Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

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trump vs hillary

HuffPo: Trump nation. Yes we’re divided, but you and I are fine.

Originally published on Huffington Post February 15th, 2017.

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I wish it weren’t true. But we’re forever a divided nation. Still, you and I are fine.

What I mean is I still love my family and friends who voted for him. Our relationship is bigger than any President. Even this President.

Of course I’ll still chat with the dry cleaner or cashier or neighbor next door who voted for Trump, but we will not talk of him, ever. And if you bring him up and try to convince me why I’m wrong, I will politely ask you to change the subject.

Saying “Trump” has become our new “abortion.” His name is a trigger that when uttered can only end badly for both parties.

You will not change my view of him. I won’t change yours.

So instead I’ll do my activist work outside the dinner table or parties or lunch with friends. I’ll post my views on Facebook because it’s my page and my personal statement, and I’ll join the Resistance.

But I promise as a thinking engaged voting citizen I will do my best to listen to Trump on every issue. And when I agree, I’ll go public on social media.

This is the best I can do to “give him a chance.” Because for a long list of reasons that divide us, he is not and will never be, my President.

I’m sorry but we cannot “come together” about Trump. Because really, what does that look like?

I won’t suddenly agree with the Muslim ban or “alternative facts,” or his claim about voter fraud or his inauguration crowd size or Steve Bannon or EPA Scott Pruitt or Betsy DeVos or pussy grabs or his “so-called judge” or tweeting about his daughter’s treatment by Nordstrom

I will, however, consider the merits of a wall and read more about the pros and cons of sanctuary cities and tariffs on businesses who ship jobs overseas. I will listen to each Trump official and thoughtfully consider where we agree. Read full post here.

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‘I’m still waiting for an answer, Senator Rubio’

From Miami Herald Columnist, Leonard Pitts:

(Senator Rubio) I specifically asked you three questions: “What do you stand for?” “What could Trump do to make you say, ‘Enough?’ ” and “What’s the functional difference between being a bigot and just voting for one?”

You gave me cricket arias in response. So let me offer some thoughts. Because space is limited, I’ll leave the first two questions aside. But the third deserves exploration, speaking as it does to issues larger than your slipperiness.

Trump’s bigotry is, of course, a given. Between his housing-discrimination suits, his contention that black people are naturally lazy, his birther nonsense, his assertion that an Indiana-born jurist of Mexican descent was unfit to judge him and his support for neo-Nazis, any argument to the contrary must be regarded as asinine.

And despite your claim that people voted for him “despite” all this, a mounting body of research says just the opposite.

Trump’s bigotry was a big part of his appeal for white Americans scared spitless by the notion of a nation where Muslims, people of color and LGBTQ people play ever larger and more visible roles.

In an analysis based on data from the 2016 American National Election Study and published in the current issue of Critical Sociology, University of Kansas professors David N. Smith and Eric Hanley put it as follows: “The decisive reason that white, male, older and less educated voters were disproportionately pro-Trump is that they shared his prejudices and wanted domineering, aggressive leaders …”

Read the full piece here….

 

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HuffPo: 6 ways to cope with Trump’s win (or how to avoid nasty conflict with your Trump loved ones)

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Posted November 19th, 2016 on Huffington Post.

My husband was worried about me as the election returns came in. “Why are you so damn calm? She’s losing in some important states and you seem fine. It’s scary.”

“Because she’s going to win. I know it.”

I knew it the day she announced her run.

I knew it because despite well-funded, anti-Clinton machines that told us a million times across dozens of media outlets why we shouldn’t the trust facts, I counted on enough people to dig through the lies and add up the truth.

I knew past any red hot issue, jobs, immigration, that voter conscience would shove aside party, fear and Hillary-hate. America has self-respect. We know when enough is enough.

Grabbing crotches, fat-shaming, mocking a disabled journalist, inciting violence, feeding alt-right nationalism, disrespecting a war hero.

I knew our nation wouldn’t hire racism, sexism, misogyny, and bullying.

Voters felt long before they ever decided, that can’t be our President.

When Trump appeared millions of angry voters said this guy will turn the establishment on its cozy head, shake hard and man, oh, man, my life will be better than it is now.

Soon shocking numbers of people habituated to Trump’s horrible and pretended the vile he said never happened or was taken out of context or he “didn’t mean it.”

But I knew a tipping point of undecided and Republican voters would eventually say, “You’re not a good enough person to be my President. My kids are watching for God’s sake.”

And the fact is most voter voters did, because Hillary won the popular vote.

So when I hear “the people have spoken,” I think yes they have, but the electoral process told them to shut the hell up.

At about 3:30 am on election night, I moved out of denial and into the bargaining stage of grief. I sat on my bathroom floor and pleaded “Please, pleeease, God, no. Do you know what this means? My daughter just voted for the first time.”

About 4am, my husband came into the family room and saw me still watching the election returns and sobbing on the couch. Blurry after too much wine, shock and despair, I almost couldn’t get the words out, “This can’t be happening.”

The last stage of grappling with grief is acceptance. Acceptance is the place where you don’t agree with the outcome but you make peace so you stop feeling so shitty.

But I’ll never accept that *61,336,159 Americans decided racism, sexism and misogyny weren’t deal-breakers. I shouldn’t have to explain why in 2016.

Now all I can do is ask what’s next? What do we do? Where do we start?

My suggestion is to start by not making things worse.

1. Remember why you love your friends and family.

People you loved on Monday, November 7th are still those people. Your cousin Frank is still smart, a damn good storyteller and funny. Your best friend Lisa is still warm, a beautiful friend and generous. Good doesn’t disappear overnight. Forget their politics. Separate them, from him.

2. Stop mentally dividing people into Hillary vs. Trump.

This election viciously divided our nation into two mutually exclusive people piles. Now all we feel about our Trump friends is shock, disappointment and anger. Now we see our Trump neighbor as one word, Trump, and the antithesis to all we hold sacred. Now we wonder if the guy at the gas station or gym is one of them. Our deep tribal division is sad, dangerous and regressive.

We think we know everything we need to know about Trump supporters from disgusting chants by pockets of devolved people. We don’t. Trump pulled votes from almost every demographic, including a disappointing number of women. I heard a man tell Michael Moore, Prince of the Progressives, that he voted for Obama, loved Michael’s movies, but that Trump was his guy. This election isn’t about good people vs. bad. Trump won for a long list of complex reasons that have nothing to do (for plenty of voters) with the hate that came out of his mouth.

3. Don’t knee-jerk piss people off or excommunicate anyone.

If your anger is in danger of glaring at some poor unsuspecting Trump tee-shirt-wearing guy minding his own business, by all that is right in the world, stop yourself. Look away or give him the half smile you’d give any stranger in your path.

But if the Trump tee-shirt-wearing guy says something stupid when he sees the safety pin on your collar, breathe, then walk away. Yeah, go high. You’ll wonder how the hell you did it.

Don’t unfriend or boycott anyone unless he or she insists on being an a-hole. Sometimes you have no choice but to shield yourself from toxic people or nice people who won’t back off. If you hate your friend’s political rants on Facebook ignore her posts or hide her feed. If someone brings up the election, tell her “I love you but let’s not go there.” If she goes there, say it again and shut down the conversation. There’s thousands of other topics in the universe. Kids. Football. Dogs. Career. Dating. Movies. Books. Food. Travel. Her cool boots. Anything that won’t divide you into two angry piles.

4. Learn to actively listen.

Okay for some masochistic reason you want to confront the roaring stomping elephant in the room with friends and family. Your anger is who you are right now and you want people to understand why you can’t just “get over it.”

Fine, but set the stage to learn something from a Trump supporter. Ask friends and family to explain without bashing Hillary, why they chose Trump. Then explain without bashing Trump, why you chose Hillary. Stay off the controversial and personal. Focus on issues. Let them speak without interrupting. Don’t debate. Debate time is over. You might want to slam your head against the wall or you might learn something. This act of bravery will be damn near impossible which is why I don’t suggest you try it right now. Emotions are too high.

Post-election town halls are cropping up all over the nation so a better idea is to vent your anger in a moderated setting instead of railing against your loved ones. Your precious relationships matter far more than this election.

5. Focus on your election wins.

I lost a lot this election, so much that if I focus on the meaning and impact, I’ll go fetal and become a useless citizen. So I’m trying to focus on some state and local wins. Florida Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy beat John Mica. Mica wasn’t my choice for Congress but he has an impressive record on mass transportation. Tapped for a possible Whitehouse position, maybe he’ll keep Florida’s transportation needs on the front burner. Medical pot finally won in Florida and a solar amendment designed by the utility companies to confuse consumers lost. My town of Orlando picked Hillary. It’s only a symbolic win, but I’ll take it.

6. Stop reading and watching political news for a while 

If you’re a seething mass of negative, go under for a while. Turn off all news. Get off Facebook and Twitter. Go the movies. Watch sitcoms. Head to the pet store and pet puppies. I promise you, puppies help. Personally I don’t have the willpower to get off the grid, but you might. Get away from the slow drip-drip-drip of 16 months of soul-sucking election stress. It’s hurting you more than you think. And for a while, you might pretend the impossible never happened.

And when you’re ready to come out from under the madness, depression and anger, activate.

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HuffPo: I miss the days of presidential dignity

The problem isn’t just about politics anymore, it’s about Trump, the very-bad-no-good person in the Oval Office.

It’s about the impenetrable bond between Trump and his most loyal, rabid fans who refuse to see this guy as anything but their nation’s over due bad-ass savior, and a victim of a media witch hunt. Perhaps to admit Trump’s grave character flaws after all this time and tribal division, would be too hard to mentally reconcile.

Unlike any other presidential election in history that I know, for the first time the losing side needs more than a run of political wins, we need Trump voters to see their guy for who he really is, and then and only then, can we begin to close the bitter divide.

We’re called almost daily by pastors and pundits and politically weary friends and family to reach across the aisle, and of course we must.

But first I need to know that my fellow American acknowledges who Trump is as a person. Then I need to know my fellow American is willing to courageously and relentlessly call him out, again and again and again. Wear him down, which with Trump’s shield of arrogance and narcissism will likely take a while.

Want to read my full post?

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6 ways to cope with Hillary’s loss (or, how to avoid conflict with our Trump loved ones).

From The Huffington Post

Hillary Won. But Lost.

At about 3:30 am on election night, I moved out of denial and into the bargaining stage of grief. I sat on my bathroom floor and pleaded “Please, pleeease, God, no. Do you know what this means? My daughter just voted for the first time.”

About 4am, my husband came into the family room and saw me still watching the election returns and sobbing on the couch. Blurry after too much wine, shock and despair, I almost couldn’t get the words out, “This can’t be happening.”

The last stage of grappling with grief is acceptance. Acceptance is the place where you don’t agree with the outcome but you make peace so you stop feeling so shitty.

But I’ll never accept that *61,336,159 Americans decided racism, sexism and misogyny weren’t deal-breakers. I shouldn’t have to explain why in 2016.

Now all I can do is ask what’s next? What do we do? Where do we start? Full post

*running total

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God is also inside Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood

 

Excerpted from “God Is Also Inside Planned Parenthood”

They were last night as I walked in to a Planned Parenthood discussion on “A Celebration of Faith and Reproductive Health.”

They’re always there, the voices to protect the unborn.

A few protesters waved graphic images of bloody broken babies and held “Planned Parenthood = Murder” signs. A man on a megaphone shouted Scripture from the curb.

For a moment I wondered about all the good these protesters could do if they combined their passion and turned it into everyone’s cause. Because everyone wants to reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

As I walked into the meeting room I was struck by the number of men who showed up, men who don’t own a womb but must understand why they must never own mine.

I grabbed a chair in the front row and listened to a panel of faith leaders and one secular humanist share why they support reproductive rights in the context of their beliefs.

Rev Davis, former Chair of Planned Parenthood’s Clergy Advisory Board, spoke frankly about his years as chaplain at Skidmore College during the late 60’s.

When he first started he told his wife, “How hard could it be to counsel 1400 girls?”

“‘You’re an idiot,’ she said, ‘It’ll be hard.’” Read full post

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Sometimes, we the people are just very wrong

Donald Trump

There was a time when if my well-intentioned friends apologized for aging racists who said atrocious stuff, just to be polite, I pretended to agree with their lovable excuses.

Forgive that generation for they know not what they say!

They know.

A few years ago my sixty-something neighbor, a nice but tiresome lady, showed up at my door to gently complain about something I needed to fix. A few minutes later she got weirdly quiet and sighed, which I’d learned was my cue to ask.

“My husband is really upset lately because our son has been dating a half-breed nigger.”

She said it casually and in cahoots, like she’d mentioned that interest rates were up and so of course we’d both see the obvious downside of what was coming next.

And when I looked horrified, she didn’t.

“Oh yes, I forgot your generation doesn’t talk that way,” she said.

“Actually my entire family doesn’t talk that way,” I said.

And when one of my brothers who wasn’t raised racist offhandedly used the N-word I told him no, not ever. Not in my house.

People need to hear that thinking racist or outrageous bile out loud isn’t okay simply because people hand them a few empathetic hall passes like:

  • They hail from a less politically correct era
  • They earned the senior privilege to no longer self-censor
  • They’re rightfully angry about lost or displaced jobs
  • They’re rightfully scared of growing terrorist threats
  • They’re rightfully sick and tired of the bought and paid political establishment

There’s no excuse weighty enough to justify hateful, racist, sexist verbal bile.

None (unless, you’re not of sound mind).

You don’t get to imply that a female journalist has PMS or that Carly Fiorina is ugly or that real war heroes don’t get captured. You don’t get to make fun of a disabled reporter or say racist things about Mexicans or that you’d ban all Muslims.

Okay you get to say almost whatever you want, but clearly you shouldn’t.

We the people decide if we raise or lower the bar for civil discourse. … FULL POST at the Huffington Post

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It’s time the anti-poverty Pope blesses birth control.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis and birth control

It’s not easy to criticize the coolest Pope, ever.

Pope Francis smiles for selfies, Tweets, says yes! to the Big Bang and evolution, waves from his popemobile and against tradition, washes (oh the horror!) the feet of women on Holy Thursday.

I’m not Catholic but when this Pope speaks, I listen. I don’t expect to agree with everything he says but by God, he makes me want to.

Still, Pope Francis’s command to end world poverty doesn’t square holy with me when the church still insists artificial contraception goes against the “natural laws of God” to go forth and multiply.

What’s natural about nuns feeding starving belly-bloated children in remote villages while helping malnourished mothers push out baby number 6,7 and 12?

Simple compassionate math says when you make more kids you make more mouths to feed. Never mind couples who don’t want a houseful. Plenty opt out altogether which Francis in his wisdom of raising a family, lovingly calls a “selfish choice.”

Scolding birth control is an archaic man-made patriarchal mandate that commands women to be involuntary breeders and over populate the planet…..

No contraception makes sexy time better?

Of course most modern Catholics don’t believe every sperm is sacred. “They’re well aware of the Vatican’s pronouncements,” wrote Frank Bruni in his piece, “Be Fruitful, Not Bananas,” They just prefer to plug their ears.”

Some wishful thinkers think the church offers wiggle room for married couples to use their “individual conscience” about family planning but the reality is, contraception is still a mortal sin and an act of “individual disobedience.”

So when the sympathetic priest counsels a couple he’s forced to speak out of two sides of his mouth, “Sure, go ahead and pop on that condom, take birth control, but just so you know (smiling sadly), I’m obligated to tell you you’re headed for eternal Hell.”

I’m a former Methodist, now a Unitarian Universalist (your basic heretic) so I don’t grapple much with doctrine. If a teaching doesn’t jive with common sense and Golden Rule 101, I balk.

In the article “Contraception, Conscience and Church Authority” George Sim Johntson reminds that the good Catholic doesn’t just grin and bear His will, she heroically conforms to it.

“The implicit message is: God’s will is something you deal with while gritting your teeth.”

“But since gritting your teeth is not fun, and God doesn’t want us to be upset about the choices we make, then follow your conscience. There are so many fallacies here; it would take a book to address them. A short response is that saints not only heroically conform their lives to the will of God, but also love that will. Are we not called to imitate them? If we do, even the sex might be better. As Benedict XVI points out in Deus Caritas Est, eros is most fully itself when governed by agape.”

Wow, that’s quite a stretch. Unprotected sex as an aphrodisiac.

I’ve never met a woman who says she gets turned on by the thought of an unwanted pregnancy at the end of her partner’s orgasm. Making a baby when you don’t want a baby isn’t titillating, it’s terrifying.

But religion is masterful at managing cognitive dissonance. You just think you don’t want a baby or you can’t afford a fourth, but yield to God’s will rather than your own selfish needs and the blessings will appear.

Full post at: Huffington Post

 

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This Pope is dope

Of the people, for the people

Of the people, for the people

dope  adj. cool, nice, awesome

 

Title too flip for the highest Catholic?

Just wait, some hip-hopper will pen a positive rap about Pope Francis.  He’s street. He’s of the people, all people. At least in tone, because when I stop swooning and take a look, his policies on church law haven’t changed.

The Pope hasn’t reversed a single issue, birth control, abortion, same-sex marriage, women in the priesthood or divorce (minus his recent change to the annulment process to make it more convenient and less costly) but his soft radically loving tone almost convinces me he has — or that the church will one day.

The Pope even has a receptive audience with some who think God is a hoax.  (“15 Surprising Things Atheists Are Saying about Pope Francis”). 

As an atheist (not speaking for all of them), I’m a huge fan of this pope. I think people need to find their own reason to be good to others. For some, it is god (whichever flavor he/she/it may be). Others find that they want to be good for other reasons. I’m just glad that the big C found a leader willing to try his best to not just preach to his crowd, but try to show them how. ~ Anonymous

Religion skeptics read this Pope as an empathetic listener rather than a sanctimonious hand-slapper.  He says come one come all, embrace each other especially the least among us and in a Christian Nation, atheists are by the denomination pie, one of the least among us.

His language is careful and loving. He doesn’t ask how dare you dis the Vatican?  His focus is instead on workable solutions for the poor, the uneducated, the disenfranchised, the ostracized, the misunderstood.

If he scolds it’s to ask, why we ignore so many poor?

Pope Francis

In other words, he sounds like Jesus.

Every Pope has a big following but this one has a gift of gently coaxing people into self-reflection, into relying on one’s conscience to guide our actions.

This is as impressive as walking on water.

The world likes Pope Francis.  And when we like someone to show respect, we consider their point of view, even as we vote against it.

Pope Francis is making unlikely friendships. 

I don’t agree with many of the Catholic laws (I was Methodist now I’m Unitarian Universalist) but I admire Pope Francis for cutting through the pomp and hierarchy and for avoiding divisive language.

He reminds us he’s human, and so he’s not closer to God than you or me or the atheist (should he/she ever want God proximity).

On gay priests Pope Francis said, “Who am I to judge?” Seems a few religion cynics might be saying the same thing about him.

If we get down to it, Pope Francis hasn’t changed his stand on church laws. “The pope has often delivered popular comments on unpopular church policies that sound like realized reforms. But so far no alterations of doctrine have taken place; widespread impressions that the rules have changed haven’t matched reality.” New York Times, Op-Ed. “The Pope, Catholics and Birth Control.”

He is, though, changing how people talk about views in opposition to church doctrine so I listen, and then I hold out hope for future reform.

The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians–when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths – Sheldon Vanauken 

Pope Francis

 

 
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Separation of church and state, including Satan’s coloring books

Satanic coloring book in Orange county schools

Public schools shouldn’t be allowed to distribute Bible’s or Satanic materials

 

Separation of church and state, including Satan’s coloring books

Personally, I don’t care if a religious or pagan or atheist group distributes materials at public schools.  If my daughter’s old enough to decide what does or doesn’t sit well in her soul, she ‘s old enough to take it all in.

But I do care on behalf of others, in separation of church and state.

Orange School Board bans outside Bibles, Satanic materials in schools. 

Ideas thrust into in the minds of thinking people doesn’t destroy beliefs, they might in fact, expand them.

But we have to protect the original intent of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause to ward off potential abuse of religious power over non-Christians and the non-religious, so I come down on the side of separation of church and state. 

As for the Church of Satan giving out coloring books in Orange County Florida schools, for obvious reasons I don’t want little kids taking their box of Crayolas and making pretty rainbows in Satan’s fiery abyss, nor do I want them reciting The Church of Satan’s 9 Satanic statements (#5 Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek! (emphasis not mine))

I happen to believe Hell isn’t a place. I believe Hell is of our own making (and that Mother Nature just does her thing rather than vengefully make our lives hell) but kids don’t deserve gruesome Satanic images pages stuffed inside their little Dora the Explorer back-packs.

The Church of Satan worships some seriously creepy stuff and if for no other reason than I can’t shake my childhood superstitions that monsters lurk under my bed (and neither can kids) I don’t want Satanic materials circulating in our schools.

Equality opportunity disgust for all gruesome religious images

I wasn’t happy when years back my then 4-year-old daughter came home from her Methodist pre-school and tucked among her jelly bellies were crucifix images (on a bookmark or daily reminder page of Scripture, I can’t quite remember) during Easter time.

Gruesome is gruesome even (or especially) because it’s in religious context.

Little kids are too impressionable to easily process the image of Jesus’s wrists and feet nailed to a cross with little drops of blood dripping down as he looks in agony towards God. We can sweet it up all we want with adult justification phrases like He died for you little one, but it’s still a half-clothed man — on a cross — nailed — with a 4-year-old who didn’t ask Jesus to die for her.

In fact, I’m pretty sure 4-year-olds don’t want anyone to die for them.

When I saw crucified Jesus in my daughter’s hands I almost forgot my usual laissez-fair attitude about not jumping down a school’s throat for doesn’t-really-matter-in-the-long-run missteps. I’m very selective with my school outrage, in fact I can’t think of one time in 15 years I went off on staff or faculty except when my 2-year-old’s teacher wouldn’t give her lunch because my daughter and her criminal 2-year-old boyfriend threw their piece of pizza on the floor just because, you know, that’s what spunky 2-year-olds do.

But here’s my issue about religious materials in schools, Christian groups don’t get to cherry pick what gets distributed in state schools — Jesus in, Satan out.

It’s all or nothing.

And so, nothing.

Source: Orange School Board bans outside Bibles, Satanic materials in schools. 

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