We Can Be Heroes…For More Than One Day (thinking of Silas)

As you probably know by now, I love comic books and have for years. As comics have migrated to the Big Screen and the little one, something interesting has happened. I’ve see it twice in the last few weeks, and it applies to us as well.

According to the Huffington Post, Melissa Benoist, the actress who plays Supergirl on the new series, said that she “tries to embrace her character Kara Danvers in her own life, pushing to be the best possible version of herself everyday.  “[Supergirl] and Superman are truth, justice, and the American way,” the 28-year-old actress said. “She sets some really high standards to live up to and, playing the role, it has definitely infused itself into my life and helped me to be a stronger, braver person than I ever have been. It’s been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Definitely the most difficult job, but really rewarding in that way. I love it. I love Supergirl.” 

She made a sign for the Women’s March that said”Hey, Donald, don’t try to grab MY p…y. It’s made of steel!”

Today, the news comes that Chris Evans, who plays Captain America in the movies has tweeted taking on former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Evans couldn’t remain silent after Duke gave his support for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation.The actor tweeted, “If David Duke….DAVID!…DUKE!… thinks you’re right, then you are unequivocally wrong.” And further, when Duke responded, Evans responded with a compilation of quotes that Duke had made in the past. in short, he responded to bigotry with facts.

Now you may reasonably say, “They’re just actors — celebrities who opinions don’t matter”. In that case, you miss the point. It is because they are actors that I call your attention to them. No, they are not real superheroes. They pretend for a living! But the iconic nature of the characters they portray calls out from what Jung termed  “the collective unconscious” and in finding that part of their nature, they become the characters they portray on screen. More to the point, though, is that that part of them guides them. The archetype sets the standard for the person, and the person becomes more than they are. 

When we are guided by the heroic icons within ourselves, we too, can act like heroes or heroines. Beyond prooftexting, no one knows which words of Jesus or Buddha or anyone else are actual quotes. But one could do worse than trying to imitate either of them. Gandhi wasn’t perfect, nor MLK, nor Kennedy either. But using any of them as role models, and striving to live up to the legacy that they left,  can make us more than we think we are. 

Yes, we too, can pretend to be heroes. And in pretending, we can actually be heroes, for more than one day. We don’t need super powers. We need courage, and kindness, and decent treatment of one another. Apparently, those things can be found within us, just as they have within these two actors.

So, maybe you want to find a hero of either gender and try to become like them, to fight back evil with good. This is the time to do it.
Resisting with peace,
John

I Refuse To Be Afraid …

Donald Trump and Kelly Anne Conway want us to fear people who are not from here. Oddly, they’re ok with terrorists who are from here — the KKK and neo-nazis and such. 

I don’t want to be stupid, but I refuse to be afraid. I’ve been here before and I’ll be here again. No, the world isn’t always safe. Yes, there are lots of crazy, violent people out there, but there are far more decent, sane, caring people out there and –according to the statistics, I should be safe. Beside that, as a Christian, even if I die, I live. Not that I want to die, I don’t. I just want to clearly be alive while I live.

Years ago, when I came home from college, there was supposedly a gang war happening in West Covina, California where my parents lived, according to the newspapers. There were random cars, filled with random kids, shooting random people. I was hungry. I walked to the local 7-11, just as I always had done, and have I have since done. I didn’t see any people with guns. I clearly wasn’t shot by one. My experience is that terrorism and crime are over-reported, not under-reported.   We rent out far too much space in our minds for the mass shootings, the murders, the random violence and give kindness far too little coverage. I’m not saying that we don’t have our “Mary got stuck in a well” or “Billy got a nice puppy” stories. We do. But real life decency, kids got good grades or Girl Scouts built a shelter or guy in traffic let you go by — that somehow gets lost. 

Virginia Satir points out that — while fatal driving accidents happen every day — millions of people co-operate, follow the rules, and get where they’re going. Most of us don’t pick fights, most of us aren’t jerks. Most of us want to get along. We just do. 

In the more specific political scene, the number of terror attacks from the 7 countries we’re banning is zero.  Why should I fear them? It makes no sense.

In addition to that, I have seen the alternative — loving community where people I didn’t know sang this song: “Welcome in, take my hand. Let us walk no more and talk no more/as strangers in this land. Let the waters of our lifetime/roll all over one another… Welcome in”. After that, why miss the chance to live life well?

Resisting with peace, 

John 

What The Old Folkies Knew — Woody, and Pete, Harry and Holly

I’ve been listening to an old CD in my car lately. I use it for sustenance now, just as I have for years. It reminds me, as much as reading the Bible, what I believe on my best days, what to watch out for, and how the human condition doesn’t really change — it’s just more or less so at times. There’s hope, and joy, and peace, and bravery, and evil, and good all right there.

The CD I’m listening to now is “A Tribute To Woody Guthrie” and it’s amazingly prescient. Here’s some of the lyrics, all by Woody.

“He said to the rich ‘Give your money to the poor’….If Jesus was to preach/what he’d preached at Galillee/they would lay Jesus Christ in his grave” — from the song “Jesus Christ”

“Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered/ I’ve see lots of funny men. / Some’ll rob you with a six-gun/ and some with a fountain pen”.– from the song “Pretty Boy Floyd”.

And this one of note:
“You won’t get a name when you ride the big airplane/ All they will call you will be… Deportee”. — from the song “Deportee”

And for the women’s march, there’s “Union Maid”
“There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come ’round
She always stood her ground. Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,

This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn’t be fooled by a company stool, she’d always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.”

Finally, there’s this one: “This land is your land/This land is my land/From the Redwood forests/ to the New York islands… As I was walking, a saw a sign that said “no trespassing”/But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing… That side is made for you and me”. (You know where that’s from…)

His friend Pete Seeger was a collector as much he was a creator. He heard beauty everywhere.

In the Bible, he found, “To everything, turn, turn, turn/ there is a season/ turn turn, turn”

In Africa, he found “Wimoweh” a song written by a Zulu man.

In religious humor, he found “Aphrodite in her see-through nightie./Give me that old-time religion”

In Cuba,he found “Guantanamera”, a lovely song.

In the midst of war, he composed this, as part of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”:

“Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing? Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the husbands gone, long time passing?
Where have all the husbands gone, long time ago?
Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?”

Pete performed with next-generation folky Holly Near, who wrote this:
“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”

and he was an inspiration to Harry Chapin, who wrote the song “Old Folkie” about him.

Harry wrote, among other things, a song called “I Wonder What Would Happen To This World”

Now if a man tried to take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one man’s life could be worth
Well, I wonder what would happen to this world?

And if a woman, she used a lifeline
As something more than
Some man’s servant mother wife time
Well, I wonder what would happen to this world?

As I look around us there’s such strange things
There’s muggers and there’s jugglers and we are led by clowns
If an answer ever found us, would we change things?
Or are we just a people rotten ready for the ground

And if our future lies on the final line
Are we brave enough
To see the signals and the signs
I wonder what would happen to this world?

We see the people, we see them marchin’ down
Do we join the parade
Or do we try and turn around?”

These are the things that get me through the day. There’s a lot there to draw strength from. Just thought I’d share….

Resisting with peace,

John

Greetings From A Non-Toxic State

I’m writing from London, England after being in Dublin, Ireland for 3 days. In those 3 days, I have really only posted to Facebook, and basically avoided the news. Donald Trump has not been elected here. His presence is felt here as Theresa May meets with him in The States. What she will say, or even who exactly she is, I don’t know. If there’s bad news I don’t know about it. I can watch news if I want to, and if I don’t want to, I don’t. 

There is no sense of impending doom. Surely doom might come, but I don’t spend my days worried about it. It’ll just happen. For the first few days in Dublin, I would wake up two or three times at night from dreams about the election and its effects on my friends, each shown in framed photographs for some reason. The fact that I dream about conditions in the US shows how much of the current climate leaks into my subconscious. I have never been to a mental space like this. My friend Jane Weidig posted the other day that she was mentally exhausted worrying about it all. Other friends agreed– they were, too.

There are so many double-binds. Watch and know so you can react, vs don’t watch and don’t know so you don’t have to react is among the greatest for me. For people with mental illness, all of them will need more care rather than less, and of course, Trump threatens to cut Obamacare, and Medicare. Do they get treatment or not?

If I have learned one thing from having a clear mind it’s that Sabbath pays off. A Sabbath away from news…a Sabbath with God, renewing. The other thing that happens with a clear mind is empathy. How do countries where this is the norm survive? Have people lived like this in our country? When? Why? Because of whom or what? How did people live under Idi Amin or Augusto Pinochet or any of the other despots out there?

As I write this, I am aware of just how much the world needs the old American ideals of freedom, and justice, and fairness. I’ll continue to rest for now. I hope you can do the same.

Resisting with Peace,

John

I Think I’ll Be Green Lantern For A While…

For those of you who don’t know everything, I’ve been Batman for years now. Whether it’s campy / earnest Batman of the 1960’s or Michael Keaton’s slightly off Bateman who knows just how crazy the world can get, or Christian Bale’s stealthy, serious crime fighter, I have wanted to be ….well, Batman. Batman of the comics, as every kid knows, is not superhuman. He fights crime in his own way, but that, more often than not, requires his intellect. He is the “Dark Knight Detective”. He has become a hero in response to tragedy and responds by studying, learning, and training, having all those cool gadgets, and saving the day, all the while getting no credit under the mask. I aspire to be all those things, though my wife will tell you we can’t afford all of the gadgets, no matter how cool they are.

Today, on the day of Donald Trump’s election, I think I’ll be someone else. I think I’ll be Green Lantern. Green Lantern started out as a regular guy, now he helps out on a more universal scale, as part of the intergalactic and obviously diverse Green Lantern Corps.yes, he has super powers, but he gets them renewed every day. He has to. His powers emanate from a ring which can create anything his creativity can conceive of, But here’s the catch: Every 24 hours, his ring must be charged by putting his hand in a green lantern of good energy. If he doesn’t, his ring doesn’t work. As I grow older and the fight becomes more serious, I realize now that I need to recharge daily, and I must be part of a team, as well as creatively fighting evil. But here’s the kicker for me. In addition to charging his powers, Green Lantern must say this every time : “In darkest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Beware my power– Green Lantern’s light!”. 

Lantern’s motto is not, “I’ll beat people up” but that “no evil shall escape his sight”. As a minister by day, and blogger by night, all I can say is no evil shall escape my sight.We, all of us humans, fight evil by shining a light on it. The press in America, at its best, does just that. Mr. Trump and a whole lot of other people out there like to hide their crimes in paperwork, under the banner of some theme like patriotism, and want no light shown. We need more lights shown in more spots in the world. Bloggers and ministers in the world unite! Let us fight evil by telling the truth, by saying what we see,  by recharging daily, and through creative crime fighting. 

So, for the foreseeable future, I think I’ll be Green Lantern… 

Resisting with Peace,

John

I Think We Can Safely Say It’s Going to Be A Mess Under Trump — We Have Work To Do

America for all of 2016 has been greatly divided. Post-election though, the reality of our connectedness is starting to come through. In believing that liberals/progressives were finally going to get there come-uppance for unseen sins. 

Psychologically, the game has been “let’s you and him fight”. The right has fought anything with the word “Obama” in it for at least 6 years as though the fight was with Obama, which meant “against even the friends of Obama”. The insanity behind it all — the sheer absurdity behind it all —  started to show a few years ago. The Clinton emails scandal/witch hunt that took four years? I’m not saying there isn’t something fishy going on, but if you look for something under every rock and stone for a year, maybe it’s not there. And if you spend four years looking for something you couldn’t find in a year? That’s absurd. There just wasn’t that much to be mad about to equal that much anger. 

That anger led to the election of Donald Trump. Delusions, however painfully, go away when they have to act like they are reality. If they were real, they will stand up to scrutiny. If not, they won’t. 

Yesterday, I saw a woman on a news show and she was crying — crying! — because she might lose her Obamacare and Planned Parenthood would be defended by the man who was locally voted in. She thought no one was defending her now and she is upset. It’s like the people who voted for Brexit, primarily to show the government who was boss — and then googled it the next day when they won. They were angry about something that they didn’t know about.

So here in America, people voted their hate. Their hate was based in lies — Obama created ISIS, Hillary was more corrupt than Trump; the problem was protest and Black people, rather than the problems being faced and people that shot them; the problem in the budget was the poor people who didn’t pay taxes, rather than the 8 people who owned as much as half of the world not paying their taxes; science being the problem rather than climate change; women wanting their legal and medical rights were seen as problems, rather than the men who wanted the removal of those rights;  All of this is hate — them vs. us.  All hate is a lie. Anger might be truthful, but hate that goes on forever is at least partially a lie.

Now, we got what we wanted. We have elected someone who will encourage us to hate each other and has hired people who will speak lies to the disempowered. This doesn’t work because lies can’t stand up under scrutiny and now we’re upset as we examine who the president elect has chosen.

We are looking at a man who will discharge the law of the land who believes that the law of the land is unconstitutional 

We are looking to receive our children’s education from a woman who doesn’t believe in, or have any experience of public education. 

We are looking at a man who heads possibly the world’s largest multinational corporation attempting to look out for the best interests of one country.

We are looking at another man who already admitted he had no government experience now responsible for the housing of its citizens and the cities where millions live. 

There’s also a man in charge of the nation’s security — a job that calls for calm rationality–  who is a conspiracy theorist.

In fact, the person in the cabinet  I have the least concerns about got her job because her husband is a power figure in the government. 

If you hate democracy, if you hate large innocent portions of the American people — children, women, the handicapped, people who want there to be an earth, (and yes, African-Americans and immigrants and Mexicans and gay folks and Asians and …  are all of those) — then this is the cabinet for you. 

Since I don’t know of anyone who wants to destroy American democracy, then people must have based their votes on lies or mistakes. 

Finally, to be clear:

1) Obama didn’t create ISIS.

2) Hillary is not more tied to Wall Street than Trump.

3) Being shot is the problem. Complaining about it is not.

4) Racism is the problem. Complaining about it is not.

5) Poor people aren’t taking our money. Rich people are.

6) Climate change is a problem. Proving there is, is not the problem. 

7) Facts are not the problem. Denying them is.

8) Women wanting health care is not a problem. Women not getting health care is.

9) People having rights due them is not the problem. People trying to take them away is.
So, now that the lies aren’t working for us (as if they ever were), let’s deal with the real problems — and the real people who want to create them.

Resisting with peace,

John

Sick Is Sick

Before anybody says anything, 3 punks in Chicago no more represent Black people in this country than 1 supposedly straight man represented straight men in Orlando or the Unibomber represented bearded men who in the woods or Ann Coulter represents all blondes. 

I dislike Trump as much as the next guy, but I don’t beat up mentally ill people for it. Just because somebody says something of an ideology doesn’t mean they have a soul or a conscience. Being able to claim a certain thought doesn’t mean you’re a good person — not even close.

 To whit: Adolph Hitler, Dylan what’s-his-face from Columbine, or Osama Bin Laden. Dumb people aren’t good just because they’re dumb, either by the way. Witness Dylan Roof. 

What happened in Chicago this week is the equivalent of Al Capone saying “F Elliot Ness”. 

There are human beings who don’t represent humanity, regardless of what they say. Sometimes sick is just sick. 

Resisting with peace,

John