Archive for the Guest Commentators Category

Dr.WEB DuBois On Robert E. Lee

Posted in Dr. Dubois on Robert E. Lee, Guest Commentators with tags , on August 24, 2017 by playthell
Dr. WEB DuBois: Historian, Sociologist, Economist, Poet, Seer
Chastizing the Racial Mythmakers

Each year on the 19th of January, there is renewed effort to canonize Robert E. Lee, the greatest confederate general. His personal comeliness, his aristocratic birth and his military prowess all call for the verdict of greatness and genius. But one thing–one terrible fact–militates against this, and that is the inescapable truth that Robert E. Lee led a bloody war to perpetuate slavery. Copperheads like The New York Times may magisterially declare, “Of course, he never fought for slavery.”

Well, for what did he fight? State rights? Nonsense. The South cared only for State Rights as a weapon to defend slavery. If nationalism had been a stronger defense of the slave system than particularism, the South would have been as nationalistic in 1861 as it had been in 1812.

No. People do not go to war for abstract theories of government. They fight for property and privilege, and that was what Virginia fought for in the Civil War. And Lee followed Virginia. He followed Virginia not because he particularly loved slavery (although he certainly did not hate it), but because he did not have the moral courage to stand against his family and his clan. Lee hesitated and hung his head in shame, because he was asked to lead armies against human progress and Christian decency and did not dare refuse. He surrendered not to Grant, but to Negro Emancipation.

Today we can best perpetuate his memory and his nobler traits not by falsifying his moral debacle, but by explaining it to the young white south. What Lee did in 1861, other Lees are doing in 1928. They lack the moral courage to stand up for justice to the Negro because of the overwhelming public opinion of their social environment.

Their fathers in the past have condoned lynching and mob violence, just as today they acquiesce in the disfranchisement of educated and worthy black citizens, provide wretchedly inadequate public schools for Negro children and endorse a public treatment of sickness, poverty and crime which disgraces civilization.

It is the punishment of the South that its Robert Lees and Jefferson Davises will always be tall, handsome and well-born. That their courage will be physical and not moral. That their leadership will be weak compliance with public opinion and never costly and unswerving revolt for justice and right.

It is ridiculous to seek to excuse Robert Lee as the most formidable agency this nation ever raised to make 4 million human beings goods instead of men. Either he knew what slavery meant when he helped maim and murder thousands in its defense, or he did not. If he did not he was a fool. If he did, Robert Lee was a traitor and a rebel–not indeed to his country, but to humanity and humanity’s God.

Two of the 20th Centuries Greatest Revolutions
Dr. DuBois and Mao Tse Tung: “The Great Helmsman” and The Pan-Afrcanist Seer
Dr. WEB DuBois
New York
1928                                                                  ********************
A Note on Dr. DuBois
Yesterday a former student of mine when I was a Professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where I was a co-founder of the WEB Dubois Department of Black Studies, the first Black Studies Department in the World!  (See: “Dr. DuBois Then and Now” at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2013/12/15/dr-dubois-then-and-now/) posted the article above by Dr. DuBois on my facebook page.
Since only one person appears to have read it in the 24 hours since it was posted, I have concluded it is because the readers on my page do not have a proper appreciation for the place of Dr, Dubois among 20th century thinkers.  Actually The Doctor’s life and thought spans two centuries.  He came of age intellectually during the 19th century, and was the most broadly learned, prophetic and consequential American humanist intellectual of the 20th century!  He was the father of Black Studies and American scientific sociological investigation of race relations.   He was also the central figure the militant black liberation movement in  the US, and a Father of Pan-Africanism.  He was a prolific writer who combined the rigor of the scholar, the vision of the seer, and the pen of the poet….he has no peer!
Here is the link to a lecture/discussion of Dr. Dubois’ legacy by Playthell Benjamin and Stanley Crouch, from the National Black Writer’s Conference in Harlem, New York captured by C-Span Book World.  See https://www.c-span.org/video/?176136-1/reconsidering-souls-black-folk

 

Dangerous Liaisons…

Posted in Guest Commentators, On Donald Trump with tags , on May 11, 2017 by playthell

Ministers of God Genuflect before Mammon

 Faith Sells Out

I’m an Anglican Priest in Canada, watching in disbelief as the Trump administration trashes every high principle which we know that most people of the U.S. hold dear. With my brother and his extended family living in Massachusetts, New York, Florida and California, what happens south of the border matters to me. Personal reasons aside, however, it’s also tragic to watch entire groups of people dismissed… poor people, sick people, people from foreign countries, people who are ‘different’, people from ‘other’ religions…you know – all those people Jesus welcomed in a heartbeat.

Which brings me to my incentive for writing; the Executive Order on Religious Liberty that Trump just signed. It’s no surprise to me that millions of people look at organized religion and find it wanting. What are we to make of this noise about a religious ‘liberty’ that in essence works to secure Trump’s hold on the Bible Belt and ensures that he may receive cash endorsements from religious organizations? Trump commented, “This financial threat against the faith community is over. No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.”  The named financial threat is a reference to the ever-present question of the relationship between church and state, and whether churches should be taxed.

What many people don’t realize is that most government structures in both Canada and the United States are keenly aware that, should the churches be taxed, it could well compromise their ability to pick up the slack in caring for the hungry, the mentally ill and the homeless – the poor souls who fall through the cracks by the thousands in the governments’ inadequate systems of care. According to recent research, it’s estimated that for every single dollar a church spends in ministry programs, the city benefits to an amount of $4.77 in services provided to the marginalized. (See link below to The Halo Project, a Canadian research study based on a similar study in the U.S.)  Hence churches understand well that the government simply cannot afford to tax them.

The financial issue is more about Trump easing the way for religious organizations to back him with big bucks from the Bible Belt Bubble. As for “…censoring sermons or targeting pastors” as a priest, I can promise you that the church and clergy already have freedom of speech. We’ve all heard the gossip that in February a version of the Executive Order was drafted which contained provisions to protect religious leaders who speak out against same-sex marriage, transgender issues or pre-marital sex. So of course, this softened final version has disappointed religious conservatives. But trust me, they’ve been energetically preaching against these people from the pulpit for years, and they’ll continue to do so.

I was dismayed to learn from the Rev. William J. Barber II’s lucid response to Trump’s first National Day of Prayer, which Barber called a “public spectacle” (see link below)  that the Billy Graham Evangelical Association donated ten million dollars to the Trump campaign. For years, this organization has been a light in the darkness – a witness of compassion and integrity. Billy remained scandal-free, kept his hands off the money and told the world of God’s endless love for decades, without trashing or excluding anyone. But the witness of the Billy Graham Association has been compromised. We all loved Billy for his humility and grace, and we’re surprised that his compassion and wisdom seem to have eluded his son, William Franklin Graham III, the current CEO. His donation to, and affiliation with the Trump Administration are rich with irony.

If any of the Christians on the grass roots level of these organizations behaved even remotely like Trump has, they would be kicked out, “read out of the assembly,” so fast that their heads would be spinning. I was raised in conservative fundamentalism and I know from brutal experience how it works. They might be technically ‘forgiven’ but they’d be alienated from community from that moment on, and yet they embrace Trump’s lies, racism and misogyny with all their hearts. What’s going on, here? How do they justify this disconnect between what they preach and who they’re getting into bed with?

In my tender years in Fundamentalism, I was taught that politics had no place in the pulpit. Politics stayed out there in the secular world, and we stayed pious and sheltered, in the spiritual world. We didn’t have to worry about injustice or war or caring for the environment or racism, because the ‘good’ people would all escape to heaven and that would be our bliss. But it’s not only Evangelical Christians who struggle with the relationship between politics and faith. As an Anglican Priest (Episcopalian in the U.S.) I’ve been attacked for preaching about social issues and for reminding people of their Christian mandate to speak up for justice. I’ve been told, “I don’t come to church to hear about politics or the problems of the world. I come here to escape them.”

For years, this has been the position of the religious right generally, until the likes of Pat Robertson realized the clout the Bible Belt had in elections, and the power they could seek through close ties with conservative political allies. And now we have Franklin Graham climbing into bed with a President whose lies are documented on film, even as he lies about the lies we can all see so clearly.  There’s a huge problem in going to church to escape the problems of the world, but there’s also a huge problem in climbing into bed with politicians. If we truly want to follow Jesus, we’re going to have to follow him into passionate engagement with the problems of the world.

Televangelist Pat Robertson
He Married the Evangelical Movement to the Republican Right
Billy Graham Passing the Bible to Son Franklin

But in his political wheelings and dealings he dropped it!

If we truly want to follow Jesus, there’s no escaping the fact that we must follow him into being a voice for justice; crying out against the corruption and racism and imperialism and self-serving structures we find in both the church and the state. Belonging to the church or to a political party does not negate our responsibility to be a critical voice. But to align with the Trump administration, casually dismissing the horrifying decisions and behaviors that rob people of their dignity and their place in the world in exchange for support for the religious right’s desire to exclude and control is, quite simply, not Christ-like. Jesus didn’t seek to build a fortress of power that would keep others out. Jesus called a lie a lie. Jesus insisted that everyone belongs. Everyone. Jesus said that the bottom line in what God wants from us, is for us to love others as we love ourselves…not to decide who’s in and who’s out.

This Executive Order is not for the church. It serves only Trump. It gives the churches essentially nothing they didn’t already have, but it works as a giant flag-waving opportunity for Trump to ensure the continued donations and votes of the religious right, vaguely affirming their fierce intentions to control women’s rights and to exclude and vilify the LGBTQ community. This Executive Order doesn’t serve the church, and the religious leaders gathering around it should be ashamed of themselves.

If Christians really want to model ourselves after Jesus, we should be walking alongside the suffering, rather than deciding who we should exclude. We should be praising the government when it establishes policies that care for the marginalized and the vulnerable, and calling them out when they don’t.  But the fundamentalists, it seems, have missed that faithful stance, having gone from one extreme to the other…from non-involvement to completely selling out. The religious right has become an angry force for exclusion. Where’s that divine love? Where’s that marvelous grace about which they sing every Sunday?

They Claim to be Brides of Christ….

So why Are they cavorting with Lucifer?

It’s alarming to the point of shock that they choose to support a leader whose words, actions and policies fly in the face of the One they claim to follow. Perhaps it’s time for all people of faith to join the modern day prophets like Rev. William Barber, and put a little more effort into reclaiming the essence of faith and resisting this environment that would make God into a bully for the sake of its own agenda. Perhaps it’s time for faith leaders to remind the world that following Jesus is simply about embracing love.

Rev. Susanne

09 May 2017

                                                                                                                                                                                     Link to The Halo Project                                                                                                         https://www.haloproject.ca/phase-1-toronto

Link to The Rev. William J. Barber II on Trump’s First National Day of Prayer https://thinkprogress.org/rev-barber-religious-liberty-discrimination-27331473e4f4

 

Was Sarin Gas Used in Syrian Attack?

Posted in Guest Commentators, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , on April 18, 2017 by playthell
  At the Scene of reported Sarin Gas Attack
 A Brief Clinical and Epidemiologic Comparison with the Japan Attacks

The June 27, 1994 sarin terrorist attacks in Matsumoto, Japan, and on March 20, 1995, in the Tokyo subway, provide the most through epidemiologic and pathologic case reports currently available for the evaluation of mass poisonings with this extremely toxic gas. The facts regarding the Japanese attacks are as follows.

  • In Matsumoto members of the Aum Shinrikyo group released sarin in a residential area. It was a) an attempt to murder magistrates deliberating a real estate dispute; and b) an assessment of the poison’s efficiency for mass murder. The logistics of the crime included a refurbished refrigerator truck containing a heater for vaporization of twelve liters of liquid sarin, and powerful fans to diffuse a thick cloud of gas near the residencies of the involved judges. The sarin was 70 percent pure.
  • Over six hundred residents and rescuers were poisoned, fifty-eight were hospitalized, and seven were killed. The calculated mortality-morbidity ratio was approximately 1.16 percent (7/600). (“Sarin Poisoning in Matsumoto, Japan, The Lancet 7/29/1995)
  • On March 20, 1995, during the peak of morning rush hour a second sarin attack disrupted several Tokyo subway lines. This attack was focused on the stations close to the Tokyo National Police Agency and other central government centers. Aum Shinrikyo members punctured plastic bags of liquid sarin in subway cars jammed with workers headed to government offices. The liquid sarin was 30 percent pure.
  • More than six thousand passengers and rescue workers were injured—eight hundred required hospital treatment or evaluation and twelve died. The mortality/morbidity ratio was 0.18 percent. (Yanagisawa, N. “Sarin Experiences in Japan,” Journal of Neurologic Science.
Sarin Victims in Tokyo Subway

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II – On April 4th, helicopters or airplanes of the Syrian Arab Army dropped airborne ordnance over the village of Khan Sheikhun, Idlib Provence, Syria. The village was under the supervision of several groups currently in armed opposition to the government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Mr. Assad’s government has secured the support of the Russian armed forces, the Lebanese Hezbullah, and Iranian forces under the command of the Iranian revolutionary guard.

  • Casualty reports were extremely variable. Injury numbers ranged from three hundred to more than five hundred, and reported deaths ranged from early accounts of fifty-eight to eighty-seven. Later sources reported fatalities in excess of one hundred, with children’s deaths ranging from ten to twenty-seven. Many of the major world journals, such as the New York Times have reported mortalities in the ranges above.
  • Thus the reported mortality-morbidity would range from approx 72/500 to 100/300. This gives a range of 14.4 percent and 33 percent. Expressed in percentages, this represents an increase between 1,241 percent and 16,666 percent. The purity was not reported. However, earlier studies of weaponized sarin, in this region, particularly in the Iran-Iraqi War, had a purity in the 30-60 percent range.

Discussion:

The reported Iblid mortality-morbidity ratios are incompatible with sarin use as the etiological agent in the attacks of April 4, 2017 Khan Sheikhoun, Iblid Provence, Syria.

This could be due to several reasons:

  1. Another unidentified chemical agent was used.

2- Differing mortality-morbidity due to the differing mechanisms of gas dissemination. However, the two Japanese poisonings had, markedly, more intensive, prolonged exposures, which should have produced higher mortality-morbidity rates.

3-The differing availability of treatment and evacuation? While the Japanese civil defense was better equipped overall, the organizations involved in Syrian rescue operations had basic response preparations for the gas attacks and were able to evacuate injured patients to better-equipped Turkish medical facilities.

4- The casualty count was exaggerated.

5- The 1994-95 Japanese studies were unreliable.

 

Conclusion:

Currently no credible evidence exists confirming sarin as the etiologic agent responsible. Hence the claim that sarin was the etiologic agent is highly unlikely.

Sources:

“At Least 58 Killed in Alleged Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria.” April 4, 2017.www.independent.co.uk, accessed April 4, 2017

Khaddar, Kareem, Schams Elwazer, et al. “Suspected Gas Attack in Syria Reportedly Kills Dozens.” CNN. April 7, 2017.

“Worst Chemical Attack in Years in Syria; U. S. Blames Assad.” April 4, 2017. New York Times.

Seto, Yasuo. “The Sarin Gas Attack in Japan and the Related Forensic Investigation.”www.opcw.org, accessed April 11, 2017.

“Scores Reported Killed in Gas Attack on Syrian Rebel Area.” April 4, 2017. Reuters.

Yanagisawa, N. “Sarin Experiences in Japan: Acute Toxicity and Long-term Effects.” Journal of Neurologic Science. November 1, 2006.

——. “Sarin Poisoning in Matsumoto, Japan” The Lancet, July 29, 1995.

********************

By: Dr. Joseph Harris, MD
April, 2017
Harlem, New York
Note: Dr. Harris has worked as a physician in Rawanda and other war zones. he was participant at Doctor’s Without Borders when the were awarded  the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

The Opposition Research Files

Posted in Guest Commentators with tags , on February 4, 2017 by playthell
donnie-trump-and-the-devil
A Convocation of Devils?
Notes on Trump’s Actions during his First Eight Days in Office

The best Organizers are the ones with the most knowledge on the issues. They are able to use the facts at their disposal to galvanize support, squelch opposition and sometimes even convert opponents. Because of the depth and breadth of Trump’s many actions against our country is hard to fathom.  Thus, I have checked off 15 actions or reactions to Trump that caught my attention in particular.  This does not include information purged off the White House and other and other government websites.

Pre-Inauguration Hype/Post-Inauguration letdown? (MLK Week January 15th-22nd):

I- Trump feuds with Civil Rights Icon and Congressman John Lewis. In the past year, Trump has gotten into public disputes with a beauty queen anthe Muslim parents of a dead soldier. But on the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Trump went back and forth with a man whom John McCain once called “one of the most respected men in America.” – Cleve Wootson Jr. (Washington Post 01/15/2017).  Congrats Mr. President-Elect, for any political capital or good-will you might have even attempted to garner from the Progressive-Wing of The Democratic Party, was squandered right here before you even took one step in the Oval Office. Trump actually showed his true-self so effectively that out of 192 Democrats in the House of Representatives over 1/3rd of all members of the Democratic House Caucus, about 70 members, skipped the Inauguration, reports Simone Pathe, on rollcall.com 01/17/2017).

II –What is Trump’s Obsession with Crowd Size, anyhow? Delegitimizing the media is important to Trump because delegitimizing certain facts is important to Trump.”-Ezra Klein (Vox.com 1/21/17).
III – Monday January 23rd
On Trump’s first week-day on the job, Trump implemented a Hiring Freeze on all Federal Workers:
“President Trump’s hiring freeze will prevent many veterans from getting jobs. At the same time, it will cause longer waits for VA medical care, and increase the backlog on VA disability claims.” – Harry Stein. (The Hill.com 1/27/2017). I thought the goal was to put people to work, not put them out of work.

4-Killing TPP! “The US president, Donald Trump, has signed an executive order formally withdrawing the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, following through on a promise from his presidential campaign.” – Al Jazeera 01/23/2017). TPP probably is one of the most widely debated issues we have going on, split among both major political parties. Democrat for President Bernie Sanders was very much opposed to it, as was Hillary Clinton. (Although, I’m not entirely sure Hillary had much conviction in opposition, or just went where the wind blowed, here).

5-Trump reinstates the “Global Gag-Rule”; Having Women’s Rights Groups Reeling.

“In the past, the global gag rule meant that foreign NGOs must disavow any involvement with abortion in order to receive U.S. family planning funding. Trump’s version of the global gag rule expands the policy to all global health funding. According to Ehlers, the new rule means that rather than impacting $600 million in U.S. foreign aid, the global gag rule will affect $9.5 billion” – Michelle Goldberg (Slate.com – 1/24/2017).  The re-enforcement of the Global Gag Rule, is not a surprise to anyone who has knowledge of this ruling. It was started by President Reagan in 1984 and has gone in and out of existence internationally depending on who is President of the USA and who isn’t. And if you didn’t notice, it is a favorite ruling of Republicans, but is swept away under Democrats.

VI -Tuesday January 24th
DAPL and the Keystone Pipeline is Resurrected

This action is yet another rung up the ladder towards our ever expanding Ecological Apocalypse. “President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed executive actions to advance approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. The decision to advance the pipelines cast aside efforts by President Barack Obama’s administration to block construction of the two pipelines, while making good on one of Trump’s campaign promises” – Diamond, Jones, Krieg.”  (CNN.COM 1/24/17).

The long-term consequences of this could be potentially devastating. For a country and a world that already has such an over-dependence on Oil, I find this move equal to that of a Crack Addict moving from smoking it daily, to having an IV of it in both his legs and both of his arms to get a quicker longer-lasting sustainable high.

Not only that, but DAPL is further homogenizing our country and our world, displacing Native Americans from their home and deliberately trying to wipe out one of the few remaining indigenous populations we have left in the United States.“The outcome of this battle, and the way it gets told, may set the stage for similar environmental and humanitarian disputes yet to come. For members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the pipeline is a major environmental and cultural threat. In addition to trampling over ancestral lands, they are concerned a break near the Missouri River could pollute the reservation’s water supply.”- Cayte Bosler (11/23/16 Observer.com).

For more on Standing Rock, visit: http://www.ienearth.org/stand-with-standing-rock-no-dapl/
VIII-WEDNESDAY JANUARY 25th

 Build Walls not Bridges?  “President Trump has signed two executive orders related to immigration and border security, moving ahead with his plans to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and to deport people who are in the country illegally” – Chappell, Keith, Kennedy (NPR.ORG 01/25/2017).  Aside from the diplomatic fall-out from this (noted on Thursday’s headlines) this just goes to the heart of the image people have of America. Depending on who you ask, they usually will give you an opinion on this matter one way or another.

IX -Trump and Immigration/Sanctuary Cities my blood is starting to boil over this one. “President Trump released an executive order on Wednesday to support immigration enforcement and punish local governments that don’t comply with federal authorities. 

In some so-called “sanctuary cities,” officials refuse to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation. Because jails are typically run by counties, rather than cities, county policies can matter more to immigrants.” – Darla Cameron (Washington Post 01/25/2017).  Again, here we see and can anticipate huge ripple effects.

X- THURSDAY JANUARY 26th

 American and Mexican Relations make a significantly sharp turn for the worse. “Peña Nieto said on Twitter on Thursday that his administration notified the White House that he won’t meet with Trump Tuesday, as originally planned. “The cancellation came after Trump tweeted earlier in the day that “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” The cancellation of the long-awaited meeting between the two leaders marks the first significant diplomatic rift between the two countries in decades”. – DeCordoba, Montes. (WSJ/marketwatch.com 01/26/2017)

XI – FRIDAY Janury 27th

“Trump banned Refugees on Holocaust Remembrance Day. That says everything. Cecilla Wang.  (theguardian.com 1/28/2017).

XII -Public Officials Cowering to Trump’s Sanctuary Ban; the Miami-Dade Mayor is among the most notable political cowards!!!

XIII – And of course there is always more and more evidence that most of us suspected, Donald Trump is a Man-Child, and he and his people can’t keep secrets worth a damn! (WaPost 1/26/2017).

XIV – Probably the most damaging Anti-Obama Care Attack than any other hollow statement or non-binding resolution. “The Trump administration has pulled the plug on all Obamacare outreach and advertising in the crucial final days of the 2017 enrollment season, according to sources at Health and Human Services and on Capitol Hill. Even ads that had already been placed and paid for have been pulled, the sources told POLITICO. This decision sends the clearest signal yet that President Donald Trump is determined to fulfill his campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare”. – Paul Demko (politico.com 1/26/2017).  I mean this action by Trump right here, to pull ads already paid for to get people to enroll in the open-market to get health insurance. Why doesn’t Trump just pull the plug on Obama Care and deal with the consequences of it now?

15- Saturday January 28th

Let us not forget about the damaging Anti-Muslim Ban Trump implemented over the weekend, which has created mass-protests all across just about every International Airport in America.

***************

demonstrations

The Growing Opposition to Trump’s Folly!

Note:

I did not post anything about “The Women’s March” even though all across the country, it was lit!  I also didn’t post anything on Trump’s “Unfounded claims” on mass-voter fraud. Nor did I bring up this crazy 20% tariff Trump wants to put on Mexican goods, or Trump’s trashing of environmental protection laws and banking regulations under the Dodd-Frank Act, or repealing the ban against mentally ill people acquiring fire arms.  All of which endangers the safety of the American public that he has pledged to serve and protect!  I also didn’t bring up how California’s is more serious about leaving the Union than they have ever been.

Nor did I bring to attention any of the bruising confirmation fights ahead to fulfill Trump’s Cabinet.  Although, the confirmation hearings, I believe have been widely covered far and wide as these confirmation battles are often long simmering stories, but other News, traveling at the speed of light, doesn’t always get its due!

Also, if I were to assume we all knew about “ALL” of his actions and misdeeds, I’d be doing a disservice to all of us, by letting us forget how much damage he has already done during his already incredibly brief time in office. In fact the damage he’s done to this country started well before he got inaugurated, but I think some of our lasting memories of Trump and the staying power of “Trumpism” is best captured starting with the week leading up to his Inauguration.  Hence, why I started with Trump’s incorrigible behavior towards Congressman Lewis.

A Definition of Trumpism – “A gospel politicians preach to instill fear in locals: illegals are bringing crime and robbing their jobs, and radicals among Muslim refugees are terrorizing the “infidels.”  (Urbandictionary.com)

By: Joshua Pressman Jacobs
New York,  February 2017
*NOTE: No person or entity can re-publish this post without the expressed written consent of the author.

 

“All These Stones”

Posted in Guest Commentators, On Donald Trump, On the 2016 Presidential Election with tags , , on November 18, 2016 by playthell

Demonstrators protest against U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, outside the Trump Tower building in midtown Manhattan in New York March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Speaking Truth to Power at Trump Tower!   Righteous Anger over the election of a Hater
 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” 7They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. 9“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls. NRSV Luke 21:5-19
Sermon TSP 26th Sunday After Pentecost Year C – 13 November 2016   21718

 A Canadian Divine Reflects on the US Elections

What a week it’s been! Maybe you saw the picture in social media, of a Church Sign in Massachusetts – it read, Jesus is coming; hopefully before the election.”    I spent Monday to Thursday with clergy from all across Canada at a preaching conference. Our guest professor was from Georgia, and when she saw that we Canadians were just as anxious as she was, we all huddled together to watch the election that left the world in such shock and disbelief. Since then, I’ve been trying to keep up with the commentaries, trying to make sense of what happened – what it means when a business-oriented person with no political experience takes over the highest, most powerful political position in the world. Add to that the rhetoric of hate, racism, exclusion and misogyny, and the fact that he doesn’t even seem to care that statements he denies can be proven instantly with blatantly incriminating footage, and we’re left with a lot of confused and frightened people.

So what do we do about this? You’ve heard me say that it’s not up to me to tell people who to vote for or which political party is better. My role as a spiritual leader is to be clear about what Jesus taught us was important as we make our decisions. But when someone speaks a vile rhetoric of fear and hate and exclusion into the world, I’m going to say something. I have to.

Now, we don’t know how this will play out, and we know that there’s a lot going on under the surface in terms of what people were resisting in this election, but here’s something to think about. People are deeply concerned because values they thought were universal are now in question. People are afraid that racism and exclusion and treating women without respect, have been“normalized” during this campaign. Since the election, there are reports about little children telling their Muslim classmates that they’ll soon be deported. And crude jokes that objectify women have been circulating at an alarmingly increased rate. I’ve read articles from the U.K., Canada and Europe expressing concern about these trends spreading out from the United States.

People are asking, “What can we do to resist this?” Well, here’s a start…maybe our reaction should be to dig deep within ourselves, and figure out who we really are, and what values are most important to us. You know, we’ve been fairly sheltered in North America, particularly those of us with white privilege. We can spout a rhetoric that’s politically correct, because it costs us nothing. But it looks like now is the time to put ourselves on the line to stand up for what is most important.

If we truly value racial equality – it we really believe women should be treated with respect – if we’re honestly offended when we hear someone talking about deporting innocent citizens, then it’s time to shake off our protected comfort zones and speak up – to live into what we say we believe. We generally assume that people want to be kind, to respect others, to be honest and to care about vulnerable people. But now we have an opportunity to sharpen our awareness of how we want to live…an opportunity to be more intentional about living with grace and respect: A chance to speak up when we see signs of this “normalization” of treating others poorly.

A priest from this area wrote an open letter to her adult sons on social media, and many of us followed her example. She wrote that open misogyny, hatred, fear, racism, and bold faced lying have taken the reins of power in our neighbours to the south, proving that any one of us, any nation, can lay aside kindness, honesty, love and mercy the moment they feel their privilege is threatened. She went on to say that she herself would look within to find the grace to preach love and to try to live it, but that she had great hope that her sons and their generation, who were raised to be tolerant, to be excited by diversity and difference, would lead us into a future where love and mercy would remain paramount as they reshape our world.

What I’m getting at here is a suggestion that while riots may or may not be the answer, I don’t think that being quiet or ignoring the facts is an alternative for those of us who follow Christ. At a time like this, we’re called to speak our truth and model it clearly for all to see. Something I’ve been thrilled to see in response to the deluge of hate and fear, is the bold voice of love – a voice that has faith in strength and integrity that exists in the hearts of most people. Trusting that God’s power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. And as is so often the case, today’s gospel helps us to see how to respond when what’s important is threatened.

Jesus is responding to people who are admiring the great beauty of the Temple. He warns them that at any moment, the Temple could be razed to the ground – and all those huge stones that made the mighty walls will be reduced to a pile of rubble.  He predicts great upheaval and betrayal. What’s Luke getting at here?  Luke is trying to make a statement about the impermanence and uncertainty of human achievement.

The people are marvelling at the Temple’s glory, but Jesus pulls their attention away from its beauty and structure, hoping that they’ll focus on something that’s much more important…..their faith, and how it shows up in their lives. Just before this story, Jesus had drawn their attention to a poor widow putting her two coins into the treasury. Nobody would have ever noticed her amidst the grandeur of the Temple, and the respected leaders parading with their prayers and great offerings, until Jesus pointed out that she was an example for all of them – it was her heart that was sincere.

We can have the most beautiful place of worship in the world, and still get it all wrong. What’s more important than the building is what we learn while we’re inside, and how we take it into our lives and into the world. That’s what the people said in Mississippi when the church of a Black congregation was burned and vandalized by political haters….they said you can burn down our church building, but you can’t take away our faith. God’s transformation of their lives was not something that could be destroyed.

This is certainly a challenging story for us right now. The question of the importance of our house of worship is a complex one. Recently, I’ve had occasion to go downtown to our Cathedral a few times. And you know, when you walk toward it, the bells calling you in from way down the street, there’s something quite beautiful you feel as you go inside. This is our Diocesan Mecca. Our Jerusalem. This is the great Cathedral that has gathered us together in Christ’s name for decades.

The ceilings are high and the surroundings are glorious. The choir is heavenly and the organ is majestic. It’s wonderful. And it’s emotional. It hits us on a very real, visceral, human level. And I think of our family from St. Paul Lorne Park, and the grief that is still very real about losing the place where God touched you, met you, challenged you – where there were weddings and funerals and baptisms and celebrations over the years — beautiful memories that go deep, but now that building is no longer home. Buildings do matter.

And I think of the Trinity people who have the same deep connections right here, in this space, all that history, all the prayers whispered in this space, and now we’re in the process of changing things, and it feels uncertain. Buildings do matter. I for one, am thrilled at the wisdom of your vestry vote that said that getting to the bottom of the structural issues causing flooding is to come first in our priorities. I think your wisdom in this will pay off big time. And the changes to the worship space are also practical, in fixing a spongy floor, and bringing us up to full accessibility with a code ramp, which the Diocese and the Province both insist on. I believe you’ve been faithful stewards of these resources coming to us. We’re not going for fancy – we’re going for solid. Thank God for that.

But in all of this, I am aware that our worship spaces mean just as much to us as they did to those people centuries ago, who travelled miles whenever they could, to get to Jerusalem’s beautiful Temple. We can’t help but become attached to our places of worship. They mean something to us. Our prayers are in them, our stories are in them, our faith journeys have been formed in them. And I think Jesus gets that. I think he sees it. He knows what it’s like to make that trip to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple…to see the scrolls be taken out and read to the people of God.

And yet, Jesus tells us that buildings are not forever, but our faith is. Jesus knows that our life of faith must go beyond our temples and synagogues and holy places. He knows that there will come a time for all of us when we will be called on to give an accounting of our faith outside of these walls. A time like the present. So we have to ask ourselves, without this building, what’s left? How would our faith and trust in God survive the loss of this structure?

My friends, we are called to be good stewards of our buildings and the money we use to maintain them. But we are also called to be good stewards of the Great Story of Salvation and Liberation that we tell within these walls. We are called to bear witness to the world about what matters the most. Even in apocalyptic times, when things get rough, when money runs short, when governments fall apart or challenge our peace. What is Jesus’ answer to how we respond to these apocalyptic events? Testify, he says! Tell the world what you have found in following me.

Now, I’m not talking about standing on a soapbox and screaming about Jesus from the street corners. I run away from people like that. I’m talking about living an authentic life out there that shows who we really are and models what we believe. Tell that person who feels unworthy that they matter to God, that they are precious to God, even when the world sets them aside. Tell that local politician that you’re counting on them to care for the marginalized. I think we church people always live in this tension between the faithful and responsible care of our buildings, and the faithful sharing of what we call the Good News.

Our faith is not confined to a building or defined by it. We will do our best to care of it, but Jesus says, when things get tough, tell your stories of salvation. Tell what these years of gathering here around word and table have done for you – how they’ve changed your life. When a nearby government seems to threaten what’s important to you, testify! Tell your children and your neighbours that you believe in love and mercy and truth and grace, and that no influence from any womanizer, liar or racist, will ever change that.

My friends, the world is full of the grace and love of God. The people of God down through the centuries, even in the hardest of times, have been called to speak up against oppression – to stand strong for justice. And today Luke asks us, where, and on what, is our gaze fixed? If our eyes are locked on temporary things, we might miss seeing those beautiful things that will last. If we only see grandeur and splendour, we may miss finding the beauty in the lost soul nearby. And if we blindly tolerate or ignore the negative rhetoric out there right now, we might miss our chance to affirm all that is life-giving, all that is worthy and true.

What the world needs right now, is people who dare to humbly say out loud what we’ve learned within these walls – to speak boldly about peace overcoming violence, about truth overcoming lies, about love overcoming hate, about care for others overcoming greed. My friends, it’s time to share who we are and how we’ve been transformed by love. It’s time to testifyHallelujah!

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Reverend Susanne Sharon
Episcopal Diocese of Toronto, Canada
November 1, 2016

 

The Gospel or Blasphemy?  

Posted in Guest Commentators, On Donald Trump, On the 2016 Presidential Election with tags , , on October 16, 2016 by playthell

DONALD TRUMP AND OUR FUTURE FIRST LADY

Donald Trump: God’s Flawed Instrument?

 On The Pulpit and Politics: Negotiating the Fine Line

During the last election here in Canada, I often stated from the pulpit that it was not my place to take a party line and tell people how to vote. Rather, as a spiritual leader, it was my job to remind the congregation of the basic tenets that should form our world view, our decisions and our actions as Christ-followers. In other words, if Christianity is based on what Jesus walked around showing us, then we should choose our political candidates in terms of who’s supporting those tenets.

So what are the things that were most important to the one we say that we follow? It’s quite simple, really; caring generously for the vulnerable, the weak, the poor, the sick, the anxious, the mentally ill, the victims of natural disasters, war, famine, political prisoners and children, peace rather than violence, and the radical inclusion of all people of all races and cultures. Jesus taught us to live as if everyone else in the world is just as important as we are. Quite simply, everyone belongs – every created being deserves to have life’s basic needs met, and they deserve dignity and respect.

But what is an authentic relationship between religion and politics? In the early part of the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine made a ruling for tolerance of Christianity, a moment in history which many have considered a disaster for Christianity. Religion and politics got into bed together in a relationship that would become complex and corrupt. The Church gained power on the playing field, at a great cost to its basic teachings. Just watch The Borgias to get an entertaining look at how that worked. But all through the centuries, there were always Christians who spoke up from the edges of society against both systems to call for a return to the heart of Christianity. The monastic communities set themselves apart from society in order to remain true to their faith, and to be a voice calling out to mainstream Christian leaders and to the political leaders, constantly challenging them to remember the vulnerable.

Over the centuries, the Church has gradually lost its public status and power, as we’re now living in an age we call “post-Christendom”. This is partly a very good thing, when one thinks of some of the atrocities carried out in the name of God and the Church, not to mention the way in which some (not all by any means) Christian missionaries have bullied various cultures, thinking they were civilizing them.

But this loss of power has not stopped certain evangelical leaders from publicly endorsing conservative political candidates who make a lot of noise about being Christians; regardless of what they stand for. During George W. Bush’s time, Christian author Jim Wallis wrote God’s Politics (2006) wherein he challenged evangelicals for blindly jumping on the Bush train simply because he claimed to be a Christian, when his policies were so far removed from basic Christian teaching that it was hard to make the connection.

And now, my neighbours to the South, you have Trump. And so far, the evangelical right has flocked to the Trump Tower to genuflect in awe and wonder. The constant flow of information about how he has stiffed many of his own workers, is currently involved in over 3,500 lawsuits (some involving accusations of sexual assault) the many lies in which he’s been caught red-handed – none of this seems to deter them from blindly following the one who will punish women for having abortions, and keep to their conservative agenda.

But today I was encouraged by an article in the famous magazine of the Bible Belt called Christianity Today (October 10, 2016) wherein Executive Editor Andy Crouch, in response to the lewd tape of Trump in an Access Hollywood bus, hit evangelical America with a bang in his article, Speak Truth to Trump. (See link below) Crouch says, “Evangelicals, of all people, should not be silent about Donald Trump’s blatant immorality.” Crouch was surprised at how long it took evangelicals to use the “…same critical judgment when it [came] to the Republican nominee…” that they’d used on Hillary Clinton.

He went on to describe the ways in which Trump was a blatant example of the kind of lifestyle the Bible warns us about; “…sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Crouch ended with a challenge for every evangelical, warning of the folly of allying themselves “…with someone who violates all that is sacred to us.” Trump’s hope for the continuing support of the evangelicals is clearly compromised since this latest display of lewd behavior.

I’m not an evangelical in the general identifying sense of the word – I’m a mainline Anglican. I would not express things in a way that would please Christianity Today. But I applaud Andy Couch for having the courage to ask the vast membership of the Bible Belt to think clearly and critically about what kind of leadership they want, and to take care in their decisions for this election.

As a spiritual leader, I will never tell people what party they should support, or who they should vote for. But I would be falling down on the job if I failed to join those desert fathers and monastic communities in reminding both the church and the political arena of what the Christ followers are looking for in a political leader – someone who will commit to caring for the weakest members of our society – someone who will work for peace instead of war – someone who will take a stand for justice – someone who will agree that everyone belongs, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion or economic position.

What good is it if we gather on Sunday to hear these teachings and sing about them, if they don’t influence the decisions and actions we undertake? If Jesus modeled radical inclusion, justice and peace, then that’s what we should seek in candidates at election time.

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Rev. Susanne
Toronto
October 16, 2016
Click on link elow for artile in Cheistanity Today
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/october-web-only/speak-truth-to-trump.html?visit_source=twitter&start=1

 

It’s A New Day in Canada!

Posted in Guest Commentators, On Foreign Affairs with tags , , on October 23, 2015 by playthell

Justin Trudeau gestures while weighing-in for a charity boxing match against Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau in Ottawa March 28, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

 Justin Trudeau Newly Elected Canadian Prime Minister

Reflections on the Canadian Election

We Canadians know only too well how rarely U.S. citizens think of us. In fact, we’re pretty much convinced that you’re only mildly aware of our existence. A friend who played hockey in the States was travelling north to Canada on a bus full of U.S. players who seemed sure that they would cross the border to immediately encounter snow squalls and moose crossing the streets in major cities. We’re quaint, but honestly, living in Toronto is much like living in New York, which is one of my favorite cities.

We’ve just finished a major election which will bring sweeping change to the ethos of our whole country, and as your neighbor, I thought you might like to know what’s going on up here. Canada’s Parliament, modeled on the British form, is made up of locally elected Members from many districts across Canada. For a national election like the one we just held on the 19th of October, 2015, when you vote for a local Member of Parliament, you’re voting for the leader of his or her party, and the leader of the party that gains the most seats in the House of Commons becomes our Prime Minister for four years.

Conservatives are blue, the New Democratic Party, or NDP, are orange, and the Liberals are red. Last night, a crimson tide swept across our nation with an unprecedented number of people flocking to the polls from East to West as the day went on. Advance polls saw a 70% increase from the 2011 election. First Nations people from many tribes, who have traditionally avoided voting, showed up in car pools. Muslims, immigrants and the young people of the nation raced to their polling stations by the busload. Justin Trudeau, the Leader of the Liberal Party became our Prime Minister, utterly ousting the Conservatives. Trudeau’s Liberals, coming from third place, got 4.2 million more votes than in 2011. We were desperate for change, and I’ll tell you why….

First Nations Peoples of Canada
First Nations People
They turned out and helped drive the right-wingers from office

 For the past 10 years, our Prime Minister (Canadian code for President) Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party has led Canada down a dark road of increasing exclusion, lightly veiled homophobia, racism and passive/aggressive Islamophobia, all the while pumping out a rhetoric of fear of anyone other than whites of European descent – a rhetoric that has Canadians locking their doors.

Did you watch Bowling for Columbine? If you did, you’ll know that we’re usually more trusting than that up here. He’s infamous for muzzling journalists and scientists, for making Canada the laughing stock of international efforts to improve the environment, and for openly stating that the 1,182 First Nations women who were murdered or went missing in recent years was not a priority for him. He was too busy protecting us from evil foreigners to demand action on resolving the cases of these women; cases which had been tossed aside and neglected for years.

Stephen Harper’s Last Hurrah…

Harper

He got Smacked down by the Liberals

Harper insulted Muslims by insisting that a woman should not be allowed to wear her Niqab while being sworn in as a Canadian citizen. He openly used code phrases like “Old Stock Canadians” to assure those Old Stock Boys that his consistently divisive leadership would continue to favor them above others. He put forward laws to decrease health benefits for refugees, and the list goes on. Ralph Nader, in a guest spot last week on CBC Radio, said that he hardly recognized Canada any more – it used to be a leading country in quality of life and evolved compassion, but that he now felt embarrassed for what we had become under Harper’s regime of fear.  This is not the country I grew up in – this is a country I no longer recognize. Let me tell you why this election was so important to Canadians.

I was a little kid sitting in the back seat of the family Volkswagen, and to my father’s astonishment, I was writing an election campaign speech. I had caught “Trudeau-mania”. For the course of my young life, politics had been austere, gravely serious and mostly about men making decisions for the rest of us. And along came Trudeau. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Prime Minister from 1968-1979 and from 1980-1984, is the late father of our new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. We called him PET. Trudeau created a country that welcomed immigrants from all over the world with open arms. America represents itself as the famous “Melting Pot,” where people of other cultures blend in, but Canada became a “Mosaic” where other cultures, languages, customs and traditions were accepted and celebrated.

Canada was a fabric made of thousands of individual brightly-colored threads representing nations far and wide. That was our trademark – you could come here and feel welcomed, but you didn’t have to give up your culture or heritage – you could still benefit from the blessings of democracy, an advanced Medicare system and endless natural resources. PET was a breath of fresh air, bringing a forward-thinking new platform on women’s rights, equality and inclusion. PET put us on the map internationally, gaining the friendship and respect of foreign leaders. He brought us in leaps and bounds into a future of promise, where people of all races and religions worked together in harmony and felt safe. That’s the Canada he built. That’s the Canada I knew and loved. That’s the Canada Ralph Nader remembers.

Pierre Elliot Trudeau
pierre-trudeau
Pater-familias of Todays victorious Liberals

An acquaintance from Iran who fled to Canada in the 1979 Revolution, often spoke of his alarm and dismay at how complacent and indifferent he found North Americans in terms of their engagement with politics. In a world where many have to walk miles, dodge bullets and navigate devious practices in order to place a vote, I tend to agree with him. But in yesterday’s election, my faith in Canadian citizens was restored. In the final weeks of the campaign, we waited, almost in a quiet panic, to see how this election would turn out. Various groups sprung up across the country to study the trends and provide local statistics on the best way to unseat the Conservatives.

People all across the country shared social media posts and links to tell the truth about Conservative policy and approach, and thousands upon thousands realized that no commentary was needed – one needed only to post the actual decisions, laws passed, policies and quotations, to tell the story of how Harper attempted to turn trusting, open-hearted Canadians into frightened, racist and suspicious people who thought they saw a terrorist hiding at every corner. The truth spread so far that even generally indifferent Canadians became fed up with this reign of fear, and they too wanted their Canada back.

Justin Trudeau Courts Muslim Vote

Trudeau meets with muslims

Building a winning Liberal Coalition

 The Liberal Party sent out volunteers in droves, and during the 78-day campaign, I was telephoned at least once a week by Liberal Party members looking to answer any questions, make sure I would vote and offer me a ride to the polling station. They were out on the streets in droves, knocking on doors and giving solid, clear answers to peoples’ questions. My experience in my own riding of Etobicoke South / Lakeshore left me deeply impressed with the integrity and hard-working team of local Liberal Candidate James Maloney, who won the riding. A casualty of the landslide vote in favor of the Liberal Party was the New Democratic Party, which lost many good Members of Parliament to the strategic vote.

In areas where a Liberal win was likely, staunch NDP members abandoned their representatives – the lesser evil if it meant ousting the Conservative Party, which was the goal of so many Canadians.  I was moved. It was like going to church last night, watching the Conservative blue disappear in a sea of Liberal red. I marveled at the well-oiled machine composed of dedicated Canadians who loved their country enough to work together as one to reclaim it from the reactionary conservatives.

Justin Trudeau, our new Prime Minister, is only 43 years old, and the campaign television ads used to try and diminish Trudeau said, “He’s just not ready.” But they were dead wrong. There was much negative speculation about how this very young man would handle the first debate, but the morning after, the pundits and journalists were singing his praises, impressed and inspired by his strength, knowledge, confidence and political savvy. During the weeks of the campaign, his opponents often suggested that Trudeau would run out of steam, not being used to the rigors of the road. Again, they were dead wrong. Justin’s energy and vitality increased as he continued to rise to every occasion. He was in good physical, mental and emotional condition and he remained consistent.

Justin Trudeau makes his Case

Justin Trudeau makes his case

And the Canadian people put the reins of power in his hands

Here’s the thing – Trudeau has not been mindlessly spouting some party line. He grew up immersed in the kind of belief system and world view of which the Liberal Party is so proud – a world view that is inclusive and positive and that welcomes the stranger and embraces the ‘other’ – a belief system that chooses to challenge the increasing gap between the rich and the poor – an outlook that values the hard-working middle class and resists favoring corporate giants at the expense of the ordinary person. Young Trudeau has already made some statements that are commanding our attention. He wants to focus on the important environmental issues which the Conservative government put on the shelf. He promises that he will name an equal number of men and women as Cabinet Ministers. Already, there are 26% more female representatives in the House of Commons than in the previous House.

Indigenous people who have been ignored and side-lined have hope that they will be included in infra-structure improvements that will finally bring them clean water and a trustworthy safety net. The list goes on, but the point is this: Canada lived through an increasingly negative decade wherein our progressive identity was insidiously being eroded, and we finally woke up.

Our new leader has a heart, and we can sense that he genuinely cares about the average Canadian.  It’s in his DNA to have compassion. He got it from his parents. As he joined his supporters for his speech, with his beautiful wife, Sophie on his arm, they chanted his name in ecstatic joy. And he promised to give Canada back to the Canadians who love it and serve it. He restored hope to an increasingly cynical nation.  He closed with a reminder that the Conservative Party members are not our enemies, but rather, they are our neighbors, and he urged us to work together to make Canada stronger. And there it is – there’s the big difference we worked so hard to bring back.

So why should you, my dear American neighbors, care about this Canadian election? First, you should probably know about the unprecedented shift that has taken place in a country that is attached to you for thousands of miles along your northern border. And second, you too have a major election coming. You too have an opportunity to raise awareness of the issues that are most important to you. What kind of a country do you want to be? What is it that other nations say about you? Is that okay with you? Would you like it to be something else?

I’m no politician – I’m not even a journalist. I’m a divorced Anglican (Episcopalian) Priest, a proud mother of two young adult women, and – yes, I have to own it – a sort of middle-aged hippie. I have always believed, like Jesus, Gandhi and Mohammed, that the sign of a truly good country is how well it cares for its most vulnerable citizens and brings justice to all people. I want to remind you of the dynamic power of one; because the action of the one, when added to the actions of many, becomes an immensely powerful force for change. We did it – we changed the whole ethos of our country, and you can too.

 

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Reverend Susanne McKim
Tronto, Canada
October 20, 2015