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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Daughter's Thoughts (#boyslivesmatter)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

2199 The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it.
This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons.


In the wake of the latest sex scandal, I was struck by the hypocrisy of Hollywood and by the response of Woody Allen.  His throw away line about hoping this does not turn into a Witch Hunt could have been valid if not for his qualification:  he hoped that a man who simply winks at a woman in the office doesn't end up arrested.

Yes, there was the typical backlash from social media.  It caused him to have to qualify his statement.  And while I understood the gist of what he was saying, it struck me that at some level men have the idea that they are going to be called on the carpet for a gentlemanly compliment (and by the way - a salacious wink is not a gentlemanly compliment), that somehow a woman will not know the difference between harassment and an acknowledgment of how nice she looks or how pleasant it is to see her.

Then I thought, well do we know the difference?  I think we know because we are taught by our fathers what it acceptable in male behavior and what is not.

My father failed on several levels as a Dad.  Much of that I have previously discussed in this blog and my regular readers know that I had a good, solid relationship with him when he died.  I totally accepted him for who and what he was, I forgave him his failings and I had made amends to him for my poor behavior as a daughter (behavior I once considered ok because, after all, it was a response to his poor fathering, right?).   Suffice to say that my father was the product of his horrible childhood and combat during WW2.  His wives and children were damaged as a result and, unfortunately, the residual affects are felt even today.

One thing my father did teach me, however, was to expect to be treated in a gentlemanly manner by males.  Blame it on his Southern Gentleman Fa├žade, but he did believe in treating a lady like a lday, and that I should BE a lady.  When I fell into the lifestyle that comes with active alcoholism, I threw that teaching to the sidelines.  When I was restored to sanity, I reclaimed that teaching.  The result is I know the difference between a man who says, "Good morning, Leslie!  My you look lovely today!" and someone who leers at me or makes grunting noises to indicate the pleasure he is experiencing because of my mere presence.  And while I can post 'Me Too' on my status no male needs to worry that he will have charges pressed against him or be called out on poor behavior because I can't tell the difference between a compliment and harassment.

My thinking led me further, however; what about the boys?  Who teaches a boy that grunting at a woman as she walks by is okay.  To paraphrase one of my favorite female comics who, in response to a guy who yelled "HEY BABY" as he drove by in a pick up truck - who taught that guy that doing that would work?  I mean, has a woman he screamed at ever yelled back, "Oh be still my heart, you romantic charmer you" and then ran after the truck?

So who teaches our young males and future men what it means to BE a man?  If the statistics are correct, and children of color are more likely to be raised in a household that does not include a strong father figure, how do we provide them with the education they are going to need to BE men of good character?  If a young male is surrounded only by women could that impact his way of regarding his role as a potential father?  Will he think he is important enough to stick around when he helps to create a child?

In case you haven't noticed, I am not a woman of color (that you can tell by looking at me).  My DNA results might speak otherwise but because I have walked through this life as - to all appearances - a White Woman it would be highly presumptuous of me to speak to how to influence young males of color to be men who value their role as father to such a degree that they will not enter into any kind of union without wanting that union to be solid, permanent and about raising a strong generation.

SO....I did what any smart woman does:  I asked other people what THEY think.

I picked two friends of mine.  They have much in common.  They are both African American men.  They are married.  They are fathers.  They have strong spiritual beliefs and strong political beliefs.  They are both San Francisco Forty-Niner Faithful (which means they are above average intelligence - okay, that's MY take, anyway).

However, they are both at different ends of the political spectrum.  One is decidedly conservative in his outlook, the other not so much.  One voted for Donald Trump...the other didn't.  One is in Law Enforcement.  One is a professional DJ who raised children to serve this country in the military but has a very distinct view of American and World History.

In other words, they are individuals.

I asked them this question:

If you had unlimited funds and the green light to design a program for young men of color that would teach them to be responsible citizens of the United States and emphasize the need to NOT leave their children, no matter WHAT, with the caveat that the program cannot include God (it would be for the public school system and have to be able to avoid a lawsuit), what would it look like?

Donald (my brother from Law Enforcement) answered first:

Starting with larger cities he would build huge school campuses with dorms for families who have no home.  The fathers without diplomas would have access to adult education centers to get them their diplomas.  He would include large companies and manufacturers and businesses to provide them jobs.  Understanding that not everyone can (or wants) to work in an office, there would be an attempt to match men with appropriate ways to earn a good solid living, as this would make it possible for the kids to get the quality education they will need.  He would provide counseling for the whole family on a variety of topics to teach people how to maintain themselves, to be independent. 

He was tough love when it came to any issues - drugs or alcohol?  We will give you the counseling and support your need for help but one strike, buddy, and you are out.

Donald sees the problem as, basically, an economic one and a common sense issue.  You cannot just give someone a job.  You have to teach them how to budget, how to save, how to pay bills.  You have to give them access to jobs that will give people health care, be able to pay for education for their kids. 

When I read his response I was struck by what he saw as a problem - there is no one to teach these kids the basics that he was taught by his mom and his hard, apply yourself, be moderate in your habits, save your money, love God, family, country and football.  He saw that this needed to be taught.

My buddy Curt asked me a few more questions.  I shared a bit with him about my own father and his answer to my question incorporated that information.

He stated that he would start at around the age of 12 with the boys, sharing with them the knowledge of what it means to grow up with a lousy father (like me).  He would explain to them that this is being done so that they might make a change in how they view parenting.  Like me (and Donald) he believes no Father should leave their child behind because family legacy is too important. He said we may not be "Rothschild, Bush or Obamas...but we make the difference in the world greater than (them)."  He addressed the excuse of "I didn't have a Father I turned to gangs" by acknowledging that this may be true but is NOT the only choice.   

He went on to state that to be a great and instrumental Father is to continually be there for the child, offer advice and then let them decide.

Curt further stated that we have got to address the values of Motherhood as well because the way young men at 12 could be able to 'see the woman's point of view' could be incorporated into the teaching on Fatherhood.  "Young men...are wanting to be sexually active and look to peers for acceptance.  So cutting them off at the pass, so to speak, is vital in teaching values".

One of the problems he saw, however, is having to divorce this type of teaching from spirituality.  While he did not think it had to be linked to a specific religion, he did not think we should leave that element out.

I am impressed with these answers.  As a Catholic, I see how important it is to teach our youngsters that they matter.  They matter not just as individuals; rather, they have an ultimate contribution to make and the actions they choose now can either lead them towards making a positive contribution or a negative one.  If a male child is told from the beginning that what he is being taught has a means to an end, that being his ability to lead, protect and shape the next generation, would that male child be more likely to make sure his partner in that endeavor wants to him to be there?  Would he treat young girls and women with respect because he would see them as an other self, necessary to a solid society and worthy of respect simply because they exist?

 If a female child is told that she is valuable for her mind, her heart and her vision and that she does not need to sacrifice her body or her soul to achieve a dream, would she be more likely to tell a Harvey Weinstein to take his offer of a movie role or the production of her movie and shove it where the sun don't shine when he tells her it is dependent upon her watching him masturbate?

I know there are no easy, simple answers to problems today.  I get that racism, lack of resources, economic issues and substance abuse ravage our world and that all of those things impact our ability to function as fully human.  I don't pretend that any one program or approach will solve the problems we have in society.

What I do think, however, is that we have forgotten a lot of the basics.  We have forgotten the importance of family, of fathers and of mothers.  We acknowledged that those roles may not be for everyone but rather than just saying, "That's cool if you don't wanna be a mommy or a daddy" we somehow went to "if you do want to be that, then you are shortchanging yourself" or "fathers don't matter" or "mothers aren't important". 

I am the product of an amazing single mother.  She saw motherhood as her vocation and she sacrificed a lot to give her children a stable home, with good solid values.   She did not want to do it alone; she had to because the man she chose walked away.  I am grateful that I had one sane parent but I wish I had had two....and I think a lot of us wish we had had that as well.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Culture of Sexual License

The Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims as Truth the following statement:

The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it:
Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design. (CCC 1935).

 In the news is the spectacular downfall of Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood King and Queen maker, supreme god of the Green Lighting of Projects and amazingly insatiable sexual predator.   For the past thirty-something years this man has bestowed his millions and his influence on politicians, the news media and Hollywood as a whole.  Men and women have stood at the podium and accepted Oscars, thanking him for backing them, their careers and their projects.   Many of these same men and women also used this platform - and their fame - to tout the policies and agendas of The Democratic Party.  We - the average American - have been subjected to their opinions and the overall belief foisted upon us is that if we do not hold to their same beliefs then we are horrible people.  We hate the poor.  We want all homosexuals to be put into concentration camps.  We hate animals.  We definitely hate women. Woe be to anyone IN Hollywood that tries to go against that tide.  They become suspect and a little odd. 

 Those who live above the clouds of Hollywood - the real Los Angeles Elite - who have supported the other party - The Republicans - have rightfully been subjected to close scrutiny.  If their sexual strangeness is revealed it is to great glee.  A member of Ronald Reagan's Kitchen Cabinet was discovered to have had a mistress and to have been a man who enjoyed being beaten and tied up.  The man dies, the mistress is murdered and Dominick Dunne writes a book and a movie is made. Barney Frank is accused of using government transportation as a flying bordello with underage boys as his playthings and the guy gets reelected.

I proposed to people on Social Media - in a deliberately provocative manner, I admit - that all the women who put on those Kitty Cat Hats and marched against Donald Trump are hypocrites for not doing the same now because of Harvey Weinstein.  Their response was that Trump was more of a threat because he is an elected official, that because of the current disasters in our country (fire, hurricane, etc.) that this was not as important and (my personal favorite) 'never heard of this one sleazy Hollywood producer so it is not the same thing".

 I respectfully disagree.

I disagree because the Harvey Weinsteins of the world wield power far more potent than an elected official.  I disagree because Hollywood elite  women who knew what he was doing and let other women wander into his domain stood at the podiums of that rally a year ago and said they were standing up for me - that they were part of The Women's March.  I disagree because to call them out on their willingness to keep quiet in order to further their careers is portrayed as 'blaming the victims' and yet they had absolutely no trouble with Hillary Clinton doing exactly that to the women who accused her husband of doing the same thing ol'Harve did to them.

Ashley Judd is not one of my favorite people in terms of politics (I have never met her and so I don't know if I would like her or not) but she did have the guts to speak up against this man years ago.  She stopped getting any parts shortly after she spoke up.  It was generally assumed she stopped getting work because she is a lousy actress, an argument that might hold water if not for all the lousy actresses still working.   Corey Feldman has spoken out against the child predators in Hollywood and is given a bit of press but is really known for his recent failed attempts as a musician.   Terry Crews stated that he was sexually assaulted at a party, in front of his wife, and had to ignore his first instinct, which was to physically attack his assailant.  He did so because he knew that the result would be a headline that read "250lb Black man attacks little white man at Hollywood party" - a headline he would not get to read because he would be in jail. He is also honest enough to state he also knew he would be kissing good bye any chance of a Hollywood career if he spoke out.

My point is that the type of behavior that Donald Trump admitted to and that people flipped out over has been perpetrated on the less powerful for forever and a day.  People like me who are survivors of sexual assault have had to face the fact that part of our recovery includes taking responsibility for not  warning others against the perpetrators as well as facing the role our own lifestyle, greed, ambitions etc. played in our assault.  When I went to the police after being horrifically raped in the 1980's a very kind and compassionate member of Law Enforcement gently told me that I would be raked over the coals in court because of the lifestyle I was living.  He told me, quietly and with an understanding I find amazing today, that if I was his daughter he would 'take care of the situation himself' and not put her through the legal system.  I took his advice....and years later, in recovery, faced my own culpability in terms of what I had done to me.  It caused depression and anxiety...I wanted to die from the shame I felt...and that forced me to my knees.  It forced me to turn to a loving, compassionate and all powerful God and ask for the grace I needed to forgive.  I had to forgive my attacker.  I had to forgive the legal system.  I had to forgive myself.

 I am angry.  I am angry at the Hollywood Elite and I am angry at those people who have no problem with people of a specific political stripe perpetrating crimes.  I am angry that groups of women applaud the very women who let this guy - and many others - run wild in Hollywood.  I am angry that a documentary like The Hunting Ground is considered amazing but no one has the guts to turn that same lens on Hollywood.

Do I blame the victims?  Maybe, in a sense I do...not the young 20 year olds that they were...maybe I blame the 40 and 50 year olds they are today who refuse to acknowledge that part of the component in their silence was their own need to be successful.  Maybe I am angry that no one WANTS to look at sexual assault against men, women and children in an historical sense - that the societal view of such victims in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 60s, 70s, etc. deserve to be applied to how institutions like The Catholic Church or other venerable groups (Congress anyone?) responded to allegations.  Maybe I am tired of what I see as the knee-jerk reactions that send thousands of women into the streets holding signs and wearing ridiculous hats being limited to a reaction against people whose political views differ from their own while those that share their convictions not only get a pass but are actively courted for their money.

I did not vote for Mr. Trump.  I happen to be appalled at his behavior (then and now).  I did not vote for Mrs. Clinton.  I was appalled at her behavior towards her husband's victims and I do not support the Democratic Party Platform.  I state this because I want people to understand this is not about Republicans vs. Democrats for me; rather it is about trying my best to be honest about what I see as the great calamity today.  That calamity is pushing God out of our lives.

I think, and I may be too simplistic in my approach, that until we recognize that we have lost the need to see each other as an extension of ourselves, 'an other self' as The Catholic Church teaches, we will continue to make this kind of issue a partisan issue.  We will think we should only demand purity of our elected officials and only if that elected official is a member of the other party.  We will not be able to stand up as a family and say to those who govern us, "You do not get to treat anyone like your own private playground without their expressed permission".

 I have proposed a challenge to two of my male friends.  Both of them are African American.  Both are fathers.  Both are husbands.  Both of them are Niner Fans.  That is where their similarities cease.  These two men are on opposite sides of the political spectrum and, for want of a better description, are Liberal and Conservative.

I posed a question to them: If you had unlimited funds and the green light to design and then institute a program for our public school system that would teach and train young men of color to never leave their children NO MATTER be responsible husbands and fathers...what would it look like? Oh...and because it is in the public school system?  You have to leave out God.

 I am so interested in hearing their replies....and I will report that back to you, gentle reader.  We have got to start talking, people....we have got to start talking.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The National Anthem and The Universal Call to Holiness

On September 25, 2017 Eric Reid of the San Francisco Forty Niners wrote a thoughtful and intelligent piece explaining the history of the 'Take a Knee' movement currently getting lots of press.

I read it, and I was impressed because the motives behind his suggestion to Colin Kaepernick reveal a man of Faith, a man of dignity and a man of Grace.

The characteristics I just described seem to be sadly lacking in today's world.  The words "dignity" or "grace" cannot be applied to the current President of the United States, though his right to express himself is just as sacred to me as the right of Mr. Reid to express himself.

I am the daughter of a WW2 Combat Vet who went to war (illegally) at the age of 16.  He did not do so to fight for freedom and democracy as much as he did to escape an abusive, poverty stricken life in Texas.  He fought with bravery and honor in the same way 90% of our soldiers, sailors and marines fight when thrust into combat, and it damaged him in ways we cannot fathom.  It affected his wives, his children and ultimately his grandchildren.  The mistakes made by him as a father have been repeated.  Those mistakes were a direct result of both the ugliness of his childhood and the ugliness of war.

I am the aunt of a War on Terror Combat Vet.  I said goodbye to an idealistic sheepdog of a boy and what has returned is a solemn, sad, uncertain of the existence of God, young man who has to watch how he walks in the world.  He saw and did things I have never seen or done.  I pray for him every day.  My prayer is that he returns to Holy Mother Church to find the healing of his soul and spirit.

I am the child of immigrants, a second generation American on my mother's side.  However, through my father I have roots that go WAAAAAAAY back in this country - and I am a descendant of the First Peoples' here.

I am former Law Enforcement.  I did not carry a weapon; rather, I was non-sworn personnel and supervised Records, Warrants and Central Identification for a large county in my home state.  My service to the Officers in the Field was to make sure the Graveyard shift always had a pot of fresh coffee and a place for them to 'drop by'.  They did, on a regular basis.  They were able to talk with me, share what was going on in their hearts and make totally inappropriate jokes and remarks without any judgement from me.  If I found out they were Catholic, I would talk about the healing power of The Sacraments.  I received two phone calls during my five years with the department from wives thanking me because their husbands had started going to Mass with them again.  I still hear from them today.

This last summer I registered two families of Iraqi Catholics with our Parish School.  Both of them had smuggled their documents out pinned to the inside of their clothing, next to their bodies.  When I apologized to them for the wait to be registered, both said a variation of "Are you kidding?  No one is throwing bombs at us.  We are fine".

I share this because I want to be perfectly clear that I do not agree that every shooting of an 'unarmed Black man' was a case of murder under the color of authority.  I share this about me because you must understand that, like Eric Reid, I love my country and am willing to die for The Eucharist.  I share this with you because people like me and Mr. Reid are often looked at like the Enemy when we actually take the time to try and articulate our thoughts and feelings.  We live our Faith to the best of our ability and it is not so much about race or politics as it is about wanting to stand in front of Jesus at the end of time and be able to look at Him and say, "I tried my best to live Your Teachings, Lord."

I do not 'hate' Donald Trump.  I do not 'hate' Hilary Clinton.  I can't.  I am a Catholic.  I am called to Holiness and the nature of Holiness is to try to be Like Christ...and to see others as another Jesus.  That means ALL OTHERS, including the people who wear hoods and would march me, Eric and those who do not fit their idea of human, into ovens.  I have to love my enemy.  I do not have to capitulate to them and I must resist them but I must also LOVE them as God loves them.

This is a long blog post - I know most of you will not read the entire post.  I know that some of you will decide I am simply another big mouth bleeding heart liberal.

Let me tell you - I am not....

What I am is a Catholic.

And I stand with Eric - and kneel before my Creator.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2017
In early 2016, I began paying attention to reports about the incredible number of unarmed black people being killed by the police. The posts on social media deeply disturbed me, but one in particular brought me to tears: the killing of Alton Sterling in my hometown Baton Rouge, La. This could have happened to any of my family members who still live in the area. I felt furious, hurt and hopeless. I wanted to do something, but didn’t know what or how to do it. All I knew for sure is that I wanted it to be as respectful as possible.
A few weeks later, during preseason, my teammate Colin Kaepernick chose to sit on the bench during the national anthem to protest police brutality. To be honest, I didn’t notice at the time, and neither did the news media. It wasn’t until after our third preseason game on Aug. 26, 2016, that his protest gained national attention, and the backlash against him began.
That’s when my faith moved me to take action. I looked to James 2:17, which states, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” I knew I needed to stand up for what is right.
I approached Colin the Saturday before our next game to discuss how I could get involved with the cause but also how we could make a more powerful and positive impact on the social justice movement. We spoke at length about many of the issues that face our community, including systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system. We also discussed how we could use our platform, provided to us by being professional athletes in the N.F.L., to speak for those who are voiceless.
After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former N.F.L. player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.
It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.
It should go without saying that I love my country and I’m proud to be an American. But, to quote James Baldwin, “exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
I can’t find words that appropriately express how heartbroken I am to see the constant smears against Colin, a person who helped start the movement with only the very best of intentions. We are talking about a man who helped to orchestrate a commercial planeful of food and supplies for famine-stricken Somalia. A man who has invested his time and money into needy communities here at home. A man I am proud to call my brother, who should be celebrated for his courage to seek change on important issues. Instead, to this day, he is unemployed and portrayed as a radical un-American who wants to divide our country.
Anybody who has a basic knowledge of football knows that his unemployment has nothing to do with his performance on the field. It’s a shame that the league has turned its back on a man who has done only good. I am aware that my involvement in this movement means that my career may face the same outcome as Colin’s. But to quote the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” And I choose not to betray those who are being oppressed.
I have too often seen our efforts belittled with statements like “He should have listened to the officer,” after watching an unarmed black person get shot, or “There is no such thing as white privilege” and “Racism ended years ago.” We know that racism and white privilege are both very much alive today.
And it’s disheartening and infuriating that President Trump has referred to us with slurs but the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., as “very fine people.” His remarks are a clear attempt to deepen the rift that we’ve tried so hard to mend.
I am nevertheless encouraged to see my colleagues and other public figures respond to the president’s remarks with solidarity with us. It is paramount that we take control of the story behind our movement, which is that we seek equality for all Americans, no matter their race or gender.
What we need now is numbers. Some people acknowledge the issues we face yet remain silent bystanders. Not only do we need more of our fellow black and brown Americans to stand with us, but also people of other races.
I refuse to be one of those people who watches injustices yet does nothing. I want to be a man my children and children’s children can be proud of, someone who faced adversity and tried to make a positive impact on the world, a person who, 50 years from now, is remembered for standing for what was right, even though it was not the popular or easy choice.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Catholics and Politics

The Catholics in the Pews are currently subjected to badgering from two extremes:  The Republican Rite Catholics who see all things other than Republican as bad and the Progressive Rite Catholics who see all things Trump as bad.  The Republican Rite Catholics are fractured by the group within its ranks that defend President Trump no matter WHAT comes out of his mouth and begin all sentences doing so with a variation of 'But Obama was worse".   The Progressive Rite Catholics speak in the same kind of extremes, make huge leaps in logic and will ignore the Catechism if it suits them, wave it as a banner if it supports them.

This is, of course, my opinion and my own rhetoric reflects my emotions around politics today.  Those emotions can be summed up like this:

1. I believe the Left and the Right are basically the same in their embracing of intolerance.
2. Sean Hannity and Chris Matthews are robots with interchangeable heads.
3. Everyone except Armstrong and Getty (radio hosts in California) make me tired.

The party I to which I belong is the American Solidarity Party.  I joined it during the last Presidential Election Cycle because I could not bring myself to vote for Mrs. Clinton and I was horrified that Mr. Trump was the Republican candidate.  I was not going to vote for anyone for the first time since I was 18 years old and that made me sick to my stomach.  I found the American Solidarity Party and, while I knew people would accuse me of 'throwing away my vote" I felt it was important - at age 61 - to vote in a manner that would allow me to stand in front of Jesus Christ at the end of my life and say, "Lord, I tried my very best to be a Catholic Out Loud and a good citizen of the United States."

The funniest part of all this is that, before the election, supporters of Hilary Clinton told me I was guaranteeing her win as President and the supporters of Donald Trump would snidely ask me questions such as, "So you WANT the Culture of Death to win?".  After the election, those SAME people both told me that my actions had single-handedly insured Mr. Trump winning the White House and the End of Civilization As We Know It (depending upon which party they claimed membership in, of course).  It was then that I realized that the Left/Right movement was a movement that was seriously crazy, full of illogical suppositions and assertions and that my team has a better chance of winning the next Superbowl than I have of having a rational discussion with any of these yahoos.

The American Solidarity Party is not perfect.  We do not have a perfect platform and I do not agree with EVERYTHING in it but it is closest to my ideals and my beliefs than either of the established political parties.

In light of the latest political storm over DACA, I wish to offer the official Statement of the American Solidarity Party for your consideration.

This statement is:

 The American Solidarity Party calls on President Trump and Congress to work diligently and quickly to pass legislation guaranteeing a path to United States citizenship for eligible “Dreamers” – immigrants who were brought to this country illegally as children.

Called ‘Dreamers’, these are students, lawyers, non-profit pioneers, human resource directors, police officers, teachers, parents, and firefighters. They are our neighbors and our friends. They arrived as children, pursued an education, pursued careers, bonded with their communities, had relationships, and many had children. These are the more than 790,000 individuals who have sought to remain in the United States through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly referred to as DACA. Now, as President Trump announces that he will repeal DACA, their futures are uncertain and terrifying. Many face job loss and deportation to countries that most cannot remember, countries where they may not speak the language, and countries that are overrun by violence. They face leaving behind their homes, their families, their children, all that they have worked for; the very American dream they learned about side by side with their peers in American public schools. They face punishment for a crime they did not commit, and that they had no control over.
Justice demands that Congress finally take action on House and Senate bills introduced early this year, in order to guarantee a path to citizenship for our neighbors and members of our communities. These bills having been sitting in both houses on Congress with little to no action, despite months of threats to the DACA program.
Human dignity likewise demands that President Trump not endanger nearly a million hard-working and dedicated individuals whose only goals are to become American citizens and to realize their full potential in the country in which they were raised, a country they love. By passing the responsibility to Congress, he fails the very real human beings whose individual stories inspire those around them.
Finally, the American Solidarity Party calls on all citizens to contact their Congressional representatives. Be the voice for your neighbors and friends who cannot speak on their own behalf. Make it clear that this is a dream that can no longer be deferred. The time for action is now. Action from the President, action from Congress, and action from every citizen.


Not everyone is going to agree with this statement.  That is fine.  However, I happen to believe that we need to enact legislation that allows these people a path to citizenship that will benefit our country and benefit them.  Not all people are cut out for military service.  Not all people are meant to be teachers or doctors.  However, those who are willing to work and to serve as a way to establish their want/need to remain in this country need to be able to do so without fear especially if they were brought here as children without any say in the matter.

Get it together, Congress.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Human Dignity

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 1931:  Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that "everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as 'another self,' above all bearing in mind his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity."37 No legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness which obstruct the establishment of truly fraternal societies. Such behavior will cease only through the charity that finds in every man a "neighbor," a brother.


Current events have been centered around Confederate Statues in the United States.  Sides are once again drawn.  On the one are those people who see these monuments as honoring a system of government that enslaved and exploited people based on their skin color.  On the other is a weird mixture of people; some state removing these statues is trying to erase history, others claim the statues are there to honor the heroism of those men and women who died trying the defend the Confederacy of the United States and others are unabashedly members of the Klu Klux Klan or other White Supremacy Groups. 

I have read tons of posts online about this current fight.  I have read posts from friends of mine who are of African descent, from friends who have deep Southern and Confederate roots, who are Catholics on the Left and Catholics on the Right.  I have listened to the President of the United States stumble big time when he had a chance to totally reject the political ambitions of people like David Duke because he could not seem to properly express the sentiment that White Supremacy AND the thugs showing up in black shirts with ax handles claiming to be members of AntiFa are demonstrating anti-American ideals.  Once again we have been unable to be reasonable about the whole issue.  Once again we cannot seem to ask a question like this:
"Can we remove objects glorifying people who committed treason while preserving an important part of our history?  Can we do it so people do not forget that not so long ago we thought it was perfectly okay to buy and sell people who have skin a different color than our own?".

I do not understand why it is so difficult to teach the truth of history, why we have to pick a side and make one group bad and another good.  The reality of the slave trade out of Africa is ugly and dark and messy - let's tell the story.  Let's tell the truth.  Let's talk about African Tribal leaders selling members of tribes they had conquered to the Dutch and the Portuguese.  Let's talk about how people in power - White, Black, Catholic, Protestant - misused their power and hurt people.  Why do we shy away from this?  Why can't we, in the words of my late Texan born father, tell the truth and shame the devil?  No side is clean - no race, no religion, no tribe - when it comes to the Slave Trade.  Certainly the United States cannot pretend it never happened and certainly it is not unreasonable to question whether it is appropriate that statues erected to honor men who lead an armed revolt against the government in order to preserve a system of slavery should be allowed to remain in the public square?

I think this is difficult to talk about and discuss for one reason:

I think it is because we cannot explain slavery in this country unless we talk about God.

We can talk about wars and economics and the imposition of power but as we drill down deeper what cannot be ignored that slavery is a sin...and sin does not exist in the absence of God.

Slavery exists because of sin.  Man is cruel to others, to animals and to himself because of sin.  If there was no sin, if Adam had refused his wife's request and stood firm for God we would not be battling today over pieces of granite.  We would not be calling each other horrific names.  We would not be begging the people of Planned Parenthood to help young girls brought into their abortion mill by their 'boyfriend' rather than just kill the baby and return the child to one of the many forms of slavery that exist today.

Those people who regularly demand to know what is wrong with the opposition miss the point.  Much of what divides us today is a result of our willingness to let concupiscence rule our lives.  We refuse to acknowledge there is a God and it is not us.  We refuse to worship God in the manner He requests of us, demanding our freedom to live and love and worship as we please.  We refuse to even believe there is a God.

And we wonder why people run cars into crowds over a statue.

Some of you think this is a simplistic argument.  You point to all the piles of research done by sociologists and psychologist to prove that the reason we are at each other's throats is the result of a much deeper issue than a refusal to love God.

Others will state I am delusional because there is not God to worship and love.

What I know today is that Right and Wrong would not be so difficult to determine if we used our eyes in the manner the Church teaches us: we need to see our neighbor as an 'other self'.  We need to acknowledge that every human being, from the moment of its conception to its natural death, is worthy of dignity and respect simply by virtue of BEING a human. 

When I take the time to look at you, really look at you, in order to see myself I won't need to attack you on social media or call you names because you have a different idea from my own.  I am able to actually stop, think, consider and respond.  I can participate in a dialogue.  I can learn.  I can grow.

I take the time to see you as an 'other self' because God teaches me, through His Church, to do just that ....without Him I can't seem to make the right decision.  Quite frankly, I have yet to meet anyone who can...though I have met a lot of people who THINK they are functioning quite well without God.

They are wrong.