Political, Spiritual and Mental Health Ruminations

During long walks, my mind wanders down political, spiritual and mental health paths I frequently lose by the time I reach a writing device. Some ideas stick, though not necessarily the most important ones. Please treat these as invitations to react.

  1. I’m sure I’m the only person who watched Straight Outta Compton and later wondered what impact the fiduciary rule would have if it applied to people like Suge Knight and Jerry Heller. (I was also reminded after re-watching last week that the movie deserved better from the Oscars.)
  2. Shouldn’t we look at the whole transgender bathroom issue from the perspective of optimizing the mental health and safety of everyone involved, including transgender people? If we agree that’s the goal, solutions are achievable. It doesn’t seem, though, that solutions are the objective for many in this debate.
  3. When will Donald Trump speak to America’s schoolchildren about not bullying children of Mexican heritage using his “words”? By Election Day, some will have endured 18 months of abuse beyond typical elementary, middle and high school torment. As I’ve heard from people I know about taunting they or their children have endured, it’s clear this wound needs substantial healing.
  4. As Pope Francis regularly calls for governments to further redistribute income, I’m wondering what Bible chapter I missed where Jesus meets with the Romans to demand tax increases. Shouldn’t the Pope spend more time reaching out directly to the wealthy to inspire them to give more? Should religions, including the Catholic Church, direct more of its resources toward social services?
  5. From a checks and balances perspective, is it better to elect President Trump than President Clinton given how many Americans view both leading candidates as untrustworthy? She would likely demand and receive total allegiance if Congress flips to Democratic control. He would likely be checked regardless of which party controls Congress, right?
  6. If a preacher in a white supremacist sect teaches that his holy book demands the elimination from earth of everyone who is not white (even if most who read that book disagree with his interpretation), would the FBI infiltrate that church or would we consider that profiling? Aren’t violent supremacy movements equally a problem whether based on race alone, race and religion, or solely on religion? Shouldn’t we react the same regardless?
  7. Bernie Sanders rightly talks about income inequality, and has even hinted at a few solutions that make sense along with many that would speed a path to Venezuelan-style collapse ($170 burgers, lines for toilet paper, troops in the streets). Breaking up the largest financial institutions—and otherwise actually enforcing antitrust laws—could spur the innovation that followed the AT&T break-up. Would he apply the same standards to information control and other business sectors that he applies to financial power?

I wish my walks included more time thinking about strawberry-rhubarb pie, river float trips and great dance moves, but I find myself frequently caught in loops around political, spiritual and mental health. I never assume that I have all the facts (almost never anyway), so please feel free to share your thoughts and insights, knowing that I’m far from finding answers to some of these questions.

Freedom of Speech More Critical Than Ever

Without freedom of speech that protects even ideas we abhor, we lose the opportunity to become our greatest selves. As November approaches, I suspect many of us will be tempted to seek bans on certain types of political speech, particularly if the U.S. general election is as vulgar as the Republican primary. The answer is not institutional control, but speaking out on our own.

Growing numbers advocate to criminalize disagreement with the general consensus on climate change. Many are actively working to make any speech criminal if someone takes offense or if the speech challenges a particular religion’s view of what is acceptable. It’s not safe space that protects us from the worst of tragedies. It is limiting institutional, bureaucratic control of our thoughts and speech that protects us. In the short term, it’s more difficult to deal with someone who sounds to us like a raging lunatic, but debate is more likely to force us to think deeply and resolve our differences than breaking into our segregated corners until we see each other as less than human.

Even as I work to design a voting booth vomit bag, knowing I will be disgusted with myself regardless of which of the likely nominees ends up getting my vote, I will fully defend the rights of my friends to support Trump, Clinton or any other candidate. I will assume you are doing so with the best of motivations unless your actions or remarks belie an alternative explanation. And if that happens, I hope you will respect my right to consider your views, take a deep breath and share my disagreement.

Democracy is not built around the presumption than any one of us knows all the right answers. It is built on the assumption that collective and even contentious debate will lead us to better answers.

Post-Nevada: Caught Between Political Hell No and I Don’t Know

Long troubled by the disproportionate primary process control of party extremists, I’m struggling to find a presidential candidate who offers me refuge from political homelessness.

With my political philosophy defined by non-traditional concepts of following Golden Rule principles and building unity – ideas that cross party lines – it’s not easy to find candidates I fully support. This year is no exception.

Republican leader Donald Trump routinely displays a full-force middle finger to anyone opposing him, emulating the contempt that President Obama has routinely displayed to his critics by not even pretending that different ideas could contain elements of merit. Perhaps Trump’s unflinching bravado explains his popularity among elements of the Republican electorate eager for payback, but he likely won’t build unity and he hasn’t even come close to sidling up to critical Golden Rule concepts.

Democrats are torn almost equally between a woman chosen by less than 10 percent of those Democratic voters who think honesty matters and a man committed to a Santa-like flow of government gifts. It seems Bernie Sanders would conscript more than half the nation into lifelong servitude that crosses the line between our Golden Rule duty to provide helping hands to those in need over to forcibly requiring the majority to porter around people who are both capable of walking on their own and likely to build better lives if left to paths with fewer bureaucratic obstacles.

Once I wake from the concept of changing my legal name to Hell No and running a November write-in campaign, I’m faced with the realistic dilemma of having to choose among less-than-desirable alternatives. Nevada caucus results only elevate my nightmare scenario prospects.

So what primary should I vote in when given a chance in mid-March? Who deserves help at least making it to November?

Each of us has our own priorities, but three fundamental reforms seem essential to the nation’s ability to survive long past our current 240 years (which also happens to be the average existence of empires before implosion or invasion). [Read more…]

I Can Explain Trump Supporters (With Help)

Only racism, bigotry or hatred could explain the call from presidential candidate Donald Trump for a temporary ban on Muslim travel into the United States or his months-old statements about Mexican immigrants. Right?

How can nearly 30 percent of the 40 percent of Americans who identify as Republican or Republican-leaning voters say they would vote for Trump today. Granted, his support from roughly 12 percent of the overall populace may not be enough to elect him President. Still, how could that many people find his exaggerated political statements anything other than repulsive?

It’s a question particularly perplexing, almost stunning, to liberal Democrats and libertarians, along with many traditional Republicans.

While I’m admittedly no fan of what I view as Trump’s Don Rickles campaign methodology, I’m convinced that the disparity in reactions to the Donald can be explained without labeling all of his supporters in terms so derogatory that no efforts to understand their motivations are necessary.

[Read more…]