To quote Thomas Paine, “These are times that try men (and women) souls.” We have experienced once again the horrors of mass shootings, in El Paso TX, and Dayton, OH. It should shake everyone’s being down to their souls. No other country, that is not at war or in civil strife, has suffered the casualties we have in the United States, from gun violence. People from around the world cannot understand how a country, so modern, like the United States, can let this bloodletting continue.
The answer is both simple and complicated. There are those in this country who feel they are losing control of it. That immigrants and of other races are taking what was once theirs; jobs, control of local governments. They see government, especially the Federal government taking away their lands, their jobs, for protection of the environment. They see gun ownership as the only means to protect what they see as their rights. This might only express some of the reasons why the country is so full of hate, so divided; and why some feel driven to pick up the gun.
But Jesus has said, “All who take the sword will die by the sword.” (MT 26:52). What is called for are laws to remove or at least control access to military style weapons. There also must be dialogue between peoples, to understand the desires, the needs, and the fears of all sides. We need a responsible government, whose goals are to preserve the general welfare, and not their own political power.
Jesus said that the primary commandment for his followers was to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. The second important commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. The challenge of these two commandments have always been before us. Never before in our society’s history, had meeting that challenge been so important!
Thoughts I had walking to the train station.
If you build walls, physical, ideological, monetary; you can lose empathy for those on the other side. When you build gated communities, physically or by zoning, you can lose empathy for those who cannot get in. When you build a wall of social media around yourself, that only gives you what you want to see, hear and read; you might lose empathy for those who might have a different opinion.
A lack of empathy, can lead to lack of respect for the other as a human person. Lack of respect can lead to an unwillingness to discuss, debate, and perhaps find understanding, and common ground. An unwillingness to at least talk, can lead to anger and hatred.
We are approaching the anniversary of the birth of the republic, yet there are some who are talking about a second Civil War brewing. In respect for those who who sacrificed their fortunes, their lives for the concept of “We, the People of these United States,” we need to find the courage to break down these walls; reach out and shake the hand of our fellow citizens.
May the God, who broke down the walls of Jericho, help us break down the walls we have built around us. May the Father who broke open the tomb of Jesus Christ on Easter morn, break open our hearts to the needs of others. May he help us reach out to others, and recognize that we are all brothers and sisters, with the same Father.
May God bless, and inspire the people of these United States of America!
Over a cup of ice coffee; I would share with you that I was not totally surprised by the electionn of Donald Trump. It has always been my belief that there was always a chance that he would win. News analysts have pointed out several factors that contributed to his victory. First, he spoke to blue-collar workers in those states that make up the”Rust Belt.” These are those voters who felt left behind during the country’s economic recovery. They felt ignored by federal government; by the Democratic Party, which originally was their party. They now see it, and the government as supporting Big Business; and immigrants. They claim to not recognize the country they live in; and they were mad as heck! They were looking for anti-political establishment figure, and found him in Donald Trump. The irony is that it was these same blue collar workers who helped to elect Bill Clinton to the Presidency. Reports are out there that he told Hilary’s campaign staff not to ignore the workers in states, like Michigan, but he was ignored. There were other factors also that contributed to Clinton’s defeat; she just had too much baggage, from her e-mails, to her cozy relationship with the Wall Street establishment; a lot of people just could get excited about her enough to go out and vote for her.
Now the country waits to see what a Trump Administration means for us, for minorities, for immigrants, and for those workers who have pinned their hopes on him. There are already sizable protests on both coasts of the country; with people crying out: “Not my president.” The fact of the matter is that come January, 2017, Donald Trump will legally, constitutionally, be the President of the United States. We can either accept that fact or be responsible for the ending of the political experiment that is the United States of America.
What is the Catholic Christian response to this situation? First, to pray; pray that the Holy Spirit will invade the hearts of our political leaders, changing them from hearts full of anger and disrespect for the other side; to hearts geared towards cooperation for the sake of the nation and all its’ people. That political and social discourse will be with respect for people on the other side of an issue. That there will be a new commitment to make government work. We then must also be willing to stand with the poor, the disenfranchised, the immigrant; and where necessary, speak “truth to power;” but in such a way that respects the political process, in a way that promotes civil discussion and cooperation. I would highly recommend reading an article by Fr. James Martin, SJ, in the Jesuit magazine, “America.”
Well, my mug of iced coffee is empty; and believe it or not, I am about ready to pass out. So I hope to see you again, over a cup of coffee.
After a very long, angry and bitter campaign; it is now up to us citizens. Now, my wife, Peg, and I voted last Friday, at Beverly City Hall; the last day for early voting in Massachusetts. The first floor was set up for voting, using old fashioned voting booths. We checked off our preferences with a pencil; sealed our ballots in envelopes; and deposited them in a ballot box. Even though we had to wait on line; everyone was friendly, and helpful to each other.
What will happen today; what kind of country we will have at dawn, remains a mystery. After I saw a report on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” I am still worried. They hired a pollster, (worked for Republican campaigns), to form a focus group. He brought together a diverse group of individuals; who promptly went after each other’s throats. No civil discussion, just anger came out against each other. Even the pollster expressed fear over what he was seeing, and what it meant for the country.
The preamble of our Constitution begins with: “We, the People..”. We cannot lose sight of the fact, that each of us, in small ways and large, contribute to the ongoing experiment in democracy, that is the United States. We may chose to build it up, tear it down, or let it whither on the vine. This is the “choice,” we face; not just tonight, but in all days to come.
Over an glass of iced coffee, I would tell you this posting is late because my laptop crashed; the desktop is in an room with no air conditioning, and it has just been too hot!
Over a glass of iced coffee, I would tell you I am concerned about this year in our country. I do not think I have seen so much vitriol coming from major presidential candidates. I mean, since the founding of the Republic, there have political campaigns have been over the top in language and made up accusations. But for the most part, the candidates themselves remained above it. Now, not so much! This campaign year has the potential to strain the democratic process of this country.
Over a glass of iced coffee, I would mention that my wife and I spent some time last night walking around a local park here in Beverly, MA. It is called Lynch Park and it is on the waterfront. It was a chance to enjoy some time outside and try to enjoy some cool sea breezes (not so much)!