I took a break from this series last week. I had a lot of grading I needed to do but I also needed a little downtime to avoid activist burnout. These pieces take a lot out of me emotionally. But, even though I was on break the Mad King Donnie was not. So let’s jump back into things! 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. We must be aware. We must be vocal. We must be active. We must be loving. This is how we will triumph and how we will transform our lives, our nation, and our world.
Before we begin, the issue of burnout was real for me last week. I was overwhelmed with both my school work and the pace of the madness descending on us. So I took a break. I’m back now. I encourage everyone to do the same. To win this struggle we must be able to persevere. The Trump Machine is counting on us running ourselves into the ground so we’ve nothing left with which to fight. Don’t let that happen. Too much depends on our energy. In that spirit, I now know I can’t do this every week without break. I can’t handle it, emotionally or spiritually. I’m shooting for most weeks but off weeks will come. In the spirit of renewal, it seemed appropriate to listen to some Woody Guthrie this week. He is one of America’s defining voices and has influenced everyone from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen. Here’s a classic tune, “I Ain’t Got No Home,” about the struggle to find a place to live amidst oppression in the world – a song he ultimately reworked to be a protest song against Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump, who Woody Guthrie once rented from. Trump raised rents and discriminated against black people in his New York City properties.
I wanted to do Woody Guthrie’s classic “This Land Is Your Land” however I’ve learned he never actually recorded the full, uncencsored version of the song. If you’d like to hear what he actually wrote, here’s Tom Morello performing the full version of the song at a Ralph Nadar rally in 2008.
Here’s what’s coming up that we need to talk to our representatives about or call/email/mail other people in government/power. Note, whenever possible, have the bill number of the issue you’re calling about ready to share with the staffer who answers the phone.
1) HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act – If we do this, without a better replacement offering more coverage for more people at lower costs (which neither of the Republican versions do) people will die. We can’t allow this.
2) HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency – so this is still a thing. It’s disgusting. It’s unconscionable. As an Erie, PA resident it hits especially close to home when I see that without the EPA we lose Lake Erie too. As unthinkable as this is, it’s far from the only consequence. On a related note, Trumpy’s proposed budget slashes Great Lakes pollution clean-up by 97%.
3) HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife – who cares about animals right? God meant for us to dominate the planet anyway…except nothing could be further from the truth. Scripture (as well as a well-developed moral conscience) calls us to stewardship of all creation. To forsake the planet and the animals on it is to throw away one of the first commands God gave us. This can’t be passed.
4) HR 669 Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons – this would prevent the president from launching nuclear weapons without an official declaration of war from Congress. This is a good idea no matter who is president. The ability to obliterate the world shouldn’t be in the hands of any one person. However, it seems infinitely more important under the Tweeter-In-Chief.
5) HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education – increasing new studies show students doing quite poorly in voucher programs, despite what DeVos and the Trump camp say. School vouchers just hurt schools that are already failing and the students who stay there. We can’t do that with any sort of moral authority. To presume our tax dollars should only go to the schools we use is ridiculous. Does that mean I shouldn’t have to pay any school taxes because I don’t have kids? Of course not! I live in society so I contribute. This has to be voted down too.
6) HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education – really?? Sometimes I feel like they are making this shit up. Listen if we don’t educate our children we can have no hope of a better tomorrow. Look what happens when uneducated people vote as it is?
7) HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities – this wants to target any city that doesn’t allow Trump immigration troops unfettered access to their people. It’s another horrible idea.
8) HR 785 National Right to Work – this is a move against unions and other checks against corporate greed and corruption. This has to be voted down too.
These aren’t matters our reps will vote on directly but they are still important news we should be aware of:
1) Obviously we have the whole Attorney General Jeff Sessions-met-with-Russians-last-year-and-lied-about-it thing going on. This adds fuel to the congressional calls to appoint a special counsel to investigate Russia’s role in last year’s election. Sessions has resisted calls to recues himself, let alone resign. However, evidence of meetings between the Trump camp and Russia continue to grow, both at home and abroad, with allies like the British and the Dutch offering intel from their intelligence agencies too.
2) Hate and hate crimes continue to blossom in our country under a president whose rhetoric incites them and does nothing to admonish it. Two weeks ago in Olathe, Kansas, Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed and Alok Madasani injured by a man who fired a shotgun at them after spouting racial slurs, asking about their visas, and telling them to “Get out of my country.” Then last week in Kent, Washington, a Sikh man – whose name has not been released – was shot by a masked man who told him to “Go back to your own country.” The White House denies any link between Trumpy’s actions, policies, and rhetoric and the rise in hate crimes so they’re largely ignoring it all.
3) On the heels of a Jewish cemetery being vandalized in St. Louis, Missouri, a fifth wave since the start of 2017 of bomb threats have targeted Jewish community centers and schools across the country. A Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, PA was vandalized as well but Muslim activists responded to the hatred but reaching out to help repair the damage. Actions like these remind us of the power of faith and love over the small-minded bigotry! As bigotry and hatred continue to grow, so must out loving action.
4) Lastly, the foreign policy Trump laid out when he chatted up Congress is (no surprise here) dangerous to both America at home and the world abroad. It illustrates both his basic lack of understanding of how the world works as well as directly abandons the principles Ronald Reagan advocated (despite the Orange Tyrant’s penchant for likening himself to Reagan).
1) The diocese of Chicago gives us another powerful example of the church being the church as Cardinal Blase Cupich has told parish priests and Catholic school principals to turn away any immigration authorities who knock on their doors without warrants and call their lawyers.
2) In the government-can-function-correctly category, since his election in 2011, Minnesota’s governor Mark Dayton has turned his state’s economy into one of the best in the nation by increasing taxes on the rich and raising minimum wage. “Raising taxes on those who can afford to pay more will turn a deficit into a surplus. Raising the minimum wage will increase the median income. And in a state where education is a budget priority and economic growth is one of the highest in the nation, it only makes sense that more businesses would stay.” Look what logic and a refusal to worship Mammon can do!
Now I 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:
This week, here’s a prayer I use often in class. It’s a Franciscan blessing:
May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that we will live deeply in our hearts.
May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people and the earth, so that we will work for justice, equity and peace.
May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer, so that we will reach out our hands to comfort them and change their pain to joy.
And may God bless us with the foolishness to think that we can make a difference in our world so that we will do the things which others say cannot be done.
The battle for justice is only just beginning. Join the Resistance! Give it all you have! 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 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 if we have faith. We can’t give up our belief in those principles or we’ve already lost the struggle.
Remember, take care of yourself. If you need a break from the news, take it. During the Civil Rights there were no 24hr news networks, social media, or the internet. This built a natural time to breathe into our looking at world events. Granted, those modern developments can be great tools in uniting and fighting injustice, but we need to give ourselves time to balance. We must rest. But then we must also get back out there and keep fighting the good fight. When it starts to seem overwhelming, we need to remember God is always on the side of the oppressed. So if we stand against injustice, we stand with God. Woody Guthrie reminds us of this in his brilliant depiction of Jesus in “Jesus Christ.” Let Woody heal your soul and Jesus inspire your work as you head out to RESIST.