Sunday, January 14, 2018

Respecting women

The idea that if a women dresses in a “certain way” that she is “asking for it” upsets me to no end.
It is simply an excuse to justify sexual harassment and assault.
It is wrong.

A guest editorial in the Norwich Bulletin, my local paper, today is titled, “Half-naked actresses warn against sexual harassment.”

It speaks of the recent Golden Globe awards and the number of actresses who spoke out against sexual harassment.
It states, “Lots of pretty actresses appeared half-naked, posing in turn for photographs, embodying the sexual temptation on which the industry is built, but this time their skimpy clothing was colored black as a protest against the supposedly unwanted sexual interest they were striving to tempt.”

“Supposedly” unwanted sexual interest?

The editorial disgusted me.

The editorial goes on to criticize CT State Senator Mae Flexor for her efforts to protect victims.
Senator Flexor has been a champion of victims of domestic and sexual abuse and should be praised for her efforts, not criticized.

Let me be very clear.
Sexual harassment and assault is not about sex.
It is about domination, it is about control.

Any inference that “pretty women” dressing in “skimpy clothing” is the problem is a further attempt of males to exert control.
It’s equivalent to saying a young black male wearing a hoody is asking to be shot.
Give me a break!

Women have the right to dress nicely, they have the right to fix up their hair, do up their nails, wear makeup and heals, without inviting sexual advances, let alone sexual harassment, sexual assault, or criticism that they may be the problem.

On top of that, evening gowns are as appropriate dress for the Golden Globes as tuxedos.

Whenever we treat another human being as an object that we can denigrate or control (be they women, Haitians, Africans, or people of color) we diminish our own humanness.
Our society needs to reject the hateful ideas of this guest writer, as it must reject the hateful ideas of our president, and embrace love and respect for all people.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

While Trump Tweets

“I am a very stable genius,”’is an odd comment by any man.
But when it’s made by the President of the United States on one of the most popular social media sites in the world it’s unbelievable and embarrassing.
It can cause one to be discouraged about what our country has become.
Because here’s the thing.
We elected him!

For years, the movement of this country has been away from the ideal John Kennedy set out when he said, “ Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,”
The movement has been away from “we’re all in this together” to “look out for yourself.”
It has been fueled by people at the top of the social economic structure.
They have things the way they like them and they’d like to see things remain that way.
They have succeeded by spreading division and dispute.
They have pitted us one against the other by using hot topic issues like gun control and abortion. Issues they care not about except as a tool to divide the masses.
They have spread fear of anyone who might be different from us.
They’ve spread distrust of the government and the media.
They have corrupted what started as a great social experiment of a government “of the people” into a people controlled by “the government,” by convincing us that we cannot self govern but that, rather, the “government” is some evil third party.
And Trump’s tweets become a distraction while they change policy, appoint judges, and pass bills that further their cause.

I worry.

But I do not despair.

I see hope in the young and not so young of the Bernie movement, who still believe in a government not only of the people, but for the people.
I see hope in their activism.
I see hope in the Alabama and Virginia elections.
I see hope in Wisconsin where Randy Bryce, a union iron worker, is challenging the Speaker of the House.
I see hope in Connecticut, where progressive wings are making changes in Democratic Town Committees and winning seats on town councils and boards.
I see hope at the negotiations table of my union, where Backus Nurses are strongly advocating for themselves, their families and their patients. Where they sit as equals with a management that only 6 years ago spent more than a million dollars in an effort to derail our unionizing efforts.
I see hope in the “me too” movement, where women are standing up for themselves and each other.

Yes, we elected Trump.
But I see hope that we have rekindled the fire upon which this country was founded.

And we must not let the tweets of a “stable genius” distract us.

Saturday, December 30, 2017


I wanted to write about my hopes for 2018.
But I have fears.
I fear that if we do not become engaged as a people, the rich will continue to control our politics, and the working class and the poor will continue to suffer.

Something like 60% of eligible voters voted in the last presidential election.
That means 93 million eligible Americans didn’t even vote!

What has followed is a yearlong attempt to strip healthcare insurance from millions of Americans, rewrite the tax code to further favor the richest of all Americans at the expense of the working class and the poor, and an erosion of safety, environmental, and labor laws through executive decisions.

We like to complain about our “government” but we should remember that our own constitution begins with the words “We the people,” and Lincoln reminded us at Gettysburg of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”

I understand people are frustrated.
I understand they feel helpless.
I also understand that it could be the downfall of this social experiment we call America.

My hope for 2018 is that we can shed that thinking.
Shed the idea that one person, one vote, will not matter.
Shed the idea that foreigners, or gays, or people of color, or _______, are out to take what we have.
My hope is that we can come together as a people, become engaged, and put “US” before “me.”

We will be tested this summer as the Janis v AFSCME decision comes down from the Supreme Court.
Public sector unions will become “right to work.”
Each member will need to decide,
Do I stand with my sisters and brothers in unity?

The answer to that question will determine the future of our society.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

What do you get God for Christmas?

On Monday, we celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
Born to Jewish parents, prophet to Muslims, Savior to Christians, and to many others, a man who taught how to live a good life.

But religion in general, and Christianity in particular, are too often used as a justification for beliefs that, in my opinion, are in direct contrast to the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus taught love, acceptance and non-judgement of others.
As a practicing Catholic, I must admit, my own church does not always practice what it preaches.

Jesus was priest, profit, and king.
All Christians, in our baptism, are called to also be priest, prophet, and king.
What does that mean?

First it means that we are not called to be spectators.  We are called to be involved.
How often do we complain, but do nothing to improve things?
We are called to do more.

Second, it gives us direction on how to be involved; as priests, prophets, and kings.
As Priests, we are called to act justly, to love tenderly, to walk humbly in imitation of Jesus.
As Prophets, we are called to speak for God, not so much in words, but in actions.
As Kings, we are asked to imitate Jesus in being humble leaders, as he did, when he washed the feet of his disciples.

We Christians love to quote the Bible as a guide on how we should live our lives.
I know of many passages that give guidance as to how we should conduct our own lives.
I know of no passages that say we should judge others.

As we near the birth of the Nazarene, let us look at ourselves, instead of judging others.
Let us embrace those of other religions or of no religion.
Let us love those who are different from us, be it by race, color, language, sexual orientation, or other differences.
Let us roll up our sleeves (as the carpenter did) and wash the feet of others.
Let us build a world of love of neighbor (all neighbors), a world where everyone has enough food, everyone has shelter, everyone has healthcare, everyone has education, everyone has the dignity of a job that pays a living wage.
Let us truly follow the teachings of the Nazarene.

I think Jesus would like that.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Clear vision

It started as a slight blur this past spring.
The first thing I did was clean my glasses, but that didn’t help.
I noticed I had lost perifial vision in one field of my left eye.
This can’t be good I thought to myself.
Usually, when something is wrong with myself, an ache or pain, I ignore it.
It almost always goes away.
This time, thank god, I did not ignor it. I got to my eye doctor, and the very next day I was having surgery to repair a partially detached retina.
Had I ignored it, I could have gone blind in that eye.

After surgery they gave me the good news and the bad news.
The repair was suggessful, my vision was safe, but I would almost assuredly develop a cataract.

Friday, I had cataract surgery which was a complete success.
My vision since the retina repair had gotten so poor in my left eye that even with a stronger prescription, everything was a blur.
Yesterday, the patch came off the eye, and my vision in my left eye is 20/20, without glasses, for the first time since I was ten years old!
I will wear a contact in the other eye (and I still need reading glasses) but what started out as potential blindness in my left eye, after two surgeries, has given my pefect vision.

I think our country is facing a simular vision problem, but perhaps, long term, we can have an equally good outcome.
Donald Trump ran on a promise to make America great again, great for the common man, great for the workers.
The republican tax plan will make America great again for the richest of the rich in this country, the Donald Trumps, the big republican campaign donors, not for the working families of this country.
Polls already show that Americans understand this.
The Republican tax plan will destroy our economy, and destroy our healthcare system.

And the fault will be the Republicans.

Now, lets be fair.
There is a reason Donald Trump and so many republicans have won election.
Many Democrats have let down working families.
But let me repeat.
This is a Republican tax Plan.
They own it.

My hope is that American working families will awaken from the clouded vision that has affected us and see with clear vision a path forward.
My hope is that we will become educated and engaged, and work to elect people who stand up for our values, such as a tax system that asks everyone to pay their fair share, a living wage and healthcare for all Americans, not just the rich.

But my sisters and brothers, if we do not take action, the result will be the same had I ignored my blurred vision last spring.
In the end, its up to us.
We can chose to have the vision to make change happen.