All posts tagged: Monday Musings

Be a good boy…and follow your mother’s advice

Pop quiz: Who said the following? She’s a ‘nasty woman.” A “crazed, crying lowlife.” A “dog” who has the “face of a pig.” “Low I.Q.” She is “ugly both inside and out!” A “monster!” Okay, enough already. I don’t even have to tell you who said all those things. You’ve no doubt guessed correctly. Sexism in America, like our country’s racism, never went away. But it also never had such a vocal champion in the Oval Office. For centuries, women have taken abuse from men. For much of that time they had few rights and legal remedies to help battle oppression. Sexism and abuse continues, as we see all too well in the actions of the current president, but today women have more rights, more ways to combat mistreatment, and a power that is already being seen across the country. Winning the right to vote in 1920 gave women the opportunity to play a significant role in addressing sexism, and they are taking advantage of that power to push against one of today’s chief threats …

History tells us democracy is the objective

When I cast my vote last week, I placed it into the secure ballot box with hopes for a future where democracy, fairness, justice, and the right of all to be heard will flourish. I voted against a future at odds with that vision, a future captured in an idea that is currently running amuck in right wing circles: “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.” Utah Senator Mike Lee Was I surprised by this statement? Only in the sense that Mike Lee said the quiet part out loud. Lee, a Republican, tweeted his thoughts during the Vice Presidential debate. He was quickly supported by The National Review and others who, more often than not, pointed out that we are a republic, not a democracy. They look to 1787 and say America was never meant to be a democracy. If we only recognize those things in place in 1787 as valid, however, then Utah wouldn’t be a state, Mike Lee would …

Let’s stop celebrating a past that never existed. Instead, let’s understand and honor the one that did.

I first stood at Jamestown as a history-enthralled 11-year-old. The picture of the 17th century ruin of the church tower, abutted to the 1907 Memorial Church, is seared in my mind. I also remember the water lapping at the nearby shore, serving as a reminder that the people at Jamestown had the most tenuous of toeholds on this continent in those early years. While I didn’t know it at the time, the narratives of life in early 17th century Virginia — told by the guides, the plaques that lined the walls of the 1907 church, and the books I devoured — were incomplete and sometimes egregiously false. White Christian Europeans were the focus. If they were mentioned at all, Native Americans, along with the enslaved African Americans who began arriving against their will at Jamestown in 1619, were small, dependent actors; impediments, if you will, to the greater story of the colonists and settlers and the shaping of what it meant to be an “American.” Those Europeans were not home. They were the outsiders. Yet …

Dinos on the Montana Landscape

UPDATED: How can I miss you if you won’t go away?

Editors Note: Originally posted on May 5, 2019, here we are on September 30, 2020, the day after the first presidential “debate”, and this is the “egg on my face” update. Who knew that good old 77-year old Joe Biden would be JUST what the country needed in 2020 to face down a bullying, narcissist, misogynistic, racist con man? Apparently a lot of older, female, and/or black voters who understood that basic decency, competence, and a long career of public service would be an effective counterweight to Donald Trump. So I take back the concerns I was feeling because Biden wouldn’t step aside for the next generation and salute him for his courage and stamina. I feel he’s taking one for the country. While I still think the basic premise of this post holds, I will admit to both exceptions to the rule and errors on my part. Sometimes it’s hard to say good-bye. Last week, former Vice President Joe Biden—at 76 years of age and counting—became the twentieth announced Democratic candidate for President.  As …

Defining our democracy

“The good things in our nation did not come about by chance, and they will not be preserved by indifference.” The Rev. Dr. Deborah Meister I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Keeping a democracy takes work. Disuse of democracy by a careless majority is cause enough for worry in a world of constant struggle between tyranny and freedom. But when that indifference is coupled with a deliberate effort by a wealthy minority to undermine the public good for private gain, we find ourselves at a point where Americans are in danger of having government by the people smothered by an oligarchy focused on the enrichment of the few and the repression of those who disagree with them. America as an idea is a work in progress, with an eye on the prospects for the future. At our best, we are always growing, always becoming, as we move toward that more perfect union. But we are not always at our best. The history that really happened, as opposed to the history we’ve told …

A righteous warrior to the end

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who passed away Friday on Erev Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish High Holy Day commemorating the beginning of the new year — was a trailblazer, role model, force for the rule of law, truth teller, believer in democracy, and warrior for gender equality. By any standard, hers was a remarkable life. Many accounts of Justice Ginsburg’s passing noted that, according to Jewish tradition, one who dies on Rosh Hashanah is a tzaddik, a person of great righteousness.* That seems so right when applied to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Supreme Court justices can be the most isolated and aloof members of our governing elite. But it was not that way with Justice Ginsburg. Her humanness was on display in many ways and in different places, not just in her majority opinions and in those famous dissents for the court. Stories abound of interactions with her, large and small, that had profound impacts on those in her presence. She became “a feminist icon in her octogenarian years for millions of little girls …

The struggle between tyranny and freedom

America faces great challenges in 2020. It is even tempting to call these times unprecedented, but they are not. Harry Truman, of course, made this point in very plain language: “It was the same with those old birds in Greece and Rome as it is now. . . . The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.” As Samuel W. Rushay, Jr. wrote about Truman’s understanding of history and the threats to democracy in the 1940s, “(H)is understanding of history provided him with a wider perspective on communism, whose assault on democracy was, in the words of historian Elizabeth Edwards Spalding, the ‘current form of a timeless struggle on earth’ between the forces of tyranny and freedom.” We have seen that struggle between tyranny and freedom over and over again here in America. I was reminded of that feature of American life during my summer break, as I read of one particular moment in that struggle as told in Edward Achorn’s fascinating new book Every Drop of Blood: The Momentous …

Choose your leaders wisely

A poem appropriate for our time, by Octavia Butler. Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery. More to come… DJB Image by Mario Aranda from Pixabay

The long haul

Only a few weeks into the pandemic, Leonard Pitts, Jr. — a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with the Miami Herald — noticed a change in the behavior of certain segments of the country. In the response to COVID-19 and the question of when and how the nation’s economy should be reopened, he observed that as a country, “(W)e seem to have tapped the U.S. Strategic Stupid Reserve. The result has been a truly awe-inspiring display of America’s matchless capacity for mental mediocrity.” Leonard Pitts, Jr., Miami Herald, April 24, 2020 This is one strategic reserve where the well never appears to run dry. Heck, in April we were just beginning to draw down on the stupid. I don’t have enough patience to cover even 1% of the calls upon this reserve since then, but one recent examples will suffice. Who would have thought back in April that this administration was going to smear the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the press while the president “was praising the public-health stylings of …

A plethora of pithy proverbs

Late last year I showcased a series of pithy proverbs — those bursts of truth in 20 words or so — in a new blog feature entitled More to Consider.* Six months later, I’m back with the ones I’ve highlighted since that original post. My love for the short and to-the-point adage comes from my Grandmother Brown, who was known to say things such as, “Some folks are born in the objective mood.” Grandmother did not have a lot of patience with folks who were always complaining and objecting to what others did.  Both my grandparents, as well as my father, always had a positive outlook and attitude toward people. I wonder what they would think of our president? Well, let’s don’t go down that rabbit hole! Instead, here are the More to Consider proverbs, quotes, adages, and sayings from the last six months, beginning with the one that is on the blog at this moment, from African American poet Langston Hughes. In this time of reconsideration of our nation’s direction, it seemed especially appropriate …