David Alvarez speaks peace.

At the second reading of the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update last October, David Alvarez wowed me.

Shipyards executives had just spoken in opposition and were threatening a costly referendum, and one spiteful community member opposing the Shipyards had personally disparaged Alvarez because she didn’t get everything she wanted in the compromise, either.

David’s response? We need a framework – the Community Plan – but there is room to modify some elements related to the the Plan to give people more peace following the approval. He made it clear that his door would remain open to even the most insulting naysayers.

When treated poorly, he responded with strength and kindness.

The Community Plan was barely approved by the San Diego City Council, an unfortunate byproduct of politicization of what should have been a wholly endorsed long-term collaborative effort. The Shipyards didn’t want any changes to their polluting businesses, Republicans wanted Shipyards campaign donations and didn’t want a political win for Alvarez. I recently wrote more extensively about this.

Councilmember Alvarez pressed through the opposition and led the compromise (Kevin Faulconer said he was “90% in agreement”) with the support of the Environmental Health Coalition, many involved Barrio Logan Residents, Council President and Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, and their colleagues on the Council.

Alvarez’s comments begin at 2:17:20, and the “peace” comments I just mentioned begin at 2:21:15 http://granicus.sandiego.gov/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=5928

(Oh and if you want to see the amazing Livia Borak in action, her presentation immediately precedes Councilmember Alvarez’s comments at 2:16:25). They’re both worth watching!

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Not mincing words.

I haven’t always had a deep-seated disrespect for Republican platforms or political strategies. I first registered as a Republican in college, because many in my family are conservative Christians. In my naivete I distrusted Democrats. I now know there are bad actors in both major parties and power can corrupt, but my faith is much more in line with the left than with what the right has become.

I fundamentally believe that people – made in the image of God – are good and helpful, regardless of political leanings or professed faith. Some politically active conservatives and progressives are the most loving, generous people I know. I carry an assumption that many from whom I deeply diverge in political opinion are doing a great deal for their local and global communities.

Although I strive to give individuals the benefit of the doubt regarding possible motivation and logic behind opinions with which I disagree, recent issues in San Diego have arisen that have diminished my willingness to assume nobility of the other side. Some recent and continuing actions are pure, unadulterated evil, and are indicative of an utter lack of integrity beyond positions on the issues themselves.

Morning in Barrio Logan, with Shipyards in the distance.

Morning in Barrio Logan. Shipyards in the distance.

First and foremost, the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update (BLCPU), approved by the City Council in September 2013, is near and dear to my heart.

San Diego’s Planning Division web profile on Barrio Logan opens with:

“Barrio Logan is one of the oldest and most culturally-rich urban neighborhoods in San Diego. From historic beginnings in the latter part of the 19th century to the vibrant mix of uses and people who reside and work in Barrio Logan, the neighborhood has played a vital role in the City’s development.”

Unfortunately, this “vibrant mix of uses” has toxic unintended consequences. In thirty years without a community plan update, Barrio Logan has become a neighborhood with many homes and industrial businesses side-by-side, poverty, and three times the asthma hospitalization rate as the rest of San Diego. Its air quality is among the 5% worst in California.

City staff, Barrio Logan residents, and area businesses worked for more than five years to develop a new plan and gradually move toxic industries away from homes, daycares, and healthcare facilities. The plan they developed was unanimously supported by the San Diego Planning Commission and recommended for approval by city staff who knew the plan intimately.

The City Council approval was led by Councilmember David Alvarez, who helped negotiate the final compromise plan by agreeing to a key term of Shipyards executives: that no new housing would be allowed in the buffer zone. Shipyards lobbyist Chris Wahl told the Planning Commission they could agree to the Plan with this condition at a hearing last summer.

Neither residents nor Shipyards executives got everything they preferred, but the end product is a compromise plan which will allow industry to continue to grow while improving the health of residents over time, with no changes to existing homes nor businesses. It includes flexibility to work with existing businesses and help them thrive. Minor changes can be made over time without scrapping the years-long effort, if needed. The Plan itself projects an increase in jobs from about 10,000 to nearly 15,000.

However, a victory for the Barrio Logan community and David Alvarez is seen as an affront to the power of the local Republican party.

High profile San Diego Republicans have picked up the “we didn’t get everything we wanted” ’cause’ of the Shipyards executives, who continue to wring their hands and claim that any impediment to their future growth will destroy their industry and force the Navy to leave San Diego, though these claims are speculative at best and contradict the Secretary of the Navy’s own reassuring statements that they will stay.

The messaging and actions in opposition to the BLCPU are the definition of depraved deceit. They are laced with misinformation designed to turn the rest of San Diego against the largely non-Caucasian San Diego neighborhood and those residents’ hard-fought preference for the future of their community. It seeks to doom them instead to a future of sickness from unrestricted growth into their residential neighborhoods of one of the most polluting industries in the city, and is intended to turn public opinion against mayoral candidate David Alvarez.

Council Member Kevin Faulconer, who is running against David Alvarez, voted against the Plan but said he was 90% in agreement with it. That’s better than the approval rating of most politicians.

KF Barrio LoganFaulconer then held a press conference repeating false claims about lost jobs to promote his campaign (his spokesperson later said those numbers were “not accurate”).

During NBC 7’s special election debate last week, Kevin Faulconer said David Alvarez exhibited a “failure of leadership” on Barrio Logan.

A failure because Faulconer and his Shipyards executives friends, significant campaign contributors, were only ninety percent in agreement with the Plan?

More like: a failure because Alvarez stood strong and did not capitulate to the ever-moving target of their demands, which essentially boil down to zero change to the way they do business. They want to maintain the status quo, continuing to make people sick, with zero accountability for the environmental and human health impacts they cause.

During that same NBC debate last week, Faulconer also said Shipyards workers feared for their jobs, supposedly as additional ‘proof’ of Alvarez’s ‘failure.’ Apparently he missed the news in December when those same workers said they felt betrayed by Shipyards executives and came out full-force in support of the Barrio Logan Community Plan.

Kevin Faulconer either is ignorant of this position taken by the same workers he claims to know and protect, ignored it because it doesn’t fit his narrative, or he’s lying to malign David Alvarez and bolster himself. I assume the second and third points are true.

Faulconer pays lip service to “working families” and their “middle class jobs,” but those families were betrayed by Shipyards executives, who lied to them to fabricate fear for their jobs. Now that they know the truth and publicly support the Barrio Logan Community Plan, they’re angry that they were used.

Faulconer keeps unrelentingly using them every time the issue is raised.

Roberto A

Roberto Alcantar’s January 25, 2014 Facebook status.

Shipyards workers don’t need Faulconer as their champion. The Barrio Logan Community Plan Update already protects their jobs, and the workers know it. Faulconer is proudly anti-union, so as soon as the fabricated story that these workers are in jeopardy no longer suits his political goals, he’ll either forget them or say they’re the enemy of industry for demanding middle class wages and benefits.

So: Shipyards executives negotiated in bad faith and/or lied to the City regarding terms that were agreeable and that they would not oppose in the Barrio Logan Community Plan.

They lied in their fear mongering about lost jobs and speculation about the Navy leaving San Diego, ignoring Navy statements indicating concern over human health and the Navy representatives’ unassailable comments that they will not be leaving San Diego. Nevertheless, Faulconer has decided taxpayers should spend up to $1 million to have this on the ballot.

Shipyards executives and their Republican allies’ deception on the Barrio Logan Plan is even more far-reaching and pervasive, however.

They obtained the legally required number of signatures to place a repeal of the plan on the ballot by paying signature gatherers, many of them brought from outside San Diego, and instructing them to spread coordinated lies about the Plan to the public. In the absence of truth telling, who wouldn’t sign a petition that claimed to protect jobs?

The Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), a Diego environmental justice organization, has focused efforts on improving the health of Barrio Logan residents through improved environmental conditions for many years. When it became clear that signature gatherers were lying to obtain signatures, EHC was left with no option but to either give up on Barrio Logan or file a lawsuit to challenge the validity of those signatures. I work for EHC’s attorneys at Coast Law Group, so have not only been involved as a passionate activist, but have read how extensively laws were broken in the course of the Referendum effort.

One of the documents related to the litigation explains:

“When the City did not accede to the Association’s demands and approved the Plan, the Association launched a well-financed and extensive campaign to overturn the approval by using its vast financial resources to buy what it could not obtain though the democratic process. The Association circulated a referendum to the Plan and opened its war chest to pay 50 signature gatherers to spread throughout the City for days straight. Using scare tactics to obtain signatures, these circulators uniformly told voters the Plan would shut down the shipyards and put condominiums or low income housing in their place. They stated the Navy was leaving San Diego and 46,000 jobs would be lost as a direct result of the Plan. They lied to the voters en masse as the Association paid them by the signature.”

When Shipyards representatives were confronted with these lies, their responses were varied. They suggested volunteers supportive of the Plan position themselves next to each of the 50 locations around the City where signature gatherers were posted in front of shopping centers, at farmers markets, and the like, and tell their own ‘side of the issue’ to potential signatories. They suggested the lies were limited to a few individuals, and that the public could bring misdemeanor charges against those contract employees to gather signatures for violating state law and city code. They denied any responsibility for the baseless claims their hired signature gatherers were making.

Shortly before the signature gathering process was complete, however, they issued corrected talking points to their signature gatherers. They tried to hide this document, because the fact that they circulated it means false statements prior to that were pervasive, and the signatures could be invalidated.

Republican City Attorney Jan Goldsmith has repeatedly said the problems with dishonest signature gatherers should have been reported to him (they were, immediately, by community members and public interest attorneys). Shortly after that time, however, Shipyards representatives met privately with him. He later refused to defend the City Council’s approval of the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update in the EHC litigation.

Not only have the Shipyards executives abused the referendary process, pulling political strings along the way, but they’re currently trying to subvert justice in the courts.

After Republicans on City Council and Shipyards executives tried to bully the Council to repeal the Barrio Logan Plan and failed, attorneys for the Shipyards executives filed an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion in EHC’s lawsuit. They claim the lawsuit was only filed to stifle their political speech – aka their right to lie to the public.

The anti-SLAPP motion purposefully halted the litigation. It blocks EHC from rightfully obtaining documents and testimony proving the pervasiveness of the mistruths told to San Diego voters to obtain signatures for the Referendum. Their attorney strategically picked a hearing date eleven days prior to the June election.

EHC’s and Coast Law Group’s only recourse was to get an earlier hearing date in order to ask the Judge to allow the discovery phase of the lawsuit to proceed. The motion itself outlines an excellent recent history, and the follow-up reply further illustrates how outlandish the Shipyards executives’ claims have become in delaying the public interest and obfuscating the truth. I highly recommend reading both documents.

Separate from the legal process, many have weighed in on the maneuvering of the Shipyards executives, impacts to the mayoral election, and the future of how democracy will be done in San Diego.

I have no doubt some of the Shipyards executives involved are genuinely concerned about their ability to grow greater annual profits indefinitely. The facts as presented in the Community Plan and Navy commitments indicate they will be able to maintain and responsibly grow their profitability. But unbridled capitalism is overriding basic ethics. They’re willing to sacrifice human health on the altar of unencumbered corporate profit, and they’re willing to lie to do it.

They’re willing to waste up to $1 million in taxpayer money in order to do it.

They’re willing to steamroll local communities in order to do it.

If they can buy and lie their way into vetoing the fundamental wishes and basic health of the Barrio Logan community, there’s no reason they won’t do the same in other San Diego communities. This echoes Interim Mayor Todd Gloria’s strongly-worded statements on the matter: we must ensure democracy is not for sale.

I never previously had much strong feeling about Councilmember Faulconer one way or the other. I have been opposed to some of his anti-environment and anti-union votes over the years, but I never felt his personal statements were especially acerbic.

I now see Kevin Faulconer in an entirely different light, as well as those who stand up for the lies he perpetuates regarding Barrio Logan and the Shipyards.

By the time the web of lies is unwoven in litigation, the February special election will be over, and either David Alvarez or Kevin Faulconer will be mayor. It’s possible that the June election will have already determined the fate of Barrio Logan residents.

Faulconer is pursuing a path to mayoral victory on the backs of mostly Latino residents, and he lies about the community plan they fought hard to achieve. They already gave up much of their ideal vision to accommodate Kevin’s industry friends, but those Shipyards executives and local Republican operatives will not be appeased until they have broken democracy.

And yes, I am angry about it.

You should be, too.

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Race and Listening.

Listen.

I don’t expect this to be profound, or very interesting, or much use for anyone except, hopefully, me, as it’s my personal narrative.

It is, perhaps, an exercise in vanity, but I don’t know how else to verbalize, move on and grow than by simply… verbalizing, moving on, and growing.

And there are many others who are vaguely but undeniably uncomfortable with the topic, but don’t want to venture to voice their thoughts because so much about it it is inherently personal yet taboo. I think choosing silence does society and progress a disservice.

Such silence is currently holding back conversation and collective self-examination in San Diego where only a few who write and talk about current affairs are willing to discuss race implications of the special mayoral election.

So here goes.

I’m a white girl from Northern Maine. I take that as a good thing, partly because I loved growing up in the trees, partly because (of course) I love my family, but also because not being white would have posed additional childhood challenges. I recognize there are many privileges of my childhood, including this.

Although I was teased a fair amount, I was never exposed to hateful racial slurs. I did hear ignorant boys use these slurs against a couple friends over the years, which baffled and angered me. There were only four black people I knew in my town: two friends who had been adopted by one of my favorite families, and one schoolmate and his Mom who had left war-torn Liberia. He had brothers, too, but they were older and didn’t know them. Other than these, the extent of my awareness of diversity included a Portuguese grandmother, mother, and her two kids who were just a little older than me. The Liberian mom and Portuguese grandmother attended my church and I spent time outside church with them sometimes. In my circles, that was it. It was woefully inadequate, but typical of rural Maine at the time.

As an avid reader and through school, I remember learning about World War II and Hitler’s atrocities. It made me worried and ashamed about being half German. My German ancestors had fled Germany in the 1800’s to Russia due to religious persecution, then Russia to the United States for the same reason. They mostly settled in South Dakota and farmed.

Although I knew my direct lineage had nothing to do with historically recent genocide, I began to think that portion of my whiteness was a problem. I tried to more closely identify with my much smaller percentage of Penobscot Native American, read books about moving quietly through the woods and living harmoniously with nature, and daydreamed about what it would have been like to live 200 years earlier in an actual tribe. It seemed much nobler an existence. I began to think of those with more darkly pigmented skin as inherently better than myself: more interesting, richer in heritage, living lives of greater depth and meaning.

I never spoke these things aloud. Why would I unintentionally insult my family and white friends? And what good would it do? I wouldn’t choose a different family for myself even if I could.

In fifth grade, my best friend, older cousin and I went with my Mom and Aunt to visit my grandfather, where he was living, teaching and gardening at a Baptist school for hearing impaired children in Baja California, Mexico. The students live at the school during the school year, and have strict schedules. We sat in on classes, quickly learned some conversational sign language, ate most of our meals with our new friends, played basketball and ran around during the recreation time, helped with Saturday morning chores, and attended church with them.

It was vacation for us, though, so we also got to leave with my Mom and Aunt to go to the beach, have a few meals in Ensenada, and shop. It was embarrassing to be reminded that our lives were dramatically different from those of the kids at the school when we got to do those things.

Over the days, we each developed a crush on boys there. At that age it meant catching an eye and blushing, playing chase on the playground, or trying to maneuver to sit near them during movie night. One star-filled evening before the boys were called to their dorm by the flashing lights, we girls and our three favorite boys found ourselves outside together. We shared a few prized moments of shy interactions: dreamy and magical and full of perfect pre-teen bittersweetness. We knew we would leave Mexico for the snowbanks of Maine soon. We would leave, and they would stay.

In the years that followed, I went back to Mexico a couple more times with Mom. My friends there teased that I had grown so much taller because in America, I got to drink real milk instead of the powdered stuff they had. I learned the sign for ‘giraffe’ as they good-naturedly teased me. It was my first real, in-my-face exposure to privilege. I rounded my shoulders forward a little to try to be less tall as my face burned hotly. They were so matter-of-fact about it, harboring no ill will, but I didn’t want there to be such stark differences between us.

Much later as a young college student, I met and grew to love a Hawaiian classmate. Through him, I learned of the oppression and takeover of those islands, and he shared story after story of everyday racism he encountered in school. He told me at the time he’d rather be speaking English than Japanese (as they would likely have conquered Hawaii if Europeans had not), but the history in his grandparents’ memories of making Hawaiian illegal to speak and modern barriers to land ownership, mockery of pidgin, and ongoing income inequality were very much in his awareness and identity.

When my part-Hawaiian daughters were small, I was worried that I didn’t have a kaleidoscope of friends. For some time I considered taking them and integrating into a predominantly black church, hoping that shared Christian faith and exposure to worship in other than a maddeningly, predominantly white congregation would be better for all of us. I grew tired of Southern California churches filled with mostly white, wide-eyed, enthusiastic 20-something couples, or mostly greying, white folks, where I didn’t quite fit in as a single parent. I dreamt of worship with families and individuals of all ages and colors. Homogeny seemed an indicator of a Christianity where something significant is missing, but seeking out a new church solely on grounds of race seemed disingenuous, too, so I never did it.

In my twenties I dated a wonderful and talented English man of Jamaican heritage for a couple years. At the time I imagined a future with him, perhaps even with another child or two. When I visited England on a business trip, I stayed the weekend in a hotel near his childhood home. I spent a small amount of time with some of his family, but while they were gracious and fun, I generally came away with the feeling that a white American divorcee with two kids was less-than their ideal partner for him. I didn’t know how to internalize that realization, and felt angry and sad and hopeless. But to respect and love him meant extending the same to his family. While it was never fully articulated at the time, recognition of the inherent challenges of that match contained wisdom.

The years have softened my experiences of odd and uncomfortable generalized guilt, but issues of race, privilege, and inequity swirl around us. We are by no means a post-racial society, though we must hold dearly to our family stories, traditions, and history rather than dilute the beauty of our diversity. There is much to work to be done to dismantle quietly persistent prejudices, income and opportunity inequality, poorly integrated entertainment, environmental injustice, and racially unequal law enforcement. We have a lot of ground to cover in the world of thoughts and policy, and avoiding the topic isn’t helping us progress.

In most of our cities and towns, in order to meet new people of any color we have to proactively seek them out. People are too busy, too shy, too stuck in routine to pursue new interests and meet new friends. The best some can muster is attending a celebratory international festival, but those are about going to taste and see, not engage. Cultural foods offer the lowest barriers and least commitment, and offer a culinary substitute for self-examination and the actions it demands.

Much has been recently written about celebrating others’ cultural cuisines – how it’s diluting those cultures when the cuisine takes off as a wildfire (mostly middle-to-upper class white people) foodie craze. While that’s true and caution is required, it also can be an on-ramp to awareness. Can be. I think sometimes we substitute impersonal food adventures for new interactions because it’s simply easier, but commodification can have a number of unintended consequences.

I don’t have any perfect solutions. As an adult, my social and environmental activism, engagement with current events and the world around me has led to an ever-increasing circle of contacts. As such, friendships gravitate around shared passions and interests. Social media in its ideal form helps bring people together. Life finally feels a little more like what “normal” should be.

I am pleased to see my daughters’ circles include friends from many different backgrounds. Many signs point to vast improvement with their generation, but there is still great disparity in school budgets – especially for families of color in poverty areas – which will reduce mobility and economic stability for those children as adults and perpetuate inequality.

I don’t think things will get better by putting on blinders of ignorance, or by minimizing the experiences of ourselves nor others. My being white doesn’t diminish the lives of others, but pretending it doesn’t matter would be ignorant. Pretending there are no differences is beyond insulting. Sticking to what we know is a flimsy excuse. Electing a black President – twice – is a sign post of progress but also has exposed how deeply and harmfully prejudices are still held by some in our country. Elevating the experiences of one person or race over another is unhelpful, but I’ll continue to seek out the voices of people of color because frankly, white voices have dominated the conversation for far too long. Watering down modern evidence of racism and inequality or wishing it away won’t fix the problem, but paying attention to our own thoughts and attitudes, then attuning our ears and seeking out the voices of others is a good start.

My thoughts and personal history shared here are not enough. I’m mostly sharing it for others who, like me, don’t really know what to do with their awareness and dis-ease around issues of race. I’m sharing it now, because race is a hot-potato subject in San Diego’s current special election for mayor, as are deceitful power-grabbing tactics by the primarily white, wealthy interests opposing mayoral hopeful David Alvarez. Silence on these issues quietly endorses the dirty race tactics by some of these political players. I’m sharing it in honor of Dr. King’s legacy. And I’m sharing it now to urge you to seek out voices like those of Jessie-Lane Metz, Mikki Kendall, and Flavia Dzodan.

I’m not willing to not work on this stuff just because it’s hard. I’m ready do a lot of listening, and not just on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts here, write out a similar personal narrative exercise, or just… join me in listening, and speak out against injustice when compelled.

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Compassion is stronger.

We all want to feel self-reliant, because the thought of being weak or victimized can be terrifying. To maintain the charade of an “I built this” life, it’s often necessary to block out information reminding us that we all need help sometimes.

If I don’t have time or resources to help anybody but myself, it means everybody else probably feels the same. I don’t want to have to rely on them. Pride calls it by another name, and says I don’t want to be a ‘charity case.’

To maintain the Man-As-Island fabricated reality, we have to close off compassion, which conveniently makes it much easier to judge those who find themselves in situations of suffering.

Suffering great enough to overcome pride, and ask for help.

I saw it in those who judged women who told personal accountings of traumatic sexual harassment by Bob Filner, dismissing their lived experiences. To acknowledge these adult women were injured means we’re all vulnerable to being mistreated, and that’s too heavy a burden to bear.

It’s consistent with a culture of casually slutshaming teenage rape victims, some of whom go on to take their own lives. “What was she wearing?” “Was she drinking?” “A shame, but really. She should have known better. Her parents should have raised her right.”

We live in a land of plenty, so it’s easy to pretend the nutritional lifeline of food stamps/SNAP isn’t necessary. Maybe we feel generous and give to charity around the holidays, and assume the soup kitchens, churches and nonprofit groups won’t let any Americans (including the undocumented) starve. But some think a handout isn’t a hand up; it’s enabling laziness.

“Not on my dime! I planned ahead.”

Distrust seeps in to the temporarily self-sustaining, insular life. Starving kids? Blame the parents. They shouldn’t have had sex in the first place if they weren’t prepared for the consequences. Burning sulfur damnation! is all too easy a condemnation.

A human life that is consumed with seeking basic means of survival is somehow more easily dehumanized.

Shrug. Not my problem.

Never mind data that ties poor nutrition to poor school (and work) performance, and the fact that the better educated and highly performing our society, the better off we all are.

The less likely our prisons are to be filled beyond capacity.

When emotions and blame are driving the dialogue, facts don’t matter. The wall is up; 8.5 million American women, children and infants have been judged and condemned to the hunger they justly deserve in a holier-than-thou political ploy.

The least of these are a bargaining chip in partisan politics.

Seeing the hunger in their children’s faces while tucking them in at night is appropriate punishment for their parents for their laziness and lack of education and preparedness, right?

No.

Everyone has a story. It’s not for me to decide for other people what they should’ve done at critical life junctures. I didn’t create the prior educational and social safety net flaws, nor this current economic situation wherein people with full time or several part time jobs can’t ever get enough to eat and assuredly keep roofs over their heads.

I know my own life story and the devastating combinations of occasional poor choices plus chance misfortune, and I also know times of serendipitous good fortune meeting preparedness that lifted me out. The rain falls on the just and the unjust.

Heaping shame and perpetuating debilitating hunger will not fix what ails our society. We need to flip the argument on its head, and invest in our children and their parents.

Compassion is stronger than judgment, and, always, in agreement with the sage Maya Angelou:

Nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone.

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Barrio Logan and personal history

Good morning, Honorable City Councilmembers –

I commend the City for its thorough and long overdue consideration of community input in the pending update to the Barrio Logan Community Plan. This community is an often neglected treasure, and I am pleased to see it elevated in public awareness and prioritization.

As a young newlywed, I lived in Logan Heights in a humble one bedroom apartment. Its greatest asset was a large patio overlooking much of San Diego and spanning the Coronado Bridge, including the old pink Farmers Market building, and providing cool breezes. My eldest daughter was born during that time.

Between Logan Heights, a year in Linda Vista, and later, when I was then a single parent, an apartment off Point Loma Boulevard, our housing was old and in poor condition. The Point Loma apartment, I later learned, was extremely moldy.

My daughter developed asthma. Common colds immobilized her. I spent many evenings watching her helplessly as she lay on the couch, making small, bird-like noises with each labored breath. Her brave brown eyes would become glassy, her tiny neck would cave in each time she took in air, and I would finally decide it was better to make a trip to the emergency room for a nebulizer treatment then attempt to wait it out.

I gratefully had my Mom to stay with my younger daughter, as the ER trips tended to be late in the evening when my eldest took a sudden turn for the worse. Her preschool and early elementary years were marked with fear, and every early sign of sickness was cause for alarm.

We were approached and became part of a two year regional asthma study, during which my daughter and I were educated on household factors to reduce risk. There were over 100 families in the study, and I was told that we were one of a handful of English-only speaking families. I cannot imagine the fear compounded with a language barrier during those long, scary evenings at the hospital.

My daughter is a teen now and is very strong. She plays trumpet, water polo, and soccer, and only occasionally needs her inhaler. I still remember the intense parental guilt for not being able to afford better housing for my children, and I was so grateful and relieved once we moved to a newer apartment and her health improved.

I’ve wondered at times how San Diego can address the issue of the health risks inherent with ever-aging housing in damp coastal regions, as well as environmental hazards from incompatible uses. Barrio Logan residents suffer from three times the rate of asthma than the rest of San Diego. It is the highest at-risk community in San Diego County and in the top five percent for all of California.

barrioI am pleased to hear that, with greater information and increased regulation, some of the toxic factors have improved. This is not charity on behalf of industry, though it is appreciated. Children’s health is not a cost of doing business, and the shipyards-supported version of the Community Plan Update obviously includes heavily weighted cost considerations.

I urge each of you to consider the recommendations set forth by Environmental Health Coalition in support of Alternative 1. Their only aim is to improve the health and quality of life of already-impacted residents, including children.

There will be few opportunities to so significantly impact the lives of current and future San Diegans with a single vote.  Please do all you can for these families, and vote for Alternative 1 of the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update.

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A line in the sand.

(Note: I wrote this on July 11, 2013, but opted not to post at that tumultuous time).

The dramatic responses are warranted. We worked so hard.

I’m a single parent, and I felt compelled to donate more than I had ever contributed to a candidate. A modest amount, sure, but a sacrifice for me and my family. I was inspired to fundraise and organize and lend my small voice to the fight for Filner v DeMaio.

Carl DeMaio’s wild-eyed single term on council was marked by tirades against city employees – and self-satisfied opposition to seemingly anyone without expressly capitalist and privately-funded agendas. He was determined to set himself apart, and mostly on issues that further oppressed San Diego’s poorest, would diminish the integrity of any non-obviously monetary value of our local environmental resources, and in opposition to the majority of citizens he didn’t feel the need to win over.

His extremist vision and mayoral bid had to be stopped. So many people, many of whom were previously apathetic, rose up. The people rose up.

Bob Filner, “Freedom Rider,” citing bleeding heart Kennedy quotations and MLK, was combative but began to feel like a fighter for the people.

We were stunned. San Diego is supposed to be “nice,” but for most of those who coalesced around the Filner for Mayor campaign, we had been silenced and marginalized for so long, having a prizefighter for our interests was a dream we’d long forgotten to dream.

We were no longer only rallying against the terrifying, exteme DeMaio vision for stark sequestration and enmity of working people, but FOR a feisty new ideal, a candidate who was beginning to embody a progressive ideal for San Diego. Where regular people have a voice at City Hall – a seat at the table – “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” Cue the knowing laughter.

Donna Frye, David Alvarez, Todd Gloria, Marti Emerald campaigned tirelessly on Bob’s behalf. Volunteers walked, called, walked again. Urged friends. Passionately advocated. Prodded friends some more.

We did it. We WON. It was GLORIOUS!

Over the past months, many of the results of Bob’s combative public persona have been exciting to observe, and gratifying. A take-no-prisoners approach that seems to thrive on, not fear, combat.

He’s smart and savvy. He seemed to be winning most of the principled fights. It’s been easy to cheer him on, especially for those of us who prefer to passively think “people will just do the right things if they have all the facts,” which actually doesn’t work in politics most of the time.

In my personal life, I’ve been in relationships that, despite much hope, potential, promise, and desire, eventually fail those aspirations enough to warrant painfully parting from them. Applying this real-life wisdom to San Diego progressive politics: there’s a line. There comes a time when we cannot turn a blind eye and absorb the disappointments, some of those with questionable legality, any longer.

At some point, all of our donated hours and personal investments have been worth the effort, but we realize with information it’s time for them to be redirected.

So, San Diego: you have now had a taste of your voice being heard. You’ve learned it takes more than an election, and it’s time to continue those efforts. You’ve felt the exhilarating “I backed the right guy: look at him go!” feeling… but as you learn there’s a dark side to this persona, one that does not reflect a reconcilable, justifiable ethic, it compels a different position.

We came this far. We’ve accomplished so much. We’ve been betrayed – all of us. Let the anger fuel a new direction.

Part of the failure came from putting our “salvation” in the hands of one (strong mayor) person. Part of it came as a result of poor collective community, organization, and expression of failed values. Perhaps part of it is the result of wanting more beautiful, carefree beach days with our families. But now: we know it takes constant engagement to ensure our interests will be protected.

Our next leaders will be better for the lesson. We’ll have to be closer, more consistently engaged, to be effective.

And we’re not willing to blame victims nor compromise on basic ethical principles to obtain our vision.

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The individual in community

How do we define ourselves?

Last year I watched an Ani DiFranco documentary in which she passionately opposes the death penalty. It has echoed frequently in my thoughts since then: How is it we can define a human’s entire worth by their single worst moment? How is it that one choice (or a series of choices culminating in a terrible act) can be the extent of how that person is valued and devalued? An entire life defined in one moment.

Not only do our impressions of negative experiences overshadow many other defining moments, but sometimes we hope to have a single achievement that will answer the question of personal worth for all time.

When I was young, I used to read books by the woodsy humorist Patrick McManus. One of his invented daydreams was that he would be selected to do nothing but polish a wooden walking stick for one year. At the end of that year, there would be accolades! The stick would be displayed for all to see as the ultimate in perfectly polished walking sticks, and he would retire happy, at the top of his game, praised for all time.

“Man, just look at that stick.” Happy sigh.

Sometimes when life is tiresome, we all just want to arrive, get a gold star signifying a life well lived, and relax.

I can define myself in so many ways – some of which are incongruent with other portions of my life. Some of these elevate me, others diminish and define as “less-than,” some even as a victim of circumstances beyond my control but for which I still feel responsible. At any time, I can choose one of these as my focus and self-definition, but that habit is myopic and inaccurate.

It interests me that there are pockets of my life my daughters know nothing about. They can’t yet relate, or they haven’t come up in conversation, it it wouldn’t yet be helpful nor purposeful. But I’m their MOM – one of the closest people to them. It seems so odd for them to only know me contextually through the things we’ve shared.

Who am I to them, right now, as opposed to how I define myself at any given moment? Who am I to you, or in relation to you? How to I re-position myself to be more known, more helpful, with an ever-more-meaningful, evolving purpose?

In my early teen years, I learned that I had a proclivity to bottle things up. Sharing the confusing emotions – the sometimes seemingly uncontrollable, hormonal anger, the thoughts that might make others feel poorly – was difficult. So I’d internalize these until they bubbled over.

My Dad began drawing me out. It was awful. Then I realized: sharing made me feel better. I felt lighter inside and more understood. The emotions were more measured and manageable when I didn’t try to suppress the thoughts that fed them. The thoughts in my head at any given time didn’t have to define my persona for all time, and talking them out – personally connecting – was intrinsically rewarding.

I’m still not very good at it – at finding the right, trustworthy people to proactively engage – or making time to share with the kind people already deeply connected to my life.

I often get lost in a sea of related thoughts and wonder, when coming briefly out of my reveries and ponderings, why strangers smile on the sidewalk or try to engage in friendly smalltalk at the store.

I’m going to keep working on being present though, because just as I learned when I was young: it takes practice, but sharing creates peace and lightheartedness. Difficult topics are lighter when known by another. Connecting is the only way to create community.

Who I am in the context of my communities can be somewhat fluid – you’ll know me through a series of impressions, assumptions, and experiences.

I want my motivation to always be inspired by the poetess Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I want to create community like the old guy in this story (the author’s father), and grow the capacity for joy in myself and others. I can’t do that by holding back, or keeping my head in the clouds, or by avoiding the smiling eyes of strangers I meet. I am not defined solely by the things I think.

Social media, for all its benefits and potential benefits, tends to make me more insular.

Let’s remember to look each other fully in the face, hug, and use our voices to talk and laugh together. The world needs that ongoing practice and connection. We’ll continue to define and re-define ourselves along the way.

Connecting can bring vulnerability, discomfort, and even pain at times, but together is better than alone. Our communities – and ourselves – need the healing that only connecting can bring.

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Walk the talk.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is more than a legend who invokes annual reverential and somber feelings. He was not only a historical figure whose choices and leadership shaped a critical phase of history, but his teachings are relevant now; always. We have responsibilities.

Many of us are angry and afraid. We harbor anger at injustice and its causes – anger which is an appropriate reaction but often misapplied. We spout self-righteous opinions which amount to little more than injured pride, but ignore far-reaching policies and attitudes of indifference which perpetuate injury to the least among us. We know the world is changing and something is wrong, but we don’t know what to do about it, so we devolve into finger-pointing and petty arguments. Or, we disengage; numb our awareness and feelings of ineffectiveness with t.v. sitcom marathons, 140-character amusements, and wine.

Rev. Dr. King offers inspiration and instruction, even in a changed country. Where sensible, caring people are concerned, but cannot define the root of our societal ills. We just want to be nice, able to work hard and live comfortable, happy lives. We think that’s freedom, so long as we don’t look too closely at oppressive global systems which support our notions of comfort.

We don’t want to rock the boat, nor be impolite. So we pick up cathartic causes here and there and show kindness to our friends and those less fortunate. We pay attention around election time and try to make informed choices, but we don’t want to preach about social change or make our friends uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, things get worse. We are decreasingly a country of opportunity for all. The noise and conflicting reports and political posturing are distasteful and confusing, and we don’t want to offend anyone.

I was reminded today that there is no freedom to be attained, only continually sought. It’s not a destination on a map where we will eventually arrive and live happily ever after. It’s a continual struggle, requiring engagement and effort against power structures that will always seek to overstep.

The sustained tension is unpleasant, but necessary. “Polite people get poisoned.”

Over the past weeks, I have envisioned Rev. Dr. King traveling through India, witnessing the effectiveness of an entire population embracing Gandhi’s quiet, powerful leadership. I’ve pondered the palpable tension and desire for vengeance in the U.S. in response to inequality, racially targeted oppression and murders, but the impact of the masses who instead trusted in Rev. King’s example patterned after Gandhi’s. I have solemnly considered the wisdom of these two great leaders from different religious traditions leading distraught, angry, wronged people to co-create a more just world.

As I catch bits of angry broadcasts inciting our population against one political party or another, vilifying and insulting fellow Americans, as I read daily how some of that spews into my social media feeds, I consider Reverend King.

He was no advocate of doormat activism (there is no such thing), or of retreat in the face of inhumane injustices.

He was powerful – so compelling that now, new interests attempt to co-opt segments of his messages to advance their agendas – many of which are contrary to his legacy and comprehensive teachings.

A note of caution and a challenge: Rev. King was a Christian. An “I love the enemy who will, assuredly, take my life” kind of Christian.

We cannot divorce the words of Rev. King from this principle. He embodied a love big enough to choose peaceful nonviolence; structured rebellion. He was committed enough to die doing it.

If you’re going to use his words, follow his example.

We need to modify our expressions and model loving intent toward one another: change-forging language and activism founded in a big enough love to forgive our neighbor, even oppressors, even as we seek justice.

Even on social media. Even with strangers and leaders and friends with whom we disagree.

It can’t be polite hatred or ‘tolerance,’ it has to be love. Love for the better world we will create, with enough left over to forgive the ones who have injured those who cannot speak for themselves. To forgive those who have hurt us. Love that imposes upon the conscience with awareness and patient insistence.

It’s not the easy path, but the easy path leads to suffering and slow societal death. Acting in anger for its own sake is temporal, but deeper commitment to the broader community – even love for the oppressors among us – produces lasting change.

Our children can’t be what they can’t see. Let them see injustice in the world; let them feel the resultant anger, then let them see your commitment to sustained, loving creative tension to change our world.

We’ll walk hand in hand some day.

“ Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good. ” – Mahatma Gandhi

“As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  – Marianne Williamson

“If you want Peace, work for Justice.”  – Pope Paul VI

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Why I'll support Obama with my vote.

Although I’m not completely pleased with President Obama, I will support him for another four years.

Ideologically and as a Christian, I have become more aligned with progressive policies than conservative ones, primarily because a wealthy nation should care for its weakest citizens. A prosperous nation doesn’t gain or maintain success by increasing cultural and economic divides.

In Jesus’ day, when asked about taxes (it was a trick question then, too), he instructed his followers to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” I would venture to say that capitalism and personal acquisition of material things are not inherently bad, but ‘prosperity doctrine’ has come to replace (or at least overshadow) principles of the early church. Though our democracy affords its citizens some say in the amount of taxes owed and where they are directed, and allows us to elect our leaders, we are still to respect authority and concern ourselves (as Christians) more with enacting the spirit and intent of Jesus’ basic teachings than vociferously denouncing these.

Jesus didn’t say to assess whether the poor are hungry and unclothed because they don’t work hard enough or suffer from addictions, he said to feed and clothe them. As Christians in a (presumably) democratic nation, we have the benefit of some of our tax dollars achieving these goals, and we have the right to influence elected officials to improve upon funded services. To most sustainably achieve this, we must also ensure even the least opportune children are afforded good education, and adults are given employment opportunities beyond low-paying service jobs.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s best efforts to keep his campaign promises and deliver a better America have been stymied by a Republican majority House. His attempts at compromise have been first rebuffed, then disparaged. The increasing extremism of the GOP platform is frightening to me. It selectively praises ideals of free actors in society while restricting healthcare for women and those already sick and protecting the ‘rights’ of polluters to damage everybody’s air and water quality in their praised pursuit of higher profits (among other concerns.)

Conversely, there seem to be a number of fears held by many conservative Christian Republicans about President Obama’s leadership (and Democrats generally), and abortion is at the top of the list.

Advocating for women’s choice isn’t interchangeable with advocating for abortion. I wish there never was another. However, it’s not a bright line issue for me, and I won’t support policies that criminalize doctors and women. Our jails are full, and abortion legality or illegality doesn’t functionally get to the heart of the matter.

We can’t vilify teens and adults who have sex outside of marriage. That most traditional Christians oppose sex outside of marriage does not mean it is an expectation rightfully imposed and politically thrust upon others. The fact that people are having sex who cannot afford birth control, married or unmarried, is a fact of life (always has been). If the bigger moral issue is avoidance of abortion, birth control should be made readily available for the good of society and as the more compassionate, reality-embracing option. Condemning women and children to a life of difficulty should hardly be the ‘lesson’ we are to teach, and casting stones isn’t our calling.

It is disingenuous to stand on a platform shaming young women (who didn’t get pregnant alone but many of whom will raise children alone), while at the same time creating policies ensuring they and their children won’t have a chance to live abundant, productive lives. Policies that ship manufacturing jobs overseas, reduce food stamps programs (often directly jeopardizing these in favor of military spending that does not benefit strapped military families), demonize and neuter unions, and cut school programs ensure children will not be raised by their parents who are instead forced to work long hours for little pay.

On marriage equality, there are a number of Biblical interpretations which do not vilify homosexuality (a word that was only invented in 1892). Regardless, again, this is a choice made by consenting adults which has no place being legislated against in a democracy. We’ve decided as a society to extend extra benefits for straight married couples, which creates an unequal standard. We should either remove these benefits for married men and women, or expand the application to those same sex couples willing to enter the legally binding contract of marriage. I prefer creating civil unions only for all couples in the eyes of the state, and leave marriages to churches of all faiths. The 1950’s “white picket fence” world nostalgic to some is only a candy coated part of the story from that part of U.S. history, and we can’t legislate our way backwards. Nor should we. We have to take people as they are, and create a new vision for heaven on earth. Dictating options for love and companionship leaves out a valuable segment of our population.

I watched a propaganda video intended to paint Obama as a secret, scary Muslim. I was left irritated at the premise that this would be bad for America, and instead reflected for the first time on the idea that, if true, this could be a tremendous asset for our country. In this increasingly global world, this could help build trust with Muslim nations attempting to implement democratic governments. It’s interesting to me that I grew up indoctrinated in thinking the Mormon faith is a cult, but Christians are ready to put their faith in a Mormon rather than a professing Christian who also has ties to Islam. It seems natural to me that he, being raised by his single mother and her family, would have also sought knowledge of the faith of his father and paternal family’s culture.

This fascination with the professed religion of any President is too much beside the point. The question for those most concerned with the impact on their personal lives should be: which candidate will most faithfully preserve our freedoms, regardless of creed (or lack thereof)? Separation of church and state is for the protection of the church as much as the purer democracy of the state. I think Christians should be involved in politics, but not to the exclusion or minimization of love-first policies in financial contributions, words, and deeds.

One last area of potential concern (and a bit of a surprise that it’s a heated issue among turn-the-other-cheek, practicing Christians): gun ownership. I simply don’t think any president will take away guns. It’s not a feasible fear due to the strength of the gun lobby and popular support, though that’s unfortunate. I’m fine with responsible ownership of guns, but I’m not supportive of assault weapons and ammunition being so readily available with zero accountability or tracking. It’s disconcerting that we’re so protective of our personal rights to mass-murder other humans under the guise of self-defense.

I do not understand the picking-and-choosing of application of biblical tenets of Christian political activists, denigrating efforts to feed the hungry while opposing expressions of free will, but I suppose I’m valuing Jesus’ primary teachings over other portions of the Bible as well. My personal conclusions are a combination of applied Christianity and policies I think contribute to a healthier American society, a greater land of opportunity for all her citizens, without favoring those who were born to the strongest and wealthiest.

So, although I’m not entirely pleased with many of Obama’s policies (including environmental), I think slow growth of the economy and people-first policies are necessary when contrasted with both Republican ideals and Romney’s stated positions. Unbridled profiteering (changing laws and corporate subsides via lobbyist efforts systematically creates victims and is not capitalism) has damaged our country and the quality of life of workers in developing nations. As Christians, we cannot turn a blind eye to this. A return of investment in U.S. owned and operated companies, playing by fair labor and good environmental stewardship ideals, rewarding 21st century sustainability standards and innovation: these will more slowly but more lastingly help our hurting country. We’ve had unsustainable, inflated growth (outsourcing the negative environmental impacts), and expensive wars. It’s time for forward-looking models. (PS, Ayn Rand was a secular humanist, not a Christian. Her philosophy is entirely that of the self-serving egoist, rather the opposite of Christ’s teachings.)

Finally, Obama’s administration will continue to surround him with advisers closer to my ideals. Romney/Paul statements blaming the poor for being poor (among other acclaimed positions) fundamentally concern me. Four more years, hopefully with a House and Senate that can enact a jobs bill without party politics blocking every forward motion, will be better overall. He’s done enough to deserve that chance, and his slower improvements are partially the fault of fail-at-any-cost opposition efforts and are potentially best for our Country in the long haul.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Why I’ll support Obama with my vote.

Although I’m not completely pleased with President Obama, I will support him for another four years.

Ideologically and as a Christian, I have become more aligned with progressive policies than conservative ones, primarily because a wealthy nation should care for its weakest citizens. A prosperous nation doesn’t gain or maintain success by increasing cultural and economic divides.

In Jesus’ day, when asked about taxes (it was a trick question then, too), he instructed his followers to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” I would venture to say that capitalism and personal acquisition of material things are not inherently bad, but ‘prosperity doctrine’ has come to replace (or at least overshadow) principles of the early church. Though our democracy affords its citizens some say in the amount of taxes owed and where they are directed, and allows us to elect our leaders, we are still to respect authority and concern ourselves (as Christians) more with enacting the spirit and intent of Jesus’ basic teachings than vociferously denouncing these.

Jesus didn’t say to assess whether the poor are hungry and unclothed because they don’t work hard enough or suffer from addictions, he said to feed and clothe them. As Christians in a (presumably) democratic nation, we have the benefit of some of our tax dollars achieving these goals, and we have the right to influence elected officials to improve upon funded services. To most sustainably achieve this, we must also ensure even the least opportune children are afforded good education, and adults are given employment opportunities beyond low-paying service jobs.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s best efforts to keep his campaign promises and deliver a better America have been stymied by a Republican majority House. His attempts at compromise have been first rebuffed, then disparaged. The increasing extremism of the GOP platform is frightening to me. It selectively praises ideals of free actors in society while restricting healthcare for women and those already sick and protecting the ‘rights’ of polluters to damage everybody’s air and water quality in their praised pursuit of higher profits (among other concerns.)

Conversely, there seem to be a number of fears held by many conservative Christian Republicans about President Obama’s leadership (and Democrats generally), and abortion is at the top of the list.

Advocating for women’s choice isn’t interchangeable with advocating for abortion. I wish there never was another. However, it’s not a bright line issue for me, and I won’t support policies that criminalize doctors and women. Our jails are full, and abortion legality or illegality doesn’t functionally get to the heart of the matter.

We can’t vilify teens and adults who have sex outside of marriage. That most traditional Christians oppose sex outside of marriage does not mean it is an expectation rightfully imposed and politically thrust upon others. The fact that people are having sex who cannot afford birth control, married or unmarried, is a fact of life (always has been). If the bigger moral issue is avoidance of abortion, birth control should be made readily available for the good of society and as the more compassionate, reality-embracing option. Condemning women and children to a life of difficulty should hardly be the ‘lesson’ we are to teach, and casting stones isn’t our calling.

It is disingenuous to stand on a platform shaming young women (who didn’t get pregnant alone but many of whom will raise children alone), while at the same time creating policies ensuring they and their children won’t have a chance to live abundant, productive lives. Policies that ship manufacturing jobs overseas, reduce food stamps programs (often directly jeopardizing these in favor of military spending that does not benefit strapped military families), demonize and neuter unions, and cut school programs ensure children will not be raised by their parents who are instead forced to work long hours for little pay.

On marriage equality, there are a number of Biblical interpretations which do not vilify homosexuality (a word that was only invented in 1892). Regardless, again, this is a choice made by consenting adults which has no place being legislated against in a democracy. We’ve decided as a society to extend extra benefits for straight married couples, which creates an unequal standard. We should either remove these benefits for married men and women, or expand the application to those same sex couples willing to enter the legally binding contract of marriage. I prefer creating civil unions only for all couples in the eyes of the state, and leave marriages to churches of all faiths. The 1950’s “white picket fence” world nostalgic to some is only a candy coated part of the story from that part of U.S. history, and we can’t legislate our way backwards. Nor should we. We have to take people as they are, and create a new vision for heaven on earth. Dictating options for love and companionship leaves out a valuable segment of our population.

I watched a propaganda video intended to paint Obama as a secret, scary Muslim. I was left irritated at the premise that this would be bad for America, and instead reflected for the first time on the idea that, if true, this could be a tremendous asset for our country. In this increasingly global world, this could help build trust with Muslim nations attempting to implement democratic governments. It’s interesting to me that I grew up indoctrinated in thinking the Mormon faith is a cult, but Christians are ready to put their faith in a Mormon rather than a professing Christian who also has ties to Islam. It seems natural to me that he, being raised by his single mother and her family, would have also sought knowledge of the faith of his father and paternal family’s culture.

This fascination with the professed religion of any President is too much beside the point. The question for those most concerned with the impact on their personal lives should be: which candidate will most faithfully preserve our freedoms, regardless of creed (or lack thereof)? Separation of church and state is for the protection of the church as much as the purer democracy of the state. I think Christians should be involved in politics, but not to the exclusion or minimization of love-first policies in financial contributions, words, and deeds.

One last area of potential concern (and a bit of a surprise that it’s a heated issue among turn-the-other-cheek, practicing Christians): gun ownership. I simply don’t think any president will take away guns. It’s not a feasible fear due to the strength of the gun lobby and popular support, though that’s unfortunate. I’m fine with responsible ownership of guns, but I’m not supportive of assault weapons and ammunition being so readily available with zero accountability or tracking. It’s disconcerting that we’re so protective of our personal rights to mass-murder other humans under the guise of self-defense.

I do not understand the picking-and-choosing of application of biblical tenets of Christian political activists, denigrating efforts to feed the hungry while opposing expressions of free will, but I suppose I’m valuing Jesus’ primary teachings over other portions of the Bible as well. My personal conclusions are a combination of applied Christianity and policies I think contribute to a healthier American society, a greater land of opportunity for all her citizens, without favoring those who were born to the strongest and wealthiest.

So, although I’m not entirely pleased with many of Obama’s policies (including environmental), I think slow growth of the economy and people-first policies are necessary when contrasted with both Republican ideals and Romney’s stated positions. Unbridled profiteering (changing laws and corporate subsides via lobbyist efforts systematically creates victims and is not capitalism) has damaged our country and the quality of life of workers in developing nations. As Christians, we cannot turn a blind eye to this. A return of investment in U.S. owned and operated companies, playing by fair labor and good environmental stewardship ideals, rewarding 21st century sustainability standards and innovation: these will more slowly but more lastingly help our hurting country. We’ve had unsustainable, inflated growth (outsourcing the negative environmental impacts), and expensive wars. It’s time for forward-looking models. (PS, Ayn Rand was a secular humanist, not a Christian. Her philosophy is entirely that of the self-serving egoist, rather the opposite of Christ’s teachings.)

Finally, Obama’s administration will continue to surround him with advisers closer to my ideals. Romney/Paul statements blaming the poor for being poor (among other acclaimed positions) fundamentally concern me. Four more years, hopefully with a House and Senate that can enact a jobs bill without party politics blocking every forward motion, will be better overall. He’s done enough to deserve that chance, and his slower improvements are partially the fault of fail-at-any-cost opposition efforts and are potentially best for our Country in the long haul.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments