Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I denounce hatred

The events last weekend in Charlottesville were horrific.
The taking of a life by another always is, but even more so, when the motivation is hatred.
The blame is not only on the person who drove the car that killed Heather Heyer, the blame is on everyone who fuels the flames of hatred and everyone who does not speak out against it.

I think many of us thought we had moved past such bigotry, and in some ways we have, but in other ways, we have not.  It may not be as open as it was in the 1950 and 60s but its there in the underfunding of programs designed to lift all of society out of poverty, its there in the suppression of minority voting, its there in the suppression of wages and workers rights, its there in the growing economic inequality, its there in suspicion of others because of race or religion or place of birth, its there in the daily deaths of young men of color, and its there in glass ceilings.
Often it is just out of view, or at least out of our view, for we often choose not to look at our own ugliness.
But its there.

It's waiting for someone to add fuel, and then it erupts into violence.
And then, we can no longer ignor it.

I know I am not a president, or a senator, or someone famous.
I know I am but one single person.
But I am a nurse and as such have dedicated my life to healing.
I am a trade unionist and as such have dedicated my life to solidarity.
I am a person of faith and as such have dedicated my life to love.
For what it is worth, as a nurse, as a trade unionist, as a person of faith, I denounce such hatred, such bigotry and all who perpetrate it and all who support it by their actions, or their inactions.
I ask others to do the same.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Life is short, (life is busy)

Sometimes, at the end of one of my many long days, as I step into the shower, I am faced with that deja vu feeling.......didn't I just do this?
Another day has flown by.
Another day fighting bad bosses, fighting for funding for schools, fighting for healthcare coverage for all, dealing with "issues" at home and work with children and employees, answering phone calls, attending meetings, paying bills, and on and on.
Before you know it, another day, another week, and other month has raced by.

I know you know.

Then something stops you in your tracks.
Something that reminds you that this thing called life doesn't last forever.
Something that makes you pause.

Our work, our home life, our "mission"in life are extremely important.
These are the "things" that make up "life," that give us purpose.

But they don't make us who we are.
What makes us who we are is our relationships with other people and our Higher Power.
It is these relationships that give us the strength and the drive to accomplish the "tasks" that keep our life so busy.

Nothing wrong with the meetings, the phone calls, the business of life.....as long as we remember the really important things.
As long as we occasionally put down the iPhone and the iPad, and the iAmTooBusy, and spend time on our relationship with the people most important to us and our Higher Power.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Rhetoric v Results

We live in strange political times.
Times when the U S House of Representatives passes a healthcare reform bill, holds a celebration in the Rose Garden with the President, only to have the President latter tweet that it is a "mean bill."

No matter what viewpoint I look at this, I fail to a the logic in this strategy, in fact, I fail to see a strategy at all, unless it is to build an opportunity to spew rhetoric.

But this is just one example, and so many of us are guilty off it.
Republicans, Democrats, Conservative and Liberal "think tanks," politicians and everyday citizens who have a social media account.
I get why it happens.
It's effective.
It's one of the reasons why we have a populist president who ran with no real agenda other than to "Make America Great Again," whatever that means.
We bought it because we love it, just like we love gossip, scandals, and reality TV.
We'd rather talk how we need to "drain the swamp" because of dirty politicians than about what would make a good politician and how we could elect them. We'd rather repeat the negative ads in campaign season than cheer the occasional campaigner who speaks about the issues.

I guess my point is this.
We wonder what the reason is that there seem to be so much rhetoric and so little real results. 
Maybe we need to look in the mirror. 
Maybe our encouragement is contributing to it.

Yesterday I had coffee with a conservative member of the Connecticut legislature.
We began a discussion through a mutual friend on a particular bill that I had worked against and they had voted for.  They were willing to meet and listen. 
As it tunes out, although our political views are at opposite ends of the spectrum, we have much in common outside of politics.  We spoke about this bill but also about many other things like the role of regulations on business and the role of unions in society.

There was no rhetoric because there was no audience, and no attempt to convince the other that they were wrong, just an opportunity for two people with a different look on politics to sit an talk about it, and maybe better understand where the other person is coming from.

I think what we both found was a person who shared similar values on many topics, including topics close to my heart, like a society that cares for its weakest and most vulnerable citizens, and for the working class.
Where we differed, was not on these core values, but on how we as a society achieve these goals.
While we may never agree on how to achieve these goals, and while we may argue that the other's point of view may worsen our chances to achieve these goals, agreeing on shared values is a real good start.

We also agreed to continue our discussion.
Maybe if we all did this, we could have less rhetoric and more results.
Maybe we could start by accepting the others point of view while not agreeing with it, and debate the issues, not the personalities.