I hate “hate”

Okay, the title of this post is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but it refers to a phenomenon I think is all too common: the tendency among activists to use the word “hate” to describe the stance of those who disagree with them. I see this on the right in instances such as their absurdly calling Black Lives Matter a “hate group.” But I see it on my own progressive side as well. Indeed, hardly a day goes by without new messages in my e-mail box imploring me to stand up for particular positions because the people who disagree with those positions are promoting “hate.” I am to “deport hate,” “stand up to hate,” “stop hate,” “say no to hate,” etc. Continue reading “I hate “hate””

No More Deaths desert aid camp raided by Border Patrol

Since I’ll be volunteering for No More Deaths, I wanted to report some disturbing news. On Thursday, June 15, the Border Patrol raided the No More Deaths desert aid camp in southern Arizona—the very camp I will be working at. They sent a massive force of about 30 armed agents, 15 trucks, and even a helicopter to apprehend four migrants who were receiving urgent medical care at the camp. Continue reading “No More Deaths desert aid camp raided by Border Patrol”

A more constructive approach to problem solving: “How can I help?”

When it comes to problems, people love to focus on other people’s responsibility as a way of avoiding their own. This happens in every area of life; it’s the human condition. We all like to blame problems on someone else, don’t we? Well, here I want to suggest a perspective on problems and our responsibility for solving them that I think is much more conducive to finding truly helpful solutions. Continue reading “A more constructive approach to problem solving: “How can I help?””

Address the situation but love the child of God

The big political news this week, of course, was former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the US Senate on questions about the Trump administration’s ties with Russia and possible obstruction of the investigation into those ties. But I’m not going to get into the details of that here. Rather, I want to talk about thoughts that this event sparked in me: thoughts about the relationship between the quest to uncover and address uncomfortable facts about people’s actions—especially the actions of people in power—and the commitment of those of us on the spiritual path to love those people no matter what. Continue reading “Address the situation but love the child of God”

The darkness and the light in Portland

An incident that shocked the nation took place on Friday in Portland, Oregon. On a light-rail commuter train, a man stabbed two men to death and seriously injured a third when the three victims intervened to stop the man’s racist and Islamophobic rant directed at two teenage women in the train. The man, Jeremy Joseph Christian, was apprehended by police, and will now face trial for aggravated murder, among other felony charges. My loving thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has been impacted by this horrific event. Continue reading “The darkness and the light in Portland”

Manchester reflections: Applying the Golden Rule to terrorism

Earlier this week, the world was saddened with news of yet another terrorist attack, this time in Manchester, England. A suicide bomber struck at a concert venue in the center of town, killing 22 and wounding 64. ISIS once again claimed responsibility, though no one really knows if they had any direct involvement. My heart and my loving thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by this horrific event, and my thanks go out to the first responders and police who dealt courageously with the aftermath of the attack. Continue reading “Manchester reflections: Applying the Golden Rule to terrorism”

Should I work with angry activists?

I wrestle with this issue a lot, and perhaps you do as well. My dilemma is this: I follow a spiritual path of love, and I want my activism to be a reflection of that. I’m therefore committed to doing everything I can to be loving and nonviolent in thought, word, and deed, even when I firmly stand up for something that is important to me. Yet we all know that anger often comes with the territory in activist groups. Even people committed to physical nonviolence are all too often violent to one degree or another in their words and attitudes toward those whose positions they oppose. So, should I work with people like that? Continue reading “Should I work with angry activists?”

Can we have a crisis-free day? A few thoughts on how to avoid activist burnout

After that last pessimistic post of mine, I’m sure a few people may want to disappear into their underground bunkers for a while. My partner Patricia and I have an American friend who wants to spend the next four years in Mexico, where it’s safe. 🙂

I can certainly understand. The sheer relentlessness of the strange and disturbing events that have been happening since Donald Trump came into office can be overwhelming. So much is happening so fast that for the dedicated activist, it seems that there are a hundred things to do at once. As Senator Susan Collins of Maine said recently, “Can we have a crisis-free day? That’s all I’m asking.” I think a lot of us are asking that. Continue reading “Can we have a crisis-free day? A few thoughts on how to avoid activist burnout”

A hopeful realism

Donald Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey has sent shock waves through the nation this week. And as I’ve observed the different reactions, I’ve seen two broad perspectives among Trump opponents, one more optimistic and one more pessimistic.

The optimists say this is the beginning of the end for Trump. The growing evidence of his campaign’s collusion with Russia plus his ham-fisted Nixonian attempt to thwart the investigation into that collusion are going to force him out one way or another. As progressive commentator Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks gleefully said, “He’s done.” The pessimists say that this move by Trump, this “little whiff of fascism” as MSNBC’s Chris Matthews put it, has brought us to a constitutional crisis that puts us in real danger of descending into authoritarian rule. As Jeffrey Toobin put it on CNN, “This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies….This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is something that is completely outside how American law is supposed to work.” Or as Bill Moyers and Michael Winship said in an article published yesterday, “With each day [Trump] edges us closer to autocracy….He’s attempting a coup. No joke.” Continue reading “A hopeful realism”