Who is not angry and ashamed at this point? This nonsense government shutdown demonstrates such contempt for the people – and who can be surprised? If there is a crisis, it is manifest in this abusive stunt carried out, once again, on the backs of the people.

Which one of us could stamp their foot like that on the job and not simply expect to get fired? What responsible parent would allow their child to carry on with such assininity before swiftly reining it in?

But no, our government officials, and our top dog in particular, are allowing this debased spectacle to wallow on whilst unthreading the lives and processes of the people who fund it, pay for it, and work for it.

This is not governing. This is not leadership. This goes beyond incompetence. It demonstrates an utter lack of respect for the citizenry, and a sneering disdain for democratic principles and ethics. There is nothing democratic about what’s going on right now, and while the threat of a declaration of a national emergency continues to thrum, it sadly smells more like attempted coup.

And yet, we continue to tolerate it, disgusted though we may be.

This idiotic farce of governance plays out simultaneous to any number of other deeply disturbing situations, too, not the least of which include drumbeats for war with Iran.

No. Just no.

Every single reprehensible scenario playing out in Washington D.C. these days goes well beyond media fodder that keeps everyone transfixed, emasculated, and wonderfully divided. These are not mere antics.

These are the lives of people we’re talking about.

We are not simply chess pieces. We are not tweets. We are not mere dollar signs. We live and breathe. We matter. Believe it or not.

We deserve and demand representation that works for us, not against us.

rights and privileges


Yesterday, I found myself in the midst of a group of people anxious to see Bernie Sanders #RunBernieRun for 2020. They had gathered at a local bar to watch a livestream hosted by a grassroots entity,  Organizing For Bernie. They happily stayed to converse afterward.

What struck me about this gathering of mostly strangers was the gentle positivity, openness to ideas, and compassionate acceptance of others – traits I don’t often witness anymore in even remotely political discourse.

These folks easily hung around together for an engaging discussion that roamed far and wide, touching on topics ranging from Flint’s water to the concept of “rights and privileges.” The thoughtful and wonderfully intelligent conversation was a breath of fresh air. The talk focused on issues, very little on candidates or parties.

The discourse waded into the rights and privileges territory as participants explored healthcare issues. One person firmly took the stance that healthcare is a right not a privilege; another easily responded that they were not convinced that is the case. It was great to see all of the people in the group comfortably exploring this. There was no anger, no shame, no bullying, no dares, no put-downs, no unthinking repetition of shallow memes, just an honest and curious discussion turning the ideas over.

Much later, I found that discussion burbling in my brain – not exactly whether healthcare is a right or a privilege, but how we view and come to define rights and privileges.

The more I turned the topic over in my head, the more I realized it is just a matter of the lens through which we look at things. If we look at healthcare or water, for example, through the lens of capitalism, it’s about the price of things. It’s about who’s paying and how much. It’s about who owns it and how much benefit they receive from that ownership. It’s about one’s ability to pay, or whether they have to pay for someone else.

It’s really not a question of right or privilege – it’s just dollars and cents, the bottom line. Healthcare is simply a commodity. Life-saving drugs are commodities. Water is a commodity. Education, imprisonment, the ballot are commodities. Even war – life and death – is a commodity. It’s just about who’s going to pay and for whom. 

It is very natural to look at it through this lens; indeed, it is difficult to see it any other way. 

But there is another way. We can look through the lens of compassion. Our ingrained capitalist way of life has no room for compassion, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t or can’t be there. The question of right or privilege just serves to keep us off topic.

The very concept of “rights” implies a moral underpinning. We needn’t, we shouldn’t, shy away from our innate morality in order to accommodate a system and those reaping its profits. Denying our own very real ethics in subordination to that system is inherently unfree and inhumane – and we do it all the time without blinking. It drives us to ask such unthinkable questions as whether access to healthcare or potable water is a right or a privilege.

Most people I meet have a great deal of compassion, even if it masked by a stubborn allegiance to soulless concepts, leadership, and acts. It is human, it is life, to hold compassion.

Let’s find our way back to being the whole people that we are, not just citizens, taxpayers, workers. Let us radically allow compassion to help us determine our direction. Let us factor compassion into the most practical decisions of our society.

Let us worry less about defining rights and privileges under the gaze of the capitalist god, and look more to what’s simply best for all. Everyone’s boat will float higher when we do that.

cogs in the machine


Just watching things happen in the world is really not enough.

We are flooded with information day after day after day. It is fruitless to allow ourselves to be simply overpowered by the sheer relentless, unceasing bulk of it, and do nothing.

What’s the point of having this immense access to information via all of our handy devices, if we don’t use the information to grow our actual knowledge and to be empowered by it? It says something about our educational system that we fail to think critically, and respond accordingly, with ample information in hand.

Every day, it seems, we are hit in the face yet again by some ridiculously egregious statement or falsehood or act or failure to act by many people who were elected to “serve” the public. There is such a preponderance of this type of thing, that we don’t even flinch anymore. We barely even notice it. Our eyes scan the latest revulsion and we don’t react.

We are better than this. We, the people, are better than this. It’s really time to recognize our state of learned helplessness and get over it.

The people I come across in daily life actually do care.

They actually are concerned about the environment and the fate our planet.

They really do care that children are being held by our government, and some of them, now, we find out, dying in “detention” or abused. People actually do recoil at the notion of children suffering and dying under bombings from which someone profits.

Folks don’t like the extensive and intrusive scrutiny of their daily lives, nor do they appreciate the massive system of criminalization and incarceration that looms over us.

People really do care about their ability to access to health care.

Everyone sees the ridiculousness of shutting our government down in order to have a hissy fit over an issue on which all parties have failed to find consensus or wisdom or responsibility or empathy – operative word there, failed.

The average Joe cares about an economy that doesn’t work for them, they just work for it. Or they don’t. People care very much about their ability to find meaningful work that pays enough to cover the ever-rising cost of living a life.

Even folks doing reasonably well actually do care about all this stuff, because we’re people, and at heart, we care about other people. And we know that a community where everyone is basically okay, not just some people, makes for a better community.

Really, just pick a topic. Our elected “servants” fail us daily, demonstrably and extravagantly and offensively. It is not enough to simply observe it. These people are paid by us to do a job. Anyone else would have been canned long ago, summarily and without a look back.

We are people: unique and wonderful and creative and compassionate. We are the fuel that runs the engine. And one has to wonder why we sit quietly under a hand that suppresses the very best in us.