God, Racism, and America

By Jane Tawel

March 26, 2021

man in black suit holding white printer paper
https://unsplash.com/photos/72gPbaJt-_k

My friend got me thinking today about racist policies and systemic racism in this country. Well, how are not we thinking about that — we should not “move on” from incident to incident like lemmings. So I thought I would share some meditations on that here as well (does Jane never get tired of putting targets on her metaphorical back, you ask? No, heaven forbid when so many people of color have not just metaphorical but literal targets on their backs.)

Thank you, Kathleen — Tough conversations on racism in our policies and systems sounds like a good conversation. Especially religious people (and unbelievably sadly those who claim the religion of The Christ) people in this country seem to have totally lost any comprehension that evil, injustice, prejudice, selfishness, lies, false pride, yes, racism, misogyny, ignorance, hate, foolishness — all are not just part of the individual’s human condition, but also part of human created and run systems. How could it not be otherwise and yet we cling to an ignorant understanding that it is only about the morality and ethics of individuals and not communities, businesses, and nations.

By denying systemic racism, or any other ill, we can hide in our closets of self-protected self-denial — the “I’m not racist” argument. Which for Bible readers should make us tremble since it sounds much like the defensive arguments of the goats on Christ’s judgment day. America’s worship of individualism and what makes someone a success is in complete contradiction to the principles of any religion’s idea of God’s mandates, but it is a complete travesty of what Jesus taught and lived. Mea culpa!

Racist policies and a racist history that continues to be a racist present, when not seen as one of America’s great ongoing sins can never be fixed and healed if we don’t even acknowledge our mutual acceptance of “the ways things are”. By continuing to point fingers, we neglect the four pointing back at us. By focusing only on “me”, and whether I think I am racist, I will never see that just because I myself, am not drowning, does not mean I am not flailing about in the same sea of systemic racism. We need to pull everyone up on the raft, and then fix the ship, folks.

Any one who reads the Bible should know better, and yet…. In America, we keep looking at the individual and trying to assess with our excruciatingly self-centered thinking: “is he/ she racist or not?” But that is like looking at a whole forest and picking out one diseased tree that is racist in a forest of disease and racism. We must look to the forest’s diseases as well and join hands and hearts to root out the bad and heal and nurture the good. I must help to make the hard and good and Godly choices for all if I want to be better and good and Godly myself.

God, help me today to do something for someone else and help me to find whatever I can do to use my own little hand, joined with others’, to fight the breakage in the dam continuing to break with the weight of racism in this nation, in our world.

We Hold These Truths

from Jane Tawel

If only they had listened to Jefferson: “The idea of amending constitutions at regular intervals dates back to Thomas Jefferson. In a famous letter, he wrote that we should “provide in our constitution for its revision at stated periods.” “Each generation” should have the “solemn opportunity” to update the constitution “every nineteen or twenty years,” thus allowing it to “be handed on, with periodical repairs, from generation to generation, to the end of time.”(The New Republic)

Lately I have realized how little I know about how things “should” work in my own nation and how they “do or don’t” work comparatively. I completely agree it is time every citizen was more educated in civics and through that education that the people are heard in terms of changes that need to be made yesterday. We must ask ourselves — when does a document like a government charter (which is what our Constitution is) become an idol to worship and not a tool to use for the good of the people? There are a couple other idolized documents I can think of that we should be better educated in and asking these questions about as well, but that’s a whole other can of manna.

As Jesus, the brilliant student of Torah law and the expert in the government charters of Israel said, we are meant to fulfill and live out these truths as guides, not worship or desecrate our written guides by our inability to change and be changed by “these truths that God and humans hold self-evident”…. We will be thinking about the story of that great statesman Pilate soon and his sad, sarcastic, narcissistic and oh so telling question that he asked of Jesus: “What is Truth?” We should not put up with our officials today asking the same thing — we should be the answer — We are the Truth of which you are merely the temporary guardians of.

To riff on an oldie — instead of “following the money”, we must start to “Follow the Truth”. And the questions are always the same for individual, community, and nation: Who do we want to be? What are we called to do? What changes do we need to make to be and do that which is our highest calling?

~~ Let’s do this, folks. Let’s help each other. I know I could use it. ~~Jane

The Idols

by Jane Tawel

January 7, 2021

10 Weirdly Specific Gods Your Mythology Class Left Out - Listverse

I never understood how people could worship foolish looking, or stupid, or downright evil idols instead of the true God. I looked at history, both Biblical and not, and thought, well people are smarter now, people are better now, and surely people know about Jesus now, so idol-worship is over, right? I never understood how people could sacrifice their own children on the alter of nationalism or class- privilege or misguided entitlement in order to feel like they were going to be taken care of by the gods who merely laughed and ate their babies. I never really understood how people could do violence, not to get the bread they needed to survive or to fight for their rights or justice, but to placate a human-being they had made into a god — like a pharaoh, or a fuhrer or a president on his way out. I never really got how the Christ could say “people will claim they know me, but I sadly will have to say, ‘I never knew you'”. Then 2016 happened in this country, and then 2017, and 2018, and 2019, and 2020, and then yesterday happened, and that finally confirmed it; I think I understand. We may not be what we eat, but we are what we worship.

Scaring the American Out of Me

by Jane Tawel

October 31, 2020

There seems to be a lot of confusion these days in and about certain religions, perhaps my own particularly at this juncture in the limitations of place and time. Just a few thoughts from those a million miles better than I; who are convicting and (I hope) instructing me. We of a certain faith don’t need to fear national changes as much as we should fear actually doing what Christ asks us to do if we want to follow Him. I know it scares the “American” right out of me!

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:21–25)

Bishop Dom Helder Camara: “When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked WHY people are hungry, they called me a communist.”

Dorothy Day: “Don’t call us saints; we don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”

Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

“The Lord has told you what is good. He has told you what he wants from you: Do what is right to other people. Love being kind to others. And live humbly, trusting your God.” (Micah 6:8)

This is a Team

Los Angeles Dodgers Win World Series — Los Angeles Times, October 28,2020

This is a Team

by Jane Tawel

This is a team and the players’ win is worthy of celebration. (Yay, Dodgers!) Political parties are not teams and politicians are not star players and we have to stop cheering for them as if all that matters is whether our team wins. We shouldn’t want a party to “win”, no matter what, no matter what rules they break, or how they play the game, just because they have been “our team” for a long time. What we should want is for our nation’s values to win, and for the world to be a better place for everyone, not just those who “wear” the same color. We should want our political leaders to serve those of us sitting in the stands (and if they serve-up L.A. Dodger dogs this year, even better). Citizens are not the fans in this political game, folks, we are the umpires. Don’t hope your political party “team” wins, hope the nation’s citizens win. Vote like a referee. Live like the commissioner of all the teams, because that is what American democracy is all about.

The Problem Is, It Isn’t True

A Poem about Lies, Liars, and Truth

Kernels of Truth
“Kernels of Truth” by Daveblog is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Problem Is, It Isn’t True

A Poem

By Jane Tawel

October 13, 2020

*

Remember when it was we two,

And we believed we could imbue,

A moral, high-road point of view,

in others and in me and you?

And when someone, a child or friend,

Would through a maze of untruths wend,

I used to say this thing to you:

“The problem is, it isn’t true”.

*

And we would laugh or roll our eyes,

And then to child or friend, advise

Them not the truth to compromise,

 By telling tales or telling lies.

*

Those days are gone and Time has passed,

And I thought we’d all changed at last,

But daily now I am aghast,

How easily Truth is miscast.

And I have found myself in mourning,

At all the lies that round are swarming,

And so, I offer up this warning:

By all means keep your point of view,

But when you think that lies serve you?

Or that from guile, good can accrue?

The problem is, it isn’t true.

*

Yes, lately I have déjà vu,

And my world-view has gone askew,

‘Cuz’ people that I thought I knew,

Support the liars through and through.

I fear they take the overview,

That in the long run lies accrue

The good they think to them is due.

The problem is?  That’s never true.

*

For lies and liars create strife

That have a lasting afterlife.

And nothing can make crooked, true

Unless all of us – me and you–

With humbleness and fortitude,

Change up complacent attitudes.

*

Reject the falsehood of rapacity,

And speak against evil mendacity.

We can not remain dumb and docile,

Nor shun the true Tao of the Gospel.

In Truth plus Love we find capacity,

To have both Goodness and Veracity.

*

We all are tempted to deceive,

And often tall-tales we will weave,

In our attempt to change or woo,

a “someone” that we’re hankering to,

Convince to our skewed point of view.

And I say, “skewed” because my eyes,

Are often blinded to the lies

That I can tell the whole day long,

To keep from saying that I’m wrong.

I like to think I’ve got the facts,

and those who disagree are lax

in proving things that I don’t take to;

And so, I swear ‘til I am blue,

That I am always right; Not you!

The problem is?  That isn’t true.

*

It is so easy to convince,

Myself that it’s okay to mince,

The accuracy of my quarrel.

The problem is? It isn’t moral!

*

We love to praise our own virtue,

Even when wrong, I’ll vanquish you.

And if we tell a lie or two?

So what? Aren’t we entitled to

Our own self-serving point of view?

My lies don’t hurt or effect you!

The problem is? That isn’t true.

For lies and lying hurt us all,

Which has been obvious since The Fall.

Today lies are in full free-fall,

We really must get on the ball,

To right the wrongs and testify

That Truth must live and lies must die.

*

To think we can crush someone’s dream,

To merely win for our own team;

Or that to save sculpture or fetus,

We’ll worship guys who lie and cheat us.

If we keep serving fame and gold,

We’ll find the center can not hold.

For whom we serve, we soon become.

For good or evil, we’ll succumb

To what we’ve hitched our wagon to;

We’ll be the lie, if we shun truth.

*

It’s time that we were all more honest.

Let’s not put up with all this nonsense,

Of fudging on the whole of content

or taking words out of their context.

We take one part and misconstrue.

The problem is, it isn’t true.

*

Our airwaves flow with fierce locution,

That fills weak minds with hate’s pollution,

And falsifies truth’s attribution,

With shallow lies as substitution.

We all must ask for absolution,

For making lies our contribution.

To fix our problems and confusion,

There are more ethical solutions.

Let’s all enhance our elocution

And stop this wreck of devolution.

By Holy Writ or Constitution —

Let TRUTH lead us in REVOLUTION!

*

So, as I look around me now

I’m truly shocked that we allow,

The people who are charged to lead,

Lie only to protect their greed.

We honor lies and even flatter

The liars and their fibbing patter;

As if the truth no longer mattered.

*

And when I’m super skeptical,

Is when they claim they’re ethical.

We all know Truth is black and white,

Hence, lying just is never right.

No matter when, what, where or who,

We all should have to tell the Truth.

*

When lies and liars are our leaders,

We’ve elevated bottom feeders

And said that somehow we forgive them,

Because we hope our cause outlives them.

But thinking this is so perverse,

That all throughout the universe,

There’s not a god or creed agreeing,

That can to falsehoods grant well-being.

So, all those prayers and thoughts we do

To Gods who see us through and through?

Those prayers are like cud that sheep chew.

God promises that He will spew

From out His mouth, all that’s untrue.

For in Love’s Eyes, it’s not our gains

That will forever long remain,

And hands that sleight,

Won’t see The Light;

For One Day, Love will make Truth, Right.

*

God is not mocked by lies and liars;

He expects us to go higher

Than thinking we can get away

By choosing evil for today,

In some vague hope, Good will ensue,

Despite the fact, it isn’t true.

*

It really is, in fact, medieval,

To think Good ever comes from evil.

Our lies make us much more primeval

And there’s no way for a retrieval,

Of goodness, once we are deceitful.

There has to be world-wide upheaval.

To make the playing fields more equal.

From palace steps to rich cathedrals,

Let Truth ring out from house to steeple!

*

We tell ourselves our cause is just,

And so lies do not matter much;

If later greater good is served,

Then all will get what they deserve;

And then we’ll bid the lies, “Adieu.”

The problem is?  That won’t be true.

(Lies feel so good when I crush you.)

*

For lies are catching, like disease.

When we have learned to, with great ease,

Accept the bullies who deceive;

We’ll never rise above the sleaze.

When we start down that slippery slope,

To gain back truth, we’ve not a hope.

We claim the fall out, we’ll undue.

The problem is, that won’t come true.

It’s not so easy to make right,

The wrongs we do for gain and might.

Once lies escape Pandora’s Box,

One never can turn back the clocks.

Once lying has become addiction,

It’s hard to tell what’s fact or fiction.

We think we will, but we can’t do it.

The line’s perverted; we can’t true it.

*

Let’s start today and take it slow.

Admit there’s things we do not know.

But if we don’t, we have to try

To keep from justifying lies.

If you help me, and I help you,

Together we’ll accept the truth.

And that means we won’t know a lot,

But still we can do what we ought.

*

If we say “Can”, instead of “Cannot”,

We’ll save our neighbors and the Planet.

Wholeness is plausibility,

But not by prideful falsity.

The problem isn’t clarity;

It’s just our fear of verity.

*

By letting liars have their say,

We’ve lost our souls and lost The Way.

We must stand up and must refuse,

To let the lies become our views.

*

It’s up to me and up to you,

and in our own hearts to undo,

this tendency to twist and skew

what simply isn’t really true.

I know it feels good, through and through,

To have our team fill up the pews,

And to believe that we’ll accrue,

Rewards no matter what we do.

The problem is?

It isn’t true.

*

We have to call out all the whoppers,

‘Bout how the rich are treating paupers.

We have to quit our foolish praising,

Of those adept at coarse evading.

We should be shocked at the audacity,

Of perilous and rank mendacity.

What has gone wrong in church and nation,

To cause wide-spread prevarication?

*

The Truth be told, a lie’s a lie.

No wiggle room to comprise.

Each one of us tends to pursue,

Just what we want to think and do.

We tell ourselves that we’ll get through,

And THEN we’ll find new points of view,

And uphold good for me and you.

But we forget the why or how to;

And just like Pilate asked The Good Jew:

“Why not let people crucify you?

Our problem is?

 So? What is Truth?”

*

Tomorrow never comes unless

Today we choose to do our best;

For yesterday is plenty proof,

That lies will never become Truth.

The Path is narrow, and The Way,

Is only clear for just this Day.

Choose Goodness, Love, Humility.

Choose Kindness and Veracity.

And if we tackle this World’s sorrows,

Together we can make tomorrow,

A Time that’s better through and through.

What once was crooked, will be trued.

*

I hope today when I’m enticed,

To make my lies seem like they’re nice,

Or when I try to win or score,

I’ll stop to realize that there’s more,

To being all I’m meant to be;

And I will pause and take a knee.

Not worshipping a flag or book,

But truly taking a hard look

At what is meant to be my role,

In seeking wholeness for my soul.

And that means doing the hard labor,

Of scorning lies, and loving neighbor.

*

And on my knees, I’ll look inside

And realize that I can not hide,

From Truth and Love and Light and You

And that whenever I try to,

I pray that Love will win and woo,

With Words that lovingly undo,

The falsehoods in my own worldview.

*

Today I draw lines in the sand,

For with True Truth, my soul must stand.

Let’s fight the fight, Friend; me and you?

And Right will Win,

For Love is True.

*

Let’s all to others, grace bestow.

Accept there’s much we do not know.

In Truth and Love we all should grow.

The low made high, the high brought low.

And to a Heaven on Earth we’ll go.

The answer is?

May it be so.

© Jane Tawel 2020

Struggling With My Chosen Belief System

by Jane Tawel

October 9, 2020

God's creativity
“God’s creativity” by Martin LaBar is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Struggling With My Chosen Belief System

by Jane Tawel

October 9, 2020

I am (sadly) curious about what the “Christian” lemmings’ take / excuse is on the latest news that Donald Trump, in order to treat his Covid 19 symptoms, took a drug that is made from aborted fetus cells. Anyone? Anyone ready to look at the definition of hypocrisy, now?

I speak here from what I hope is an evolving, growing Judeo-Christian Worldview and a belief system that reaches out to all forms and belief systems of truth, light, joy, love, and peace. However, every now and then, I simply cannot remain silent when I see so many, at least in my country, America, claiming a type of “Christianity” that I don’t recognize as either Biblical or God-loving. We used to do these things called “testimonies”, in the churches I grew up in. Here is a little one of mine for today.

If I claim a Judeo-Christian worldview, it is not about whom I support, but WHY I support them, for we believe God looks at the heart. And for the one who claims either Judaism or Christianity, there should be only one “WHO” that matters — our Parent/ Creator/ God. My choices about anything and everything are important because of what that says about my walk, my religion, my soul, my God. As Jesus makes tragically clear: “What does it profit me if I gain the world, but lose my soul”? The only WHO that matters is Whom I say Christ is. The only WHO that matters is the God of LOVE of the whole world, the whole planet, the whole of Us, from the least to the (temporarily) greatest.

I will once more recommend a deep dive into the actual words of The Christ that many of us have claimed to follow. Matthew 23 is shockingly bold and convicting for starters. Warning: there is absolutely nothing at all on abortion in Christ’s words or in fact any of God’s, but there is quite a lot on hypocrisy and lies.

As just one little sheep myself, I am trying to follow the right Shepherd, not the wolves in sheep’s clothing. I am trying to take these words to heart from Luke 12:48: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Jesus is very clear that there will not be any politicians or even church leaders to stand beside me on judgement day. He does promise me judgement however, on how I treat others and how I follow “the Truth, the Life, and the Way.”

Sorry to be so preachy, but it just matters so very, very much to me. Not this man, or that man matters one whit in The End; and I matter not all; but it all and all certainly matters about The Son of Man and what some of us do in His name. #nocheapgrace #nocheapSavior

May you today find your own way to Truth, Life, Love, and Joy. May you know the value of your very own soul above all things temporal. May you be bold and brave enough to stand up and be counted among those who would change the world, even just your own little corner of it. May you have the assurance that Good will always win in the end if we truly believe that “faith, hope and love will reign eternally”. And above all, may you know that there is a Spirit-God Who loves you — just little old you.

One Clumsy but Trying Step at a Time, Jane

The 9/11 of The Year 2020

(Time Magazine: 9/11 The Photographs That Moved Them Most)

 

The 9/11 of The Year 2020

By Jane Tawel

August 15, 2020

As of August, at least 168,000 American citizens have died from Covid-19. This does not include any people that we do not know of, who may have died from the virus or from complications from the virus, nor does it include the many thousands that will continue to die while “Nero fiddles and Rome burns”.  Our Congress can’t work together so it goes on holiday and our President continues to lie to the people and golf, and we the citizens are left asking those in charge, “Do you really not understand the seriousness of this current domestic terrorism called Covid-19? Or do you just not care?”

This Pandemic on American soil,  is our generation’s Pearl Harbor, our D-Day, our Boston Tea Party, our 9/11.

 

In one of the most horrific events in modern American history, a day forever known as 9/11,  2,977 people died.  Our national response to 9/11 was swift, immediate, sweeping, and although in many ways, it has been shown to be wrong-headed, and short-sighted, at the time it was something that every single patriotic citizen of America saw as something our government did for the protection and well-being of our citizenry.  The 20/20 of our hindsight about the consequences of America’s reactions to 9/11 should not blind us to the brave and absolutely necessary reaction of our leaders at the time this unprecedented horror happened.

 

The federal government led by people who had never experienced anything like 9/11 before sprung into action and worked together, President and Congress making the best of their responses to an unprecedented and  tragic situation, in order to devise national and necessary changes for increased safety measures, protections from danger for its citizens, and the rebuilding of our trust in our government and in each other. Slightly less than two short decades ago, Americans, having seen the worst that could be thrown at us, rose to the challenge of trying to be the best that we could be – the best we have ever been – by working together, rebuilding literally and figuratively from the ground up.  Governments both federal and state-wide enacted historical sweeping measures in security and protection on a national scale. The attack on American soil was nothing compared to the attack on the American psyche and in fact to this day we are fighting two unending wars because we took so seriously this unimaginable thing that happened on September 11, 2001.

Today another unimaginable thing is happening on American soil. Today we are also living in unprecedented times. Today we have the choice humans so often have: Shall we learn from history, and do our best, or shall we ignore history, and make mistakes?

 

Today, we look back, at the mistakes the government made in its response to 9/11, and we should do this, because by looking at yesterday’s mistakes, we can do better today. But we must also continue to cherish and hold-fast to what our nation did right, and especially to what individuals did heroically and sometimes, miraculously. We should read and reread, tell and re-tell, the true stories about the heroes of 9/11 who from Day One waded into danger to save strangers, and those named and unnamed heroes who continued year after year to work to make this country safer for everyone, and better for every citizen. The moral of the Story of 9/11 was at heart – our hearts! – and the amazing character of the average American who rose to that challenge of the moment.

 

The federal response (and the responses to 9/11 of New York City, New York, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia) are overshadowed, as they should be, by the rising up of the often forgotten, often unnamed, unsung, and sometimes even unknown heroes of the average American who waded bravely and literally into the danger, and then the ashes and destruction, and figuratively into the gaping wounds of need that many citizens experienced after 9/11. No one asked, “Why should I?”. Everyone asked, “What can I do?”

 

What we as a nation did in the shock-waves reverberating from the falling of the Twin Towers and the attack on our nation – what we did, not just in one or two places, but across the plains, from ocean to ocean, and from individual American to individual American, was not perfect, but it was perfectly what we said we wanted to be when we became a nation – “one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all”.  And leading the way, not trailing behind or excusing itself for not knowing what to do, or hoping that everything was going to be okay in time, was our federal government. This was their responsibility and therefore, their duty to respond to an act of terrorism.

 

I have seen great things in this United States of America and I have read of many more amazing, miraculous, phenomenal things that both government and individuals have done in the history of this “Sweet Land of Liberty”. And, yet,  people are still telling me, in August 2020,  that we, this country, this “shining city on a hill”,  can not hold our current federal government accountable for a response to a pandemic that is killing Americans on our soil?  People are still telling me that our President and our Senate are doing everything they can? What about everything they SHOULD?

People are telling me we can not hold our neighbor accountable? People are still telling me that every citizen is free to do whatever they want no matter what the consequences to other citizens; that we can not be expected to give up our politics in order to all work together?  People are telling the essential and emergency workers that what they are doing is pointless because many citizens are still unwilling to give up a little here, and share a little there, and build back our safety and health from the ground up? And I have to ask, What country is this? Surely it isn’t the same country that responded to 9/11?

 

People are telling me it’s only a “small percentage” of people dying, or getting sick, and I have to ask, “Is that how you responded to the 2, 977 people who died in 9/11? Did you comfort yourself with the fact that only a very small percentage of Americans had died?

People are telling me we can’t make voting by mail safer in same way we made flying safer?  Or that we can’t all wear masks in public for a while in the same way we all learned to take off our shoes at the airport?  That we can’t give up a trip or two, or a bar party or two, or a church service or two in the same way people gave up their families and homes to fight the war on terror?  People are telling me we can’t possibly require some people to make a little less money out of the millions and billions they make so that other people can have a place to live, and some electricity, and their children can have enough food today because the idea of unfettered capitalism is more important than human life?  People are telling me their weapons of terror are more important as a freedom than the freedom to walk safe streets?  People are telling me that America is no longer the nation of “Yes, we can” but a nation of “No, we won’t”?

 

And I just can not, for the life of me, understand. Because I woke up the morning of 9/11 not knowing, not understanding as I watched the same horror that every American citizen watched that day, a horror we could never have imagined, a thing incomprehensible even as we saw it happen before our very eyes. And none of us knew what to do. And then, as a nation, we did it.

 

I don’t understand so many leaders and people today in America; I can not get my head around their hard hearts and illogical, uncaring, foolish behaviors. Because I once saw this nation simply pull up its sleeves, and say, “We aren’t sure how, and we aren’t sure we will do it all right, (we most certainly won’t) but we are sure we will try our best. Because if we aren’t in this together to succeed “one for all and all for one”, to rise from these ashes like a phoenix; then we will certainly be in it together to fail and fall.” Divided we will fall, and united we will stand. That is who we were after 9/11, and as much as we mourn those who suffered and continue to suffer because of some of our bad decisions made in the wake of 9/11, and as much as those in charge then regret now some of the things we did because of 9/11, we did not shirk our duty to all that is ethical and true and right about our responsibilities to our ideals and to each other.  I love the America that we were on 9/12/2001. And I find myself wondering, what happened to that America?

 

People keep telling me that Americans don’t have to do anything anyone tells us to do because that is our right.  And I just keep thinking – have we become our own worst terrorists?  Will the 9/11 of the Corona Virus be the thing that finally defeats the great American Dream?

All I can say is, Oh dear God,  I hope not.

 

Today in 2020, we are guardians of a great legacy, the legacy of our forefathers and foremothers, the legacy of our brave warriors who fought not just for our own freedoms but for the freedoms of countless nations in countless wars, on countless shores. We are guardians of the legacy of those on our own soil who insisted that all have civil liberties, and of the legacy of September 11, 2001.  Will that legacy die at the hands of our own unwillingness to fight this new enemy of the American people? Will a virus be the one seemingly small thing that defeats this great, big nation?

No, it will not be a virus that defeats America. It will be our own selfishness, pride, greed, and ignorance. It will not be our inability to change, it will be our unwillingness to change.

If the Corona Virus is the thing we as a people can not rise up to defeat, then even if only a “small percentage” die from it,  it will be the thing that kills the very soul of our nation.

Aren’t we bigger than that, Americans?  Aren’t we braver, and truer, and kinder than that?  Aren’t we more alike than we are different, because we are Americans, after all?  Aren’t we able to rise above this new challenge? Together? United?  Can’t we, together, envision the legacy we want to leave in the wake of this new terror and trial?

 

I want to believe we can. If you’re with me:  “Let’s roll!”

 

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(c) Jane Tawel 2020

 

No More Fingers in the Dam

by Jane Tawel

July 30, 2020

Hoover Dam 2005

“Hoover Dam 2005” by stevencko is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

I was commenting on a friend’s post today. She is someone of great heart and intelligence, who is struggling with the current conundrum of a Super Villain Virus and the push to reopen schools; a problem of “pandemic-proportions” foisted on her as a teacher and a parent. Anyone who has ever been both a teacher and a parent, (and I have long been both), will know the difficulty when one is asked to choose between those “two sides of our hearts”, and we don’t always make the right decision. But then we shouldn’t have to choose between “our children” — it’s an unfair “Sophie’s Choice”. And we wouldn’t have to so often choose between our love of our students and our love of our children if things were different here, at least in the good ‘ole U.S. of A.

 

My friend questioned whether she is being asked to be a “martyr” for her students if classrooms are reopened during this pandemic. She feels she is being asked to count the cost for her students for staying out of the classroom without considering the cost for her own family of going back in. My thoughts are included below as it might prove interesting for some of my other teacher and parent friends. But even if you are neither, wouldn’t you like to be part of the Big Picture Solutions that are so desperately needed now? The old chalkboard lessons have been erased or at least smeared due to a very bad thing happening around the world, but that merely means we can start anew and learn better lessons for ourselves and teach all the children that we care enough to do the hard work of Real Change.

 

Dear Shaneka: The difficulty is that what we are seeing is that the problems are so, so deep and much bigger than just these critical decisions we must make for the upcoming school year. The long-standing issues in America are all coming to a head in this pandemic issue in terms of educational resources, health resources, paid time off for sick time and for sick child health care for everyone, (no matter your 401k status), and livable wages for all. We need more schools, more and better paid teachers, smaller classrooms, more money in public education especially in areas of the country where there are not huge tax dollars (this includes poorer regions throughout the country along with those parts of the country that bear the brunt of systemic racist policies). We need to re-consider the overwhelming costs of getting a decent education from the early years to the college years and then truly weigh that against the costs of NOT providing educational resources for all our citizens and the overwhelming costs that has had to the whole nation because of our laxness in addressing the problem.

 

We are still always trying to foist the tough decisions onto parents and teachers but the tough decisions must be made by those with the power and resources to change what is wrong that makes dealing with a pandemic so overwhelming. We know as teachers that the problems have been overwhelming long before now. We know as parents that the tough decisions must always be made for the good of all of our children; because it is only if all of our children are safe, and healthy, and able to thrive, will any child really have the future and the dreams that he or she deserves.

 

We keep looking for band-aides but what we need is “open-heart” surgery on a national and state level. Oh, teachers have martyrs’ hearts, for sure, Shaneka, but going into dangerous situations for false or foolish reasons won’t make any one a true martyr, it will simply be one more finger in a dam that has already broken. The flood of problems we face has already begun lapping at the edges of all of our towns and communities. We have to fix the dam. And quickly. (Analogy to Hans Brinker story intentional.😊)

 

C’mon folks, we can do this. If the flood of fears and problems has begun seeping into our very homes and our children’s playgrounds, then it is long past time to fix the broken structures that have opened those floodgates. We can do it no matter what our lot in life or our calling. We can all take a page from the mothers and fathers and teachers, and with the ingenuity and creativeness and care and love that lets a teacher walk into a classroom every day or a parent love and dream big dreams for her child each night, we can “be the change the world needs to see”. Let’s take this opportunity to rebuild the broken parts not just put band aides on them. And beginning with rebuilding our schools and re-imagining our children’s education and our children’s future seems a very, very good place to start.

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(Mrs. Tawel and some of “her children”)

Stop Playing in the Traffic

Stop Playing in the Traffic, My Friend

By Jane Tawel

July 23, 2020

 

I have an acquaintance who is all worked-up about America becoming Communist. I just don’t have enough hair left on my head to keep pulling it out trying to explain things to some people, but remaining silent is also not always an option for me, at least at a first go.  I do not engage in fruitless argument, but neither will I engage in the mock-niceness of not saying anything.  Not saying something to people is not only not nice, it is unkind.  If people want to go out and play in the traffic, I at least have the responsibility as someone who has learned that playing in traffic is not only wrong-headed but dangerous to try to convince them they aren’t seeing things the right way.  I have to at least try to be ethical and to warn them and tell them:  “Hey, you know you don’t have to play in the traffic, you can play right here in my safe backyard with me. C’mon in”. I can’t force them to change their minds, but I also can not be silent while they play a game of chicken with speeding semitrucks.  And no this is not about things that are truly open to one’s own opinion. For more on that you can see my post of July 6, 2020 (janetawel.com/2020/07/06/unapologetically-thoughtful-woman-seeks-thinking-humans/)

 

So, back to the person who lives in fear that the people who are protesting throughout America today are “commies”, and that all of the people who want real change in this country are “socialists” (a term some people erroneously associate with synonyms for “thieves” or God help us,  with that frightening term “French People”) (and let’s just pause here for a moment of silence to let this settle in: this man and others are upset only about the Black Lives Matter protests – about the way Black People protest or the way we are protesting as white people for the long disenfranchised people in America. In the name of Saint Colin Kaepernick, isn’t it as clear as Black and White by now folks what the real issues are?!?!)  This person and tragically too many like him actually believe that the federal government of America is right to send camouflaged troops into cities to protect property rather than allowing local governments to decide how to protect peacefully lawfully protesting people. I mean, can we get this straight – some people are still more upset about property destruction as a bad side effect of good people protesting long after they have forgotten what the protests are about – people!)

 

And when my friend brings up the cold, cold-war corpse of Communism as a specter,  he is right (but oh so wrong because he doesn’t see it)– right in that it is always the abuse of power by those who lead that corrupt a system of government and thereby decay the moral integrity of the very foundations of a nation.  This is absolutely true today, if we look only at nations and governments in which the philosophy of communism fell to the greed and power-mongering of the entitled, and this is true no matter what they may claim their governing philosophy is today. Of course, as Orwell predicted, our founding philosophy of American Democracy and the ideology of a “republic for all” has fallen just as low, if not lower than that of the original intent of Marx’ and Engel’s ideology. This is what we should be looking at – not where we might be headed as we change, but where we have sunk as we have changed.

 

And can we just actually look around at our nation with open eyes and ask, “is this really what we want to believe in?”. It may be what we “want” since we can be as self-centered and greedy as the next person, but is it what we want to believe in?  Are we willing to follow along with the folks that have drunk the kool-aide and let ourselves think that a little more “communal-ism” would even be the worst thing that could happen to our self-centered nation?

 

(I refer you to a commercial break here so you can listen to that great prophet, Bob Dylan and one of his many protest songs:  “Gotta Serve Somebody”   https://youtu.be/wC10VWDTzmU )

 

People who think this way about what they fear happening in America don’t understand either America’s true system of current leadership which I would describe as “Oligarchical Unethical-Uber-Capitalism”; nor do they understand very much about the theory of Communism as a governing ideal rather than the way Communism has come to be used by history’s dictators and shysters.

 

So when this acquaintance of mine, who happens to claim Christianity as his religion,  posted a scary meme about America becoming Communist, I responded thusly.  (For those of you that don’t know much about Christianity, the cult of Jesus Christ was originally the most philosophically “Communist” religion since Abraham gave Lot the first choice in land ownership. It still has elements of the ideals of communism that can be found in many communities that practice Christianity including nuns, monks, the Amish, and the Bruderhoff communities.)

 

I told my friend, that in fact he was right – America’s Federal Government is behaving like a Cold-War-ish Communist regime, in a frightening way, perhaps not seen on a federal level since the civil rights movements of the 1960’s or the student riots which caused Neil Young to pen the words to the song “Ohio” in 1970 (https://youtu.be/xy7FgTKPaMc)  . Change a few words and names in Young’s song, and we horrifically, sadly seem to be right back in those days of the American Federal Government abusing its power against its own peacefully protesting citizens.  So, to my friend’s fallacious argument meme, this is what I said:

 

Why yes, my friend — the fact that you see freedom of speech as vandalism is exactly the point of propaganda such as regimes like Communism and Fascism have used in the past. Or Nixon’s “bums” at Kent State. Or Hitler’s Jewish enemies of the state that led to the Holocaust. It is called propaganda for a reason and the reason is to persuade people that lies are truth and truth is a lie and to create an alter-enemy narrative so that the people in charge can divert your attention away from the problems they are supposed to help solve. Read your Orwell. Read your history. Read news accounts of what is actually happening — your government employees lining their pockets by abusing their power (golf tournament in Scotland anyone? So worthy of a petty, greedy strongman like a Stalin or a Putin.) Your federal government acting against its own citizens let alone against immigrants and sojourners. Things allowed to happen because someone was “elected”, even though it is unconstitutional, breaking the laws and the rule of law of the Constitution, tear gassing innocent people, not “vandals”. Oh, you are quite correct — that is all something that communist countries do (see China vs. Hong Kong) or dictators (see history of Tienanmen Square, Arab Spring, just for a few in our lifetimes). Caring more about their economy numbers than the health of their citizens is indeed so worthy of a communist dictator — you could not be more right on this, if you are pointing the finger at our current federal government. And please,  if those points of true history or current events don’t convince you, read the Bible for it’s great and God-origin calls to justice and sharing and equality and freedom and love — and then just picture Jesus (who was frankly nothing at all like an American capitalist) — imagine the Guy who people want to claim as their Savior, turning over the tables of the politically sponsored religious money making businesses, while he was being teargassed and hit with rubber bullets by Caesar’s camouflaged men while the religious leaders washed their dirty hands of it rather than washing the protesters’ and sinners’ dirty feet.

 

For me, a person who has long tried to figure out what that figure of Jesus Christ is supposed to mean to my very own life, has there ever been a better time in my own country – in my own community – in my own family – in my own soul– to serve and love others as He did? Do I, as Jesus did, fear G-d enough to stop fearing Caesar? As Martin Luther King and John Lewis did?

 

And even if you don’t believe in any god at all – is your life not worth more than letting your fears define you?  Don’t you want to be defined by what you believe IN, not what you fear is OUT there?

 

So, I told this friend of mine, and I say it to us all:

 

Be careful what you are allowing yourself to fear because it will end up being what you are left to serve.

 

Honestly, I have never liked talking about politics.  I don’t have a desire to spend my remaining time on earth to write about them or even think about all this stuff. After learning and thinking about all  the issues currently swirling around in America today, I feel like I have just willingly put myself in the eye of a storm much too big for little ole’ me and I am watching the pressing needs and problems swirl around like  a million Amazon packages in a Wicked Witch’s Tornado.

 

But I must. If I am forced to run into the oncoming traffic only because it might save somebody else, then run into the speeding cars I must.  It is my time.  It is The Time.  As that great sage and prophet, J.R.R. Tolkien said in The Fellowship of the Ring:  We must decide what we are called to do with the time we are given.

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