The problem is that for some people in the United States, guns have replaced God as the source of their trust and as the authority they turn to in order to resolve conflicts.
— Read on www.friendsjournal.org/a-quaker-response-to-gun-violence/
Saw this on Representative Mike Thompson’s Twitter feed this morning. Mike Thompson represents California’s 5th Congressional District. This letter from a Catholic Priest friend says it all about Arch Bishop Cordileone’s latest misguided decision:
“Bishops, priests, etc. are neither the hosts nor the bouncers nor the ones who wrote the guest list. The Eucharist is the resurrected body of Christ given for the life of the world…
Jesus Christ is the one who invites the guests (“all you who labor”); he is the host of those who come; he is the setter of the table; and he is the feast which is shared (“Take this, all of you. this is my body, this is my blood”)…
We are guests at the meal, and sometimes (by his calling) servers. So stay in your lane, please. The wait staff doesn’t get to exclude those who want to come. If you don’t like the company Christ calls (and, admittedly, it is a rag tag bunch of sinners, one and all), it’s… you who need to leave the table, not them.”
There was a time when the Republican party bragged about getting government off your back. Regulations and regulation were the purview of the Democratic party which was assailed as the party of big government. Ronald Reagan once said, “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.“ But those words could not be further from the Republican Party of today which seeks not to free the people but to shackle them with unnecessary regulation. The Republican party has become the party of theocrats who want to impose their particular morality on the rest of us.
They want to turn back the clock on women’s rights and in particular on the ability of women to choose whether to have an abortion or not. These malevolent theocrats want to impose their narrow interpretation of Christianity on a country that is increasingly diverse. The founding fathers made their first amendment to the United States Constitution “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.”
We the people are one union comprised on many diverse elements. E pluribus unum. In that plurality we have those who oppose abortion on religious grounds and those who don’t. The freedom of choice should not infringed. The religious views of certain Christians should not become the law of the land. Ironically it was many of these same people who feared the imposition of sharia law. The idea that life begins at conception is a narrow view. Some religious people believe that while others do not.
We have a long history of respecting religious liberty. This is no time to change. The views of certain evangelical Protestants and Catholics should not be imposed on the rest of us.
The possible overturn of Roe v Wade and the gradual erosion of individual liberties in the United States leaves me very concerned for the future of our country and our planet. Our land is on fire. The southwest and other parts of the country are becoming uninhabitable due to climate change which is not being addressed in any meaningful fashion. Today Justice Roberts said that the leak of the draft opinion of Justice Alito was a breach of trust. Doesn’t Justice Roberts realize that the Supreme Court’s possible move to ban abortion in the United States of America is also a breach of trust from one of our co-equal branches of government.
These old white men on the court are hardly representative of the citizens of the United States. They are a ruling minority appointed to life time terms on the court mostly by presidents who did not win the popular vote. They are an anachronism. They are out of step with a country where seventy percent of its citizens support a woman’s right to chose what she will do with her body. Imagine if men were held to the same standard.
They call themselves pro-life but really they’re just pro-birth. Once the child is born they don’t give a rats ass what happens to them. There isn’t mandated state supported prenatal care nor is there any help for mothers and children afterward. Many of the children are born into poverty or addiction. There is no thought of how the child was conceived nor the ability of the mother to bear the child. No exception for rape, incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage.
Tonight one of my conservative relatives attempted shame me into supporting this diabolical agenda by virtue of membership in the Catholic Church. It got me to thinking. Maybe I don’t belong in the Catholic Church. Maybe it really doesn’t reflect the values that are important to me. The majority of these conservative justices are Catholic. Maybe I’d be better off as an Episcopalian, a Quaker or maybe no church at all. I don’t have to belong to a church to find God or follow Jesus. Jesus said, “Follow me!” He didn’t say join this church or that church. The historical Jesus was Jewish and there is no mention of abortion in any of the Gospels because Jewish folks don’t believe that life begins at conception. They believe that ensoulment happens after a child is born.
The United States is not a theocracy. It’s founders were keen to make the first amendment to the Constitution about the separation of church and state. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” My religion is kindness and I believe that you have a right to worship as you chose but you do not have a right to insist that I believe as you do. I believe that the divine light is found in all sentient beings. That includes people, animals, trees, rocks, water, the blue sky and more.
Spring has sprung and so have our lives. A couple of years ago we were pinned down by the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s not over yet but we’re coming through it okay. There is a fourth recommended shot of the vaccine if you’re over fifty years old. The economy is rebounding. More Americans are working. The United States added 1.7 million new jobs in the past two months. Inflation in the United States is up too. It’s the highest it has been in the past forty years but that’s true around the world. Gasoline prices are up too but again that’s not a purely American problem. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States last week was $4.63 which is huge increase from where prices were in April 2020 when they were at $1.78 per gallon. Demand was low when we were all locked down in our homes.
In the United States the Republican party and their allies are blaming President Biden and the Democrats. Joe Biden is not president in Canada where gasoline is $5.91 per gallon (adjusted for US gallons and dollars). Gasoline is $5.83 per US gallon in Poland. The prices in Ireland are $7.64 and Hong Kong is the most expensive gas prices in the world at $10.89 per gallon.
The reason our economy is booming is the American Rescue Plan which received almost no Republican support. Yesterday in the House of Representatives one-hundred-ninety-three Republicans voted against lowering the price of insulin from it’s current $332 a vial to something more affordable to average Americans. That’s consistent with Republican ideals, “favor the rich and soak the middle class and the poor.” The GOP claims to be conservative but conserves nothing. The current administration has lowered our national debt which is an accomplishment that only occurs in Democratic administrations.
President Harry Truman called the GOP out over seventy years ago when he wrote,
“Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home–but not for housing. They are strong for labor–but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor minimum wage–the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all–but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine–for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing–but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a fine thing–so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.” –Harry S. Truman, October 13, 1948, St. Paul, Minnesota, Radio Broadcast via WikiQuote
Today marks the 47th anniversary of my release from active duty in the United States Navy. January 17, 1975 attired in my dress blues drove to the Naval Submarine Medical Center in Groton CT where I was stationed. I said goodbye to the folks I had gotten to know in the past year of service at the medical center and then walked through the clinic area to the main desk of the naval hospital. I saluted the officer of the deck on duty and received my orders and the manila folder with my service records. I don’t remember how I got to Bradley International Airport but from there I flew home to Buffalo New York on Allegany Airlines. My mother and grandmother were waiting for me at the Buffalo airport and drove me home to Arcade, New York. I was on active duty for two years three months and ten days. I was released a month and half early from my original rotation date to attend college at Community College of the Finger Lakes.
A month later I reported to the Naval Reserve Training Center in Buffalo New York where I became part of CV1703 which was the reserve unit I was assigned for the balance of my time in the active reserve. I have lots of memories of those days and this 17th day of January will always be with me. I was drafted in the spring of 1972 after completing the freshman year at SUNY Oswego. I enlisted in the USNR on June 21 and went to recruit training on August 23. I can’t remember the day or the details of my high school graduation nor the first or last day of college at Oswego but I will never forget my time in the United States Navy. I’m proud of my record of service to the country. I was blessed with great duty assignments and great comrades in arms. I still have my uniforms though it’s been years since I was able to fit into them. My one regret after all these years is that I didn’t stay in touch with all those folks with whom I served. The words of John F. Kennedy summarize my thoughts well.
I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.
Today is Veterans Day! It started out as Armistice Day. The holiday started from a decree from Woodrow Wilson in 1919. It was the day to celebrate the end of World War I, the war to end all wars. Veterans Day day began in 1954 by an act of Congress as a way to honor all veterans.
I’m a veteran. I had two uncles a number of cousins and my father who served during World War II. My service was during the Vietnam Era. I have a nephew, niece and another niece’s husband who are more recent veterans. I’m grateful that I got a chance to serve. I was a reluctant draftee during the Vietnam war. I was frightened. War can be fatal. I had thought of being a conscientious objector. Some in my generation fled to Canada. That option wasn’t realistic for me. I didn’t want to risk never seeing my family again.
National service in the United States Navy was an important part of my development as person. I served as a Hospital Corpsman. I earned 13 college credits which were later applied to a bachelors degree. I met wonderful people in recruit training, hospital corps school and the numerous duty stations where I served. I abhor war and do what I can to prevent future wars by writing our elected representatives to encourage them to find peaceful solutions to problems.
I am a proponent of compulsory national service. I think it would be a great idea if our country’s leaders initiated a program of service. We need more teachers, firemen, policemen, nurses, doctors and others who could serve for a couple of years to benefit our country. I believe that being part of group like I was in the Navy helped me to have a much wider world view. That would be beneficial.
I’m blogging tonight using my System76 Darter Pro which is now nearly three years old. The laptop came with Pop!_OS installed on it and I kept using that Linux distribution for much of the first two years. Last year I made the switch to Linux Mint and I enjoy that very much. Whether I’m running Pop!_OS or Linux Mint my computer runs as well as it did when it was new nearly three years ago. Linux and free software provide the best value for most users and yet daily I encounter folks who have never heard of Linux or free software. Last week I helped a friend access their inaccessible Microsoft Word and Excel files by installing LibreOffice 7.2 on their Windows laptop. I hoped to encourage this person to upgrade their Windows 7 operating system which is out of date with the Linux option. Their computer which is a Hewlett-Packard DM4-2070us is an excellent candidate. It has an i5 processor and six GB RAM. One of the impediments for my friend is the need to edit PES files for a Brother embroidery machine. I found an open source workaround using the Inkstitch extension with Inkscape. I wish I was more proficient with that application than I am.
VoteVets had a poignant post on Instagram earlier today. That resonated with me. In the past twenty years since 9/11 we’ve been thanking active duty military and veterans for their service to the country. That’s great and truly appreciated by any veteran that received that thanks. At the same time however it has allowed the general public to perform a perfunctory service that made them feel as though they were part of the war effort.
This hasty quip is part of the feel good culture that at the same time has largely ignored the plight of military service personnel who have been called on to serve multiple tours of duty in the war zones of Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere without a shared sacrifice by the folks on the home front.
The transition from conscripted service to the all volunteer military in the United States has created an unfair situation where those who volunteer for military service are forced to serve multiple tours of duty in dangerous environments. During Vietnam most soldiers and marines served a maximum of twelve or thirteen months in combat areas before being rotated stateside or to non-combat areas.
As a veteran whenever I thank another veteran or active duty person for their service I have empathy and connection with what I’m saying. I wonder how many other folks seriously reflect on their greetings.
Until 1972 the twenty-third day of that month had no special meaning. However on this day in 1972 I left my home in Arcade, New York drove to Buffalo Airport and boarded an American Airlines Boeing 727 and made an all expenses paid trip to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. I was anxious and my future was uncertain. One of my seatmates was a sister from a religious order. We talked as we climbed out of Buffalo and made the one hour plus trip to Chicago. I don’t remember what she said, but her mere presence was a comfort to a young man on his way to the US Navy Recruit Training Command at Great Lakes, IL.
After finishing the freshman year of college at State University College at Oswego my parents handed me a letter that contained a letter notifying me that I had been drafted and the need to report for a pre-induction physical. That notice frightened me and I set to work immediately considering my options. Would I abandon my country and flee to Canada? Would I be drafted into the US Army and go to Vietnam? All of this seemed like a death sentence to a nineteen year old. I began to visit recruiters and take some battery tests which determined what skills I had that might be useful to the military. One of those recruiters and tests was at the United States Naval Reserve Center in Jamestown, New York. The test showed an aptitude for details and mathematics. The recruiter, Mr. Leonard Tullar, told me that my test results would qualify my for dental technician, personnelman and hospital corpsman.
I liked the idea of becoming a hospital corpsman. If I was going to war I wanted to go where I’d be helping people to survive. Becoming a hospital corpsman was voluntary because of the inherent danger of possibly being assigned to the US Marines as a field medical technician. I enlisted on June 21, 1972 and deferred going to recruit training until August 23.
That day had arrived and after deplaning in Chicago I followed a group of other young men who were also headed to Great Lakes. We all rode a “green” official US government bus from the airport to Camp Barry. There we were checked in and assigned a numbered square to sit on. Anyone who’s ever served will appreciate “hurry up and wait.’ That’s how we spent most of August 23 until we finally had our first navy chow which was forgettable. It was probably spam or ‘shit on a shingle.’ We got to bed late that night and up very early the next morning. It was the beginning of a great transformation from civilian to military life. I never did go to Vietnam. I graduated from recruit training after serving as our company’s education petty officer. I went on to “A” school and became a hospital corpsman. I served in labor & delivery, newborn nursery, became an ambulance driver, worked for four surgeons as their lead corpsman in the surgical clinic at the Naval Submarine Medical Center in New London, CT.
Every year since then my mind wanders back to Great Lakes and my initiation into the US Navy. I remember the men I went to recruit training with and the men and women I served with. I cannot remember the day I started kindergarten nor the date of my high school graduation but I will never forget August 23 nor Friday October 13 when I carried the American flag at the head of the 13th battalion of the Naval Training Center as we graduated and followed the orders to our new assignments.
I returned to Great Lakes in 2008 to see my nephew graduate from the recruit training command and even fell asleep under a tree near the “grinder” where we marched that day in October 1972. I saw a quote that day that had meaning then and now.
“Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, ‘I served in the United States Navy,'” – John F. Kennedy.