Posts Tagged ‘ politics ’

Tax Payers Right to Vote Act

Have you noticed the number of ads promoting this proposition? Have you noticed who is the number one supporter?

Yep, PG&E. Doesn’t that make you just a little bit suspicious? They have quite the special interest in effectively eliminating their competition. The proposition is a constitutional amendment that will require a two-thirds majority for a local government to either take over OR buy blocks of power to sell in competition. As we know, competition keeps prices and quality in line.

If this passes, it will be very difficult for local government to have any hand in utilities. Two-thirds is quite a lot. Then there is the cost of running the election and fighting the big pockets that will fund opposition ads.

The only reason I’m coming out against this is because it sounds fishy and there are no ads against it. The right to vote is something people will rally around. It’s a shiny pretty picture for the public…but it’s suspicious if you look any deeper.

Why Christians Should Vote to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

Why Christians Should Vote to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

For the purpose of this article I am going to adopt a distinctly
conservative Christian perspective and write for a distinctly
conservative Christian
audience.  I want to put forth the idea that even if you believe
homosexuality is morally wrong, a sin even, you should still vote for
its legalization.


Freedom vs. License

"Freedom and fear are at war. Freedom is not, "being able to do whatever
you want to do." That is license. If you have license, rather than
authentic freedom, your house is built on sand and will collapse.
Authentic freedom is the power to do what we ought to do; the power to
choose the good, the true, and the beautiful. That will vanquish fear
every time. If your concept of freedom is really license, fear will
come out on top every time. Freedom has to be united with truth. There
is no freedom outside of the truth: No authentic human freedom outside
of the truth. "If you are truly my disciples, you will abide in my
word. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." True
freedom is rooted in God."

– Fr. John Corapi

As Fr. Corapi says, Freedom is not
license, it is more along the lines of personal authenticity.  If God
is both Truth and within you, then when you are acting the most
authentically and genuinely, you are acting in God's will. 
Interestingly enough, this does not mean we should forsake license, for
license and Freedom are tightly intertwined.  If it weren't for
license, we could not genuinely choose to do what is right, for we
would do it automatically.  This is why God gave us free will.  He
allows us to sin so that we might learn, grow, and come to the truth in
a very personal and authentic way.  There can be no authenticity, and
no Freedom, without license.

The opposite of Freedom is fear, and the opposite of license is
restriction.  When a society implements restrictions on its citizens,
it does not only prevent its citizens from acting authentically, it
acts out of fear itself.  Even though our intentions are good,
restricting the public to do only what is morally right harms
everyone.  The people may choose the right thing, but for the wrong
reasons.  They follow truth, but they do so disingenuously.  We are
teaching them to act a certain way out of fear of the consequences. 
And we ourselves, who put the policy in place, we are acting out of
fear as well.  We are afraid that we can't trust people, and that if we
don't exert some pressure on them, they won't choose the right thing.

When God looks at us, does He have these fears?  Well, His heart is
probably breaking all the time, seeing us choose to bury our true
selves and choose against His will.  But He does not intervene and
force us to change our minds.  He honors His gift to us of free will,
and He lets us make mistakes.  He does not act out of fear that He will
lose us.  In fact, one of Jesus's most persistent messages was "Be not
afraid."  Fear blinds us, keeps us from the truth.  And out of fear we
impose God's will on the people in our society, when even God himself
will not do that.

The Purpose of Law

Contrary to a lot of current
thought, the purpose of Law is not to uphold or enforce morality.  Law
is about enforcing the minimum standard of action necessary to be a
functioning member of society.  It is about preservation of society,
putting restrictions on license where necessary in order to prevent its
citizens from harming each other.  Other than that, it should allow its
citizens as much license as possible.  If you look at many of our
current laws (against murder, theft, drinking and driving, etc), we make acts illegal when they harm someone or infringe
on their rights against their will.

Morality calls us to a much higher standard than the Law. Christian
morality is about rejecting sin in all its forms and transforming
yourself inside and out to become more and more like Jesus Christ. 
And, as I stated in the last section, we cannot force Christian
morality on members of our society without denying them the chance to
choose it freely.  That's what makes morality such a wonderful, lofty,
and praiseworthy ideal.  It is not something you are forced to do, it
is something you choose to do.

Given everything that has been said thus far, as Christians it is
our duty to emulate God and allow people to sin, as long as that sin
does not harm another person.  It may break our hearts to see people
shun the truth, but we have to let them.  From the standpoint of the
Law, we need to allow same sex marriage.  To vote against it is to act
out of fear, and to thereby distance ourselves from God.

Calming Leftover Fears – Definitions

In order to
get ourselves to a place where we are emotionally ready to permit same
sex marriage on a political level, we need to address two major fears
that plague our hearts.

The first is that by legalizing gay marriage, we would be
corrupting an institution that God created.  I know this is a sensitive
issue, and I will try my best to treat it fairly and gently.  We must
admit that the word marriage is full of different meanings on different
levels.  Traditionally, marriage has not always been meant as a
spiritual union in the eyes of God.  There has always been a social
aspect as well.  Marriage has been used as a political tool to unite
warring factions or countries.  It has been used in order to barter out
a better life for your family line.  It has been used as a financial
safety net.  Even today, people marry for all sorts of reasons.  They
marry for money, for lust, or for social status.  Some people get
married for love, but do not associate themselves with any religious
tradition at all.

This does not in any way detract from the beauty and profundity of
the Sacrament of marriage in its religious context.  It is as if we can
talk about marriage on two levels.  There is the social/political
level, and the spiritual/religious level.  The social/political level
has changed many times over the centuries without affecting the
spiritual/religious ideal of marriage.  And so it is today.  Allowing
same sex marriage affects the social definition of marriage, not the
religious one.  As a Christian, you do not have to recognize same sex
marriages as being approved or sanctioned by God.  It is in the name of
the State only.

If this proves to be too difficult of a place for us to reach, then
perhaps we need to take another route.  Many have stated that they are
just fine with civil unions, as long as gays aren't allowed to marry. 
But what is a civil union other than the social/political level of
marriage?  Although, if we insist on keeping the word marriage solely
in its religious context, then we must be fair in how we treat it on a
social/political level.  By this I mean taking the word marriage out of
State hands entirely.  Everyone would get civil unions, and then if
they chose to take the extra step of getting married, they can do so
through their Church.

But it is imperative that we maintain equality between same sex
couples and heterosexual couples.  When Jesus dealt with sinners,
whores, and thieves, did he not treat them as equals?  Isn't that what
allowed him to get through to them?

Calming Leftover Fears – The Children

The other
major fear has to do with what our children will see and be taught with
regards to homosexuality.  We do not like the idea that schools and/or
the media will be telling our children that homosexuality is okay and
perfectly acceptable.

Before we go into ways to ease this fear, let us explore for a bit
the root of it.  When it comes to our children, we want nothing to
corrupt them.  We want the best for them.  And because we are
Christians, we want them to grow up with those same values, that they
might find their way to God as well.  But this leads us to be fearful
of letting anything "unclean" touch them.  We are afraid that the power
of evil is too strong, too tempting, and that if our children are
exposed, their weaker minds will be enveloped and there will be nothing
we can do about it.

But children can smell our fear.  And they react in one of two
major ways.  They either adopt the same fears, or they rebel against
them and challenge them.  As we discussed earlier, fear is not truth. 
Truth is Freedom.  Some children sense this on a deep level…that the
actions we take are spawned from fear, and so they reject any truth
that they might express.  Either we perpetuate the feeling of fear, or
our children take their lives in a radically different direction in
order to reject it.

There is a better way.  Do not be afraid to talk to your children. 
Do not be afraid that they won't turn out how you want them to, or that
their lives won't be as happy as the lives you imagine and want for
them.  Trust God.  By working on your own inner state, you can better
help them grow up in God's love. 

If you adopt the frame of mind discussed in this essay, talking to
your children about same sex marriage is not as confusing as many,
including the National Organization for Marriage, have made it out to
be.  By showing your acceptance of it on a political level, you do not
give off the same fear, and children are less likely to rebel.  You can
then explain to your child what I explained in this essay, that
marriage for Christians is something even more deep and spiritual and
religious than society's definition.

Should your child still grow up and choose to marry someone of the same
sex, the other thing that legalizing same sex marriage will do to help
you
is that it will drastically change the homosexual community.  With
marriage and finding someone to love seen as the end goal of any life,
even a homosexual one, your child will grow up seeing examples of gay
men in loving, committed relationships.  They will see gay women caring
for each other and their children.  If your child does end up to be
homosexual, wouldn't you rather they choose this sort of life as
opposed to one of promiscuity?

This brings me to another caveat
to adopting a position free of fear.  We must maintain a sort of
"detachment" from the outcome.  If your child does happen to be
homosexual and to choose to marry someone of the same sex, you cannot
take it personally.  It may break your heart, but to force your child
to deny what he feels is truth makes you look fearful and your child
will not respond.  To give your child a chance at Freedom,
authenticity, and Truth…you must let him make his own choices.

Conclusion

In summary, the Christian life is
about transforming ourselves and emulating Christ, who is God in human
form.  In order to become like God we must follow Freedom,
authenticity, and Truth…and we must lay aside fear.  It is difficult,
and there is much resistance. The path is indeed narrow.  It is hard to
give up what we think keeps us safe.  But to do so shows that we really
do have Faith and Trust in God, that we are willing to let Him shape
events and to adopt His perspective rather than merely our own.  In our
own struggle towards Freedom, we must surrender our fears about the
paths of others and strive, by example, to be a light to the world,
should they choose to see it or not.


*As you may have guessed, I am by no means conservative.  I tried to adopt that perspective for the sake of the argument.

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The Multifaceted Issue of Abortion

In my opinion, the problem of abortion is a multifaceted issue.  And, it is more of a symptom than a problem in itself.

A symptom of what?  Fear.  Taking yourself out of your normal
perspective, can you imagine how scary it would be to find out you are
pregnant and do not have the means to care for this child?  And what
about what your parents will think?  They might even disown you.  Or if
you’re a single mother living in a poor community…how will you
provide for your child?  You can’t work and take care of her at the
same time, except for very select jobs that probably won’t pay much
money.  And besides, you’re not married.  What will society think?

I know it is their fault for getting into the situation (at least most
times…rape is a special circumstance that most people are more
compassionate towards), but that still doesn’t change the fact that the
guiding principle in these situations is fear.

Making abortion illegal, in my opinion, will only increase that fear.
Because before there was an out, a backup, if you couldn’t figure
anything else out.  And now there is no (legal) escape.  Because of
this increased fear, I think women might go to greater lengths, unsafe
ones, to be rid of that fear.

But then what do they trade the fear for?  Regret and guilt.  It’s not a happy situation.

So I would approach the problem with the goal of easing these fears so
that the woman can make a genuine choice from her heart rather than let
her fear consume her.

On a social level, I would probably do things like provide free
childcare in poorer communities, so the mother can work and earn money
to take care of her child, or continue going to school.  I actually
stole that idea from Obama. 😉  In addition, I would try to find ways
to increase the quality of schools in poorer areas.  As it is, richer
schools = better schools, and so the poor keep going in circles.
Basically, find things that will make it easier for the mother to give
her child a good life, and you’ll reduce some of the fear that consumes
her.

Also, reform and improve the foster care system.  Address the issues
that make people think growing up in the foster care system is a
nightmare you wouldn’t ever wish on your child.  Perhaps also offer tax
credits or extra benefits to couples who adopt a child.

But the most important thing, in my opinion, is the hardest to
implement.  I would make it a rule that before a woman can get an
abortion, she must attend one or two counseling sessions.  The purpose
of these sessions is not to persuade her to change her mind.  If it
were, it would never work.  Abortion has to remain an option because it
serves as the initial fear-reducer that will get them into the
building, where counselors can hopefully help guide them to be sure
they are making the best decision…the one their hearts tell them to
make.

On a wide level this idea will only work so well because it relies upon
an abundance of really good counselors.  If the counselor is pushing
the woman towards one particular option (be it keeping the baby, giving
it up for adoption, or having the abortion), she will sense that and
resist.  The conversation really needs to be centered around the
woman’s situation and her psyche.  And the counselor must give up the
idea that they can control the outcome, because by exerting control the
situation is only made worse.

The idea is to get them to talk and think about their situation.  There
might be an option they hadn’t thought of, or a way to make it work
they hadn’t considered.  It also may be that they hadn’t been thinking
of the long term, only the short term goal of being rid of all this
fear.  Regardless of the situation, their life would drastically change
if they kept the child, and some of that fear is rational, and some of
it isn’t.  It would help to have someone you can trust, someone who
isn’t going to push anything on you but who will help you come to your
own decision…one you can live with.

Yes, some of these women will still end up choosing to get an
abortion.  But, if we approach them with compassion and understanding,
I believe that many more women will make other, better decisions.  And
our society as a whole will not look upon these women with either
indifference or contempt but rather with compassion.

I think a combination of all these ideas plus many many more, all aimed
at making the decision to keep the child or give it up for adoption
easier to make, will help the situation the most.

But to just make it illegal, to me, is admitting we don’t understand
the problem, or that we don’t have or want to give up the resources
needed in order to really address it.  It’s easier to just call
something wrong and disallow it than to really engage the problem on
all levels.  And that is what I think we need to do.

The Domestic Partnership Initiative

SUBSTITUTES DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP FOR MARRIAGE IN CALIFORNIA LAW.
INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.

Replaces the term “marriage” with the term “domestic partnership” throughout California law,
but preserves the rights provided in marriage. Applies equally to all couples, regardless of
sexual orientation. Repeals the provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage
between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

http://dompar.org/
Facebook Group

This initiative basically removes marriage from the state and places it within the bounds of religion.  Anyone who wants a domestic partnership may receive all the same legal rights as marriage holds now, the only difference is in name.  Marriage means so much more than just a legal agreement, and it is not the state's job to provide that meaning.  What marriage means is up to religions and churches.  If you think marriage is between a man and a woman only, then your church does not have to recognize same sex domestic partnerships. 

This is about equality under the law, but it also gives us a chance to make marriage something much more meaningful.  To get married is a spiritual event, something that often will take preparation and and guidance from your spiritual leader.  The signing of the marriage license…is that the most meaningful part of the ceremony?  If it is, you should be fine with the domestic partnership.  If it is not, now is your chance to completely claim the word marriage and recognize by whatever standards you want who is married and who is not in the eyes of your church.

If you are a proponent for traditional marriage, you can have it…this time without preventing one group of citizens from having the same legal rights.

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Kierkegaard in ’08

The American Dream

Not very well written.  I wrote it really quick on a message board.  But I figured I'd post it here anyway.

"My
brother and I lately have been wondering about an American mythology.
We were inspired by a talk Junot Diaz in which he talked about how
Americans don't really look back on the past. The way he put it, and
I'm paraphrasing, is that no one in Kansas ever really stops and asks
themselves "Wait, why am I in Kansas? Where's the ocean?" The point
stands. We don't look back on our past to guide us into the future, and
my brother and I decided that it's because te past for America is
nothing but racism, genocide and exploitation. Therefore, it's
impossible to make a myth about the founding of America, since it's
impossible to paint those events in a good light."

Good
point. There's also the fact that we have inherited so many other
mythic systems from the cultures out of which we were born. American is
*literally* littered with shattered mythic systems. Just look at our
advertising. Symbols abound, but they've lost their power and their
meaning. Ideas and myths that once structured society lie in ruins all
around us. And they are built into us, and they affect everything we
do. But you're right, we don't look back. We don't look within either.
We have so many fragments inside us, many of them outright conflicting.
But because we don't look back and in, we assume that it all fits and
works and we don't look at where it came from.

We're a jumbled conflicting mess. smile.gif

Maybe
that's part of why we don't look back. It's too confusing, and it
doesn't hold together. Maybe we're afraid to find out that it's all
inconsistent? Or maybe we just don't care to know what's really
motivating us and coloring our perception of ourselves?

"Therefore,
the entire idea of an American Dream is just another way to keep people
down. And not just minorities, but everyone, since it's not about
oppression so much as it's about an illusion. Anyone can reach for the
American Dream, but so few reach it. The ones that seem to embody it
are idolized and are placed above others, so that others will try and
reach that status. It all perpetuates itself and eventually we're
caught in this dream from which we never have to wake up."

Yeah,
I can't tell you how many people I heard coming out of movies like the
Pursuit of Happyness saying see!? It *is* possible to rise up! We
*don't* have to feel sorry for the homeless! They *could* do it if they
wanted! He did!

Another huge aspect of the American Dream, I
think, is our concept of individualism. I think it stems from our
political and economic theories, and then when combined with our
somewhat warped idea of freedom it becomes even stronger. Anyone who's
studied American History has studied social contract theory. It's a
thought experiment, but it seeps into our conceptions of ourselves and
our relation to everyone else.

The idea is this. In a state of
nature we are separate individuals. We choose to come together to form
society because it is mutually beneficial. We maintain that we are
separate self-interested individuals. And everything is constructed
around this individualism. Then, add in the fact that American freedom
is a freedom from obligation…so we tend to think of freedom as a
state of being able to be separate and autonomous. We define liberty
based on what we do *not* have.

This creeps into *every*
aspect of our lives. Politically, we don't want anyone stepping on our
toes…which is a good thing. But it's there in our personal lives too.
We don't like relationships because of their obligations. It's too hard
to make it work and it feels restrictive. We're always feeling like
we're being limited and restricted and held back. We just want to
escape. Get away. Take a vacation.

And I find this particularly
interesting within religion. How do you reconcile this distinctively
American notion of separateness and individualism with Christianity?
Christianity is not about separateness, it's about interconnection and
reliance and love. It's about accepting and *loving* the limits placed
on us, not trying to escape them. It tells us that limitation is a
blessing, and the only true way to join with God. But we are Americans.
Limitation is the worst thing for us.

So how do these
conflicting messages interact within us? Most of the time, being
American wins. Christianity changes to fit the American ideal of
hyper-individualism. We interpret Christianty through that lens.
Everything bigger is better, and Christianity is an *escape* from
limitation, not an embrace of it. Megachurches and commercialization
abound. We think of the message of Christianity and how we can tailor
it to appeal to as many people as possible. Grow, succeed, shed
limitation. Feeling horrible? God is there and he will save you.

Why
do you think American Christianity has so much emphasis on salvation
and getting into heaven? We want escape from limitation, we want the
American Dream. What better escape is there than telling people they
don't have to worry about this life and all its pain? There's a better
place where you'll be *free.* Even look at people's conceptions of what
Heaven might look like. Oh it would be the same as earth, only you
could have whatever you want. There wouldn't be pain or suffering, we'd
be free of it! You could get back everything you lost in life, see all
your family and friends, but you wouldn't have fights with them or feel
obligated anymore because everything is perfect!

It's all an
escape into separateness, independence. And it makes sense with
American history, not just American politics. Isn't that what we sought
when we wanted freedom from England? A freedom from obligation, a
freedom to be self-determined.

The American Dream is an
illusion, exactly how you say. But it eats at us in *every* area of our
lives, like a poison. But we love it, because escape is so much easier
than reality.

"It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

[Note: the person I am quoting is Pete, view his blog here]

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