Sunday, February 26, 2012


Like many Americans, I am upset by the divisive and polarized tone in our politics.  Not only regarding foreign policy, but also social issues like contraception, marriage equality, education, and immigration.  I think it is natural for Americans to have healthy disagreement of the issues - to critically evaluate and speak their opinions.  But in order to be a society that is "the best of us" we need to learn how to listen and use all that we have - our hearts, minds, and souls - to express ourselves and influence policies that affect all of us. 

I think it requires us to ask ourselves - who do we want to be?  Do we want to be a country that is intolerant, hateful, judgemental, and fearful?  Or do we want to be a country that respects differences and recognizes the underlying humanity in these differences?   I think there are some who would argue that preserving "core principles" or "values" are what the "founding fathers" would want.  But this is really code for Christian ideology - and in my opinion, annoyingly condescending, not to mention presumptuous.  The funny thing is - that what these same people don't understand is that Christian ideology varies from Christian to Christian, and at the heart of it, in my opinion, is "love thy neighbor."  Which by the way is a fundamental principle in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism. 

“...and you should forgive And overlook: Do you not like God to forgive you? And Allah is The Merciful Forgiving.”
Qur’an (Surah 24, "The Light," v. 22)

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Christians do not have the monopoly on love, forgiveness, or even sinfulness.  It bothers me that so many in the public use Christianity as a means to judge everyone else.  For example, I don't understand how making marriage equality legal hurts anyone.  How does it hurt you if you are Christian?  The law is not saying that if you are a man and a woman you can no longer marry.  It doesn't take away anyones rights, or infringe on any of your personal beliefs.  It isn't forcing you to do anything or believe anything.  It doesn't diminish your marriage, does it?  Does it make your marriage weaker in the eyes of God?  Does it make your wedding vows any less meaningful?  I doubt it.  So what you are saying, is that the legal right to marry in this country has to be your way or the highway because God made it so.  So there we are - forcing religious beliefs on people and using Christianity to do it.  
Sure, our "founding fathers" invoked religion in the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and U.S. Constitution.  That was the overwhelming culture of white middle-aged men in the late 1700's.  Let's face it, we weren't known for our overwhelming diversity back then.  But our country has changed and grown better for taking the poor, huddled masses from around the world.  We are more (I hope) enlightened about other cultures, faiths, and people, and with this enlightenment we have the sharing of ideas, creativity, and innovation, that make this country stronger. 

Currently our nation is going through "growing pains."  Those that want us to hold on so tight to our Christian beginnings, that they condemn people with different views because they feel it threatens who they thing they are individually.  It is a shame.  There is a difference between practicing your religion and forcing your beliefs on others.  In fact, I think that is what the most recent debate over contraception and the Catholic church was about.  In that case, it was the government who was telling Catholic institutions they had to support contraception for their employees.  Regardless of what you think about the health care part of it, as a Constitutional issue, in my view, there was a line being crossed.  Unfortunately, what I keep hearing in the political rhetoric particularly from the GOP, is a shift from freedom of religion to religious institutions and organization forcing their beliefs on the public - instituting those beliefs into law - think about the abortion debate. 
Rick Santorum on ABC's This Week
“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country,” said Santorum. “This is the First Amendment. The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion. That means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square. Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, no, ‘faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate.’ Go on and read the speech ‘I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith.’ It was an absolutist doctrine that was foreign at the time of 1960,” he said.
This is actually what the first amendment to the Bill of Rights says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It is talking about the free exercise of religion, not forcing everyone to believe the same thing.  There is a difference.  I am all about freedom of religion all religion, or no religion - that is the point - the point that some members of the Republican Party ignore. 
To me, getting at the "heart" of Christian values looks like this:

Again, it comes back to "love thy neighbor."  Not, judge thy neighbor, or hate thy neighbor, or condemn thy neighbor, or condescend to thy neighbor. 

Recently the Koran was burned in Afghanistan.  However inadvertent, it was wrong.  And because of this, those responsible including the military and ultimately the President, on behalf of the US, should apologize and they did. 

But now, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, along with other GOP pundits are saying that this apology was a mistake - that it makes us look weak.  I can't understand this.  How can prominent politicians stand up and say that the government should not apologize for the burning of a religious text?  A book that means so much to so many people?  What if the role was reversed?  What if it was the bible that was burned?  Would they have expected an apology from those that perpetrated the burning?  There is no logic in this kind of thought, only intolerance and short-sightedness.  It is a tragedy that anyone has died over this incident, and by spouting off like they have, they only do a disservice to everyone in Afghanistan working to bring peace.  It is shameful and irresponsible to make these comments because there are people who will listen to them and believe them, who follow every word they say even if it doesn't make sense.  It only goes to widen the gap of intolerance, not build a bridge between people. 

Sorry for the long ramble, it has been working around in my head for awhile.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I heard this today on the radio and hit home.

"To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering."
-Aldo Leopoldo, A Sand County Almanac

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

mic check

Letter to a Young Marine (that 53% guy) - well-crafted letter about the what is at the heart of being an American.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

This is high hypocrisy.  The nerve of Newt Gingrich (a Presidential Candidate) to tell people to "get a job" as if it is that easy.  The nerve  of him to say that the people of the Occupy Wall Street movement didn't "pay" for the park they are occupying - when it is a public park - That they don't pay taxes - truly shows how ignorant he is about what is going on .  For being called the "intelligent" candidate, it sure does speak volumes that he is so stupid.  When he complains that OWS protesters  are so "entitled" is him speaking from his Privileged and entitled Freddie Mac  lobbyist pedestal. 

What is going on that this is allowed to happen?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Baltimore print studios

I had a great time today at Baltimore Print Studios. The traveling print truck that is making it's way across the country- made a pit stop in Charm City! Emily and I each made a poster!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Parents: "I ate all your candy"

This is a hilarious Jimmy Kimmel bit - check it out! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

This should cut down on my morning routine!!