The Straw

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According to folk wisdom, it only takes one straw to break a camel’s back.  While I am not the most prolific of bloggers by any means, over the past year I have managed a few posts commenting on the state of this nation and the insanity that continues to build in the hollowed (formerly hallowed) halls of government in Washington.

But then the straw fell that almost broke my voice.  My country, the land of the free and home of the brave, where Liberty lifts her lamp to welcome the tired, the poor, the homeless and tempest-tossed, apparently now considers that God is okay with tearing children from their mother’s or father’s arms and tossing them into jail.

It is still a great struggle for me to write anything in response to this outrageous policy, so I am going to re-blog in a separate post The Borders of Decency that appeared today on The Green Study.  Michelle is an excellent writer, and she provides pertinent suggestions on ways to keep up the good fight.

Like the young people of Chicago and Parkland, and countless others who are determined to turn their personal tragedies into a dynamic force for decency and change, we must continue to speak truth to power.

 

 

Picture from article by Jessica McBride on Heavy.com, 6/18/18

© Martha Hurwitz, 6/18/18

 

 

What is Truth?

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The endless arguments between people who believe ABC and those who believe XYZ  can get a bit confusing.  To be helpful I decided to list some of the most common foundations for these arguments.  The first part of this post is unprofessional and occasionally snarky, my take on the types of people who might rely on that particular foundation. It’s just to provide a few chuckles about a situation we’ve all been in–trapped by someone who is RIGHT, by-god, and don’t you forget it!

I heard it on the news, so it must be true!  These are the folks you see buying the Enquirer at the local grocery store.  Sometimes they don’t actually buy it, but you can be sure they are memorizing the headlines after they have unloaded their groceries on the conveyor belt.  Those of us who consider ourselves above such written garbage are confidently sneering internally and thanking god (the REAL one) that we know better than to believe such nonsense.  (But, seriously, wouldn’t it be a hoot if aliens had really taken over the US Government?)

Everybody knows that.  Some people know “Everybody,” who is a close relative of “Somebody,” only with multiple personality disorder. They are tuned into some vague matrix of information that provides them with infallible truth about “Everything,” which is a close cousin of “Nothing.”  When relying on this argument, they indicate that you are either pretty stupid, way out of the loop, not too popular, or a combination of all three.  None of us want to be unpopular, so the temptation to buy into those things that “everybody knows” is hard to resist.

My best friend told me.  She wouldn’t lie to me. This is a variant of “everybody knows that,” except it has much more clout, because this is first-hand information provided by someone who places truth at the top of the list.  Certainly that was also true of the friend’s best friend, who learned it from her aunt, who heard it from her best friend, who read it in the Enquirer.  Unfortunately by the time it filters down to you, it’s gone through the modern version of “Telephone,” which is called “Twitter.”  (Wouldn’t it be a hoot if the US Government used Twitter to keep us all updated on “Alternative Facts,” which is closely related to “Alternative Truth?”)

I know nothing about this subject, but can spit out insults that will curl your hair.  This person could rightfully be called a gladiator for the truth.  He lives in a very comfortable echo chamber and is not at all interested in moving.  Besides U-Haul doesn’t rent a moving van big enough to haul the mountains of theories (mostly listed under “conspiracy”) that this person holds dear, and will fight to the death to defend.  The Roman Emperors may have been extremely proud of the Colosseum, but they would die of envy over Facebook and Twitter.  The gladiator for the truth believes that any polite and rational discussion on any subject is a death ray pointed directly at him and everything he holds dear.  When facing a death ray, it is really hard to think clearly because the adrenaline is taking over your brain, so resorting to playground insults–upgraded to “X”–is the only option.  (Wouldn’t it be a hoot if there really was a death ray that the US Government could use to protect us from all our enemies?  A special type of death ray that would only obliterate our enemies, but not leave a scratch on us?) elegant-1769669_640God said…..  Now, I am going to rein in my snarky attitude and irreverence.  I try very hard not to be disrespectful of religious beliefs, unless they are clearly harmful.  The human tendency to be especially passionate about religion is not restricted to any one culture, and there are fanatics and rigid thinkers in all of them.  The most common argument seems to be between those who “believe” in science, and those who “believe” in literal interpretations of whatever scripture they think contains the truth.  Because this is an area that many of us struggle with, I want to share something I once read in a novel that made a lot of sense to me.

I do not remember the name of the book or the author, so I cannot give credit where it is due.  But this is the back story:  A young man is studying to be a rabbi, but he is experiencing a great deal of uncertainty and doubt.  He is particularly confused by the story of Creation, which he cannot reconcile with modern scientific “theory.”  He seeks the counsel of a learned Rabbi and this is (as best I remember it) what the Rabbi said:  “Torah is not meant to teach us what we can learn through our own God-given intelligence.  It is meant to teach us what our spiritual responsibilities are to that which is sacred–ourselves, each other, our world and God.”

I do not think there is ultimately any conflict between science and religion.  They are simply different languages by which we understand and communicate our experience of this world.

 

 

©Martha Hurwitz, 12/12/17
Inspired by daily prompt:  theory

Excuses & Rationalizations

 

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Today’s writing started out lighthearted, continuing in the line of my recent post on things my loved ones do that drive me a little crazy.  I’ll finish that post, maybe tomorrow or the next day.  I heard the decision of the Administration to end the DACA program and this prompted a need in me to write something much more serious.

I am willing to accept that there are almost always two sides to every coin, that most everyone can make at least a valid point or two in every disagreement. But the way that human societies grow and thrive is to recognize this and engage in respectful dialogue and decision making. Sadly, this does not seem at all possible in the current political climate that is running rampant and bulldozing the American Dream into rubble.

There are many more educated, experienced and eloquent people analyzing and commenting on the current state of our society. And thank goodness there are. I do not consider myself a savvy journalist, or any kind of intellectual wizard able to debate and educate or have any persuasive effect on anyone who doesn’t already agree with me.

This post will probably just serve as a venting process for me, and a confirmation for like-minded friends and readers. Perhaps this is also important. We all know the various ways we can try to improve our public life, and it is not my intent to say what is the best way for each of us. But I hope that somehow what I write serves as a bit of encouragement and support.

Recently I commented to someone near and dear to me that one of the problems I have with our current President is that he lies constantly, or misrepresents, or doesn’t know or understand critical issues, all of which are highly concerning. I am willing to engage in respectful discussion of politics, religion, educational philosophies, or any other area in which there are valid disagreements. But the response was this:  “Well, what do you think SHE would have been doing?” (I assume everyone knows who SHE refers to.)

Has this become the standard by which we judge the character and effectiveness of our leaders? It’s okay to lie, because somebody else would have done it too? It’s okay to be hateful, divisive, speak in a way that incites others to engage in violence, because, hey, other people do it? Are we going to come to a place in our communal lives when we just don’t expect our elected leaders to stand up, be counted and do what’s right? When we settle for mediocrity, ineffectiveness, blathering and nonsense?

A people can thrive through honest and thoughtful disagreement about policies and procedures, can endure many hardships, and make the necessary sacrifices that a democratic, national life demands. But when the person entrusted to be our common voice, the personal manifestation of our national hopes and dreams, speaks only to the worst of human nature, we may still survive, but we most certainly do not flourish.

 

©Martha Hurwitz, 9/5/17

Inspired by Daily Word Prompt:  elevate