Memorial Day: Reflections on Sacrifice

Today is Memorial Day.

Today we honor and mourn the more than one million Americans who died while serving in the US armed forces. Today we pause to reflect on them and their service. They remind us that sometimes the welfare of our nation requires sacrifice. Sometimes, it requires the ultimate sacrifice.

It’s a fact that as members of a society we are sometimes called on to make sacrifices for the good of our fellow citizens. And doing so is noble noble and patriotic. That’s the reason for this holiday; that’s the reason for the parades and the flag waving. And that’s the reason that (under normal circumstances) we have this day off from work: to allow us to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by others on our behalf.

Because that’s the American way. And not only during times of war, but always. Surely so: after every national tragedy or natural disaster, we’re fed hours of news footage of Americans pitching in and helping one another: filling sandbags, making donations, digging out, coming together.

And now, millions of Americans across the country are being asked to make a similar sacrifice to protect and defend their fellow citizens. We are being asked to stay home. To forego the BBQ or a day at the beach. And an extreme sacrifice: to wear a piece of cloth over our nose and mouth when we go out in public.

It’s hard to fathom the audacity of a society that would ask so much of its citizens.

Indeed, in an upending of everything we’ve been taught about what is required of us as Americans, we are now being told that in being asked to wear a mask out of concern for our neighbors, our rights are being irretrievably infringed upon. Can one think of anything more infringing than a face mask? Certainly not being asked to button on a uniform, strap on a weapon, and fight and die in a foreign land.

Remember when Americans believed that with rights come responsibilities? That Freedom isn’t Free? How did the Republican party (and for sure, this pre-dates the Trump Republican party) manage to make such a mockery of the concept of shared sacrifice? of caring for our neighbors and putting others ahead of ourselves? When did thinking about the welfare of our fellow Americans become such an infringement on our God-given rights? When did looking out for others become so un-patriotic?

On this day of reflection, I’m reflecting on what seems to be a new era of selfishness that I see growing in this country. It’s a sad day indeed.

Invisibility Doomed Elizabeth Warren

Ever since Elizabeth Warren ended her presidential primary run, there’s been a deluge of articles analyzing what went wrong with her campaign. After all, on paper at least, Warren was the ideal Democratic candidate for 2020: brilliant, capable, experienced, compassionate, and female. She had real policies for fixing many of the problems that plague hard working Americans. She had a plan for everything. And after the near-miss in 2016, America seemed ready to put a smart, capable, qualified woman in the White House.

Political analysts looked everywhere for the reason Warren never placed higher than third in any primary — why she didn’t even win her home state of Massachusetts. Some argued she was doomed out of the gate by the mishandling of her claim of Native American ancestry and by allowing Trump to bait her into taking a DNA test. Others argued it was her public feud with Bernie Sanders over whether or not he told her that a woman couldn’t be elected president. One analysis laid the blame squarely at the feet of her chief campaign strategist Joe Rospars for softening her edges and trying to hide her image as a fighter, arguably her most compelling quality.

But most pundits came to the conclusion that, just like in 2016, the true reason for Elizabeth Warren’s failure was that we just don’t like women. Call it sexism, misogyny, testimonial injustice, or a double standard, the only logical explanation for why, in a campaign that began with a historically diverse field of candidates, the putative Democratic nominee for president in 2020 is an old white man.

But it wasn’t sexism that sank Warren’s campaign. Or Amy Klobuchar’s. Or even Hillary Clinton’s. It was invisibility. Elizabeth Warren’s problem isn’t that she’s a woman per se; it’s that she’s a middle-aged woman. And in our society, middle-aged women are simply invisible.

Continue reading “Invisibility Doomed Elizabeth Warren”

Repost: My Fear and the (New) American Way

[January 29, 2020: While watching the sham of an Impeachment Trial today, I was reminded of this post which I originally wrote in 2016, shortly after the election. Sadly, I realized that we are now living in my nightmare scenario.]

I’ve been told that a good way to help with anxiety is to identify in detail the thing you are most concerned will happen. This is the Worst-Case Scenario approach, and the theory is that sometimes specifically identifying what we fear can help us realize that our anxiety may be unfounded. So I challenged myself to name the thing that I am most afraid of regarding a Trump Presidency.

Continue reading “Repost: My Fear and the (New) American Way”

I Thought We Were Better Than This

I’m so saddened by what I’ve seen in the news and on social media this week. The rush to judgment, the hard lines drawn, the accusations. I really feel as though we have reached a new low.

The discourse surrounding the now-infamous events in Washington DC between Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School students and an indigenous activist and Marine veteran Omaha Elder Nathan Phillips have highlighted divisions and biases in America that are deeper and uglier than I ever imagined. In an era where we are exposed to a daily dose of deeply depressing and disturbing events, this is the most deeply depressing and disturbing thing I have seen.

Continue reading “I Thought We Were Better Than This”

Men: Let’s Talk About Your Birth Control

You know it’s not just slutty liberal college women who are having sex.

Non-slutty women in monogamous relationships have sex too.

In fact, I have it on good authority that there are plenty of perfectly respectable, married, conservative, Christian women out there engaging in the act, many of them with their own husbands. And though I’m sure that most of them don’t enjoy it, some of them actually might. But that’s beside the point.

Continue reading “Men: Let’s Talk About Your Birth Control”

Kavanaugh Situation is the Teachable Moment We’ve Been Waiting For

Photo of 1985 DKE Fraternity

Are you one of the people who says kids today need to learn that their actions have consequences? That parents today need to stop bending over backwards to protect their children from the consequences of their behavior? Do you complain about the parent who calls their kid’s teacher to explain why Justin didn’t finish his book report, or tell stories about that mom who showed up at school with Emily’s warm coat that she accidentally left at home?

Or are you one of the people now saying that Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s behavior shouldn’t matter: “It was a long time ago. It was high school. It’s not relevant.”

Because you don’t get to have it both ways.

Leave aside Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations about what happened the night of that party 30-odd years ago. That’s a different topic. But enough people who knew Kavanaugh at Georgetown Prep and at Yale have now come forward to say that he was a frequent heavy drinker and a partier. He was a member of DKE, a fraternity at Yale that was notorious for heavy drinking and misogynistic behavior. Former roommates, friends, and acquaintances have described him as belligerent and mean when drunk, have said that he was “frequently unusually drunk,” and have described other behavior that anyone who is familiar with the heavy drinking that goes on at high schools and college campuses easily recognizes.

And yes, it was a long time ago, but that behavior has consequences. Still. Now.

Responsible parents struggle to teach their teenagers to be careful: to use discretion and sense and to think before they act. Modern parents have also had to add the caution about being responsible about what their kids post and tweet. Be careful. Because your behavior could come back and haunt you.

The big threat is always that a potential employer might learn about your indiscretions and decide that you aren’t the kind of person they want working for them. Yes, employers can, do and should look back at your behavior and decide what it says about your character. Even when the employer is the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

This moment right here is the moment that parents need to point to to remind our kids that their actions have repercussions. If we excuse this behavior because it happened a long time ago we’re no better than the helicopter and lawnmower parents that we criticize. We need to let the chips fall where they may.

And that’s true no matter how you feel about the political ramifications of the nomination, regardless of whether you support the current administration or not.

This is where the rubber meats the road, folks. This is where everyone who ever criticized an overly-involved parent or said that Millennials or Gen Y or kids today need to learn that life is hard should now be saying “Sorry, Brett. You’re not hired.”

We Have Become a Nation with Zero Tolerance

Would you make a thousand-mile, perilous journey in the hope of saving yourself or your children? I don’t know if I would have the courage. But I have a story in my own family history that comes close to the kind of desperation felt by the immigrant families pouring across our southern border. Continue reading “We Have Become a Nation with Zero Tolerance”