Death of Democracy, of Republic

I have been fuzzy in my civic understanding of the differences and similarities between a democracy and a republic, and to what degree my own nation is one or both of those. This morning, alarmingly, I have seen two articles posted online, one warning that our democracy is dying, the other that our republic is in its death throes. I suppose it’s time I develop a clearer understanding of the terms so that I can better understand what it is we are in danger of losing.

I think we are an oligarchy. I think we are in end-stage capitalism. I think that greed and self-interest have become the MO of our most powerful public servants. Serving the will of the people, and doing the right thing, have taken second place to staying in office, and garnering personal political power and wealth. The ideals of democracy and republic have failed to serve us as a nation.

There have been some bright spots in this impeachment process, some fine speechmaking and oratory, some grand ideals expressed, some hope for a society that governs itself according to core principles of freedom and justice for all. Still, the defensiveness and bullying, the sense of threat hanging over the whole proceeding, begins to make the story feel ominous and tragic.

A society that cares more about protecting the assets of its wealthiest members rather than providing for the basic needs of its most vulnerable members is headed for implosion.


Gratitude List:
2. This is my tabula rasa morning. I’ve been living in semester two for two weeks, but finishing up the grading for semester one. I will hit the Grades Ready for Registrar button in half an hour, and then the last rocks blocking this tunnel will crumble and disintegrate, and I will walk into the full light of the new story.
3. Wise people. Wise women. Helpful, thoughtful, perceptive friends. I don’t know how I would get by without those serendipitous and intentional moments of wisdom and care that you share.
1. Not everything is dire and tragic. So much is beautiful and wise and thoughtful and hopeful. You are here, and so am I, and we hold the ideals of a civilization that protects the environment and cares for the vulnerable.
5. Stretching, releasing breath, grounding, centering.
4. The breathing spaces in the day to come.

May we walk in Beauty!

Mist, Moon, Mist


As November 6 approaches, and amid all the squeamishness I am feeling about the privileged way we do politics in this country, I am thinking about the “right” to vote.

June 4, 1919: The 19th Amendment finally offered women the right to vote in this country.

Except. Only White Women. Women put their bodies on the line for this right. They went to jail. They were beaten. They were brutally force-fed during hunger strikes. They were called terrible names, and experienced social shaming that destroyed their reputations. And they were white women, and they fought for white women. Some of my heras from that fight were notably silent on the subject of race. Others actively campaigned against women of color being included in the mix.

On this hand over here, I honor them for their selfless and courageous fight. They saw their moment and they took it, and the world was at least a marginally better place for it.

On this hand over here, though: Is it a victory, really, if it actively marginalizes such a large number of us?

My heras have feet of clay. Fatal flaws. Lack of real vision and insight and completely human compassion. Still, their work paved the way. But not for all of us. Did it at least open the door for all of us?

The Snyder Act, in 1924, finally gave the country’s original inhabitants the right to vote, five years after white women could vote. And looking at the kinds of voter suppression that took place for African American people after white people finally passed the 15th Amendment, it’s likely that many Native American women didn’t vote until much later.

While the 15th Amendment in 1870 ostensibly gave African American men the right to vote, we don’t have to look so far back into the mists of history to see how recently the Voting Rights Act was passed, to REALLY give black people the right to vote. It was on 1965, two years before I was born, and I’m not that old. So, while my grandmothers could have voted if they’d wanted to (it was against their religious principles, so they didn’t), my grandmothers’ African American sisters couldn’t vote until they were in their forties or fifties.

So this year I won’t be posting any images of the white suffragettes marching for women’s right to vote, as door-opening as that period was, as sacrificial as they were. And I am having trouble celebrating any movement to bring about ACTUAL Democratic voting in this country while the Supreme Court can take away the voting rights of First Nations people in North Dakota, while unscrupulous people are suppressing the black vote in Georgia, while elderly black voters are removed from a bus taking them to a polling place. There are more stories. Look them up.

I will honor the intent of the suffragettes who fought for the right to vote, for the doors they opened, and I will truly celebrate the life and work of the tireless Congressman John Lewis, who nearly died in the fight to bring about the Voting Rights Act.

There will always be undemocratic forces in this country that try to garner power for their own ends, to control the people. Voting, and fighting for the voice of all people to vote, is part of the bedrock of the democratic process.  And I will speak out–and I beg you to speak out, too–for the rights of ALL Americans to vote for those who are chosen to speak for us in the halls of power.


Gratitude List:
1. Good fiction. I am listening to The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. I don’t know why post-apocalyptic literature is so charmingly comforting in these difficult times. Perhaps it has to do with reminding me that things aren’t as bad as all that. Yet. Feel free to psychoanalyze me.
2. Speaking Truth to Power–all the people who do so
3. Cool fall days
4. The river, the river, the river
5. Magical, prayerful, contemplative acts

May we walk in Beauty!


Rhapsody Part 7 – Mary Oliver

If you are in the garden, I will dress myself in leaves.
If you are in the sea I will slide into that
smooth blue nest, I will talk fish, I will adore salt.
But if you are sad, I will not dress myself in desolation.
I will present myself with all the laughters I can muster.
And if you are angry I will come, calm and steady, with
some small and easy story.
Promises, promises, promises! The tongue jabbers, the heart
strives, fails, strives again. The world is perfect.
Love, however,
is an opera, a history, a long walk, that
includes falling and rising, falling and rising, while
the heart stays as sweet as a peach, as radiant and
grateful as the deep leaved hills.
*
“You either walk inside your story & own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.” ~BRENÉ BROWN
*
Duck, duck, goose.
Goose, goose, wren.
Mist, moon, mist.
October.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Live the question now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some day into the answer.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
*
“and if i hear one more time
about a fool’s rights
to his tools of rage
I’m gonna take all my friends
and I’m gonna move to Canada
and we’re gonna die of old age” –Ani Difranco

On the Nest


It’s not the clearest photo or the best composition, but you get the idea. Mama is on a nest. Stay away, coyotes and foxes and raccoons. May she and her nest be safe.

Some quotations for your day:
“When you teach your daughter, explicitly or by passive rejection, that she must ignore her outrage, that she must be kind and accepting to the point of not defending herself or other people, that she must not rock the boat for any reason, you are not strengthening her prosocial sense; you are damaging it—and the first person she will stop protecting is herself.” —Martha Stout
***
“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write… and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”
―Clarissa Pinkola Estés
***
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
―Isaac Asimov
***
“In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.” ―Henri J.M. Nouwen
***
My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.
―Adrienne Rich
***
“Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning. Probably that’s why we decide we’re done. It’s getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out.” ―Natalie Goldberg
***
“The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke
***
“That story you writin’ just might save the world. That poem you throwin’ down, could end wars.” ―York Poet and Shining Woman Christine Lincoln
***
Love
saw me and said,
I showed up,
Wipe your tears
and be silent.

I said, O Love
I am frightened,
But it’s not you.

Love said to me,
there is nothing that is not me,
be silent.
―Rumi
***
“Be here. Let your wild self fly free.” ―The Crows