Common Sense

This morning, I woke up from a dream in which I was helping someone to design a pamphlet titled Common Sense. It was like Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, but a point-by-point enumeration of all the reasons not to vote for a second term for this president. And now I feel burdened, like someone needs to do this, in the carefully-reasoned yet passionate style of Paine himself, simply presenting all the pieces. I have neither the time nor the internal bandwidth at the moment to do so. But someone ought to do it.

I’ve become increasingly alarmed in recent days at the worshipful fervor of the diehard followers of this man, at the increasingly cultic adulation by people who seem to be otherwise humane and caring. Every day he reveals more and more of his depravity and lack of human feeling, his selfishness and narcissism, his lying, his racism and xenophobia, his misogyny, his delight in division and violence.

I shouldn’t have read that Atlantic article about QAnon, perhaps, shouldn’t have let myself look at the polls, shouldn’t have listened to the radio yesterday, shouldn’t have let myself brood about the thing I heard someone say about how we need him in office because he is tearing down the broken system from within, shouldn’t have started pondering the cultic nature of his followers.

I’m really worried.
Someone should write the pamphlet.

Gratitude List:
1. Facts. Science. Truth.
2. Journalists
3. Compassion, empathy
4. My deeply thoughtful colleagues
5. Three-day weekend

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!

We are listening for a sound
beyond us, beyond sound,
searching for a lighthouse
in the breakwaters of our uncertainty,
an electronic murmur
a bright, fragile I am.
Small as tree frogs
staking out one end
of an endless swamp,
we are listening
through the longest night
we imagine, which dawns
between the life and time of stars.
—Diane Ackerman

“Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.” —Zora Neale Hurston

“If you are not free to be who you are, you are not free.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people; before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all [of your God’s] children; before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.” ―Cory Booker

“I need a God who is bigger and more nimble and mysterious than what I could understand and contrive. Otherwise, it can feel like I am worshipping nothing more than my own ability to understand the divine.” —Nadia Bolz-Weber

“You who are so-called illegal aliens must know that no human being is ‘illegal’. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?” —Elie Wiesel

“Emergence never happens all at once. It is a slow stepping into the expanded capacity of your next self. You may need practice at releasing in those places you’ve grown accustomed to bracing which, like a tight swaddle, was comforting in its limits. But when the time to remain hidden comes to its natural end, you must begin to inhabit your new dimensionality. Breathe into the fullness of your gaining altitude and consider that what presents itself as fear may actually be exhilaration. As your future approaches you, worry less how it may receive you and say a prayer instead for your becoming approachable.” —Toko-pa Turner

“I was often in love with something or someone,” wrote Polish poet Czesław Miłosz. “I would fall in love with a monkey made of rags. With a plywood squirrel. With a botanical atlas. With an oriole. With a ferret. With a marten in a picture. With the forest one sees to the right when riding in a cart to Jaszuny. With a poem by a little-known poet. With human beings whose names still move me.”

“Oh what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was made a personal, merely personal feeling, taken away from the rising and setting of the sun, and cut off from the magic connection of the solstice and equinox. This is what is the matter with us, we are bleeding at the roots, because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars, and love is a grinning mockery, because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the tree of life, and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized vase on the table.”
—D.H. Lawrence

Lord’s Prayer:
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi
O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.

Suggested Readings


In the wake of the political conventions, I’ve been looking at what has been happening inside myself.

Because of the sense of doom that I feel about Donald Trump as a political candidate, I have allowed myself to fall again into snarky and mean talk about the candidate.  It’s so easy, right?  And somehow it begins to feel that if I say it all loud enough and long enough, the people who are supporting him will listen up.  But that’s how he himself maneuvers his own agenda onto the landscape–repeat, loud and long, and repeat again.  We aren’t going to bring about a revolution of respect and justice and simple goodness by standing around blustering and yelling, no matter how cathartic it feels.  This article by Omid Safi (click here) on the On Being blog spoke to me about keeping the discourse on a high level.  As Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.”

Also, because I have been a supporter of Bernie Sanders, I have been feeling a struggle within as I watched the DNC.  On one hand, I relate powerfully to those angry, grieving Sanders supporters who wouldn’t settle down and get on with business.  On the other, I was annoyed at how the booing and the grutzing came across on the national screen as belligerent and fractious–there has to be a better way to carry the revolution into the next stage than through petty disruptions.  I also noticed within myself a real turning toward Hillary Clinton, a sudden eagerness to throw in my towel with her camp, an excited delight to finally vote for a woman for president.  Still, it was extremely helpful to me to have a thoughtful conservative friend question me very politely about how wary of her I have been in the past because of her connections to mega-corporations and her support of Monsanto and big ag.  This morning I got around to reading this really insightful article from my friend Jonathan Matthew Smucker (click here) about how the political polarization these days tends to be along populist/establishment lines rather than simply along conservative/liberal lines.  I will vote for Hillary in November, but I will not do so with a sense of having sold out my progressive values or embraced politics-as-usual.  I will vote for her because a Democratic landscape will offer a more open field for progressive ideas to flourish and grow than the fascist landscape offered by her opponent.  (And I will smile as I do it, because I finally get to vote for a woman, and that, too, is revolutionary.)

Gratitude List:
1. That vaseful of peacock feathers we came home to.  Someone left them on the table in the garage.  If it was you, thank you!
2. Playing up at Sam Lewis State Park with the family, climbing rocks, launching the flying toys we bought at NASA, playing Sharks and Humans on the jungle gym (the sharks always win).
3. This beautiful place where we live, how rolling hill leads to valley and hollow, which leads to rolling hill and rolling hill, off into the distance, with skuthers of mist and fog caught between.  The River.  The broad valley across the way.
4. Re-interpretation.  Finding new and satisfying ways to say old things.
5. That Rose of Sharon bush out there, white and pink and violet flowers shining out all over.

May we walk in Beauty!