What Now?

2

November 7, 2020-

The increased likelihood of a Democratic President, come January 20, happened on the day which, for Buddhists, commemorates Siddhartha Gautama’s return to Earth, after three months of teaching in the celestial realm. This, to the Buddhist faithful, is a day of great change and seeping portent.

To the rest of us, it has also been a day of great change and portent, whether one approves of the changes that will be taking place, or not. As with four years ago, I say “Give the next president a chance, and be ready to hold him to account, if large segments of the populace are ignored or left in limbo.”

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Capitalize on the reported friendship you have with Mitch McConnell. Maintain the law enforcement activity that is so close to former Judge McConnell’s heart: Fighting the trafficking of women and children. He was one of the forces behind the foundation of the very effective organization, Shared Hope International, one of the better programs advanced by conservative Republicans over the past several decades.
  2. Also, neither one of you wants to be seen as a deficit dove, so, given your self-comparison to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, dive into the summoning all Americans to help rebuild our infrastructure- get more done, with less Federal expenditure. Help counteract the sentiment that we ought stop asking what we can do for our country. Encourage market-led innovation and climate-enhancing changes. Continue to build on your predecessor’s one HUGE contribution: Looking after our military and veterans.
  3. Get out of Dodge- Washington or Wilmington more, at least for the first year or two. I recommend, starting in February-pick a city in each of the four regions: Northeast, South, Midwest and West, and hold a Town Hall in each one. Do this, monthly, until you have held such a gathering in each of the 50 states.
  4. Like your predecessors, be the Comforter-in-Chief. Aside from the Town Halls, be present for those communities which suffer natural or human-caused disasters.
  5. Be inclusive- Let’s return to the days when the President acknowledged not only Christian Holy Days, but those of other Faiths, as well. This was something at which Barack Obama excelled, but in which Donald Trump was less than interested. Be a cheerleader for the major sporting events, and yes, that includes NASCAR.
  6. Show that you trust Science- especially in facing down COVID-19. Be bold enough to also face down those who don’t see the COVID threat as real. The sooner more of us follow disease-fighting protocols willingly, the sooner the disease will no longer hold us in its vise-like grip.
  7. Finally, let the world know you see all of its parts as worthy of respect. Return us to partnerships which both help American prosperity and advance global co-operation. Attend crucial international gatherings, and encourage a two-way travel street- visiting some other countries each year and hosting their leaders here. There is plenty of anticipation, as there always is, when leadership looks set to change. Use the wealth of talent at your disposal, to build a dynamic, forward-looking, yet grounded, team. Godspeed, Mr.President-elect.

One Never Knows

6

September 24, 2017, Prescott-

I began today, with five things on my agenda.

Two of them ended up not happening.

The middle of the day brought honours

to a man who has unselfishly worked hard

on behalf of our community’s veterans,

over the past twenty years.

The evening brought a lovely dinner.

Then a group of us studied some spiritual guidance.

I was mildly upbraided, in the middle of this,

for my own teaching style.

Maybe, I’ve made progress,

on the often lonely road.

It was not difficult to see the critic’s point.

She will get a chance to flesh out

what she wants, instead,

at a gathering in her own town,

tomorrow night.

I look at my admin page, here,

and see that one of my critics

from last week

liked two of my posts,

today.

Goes to show,

sometimes I get

overwrought,

about nothing.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 54: Who Serves Whom?

6

January 21, 2015, Prescott-  I am a member of the Baha’i Faith, as many of you know.  The Baha’i concept of service is one of humility and reverence for the human spirit.  It was modeled by the eldest son of our Faith’s Founder, Baha’u’llah.  This eldest son is known to posterity by His title, ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  The title is Arabic, and translates as “Servant of the Light”, in English.  Although ‘Abdu’l-Baha was, and is, revered by all Baha’is, in His lifetime, He walked a humble path of service to others.  For example, He organized and saw the establishment of a series of storehouses in the Galilee, during and immediately after World War I.  He visited North America and Europe, during the period, 1911-13, and would often prepare meals for His visitors, in the course of His travels.

I will have more to say about ‘Abdu’l-Baha, in later posts.  The above anecdotes, though, form the backdrop for my own view of what public service is.  The person working with the public is in a position of trust.  The teacher is responsible for the education, welfare and safety of all students with whom she comes in contact, during the day.  The bus driver, both school and public transit, is responsible for the safe transport of paying and subsidized riders, for the duration of their travel in his vehicle, as well as safe ingress and egress.  The health care worker, be he or she a physician, nurse, pharmacist or medical technician, is responsible for the well-being of any patient in a care situation, within his or her purview.

Most such public servants know these responsibilities, and take them to heart.  So, too, there are a large number of people serving in the social welfare field who do their jobs with the best interests of their clients in mind.  There are, unfortunately, a disconcerting number who view the people coming to their offices as wards, as people to be pushed around, browbeaten and treated in an undignified manner- because they are down on their luck.

It’s time to take the “Kick Me” signs off.  I received word today, from a credible source, that one of the local offices purporting to help veterans is engaging in browbeating and intimidating the homeless, and refusing service to those who stand up for themselves in a respectful manner.  It is past time for the veterans of our Armed Forces to be treated as full human beings, and not just in the VA Hospitals, where  slow, but considerable, progress is being made in that regard.  Anyone who hangs out their shingle as a Veterans’ Resource Center has no business refusing service to someone for not going along with psychological gamesmanship, or not wanting to indulge a caseworker’s quirky behaviour, or for just being homeless.

I mention all this because I am tired. I am sick to death of the patronizing, bullying, gamesmanship and dereliction of duty that I have witnessed from various government officials, both elected and appointed, at the Federal, state and municipal levels, over the past eight years.  From the hired thugs who threatened to beat a man for stopping to eat an apple, on a sidewalk in Washington, in 2007, to a mayor and  several councilmen of a small city, who personalized a conflict with a constituent, over the past year or so, there is an increasing air of arrogance, and “Feed my ego” seems the name of the game.

I serve in a few capacities.  I am not the greatest Chaplain the American Legion has ever seen, and at least one member of the Auxiliary can’t wait to see me go, but I approach my fellow members in a spirit of service.   I take  any posting as a Substitute Teacher seriously, and am well-regarded by students and colleagues, precisely because their well-being and quality experiences trump any desire I might have to be revered or obeyed. I take any work I do with the Red Cross seriously, or any recommendations I make to people, regarding use of Essential Oils, because there are lives and healthful situations at stake.  Because of the way I was raised, ego gratification is not an option.

It ought not be an option for anyone in public service.