Thursday, October 27, 2016

That the Nation Might Live / Joshua Abbott

Those who argue that Republicans should support Donald Trump despite his personal flaws are largely missing the point. It's not his vulgarity, his shady dealings, or even his alleged sexual assaults, disturbing as those are, that ultimately disqualify him. The problem with Trump runs much deeper. In the two-hundred-twenty-seven years since the first presidential election, we have had many kinds of presidents: conservative and liberal, courageous and cowardly, virtuous and immoral, honest and corrupt. Our republic has weathered them all. But we have never had a president who, like Trump, directly challenges what America stands for as a nation.

The U.S. is unique among nations because, at its core, it is not defined by its territorial boundaries or by any cultural, ethnic, linguistic, or religious identity. Any of those could change over time, and it would still be America. Even the Constitution is only an expression of the people's will, subject to change. At its core, America is an idea. As Abraham Lincoln explained, it is "a new nation, established in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." Thus, America is a great, ongoing experiment in human affairs, testing whether "any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."

Yet in countless ways throughout his campaign, Trump has demonstrated that he rejects that fundamental proposition. His statements regarding Mexicans ("they're rapists"), Muslims ("a temporary ban"), women ("grab them by the p----"), his opponent ("the devil"), peaceful protesters ("punch him in the face"), journalists ("lying, disgusting people"), etc., etc., etc., are well documented and need not be detailed here. They reflect a deep fear of or contempt for those who are different. No one who says such things can honestly claim to believe the self-evident truths "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." And no one who rejects those truths should lead the nation that embodies them.

It is usually around this point in a political discussion that a Trump supporter will try to turn the conversation to Hillary Clinton and her multitude of sins, arguing that whatever drawbacks Trump may have, they're not as bad as hers. For our purposes here, let's just stipulate that every plausible accusation that has been made against Clinton is true--all of it--and that she would be the worst president in U.S. history. Even then, when it comes to the survival of American constitutional democracy, there is no comparison. It's not even apples and oranges; it's apples and the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. For all of Clinton's misdeeds, real or imagined, no one can seriously argue that she poses a threat to American democracy. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Trump.

In 1860, when leaders in the South realized that a majority of voters in the U.S. actually believed that all people are created equal, including slaves, and that this belief would define the nation, they did what any rational person who disagrees would do--they opted out. The result was two percent of Americans killed, which for today's population would equal more than six million souls. Last week, when Trump refused to promise to accept the results of the election (unless he wins), he too was holding open the possibility of opting out. Thus, by rejecting America's founding principle, Trump represents the greatest threat to American democracy since the Civil War. That is what this election is really about.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Women Are Powerful -- We Create the Culture / Kristen Abbott Kleinman

Adam was pleased with his static inventory of neatly labeled stuff.
Then Eve put everything into dynamic play around Family --
gave her husband's stuff meaning and worth.
She Created Culture -- Lloyd

I believe that something essential is being forgotten. Women are powerful. After having eight boys and now this one little girl, I can see that although she is still so small, even she is powerful. She came knowing who she is, and already she shapes, inspires, and brings joy to everyone around her as she nurtures all of us.

Women are born with the God-given power to create and inspire through nurturing. We create the culture. We are the most powerful when we love and inspire men to create the structure so that we are free to focus on the culture-creating work that we are here to do. Whatever the world’s culture, we create it -- either through claiming our rightful place as women of power, or by abandoning our post through self-absorption or following the lie that the only power worth having is in the role of men.

What we currently see in the culture of the world is similar to what happens when mom is gone for the day and we are left with dad or an older kid in charge; although he is capable, everything's a little weird and full of sharp angles and hard edges. Except now mom has been gone for so long that everyone is stressed and overwhelmed. Instead of men having the confidence to protect and provide for the work of creation and growth, the destructive culture that we are limping along with in her absence is based on fulfilling the physical desires of men, and the very structure is crumbling around us.

As women, it’s time to wake up and remember who we are, the power we possess through nurturing, and what we are here to do. It's time to reclaim this culture. It’s time to recognize the significance for everyone in the culture-defining work we are here to do. It’s time to strengthen and inspire men with the power to stand up and fully embrace their role of providing structure and protection for our work, the work that brings peace, joy and growth for us all.

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