A Magical MLK Day!

My Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Washington DC has been magical. A friend (just back from Africa) and I (from Oregon) crossed paths in the nation’s capital. We decided to mark this day by watching the sunrise from the Lincoln Memorial, the site of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

Imagine our surprise to hear young voices as we approached the monument. Students on a field trip had our same idea – to watch the sun rise in this special place on this special day. And they were singing.

MLK Lincoln singing

The innocence of the moment was transforming. These young people were not a choir, but classmates who love to sing together. There were no news crews in attendance to turn their celebration into a “clip”. All of us who just happened to be there – the joggers, the dog walkers, and the sunrise watchers – were captivated by this happy accident.

After a few songs the students, all from First Christian Schools from many cities, gathered in a circle, arm in arm, and led by an adult leader, read the speech aloud.

While they were reading they welcomed us into their circle. A smart phone with the words to the speech on the screen was being passed, student to student, as each read the next paragraph. The phone came to me and I was so moved by the moment I could not speak. They waited, and I read:

When we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.”

freedom hands

We walked as a group to Dr. King’s. Memorial. We listened to speakers. We paid our respects at the grand carving of the man who inspired our day. My heart was filled with hope and joy as I watched the students leave for their long trip home.

I was their age when Dr. King became important to me. They brought life back to my memories of The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the iconic images of humanity stretching the length of the reflecting pond, and the off-script speech that still moves me to tears a half a century later. Dr. King won my heart that day. And today it was as though he replied in the voices of young people, “I love you, too”.

MLK Hug

First photo by Jeanene Louden, second and third photos by Cheryl Hatch.

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Post Card Tsunami

The same five Supreme Court Justices that brought US the Citizens United decision have taken the next step toward the gentrification of American law. They continue to interpret the constitution as though it favored those of means. What to do? From the comfort of your own home you can send them a postcard an share your dismay.

Address side:

Chief Justice Roberts
Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Alito and Thomas
1 First St NE Washington, DC 20543

Message side: (this is just what my postcard said – say how you feel) don’t forget the black edges (a sharpie will do)

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The Two Faces of Hawk Talk

Situations in Europe would have us revisit the debate, “Democracy v Stability” as we consider our role in international affairs. Today I am asking, “what kind of stability?”

‘American leadership through the threat of force’ is consistent with a ‘maintenance of the status quo’ notion of stability, but currently fails any sustainability test. The very same who believe America should be ever ready to flex muscle do not support any viable means to fund their intentions.

These Hawks appear happy to spend tax dollars but reluctant to ask those who fund their campaigns to pay taxes. So, while top private and corporate earners have far more skin in the game than most, they pay proportionately less into the kitty than a kindergarden teacher.

In compensation for these opposing values, Hawks embrace austerity to justify the abuse of American warriors: enlistment promises are broken; the wounded are brought home and then left behind; and funds are found for new war planes but not for hand sanitizer for the remotely deployed. By now we should all know that austerity is a costume worn by too many at the masquerade ball we call American politics today.

As long as Hawks burden breadwinners and protect cake eaters The People must resist their chest-beating racketeering.

TwoFaces

Image thanks to rapgenius.com

This retired small business owner thinks Obamacare is a step in the right direction

This retired small business owner thinks Obamacare is good for America. We get told every day that we are now a part of the new global economy, but our competition is from companies in countries with some form of health care for all. For the rest of the first world, health care is a social expense, while for us it is a business expense.

I played that game as a small business owner, but the deck was stacked against me. I was charged 200% of the rate for a large business, giving advantage to my larger competitors let alone off shore interests.

I never minded paying taxes: they were predictable and I could plan for them. But insurance inflation was out of control and killing many of us in the small business community. While bigger businesses were dropping coverage levels in order to leverage profit, we, the real employers of America, were dropping coverage to stay alive. In 2008 GM pointed to this flaw in our global logic and was summarily gob smacked. Like GM or not, they were right.

Now, the imperfect beginnings of a solution that serves employee and employer is before us. “Back to the drawing board” is political-speak for “bury it alive”. We can spend all day nit picking the small stuff while the elected who are beholden to BIG campaign contributors pull strings to neglect the many and profit the few.

I, for one, believe in American Ingenuity: that we should launch the project to create a yet unseen but soon to be envied strategy to ensure access to health care for Americans, and bloom as an economy within our borders and in the world. No guts, no glory. If you agree, contact your congressional delegation now.

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Hoody for Trayvon, Orange for Women

Today my avatar sports a hoody for Trayvon and is colored orange for women. These two issues are VERY related.

As a woman I know that if a stranger stalked me in his SUV, got out and approached me (with or without a gun) I would run. If he caught me I would fight with everything I had. And, if he shot and killed me he would be innocent in Florida. Yet not so long ago a Florida woman fired a warning shot at her abusive husband and got 20 years. This is not a good example of justice but it is the law.

The law is just whatever the lawmakers make it.

As citizens we need to make the connection between things like gerrymandering, big campaign funders, and the fact that the monied elite draft, distribute, and lobby for law that supports their business strategies.

“Shoot first ask questions later” laws were brought to state legislatures in 2005 by ALEC and its benefactors. In this case, the NRA and its benefactors.

Manipulating the law to sell weapons and ammo is no different than manipulating the law to sell ambulatory surgical center services. Both came from the same place, as did voter suppression strategies. It may not make sense on the surface, it may not even be ethical or moral, but it is legal and it is profitable.

One giant leap for plutocracy… for now. We will #FreeTheElected from the control of big business campaign funders and stop this fashionable trend of law for profit.

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