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Wisdom: Day Two

Some of you may have noticed a lag between this and my last Wisdom blog (Day One 5/22/17). I’ve had a lot to say  about  our recent elections and their fallout . We are at political DefCon Alpha. Current events get in the way of more general thoughts about life.  As a student of history, a world traveler, a user of the Oxford comma, and a person of faith I  have a whole lot to say about our Orwellian present.

    But today let’s veer off the political track for a moment and let me tell you about a practice I am new at and love: laughing at myself.

One of my character flaws is that I take myself seriously. Those who love me say  I take myself too seriously. To be perfectly honest, sometimes I do. Okay,  lots of times. That being said, when I laugh at myself something happens. My perspective shifts and I experience a sharp drop of stress. It’s a two for one special:  freedom from self-judgment and openness to self-acceptance.

So the entirety of my wisdom for today is this: learn to laugh at yourself – your foibles, your missteps, your idiocy – and don’t wait until you are my age to do it. Life will be so much easier to navigate.

On the bright side…

As angry as I am/have been/probably will be again I can’t leave my last blog hanging out there for a week without making a point of the good stuff. There is much to encourage us about the race for the 6th in Georgia. I see things every day since that give me hope to power on.

Women are on fire! It was amazing to work with and see so many energetic, committed women putting themselves out there every day and every evening for months. We have realized that politics cannot be a spectator sport. Voting is great, putting up a sign is important, giving matters – but it is not enough. And we worked our ‘osses’ off!

We got woke. We became aware of voting issues and committed to work on the issues of racist voter suppression, gerrymandering, and election hacking. We got informed about the efficacy of paper ballots, ballot trails, and the need for election overhaul. Now we’re going to do something about it. We: long time activists like myself, and those who now join us, worked together, made connections, and saw it through.

We took Michelle Obama’s words to heart: when they go low, we go high. We encouraged one another every day in face-to-face confrontation with the opposition ‘going very low’ to ‘go high’. We defined and continue to define ourselves by what we value  .

To paraphrase Hamilton: We are not a Moment, We are a Movement.

 

We Are the Resistance

 

          After the Women’s March I came back to Georgia and became a part of the Huddle network. A Huddle is a group of people who participated in the march – either in D.C. or locally – and who want to continue to stand, act, move, make a difference. We are the resistance.

Our most recent effort is to elect Jon Ossoff to the 6th District. Hundreds and hundreds of women have shown up and worked their “osses” off. We have canvassed, phone banked, written personal letters and postcards to voters, and rallied on street corners trying to get out the vote. We showed up at Board of Election meetings and got early voting times and locations expanded. We showed up in courtrooms and for hearings before the Georgia Legislature.

We showed up.

The race is very close. I teeter between the real hope that Jon will be elected as a harbinger of change from our current ‘leadership’ and political direction. And in the deepest night I am afraid he will be defeated and the direction of our nation will continue to careen in the direction it is headed.

But even in those moments I realize that what cannot be stopped is a million women who refuse to give in or give up. A million women who continue to engage the system with intention and energy. Making change doesn’t depend on this one election. It depends on every action of each one of us in all times and all places. No matter what happens tomorrow we have made our connections, found our strength, and will resist with every breath we take.

 

Election Postmortem: You Missed the Point

 

Dear Democratic Party,

I write as a Democrat and a fervent progressive to let you know you have missed the point. Utterly.

When you do a post mortem of Hillary’s campaign you miss the mark often and with impudence. You fail to unpack  the inherent and rampant sexism that contributed toward fear and mistrust of her as a leader. I haven’t heard much said about her nearly 3 million vote majority. You curry Bernie’s favor and ignore the million women who organized and marched. (and continue to organize and march, I would add.)

You miss our passion and our concerns. The system is closed. As Democrats, we need a complete overhaul. We need to listen to women. Empower women. Follow women. You are missing it and missing it badly. I don’t want to split off from the party and I don’t want Bernie. Bernie misses the point, too. He addresses important economic issues but it is done at the expense and without the input of women. He does not speak to or for me.

As you think about our diversity in terms of color and class, as you ponder us as a party with a big table filled with disabled people, people of color, poor people, oppressed people, LGBTQ people, middle class people, immigrants, , and others you have forgotten that 51% of all those categories are women.

I am angry that you use my passion and energy for the political ends of the Democratic party and yet my wisdom, concerns, leadership, and rights are ignored. Court Bernie if you like. Your new constituency will be primarily young white men. And if he is true to form you will be left holding some incongruent bag of entitled members who may or may not support our agenda. The entitlement of young white men is much like the entitlement of old white men. And in the end, women are relegated to the gray vastness of ‘how we can be useful’.

The party needs to get serious about its internalized misogyny. The future of this nation and the entire planet depends on the leadership of women. Find a way to get there with us or move over and we will get it done without you.

Sincerely,

The Reverend Connie L. Tuttle

 

 

 

Am I Spiritual Enough?

This week I had the honor of having my blog  shared in an online group of fellow women clergy. I was excited until I reread what I had posted. Argh! Another political post where I talked about our nation’s need to repeat the part of our history that expresses the ideals upon which we are founded. It wasn’t bad. But was it spiritual? Did I share anything worthy of my clergy-sisters’ time and attention?

I wrestled with this a while. Some of my concerns were clearly ego. My online connection with other clergywomen is vitally important to me. What would they think? Even more important, am I spiritual enough for my cohorts in ministry?

I wondered if I am spiritual enough for myself. Here is what I rediscovered:

– spirituality has a million expressions

– whether I mention Godde or not, Godde is my ground of being (thanks, Tillich) When I act consciously I reflect my understanding of and relationship with the Divine.

– if I am not fighting injustice, concerned about ‘the least of these’ then I am not expressing my understanding, relationship, and experience of Godde.

– I would not be so passionately engaged in current politics if I didn’t name the evils of oppression, racism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, ageism, and the rape of the earth and sea and sky.

Because I am a Christian I will continue to speak and act out against the policies and actions of the current administration. I may not name Godde or Christ in each post, but I have reminded myself that I am following in a Way of peace and justice for humankind.

So I may not mention Godde. I may not thump on a Bible, defend a theological precept or church doctrine (actually I don’t do those things, anyway) but I will continue to live in such a way works for a world in which the hungry are fed, the homeless housed, the naked clothed, the oppressed set free, the prisoner liberated, and the earth protected.

It is good to trust that my clergy sisters know this. I am grateful my post was shared and I am even more grateful for the opportunity  to remind myself that I am spiritual enough.

The History We Need to Repeat

Echoing  in my brain is the warning that “if we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it”. Is that what we are doing here? Repeating the doom of authoritarianism? Fascism? The ascendance of a keptocrasy? Stripping away the rights and dignity of the individual? Having a group in power that no longer represents interests of the citizenry? Maybe.

But  the history I want to repeat? The American Revolution. We’ve been here before. We have challenged an elite ruling class before. We championed the rights and well-being of the individual before. We  created a structure meant to protect us from authoritarianism before. We have a history of understanding ourselves as holding the torch of freedom as a light to the whole world.

We’ve screwed the pooch on some of that. Ever so slowly we became inured to the disconnect between congress and the people. We know something needs fixed and, God-help-us, enough people thought electing DJT was a good way to change things. The frightening truth is that his election merely intensifies the gulf between the haves and have-nots, maintains the status quo, pits citizen against citizen, and diminishes universal protections for the most vulnerable within our borders.

People, we know better. We know better than to let fear own us. We know the risks and the costs of freedom. And we need to stop being afraid of them. Freedom is risky.  We know that. We know what happens when power is centralized, co-opted, and abused. If not from our own history, then from the history of the world.

It is time  for us to own who we are and what we know.

If we are going to repeat history then let’s repeat our Revolution. We need to own it and carry it forward. We need to ride to raise the alarm. Every shareholder needs to make a stand and contribute to the cause. Just like our first revolution, there will be some who support the powers that be and a day will come when we have to make room for them to come back into the fold. But now let us focus on the work of freedom and muster both the will and commitment to be that straggly band of refusers who never give up. It is time value the idea of who we are enough to be it.

If we are doomed to repeat history then I don’t want to regret my part in it, do you? I will speak out and stand up to what is hateful, racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, vengeful, greedy, and self-aggrandizing. I am willing to stand, confront, work, get dirt under my fingernails, go to bed exhausted, wrestle with hopelessness, and get up and do it all over again. Like my ancestors before me. Are you willing to do the same?  Take a stand like your ancestors before you. We are an idea whose light will not be extinguished.

Let’s repeat that history.

For Those Who Love Dystopian Novels…

            ‘What ifs’ are fun jumping off points for novels and movies. Like what if the sea level rises and New York City is no longer habitable? What if an asteroid hits earth? What if the Nazis had won WWII? What if the worst happens? How would we act? Who would act? Who would survive? And ideas worth fighting for?

Please don’t call me extremist when I say we are on the verge of a dystopian present. What I mean by verge is that if something doesn’t change SOON we will be thrown into a future from which it will be nearly impossible to return. Not that I want to return to the past. I want for us to move forward on the ‘slow arc toward justice.’  We have jumped the tracks. The train is off the rails and hanging over a cliff. We are hovering over the precipice of world hunger, pandemic disease, war and totalitarianism.

Listen, I am not an alarmist. I know this because I have been friends with alarmists and understand from observation what an alarmist looks and feels like. If anything, I am an optimist and believe in humanity’s ability and will to overcome adversity and build a better world. That being said, I have also seen evil. As a youngster I visited Dachau and confronted the existence of evil. There is no other word for it.  I have seen the evil of which ordinary people are capable. In college and graduate school I studied the history of Nazi Germany because I needed to understand how a whole people can become complicit with evil.

I’m certainly not the first, nor will I be the last, to ring out the alarm but I am ringing it out now. Here is the big dystopia we are living in today:

– equal education for all citizens(or the pursuit of that) is in jeopardy

– religion takes an unprecedented role in political discourse and policy

– refusal to address climate changes makes us vulnerable to famine, war, and disease

– hatred of the different- race, gender, sexualities, religions, is encouraged  by the lack of will in the administration to address it as a serious problem and, indeed they profit from it in their political base.

– our democracy is being intentionally dismantled in service of a kleptocracy

-the current administration lines up our population in terms of ‘us vs. them’

I could go on but this is enough to predict a dystopian not-to-distant future being upon us. So here are my questions: In a conflict between good and evil, which side are you taking? Does your personal self-interest eclipse your interest of the greater good? Do you think because you are safe now – because you have the privilege of race, gender, class, etc – that you will not be touched?

We are entering a dystopian reality. It can happen here. Will you enable those in power or are you going to work your ass off to turn it around?

An Open Letter to the President..

Dear President Trump,

I am not sure why I am writing you. I have a lot of concerns I’d like to share. I want you to know how afraid I am. How angry I am. I want you to know the things I care about and the things that matter to me – and to many, many other citizens in this nation you now lead. But I’m not sure why I’m writing you because I have had no indication that you listen to anyone other than whoever is flattering you and in the room at any given moment. I don’t trust your capacity to care about anything but yourself. I don’t trust in your ability to think in abstracts or to argue rationally from different points of view. But I’m writing you anyway.

I am writing like I am marching. And calling my senators and representatives. And demanding town hall meetings. Why am I doing this? Writing to you might not change anything, but all of us doing all these things together will. And because I think you and many who have been hired by the electorate have it all wrong. Being elected is not a sacred anointing. It is the collective body hiring a temp. You are not king or god or even patriarch. You are a flawed human being with a very large job to do and, frankly, you are doing it poorly.

The thing I am finding the most difficult to understand about you and about the GOP agenda in general is your obvious disregard for the health and wellbeing of the nation. Here are some questions I would really like an answer to:

How will reducing our access to healthcare make us better able to compete in the world market?

If you are going to privatize healthcare, why are you against raising the minimum wage to a living wage so that people have an outside chance of affording it?

How will privatizing education bring up the entire population, making us a better workforce and a better place to live, a better community, and a better able to innovate?

How will demonizing portions of the population bring us together as a nation? And how does that demonization reflect our values?

How does raping our environment protect our children, our food sources, our future? Is breathing clean air at all important to you? How about drinking uncontaminated water?

How is it that you only value the amazing gift of our public lands and national parks as unexploited business opportunities?

How is it that the forward movement of human rights and dignity, whose inception was the centerpiece of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, be refuted in favor of anti-Semitic, anti-people of color, anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-disabled, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee factions that are a gross minority in this country? Why are you giving voice to hatred and division?

I want to know. Most of all I want to know how to stop you. I’m pretty sure you won’t tell me that but I’m pretty sure that I will. Me and millions of my friends. Because whether or not you to listen to me, the voting booth does. I only pray it is while we can still recognize ourselves.

Sincerely,

The Rev. Connie Tuttle

 

 

 

It’s So Bad I Have to Laugh

 

 

Today I want to thank Steven Colbert,  Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, Jon Stewart, Garrison Keeler, the entire cast of Saturday Night Live, editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovitch,  and comics around the world who give us laughter in the face of tragedy.

Garrison Keillor’s Trumpian Interpretation Of Psalm 23 Is Spot-On Perfect

I am a news junkie. I am involved up to my eyeballs in the resistance – and that is exactly where I want to be and what I want to be doing. And it gets overwhelming, I sometimes get discouraged and wonder if my little bit matters. (It does! And so does Sally’s little bit and Chuck’s little bit and your little bit …and all our little bits together make a big ole’ strong movement of persistent, passionate, compassionate, warriors who are standing against walls and bans, misinformation and deregulation, and against Trump and his ilk’s basic inhumanity based on race or gender or nationality or religion or gender identity.

Watch: The Trump Song, a parody of The Village People’s YMCA

But let’s face it – we are taking on a lot and, by necessity, engaging on multiple fronts. The enormity of the work before us is daunting. However, we all get it: this is work that must be done! So we dig in and call and write and march and go door to door and donate our time and money to push back against the tide of greed and hate.

Pretty muchImage via Mike Luckovich AJC

Posted by The Other 98% on Thursday, December 1, 2016

I wake up in the morning and read the newest barbarism, the newest message of hate, the newest abomination done in our name, and instead of crying or raging or wanting to throw in the towel, I turn on Steven Colbert or SNL or find a clip on Facebook that let’s me laugh and groan at the absurdity of it all. Sometimes they fuels my anger (in a good way) and I am up for the day. Sometimes they give a release valve for my anger and I am able to be more effective. And sometimes they just let’s me know I am not alone, that others are calling out the disgrace, and that others see the absurdity of what is going on.

So thanks for the laughs. And thanks for sharing my horror. And thanks for sharing your strength of conviction. Because sometimes it is just so bad that I have to laugh.

Finding Your Rhythm

images-14Last week I, my sister, and my beloved Harry-the-dog went to the beach. Harry and I took some alone time on an isolated beach near Santa Rosa, Florida. When we reached the shore I let him off the leash and he pounded along the white sands before turning and leaping into the crystal green ocean. He swam out a few feet to catch a small wave that would push him gently back to shore. And then he would do it again. Over and over and over with unremitting joy. We spent the entire afternoon like this, the only exception when he chased shore birds keening overhead with his full-throated bark, tail lashing in delight. The beauty of the sand, the crystal ocean, the keening of birds, the hiss of waves, the warmth of the sun, the joy of my dog friend. It doesn’t get better than this.

But it could be gone too soon. The ocean polluted by plastic and toxic waste. The beaches overtaken by big-money developers paving paradise, the endangered species protected near the shore could become extinct, and only the wealthy could have access to our nation’s natural treasures – if they choose to leave them untouched, if oil rigs don’t malfunction and turn the pristine waters of the Gulf into yet another deadly slick.

These are but a few reasons I will take in all the goodness  of my down time to energize  my commitment to work for a better America and against the self-serving, irrational policies of the current administration.

If I should get tired of marching, I’ll remember Harry romping on the beach.

If I should get tired of making phone calls, writing letters, emails, and postcards, I will recall the public lands that are a part of our legacy as a nation.

If I should get tired of showing up at my representative’s offices to demand representation, I’ll plug into the energy of knowing who we can be, who we have tried to be, and refuse to let go.

I posted on facebook last week that I was a little tired and overwhelmed (already!!) and reminded myself and others of the importance of self-care. I am here to testify today that self-care renews us for the fight. It gives us a rhythm, like the ceaseless rhythm of the waves. The rhythm we need so that we can keep on keeping on for as long as it takes. This is not an either/or proposition. This is how we sustain our actions until we turn the tide. This is how we reset the buttons of our public discourse not only during this challenge to our very institutions of freedom, but for all the years to come. As citizens, we must be vigilant and involved on levels our generation has not seen.

So find your rhythm. Connect with your source. Prepare for the long-haul. We cannot afford to burn out.

 

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