This too shall come to pass, or will it?

The crisis at the border in this early summer of 2018 with the forced separation of children from their mothers may be the breaking point. Or not.

Grabbing pussies did not do it. Lies and more lies did not do it. Flirting with the Russians did not do it. Trying to ban Muslims did not do it. Deregulating the financial market did not do it. Crazy tariffs did not do it. Affairs with porn stars did not do it. Denying climate change did not do it. Insulting Mexican, the disabled, women, LGBTQ, blacks, and many others did not do it. Pandering to the racist alt-right did not do it.

So, will separating undocumented mothers from their children as they flee horrific situations – that the U.S. helped create – and try to enter the U.S.A. as refugee do it?

Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell.

An opinion piece in the Washington Post today was titled simply “Repugnant”.

I see the article begins quoting a Cuban-American (Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) – Republican at that!… Totally relate. This incident may do more than anything to date to wake-up the ‘right of center’ Cuban-Americans to the embedded indecency of this President. Cuban-Americans – across the political spectrum – are all too familiar with family separation issues; from the ‘Peter Pan’ children of the 60’s to Elian Gonzalez. Those of us that were separated from our parents – albeit by choice and under loving condition – remain hyper sensitive to the psychological scars the current situation will inflict on these children…. The damage is done. Politically – this incident coupled with the mishandling of the recovery in Puerto Rico – Trump might have just sealed the fate of Florida’s upcoming elections.

And yet some of his supporters try to justify the situation by either evoking the horrible things Obama and the Clintons did, or quoting the Bible, or grossly simplifying the situation and options, or simply deflecting the simple fact that Trump caused this problem. He seems to have changed his mind with an Executive Order that is vague in details. And now what?

… Not sure these folks minds can be changed though… Therefore:

For the historical record: Here are a couple of the least insulting and most charitable Facebook comments from the Trumpistas:

If God’s children can obey this nation’s laws and adhere to the above requests, please, enter the U.S. and enjoy the freedom you’ve been looking for! Here’s 81 verses in the bible that relate to laws – …  Here’s the bottom line as I see it: 1) Please enter the U.S. in one of the 389 LEGAL ports of entry. Just pick one, it doesn’t matter which one, but please pick one. Don’t put your child in jeopardy of being taken away from you 2) Please make sure that the child that you are bringing in is YOUR child, not someone else’s. The last thing we need is to provoke a child smuggling ring in the U.S. 3) Once we grant you an Asylum hearing, PLEASE attend! 80% of those people seeking Asylum do not attend the meeting, then they are virtually impossible to find. We don’t need any more illegal immigrants here after we’ve tried to help them become legal, PLUS, you don’t want to spend the rest of your stay here with your family hiding under the radar. Please think of your family, do the responsible thing and attend the hearing!

Yeah…. But undoing what Obama did is a huge task….have friends in. Military and they hate O for what he tried to do for 8 years…the list in endless…so why did Obama crafted a law that if follow to the T caused this???? Think about it.. this, no one raised hell like now….Trump follows the law as written and suddenly he is a monster…. The hypocrisy of the left and Dems is amazing….he is the only one with cojones to actually follow the law.

#RESIST. Get friends and families registered to vote. Don’t waste your time trying to change the minds of these folks. #RESIST

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Why I join. Why I stay.

I was asked recently “Why? Why do you join those dysfunctional institutions like the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party? Why do you stay?”… Actually, I have been thinking about this for a while, since the last spiritual exercise I attended a few months back… I’ve been meaning to jot down some thought about this, and here it goes.

Am I a joiner? I choose to belong and stay in my neighborhood, community, political party, faith, and civic and service groups.

I could choose not to belong. I could choose to go at it along. I could choose not to join. I could choose to quit.

Certainly some do. And they are no less of a good person.

Some choose to go at it alone, yet they are not loners. Others choose to be socially active but not necessarily join in social action. And many pray in private, not community… There are also those who plug in and out of institutions for a particular purpose of a given time… And that’s ok… That approach to life just does not seem to be who I am and simply does not seem to be for me…

To me life is most lived in growing relationships. Relationships amplify life. Love is most found in healthy relationships. I can (and do) love myself, marvel in creation when contemplatively alone, and find my soul in solitude. Yet, it is relationship, companionship, community, sharing moments and stories, discussing wisdom and irreverence in conversation and dialogue, and marking rituals and celebrating together that I find the energy and drive to keep going, work for a greater good, re-examine the missteps of the past and pursue the possibilities of the future.

And so I join others in imperfect and dysfunctional institutions; in sometimes chaotic, difficult, and hurtful journeys… If I was to join only perfect institutions and seek only perfect relationships, I’d be miserably disappointed since none exist.

Clearly we all make choices for how we invest our time, talent, and treasure in relationships and institutions in a way that align with our core values and personal mission. Clearly most often joining most any institution requires choosing to focus on where personal values align and intersect the institution values rather than highlighting where there is discord, conflict, and divergence.

It is not about compromising values, nor suspending focus on them, nor ‘giving in’. It is also not about acceptance or being quiet or not dissenting.

I choose to join these imperfect and dysfunctional institutions because I believe in their mission. And – not but – I also choose to work from inside to create an environment where change is possible, never hesitating voicing dissent, and pursuing the greater good.

It can be tough, lonely, and disappointing for sure. Yet, I choose to remain – mostly. (There have been exceptions.) I choose to remain in light of seemingly insurmountable odds; I choose to remain in light of criticism – stated or not – of people I cherish and trust; I choose to remain even in light of oftentimes being viewed with suspect from some insiders who may think I am not a true believer, weak, or too conciliatory or compromising with outsiders.

I find the structure, ritual, permanency, and stability of these institutions something I welcome and cherish. I respect those that have come before me to create the institution I now belong to – and criticize from the inside. These institutions have firm boundaries, rules, regulations, hierarchy, and protocols that are necessary to their functioning as an institution. Oftentimes it is in these boundaries, rules, regulations, hierarchy, and protocols that I find challenges. So I routinely remind myself that my alignment with the mission is more important than the disagreement with a certain aspect of how that mission is achieved. (Though process still matters. A lot. I could not belong an institution that consistently disregards process or is consistently indecent, lies, cheat, and has no empathy regardless of how laudable the ultimate mission might be. Thus I can not support our President. But, that’s for another posting.)

Here are three personal examples of why I joined institutions that have many faults, yet have laudable, aspirational mission with which I align and enthusiastically support:

The government bureaucracy – I have worked with the public sector all my life. I more than know how inefficient and ineffective the bureaucracy can be. Yet, the mission of serving the collective good is something I embrace wholeheartedly. Sometimes I may feel like I am ‘in the belly of the beast’, yet when I see the many examples of very good people that have devoted their lives to public service, I find the energy to stay and continue the struggle.

The Democratic Party – I choose to be involved politically. And, given the wrapped limiting two party system that we have in this country, Democrats simply best align with my personal believe system for creating a civil society that is empathetic and cares for the disenfranchised people. Surely there are serious points of deep disagreements; yet, there is no question in my mind that the greater civil good is best achieved by electing Democrats.

The Catholic Church – I am a practicing Catholic. That is, I am practicing but haven’t quite got it right yet. I shiver sometimes at the over the top pomp and circumstance, the sometimes seemingly intentional alienation and exclusion of women, and requirements for membership and behavior that seem from another millennium. Yet, the core mission of the Church, particularly with its evident commitment to social justice is totally me. I am all in. (I am totally in particularly with the Catholics Jesuits whom which I choose to join in the journey of faith.)

So I chose to join these imperfect and dysfunctional institutions sometime in the past through a process of discernment now long forgotten. But, I choose to stay through the same, a process of continuous discernment, a daily practice of meditation, and attempts at contemplation.

No institution is perfect. Yet, even in light of imperfection and dysfunction, and knowing they are led by broken souls who are definitively not perfect either, I choose to stay because I too am broken, imperfect, and dysfunctional.

But, in this odd journey of life with companions – some of like mind and some not – building relationships that spark love which sparks action, building relationships that spark action that spark love, and building relationships where we can support and help each other flourish we keep on keeping on, not letting the perfect get in the way of the good and always aspirationally striving for the greater good.

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The continuing devolution of America

Trump comes at you fast. He is a good game show host! He knows entertainment suspense. He keeps us off balance… What will the next Tweet say? Will he or won’t he comment? Who will he insult next?

Oh, so entertaining!

Yet, the Presidency is serious stuff. Governance is not entertainment. Politics is not a sport.

People’s lives are at stake here.

(Side note: and here is where anti-abortionist will say, “Exactly the point. The unborn lives are at stake here and that is why we voted for him no matter anything else.” I have no argument against that myopic, zealot position other than to remind my good anti-abortionist friends that facilitating bringing a life into this world without the accompaniment of quality pre-natal care and post birth healthcare and support is a rather narrow – and ultimately counterproductive – view of things. More on this topic in another posting. But I digress.)

Policies like indiscriminately yanking children from parents at the border; leaving thousands of people in limbo by not addressing – or worse yet, negatively addressing – DACA and TPS; slashing environmental programs; and walking away from Puerto Rico demonstrate a devolution of American values that diminishes our nation being viewed aspirationally by Americans as well as others throughout the world.

Rash acts like the on-again off-again North Korea summit, temper tantrums against entertainment and athletes,  and insults of other politicians and federal departments demonstrates a lack of civility that is degrading not only the American Presidency but also the respect for authority that is so needed for a well functioning nation.

This President’s inability to articulate an argument in a coherent, developed manner; his limited vocabulary; and his flippant demeanor degrades the Office of the Presidency to the point that it leaves many with a yearning for true statesmen and stateswomen of the past, great men and women that present themselves as knowledgeable of the subject matter and can converse in a manner that is intelligent and actually makes sense.

This devolution of the Presidency – and of America by association – is so rapid and rampant that it has brought into question the very essence of the country as a nation others look up to, as a country in which one takes pride living in, or a President that we want children and youth to emulate.

Instead we have a country that has devolved to simply being one of many. Sure, an economic powerhouse, but culturally shrinking. Sure, a sports giant, but artistically shallow. Sure, a military might, but responsibly reckless.

We have a leadership that merits no more respect – and oftentimes much less respect – that the leadership of other first world nations (and even less respect than some second and third world nations!) We find ourselves in a downward spiral chase to the gutter that makes many other countries seem just fine, thank you.

The shining city on the hill that was the U.S.A. is fast becoming the chaotic, mean, transactional city of excess where riches may be found but souls are so often lost.

Of course we can still turn this mess around. #RESIST, help friends register to vote, and vote vote vote come November!

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