King, Kennedy and the American Revolution

All of us, from the wealthiest and most powerful of men, to the weakest and hungriest of children, share one precious possession; the name American. — Robert F. Kennedy

I’ve been thinking a lot about Bobby lately. In watching still another year end as I go further into my dotage, I’m reminded of other years from the past that cry out to be remembered, the year 1968 being among the most poignant. When the announcement came over the television set that Bobby Kennedy had died from the assassin’s bullet, I called my husband at work, tears streaming down my face. “Now they’ve killed Bobby,” I cried.

Who were “they”? I didn’t know, but like many Americans I felt the presence of evil. A black miasma skulked amongst us as if waiting to see what we held most dear as a people so “they” could take it away. The feeling had lingered since that shocking day four and a half years before, on November 22, 1963, when our beloved president was taken down by an assassin’s bullet. As a nation we had never recovered, the shock still reverberating throughout our psyche like a terrible wound that would not heal.

Then another wound, the assassination of our great Civil Rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, younger brother of our fallen president was on his way to a planned campaign rally in his bid to get the 1968 Democratic nomination for President. Just after he arrived in Indianapolis, he was told of King’s death and advised by police not to make the campaign stop. It was in a part of the city considered to be a dangerous ghetto. But Kennedy insisted on going. He found the people in an upbeat mood and realized they didn’t know. In breaking the news of King’s death he referred to his own loss of his older brother and quoted from memory the Greek Poet, Aeschylus. “He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”

Just two months later, on June 5, 1968, while celebrating his victory in the California primary Bobby said to his supporters only minutes before he, too, was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet. “I think we can end the divisions within the United States. (W)e can work together in the last analysis. . . We are a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country.”

Some say that in 1968 America came close to political disintegration. Millions of people opposed the war and the military announced in early 1968 that it would draft 300,000 more troops. Americans were dying in Vietnam by the hundreds and young people lost confidence in our leaders and in the official version of reality. There was a movement afloat, a revolution at hand before our beloved leaders who had brought hope to the country were cut down. Although the war was later ended and the troops brought home, after 1968 many of us detached ourselves from the painful public square and turned our attention on matters closer to home.

Surprisingly, though, we ended up rearing children who became educated, sensitized and responsive to their natural and political environments. Adult children who were able to agree or disagree without rioting in the streets, who also have inculcated and are passing down the dreams that King and Kennedy inspired in their lasting contribution to the ongoing American revolution.

Good Morning, World

And a beautiful world it is, with the streetlight still shining on the new snow covering the old snow’s dirty tracks. As I watch from the window of my warm and cozy house the below-freezing temperature outside bothers me not at all. A friend of mine complains that her heat bill is rising, and I say “But aren’t we lucky. We have heat, and enough money to pay the bill. Some don’t.”

My friend naturally has to agree. How can she not? But, instead of dropping this banality on her head I should’ve written it in my gratitude journal and forgotten about it. After all, that’s what a gratitude journal is for. To fill with stupid remarks that I would otherwise drop on my unsuspecting friends.

Positive thinking is well and good. I’ve practiced it long enough to know. But it’s given negative thinking a bad name. What am I supposed to do with all the negative stuff that is piling up back there, waiting for the dam to break? We need to create balance in our lives and let’s face it, how often does positive thinking keep us from taking appropriate action or lead us into compromising all that we hold dear?

Perhaps that is what’s wrong with America these days. Positive thinking and gratitude journals and all that pablum having led us down the path of unreal thinking. In order to face the truth, an antique expression, visualize an instrument formerly known as the scales of justice before it went out of fashion. Positive thinking lies on one side, negative thinking on the other. Weigh them carefully. If you can get them to balance you just might be on to something.

The Sun has risen and the street light has gone off. I see rabbit tracks across the new fallen snow and wonder if they were made by the same rabbit whose silhouette I saw before dawn yesterday. I wonder, as I often have, whether the spirit of the animals is amused by the human race and our naive assumption that we are the crowning glory of God’s creation.

Beware the Ghosts of Christians Past

“If we take you with us,” he said, in solemn words, “It can only be as believers in our creed. We shall have no wolves in our fold. Better far that your bones should bleach in this wilderness than that you should prove to be that little speck of decay which in time corrupts the whole fruit. Will you come with us on those terms?”  Joseph Smith in The Country of the Saints — Arthur Conan Doyle 

Here we stand, at war between the past and the future, still fighting the same old battles. When are we going to learn that religion and politics don’t mix? I don’t care if it’s the Church of Christians Past or the Church of What’s Happening Next, religion is a private choice. Government is what we have to agree on, and good government takes work. Mix in religion and we might as well throw away the last two hundred plus years of progress.

Although all formal religions should be shown respect none should have special influence within the government from the seat of power. That includes the Mormon religion (which is also Christian and believes Jesus Christ is the son of God, by the way, something that’s been misunderstood) as well as believers in Creationism who want it taught in the schools as an alternative to Evolution.

Romney and Huckabee are both Religious with a capital R. Yet they will both tell you they can carry out their presidential duties without inserting their religious beliefs–these two men to whom Religion has been such a core part of their existence. Romney served as a missionary for two years and Huckabee was a former Baptist minister. We aren’t talking about faith.  Millions of Americans have faith, even Faith with a capital F.

Although we call ourselves a Christian nation and rightly so, our foundation is built on freedom of religion, to such an extent that in 1960 when John F. Kennedy was elected as the first Catholic president people had the unfounded fear that the Pope would rule America from Rome. But there the similarity to the current situation ends. I’m sure most would agree with me that JFK was not Religious with a capital R. He was only a believer and follower of his religion, not a propounder taught to induce people to his beliefs. By nature of their callings both Romney and Huckabee are propounders.

Since we want a leader who has high morals, it’s tempting to believe morality goes hand in hand with religiosity. But just look to the past and sadly you’ll know, it just ain’t so.

Presidential Candidate Wanted

The best thing about this group of candidates is that only one of them can win. — Will Rogers

I know I’m being unrealistic, but I want a perfect candidate for president. One who isn’t going to be suddenly exposed as a liar, a cheat, or a clone of Darth Vader. Why can’t we get someone like Lincoln – who probably wouldn’t have been elected if they’d had television in his day. Maybe television is part of the problem. Look at Howard Dean and the fateful yell that took him out of the running. If the television camera hadn’t zoomed in on him at that moment, who knows – he might’ve been president.

But we didn’t want a president who screamed like a banshee when he got excited, so you can’t blame us for throwing Dean back. Say what you want about Bush, but he never screamed into the camera, unless they edited that part out, and they might have, for all I know. In their zeal they might have edited out too many parts of Bush and he was really a nice guy.

Unlike Rudy, I’ve never been able to pick a leader. Would you believe that no candidate I’ve ever voted for has won an election? I know. It’s hard to believe. It will probably be safer for the candidate I hope will win if I don’t vote for him (or her). Perhaps I’ll vote for one I don’t want to win. But that brings me to another problem. When I try to use reverse psychology it never works. If I told my children not to do something they did it anyway, but if I tried to fool them by telling them to do what I didn’t want them to do, they also did it anyway. And then smirked because they knew what I was up to.

I would be for Clinton if I was sure she was not a boob (sorry, I couldn’t resist it) as we’ve already voted for too many of those. As for Edwards, he’s so good-looking it’d be fun to watch him as well as listen to his melodious voice, but that hardly seems to be the criteria I should be looking at.

Although I hate to say it, Mitt does remind me of Darth Vader, who was half machine, half man. Maybe it’s just knowing that he got rich helping rich people get richer that turns me off (John Edwards is rich too, but he got rich helping poor people get richer).  Mitt also has a stiffness about him as if the machine part has taken over. 

As for Huckabee, I really like him, but I’ve become wary of television evangelists for good reason and in my book he’s too close to that for comfort. I don’t want the church getting a toe-hold into our presidency. For those who disagree, just look at all the trouble our founders went to in giving us not only freedom of religion, but freedom from religion, even assuring that Atheists will not be coerced by believers while at the same time securing human rights as gifts from God.  In America we celebrate what sets us apart as well as what holds us together.

In America it is the spirit of mankind that was set free.

So God Bless America. And please, God, send us a perfect candidate, one who will fire us up again (without yelling) and in every way represent the true meaning behind the words of The American Creed. And let him win even if I do vote for him.

The American Creed, formally accepted by the House of Representatives on April 3, 1918:

I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people, whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a Republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect Union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrified their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it; to support its constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flag; and to defend it against all enemies.  –  William Tyler Page

Although the American creed is contained in the documents on which this country was founded in 1776, a nationwide contest was held in 1917 to choose a concise statement to be called The American Creed. The Creed summarizes and thus clarifies the fundamental principles of the American political faith as set forth in our greatest documents, our worthiest traditions, and our greatest leaders. It uses passages from the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

In giving us a delcaration of our binding purpose, our Creed keeps us from being just an amorphous blend of humanity. The American Creed expresses the soul of America.          

Destined to be Weird

I always knew I had a destiny, that I was born for a reason. I thought everyone was, although I’ve met people who said they had never wondered about such things. They probably thought I was weird, and they were right. I mean to them I was the one who was different because they were like everyone else, or at least they thought so. But what if everyone else only kept such thoughts hidden because they didn’t want to appear to be different or because they were afraid they might get locked up? Maybe it all comes down to my big mouth making others nervous because I’m known to blurt out things I shouldn’t say. In other words, what if I’m being politically incorrect without even knowing it, or what if I just don’t have enough sense to know people will think I’m claiming to be special when I talk about destiny? As if I’m claiming to be Napoleon? Whew! I’m sure glad I don’t have to explain something really difficult. 

If you don’t believe in destiny, read no further. The following is only for those who do not suffer from that debilitating disease called Disbelief. Unless you’re looking for a cure, of course. In our early beginnings, with a few exceptions by the truly great, we only sense a little about our personal destiny. It may not seem to be a big deal at all in earthly terms, but sometimes something happens that changes your life. It is as though fate intervened and sent you in a different direction than you were apparently headed.

You will wonder about this. Why did such and such happen? There must be a reason. A reason! The idea has been planted. If there was a reason for this then perhaps there is a reason for everything, including your birth. Now you will start looking, you will search, and you will find. Part of your destiny has been revealed to you, or perhaps in rare instances the whole thing. I say rare because it ain’t over til it’s over, until you take your last breath on this side of things. Then it’s a wrap, for now, in this body and this place and this time. Only God knows the rest and he ain’t telling.

What stirs your blood and wakes you up to full alertness? What do you dream about? What did you dream about as a child? Find the truest thing for you and you will find a clue to your destiny. Even if you find, like me, you’re destined to be weird, remember that God put us here for a reason.