Friday, December 30, 2016

Quote of the Week

I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. If I were an atheist of the other sect, who believe or pretend to believe that all is ordered by chance, I should believe that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization.- John Adams

Saturday Video

All is quiet on New Year's Day
A world in white gets underway
I want to be with you, be with you night and day
Nothing changes on New Year's Day
On New Year's Day

I will be with you again
I will be with you again

Under a blood red sky
A crowd has gathered, black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspapers says, says

Say it's true, it's true
We can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one

I, I will begin again
I, I will begin again

Oh, maybe the time is right
Oh, maybe tonight

I will be with you again
I will be with you again

And so we are told this is the Golden Age
And gold is the reason for the wars we wage
Though I want to be with you, be with you night and day
Nothing changes on New Year's Day
On New Year's Day
On New Year's Day

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Saturday Video

Somebody shut the door
I know where temptation lies
Inside of you heart
You can talk during this

I know where the evil lies
Inside of your heart
Well get out of here

If you're gonna try to make it right
You're surely gonna end up wrong
Wrong wrong wrong wrong

That's the only chord I know
I know where the mirror's edge
Is inside of your heart

It's no even within five feet
Well if you're gonna make it right
You're surely gonna end up wrong
You don't look like Martha and the Vandellas
I'm just gonna start it all over again

Somebody get her out of here
Electricity comes from other planets
(It's not that a bad solo. Four times is pretty together)
(You can stay here)

I know where temptation lies
Inside of your heart
Yes he's ready

I know where the evil lies
Inside of your heart
Is he ready

Well if you're gonna make it right
You're surely gonna end up wrong

Oh the hole mess start again
Well New York buildings are very height
And not all offensive
Lock the door

Gonna carry on at infinite light, my dear
The Pope in the silver castle
Was that awful.
Hey, that's fine. That's it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Melancholy Christmas

I’ve I’ve decided I’ll talk a break from politics a while to share a personal story. For a time I resisted writing about it because the pain was too fresh. Now, three months later, I’m finally able to talk about it in some detail. I write as much to share this story with you as to make sense of my own thoughts.

My wife’s mother died in October from an extremely aggressive form of stomach cancer. The family barely had time to say goodbye. Though her first symptoms presented themselves in January of this year, she was not formally diagnosed until August. The first stroke that left her unable to speak and largely inhibited occurred barely thirty days later. A mere month later following that she was gone, not before lingering in a comatose state for two weeks in hospice care before finally expiring. I was not present for that portion, my wife feeling it better that blood family only be present. At any rate, there would have been a limit to my ability to help, complete with that sinking, helpless feeling of waiting, day in and day out, for someone to eventually expire.

In some ways, the process of death was mercifully brief, but a more protracted period of illness would have allowed her mother the ability to make amends and say a final goodbye. As it turns out, she never heard the chance. Much is left unresolved, no doubt many grievances and final remarks forever unsaid. One of the double-edged benefits of an extended period of dying is the ability to make peace for all time, and that was a courtesy never granted my father-in-law, sister-in-law, and wife. My wife was not as close to her mother as she was to her father and I’m sure mother and daughter would have benefited for some heartfelt confession time, but this was not how fate played out, for better or for worse.

This Christmas will be difficult, as any first Christmas without a loved one. As an in-law, I am present for moral support, but there’s a limit to my effectiveness as counselor. My wife has turned inwards as a way of coping, inwardly detaching herself in ways that I find perplexing and sometimes alienating. I implore her to vocalize her suffering and the thought process that goes into it. Sometimes my verbal prompting provides results. Sometimes she retreats again into her head, which I find maddening, though I am not unsympathetic to the reasons why she has adopted such a system of grieving.

As she was not my mother, it still has not quite set in that she will not be present for the traditional unwrapping of presents on Christmas morning. In fact, I find it hard to believe that she is not still alive. I half expect her to be perched in her familiar alcove just outside the kitchen, welcoming us in from a long journey. Naturally, it is a million times worse for my wife, who was raised by the very person she has now lost and no amount of mental energy and good intentions will ever make me fully understand. I recognize that.

But if there is any redeeming value to Christmas, to the gathering together of family, I want to be part of it. I want to be a good husband, for whatever that means. I’m willing to grant her infinite patience, love, and understanding, even if it’s challenging. I come from a family of talkers and infinite verbosity. She regularly retreats inside her head, especially now, leaving me frustrated at a lack of feedback.

Christmas has multiple meanings, and I want to fit as best I can into what will be a likely sad and melancholy holiday. But surely there is joy in being together. What makes this particular gathering especially unfortunate is that under most circumstances this would be a day of great celebration. Instead it has been a reminder of a person no longer present and the ghosts and remnants of her that remain. I admit I’m not sure how to keep away these truly sad associations, or if that is even feasible.

But I have resolved that I will do the best I can the best way I can. As a family, it has been a tradition to watch together the time-honored film A Christmas Carol, the 1980’s made-for-television version with George C. Scott as Scrooge. I must admit I am reminded of the scene where Scrooge is confronted with the Ghost of Christmas Future, a future where Tiny Tim has passed on, leaving behind only his crutch. It is the metaphorical crutch of my mother-in-law that remains, still present somehow in our memories and in a few trinkets scattered here and there but also very much gone. This is the grief that does not recede easily and no doubt has lasting power.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Quote of the Week

Всяк кули́к своё боло́то хва́лит.
Transliteration: Vsyak kulik svoyo boloto khvalit.
Translation: Every sandpiper praises his own swamp.
Meaning: Everyone praises their own work (or possession), no matter how inferior it is.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Saturday Video

I can't look at the rocket launch
The trophy wives of the astronauts
And I won't listen to their words

'Cause I like

I don't care for walkin' downtown
Crazy autocar gonna mow me down
Look at all the people like cows in a herd

Well, I like

If you're small and on a search
I've got a feeder for you to perch on

I can't stand in line at the store
The mean little people are such a bore
But it's alright if you act like a turd

'Cause I like

If you're small and on a search
I've got a feeder for you to perch on

If you're small and on a search
I've got a feeder for you to perch on
I've got a feeder for you to perch on

If you're small and on a search
I've got a feeder for you to perch on
I've got a feeder for you to perch on

Monday, December 12, 2016

Safeguards, The Electoral College, and Our Role

I have observed some of the frantic, last minute petitions to the Electoral College with a degree of bemusement. One or two courageous electors willing to not cast their votes for Donald Trump may be about the best for which we can hope. Not that I do not share their desire to erase the results of a mistake, but rather that I know we will not be let off quite so easily. The United States has had incompetent and ineffectual Presidents before. One needs only look at the procession of one-term, unsatisfying office holders in power immediately to the Civil War to see that much.

It is another event in history that portends better for us, if we want to truly understand the nature of who we are as Americans and the currents that made us the unique nation we are today. The Electoral College as an institution was designed as a means of protection, but we are seeking to interpret its function through our own eyes and for our own reasons. The truth is more complicated than that.

The Founders were all once British citizens. As such, they were well aware of the consequences of the English Civil War, which had concluded a generation before their birth. The French Revolution which followed its American counterpart is better understood, far more dramatic and radical, which makes for good storytelling. But it is the English Civil War of the misunderstood Seventeenth Century, sometimes called the Puritan Revolution, that is integral to connecting the dots between then and now.

The incompetent King Charles I was deposed and eventually executed, after somehow managing to anger and isolate every segment of English soil. It was a decision not arrived at lightly, and the English monarch was the first to lose his head in such a public fashion, an act that sent shock waves throughout the rest of Europe. The war itself raged for years, until finally reaching a conclusion that includes several confusing turns and counter-turns before its conclusion. The governing body of ordinary citizens known as Parliament took control, but the story doesn’t end there. Parliament could never reach consensus on matters of basic governance, which meant that the strong-willed Oliver Cromwell eventually ruled the island nation as military dictator for a decade.

And yet, after twenty years of experimentation, after being the first nation to rule completely without a King or Queen, Cromwell’s death inspired a renewal of the monarchy in 1680. This truly 360 degree turn did not happen overnight, as human nature, evolution, and basic recognition is usually gradual. On these shores, Prohibition was enacted with great struggle, tolerated uneasily for a decade and a half, and then eventually overturned by a more sober nation.

Precedent exists, but this is to say that nothing worth fighting for begins easily or ends quickly. We may think with our lightning-fast technology and push-button reality that major decisions can be made with a snap of the fingers. Humans are extremely creative and innovative creatures, but our basic evolution as physical beings is far more limited.  

I think that an eventual Trump impeachment, provided enough time, is not unfeasible. He has ample baggage already pulling him down. One only hopes that he doesn’t cause the world significant, highly avoidable problems in the interim. We’re going to need a lot of adults in the room for the duration. Our Chief Executive is not going to be an example to emulate for a good long while. I’m trying my best to adjust, knowing that I will constantly be disappointed and discouraged for the duration.

The Founding Fathers constructed a government to improve upon the systems they had studied, and eliminate the flaws that they had seen elsewhere. They were quite familiar with the massive problems that had been created by a foolish king. Patience with a monarch who claimed divine right to rule had eventually given way to warfare and violence. But they operated from an Enlightenment point of view, one predicated upon supreme optimism, believing that scientific thought and reason could correct human shortcomings. They could not have predicted the pessimism of our age, and the desperation and cruel spite that creates leaders like Donald Trump.

We’ve collectively been trying to make sense of what has happened, but sometimes decisions made off of emotion, not logic, do not stand up to rational analysis. The Founders, if they were alive today, would ask us to apply scientific, measured precision to solve our problems. Every unfortunate situation provides lessons. Each age creates its own challenges and governments derived among men must take into account that it sometimes takes years for a nation to find proper footing and responsible leadership. I hope our sojourn in the woods doesn’t last any longer than it has to.

The United States of America does not have a clear direction of where it is headed, else it would have never entertained this reactionary notion in the first place. In order to be in line with those idealistic souls who put its very framework together, it must embrace a shared goal that renews hope and promises positive gain for everyone. We are currently too indebted to the shadows. Attaining what we need is possible, but it will place requirements on everyone to look beyond fear and loathing. We did not end up here overnight and our problems will not be easily cast asunder.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Quote of the Week

My experiences with science led me to God. They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun?- Wernher von Braun

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Saturday Video

A boy is born in hard time Mississippi
Surrounded by four walls that ain't so pretty
His parents give him love and affection
To keep him strong moving in the right direction
Living just enough, just enough for the city

His father works some days for fourteen hours
And you can bet he barely makes a dollar
His mother goes to scrub the floors for many
And you'd best believe she hardly gets a penny
Living just enough, just enough for the city, yeah

His sister's black but she is sho 'nuff pretty
Her skirt is short but Lord her legs are sturdy
To walk to school she's got to get up early
Her clothes are old but never are they dirty
Living just enough, just enough for the city, um hum

Her brother's smart he's got more sense than many
His patience's long but soon he won't have any
To find a job is like a haystack needle
Because where he lives they don't use colored people
Living just enough, just enough for the city

Living just enough
For the city
Living just enough
For the city

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Trump: Not an Ideologue or Crusader

Donald Trump has yet to formally be sworn in, and he is already the source of many wild predictions and some of the most intense speculation in modern times. Based on the very small sample size of information that has been laid before us, how things will inevitably shake out remains to be seen. Being prepared for the worst case scenario might not necessarily be wasted effort, but I don’t know enough yet to even make an educated guess. The fear and anxiety is real enough, but those are two very different things. We know this much. Changes will occur that we strongly disagree with in basic principle, but they might further erode public trust more than bringing us to the brink of economic war with China or a hot war with Russia.

It remains to be seen whether Trump’s government will be an updated version of fascism for the 21st Century. Nazi ideology was extensively precise. I would never call Trump precise for any reason. According to its own perverse logic, Nazism was the very definition of a series of arguments based around purity, racial purity being only one of them. I don’t doubt that the billionaire Chief Executive-to-be is dangerous, but I think he may be more a sleazy new car salesman than an intimidating strongman. No one yet has focused on another potential outcome, if history is any guidebook to the future, the single term of Warren Harding, ninety-six years ago.

Harding’s government was the very definition of pay-for-play cronyism, crooked to the core in a way Hillary Clinton could, in Trumpspeak, never have begun to imagine. Almost overnight, the executive branch of the United States government took on the guise and persona of organized crime. The Mafia is unconcerned with purity arguments, rhetorical justifications, or reversing established precedent. It merely wants money, power, and the ability to propagate itself without outside interference. Corruption in government is not the harbinger of a terrifying new authoritarianism, it is merely old news in a new package.

How very strange that the electorate felt that it was time to drain the swamp and yet installed a leader who may do the very opposite by the time his term comes to an end. Hypocrisy in elected officials, especially those who sell themselves as saviors is another sad tradition in American politics. Back in 1920, a majority of Americans were weary of wars to make the world safe for democracy, nation-building an ocean away, and Utopian world alliances. And put that way, we’re really not that different now than we once were. The impulse to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world popular then was popular before.

I don’t think Donald Trump much cares to reverse Roe v. Wade or to recriminalize marijuana. Some of his cabinet appointees may take formal stances like these, but Trump is, to reiterate, not an ideologue. It is the opportunistic streak in many of those who have benefited from their loyalty and patronage that concern me most. They backed a long-shot candidate in the hopes of riding coattails to greater power and influence. Their primary allegiance is to themselves and to pad their own pockets. Bribery, influence-peddling, and graft on a grand scale will become enabled at the end of next month. No one is left to watch the store and without substantial oversight, liberties can and will be taken.

During the campaign, an argument advanced to elect Trump was that he was already too rich and too powerful to be paid off or unduly swayed. Though being President will hurt him in the pocketbook, Trump now has the world’s largest bully pulpit, which allows him the ability to exercise his strongest attribute, an inability to stop talking, Tweeting, or communicating something to someone else. Nixon’s downfall was initiated by underlings but proved his undoing by his personal efforts to cover up the crime. Trump’s problem is a little different. He is too undisciplined to keep subordinates from taking off with the store or settling old scores. True fascism requires lockstep devotion and supreme coordination. I really don’t see evidence of that here. The Donald is, to put it mildly, a mess.

It’s easier for progressive-minded people to voice their dissent by utilizing old methods, particularly by means of the umbrella term colloquially referred to as social justice. We can march on Washington for women’s rights and against global warming, but what control do we have over political favoritism and greased palms? Not that the issues lauded by many people aren’t important, but they accentuate how far removed we are from the mechanicians of K Street lobbyists and the halls of power. My purity movement or single-issue organization can oppose yours. I can reduce it to a bumper sticker slogan but short-circuiting the process from the outset is a different matter altogether. Activists find themselves playing defense more than they would like.

Even a Presidency as unpredictable and unconventional as Donald Trump’s is going to be easy to dissect in some ways. We may be losing sight of the larger picture in our haste to sound the alarm. President Trump might be no different than President Harding, which is bad enough. Harding realized too late that he’d been a stooge the whole time, that his supposed friends had used him from Day One. Trump is not naive and likely has lived enough in the public eye long enough to know that he needs to take care to look over his shoulder, but he may eventually reach the same conclusion. We as Americans can decide whether or not he is a candidate for our pity once that stage is reached. At the end, everyone’s been played.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Why Quakers Revere Silence: An Answer in Part

When I became a Friend, I was naturally curious to know why Quakers chose such an unusual and even initially confusing means of worship. Generations of visitors have been reverently mystified, leaving me to play tour guide to curious newcomers. Spending an hour in centering silence doesn’t happen in other religious traditions. There are moments of silence, of course, but not whole minutes or even whole meetings.

Most of the time, the exchange of information in a religious service is largely one way, with everyone faced forward, necks craning towards the action occurring center stage. I grew up in the programmed tradition, though I sought to break the fourth wall in my own way, participating as an acolyte in my family’s Methodist church. I lit the candles on the altar at the start of worship and dispensed brass collection plates when it came time to pass them. Perhaps then it was easy for me to vocalize my offering in Worship, though by no means was I an experienced speaker or entirely comfortable in the role.

Returning to the topic at hand, I have found a few answers to my query, though I won’t pretend to know the entire story. I have at least been able to trace the roots to later antecedents than the Primitive Christianity revived again that William Penn advanced. The Early Friends resonated strongly with a contemporary movement in Christian philosophy called Quietism, which was deemed heresy by the Roman Catholic Church in 1687. Quakers deliberately spread the teachings of Miguel de Molinos, a Spanish mystic, and the wealthy French widow Madame Guyon.

Miguel de Molinos gets to the jist of Quaker practice and the thought process of the average attender of Meeting for Worship in three short paragraphs. Below I include an excerpt of his The Spiritual Guide, written in 1675. It was an overnight success and a 17th Century bestseller, being translated into six languages and going through twenty editions in five years.

There are three kinds of silence; the first is of words, the second of desires, and the third of thoughts. The first is perfect; the second more perfect; and the third most perfect. The perfection of the soul consists not in speaking nor in thinking a great deal about God but in loving him sufficiently.
In order for a rational creature to understand the secret desire and intention of your heart, it is necessary for you to express it to him in words. But God, who searches the heart, does not need you to profess and assure him of it; nor is he satisfied, as the evangelist says, with love in word and in tongue, but that which is true and active.
What good does it do to tell him with great zeal and fervor that you love him tenderly and perfectly above all things, if at one bitter words of slight injury you fail to resign yourself, not being mortified for the love of him? A manifest proof that your love was a love in tongue and not in deed.
Silence is valued more than any sound or any word formally verbalized. As an idea, it’s a good way to understand that a totally silent Meeting for Worship is not meaningless. Much exists underneath the surface. Some vocal ministry bubbles to the surface and enriches our own experience, but the individual process of discernment keeps us returning to the well.

Quietists were seen as heretical because they relied fully on God’s intended aims for their lives, even to an extreme. Most Christians wished to work their way to salvation and to heaven through good works and right living. Quietists assumed that full devotion might even imply that they themselves couldn’t even enter the Kingdom of Heaven if God didn’t will it. That’s a thought that doesn’t always sit well with me, since I do believe that conducting my life properly comes with the promise of a reward.

I wish we did a better job as Friends of understanding our roots. As I was trained as a historian, I find ample evidence of how poorly we understand the past on a continual basis. Armed with this short article, we might speak to our own personal concerns and the questions of those curious to learn more about us. I conclude with a query or two of my own. What does silence mean to you? How do you envision your role within Meeting for Worship?

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Quote of the Week

One of the most ridiculous aspects of democracy will always remain the fact that it has offered to its mortal enemies the means by which to destroy it.-Joseph Goebbels

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Saturday Video

Look out, Mama,
there's a white boat
comin' up the river

With a big red beacon,
and a flag,
and a man on the rail

I think you'd better call John,
'Cause it don't
look like they're here
to deliver the mail

And it's less than a mile away
I hope they didn't come to stay
It's got numbers on the side
and a gun
And it's makin' big waves.

Daddy's gone,
my brother's out hunting
in the mountains

Big John's been drinking
since the river took Emmy-Lou

So the powers that be
left me here
to do the thinkin'

And I just turned twenty-two
I was wonderin' what to do
And the closer they got,
The more those feelings grew.

Daddy's rifle in my hand
felt reassurin'

He told me,
Red means run, son,
numbers add up to nothin'

But when the first shot
hit the dock I saw it comin'

Raised my rifle to my eye
Never stopped to wonder why.

Then I saw black,
And my face splashed in the sky.

Shelter me from the powder
and the finger
Cover me with the thought
that pulled the trigger

Think of me
as one you'd never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone

Remember me to my love,
I know I'll miss her.

Friday, December 02, 2016

A Resurgence of Hope and Morality in Trump's America

We as Americans are divided along political and ideological lines, surely, but what gets less attention is how divided we are along moral lines. Though I write as a person of faith, we are not yet so divorced from the notion of basic upright precepts that we no longer have any shared definitions of what constitutes acceptable from unacceptable behavior. One hopes we are not yet that cynical, nor that nihilistic, but a recent major election result has cast a pallor over that which constitutes decent and acceptable conduct.

Many of us on the Left have recovered from our shock long enough to unpack and deconstruct a variety of disquieting conclusions. One of them was the truly pathetic notion that a very large swath of Trump's defenders hypocritically supported a candidate brazenly antithetical towards any basic understanding, comprehension, or willingly implementation of Christian values. These voters might take care to be reminded of a passage from the New Testament book of Romans as appropriately tough medicine. Eighty percent of self-identified Evangelicals voted for the President-Elect, but must still come to grips with the base hypocrisy of their decision.

An cursory evaluation of the first few verses of Romans 13 might seem on its face to support the Trump regime, or for that matter any government currently in power of any persuasion.

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.

I find it difficult to believe that God could have placed Donald Trump in office as a sign of anything more than a painful reminder of how flawed and imperfect creatures we truly are. While I agree that all authority comes from God, how do we define “authority”? And furthermore, when does human authority exceed its earthly limit and push back against the divine will of God? In these days of Islamophobia, prejudice, and Black Lives Matter, can this statement really be said to be 100% true in every context? In my mind, this statement needs much further analysis. Paul of Tarsus, the writer of this Epistle, continues:

The authorities are God's servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God's servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.

Let’s remember that in this time, Christians were still being openly persecuted by the Roman Empire. But to return to the passage in question, are these authorities really sent only for our good? Maybe in a best-case scenario sort of way, assuming their motives were pure, one might assert it, but I remain skeptical. This might have been a slightly overreaching way of ensuring that Christians didn’t find themselves thrown more eagerly into the dens of lions or publicly executed. Paul also claimed that slaves ought to be subservient to their masters, but that is an even thornier matter I will not confront here.

Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.

But I can’t argue with every statement in this book. Regarding the passage above, you’ll register no complaints from me here. Put this way, taxes should be viewed from a more liberal lens than a conservative one. They are societal and moral obligations that every citizen must participate in to ensure that government functions successfully. Everyone should pay taxes, from the super rich to the middle class, though I do not think tax burdens should fall heavily upon the backs of the poor. Government workers should reap the benefit of taxation, not greedy corporate capitalists.

These words alone contain deeper meanings than a cursory view might reveal. Christians have historically taken one of three positions regarding their role in government as expressed by this chapter. All Christians, likewise with most religious people, agree that we are to live at peace with the state as long as the state allows us to live by our religious convictions. That was the reasons why so many faith groups migrated to our country from the very beginning. For hundreds of years, however, there have been at least three interpretations of the form these verses are to take.

1. Some Christians take a fully separatist approach, like the Amish and some Old Order Mennonites. They believe that the state is so corrupt that people of faith should have as little to do with it as possible. The Amish believe that we already live in a fallen world.

Some Protestant denominations often take this stance as well, though not quite to the same degree. They prefer to raise their children and live their lives in a protective bubble of their own creation. Although they think that they should be good citizens as long as they can do so without compromising their beliefs, they firmly assert that they should not work for the government, vote, or serve in the military. One sees evidence of this system of belief within Orthodox Judaism as well.

2. Others believe that God has given the state authority in certain areas and the church authority in others. Christians and believers can be loyal to both and and can work for either. This is the stance most religious Americans take, or even most self-professed moral people adhere to, though they are cautioned in this chapter that they should never confuse the two. In this view, church and state are concerned with two totally different spheres--the spiritual and the physical. Each compliment the other but do not work together. They were never designed to do so and, as the thinking goes, they never will.

3. Still others believe that Christians have a responsibility to make the state better through direct action. In the past, temperance crusaders, abolitionists, and suffragettes all took this stance, using religious and moral justification as motivation for their actions. Many progressive people of faith, Quakers like myself being one notable example, also share this sentiment. They can show evidence of this politically by electing people of high moral principle who also mirror their religious values. They can also do this by seeking to live by example, serving as an influence for good in society. In this view, church and state together ideally work together for the good of all.

It should be stated that none of these stances advocate for full rebellion or a refusal to follow laws, unless moral standards are being clearly and unequivocally violated. And that in and of itself is a matter of interpretation and degree, a debate that will rage first in separate factions before it ever links together due to political expediency and odd bedfellows. What cannot be refuted is that we simply must be responsible, moral citizens. And it is my opinion that the nascent Trump government is neither responsible, nor moral. Though Donald Trump has not yet taken office, I am disturbed by his vast litany of incendiary statements and the quality and caliber of the mostly white men he has appointed to lead his government.

We have an opportunity in front of us to refuse to cave to coercion and political pressure. We even have a right to prevent some rights from being changed to great wrongs. But even if we do not identify as religious, we have one of three approaches to take. We can play duck and cover, cocooning ourselves inside a unreal environment of like-minded individuals. That's one choice. We can compartmentalize secular from the moral/religious and ensure that never the twain shall meet. Or, we can recognize once more that the personal is the political and that we cannot divorce morality and ethics from the process of governance and being governed. While I cannot stress overmuch that we cannot legislate morality ourselves, we cannot afford to have morality either legislated or jackbooted out of American society. The same is true for the American political process.

If you view yourself as a person of faith, a person of deep moral conviction, both, or some combination of the two, please consider my proposal. Every point in human history is unprecedented to some extent, but a few elements of human nature remain fixed and unchanging. What has worked before may yet work again. It is my own personal bias that I wish we would someday return to the Judeo-Christian roots that served us well for hundreds of years, but I also recognize that to some they have been tainted beyond all recognition. Still, if we are not people of faith, may we be still be people of great moral conviction and yes, even love for our fellow man or woman. If we retain this, the words of the prophets will not be proven wrong, and we may even redeem our own human fallibility in the face of great evil. This is our fight to win.