This weekly series aims to a) help us stay informed on the events unfolding in America and b) urge readers to add their voice to the chorus calling out for justice. This past week has seen extremes, from important victories in the fight for justice in our country to the first American lives lost to a rash, uninformed decision Trump made. We must let the country and the world know what we value and what we will fight for. We must let those in power know who we are and who we want to be. We must be aware. We must be vocal. We must be active. We must be loving. This is how we triumph and how we transform our lives, our nation, and our world.
We have more power than we often realize. As George Orwell said, “The relative freedom which we enjoy depends on public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.” So…what does our personal part of the public opinion support?
Green Day – “99 Revolutions” – LIVE for the ONE Campaign
Here’s what’s coming up that we need to talk to our representatives about or call/email/mail other people in government/power:
1) This week, like last week, a major part of our continuing struggle for justice comes in the form of Trump’s Cabinet picks. If you’d like to know more about this cadre of cronyism, you can feel free to click here to see last week’s post. Betsy DeVos – a woman with no qualifications save the money her family’s given to GOP causes – for Secretary of Education, Jeff Sessions – a man who’s made a career of not standing up for the marginalized and oppressed – for Attorney General, Scott Pruitt – a man who denies climate change – to head the EPA…all of these choices are dangerous and unqualified. They may well be confirmed this week. Call your senators and tell them to VOTE NO.
2) The Trump Administration is trying to fast track the Dakota Access and Keystone Pipelines but the Army Corps of Engineers is (thankfully!!) actively seeking public thoughts/comments on the pipeline. This period of public comments will be open until 20 February. The Standing Rock Sioux have asked we all reach out to the Army in solidarity and oppose the construction of this pipeline as it proves both a treaty violation and major environmental risk.
3) Driven by the dirty money the Koch brothers dump into GOP coffers, scores of environmental regulations passed under Obama’s administration to help protect clean water and clean air are under siege. Some are being cut back and others outright overturned by both Executive Order and/or Congressional reversing regulations. To be direct, without caring for this planet WE WILL ALL DIE taking scores of animals and plants with us. Tell your reps this is unjustifiable and unconscionable.
4) Trump is also naming a new commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration. One possible choice, Jim O’Neil, “has argued that companies should not have to prove that their drugs work in clinical trials before selling them to consumers.” Are you kidding me?? The short list also includes Dr. Scott Gottleid (“a former F.D.A. official with longstanding ties to pharmaceutical and biotech companies”) and Dr. Joseph Gulfo (“a former biotech and medical device executive”). Companies have had to prove their drugs work before sale since 1962 but all these men favor reducing regulations so new drugs can be sold quicker. To be blunt, FUCK THIS. As someone with Type One Diabetes I know this is a matter of life or death and these deregulations are fucking bullshit. Medicine should be for saving lives not fast cash. Trump will chose whoever he wants for the job but Congress must confirm the new FDA commissioner and approve rollbacks for many of the regulations too. So be watchful and vocal here.
5) In a move honoring the deeply idolatrous love of guns fostered by the cult of the NRA, the House voted to strike an Obama regulation preventing easy gun ownership by those who “who require a representative to manage their benefits because of a disabling mental disorder, ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia.” The rationale, as always, was a misreading of the Second Amendment (which guarantees guns for a “well regulated militia” which is the National Guard). Since it has passed the House, all it needs is to pass with a simple majority in the Senate to be sent to Trump’s desk for approval. When will we learn human lives are more sacred than unchecked access to machines of death?
CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES!!! Also Tweet/Facebook them. Visit their local offices in person. Email them. Write letters. Attend a local town hall meeting and speak up if they are bold enough to hold one. Let them know how you want them to act and remind them they work for you.
These aren’t matters our reps will vote on directly but they are still important news we should be aware of:
1) We’ve had some victories this week! The courts are stepping up to challenge the unethical and unconstitutional nature of Trump’s Muslim Ban, most notably in Seattle where U.S. District Judge James L. Robart has approved a restraining order and temporarily blocked nationwide enforcement of the Ban. Yay!!
2) Tragically, Trump approved his first counterterrorism mission in Yemen last weekend without “sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations” resulting in the deaths of fifteen women and children as well as one Navy SEAL. The SEALs also had to destroy a $70 million dollar helicopter they had to abandon in their retreat. His ignorance and impetuousness are now literally costing lives.
3) Trump’s rash and egotistical actions have also threatened U.S. relations with Australia, one of our closest allies for decades. On a phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump lashed out, tried to renegotiate a deal, and – of course – bragged about himself, projecting the image of “bullying disloyalty” to the Prime Minister and, in turn, the world.
4) There’s also been a frightening increase in tensions with Iran. It’s as if the White House wants a war. Trump’s put Iran “on notice” and Sean Spicer BLATANTLY LIED at a press conference (whoa! surprise!) saying Iran had attacked a U.S. naval vessel. This, if real, would be an act of war however this never happened. When a journalist pointed out that it was a Saudi vessel that was attacked by Yemen-based Houthi rebels, Spicer (quietly) acknowledged that it was in fact a Saudi ship but never acknowledged that it wasn’t an Iranian attack. This seeming desire for a war with Iran is particularly troubling because, as Commander-in-Chief, Trump has the constitutional authority to commit troops to battle without a Congressional declaration of war, even if they can’t stay at war indefinitely without one.
5) Despite the lies about voter fraud the Trump Administration likes to fabricate, we are having very real trouble in our country with systemic voter suppression. These GOP drafted policies are aimed primarily at the minority voices in this country. This is the type of thing that allows corruption to flourish.
6) Of course there is always the ever increasing web of concern surrounding the Alt Reich ideologue and Breitbart chief Steve Bannon. It was Bannon who personally overruled Homeland Security to keep people with greencards out of the country with the Muslim Ban. He’s also openly advocated destroying the state in the past as well as called Trump “a blunt instrument for us. I don’t really know if he gets it or not.” He is a man with a mission and an agenda…and it is a message/agenda we must be wary of.
This section will be where I regularly turn to my faith, Jesus, scripture, and those who have followed those messages best to remind myself why I fight, how I fight, and who I fight for:
I’ll start with a passage I turn to often. It’s my scriptural “true north” if you will. In Luke 6:27-36 Jesus says, ” But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
This has two very important connotations for me as I look to see what I must do in this tumultuous time in my country’s history. First, I cannot hate those I am resisting. Love doesn’t allow that. If I’m being completely honest, this is a struggle (as the tone of parts of the above piece indicates). I know we are called to love the sinner and hate/oppose the sin. But I struggle with how to fully love those who don’t care for the people hurt or endangered by Trump’s policies and actions. I struggle with how to love those who won’t open their eyes to the danger around us as the shadow of fascism continues to creep across our country. I struggle with it…but I still work to cultivate my mind of love daily.
Second, and easier to embrace, neither can I pretend injustice isn’t reigning around us. The Love of God can never ignore oppression. Rather, God’s Love calls us all to action and it’s action for a very specific group of people. Ringing consistently through all of scripture (like in the Beatitudes) we see God is with the poorest of the poor. Jesus stood for them and proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was theirs. That means I, as contemporary Christian, need to stand by and for the poor, hungry, and oppressed too. Jesus wasn’t speaking in generalizations about the whole of a fallen humanity in his Beatitudes. So if I wish to authentically follow his call I know I need to stand specifically with all those on the margins as fiercely and as totally as Jesus did as well. With this in mind, when I look at the news my course is clear. The way of the cross is the way of challenging systemic injustice, of battling the corruption of Empire, with everything you have.
The battle for justice is only just beginning. As I say every week, I encourage anyone interested in helping speak out about and challenge the injustices growing around us to do so. If you’d like, reach out to me in the comments and/or message me on Twitter. You’re certainly welcome to send me news you’d like to see included! I am only one person and, as such, have a finite ability to track these things. If you happen to be a blogger or vlogger yourself, you’re also welcome to take what I post in these weekly calls to action and share it on your own site too if you feel so called. But, most of all, I hope you’ll take advantage of the direct link that is in this post and all the posts to follow to call – and keep calling – your representatives. Democracy works if we participate. Love will triumph. We can’t give up our belief in either of those truths or we’ve already lost the struggle.
This week’s prophetic musical spotlight has fallen to Green Day. I think, in a lot of ways, Green Day gives us all a guide to how we need to live our lives. They became big when I was in middle school, singing about getting high and masturbating. But, in the last ten years, they’ve grown up and become passionate prophets, crying out against injustice wherever they see it. The time has come for all of us to grow up as Green Day have and become equally outspoken prophets. Sadly, “American Idiot” feels even more appropriate today than it did when they recorded it in 2004. We have to rise and reject the “subliminal mind-Trump America” and live the truth that we’re “not part of a red neck agenda.” So let Green Day get you fired up today and go fight the good fight!
Green Day – “American Idiot” LIVE from 2016 MTV EMA Awards