town.  Driving by there late last month, I saw on their marquee a notice about an oyster roast.  On Saturday, I noticed the date had been changed to this weekend.  I called.  I volunteered to help.  However, I was informed that the priest I had known there had died, suddenly, in December.  (I wrote about several of his homilies last year.  See “To the Extent that One is Forgiven, One is Capable of Loving” and “What I Didn’t Know.”)  He was one of the few people who has believed my inner experience of God.  (Father B: “You help me because you are able to hear what it is I am trying to say.”)  Recalling that he was now gone from earth, my enthusiasm was suddenly becalmed; I felt more alone on earth than I had before.

My faith and beliefs have come under attack, recently, by bloggers from opposite ends of the religious spectrum.  On the one hand, there are the bloggers who hold that all people should believe xyz, strictly and immediately.  (I respond that each person should be allowed and encouraged to be where they are on their spiritual path to God; at least they are on the path and God is not done with them yet.)  On the other, there are those who hold a larger view but accuse me of insisting that mine is the only way.  (I am out of words with that one; My way is MY WAY and I offer it as an example…nothing more.)

At the same time, ironically, I have discovered that there is a spiritual path…a Christian path…with followers who hold the same beliefs I do.  Although I have come to my beliefs, faith, and inner life the hard way, having found them, I sought to join them.  It seems, however, that although they acknowledge my interest, I have been excluded apparently because I lack the expected background and education.  So, I will continue on my own, navigating by the heavens and sailing ‘solo.’

The course I am left with is a simpler one, lacking an itinerary with specified destinations. It is more a way of sailing:  trusting in the guiding stars (Jesus and the communion of saints) and the breeze on my face.   Watching the tell tail, testing the wind, keeping an eye on the horizon (and the channel markers),…this is the stuff of life.

 

(I borrowed the image above from the web)

Protect what is True

(repeated and expanded here from my comment to an article in Sojourners)

Those of us who hold fast to truth and Wisdom must also hold fast and protect what we know of God, love, and justice. With Shadrach, Meschah, and Abednego, we know that God can deliver us, but if He does not, we will not bow down nor worship anything else…including fear, hate, or discouragement.

It is my opinion that the best position (in addition to protecting and preserving what we know) is to rise up to take a God-perspective of our situation. ‘Bad’ things are sometimes necessary to bring about world-sized changes. There is much ‘good’ coming from this looming dark time: many people who would ordinarily be going about their business are putting more attention to their relationship with God. There is more praying, contemplating, and discussing.

This is a time to keep vigil. This is a time to bury the silver. This is a time to clarify and strengthen one’s own connection to God…and to do that with others.  These are dark times but also times of opportunity to focus on what truly matters.

I agree with Pope Francis; this is a change of era.  This is an era when seekers of God in truth can pray in silent unison while darkness builds around them.  Travelers on the paths of Wisdom, mindfulness, consciousness,… will find themselves walking alongside one another, humming the same tune, speaking the same language.  We see the same light.  We hold the same light.

Keep watch. Pray. Hold hands. Hunch up close to Jesus. Do not let the light die.

Hope…in Motion

I see the outcome of the presidential election as a good thing and this is why:

For a long time, many people…including the ‘silent majority’…have been quietly despairing.  The government was seemingly ignorant of their struggles or unwilling to address their needs, which is what a government is intended to do.  Large chunks of the citizenry were not part of the policy equation.  These people had given up hope of ever mattering again.

Donald Trump’s message of “Make America Great Again” included their struggles and needs.  Rather than ignore the elections, as they often have in the past, they mustered their hope and went to the polls exuberantly.

The hearts and spirits of these people are vulnerable and lie exposed in Donald Trump’s hands.

I believe that whether or not these people’s lives are improved by changes in government or policy lies in who Trump surrounds himself with and listens to…his advisors.  Trump is not known to listen to advisors and Trump is used to people being Trump fodder.

Regardless, these people’s hopes have been enlivened; their heads are raised and they are looking for help.  If it does not come from changes in government or policy, they will look elsewhere.

After Hurricane Hugo, I was pregnant and not able to clear brush and debris so I offered to help address the emotional needs of the children whose lives were devastated.  I consulted a psychologist who specialized in trauma and disaster recovery.  His answer was simple: to the extend that the family ties were healthy and functional, the families will survive.  The families in despair, however, will turn to things that promise some form of control like drugs, witchcraft, guns, hate-based organizations, even evangelistic preachers.

The disheartened people of this country have their hopes up now.  If they are disappointed or mistreated by hurricane Trump, it is likely they will turn elsewhere for a solution.

I am not close-minded and welcome wise action from a new administration.  However, my hope does not lie in the presidency nor in the Congress, Supreme Court, or bureaucracy.   My hope does not even lie in a church.  My hope lies in my own connection with God.

My hope is that if the hopes of these people do not find purchase in the new administration, that they turn their eyes to the only true hope…the only trustworthy source of help and relief.