Tuesday, June 27, 2017

And here's a petition to sign

Regarding my last post:


Honorable Member of the House Intelligence/Foreign Affairs Committee:
I, as a concerned citizen of the United States, endorse and support the bipartisan legislation, “STOP ARMING TERRORISTS ACT” (H.R. 608), submitted by Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

This legislation, based on Congressional action from the 1980s, is an important contribution to peace.

I urge the Committee to promptly affirm and submit this Bill to the full Congress.

Click here to access petition-signature page.

Liberals and Conservatives Oppose war in Syria together!!!

The following bracketed comment is one I made on Facebook Share where liberals were bashing conservatives because Trump is about to bomb Syria again. I've been editing it.

[LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES NEED TO JOIN TOGETHER AND PROTEST THE ESCALATION in SYRIA that started during OBAMA's term and is escalating further under TRUMP, despite Trump's campaign promises to reduce military engagements. Conservative and liberal citizens will never be able to stop these wars unless they stop sniping at each other and fight the real enemy: the Deep State that put pressure on Obama to switch the goal in Syria from fighting terrorism to ousting Assad, pressure Obama was not able to withstand, starting in 2012...

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?? URGE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN WASHINGTON TO COSPONSOR HR 608 (sponsored by Tulsi Gabbard D-HI,  the "Stop Arming Terrorists" act) that will  put a stop to  hamper the US's misguided war against Assad in Syria.)]

 I wrote to my Representative, who is a Republican, about the possibility of his co-sponsoring HR-608, the "Stop Arming Terrorists" act.  As of this writing, the bill has only 14 co-sponsors.

Here  is an article with more details if you'd like to write to your  House representative in Washington encouraging him or her to co-sponsor the "Stop Arming Terrorists" bill.  The article is written by a conservative praising Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat Congresswomen, for her efforts. The author asks the question: If Congress is really serious about "The War on Terror" why have we switched directions from fighting terrorism to funding it?

....and here is the article Congresswoman Gabbard wrote about the act, which she wrote and sponsored. 

The war in Syria will continue unless there is a joint effort by liberals and conservatives, starting work at the grass roots level, to oppose it.    The "Stop Arming Terrorists" Act (HR 608). Praised by conservatives (the good kind, not the neocons), written by a Democrat,  its cosponsors are bipartisan (but their numbers need to grow!),  endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America and Veterans for Peace.

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT TO OPPOSE THE WAR IN SYRIA?? URGE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN WASHINGTON TO COSPONSOR HR 608 (sponsored by Tulsi Gabardi D-HI,  the "Stop Arming Terrorists" act) that will put a stop to the US's misguided war against Assad in Syria.)

How do I go about contacting my representative?  Start here. 

The Writing-your-Congressmen Option

Today is Tuesday What's in the News Day at my blog.

I try to stay positive in my blog.  I write here when I've been thinking about something that might be useful to a reader. If it's  not useful (or even read) by someone in the immediate future, then perhaps it will be later on when a reader might stumble upon it, via a label, perhaps.

Late last night, instead of writing a blog post about the problems with both the Affordable Care Act of 2009 and the new "Republican Senator" version, I wrote to Senate Majority Leader  Mitch McConnell.

Instead of writing a blog post about why the "if you wage war on one of us, you wage war on all of us" principle of NATO is outdated, I wrote to both of the senators from my state. (A resolution to re-affirm this outdated principle was on the Senate agenda for this week.)

Instead of writing a blog post about the scant evidence used in April to bomb Syria for "Assad's use of chemical weapons" and similar baseless accusations and threats made again by Trump yesterday,  I linked to an article in Consortium news and shared it with FaceBook friends. Maybe they will be able to do something constructive with that information.

Instead of  getting depressed about the inability of so many US citizens  to discuss issues rationally, without ad hominem and demonizing stereotypes, I'm taking the discussion to people who at least have that ability as part of their job descriptions. That'd be our representatives and senators.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Thank God It's Sunday: Sirius Shepherd

Today is Thank God it's Sunday at my blog.

I'm going to describe as concisely as I can (*1) an experience I had this month with poetry and meditation, a blog and a coincidence.

Looking for something to use as a focal point for meditation one morning, I reviewed some old notes on Methodist preacher Adam Hamilton's discussion of three of Jesus' "I am" statements.

I am the Good Shepherd.
I am the True Vine.
I am the Bread of life.

Now for the blogs and coincidences part. Saint Marty-Marty very faithfully posts poems worth reading. So many poems in this world, so little time! How to even decide what to read? Thank you, Saint Marty-Marty.

Imagine my delight, when, after a couple of days of meditating about Jesus as the  Shepherd, the Vine, the Bread, I landed upon this blog post, featuring the poem "Dear J" by Kazim Ali.

I don't know who the "J" in  "Dear J"  is.  The poet was raised in India by Muslim parents. Maybe "J" stands for Jehovah. Or maybe there is a Jan or a Jimmy whom he admires greatly, seeks to emulate. Maybe "J" is a lover's initial.(*2)

Whoever "J" is,  Kazim Ali's poem to him or her, and Saint Marty-Marty's bringing that poem out into the open  have added more brush strokes to the emerging mental image I have of God.  Far, far above and away, but willing to connect with us, to guide, to nourish.

Jesus : Shepherd  :: J : Sirius

Jesus : Vine :: J : "black strip in a flower's throat,"  "silver thread of sound," " sky to navel"

Jesus : Bread :: J : Sirius

Sirius : Cereus  :: Jesus : Seeker Thirsty and Hungry for God

I say, "Thank God it's Sunday!" when people with differing or even opposing political or religious views help each other see their way clear for a step or two along the journey.  As right as we may think we are, compared to the Almighty and His wise, inscrutable ways,  we're all just stumbling around in the dark.


(*1) I will use the pattern
A : B :: C : D
meaning,   A corresponds to B in the same way that C corresponds to  D.

Man : Boy :: Woman : Girl
Green : Lime :: Yellow : Lemon

(*2) Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky.  Cereus is a blooming cactus.

Friday, June 16, 2017

New-to-You Wheels

"Paint" Job
Today is Family (Secrets) Friday at my blog.

I am so proud of my restraint.

A few days ago, my husband told me he was considering buying a used car from one of his coworkers.  He described the car: make, year, how many miles it has been driven, a there's a scratch on the bumper, four wheel drive, 24 mpg city...and I kept biting my tongue...

...biting my tongue, not asking my husband the question that was burning a hole in the roof of my mouth.

"Sounds good, honey!"

We picked it up around 10pm in the parking lot where his job is. Even though it's nearly summer solstice, and there was still a sliver of daylight along the horizon, the visibility was poor when I first laid eyes on this new addition to Fleet Athena.

I didn't find out what color the car was until we arrived  home, and I could see it under  the lights from our garage.

The End.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Got guilt like a jellyfish...

                          (...oh, I got guilt like a jellyfish...I got guilt like a jellyfish in my soul...)
Today is Mystical Monday at my blog.

Is this cool picture of jellyfish à propos of anything at all? Yes. I hate feeling guilty, and I hate jellyfish, or I used to hate jellyfish.

I stopped hating jellyfish when I visited the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia recently. En masse, in all different sizes, behind a glass so they couldn't sting me, their translucence set aglow with special lighting, they were displayed in such a way that I appreciated jellyfish--enjoyed them!--for the first time in my life.

And today, I had a Mystical Monday revelation. (*1) Today, some things I already knew, on one level, about how the brain works became personally relevant:  How one can confront, judo style, recurring guilty memories, harnessing and redirecting their energy, instead of having them sap one's own.

Guilt is a good thing: It's a signal that something is wrong, that one needs to do something, or needs to stop doing something, to make the uncomfortable sensation go away. It's an instinct that keeps people in line so the tribe can thrive.

But what about guilt over ancient wrong-doing? Unless you need to confess to a homicide that  will bring closure in a decades old cold case, guilt isn't going to do any good at all at this point, is it?  And it keeps you from doing any good at all, because it deludes you into thinking you're no good at all.

I'm talking to religious people as well as people who don't believe in God here. What do you do with guilt like that? When you've already done everything you know you should do to make amends, but still, the torment?

We live in a beautiful world shot through with ugliness and cruelty. We've all contributed to the pain: Guilt is a reminder of that.  Well. Instead of being immobilized by guilt you can't do anything about, one could say,  "Aha!" when that kind of  guilt comes a-prickin. "Here is a reminder of all the pain not caused by me that I can do something about." Make that response to ancient guilt a habit, and you'll rewire your brain.

Again, I'm thinking about people who believe in God,  or who used to believe in God, or never believed in God. What harm could there be in asking: "What specific pain might that pain be, and what can I do to help, O God who is or isn't there?"

Someone asked C.S. Lewis  (theologian and author of The Chronicles of Narnia) about the problem of unanswered prayer. He replied that after years of discussing the matter with many devout people, he concluded that  that, while many prayers do seem to go unheeded, the most consistently and dramatically answered prayers are the ones that go along this line:
how can I be of assistance?

If I were an atheist, I'd be inclined to give that a try. Couldn't hurt, and might do a world of good, for two people anyway: the person you helped, and you.

(I've got peace like a river, peace like a river, I've got peace like a river in my soul.)

(*1)  I plagued myself with "mothering mistakes I've made" memories this weekend. Sometimes, my mind with a pathological hunger for all things negative, goes routing around the ancient past looking for tasty morsels. Other times, when I'm enjoying a good movie, for instance, and something in the plot reminds me of something I did wrong fifteen years ago -- and, wow! it's all aboard the bad mommy express.

I'm all for promoting twinges of guilt assailing a mom whose kids are still in her care: Put FaceBook and the dang cell phone down for awhile, mama! and play with those babies, teach them, love them!

But my kids are grown now, and when my train of thought goes choo-choo-choo-chew-chew-chewing  though the cortical nooks and crannies where my least favorite memories are stored ..especially the memory of that one time?...I berate myself into inertia. "It's too late to undo the damage, the warping effects of which you will observe in their lives until the day you die, or until they die, whichever comes first!"

So this morning, after a weekend of this nonsense, I reluctantly and unworthily dragged myself to a volunteer commitment I had made.  A little while into my day, I  had occasion to overhear a man giving a lecture about Chopin.  "As we listen to this dramatic piece composed by  twenty-year-old Frédéric, we have a sense of the emotional turmoil he was undergoing at the time."

And it hit me: I know my son has gone through some disappointments recently, but I haven't talked to him about how he's doing.  "Stop this fruitless wallowing!"I told myself. "He's too old for his mom to be able to make much of anything at all better in his life, but he could probably use a listening ear. Text him, and don't you dare try to wrest from some him some Proverbs 31 "rising up to call you blessed" declaration to make you feel better. It's about him, not you."

"Do you have a few minutes today?"
"What? Did the cat die?" (**2)
"Nothing's wrong. Will 4 work?"

Later that afternoon, my son talked to me. He talked a lot. I listened...well...mostly listened. I didn't ask for a hug afterward, but I got one.

RESOLVED: Redirect the energy of every "I'm a bad mother" accusation into praying a line from Psalm 24 for my daughter, or a line from Psalm 20 for my son.  (Psalm number is incremented with each birthday.)  Ancient guilt doesn't doesn't do them...or anyone...a bit of good. On the days when I'm feeling as spiritual as a Styrofoam take-out box, let the ancient wise word speak,  for me, blessings on my children.

For my son, and for your sons: "The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion."

For my daughter, and for your daughters: "This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob...Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

(**1)  I haven't always been that terrific of a wife either, but my husband is still alive, and he's so preternaturally appreciative and patient with me, that when I do the tiniest out-of-the-ordinary kindness for him, his loving reaction banishes my guilt over the not-so-kind things I've done in the past.

How much more powerful to banish guilt should be the awareness of God's mercy, and the Power!  (Power!) Wonder-working Power of the Precious Blood of the Lamb!  So often, though, crippling guilt coincides with doubts that there is anything good in the Universe at all.

(**2) The feline abides, and she's wanting her bedtime kibble.  Goodnight!