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These Times

    First of all, we have each other and there is great joy in re-discovering our communities, our values, our purpose, our strength and determination.  The peoples of the world have suffered enough through history to know that circling the wagons and defining enemies is always our undoing.  Always.  We must be ever more inclusive, ever more compassionate - always working within to lay down the burden of fear, vengeance and meanness that so easily salts our lips.  I find it particularly challenging in these times, when there seems to be an explosion of meanness and division at so many levels of our society, whether in politics, the press, social media.  Our day to day is often punctuated with name-calling and trash-talking, as if the worst of high school bullying and "humor" had become the norm.

    So, let us strive to kindness.  Kindness to stranger, friend and foe.  Really - stranger, friend and foe.  It's hard that, just when there is such an urgent need to speak, there is an equal urgency to listen. So many voices have been drowned by the drumbeat of ideology and the 24/7 news cycle that seems to constantly settle on the most disturbing or flawed moments of our journeys.  Just as children learn to speak the language of our homes and communities, so we, too, learn to speak and think in the language of the voices that surround us.  It's helpful to turn off the screens and unplug the earbuds and let the great and wise stillness have a moment or two to hold and instruct and nourish us.

    In these times, when I am trying to evaluate a policy, a nominee, an executive order, I find myself asking Does it help heal our divisions?  Does it embrace some of us or all of us?  Does it walk with humility or arrogance, kindness or fear?  Are our leaders leading by example? Do they act with transparency and decency? Do they stand behind their privilege and wealth or set it down and stand with others?  Are they generous?  These are questions we must ask ourselves, too, as we voice our concerns, stand in protest, visit our representatives, go on strike. 

    First of all, we have each other.  We need to build stronger, more equitable, generous and compassionate families and neighborhoods.    

    Secondly, let us speak out against every policy, nominee and executive order that appeals to our fears and prejudices, that make us smaller and less generous.  Let us call our representatives, take to the streets, and be willing to engage in strikes and other non-violent actions to counter repressive and fear-based programs and directives.  Let us propose a new direction for our economy and politics, based on wealth equality, programs for the social good, an expansion of civil rights, generosity at home and to our neighbors around the world. 

    Finally, we should demand that our legislators pass a bill to force the release of tax returns by the president.  It is essential that conflicts of interest and corruption be thoroughly brought to light.  It is not a partisan issue.  There simply is no way for government to proceed in good faith without having that information available for public scrutiny.

    An upcoming blog will focus on militarism and the growing security or surveillance state and opportunities for increasing our safety by redirecting our priorities.