Some thoughts and a prayer after the latest mass killings, this time of elementary school students: Banning all guns is necessary but not sufficient in light of the increasing violence in our society. We need a fundamental transformation as well as banning guns. Otherwise, we will now revert to the normal debate between liberals wanting more gun control and conservatives saying that it’s not guns that kill but people. Both are right.
To me this sentence sums up the crux of the issue I am exploring today. This response assumes something I myself question: why would change have to be slow in a democracy? I know the answer, because I think I know what she and others mean by a democracy. I think they mean a certain version of participatory democracy in which everyone participates in all decisions. I used to share the belief that this was the only possible path. In this understanding, we either compromise on the possibility of making things happen, or we compromise on the ideal of power-with, the value at the heart of this version of democracy: no one has anything imposed on them in any way, shape, or form.
The bottom line is that Feinstein was alone in criticizing Israel’s action. Although the Europeans spoke out vehemently about the sheer destructiveness of Netanyahu’s scheme, the Obama administration barely uttered a peep and Congress (stifled by the lobby) didn’t even go that far.
That silence is now being defended not just by the lobby (which proudly enforces the silence) but by those who actually believe that Israel’s policies are suicidal but don’t care enough about Israelis or Palestinians to complain about them.
Jesus says There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. Really? A lot of people awfully excited by the “end of the Mayan calendar” sure think so. Why, last week, NASA sent out a de-bunking message in re: end-of-world to try to head off self-destructive excess, especially among youth. Will there be distress on the earth among the nations? Ask Greece. Ask Egypt. Ask Syria and Palestine. Will the people be confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves? That question stings.
The “fiscal cliff” and fixing the deficit are all the rage these days. No sooner is the election over than Washington insiders and media pundits start talking about a so-called inevitable “grand bargain” that would cut Social Security, Medicare and other public programs we all depend on in exchange for modest tax increases on very high incomes.
The Middle East is the cradle of monotheistic religion. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were all born there. All three of these religions, at their best, speak about reconciliation and living with your neighbor in peace. And yet last month Israel and Gaza were at war again in what has become a repetitious pattern of military confrontation.
What has gone so terribly wrong? Why have these three religions failed so miserably in inspiring their adherents to act in terms of their highest values of peace and reconciliation?
There are many ways to celebrate the coming of the light in this dark season of the year, including the Winter Solstice, Hanukah, Kwanza, and Christmas. Christmas is supposedly a Christian holiday, but the orgy of consumption that accompanies this holiday in the United States makes that questionable. How ironic it is that people celebrate the birth of a poor baby born in a stable (as the story goes) by spending billions on “stuff” that will ultimately end up in overflowing landfills.
At first glance, the only thing surprising about the Congressional letter demanding that the Palestinians be punished for taking their case to the United Nations is that AIPAC’s role in producing it is stated openly.The cover letter to House members asking for their signatures (from a staffer working for House Foreign Affairs Committee chair, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) reads as follows:
I wanted to draw your attention to a bipartisan letter(supported by AIPAC)to President Obama from Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member [Howard] Berman, Chairman-designate [Ed] Royce, and Ranking Member-designate [Elliot] Engel. The letter calls on the President to impose strong, specified consequences on the Palestinian leadership and the United Nations for the UN General Assembly move to upgrade the status of the mission of “Palestine” (the PLO) to “Non-Member Observer” state.
During the next four years, we pray that the president will address some crucial concerns that we have about what is happening to the poor. There was a lot of talk about helping the middle class, but neither candidate gave much attention to the needs of the poor during the campaigns leading to the election. We want to remind the president that there are millions of Americans who have been left without medical insurance, and millions of children. It is imperative for the president to address this matter.