Hillary Love

I am about to vote third party, for the first time in my life, and I know many would assume that is because I have no love for the democratic presidential nominee. Actually, the reverse is true.

I have admired the former first lady, since day one, when I cheered on the election of President Clinton I in November of 1992. I was inspired by her non-typical role in the white house, an equal partner with her husband, who I first heard of as Hillary Rodham, the name she was born with and did not change immediately upon marriage. That year, I was a sophomore at the all-women, liberal bastion of Barnard College, and I decided I too would proudly keep my name, no matter who I married. I was thrilled when Hillary decided to run in the 2008 primary, so grateful for the opportunity to vote for the first women president, and I believed in her, the author of It Takes a Village.

Yes it really does take a village, and you can certainly see it in her campaign, how she relies on this village of support. I see my friends, proudly voting for the first woman to become president of the united states, and it fills me with a special thrill. This is historic, this is about time, to have this kind of role model for our daughters and ourselves. Women can do anything they put their minds to.

And yet, I will not personally partake in that victory. Videos of Hillary and her youngest and oldest supporters going to the voting booth tug at my heart strings. Ahh, to be like these proud women! But this year I have learned things about the democratic party, about the deception and willingness to skirt the edge of legality, that has marked her campaign, and I cannot. I have to vote my conscience, and I feel sad that I cannot be part of history in the making.

I don’t believe I will be helping to elect a President Trump. In a swing state, I would be voting strategically against him, no doubt. I don’t want our nation to go backwards either. But I don’t hate him or his voters either. They aren’t all deplorable racists. If we were having a real debate about the issues that face America, I think it would be clearer, that he gets some things right, though certainly not most things.

Unfortunately, these aren’t small issues that the party establishment has chosen to ignore. Our working and middle class citizens have been losing their voice within both the Republican and Democratic parties. Our representatives pay lip service to the issues that affect us on a fundamental level, but with only a few exceptions, none stand up to fight for us when they reach the capitol with their entourage of aides and lobbyists. Policy and legislation is written by the corporations and wealthy individuals that funded them. The wool was pulled from my eyes this year. The fact is that this two party system and the tremendous influence of money in politics has stymied any hope that we can make real progress.

So instead of partaking in the historic moment that I have long yearned for, I am voting to strengthen an alternative voice. I am voting for a woman who probably has no chance of winning in this election, but who speaks truth to power, just as Bernie Sanders did during the primary. I believe that to hold a Clinton presidency, or any elected official, accountable to the people, it needs to know that voters have choices. Enough with the politics of acrimony and derision, that attempt to silence any opponent. Now is the time to raise up these alternative voices, so that we all win.

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can’t sleep

Today is going to be a long day. Election day. I didn’t early vote, like I usually do, but I will vote today, like I always do. Sitting up in bed last night, I finally had to get it all off my chest, so I wrote, a long political rant. Assuming my prediction for today’s winner is correct, I will be brave and post it tomorrow. Not today. I don’t want to upset my friends, I am not trying to change anyone’s mind.  And who knows, I could be wrong.

A Thanksgiving Seder

Last night, my son had trouble sleeping, while I was messaging with a friend. He (my 9 year old) told me to get off my phone and meditate. He was right, that’s what I needed to do. I sat down next to him and closed my eyes, and tried to think of something calming. Probably because I have been concerned about the people protesting the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline), what sprang into my mind’s eye: the vision of a young Native American girl in a brown tunic, standing amid the trees on the shore of the Hudson River, catching her first glimpse of Europeans, perhaps Henry Hudson himself.

Sounds a bit like Pocahantus right? Well, that image is one I had years ago before I ever saw the movie, while doing a hypnotic regression. Kind of crazy, I know. My husband is into New Age spirituality, life after death, reincarnation. I’m agnostic about these things, but found it fascinating and was reading some of his books on doing past life regression. Really not surprising, since I have a thing for Native American culture that I would conjure this image. For our anniversary one year, we visited the Smithsonian National Museum of the Native American and I bought and devoured a book on the history of indigenous Americans. I don’t claim to have had a past live as a Native American, but who knows.

Then my mind drifted to the #noDapl movement and this upcoming Thanksgiving. My husband and I had decided we would again host my extended family. Since going off the derech, we are the non-religious ones, so it makes sense for us to be responsible for this secular holiday celebration. But what I really want to do is be in North Dakota standing with Standing Rock. Can you imagine doing a Thanksgiving celebration with actual Native Americans, European americans dressing up as a pilgrim, and together we recreate the “original” Thanksgiving feast? I don’t know if that would go over well, not sure how Native Americans feel about this holiday, and is the story really accurate or an idyllic reinventing of history? I’m going to have to do some research, I think.

Now, I figured I will not be able to drag my family across the country (or would I?), but maybe we can do something more than stuff ourselves with a dead bird and pumpkin pie this year. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, because of it’s name, reminding us to be thankful for all we have. But there’s more to it, perhaps Thanksgiving can instill an appreciation for Native american culture and a desire to right the wrongs of the past four hundred years.  

One year, actually it was the year of Thanksgivukkah, the big cousins organized a Thanksgiving play, about the pilgrims and Indians. The little cousins, my kids included, were given little parts to play and the big cousins made hats and headresses to wear. It was a spectacular performance, followed by the oldest cousin doing a tap dance solo. Now, what about doing something like that, but incorporating the real history of Thanksgiving, the actual native american experience, and what about including the storytelling and lessons of their earth based spirituality, that us Europeans really need to learn, before we destroy our planet.

I began to think of this as a Thanksgiving Seder, similar to our Passover Freedom Seder, where we learn and remind ourselves of the oppression that still exists in our world. I once thought that Jews, with their moral teachings of being kind to the stranger and seeking justice for the downtrodden, were meant to be a “light unto the nations.” I’m starting to think that we need to turn to our Native brothers and sisters to shine their light and guide us back to harmony with nature and each other. I see their peaceful struggle and the solidarity of tribes from all over our country joining to protect our water, our future.

I don’t mean to misappropriate Native American culture, but I would love to begin a discussion of how we can organize to bring these inspiring people into the limelight, because it is their turn to shine.

This is the Day: my Ode to Bernie Sanders

On this first day of the Jewish New Year, I’d like to reshare my ode to Bernie Sanders.

nobeforenoafter

Yes, I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this for a while. A year ago, it was, oh, right around the Jewish new year.

My husband said, I really like this guy Bernie Sanders, he’s running for president. I said, who’s that? Sounds like a Jewish name, is he Jewish? I looked him up, oh wow, he’s Jewish, and from Brooklyn, New York, and no he’s not religious, but he has these democratic socialist views that we need health care for everyone, free college tuition. Interesting.

It was Rosh Hashanah, yeh the Jewish new year. I wanted to hear more and this guy was spending this holy Jewish holiday campaigning. I could hear my parents saying, can’t he take off a day, what kind of Jew is this!

Actually, he was speaking at a very strange place for a radical secular Jewish progressive: an evangelical Christian college, Liberty University…

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My Reflection

Today, I looked in the mirror. I rarely ever look in the mirror. My daughter was watching me and I looked and said “I like my new glasses and the way my hair looks.” She said, “You have gray hair, I like my brown hair with sparks of red.”

I don’t usually force myself to look in the mirror, but sometimes life requires you to look.

With the kids at school, I spend a lot of the day by myself. Some days are busy with appointments, housework, errands, even writing a blog post. Meanwhile, brewing inside my brain are ideas and plans for something bigger.

Other days, I feel paralyzed.  I look at my list and my calendar and it seems impossible. I don’t know where to start, so I sit on the couch reading Facebook or Reddit. I ought to read a book, but I can’t even face the prospect of a new idea. I ought to call someone, but instead I think they will not like me calling them right now.

Then my kids come home. They need my attention. My son comes bounding off the bus and wants food and to try something he’s been thinking about on the computer. My daughter wants food and to play trains with me.

I don’t always have the energy to play. If I am tired, she is tired too. She sits on the couch asking “What should I do?” I wonder why she doesn’t know what she likes. When I give her a suggestion to do something by herself, she starts crying “I don’t know what to do!” I worry that she is becoming just like me.

Then it hit me, my image reflected back.  I saw my likeness, my daughter,  struggling with indecision, insecurity, no one will like me, I don’t know what to do.

I look at the mirror, I like the way my gray hairs contrast with the new reddish glasses I chose. When I saw them at the eyeglass store, I knew instantly that I wanted those rectangular rose-colored frames. I tried on a few different pairs, but I was confident these were it.  “I made a good decision,” I tell myself.

My daughter looks at my reflection, then at her own, smooth brown hair with reddish highlights. Her eyes, glinting hazel, smile. I am proud.

The Daydream

I loved blogging last week, but this week, can’t get myself going. Can I use as an excuse that I’ve been feeling under the weathery? Probably not, I was tired all week, but didn’t start feeling the sniffly, sore throat, achy body till yesterday. In fact, today, though all I wanted to do was lie on the couch, I somehow managed to get myself up and start doing things. Put lentils and carrots in the crock pot and flour and yeast in the bread maker. I hope my family appreciates my homemade dinner. Also made myself a nice salad for lunch. Then to enjoy the sun I did some weeding and also sat outside and did questionaires for a research study my kids are in.

I look at my list of to do’s, check, check. What’s next? Write Post. Ahem. Okay, okay, how about that day dream I had, right after my son’s doctor’s appointment? Downstairs and a door over from the doctor,  we saw that locally owned pizzeria where we managed to get a nice meal a few months ago, despite having to ask them to turn down the TV several times. My son gets concerned when there is a lot of unnatural music, which is basically anything coming from electronics. As we walked by, I noticed the sign “we regret to inform you that we have closed our doors for good.” Sad, an empty storefront, on a beautiful spot by the river.

That’s when I started daydreaming. I started picturing the restaurant/cafe that I would open up. Of course, take out all the tvs, loud soda machines, then open up the doors to a patio with a fountain overlooking the river. And the food would be delicious and all natural of course! While getting the kids ready for bed that night, I started mentally writing the menu. It was an exciting enough picture in my head that I spontaneously took my pen out to jot it all down, before going to sleep myself.

My inspiration comes from The Orchard, a restaurant in Frederick, a city I really miss for all the unusual shops and restaurants in their beautiful downtown. I miss the kind of healthy, all natural prepared food that was so easy to find, when I lived there. So can I plagarize? Because I wrote down at the top of the menu: Mama’s Orchard Cafe. Today, glancing again at the menu I had written, it dawned on me that I am already owner of my own in-home restaurant. Tonight we will taste-test the mediterranean lentil soup and fresh garlic/basil bread that is a signature of Mama’s kitchen.

Perhaps some day I will open up that river cafe of my dreams. But meanwhile, I practice and play. Because imagination is all I need to get going again.20160923_155237

To Write or Not to Write

To write or not to write,that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler to speak one’s truth but in so doing discomfit.

To rise against a storm of uncertainty, and in so doing, to limit, a few words that may provoke, but perhaps no response.

Or better, to leave words unsaid until the morrow, when words may cease to mean or be forgotten.

To write, perchance, to discover, that flash of insight lurking in the unformed pathways of the mind.

To be, to write, but not to sleep. For life is now, or there is nothing after.

 

HIllary Clinton, Talking to Millenials

Glad to see Hillary listened to Bernie and is again talking about the issues.

This should be the path for her campaign going forward.

If you want to win over millenials, stop juvenilizing or blaming them for not automatically supporting you. Stop fearmongering about the other candidate, and tell us what YOU are going to do to help the next generation.

Dear Clinton supporters,

You want to help Hillary win? Follow her lead and give millenials (and others) some respect.

Sincerely,

(a genX-er)

A Political Rant

The excitement I got from canvassing for Bernie was this feeling that I could make a difference and help make the world more equitable and just. Besides the disappointment of seeing our “side” lose, it was very deflating when word came out that the political body that was running the primaries had “rigged” the election. I don’t mean literally, because as of now we don’t have proof of intentional vote rigging. We do see clearly however in email leaks, that this was not a “level playing field and may the stronger candidate win”. The professional party insiders had predetermined the nominee and were making sure the rank and file knew who to select.

Most people don’t spend a lot of time researching candidates and analyzing positions. I’m guilty of this myself. I needed to be made aware of the alternatives, and if I hadn’t had a redditor in my life (my husband), I probably would have just followed the narrative fed through the party machine to the mainstream news sources. Having my eyes opened up, almost feels like seeing the matrix, how our conceptions are being shaped by influential people, who have the money and connections to spread their agenda.

I go through a lot of ups and downs, thinking about whether one can really make a difference. After the primaries, I thought, I will focus on local elections, continue the revolution that way. But I see the influence of money locally, and it seems that even for politicians who start out with honorable intentions, the pay off easily corrupts them.

Even in the caring fields (health care, education, and politics, though most people think of politics as a dirty business, it really is meant to be serving the public), where one would expect altruism, and helping others to be the primary goal, the influence of money and power diminishes their effectiveness. It doesn’t make sense that there are more people in administrative roles in these fields, making higher salaries, while budgets are being cut for the core needs, resulting in teachers salaries not going up, classrooms getting more crowded, kids with special needs being denied services.  The corruption seems to happen at the leadership level, where decisions to move money around can benefit administrators or provide favors.

They always say follow the money, and money is indeed a big influencer. One of the things I am reminded of from my years of religious study, is that money and religious authority often go hand in hand, quite like politics. I remember my modern orthodox school emphasizing the importance of separately making a living from torah study. In fact early Rabbis, deemed it important for torah scholars to have a profession separate from the rabbinate.  Rashi, a medieval commentator on the torah, was held up as a model of a scholar who worked his own vineyard. Maimonides was not just a great jewish philosopher, he was a physician. In other words, if you make your living solely from teaching or influencing, you cannot be an example of living the words of torah.

On the other hand, there are the models of the priests in the bible, who had to live on whatever donations or tithes the people gave them, and could not own land, doing the temple and other religious work. That was an older model of a priestly caste who could not have any financial independence apart from serving the people.

I am by no means promoting either viewpoint, public servant as completely dependent on public funds or the opposite, having a citizen-volunteer model. I am just pointing out the recognition that financial independence or otherwise was understood to affect our leadership.  To keep the public servant from selling out our common good for personal gain, we, at the very least, need to be aware of the issue of money influencing our public policy. Most of all, we need to educate ourselves and make it our duty as citizen-politicians to hold our leaders accountable.

This is the Day: my Ode to Bernie Sanders

Yes, I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this for a while. A year ago, it was, oh, right around the Jewish new year.

My husband said, I really like this guy Bernie Sanders, he’s running for president. I said, who’s that? Sounds like a Jewish name, is he Jewish? I looked him up, oh wow, he’s Jewish, and from Brooklyn, New York, and no he’s not religious, but he has these democratic socialist views that we need health care for everyone, free college tuition. Interesting.

It was Rosh Hashanah, yeh the Jewish new year. I wanted to hear more and this guy was spending this holy Jewish holiday campaigning. I could hear my parents saying, can’t he take off a day, what kind of Jew is this!

Actually, he was speaking at a very strange place for a radical secular Jewish progressive: an evangelical Christian college, Liberty University. I had put my kids to bed, and had no plans to do any davening (praying) myself, so I turn on the livestream.

The first thing I hear him saying is, we may not agree on everything, (referring to abortion) but I think we can agree that Jesus said and what all major religions have said is we need to take care of those who are suffering. We have a moral responsibility, yes he’s talking about MORALITY!, to seek justice. Christian, Jewish, humanist, at the base of our value system, is that we are responsible for one another, that the great injustices, such as rising income inequality and racism, hurts all of us.

Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh la Zeh, (all Israel is responsible for one another). Bernie is not saying Israel, but he is speaking my values, my truth. I feel this spiritual glow, watching this avowedly secular Jew, speak to this devout Christian community, as religious Jews around the world pray Ha Yom, This is the Day … to seek the good … for all …  this sweet New Year.