Strange Days

Last night I hunched in my chair following the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in real time on Twitter. It is a tribute to American strength that he was taken alive, and I am relieved that he will not evade American justice. Like they say, ‘hanging’s too good for him.’ And the pattern of the suicide bomber denies the victims their day in court. Thank you to the staff of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for keeping him alive so the world can see him on trial.

Today I woke up around 5am for no reason, then couldn’t focus enough to leave the house till 10. I had some family time and was grateful.

I went to Shaw’s Market in Warwick which was unusually empty for a Saturday. People were really nice. Everything looks different, like it did after 9/11, when I thought about what it is to be American.

In 2001, the current president said that, “they hate us for our freedom.”

But as of today, we don’t know exactly who “they” are. We have enemies, but none of them so far are claiming these two young men whose own uncle called, “losers”.

Strange days on familiar streets. Everyone being really nice in Shaw’s market. Who we love, who we are, we see it now.

Mary Beck, Trig Palin and God’s Agents on Earth

Today my Facebook has a post from the tireless blogger, Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend. MSNBC host, Professor Melissa Harris-Perry is getting flamed for pointing out the obvious truth that citizens bear a collective responsibility for the welfare of our children. Even if they are not our own family, we don’t tell them to go play in traffic. Well, maybe the grouchy guy who listens to Rush Limbaugh does, but we don’t call him an expert.

I replied to Pam–
Rush Limbaugh is childless despite 4 marriages. Glenn Beck has a daughter, Mary, with a disability. Maybe he never took any state or federal benefits and had the means to afford all she needed, but if the wealth ever runs out over the course of her life and she needs medical or social security it will be the community that steps up. The same goes for Trig Palin. Are these activists so sure their own children will never need the safety net they are set on tearing apart?

In honor of the gummint entitlements that make possible benefits such as Meeting Street School, Hasbro Children’s Hospital and public education for all children regardless of their medical condition, I’m re-running this post from 2009…

Recently I got an email from Jim Wallis at Sojourners, a progressive Christian organization.

Glenn Beck has received a lot of attention for his inflammatory rhetoric lately. Recently, he shared a personal story about his daughter who has cerebral palsy, which gets to the heart of his fears about health-care reform:

They [the government] will say exactly what doctors said about my 21-year-old daughter: “She may not really have a quality of life. She may not walk or talk or feed herself. But then again miracles happen.” The “then again, miracles happen” part of that will be left out of the conversation. And I will not be able to see my daughter’s 21st birthday, where I can reflect with her how miracles do happen. Because really, as I was told at the beginning of her life: Well, what kind of quality of life is she going to really have? I don’t know, but that’s for God to decide, not the government. -The Glenn Beck Program, 8/6/2009

I hope everything is well with Glenn Beck’s daughter, Mary, and I can’t argue with faith. I can understand the Beck family praying for a miracle, and I hope it was granted. But in the world of meeting material needs, petitioning God directly doesn’t usually produce a check out of thin air. For that, Glenn Beck would petition his insurance company.

He has faith that the insurance company will be there for him. And that is fortunate. Because if he discovered in his time of need that the insurance he chose wasn’t adequate, he’d have a very tough time getting a new insurance policy for his family, with a newborn needing medical care. If his insurance company stalled on paying, who would he look to? The law, and the government.

So the question is not ‘who will you trust, God or the Government?’– the question is how much you trust your insurance company. Because when you or your family have a serious health problem you will be in no shape to go shopping on the free market.

God helps those who help themselves, they say, and maybe God blesses us when we help each other. I don’t know how long private insurance covers a child with cerebral palsy, but there are Government programs to help people with disabilities. It’s possible that Mary is benefiting from one of these programs. They exist because private insurance was not willing to meet the need, so a public option was created.

God loves us all, but insurance companies have to collect more money than they disburse, and they maximize profits by denying care. They don’t get into philosophical arguments about quality of life, they just refuse to pay the bills. Then you have to appeal to the Government. So it’s in our best interests to keep our Government strong and regulate our insurance providers, so that they have to uphold a standard of care.

Glenn Beck has faith in God, but who are God’s agents? Blue Cross, Tenet and Cigna? It’s not a debate about God vs Government– it’s how much you trust private insurance. If your trust is not blind, you’ll want the Government on your side.

UPDATE: The passage of the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed ‘Obamacare’, provides protection for people with disabilities, like Mary Beck, who cannot now be denied insurance due to a pre-existing condition. As wealthy as her family is, she most likely will need the support of a government program, such as Medicare D, at some point in her life. Health care reform is beginning to change the focus of private insurance from paying for procedures to maintaining wellness. Ordinary working Americans cannot meet all the needs of a child with a disability without government assistance. I’m skeptical that even the Becks, with their millions, are immune from the contingencies we all face.

Kali Awakes Demanding Justice

A young medical student, future doctor who would have saved lives, was vandalized like a bombed church to the point where it’s questionable whether her survival would have been a mercy.


I understand the rage and deep despair of women in India. They have been living under a terrorist threat all their lives, and it does not come from without, but within. They walk the gauntlet every day, facing random crime and threat while those who should protect the public indulge in denial and victim blaming. Women are expendable. The mistake of the six men who thought they could get away with murder was in not choosing their victim more wisely. They never expected that schoolgirls would be holding signs calling for their public hanging.

Every society has crime. What has women and men demonstrating in the streets of India is the intolerable injustice. For too long, oppression of women on the margins has been ignored. Now the depth of the suffering of women is the shame of all, and the people are calling for justice. That justice will not be satisfied by a show trial, but by real change. That justice will not be satisfied until a woman can believe that she is equal under the protection of the law.

It was about 30 years ago the first Take Back the Night march was organized in Providence, Rhode Island. It was not a triumphal march. It’s no fun to have to walk the streets of your own city, chanting ‘No More Rape’. The rule of law should be responsible for public safety. But rule of law was applied selectively and atrocious crimes were being committed without consequences.

I think that thirty years on, we are less complacent, but an individual has a better chance of justice, whether she or he is of high status or low.

A friend of mine, in our women’s spirituality group– okay, it was a coven– told me a story.

She had been active with a Zen Buddhist center, and was going through a rough time emotionally. She asked one of the monks for spiritual advice.

When they were alone together, and she was in a vulnerable state, he steered the counseling session into a sexual encounter.

She left confused, but soon recognized that this man had betrayed her trust and taken advantage. It took her about a year to get up the courage to do something about it.

She said she prayed to the Goddess Kali to keep her anger alive. To keep her from falling into niceness and premature forgiveness. To give her the angry courage to tell this man frankly how much he had harmed her.

She said that when she had finished telling him how his actions had affected her, he thanked her. She said he kept saying, “thank you.” all the time she was telling him the truth. Maybe she really did get through to him.

A beautiful and useful concept that was developed in South Africa is ‘Truth and Reconciliation’. Before reconciliation there must be truth. And that truth must be taken seriously by those in power to construct and enforce the law. We are in a new millennium, and we cannot afford to lose the best contributions of half the human race in order to appease ancient prejudice. That challenge goes out to all the world, to the daily life and struggle of every woman no matter where she lives. Like the Unitarians say–the worth and dignity of every human being.

Thanks to Summer Anne Burton for her photos of Indians demanding justice.

(Creds to this site, 10 Most Powerful Hindu Goddesses for the fierce aspect of Kali.)