“I used to think there were three great crises: the Civil War, the Depression and the Second World War in American life. I would add this. And maybe this is the very, very worst. But at the same time, we just keep going forward. There is no other option but to endure.” [NPR]
‘Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.’
“The goal of democracy is not unity. The goal of democracy is productive disagreement and conflict management through legitimate elections and representative government.”
Political scientist/Senior fellow, New America; contributor at FiveThirtyEight
American politics has reached a moment of existential uncertainty. Beyond the headlines and news alerts are problems bigger than any one administration—problems that stem from the deep tensions and challenges in America’s political institutions.
It’s time to reevaluate and revisit how we think about American democracy. The Founding Fathers did their best, but the hosts of a new podcast, “Politics in Question,” have some ideas, too. They discuss political reforms in this first-of-its-kind show that asks the very biggest questions.
Join hosts Lee Drutman, Julia Azari, and James Wallner, three lively experts on American political institutions and reform, as they imagine and argue over what American politics could look like if citizens questioned everything.
There are a lot of podcasts about the daily chaos. But “Politics in Question” is the first to step back and think big about the basic structures and processes of democracy — and to take nothing for granted.
This podcast is part of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.
“From all the thoughts of ‘I’ and ‘man,’ that man finds utter peace.”
The extremist behavior and violence that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 6 was truly shocking and worthy of condemnation—many have already done so. The whole world is transfixed, bearing witness to the awful and extraordinary unfolding of history.
In my previous letters I wrote about the DISORDER that is already upon us, as well as the consequences that ensue when illusions of power and privilege co-opt and distort Christianity. At the Center for Action and Contemplation, we are free to speak in great part because we are not beholden to the usual constituencies. Using the brilliant metaphor from the Hebrew Scriptures, we are “outside the camp” of either political party, any need to influence an election, and, by the grace of God, any negative or fear-based church pressure from Rome, Santa Fe, or Assisi.
We are also, like few other organizations, free from the coercion of donors and finance, thanks to almost thirty-three years of operating with our priorities clearly in view to all who cared to study or read our publications. Blessedly, our donors have not run for cover over time, but only increased in numbers, continuing to join us—even from outside the usual camps of both religion and politics.
Few people enjoy such freedom of living and teaching from the edge of the inside. This is the unique position that a prophetic charism holds and for which it is responsible; it is structurally quite rare, and therefore we must use it.
“Moses used to take the tent, and pitch it outside the camp, at some distance from the camp. . . . Anyone who wanted to consult Yahweh would go to this tent of meeting outside the camp.” (Exodus 33:7)
The “tent of meeting” is the initial image and metaphor that eventually became our much later notion of “church.” Moses had the prescience and courage to move the place of hearing God outside and at a distance from the court of common religious and civic opinion—this was the original genius that inspired the entire Jewish prophetic tradition. It is quite different than the mere liberal and conservative positions, and often even at odds with them. Most of liberalism is based on a secular foundation of knowledge, and most of conservatism is identified with boundary-keeping, order, and control. By contrast, Prophecy and Gospel are rooted in a contemplative and non-dual way of knowing—a way of being in the world that is utterly free and grounded in the compassion of God.
The early desert fathers and mothers imitated both Moses and Jesus by fleeing to Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Cappadocia—and some as far as Ireland and Scotland. Beginning in the 4th century, we Christians surrendered our unique and free perspective to the Roman and Byzantine Empires. In the desert and outside the camp, these people discovered what we now call “contemplation”: the alternative mind and the alternative community to the status quo—then and now—of money, power, and war.
The free and graced position found in the tent of meeting is what allowed Jesus and all prophets in his lineage to speak from a minority position. It is always less desirable, compared to the comfortable and enjoyable places at the center and the top; yet it is the Jesus stance, and the place where all Franciscans follow after him.
“Let us go to him, therefore, outside the camp, and be willing to share in his degradation.” (Hebrews 13:13)
For many people, religion as a “cosmic egg” capable of holding universal Truth, collective and personal meaning, is broken. Now, the cracks in this very “uncosmic egg” are rapidly spreading in all directions. Delusions enthrall us and inherent deceit becomes overwhelmingly apparent and manifest in the nihilism of our postmodern age, the denial of science and reasonableness, and the denial of the pandemic that now assaults us all. The very future of the meanings of words and truth are at stake, as specifically exemplified by Trumpism in its many forms.
We must again move with Jesus outside the camp and even be willing to “share in his degradation” if that be God’s will. We must trust that the one who has called us into this present moment will also sustain us and lead us through it.
“Yahweh would speak with Moses face to face [outside the camp] as a young man speaks with his friend. And then Moses would return to the camp.” (Exodus 33:11)
This is the primary vocation of the Center for Action and Contemplation. We invite you to join us—first, in the tent of meeting outside the camp for prayer, dialogue, and deep discernment. Then, like Moses, we must all choose to “return to the camp,” where all of our brothers and sisters live and die.
[Father Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation]
“The tasks that have been entrusted to us are often difficult. Almost everything that matters is difficult, and everything matters.” -Rilke
“I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.” -Course of Miracles
(As taught my Marianne Williamson.)
Maybe unity is not possible, yet, we can remember that we are one, one in humanity as species and co-creators in our reality with ourselves and in each other…especially in context and proximity of losing our democracy, our republic, just three weeks ago. Can we pledge, at least, to cooperation? To listening? To empathy?
We are ‘we the people.’ Let us remember. And may we vow today to divest ourselves from the for-profit platforms and groups that feed disinformation and hate into our collective bloodstream. It must end.
And in less than 24 hours, the first woman vice president in the United States. -dayle
On the shoulders and in the shadows (Ruby Bridges) of those who came before us.
As we leave a reckless and tragic year, I wish you for you all three, Love, Strength, & Courage.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be free.
May all beings be healthy and well, realizing potential and possibility.
On this final night of 2020, may our hours be deep, meaningful, quiet, and tender (Seane Corn).
What does it look like?
What does it feel like?
“I know that deep within each person the Divine Paternities of perfect peace is already implanted. I now declare that in each person and in leaders of thought everywhere this Divine Pattern moves into action and form to the end that all nations and all people will live together in peace, harmony, and prosperity forever.”
“As far back as we can remember, people of the oldest tribes, unencumbered by civilization, have been rejoicing in being on earth together. Not only can we do this for each other, it is essential. For as stars need open space to be seen, as waves need shore to crest, as dew needs grass to soak into, our vitality depends on how we exclaim and rejoice, “I see you!” I am here!”
“Midnight on New Year’s Eve is a unique kind of magic where, just for a momet, the past and the future exist at once in the present. Whether we’re aware of it or not, as we countdown together to it, we’re sharing the burden of our history and committing to the promise of tomorrow.”
The year brought lessons, challenges and opportunities to grow in unanticipated ways. Good or bad, devastating or productive, we navigated our way through the challenges, surprises and revelations that came out way. We dealt with circumstances the best way we knew how. We are here today, poised and centered, ready to leave the year behind and move into newness, fresh ways of living and greater connection to ourselves, each other and the Divine.
-Rev. Dr. Edward Viljoen
And from Marianne Williamson on this New Year’s Eve 2020:
Life was very difficult for people this year, in our country and around the world. It was hard to avoid the painful emotions that accompany rampant illness, economic challenges and the stress of quarantine. Yet even there, in the depths of our collective pain, lay the seeds of awakening that will help us navigate the year ahead.
One of my favorite quotes is from the Greek tragedian Aeschylus: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forgetfalls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
That quote has taken me through many dark hours in my own life. They remind me that wisdom is what will rescue me, as well as reward me, for my efforts to grow into a better person from things I’ve been through. It’s my desire – surely it’s all of our desire – that we grow wiser from what we all went through in 2020.
Do I have a positive feeling about 2021? Yes I do, but not because I think it’s going to be a year without its challenges. I have a positive feeling about it despite what I expect to be its challenges. I have a positive feeling because I think so many of us have matured, grown more reflective, and grown wiser in 2020.
That’s my hope for you and for all of us as this year draws to a close. May we find it within our hearts to forgive the past, be open to infinite possibilities in the present, and embrace the future with love. Let’s not take with us into the New Year any bitterness or lack of kindness towards ourselves or others; that way miracles will flow naturally from our open hearts.
The world will need us to be everything that we can be next year, and I share with you my conviction that we will be. In the hours remaining before midnight, may we find a way to lay down our grievances. And as the clock strikes midnight, may peace be upon you and may love in all ways prevail.
‘Everything happens as if a “STOP! had been given on a planetary level. Of course, it was not this summary and unconscious entity of the infinitely small, the coronavirus, which gave this order. This order seems to emanate from the cosmic movement itself disturbed by the mad dream of the human being to dominate and manipulate Nature.
Everything stopped suddenly for half the countries of the world. This immobility did not fail to reveal to us all the flaws of globalization centered on profit and money. But which of the world’s politicians and leaders will be the ones to see? We are plunged into the blindness of the darkness of our habits of thought and the ideologies of progress, totally out of step with reality. How do you open your eyes to what’s going on? In my opinion, the only solution is the spiritual evolution of the whole of humanity. It alone could take into account all the levels of Reality and the Hidden Third.
It also happens as if a “STOP! had been given on an individual basis. We are suddenly in front of ourselves, before the mystery of our being, thus giving the exceptional opportunity of a spiritual evolution for each of us. This spiritual evolution of each human being conditions that of humanity.
We thus discover that the spiritual underdevelopment of the human being and humanity is the real cause of the crisis that we are going through and that we are going to go through.
But what spirituality is it? It is a radically new, transreligious and transcultural spirituality. Transdisciplinarity offers the tools for the establishment of such a spirituality, based on the community of destiny of all beings on earth. Two thousand years ago, the greatest visionary of all time, Jesus, asked “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).
Without love nothing is possible to act on our destiny.
The world at the time refused such a message and preferred to kill Jesus. Two thousand years later, we are in exactly the same situation, on the brink of self-destruction of the species, a danger increased since by technological development and the immense means of destruction. The anthropocene without spiritual dimension will lead us to the brink of the abyss.
We must make, with great humility, a new pact of partnership with Nature and with all beings on earth – humans, animals, birds, trees, plants. We must stop defiling Nature with our excessive pride and our desire for omnipotence. All war should be declared a crime against humanity and all means of destruction should be destroyed.
All this can be understood as a utopia which goes against the principle of reality.
One possible answer is that of Michel Houellebecq: “I don’t believe in statements like” nothing will ever be the same again “. We will not wake up, after confinement, to a new world; it will be the same, only a little worse ”. If we contemplate the behavior of political leaders and public opinion in this period of crisis, it is to be feared that Michel Houellebecq is right. Politicians are returning to their usual language of mutual hostility and this will cause considerable social tension.
The media bombardment plunges us into an anxiety-provoking climate where, paradoxically, even death takes an abstract dimension: a dead person is just a number in a statistic. Nothing of the suffering of the one who dies, alone, suffocated by the coronavirus, reaches our place. This is glaring evidence of our spiritual underdevelopment.
The hidden hypothesis of Michel Houellebecq’s reasoning is the impossibility that human beings can evolve.
But another solution exists. Man must be born again if he wants to live.
Our task is immense. Let’s try not to be hypnotized by the multitude of doomsayers and apocalyptic thinkers of all kinds who predict the fall of the West and the demise of our world.
The word “Apocalypse” does not mean “end” or “destruction”, but “Revelation”. We are fortunate to have before our eyes, here and now, an extraordinary Revelation which can allow us to access Life and Meaning. I suggest reading, in these difficult times, the extraordinary book of Paule Amblard Saint John – The Apocalypse, illustrated by the tapestry of Angers . Paule Amblard offers us a coherent interpretation of The Apocalypse of John by the necessity of the spiritual evolution of man. The appalling plagues which cross the text of The Apocalypse are, in truth, the torments of the human soul separated from what founds it. The Apocalypse of John is a message of longing and hope.’
 Paule Amblard, Saint Jean – L’Apocalypse, illustrée par la tapisserie d’Angers, Diane de Selliers Éditeur, Paris, 2017.
* Text translated from French by Gerardo del Cerro Santamaria.
Marketers used to have little choice. The only marketing was local. The local neighborhood, the local community.
Mass marketing changed that. Now, the goal was to flip the culture, all at once. Hit records, hit TV shows, products on the end cap at Target and national TV ads to support it all.
With few exceptions, that’s being replaced by a return to clusters.
The cluster might be geographic (they eat different potato chips in Tucscon than they do in Milwaukee) but they’re much more likely to be psychographic instead. What a group of people believe, who they connect with, what they hope for…
The minimal viable audience concept requires that you find your cluster and overwhelm them with delight. Choose the right cluster, show up with the right permission and sufficient magic and generosity and the idea will spread.
We’re all connected, but the future is local.
Footprints might be a fine compass, but they’re not much of a map. That’s on us.
More from Seth:
Mathematicians don’t need to check in with the head of math to find out what the talking points about fractions are this week.
That’s because fractions are fractions. Anyone can choose to do the math, and everyone will find the same truth.
Most of the progress in our culture of the last 200 years has come from using truth as a force for forward motion. Centralized proclamations are not nearly as resilient or effective as the work of countless individuals, aligned in their intention, engaging with the world.
We amplified this organizing principle when we began reporting on progress. If you’re able to encounter not just local truth but the reality as experienced by many others, collated honestly, then progress moves forward exponentially faster.
Show your work.
One of the dangers of our wide-open media culture of the last ten years has been that the signals aren’t getting through the noise.
Loud voices are drowning out useful ones. It’s difficult to determine, sometimes, who is accurately collating and correlating experience and reality and who is simply making stuff up as a way to distract us, to cause confusion and to gain influence.
I’m betting that in the long run, reality wins out. That the practical resilience that comes from experimentation produces more effective forward motion.
In the words attributed to Galileo, “Eppur si muove.”
It pays to curate the incoming, to ignore the noise and to engage with voices that are willing to show their work.
The question arises: is modern man…confused and exhausted by a multitude of words, opinions, doctrines, and slogans…psychologically capable of the clarity and confidence necessary for valid prayer? Is he not so frustrated and deafened by conflicting propagandas that he has lost his capacity for deep and simple trust?
-Life and Holiness
Where men live huddled together without true communication, there seems to be greater sharing and a more genuine communion. But this is not communion, only immersion in the general meaninglessness of countless slogans and cliches related over and over again so that in the end one listens without hearing and responds without thinking. The content din of empty words and machine noises, the endless booming of loudspeakers end by making true communication and true communion almost impossible.
Each individual in the mass in insulated by thick layers of insensibility. He doesn’t hear, he doesn’t think. He does not act, he is pushed. He does not talk, he produces conventional sounds when stimulated by the appropriate noises. he does not think, he secretes cliches.
-New Seeds of Contemplation
Culture and Clichés correspondent Lynn Berger
We’re constantly told to try something new. ‘Innovate, don’t stagnate.’ But doing things two, three or 30 times creates space for reflection – and innovation. And it can even bring unexpected joy.
‘Politicians know that there are votes to be won with an appeal to what is old and familiar. And they know that this message is most effective when it is repeated endlessly: repetition is the foundation beneath propaganda.
So here’s the paradox: in order to appreciate repetition for what it is, we actually need a new sort of attention.
It’s probably impossible to achieve the level of attentiveness we bring to first times the tenth or hundredth time we do something. But it’s entirely feasible to look more attentively at repetition, not to see it as a stumbling block but as a goal in itself. Not as a copy but as a variation. I suspect that the routines and rituals that make up daily life, the “grind” we’ve learned to fear, would feel less like a slap in the face to the zeitgeist, and more like something worthwhile all on its own.
Repetition is the norm: we’re constantly repeating things, whether we want to or not. But there’s a difference between inattentively doing things again and doing things again by choice. Conscious, attentive, deliberate. With the full awareness that this matters just as much, and with the willingness to see, hear and feel different things when you feel, hear and see them again.’
A certain level of fatigue sets in. The media landscape has fragmented so much that consumers can filter their information diet to those outlets that reflect their worldview.
The answer is nothing less than a political terminus after years of economic policies which have degraded democracy.
The decline traces the erosion of the public sphere, and the instrumentalisation of identity by powerful actors unwilling to share their power.
In this new landscape, political choices are loyalties – akin to picking a football team and sticking with it through triumph, relegation and internal scandal. Whether a football team or a president, the avatar gives voice to its supporters’ sense of tribalism.
These impulses may be relatively harmless when confined to sports, but when they are extended to politics, they effectively underwrite authoritarianism.
The term “post-democracy”, coined by political scientist Colin Crouch, describes a state where electoral politics is restricted to a limited number of issues, while the crucial needs of the citizenry are addressed by the private sector. These companies lobby politicians, who may be in hock to them. Corporate agenda enacted by elected representatives might look like ideology – the right to own firearms, for example, or not to pay tax for someone else’s healthcare – but they are in fact determined by commercial interest.
We need an entirely new politics: one that shifts us from an economic to a humanitarian bottom line, from a war economy to a peace economy, from a dirty economy to a clean economy, and from who we’ve been to who we’re ready to be. #repairamerica
Change starts with us as individuals. If one individual becomes more compassionate it will influence others and so we will change the world.
I have come to the surprised conclusion, after being raised on an idea of body/mind/spirit as distinct, that the distinctions were borne of the limits of our understanding. We all know, in ways terrible and wonderful, that what touches your body deeply also touches your spirit. -Krista Tippett
James Parker’s prayer for these trying times.
In this our hour of doorknobs and droplets, when masks have canceled our personalities; in this our hour of prickling perimeters, sinister surfaces, defeated bodies, and victorious abstractions, when some of us are stepping into rooms humid with contagion, and some of us are standing in the pasta aisle; in this our hour of vacant parks and boarded-up hoops, when we miss the sky-high roar of the city and hear instead the tarp that flaps on the unfinished roof, the squirrel giving his hingelike cry, and the siren constantly passing, to You we send up our prayer, as follows:
Let not heebie-jeebies become our religion, our new ideology, with its own jargon. Fortify us, Lord. Show us how. What would your saints be doing now? Saint Francis, he was a fan of the human. He’d be rolling naked on Boston Common. He’d be sharing a bottle. No mask, no gloves, shielded only by burning love. But I don’t think we’re in the mood for feats of antic beatitude. In New York City, and in Madrid, the saints maintain the rumbling grid. Bless the mailman, and equally bless the bus driver, vector of steadfastness. Protect the bravest, the best we’ve got. Protect the rest of us, why not. And if the virus that took John Prine comes, as it may, for me and mine, although we’ve mostly stayed indoors, well—then, as ever, we’re all Yours.
Until further notice,
Image credit: A Vision of the Holy Trinity (detail), anonymous Brazilian painter, 17th century, Museu de Arte Sacra da Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil.
Even though I’ve said this at other times, it’s so important that I repeat it here: it is that souls shouldn’t be thinking about consolations at this beginning stage. It would be a very poor way to start building so precious and great an edifice. –Teresa of Ávila
Under no circumstances, said Teresa, are we to give up our time of prayer and meditation, no matter how tedious it becomes; this would be like saying that since we are no longer receiving anything, we will not spend our time this way. Can you imagine acting like this with our friends and lovers? What if, in a moment of not receiving anything from them, we ceased spending time with them?
The small amount of time we do spend in prayer and meditation, Teresa believed, should be given wholly to the Beloved—we should consider it not ours but the Beloved’s.
Our hearts open either because they have been softened, or perhaps because suffering makes us feel like we have nothing more to lose. It often takes us to the edge of our inner resources where we “fall into the hands of the living God”
[Fr. Richard Rohr/Center for Action & Contemplation]
Don’t forget: disasters and crises bring out the best in people
“Dear neighbours. If you’re over 65 and your immune system is weak, I’d like to help you. Since I’m not in the risk group, I can help you in the coming weeks by doing chores or running errands. If you need help, leave a message by the door with your phone number. Together, we can make it through anything. You’re not alone!”
“We’ve learned how to accept help from others,” writes a woman living in Wuhan.“Because of this quarantine, we have bonded with and supported each other in ways that I’ve never experienced in nine years of living here.” Millions of Chinese people are encouraging each other to stand strong, using the Cantonese expression “jiayou” (“don’t give up”). YouTube videos show people in Wuhan singing from the windows of their homes, joined by numerous neighbours nearby, their voices rising in chorus and echoing amongst the soaring towers of Chinese cities.In Siena and Naples, both on complete lockdown, people are singing together from the balconies of their homes.
Children in Italy are writing “andrà tutto bene” (“everything will be all right”) on streets and walls, while countless neighbours are helping each other.On Thursday, an Italian journalist told the Guardian about what he had witnessed with his own eyes: “After a moment of panic in the population, there is now a new solidarity. In my community the drugstores bring groceries to people’s homes, and there is a group of volunteers that visit houses of people over 65.”A tour guide from Venice notes: “It’s human to be scared, but I don’t see panicking, nor acts of selfishness.”
The words “andrà tutto bene” – everything will be all right – were first used by a few mothers from the province of Puglia, who posted the slogan on Facebook. From there, it spread across the country, going viral almost as fast as the pandemic. The coronavirus isn’t the only contagion – kindness, hope and charity are spreading too.
As a species of animal that evolved to make connections and work together, it feels strange to suppress our desire for contact. People enjoy touching each other, and find joy in seeing each other in person – but now we have to keep our physical distance.
Still, I believe we can grow closer in the end, finding each other in this crisis. As Giuseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, said this week: “Let’s distance ourselves from each other today so that we can embrace each other more warmly […] tomorrow.”
The pandemic has exposed how interconnected and interdependent we are as humans. Everyday practices, like handwashing and covering our sneezes, have become the most basic duty we owe to friends and strangers alike. And we’re finding thoughtful ways to care for another amidst the tumult.
Editor, The On Being Project
“Hope, for me, just means … coming to terms with the fact that we don’t know what will happen and that there’s maybe room for us to intervene.”
“Great literature will come from this. Great art will come from this. Great awareness will come from this. Great love will come from this. More than anything else, great people will come from this – if we allow it to expand our hearts and minds.”
‘In the days since the Seattle area became the epicenter of the outbreak, the outpouring of support has been moving and inspiring. On an individual level, people have offered free babysitting, cooking and food delivery for harried parents and medically vulnerable older adults.
After racist coronavirus fears drove down business in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, Bill Tashima, a board member for the local Japanese American Citizens League, created a Facebook group on Sunday to share ways to support small restaurants. Within days, the group had nearly 5,000 members, sharing ideas for restaurant takeout to boost business in the struggling district and creating a virtual “tip jar” that one member was using to collect donations for restaurant workers.
The artistic community, which already experiences economic insecurity in good times due to unpredictable contract-based work, saw all public events canceled like dominoes in the past week. Seattle-area author Ijeoma Oluo quickly set up a GoFundMe on Monday to raise and distribute funds for artists. Within days, the fund raised $80,000 and distributed $10,000 and was in the process of distributing another $30,000 to artists directly impacted by loss of income due to the coronavirus. Another group of people started a live-performance streaming site on Facebook called “The Quarantine Sessions,” where artists can perform and the audience can tip the band before their performance starts.
To support those who are most vulnerable in an emergency, a grassroots effort formed in Seattle called “Covid19MutualAid,” centered on people with disabilities, people of color, undocumented people, older adults and others. In addition to recruiting volunteers for direct support such as food and grocery deliveries, the group is also advocating for systemic changes that would make communities less vulnerable in the first place.
When Seattle Public Schools announced Wednesday they would be closing abruptly the next day, people across the city jumped into action, knowing that for the 32% of Seattle school district families that are low income, school lunches are a critical part of how children stay fed. Volunteers and staff distributed school lunches for pickup at Highland Park Elementary in West Seattle on Thursday and in Rainier Beach, Washington Building Leaders of Change or WA-BLOC and food justice organization FEEST planned a free hot lunch called “Feed the Beach” for families on Friday with additional lunches twice a week after that.
These are just a few of the many grassroots efforts that are just getting started in our region. Larger entities like the Seattle Foundation are also taking action, with rapid response resources like the COVID-19 Response Fund quadrupling to $9 million in a few days.
The coming months will challenge us in ways we have never before imagined. But if we continue, as writer Sonya Renee Taylor said, to “put radical love into practice,” we might emerge stronger than we began.’
Editor’s note: The spread of novel coronavirus has left the state of Washington in a state of uncertainty. But amid the growing pandemic, members of the community have shown remarkable acts of kindness and efforts to take care of each other. From crowdsourced relief funds for local artists, to readers sending our own newsroom pizza after a long day, many people are rising to the occasion to uplift one another.
Mattia Ferraresi is a writer for the Italian newspaper Il Foglio.
A message from Italy
‘So here’s my warning for the United States: It didn’t have to come to this.
We of course couldn’t stop the emergence of a previously unknown and deadly virus. But we could have mitigated the situation we are now in, in which people who could have been saved are dying. I, and too many others, could have taken a simple yet morally loaded action: We could have stayed home.
What has happened in Italy shows that less-than-urgent appeals to the public by the government to slightly change habits regarding social interactions aren’t enough when the terrible outcomes they are designed to prevent are not yet apparent; when they become evident, it’s generally too late to act. I and many other Italians just didn’t see the need to change our routines for a threat we could not see.
Italy has now been in lockdown since March 9; it took weeks after the virus first appeared here to realize that severe measures were absolutely necessary.
The way to avoid or mitigate all this in the United States and elsewhere is to do something similar to what Italy, Denmark, and Finland are doing now, but without wasting the few, messy weeks in which we thought a few local lockdowns, canceling public gatherings, and warmly encouraging working from home would be enough stop the spread of the virus. We now know that wasn’t nearly enough.
Life in lockdown is hard, but it is also an exercise in humility. Our collective well-being makes our little individual wishes look a bit whimsical and small-minded. My wife and I work from home, or at least we try to. We help the kids with their homework, following the instructions their teachers send every morning via voice messages and video, in a moving attempt to keep alive their relationships with their students.
Strangely, it’s also a moment in which our usual individualistic, self-centered outlook is waning a bit. In the end, each of us is giving up our individual freedom in order to protect everybody, especially the sick and the elderly. When everybody’s health is at stake, true freedom is to follow instructions.’
Eric Klinenberg, NYU Social Sciences Professor
‘It’s an open question whether Americans have enough social solidarity to stave off the worst possibilities of the coronavirus pandemic. There’s ample reason to be skeptical. We’re politically divided, socially fragmented, skeptical of one another’s basic facts and news sources. The federal government has failed to prepare for the crisis. The president and his staff have repeatedly dissembled about the mounting dangers to our health and security. Distrust and confusion are rampant. In this context, people take extreme measures to protect themselves and their families. Concern for the common good diminishes. We put ourselves, not America, first.
But crises can be switching points for states and societies, and the coronavirus pandemic could well be the moment when the United States rediscovers its better, collective self. Ordinary Americans, regardless of age or party, already have abundant will to promote public health and protect the most vulnerable. Although only a fraction of us are old, sick or fragile, nearly all of us love and care for someone who is.
Today Americans everywhere are worried about the fate of friends and family members. Without stronger solidarity and better leadership, though, millions of our neighbors may not get the support they need.
We’re not likely to get better leadership from the Trump administration, but there’s a lot we can do to build social solidarity. Develop lists of local volunteers who can contact vulnerable neighbors. Provide them companionship. Help them order food and medications. Recruit teenagers and college students to teach digital communications skills to older people with distant relatives and to deliver groceries to those too weak or anxious to shop. Call the nearest homeless shelter or food pantry and ask if it needs anything.
Why not begin right now?’
‘If you’re like me and worried about your favorite local businesses right now, buy their gift certificates. It will help with their immediate liquidity needs and you can use it later once we’re past this.’
CANTICLE 6 by May Sarton
Alone one is never lonely: the spirit
In a quiet garden, in a cool house, abiding single there;
The spirit adventures in sleep, the sweet thirst-slaking
When only the moon’s reflection touches the wild hair.
There is no place more intimate than the spirit alone:
It finds a lovely certainty in the evening and the morning.
It is only where two have come together bone against bone
That those alonenesses take place, when, without warning
The sky opens over their heads to an infinite hole in space;
It is only turning at night to a lover that one learns
He is set apart like a star forever and that sleeping face
(For whom the heart has cried, for whom the frail hand burns)
Is swung out in the night alone, so luminous and still,
The waking spirit attends, the loving spirit gazes
Without communion, without touch, and comes to know at last
Out of a silence only and never when the body blazes
That love is present, that always burns alone, however steadfast.
Last night I watched a documentary on war, and the part I carry with me today was the spectacle of a line of maybe 20 blinded soldiers being led, single-file, away from a yellow cloud of gas.
That must be what accounts for this morning’s brightness— sunlight slathered over everything from the royal palms to the store awnings, from the blue Corolla at the curb to a purple flower climbing a fence, one gift of sight after another.
I couldn’t see their bandaged faces, but each man had one hand resting on the shoulder of the man in front of him so that every man was guiding and being guided at the same time, and in the same tempo, given the unison of their small, cautious steps.
“In these days of anxiety, I wanted to find a way to continue to share some of the music that gives me comfort. The first of my Songs of Comfort:
‘The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutter our minds and makes of all political and social life a mass illness. Without this housecleaning we cannot begin to see. Unless we see, we cannot think. The purification must begin with the mass media. How?
-Thomas Merton, conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, 1968
Jay Rosen, NYU:
I am waiting for the first newsroom that declares a state of emergency. Susan Glasser, staff writer at The New Yorker:
“Is this time any different from other episodes where he has ranted about his unchecked right to do unconstitutional things?” Read her reply:
It sometimes happens in diplomacy that one country has to say to another: “This is extreme. We cannot accept this. You have gone too far.” And so it suspends diplomatic relations.
In 2012 the government of Canada announced that it would suspend diplomatic relations with Iran. “Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today,” said the foreign minister.
Journalists charged with covering him should suspend normal relations with the presidency of Donald Trump, which is the most significant threat to an informed public in the United States today.
That is my recommendation.
I began making this point on the third day of his presidency, January 22, 2017, when I said the press should send interns to the White House briefing room. Normal practice would not be able to cope with the political style of Donald Trump, which incorporates a hate movementagainst journalists.
“Send the interns” means our major news organizations don’t have to cooperate with this. They don’t have to lend talent or prestige to it. They don’t have to be props. They need not televise the spectacle live (CNN didn’t carry Spicer’s rant) and they don’t have to send their top people. They can “switch” systems: from inside-out, where access to the White House starts the story engines, to outside-in, where the action begins on the rim, in the agencies, around the committees, with the people who are supposed to obey Trump but have doubts… The press has to become less predictable. It has to stop functioning as a hate object. This means giving something up.
So that’s one way to suspend normal relations: send the interns. On MSNBC June 12, Rachel Maddow described another. She said that frequent viewers of her show may have noticed a pattern:
I don’t go out of my way to play tape of the president speaking. Nor do I tend to spend too much time parsing whatever the latest quote is from him. That is not out of any animus on my part, it’s just that the president very frequently says things that aren’t true. He admits that he says things that aren’t true. He calls it, you know, hyperbole, but he lies. And I feel like on this show I’d like you to be able to trust me to give you true information. Because I generally feel like I can’t trust what purports to be information from this president, I just try to do the news without words from him, most of the time.
Normally, the president is quoted more than any other public figure, and clips of him speaking are ubiquitous in television news. Maddow told her viewers that she had suspended this practice because, more likely than not, the president’s words would only misinform them. Every president needs to be fact-checked. This one doesn’t care if what he says is true. That’s extreme, and it calls for a response.
“Anything that a president would say — even if it was libelous or scandalous — it’s the president talking, and I think you report it,” said Chris Wallace, the “Fox News Sunday” host who moderated this year’s third presidential debate. “Under any definition, it’s news, whether it’s sensible or not, factual or not, productive or not.”
A middle-ground would be this: what the president says is neither automatically newsworthy nor automatically suspect. Rather, it has to be judged in context. Which sounds super-reasonable. Who can be against “context” and case-by-case judgment? But here’s the context: bad actor, cannot be given the benefit of the doubt, no matter what the case is.
“How,” asked Chuck Todd on Meet the Press June 17, “can we believe a president who routinely says things that are provably false?” Instead of treating these questions as unsolvable riddles, Chuck Todd could… suspend normal relations. For Meet the Press, that might mean: don’t accept as guests the people the White House sends out as defenders of the provably false (especially Kellyanne Conway.) If Trump himself is willing to sit down with Chuck Todd, fine. Take him on over his many falsehoods. But no surrogates or fog machines unless they are willing to correct the president.
The American press corps is not like the government of Canada, which can speak with a single voice. Thousands of people working for hundreds of newsrooms cannot change their practices in synch with one another. But they can all decide, “This is extreme. We cannot accept this. This has gone too far.” And then make a break with normal practice.
For the Washington Post it might be declining to participate in so-called background briefings. For NPR, it might be refusing to report false claims by the President unless they are served as a “truth sandwich,” a suggestion recently made by Brian Stelter and Margaret Sullivan, interpreting the work of George Lakoff. For CNN, never going live to a Trump event — on the grounds that you will inevitably broadcast falsehoods if you do — would be a good start.
Suspend normal relations. It’s up to the journalists who cover Trump to decide how they will do it. The important thing is that they do it. And then announce what they did, to get others thinking about their own steps. In this way the sovereign state of journalism can take action, and show, as the Canadian prime minister said recently, that it will “not be pushed around.”
Emerson Collective initial launch partner for new NowThis division
NowThis, the millennial social video media outlet that’s part of Group Nine Media, will announce today the launch of NowThis Impact, a new editorial division that covers social issues and is underwritten by non-profits.
Why it matters: Underwriting editorial content is becoming a bigger trend as more philanthropy and non-profit money floods into journalism.
Details: Emerson Collective, a social change organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, will serve as the company’s launch partner.
NowThis is looking to announce additional underwriters in coming months.
It will work with issue experts to form content partnerships around certain issues that contain specific calls to action.
The new product aims to meet the content appetites of NowThis’ audience of progressive and civically-minded millennials.
Be smart: It’s not the first time Group Nine has dabbled in “call-to-action” media/journalism. Its animal franchise, The Dodo, has in the past directed its audience to adoption resources.
Disclosure: Emerson Collective is an investor in Axios.
A C T I V E L I S T E N I N G
How To Listen To People You Disagree With
by Patrick D’Arcy
Early last year, Amanda Ripley had a revelation: she wasn’t a great listener. “It was hugely disturbing, because it’s my job,” she says. Ripley is a journalist who writes for TheAtlantic and The Washington Post. She was studying conflict as a way to understand political polarization. Through her research, she realized that one key to understanding – and sometimes even resolving – conflict is whether the parties involved feel heard or not.
Most people aren’t great listeners – including doctors and bosses and all kinds of people whose job requires listening. As Ripley sees it, journalists are conditioned to over-simplify polarizing topics or complex characters so that readers can more easily understand the reporting. But in doing so, journalists flatten incredibly complicated, nuanced topics and leave people more entrenched than ever. Ripley wrote about this revelation in a viral piece last year, Complicating the Narratives.
Now, Ripley, an Emerson Collective Senior Fellow, is working with the Solutions Journalism Network to train journalists on how to conduct better interviews, particularly about polarizing subjects. Ripley’s work is part of a larger movement to bridge political and cultural divides and revive healthy democractic debate in the U.S.
Ripley recently spoke with Patrick D’Arcy, Emerson Collective’s Director of Fellowships and Portfolio Communications, about the broader implications of her research on conflict and the essential, overlooked role of listening in a healthy democracy – and the Thanksgiving dinner table.
People will put up with a lot of difference if they feel heard. People will open up to different ideas and opinions.
“This is a moral moment. The moral vandal that’s in the White House right now, he may win this day, but he will not win our nation. We are America. We’re going to find a way to regroup, heal, [and] be the moral nation that I know we are.”
“Never stop being a prisoner of hope.”
“The president’s defense team arguing for what is basically unlimited presidential power is chilling. Even if they get away with it – which they probably will – it’s important to remember that we the voters are the ultimate judge and jury. We’ll deliver our judgement in November.”
Philosopher/author Martha Nussbaum:
“To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control.”
I ran for president to help forge another direction for our country. I wanted to discuss things I felt needed to be discussed that otherwise were not. I feel that we have done that.
I stayed in the race to take advantage of every possible effort to share our message. With caucuses and primaries now about to begin, however, we will not be able to garner enough votes in the election to elevate our conversation any more than it is now. The primaries might be tightly contested among the top contenders, and I don’t want to get in the way of a progressive candidate winning any of them.
As of today, therefore, I’m suspending my campaign.
My deepest gratitude to those of you who supported my candidacy for all these months. The ideas we discussed are important, and I hope they’ll find seed in other ways and in other campaigns. From rescuing underserved, at risk and traumatized children; to proactively waging an agenda for peace and making humanity itself America’s greatest ally; to integrative health models within our health care system and incentivizing health; to reparations to achieve deeper reconciliation between races; to repudiating the corporate aristocracy; to the creation of a more mindful politics; to changing from an economic to a humanitarian bottom line; to initiating a season of moral repair—we brought issues to the fore that I hope contributed to the campaign season. I remain as committed to them going forward as I was on the day we began.
I learned many things about America during this campaign. I’m more convinced than ever that we’re a good and decent people, that democracy matters, and that what our country has always stood for is worth struggling for. I will continue in that struggle, and I know that you will too.
To our dedicated volunteers, generous contributors, and loyal staff who worked so hard—I will hold you in my heart forever. There are no words for how grateful I am for your kindness and generosity. May you be blessed on your journeys as you have so blessed mine.
To the remaining Democratic candidates, I wish you all my best on the road ahead. It was an honor being among you. Whichever one of you wins the nomination, I will be there with all my energy and in full support.
Finally, these are not times to despair; they are simply times to rise up. Things are changing swiftly and dramatically in this country, and I have faith that something is awakening among us. A politics of conscience is still yet possible. And yes….love willprevail.
Marianne: “A US president in the 21st century should have as much understanding of the internal dynamics that cause people to change, as of the external dynamics that cause policy to change. We must treat more than symptoms; we must also treat cause. Otherwise symptoms simply morph into new ones.”
Chadwick Moore, journalist and Constitutional conservative: “I gave a speech last night to about 300 Republicans. I started off cracking mean jokes about each of the Democrat contenders. When I got to Marianne Williamson (who I praised), she got a round of applause. I was not expecting that.”
This Saturday, 9/21, millions of people across the globe will be celebrating the UN’s International #PeaceDay. Let’s create a world in which every day is that. Join me for a deep dive. #MeditateForPeace.
I want to talk to you about waging peace.
From millions of chronically traumatized children to mass incarceration to family separation at the border, the United States has no more serious problem than the problem of violence itself.
And yet, even as the current administration starves the international peace-building capacities of the State Department, we have no federal platform from which to seriously wage peace domestically.
We need both.
Through support of my candidacy for president of the United States, you can help alter the course of our nation and model peace for our world.
When I become president, I will establish a U.S. Department of Peace.
This campaign to establish a U.S. Department of Peace is the first step in dismantling our systemically entrenched perpetuation of violence. And it is critical.
Our current administration actively cuts peace-building programs that are statistically proven to increase the incidence of peace and reduce conflict, despite their efficacy. These programs represent expanded economic opportunities for women, expanded educational opportunities for children, reduction of violence against women, and the amelioration of unnecessary human suffering wherever possible.
We should see large groups of desperate people as a national security risk. In doing right by our fellow human beings, we will pave the way to a better world.
I believe Americans are ready to do the right thing.
Our country’s priorities are clearly reflected in our budget. The Defense Department has a military budget of $718 billion – almost larger than that of all other nations combined – while our State Department budget – including all peace-creation agencies – is $40 billion. The independent U.S. Institute of Peace has a budget of only $36.8 million.
As president, I will make the relationship between the State Department and the Department of Defense a robust partnership. And I will build up the peace-building agencies within the State Department in a major way.
Domestically, we need to similarly disrupt patterns of violence. Join me in support for building a U.S. Department of Peace to address issues of peace-building here at home – trauma-informed education, community wrap-around services, restorative justice, conflict resolution, mindfulness in the schools, violence prevention programs, and more.
When I am president, the world will know that America’s greatest ally is humanity itself. Let us restore our position as a moral leader both here and abroad. Far more Americans love than hate, but we must display our love with a renewed commitment and serious conviction. Together, we can and we will. -Marianne
This Saturday, September 21st, is the International Day of Peace.
‘As the candidate for president described as a “peacemonger,” I want to make sure we participate in a worldwide embrace of the idea that peace is possible and war is not inevitable.
Please join me this Saturday live in Fairfield, Iowa, or via livestream, as we speak of, reflect on, and meditate for peace. The power of the United States of America is an awesome responsibility for all its citizens, and nowhere more so than in the area of war and peace.
Let’s join together and make it so. Please join us for the livestream on Saturday and spread the word to all your friends.
To me, being a Democrat means standing up for justice, fairness, tolerance, and truth. It means being compassionate and empathetic to our fellow citizens. It means fighting for our voting, religious and human rights. It means protecting freedom of speech and striving for equality among the races and sexes. It means following the Constitution and honoring our American ideals and principles. It does not mean tearing someone apart for their spiritual beliefs and political ideas just because they don’t jive with mine or ignoring their voice because they don’t hit an arbitrary number on an artificial poll sample. Everyone has a voice and deserves to be heard.
The 2020 Election is perhaps the most important vote we will ever make in our lifetime. We must reject hate, racism, bigotry and corruption and vote in responsibility, transparency and unity before we do more damage to each other and the planet. Unfortunately, many in the Democratic Party have viciously turned on their own.
“By then, she was beginning to wonder if this system was broken — if, in fact, a presidential campaign was designed to keep outsiders out, which is the opposite of democracy. “People would say, ‘You’re out of your depth,’ ” she said. “I feel I’m in my depth. A deeper conversation is in the depth. I’m the only one who mentioned American foreign policy in Latin America. I’m the only one who mentioned that our health care system is basically a sickness care system. I’m the only one who mentioned what Donald Trump is actually doing, collectivizing fear, and what it will take to override that. So was I out of my depth? Or is the conversation that was being promoted there not chronically superficial? And any conversation which is in fact of depth is made to appear silly?”
Do spirituality and self-help have a political constituency?
he first problem with Marianne Williamson is what do you call her. The other candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination lead with their impressive elected titles: “Governor,” “Senator,” “Mayor.” She’s a lot of fancy things herself: a faith leader, a spiritual guide on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” a New Age guru. But she knows that when people use terms like that outside the nearly $10 billion self-help industry, where a person like her is sought, they mean it to dismiss her. So while everyone else has dignified titles of experience to stick onto their lapels and on chyrons for the debates (all except Andrew Yang, who is a “former tech executive,” but it doesn’t really matter what he’s called because he’s running on a platform of giving each American $1,000 per month for life), she settled on, simply, “author.” Author is accurate, if not the whole story.
Williamson is also a politician now, and on the weekend after Independence Day, she was doing what politicians do, which is visit citizens gathered at people’s homes (and on peach farms and at ice-cream socials) and make a case to the American people, one group of interested voters at a time. There she stood, tiny and regal, on the breathtaking porch of someone else’s breathtaking home in New Castle, N.H., right on the river, giving a civics lesson not about her specific policies; those were all on her website, under the label “The Issues Aren’t Always the Issue.” She was talking about how she could beat Donald Trump.
She told the crowd the story of David and Goliath, about how she’s going to be like David and defeat Trump with just a slingshot. “We’re going to get him right between the eyes,” she said. “David got Goliath in his third eye, where he wasn’t prepared — where he had no defense.” The third eye, she explained, was Trump’s ego and his inability to see clearly. It was his instinct to divide the country along the old fault lines of hatred and greed and apathy toward suffering. The slingshot, which was small but mighty, was, of course, love. Love was her entire platform. She believed that if we were to look at all the country’s problems through the prism of love, we could undo everything from poverty to climate change to the immigration crisis.
Everyone talked about the issues. She wanted to talk about how we could have prevented these issues — how we could undo them if we got to the root of all these problems. “People who are so depressed because they don’t know how they’re going to ever get out of this college loan. People who were so depressed because they don’t know what’s going to happen if they get sick. People who are so depressed because they don’t know how they’re going to send their kids to college. People who are so depressed because they’re so afraid that their child is going to get picked up by the policemen and there’s absolutely nothing they can do no matter how much they try to raise a good kid and even have a good kid. People working with refugees, people working with immigrants, veterans, traumatized children, drug addicts. Everything I just mentioned has the fingerprints of public policy — irresponsible, reckless public policy.”
She has a patrician, mid-Atlantic accent that she has taped over her Texan accent — she was raised in Houston. She talks so fast, like a movie star from the ’40s, no hesitations, as if the thoughts came to her fully formed with built-in metaphors, or sometimes just as straight-up metaphors in which the actual is never fully explained. (“Am I pushing the river? Am I going with the flow? Am I trying to make something happen, or am I in some way being pushed from behind?”) She is prone to exasperated explosions of unassailable logic (“The best car mechanic doesn’t necessarily know the road to Milwaukee!”). A thing she loves to say is: “I’m not saying anything you don’t already know.” This is the self-help magic ne plus ultra, a spoken thing that rings inside your blood like the truth, a thing you knew all along, like ruby slippers you were wearing the whole time.
She finished her speech in New Hampshire to great applause and asked for questions, but nobody wanted to know how “a politics of love,” as she called it, would handle, say, President Vladimir Putin’s annexing Crimea, or how it would prevent a mass shooting, which were things she had thought about deeply and had specific and elaborate plans for. They didn’t want to know about her Department of Children and Youth or her Department of Peace. No, they wanted self-help. A woman raised her hand and said she didn’t know what to do about her trauma and her rage these days — how she couldn’t find forgiveness for the people who voted for Trump, even though those people weren’t exactly asking for it. “It’s like I’ve been infected,” the woman said. “How do I manage that?”
Williamson told her she has no time for people traumatized by the election. She asked the crowd to consider the trauma of the suffragists, who were force-fed through tubes when they were put into jails. She asked them to consider the trauma of the black protesters who took their lives in their hands when they marched in Selma. And she has even less time for people who think that anger is a productive emotion. Anger, she has said, is the white sugar of activism. It’s a good rush, but it doesn’t provide nourishment.
“Your personal anger depletes you,” she told the woman, her X-Acto-knife jaw jutted outward and her head high. “Trump isn’t the problem. The system of complacency is the problem.” The problem was apathy toward the entire revolutionary nature of this country — the radicalism of the Constitution, the power that it gave every single American. “Don’t hate Trump,” she beseeched the woman. “Love democracy.”
Self-help made Marianne Williamson, who is 67, famous. It was the number of selves she had helped in her 38-year career, and after selling over three million books, that made her feel she was qualified to take on the world’s problems. Rather than solving suffering one theater full of self-selecting audience members at a time, she could focus on alleviating suffering on a much larger scale. She was not concerned by the scoffings about her inexperience. Every time I heard her speak, she said: “I challenge the idea that only people whose careers have been entrenched for decades in the limitations of the mind-set that drove us into this ditch are the only ones we should consider qualified to take us out of the ditch.”
Some say it’s naive to think we can turn love into the governing principle of our civilization; I say it’s naive to think we’ll last another 100 years on this planet if we don’t try. Swords into plowshares: we can to turn a war economy into a peace economy. Where [he] has harnessed fear, we must harness love.-Marianne
Where there is charity and wisdom there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Those who live in love have a wisdom about them, particularly in their sense of priorities. They know what is important.
Day by Day with St. Francis:
Those who are fearful see things that aren’t there, and tend not to grasp the truth when it is presented to them.
In love there is no fear; indeed, perfect love casts out fear.
1 John 4:18
‘Occasional churchgoing and the recitation of has prayers have no power to cleanse this purulent wound.’ -Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
‘Lord, the great cities are lost and rotting.
Their time is running out…
The people there live harsh and heavy,
crowded together, weary of their own routines.
Beyond them waits and breathes your earth,
but where they are ti cannot reach them.
They don’t know that somewhere
wind is blowing through a field of flowers.’
-Rilke, The book of Hours III, 4/5
My campaign for the presidency is dedicated to this search for higher wisdom. Its purpose is to create a new political possibility in America — where citizens awaken, our hearts and minds are uplifted, and our democracy once more becomes a thing about which we can all feel proud.
This is a new time, and we must bring forth something new within ourselves in order to deal with it. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
The N.Y. Times launches the 1619 Project, “observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery.”
Late August of 1619 “was when a ship arrived at Point Comfort in the British colony of Virginia, bearing a cargo of 20 to 30 enslaved Africans.”
Why it matters: The project “aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”
[NYTimes prescription needed to view full article…Dayle’s Community Cafe does not subscribe to for-profit/elitist journalism.]
The reparations plan.
Race Relations, Reconciliation and Reparations
At the time when slaves were first emancipated at the end of the Civil War, there are estimated to have been between 4 to 5 million enslaved persons in the American South. General Tecumseh Sherman promised to every former slave family of four, forty acres and a mule. While this would have provided a way to make a living and feed one’s family, integrating economically into life as a freed citizen, only a few actually received the acreage and among those who received it most had it then taken away.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. would ask a hundred years later, “They were freed, but what were they freed to?” It was a full hundred years after the end of the Civil War before the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 to dismantle segregation, and only in 1965 did the Voting Rights Act insure equal access to black people at the polls.
The issue of the economic gap that existed at the end of the Civil War, however, was never addressed beyond Sherman’s promise. And the gap has never been closed.
I have advocated for broad scale reparations for slavery since the 1990’s, and was the first candidate in this presidential primary season to make it a pillar of my campaign.
The issue of reparations is not a fringe notion. Germany has paid over $89 Billion to Jewish organizations since the end of WW2 and, while they do not erase the horror of the Holocaust, reparations have gone far towards establishing reconciliation between Germany and the Jews of Europe. Similarly, in 1988 Ronald Reagan signed the American Civil Liberties Act assigning between $20,000 to $22,000 to surviving prisoners of the Japanese internment camps during WW2. The idea that a people which has wronged another people should then pay economic restitution as payment for that wrong, is a civilized notion long considered reasonable.
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country”
– Abe Lincoln, 1862
“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.
-Toni Morrison, 1975
“Love casts out hate the way light casts out darkness. But love without action is not love. Love without justice is not love. Love without mercy is not love. Love that’s just talk is not love. So how do you do it? The answer isn’t complicated – it’s just confronting. You feed the hungry, help the poor, educate the children, make peace not war. You atone for your mistakes & make amends where you can.”
Toni Morrison will be a name and a genius long remembered. May her soul be blessed as it continues on its journey. The world is blessed by what she gave while she was here.
“When I was a child, we saw pictures of military parades in the Soviet Union. I was taught that America doesn’t do that— that we’re proud of the fact that we don’t do it because we don’t wish to be a militarized society. This July 4th however, America’s official celebration will be accompanied by army tanks on the National Mall.
The militarization of July 4th celebrations is repugnant to me. What we celebrate on July 4th is our greatest strength: the Declaration of Independence and the principles that it articulates. That is what we have always done, and that is what we must continue to do.
President Trump will be doing his July 4th event in Washington DC with army tanks on the National Mall; I will be doing mine in Concord, New Hampshire, with a message that I assume will be quite different than his.
Please join me tomorrow at 2pm PT/5pm ET via livestream or live in Concord for a July 4 talk that celebrates our principles, dedicating our hearts to the rights—and the responsibilities—it bequeaths to us. Another generation was given the task of giving birth to the country; the task of our generation is to give it new life.
I look forward to being with you!”
One of two Bradley Fighting Vehicles is parked next to the Lincoln Memorial. Photo: Andrew Harnik.
From Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation:
‘While our society places great emphasis on the individual, true prophets are almost always concerned with social, institutional, national, or corporate evil and our participation in it.
That’s because the future is always contingent upon our cooperation, choices, and actions. Therefore, if we live in love and treat the poor with justice, the good will happen.’
From Marianne Williamson:
‘Where racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamaphobia and xenophobia have become collectively politicized, we must collectively politicize decency, dignity, mercy, justice, compassion and love. This isn’t philosophy; it’s strategy.’
‘She only spoke for five minutes during the debate, but she managed to advocate for reparations; implicitly compare herself to John F. Kennedy; rail on her opponents for focusing too much on policy plans; bring “chemical policies” into the health-care debate; advocate for a spiritual, love-based strategy to beat President Trump; promise to call the prime minister of New Zealand on her first day in office; and beat the other candidates in debate-night Google search interest (although Kamala D. Harris was the top “trending topic” on all of Google). We may never have seen anyone exactly like Williamson on a national debate stage, but she’s channeling a real, and underserved, constituency in American politics.’ [Washington Post]
‘Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson called climate change the country’s greatest moral challenge in an interview Thursday, spotlighting an issue at the center of the 2020 primary race.
The author and activist told PBS NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff that investing resources to combat climate change now would pay off in the future.
“I’d rather pay with money now than pay with our inability to breath 25 years from now, 50 years from now,” said Williamson, who supports the Green New Deal.
Williamson also said the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion services, needs to be repealed.
The remarks come as several states have pushed controversial bills limiting abortion services. The debate over abortion is playing out in the 2020 primary race as well. Former Vice President Joe Biden made headlines Thursday by reversing his support for the amendment.
Other highlights from the interview:
On military spending: Williamson criticized U.S. military spending as excessive, touching on an argument she makes in her new book, “A Politics of Love.” “Anybody who thinks that our military budget is based only on military considerations is fooling themselves. It is based at least as much on short-term profit maximization for defense contractors,” she said.
On creating a Department of Peace: Williamson reiterated her call for a new agency with the name the “Department of Peace,” which would deal with domestic peace-building efforts, including in neighborhoods grappling with violence. “We do not spend money and put our resources behind the factors that create peace, like expanding education for children and ameliorating unnecessary human suffering,” Williamson said.
’What I saw outside the fence is as important as what I saw when I looked over it: politicians, human rights groups, religious groups, social justice advocates and others, all bearing witness to a tragic situation and refusing to look away. Gandhi’s concept of soul force means bearing witness to the agony of others as a form of political expression. People from across all religious and spiritual and social justice communities are ready to take a stand for love, and turn it into a political force.’
As I prepare for tonight’s debate, I am thinking about why I got into this race. I’m committed to articulating as strongly as I can my beliefs on which this campaign stands.
I believe we won’t be the country that we can be, until we’re the people that we can be. Too many people are held back from being all they can be, due to bad public policy that does more to limit their dreams than to unleash their spirits.
I believe government can and should be a force for good. It should create and secure opportunities for people to embrace the light, thus making it less probable they will fall into darkness.
America has now fallen into a dark night of the American soul. We’re living at a time when some of the worst human impulses have been turned into a political force. And that will be transcended only by the best human impulses turned into a political force.
That is why I take a stand for love.
I take a stand for economic and social justice. I take a stand for America’s children. I take a stand for safety. I take a stand for our planet. I take a stand for racial reconciliation. And I take a stand for peace.
I will continue to do that, tonight in Miami, tomorrow in Homestead, and the day after that in Iowa. I will continue to campaign on the possibility that America can emerge from this time and be better than we have ever been.