Angry, Frightened, and Overwhelmed

I was watching C-Span on January 6th when the mob, incited by Donald Trump, broke into the Capital Building. I watched as Speaker Pelosi was hustled from the chamber. I watched as congressional members, Democrat and Republican, huddled down as Capitol Police guarded, barricaded the doors, and tried to get them to safety.  I heard the gunshot that killed one of the rioters.  I was a witness to something I never thought I would see.

Since then, a lot has happened, the House impeached the 45th president for inciting insurrection and now with new information about the intent of the crowd may be changed to sedition.  Mike Pence was a target and barely escaped with his life; the traitors screamed “Hang Pence.” If it had not been for one brave Capitol Police offers, Officer Goodman, he might not be here today. The crowd wanted to capture and kill or hold hostage congressional members, especially Secretary Pelosi. We have learned that actual House members might have been complicit in the insurrection, even as 10 republican Congress members voted for impeachment. A Capitol Policeman lost his life and another committed suicide after the riot.  Donald Trump still has not conceded the election which is continuing to fuel his followers. In Interviews DC and Capitol Police say that they were beaten, sprayed with bear repellant, and verbally abused.  The rioters had guns, bombs, napalm, and Molotov cocktails; we are fortunate they did not use them. They were domestic terrorists so do not dare call them protestors!

This did not happen in one of the states, or in another country, IT HAPPENED HERE, in our capitol, fueled by the hate and lies of a demented president and his sycophant cronies, which included his son Donald Jr., Daughter Ivanka, and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

John and I have been glued to the television listening to events unfold. We have watched more television news in the last week or so than we have in the two years.  Even though I have been saying, since 2016, that Donald Trump wanted to overthrow the government, I still cannot believe he tried to.

I am overwhelmed, angry, and frightened. Intelligence reports tell us that those who were in Washington D.C. have returned home and plan to attack all 50 state capitals by inauguration day on January 20, 2021, and that does not include the amount of COVID-19 virus they are bringing home. 

As I continue to watch the events unfold and prepare to celebrate the inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, I am appalled at anyone, regardless of their political affiliations, who condones what happened. I am angry, no I am really pissed off, with anyone who supports or makes excuses for Donald Trump or the terrorists who stormed the capitol on January 6th. Anyone who does is complicit in the attempted overthrowing of our government and should be treated as such.

I am grateful some republicans are finally waking up and seeing the road Donald Trump has led them down.  I do not know if they understand their role in what has happened, or if the only reason they changed their position was to save their jobs. Their twelfth hour confession will not change, however, the fact they helped create this disaster, and they will be held accountable at some point for their role.  But at least they have come forward now.

I believe in the grace and forgiveness of the Great Spirit, yet those gifts are dependent on the receivers understanding they are responsible for what ever actions they have committed, and they will be call to account. Donald Trump, his family, the Republican Party have much to account for. They have lied to the American People, they have stolen money from the American People, and treated anyone that did not agree with them as enemies of the state. They have dismantled the advancements of the last 50 years for the sole purpose of lining their pockets and giving them power. They have tried with all their might to deny women and people of color the rights they deem theirs only. They have used their positions of power to disempower people of color, women, homeless, and the disabled. They have told those who are ill or poor that their illness and poverty is their fault and therefore unworthy of federal assistance. They have denied that their beloved resource hungry industries are destroying our environment and are bringing us all to the brink of an environmental disaster. Their hypocrisy is without bounds.

Donald Trump and the republican party has used white supremacists, white Christian Nationalist, and Fascists groups as their private army and that army will not give up their belief in their supposed white male privilege or the belief that Donald Trump cared about them. Such people will continue over the next days, months and years to attempt to overthrow our Democracy. They will use violence and thuggish behavior to intimidate any, and all, who oppose them. These groups are armed but they also are technically savvy and will use technology to disrupt our way of life in a way we have not seen before.  Already faith organizations are being warned of possible attacks because of the support they give to the hungry, the homeless, and the disadvantaged. Any group standing for justice will be under attack.

It boggles my mind that these sad groups have not realized Donald Trump’s or those who align with him, have such contempt for them. After all, during the rally before their march to the capitol he said, “I will go with you to the capitol.” He did not go, Donald Jr. did not go, neither did Giuliani, at that moment they should have realized he would let them hang by themselves. As far as he was concerned, everything his army did at the Capitol was their doing and had nothing to do with Donald Trump. He was blameless, ah, but he “loved them.”

Now the time has finally come for the reckoning of his army more than 100 have already been arrested and more is expected, including, hopefully, the Trump family.  His minions are now telling Donald Trump invited them to the rally and to the attack the Capitol, they did it for a man who only thinks of himself and they are too stupid, to deluded, or to mesmerized to realize it.

Forgiveness does not mean I forget, it does not mean there are no consequences to the actions Donald Trump, his followers, or his sycophants committed. It does means I and all who have been wronged can move on with our lives without out hate, without the desire for revenge.  Yes, I can forgive what has been done to each, and every one of us. The lies, the attacks on our integrity and intelligence, the botched handling of the pandemic, the destruction of our worldwide credibility, mishandling of environmental issues, and so much more. If every one of those responsible are held accountable and are made to pay the consequences I can forgive. 

But I will not forget. Neither should you.  You must remember, you must tell your children, they must tell their children what worshiping and idolizing people like Donald Trump, worshiping power and money did to this country. We must remember that all people no matter their gender, their culture, the color of their skin, their belief system, or their socioeconomic status are equal in the eyes of this country and in what ever Divine Force we believe in.

Our county was the first democratic experiment, let it now be the first country to honor every person regardless of who they are.  Let us begin anew and honor the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence, with some new wording. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.”  Let us be the first country where women and men work together to create a country were each can live their lives to the fullest. Let us be the first country were regardless of your abilities, gender, faith belief, culture, skin color, or disabilities, each person can live their lives to the fullest.

Let us include in that declaration that all Creation, every creature, every plant, has also been created with “certain unalienable rights.” Let us include their rights to live their lives as our Creator intended.  Let us include in our declaration that all the creatures of this country non-humans and humans have the right to clean air to breath and clean water to drink and live in.

Let us begin something new. We can do this. If we want to survive then we must do this.

Ruth Jewell, ©January 16, 2021

Image: Associated Press, January 6, 2021

I Turned Off the News

I turned off the news,
disgusted, angry, sad,
not sure what to feel.
I have tears to fit them all.
With raised arms I shout,
     I scream,
          I cry,
              
Guns do not help.
violence does not help.
silence in the face of violence does not help.
        I am at a loss to find what helps.

Ears are blocked with hate.
Hearts are blocked with hate.
Minds are blocked with hate.
    How do we move past the hate.

I hear the names;
     George Floyd,
          Breanna Taylor,
               Travon Martin,
too many to name.
Too many tears.

I see the violence,
police with guns, tear gas, stun grenades,
protestors with guns, bottles, rocks.
I understand the
     frustration,
          fear, and
               anger.
          Answers are not found in violence.
The call for peace,
     compassion,
          understanding of the other
               lost in the chaos.

Leaders call for dialogue and forgiveness
yet that seems so trite,
so little when so much is needed,
     but maybe,
          it’s right.
We need a different way,
we need to let go of old ways.
This world
can’t
wait.

Ruth Jewell, ©July 26, 2020

Some Quarantine Observations

In the roughly 2 months since the stay home order was given, I have made some very un-scientific observations:

  1. I haven’t been much affected by the stay-at-home order.  It is what John and I did before this started. Except for going to church and groceries we didn’t go anywhere.
  2. I have actually heard from more people in the last 2 months than we had all last year. 
  3. Wearing a mask while shopping is kinda weird, I keep wanting to go into a bank, not to do anything, just go in.
  4. I am shocked at the level of ineptitude we, as a nation, are accepting from our federal government.
  5. I am totally grateful for the leadership of our faith community, my state and local governments. They deserve medals.
  6. I am heart broken by the number of people who have been exposed to and sickened by the virus, some because of people so selfish that they pass the virus on only because they don’t want to be inconvenienced by a face mask or a stay at home order.
  7. I am amazed and stunned, by the heroism of the nurses, doctors, medical house cleaning staff, postal carriers, grocery store clerks, police, and fireman who have continued to be the front line of defense. (I apologize if I have forgotten anyone.)
  8. I am angered by those who, with guns and lawsuits, attempt to intimidate our hero’s. They also sadden me because they are being manipulated by wealthy, greedy, power hungry, men who are following a corrupt leader.
  9. I have discovered some wonderful benefits to being told to stay home. I have been able to attend and participate in the Westar Institutes Seminars online and will take a poetry class this summer from the Grunwald Guild. All via ZOOM.  I would not have been able to do any of that if this hadn’t happened. (One of my questions even lead to a commitment to include gender roles in the next phase of the Westar’s Christianity Seminar, WOOT!)
  10. I have also been able to see all of our family, from across the country, on a regular schedule because of ZOOM meetings.  It has been so much fun to see everyone.
  11. I love it that I have a legitimate reason to read books by the bushel, as if I ever needed one.
  12. My garden is amazing, our garage is now cleaner that it has been in 40 years, and I have developed 5 new recipes that came out really good.  I have also created more that a dozen really bad recipes.  I am pleased that John has been a good sport and eaten the good and the bad.
  13. While church has been a bit weird and awkward, it has shown me how much our weekly sessions mean to me. Seeing each congregation member and our devoted and amazing pastor Luke and his assistant Mary make my week.

What does any of this mean, well, probably nothing. I keep trying to remember that none of us are alone. We have each other and the Holy Divine still walks with us. Still despite all that I know, have seen, and experienced I am sometimes afraid. Afraid for our grandchildren, and the children of our friends.  I am afraid for those who work with the homeless with little to no protective gear and pray every day for their safety.  My fear leads to anger when I hear of the lack of concern for our indigenous neighbors, all people of color, people who are disabled and therefore especially at risk, and the elderly who, unlike John and I, are confined within an institution.

I am also afraid for our nation, I am afraid for my family, and I am afraid for my community. I do not know what the future will bring. I pray, I hope, I pray,

Ruth Jewell, ©May 24, 2020
Photo: Troublesome Creek, WA, 2006, by Ruth Jewell

An Old Womxn’s Rant

At 73 I am pissed off. 

As a womxn, I have spent 73 years being told I am worthless by white men who hold power, any kind of power. I used to believe them, I don’t anymore.

Ever since I was a child, I was told there were simply places I could not go, things I couldn’t do because of who I was, female. And, I believed them. Why wouldn’t I? They were people I was told to look up to, teachers, ministers, policeman, fireman, politicians, even my father. My mother tried to convince me it was in my interest to stay within the boundaries old, white, pathetic, men tried to put around me. And I let them, to a point.

I was 22 when my father died of cancer, and on his death bed he told me I needed to find a husband very soon who would take care of me or I would come to a bad end.  I didn’t listen. I still don’t know what that ‘bad end’ was.

Something in me said they were all wrong, my mother, my father, ministers, politicians, bosses, teachers, friends.  When a ‘friend’ came to me saying one of the reasons I couldn’t get a date was that men were afraid of me because I spoke my mind, I was too strong and needed to me more ‘soft.’  I told him, yes a him, if that was the case then I didn’t want a date. And, I didn’t get one.

When an employer told me, I couldn’t get a raise because I was at the top of my pay scale, only to discover that a man who did the same job had received a raise.  I asked how his this was possible; I was told he had a family and when I ‘finally’ got married I would leave so I didn’t need one. That was when I learned of workplace inequality. I threw a fit and got fired.

I have spent my entire life struggling to be seen, to be believed, to be accepted. I made friends with people of color, immigrants, the different gendered because they, like me, were kept out of positions of power, out of well-paying jobs, locked out of society. I disliked, but understood, women who choose the tactics of men in order to succeed. They did it because it was the only way they could.  I disliked, but understood, women who used their gender to succeed because it was the only way they could. I choose neither of those routes and ended up with jobs I hated and people I distrusted because I had to in order to survive.

In the last 20 years I gained hope that womxn were finally making gains politically, economically, and socially.  Yes, there are more womxn in science, business, and politics than ever before but not enough. Womxn, people of color, indigenous people, and the different gendered make up the majority of our population but make up only a fraction of the leaders in business, science, and politics. That not only disappoints me it angers me.

I do not understand womxn who continue to support old, white, European males over womxn of any color, people of color, or people who are different gendered. It totally boggles the mind. We are better than that. We deserve better.

My hope lies in the young womxn from across this globe who are making their voices heard. My hope lies in the womxn of ‘Me Too’ who are saying enough with being abused and demeaned just to further a man’s position. But I am discouraged, frustrated, and angry that these womxn, young and old, are being berated and demeaned by politicians and media because they are refusing to be silenced. I am confused by womxn who do not support them. I am angry that the choice of politician we are being handed is an old, white, European male, who though he appears enlightened grew up in the same time period I did and I have no doubt indulged in white, male privilege by demeaning or berating womxn, people of color, and the different gendered just to get ahead. It is what was done in my day, his day. I don’t blame him, it was how he was raised, but I don’t want those same attitudes leading my country anymore.

I am tired, frustrated, angry, old, and yes just a little crazy.  If that is what it takes to get heard then I encourage more womxn to be crazy, tired, frustrated, angry, and if it fits old.

Ruth Jewell, ©May 3, 2020

All Means ALL

All means ALL
All means ALL

My thoughts over the last couple of months have been over whelmed by the violence, the bullying, the tragedy, and the anger that has played across my TV screen, computer, radio and newspaper in the last couple of months.  I have seen the quote by some famous person that reads “those who keep silent in the face of evil are giving their approval,” or the pictures’ displaying one perspective versus another and which one has the greatest validity.  I am left speechless and in pain.  Yes I have heard that even one small act of mercy changes someone and I have used those very words myself many times. Do what you can and ‘wait,’ wait for minds to change, or for hearts to open,  . . . wait for what.

The scripture for Sunday came from Isaiah and begins with “Comfort, O Comfort my people” (40:1), but, I’m sorry I don’t feel that comfort.  I offer prayers, I read, and I listen.  I volunteer at the King County Juvenile Detention Center, here at church, and lead the occasional spiritual retreat and labyrinth walk, yet, except for Juvenile Detention CTR, I feel as if I am “preaching to the choir,” so to speak.  Where in all of these days of suffering, and confusion does the offering come that provides more than my comfort and brings a justly faithful, hopeful, loving comfort to those who do not share my skin color, or language, or culture, or gender, or abilities, or whatever makes them different from the so called “main stream” of the population.

This meditation was intended to be an inspirational moment.  But I am not feeling very inspirational, just too much has happened in the last couple of months.  So I ask your forgiveness for talking through some of my thoughts.  I live in a world that appears to be falling apart as I sit my comfortable, warm home.  I keep asking what will stop the building blocks our lives from tumbling into the abyss.

I am afraid we are headed into a storm of our own making that will destroy us.  We won’t need to be invaded, no; we are doing a grand job of destruction all by ourselves.   Voices of change and compassion, justice, mercy, and peace are drowned out by hateful speech by bullies in high places.  The actions and words of those high placed bullies give permission to those who fear the unknown to be violent and destructive at the ground roots level.  Hateful speech and actions becomes a cancer eating away at our will to fight against justice and mercy.

So I sit in my little home office, offering prayers, and volunteering when the opportunity arises.  I do my small acts that I pray are being added to other small acts, but I don’t know if any of it will be enough. Our denominations GLBQ organization used the slogan “All Means ALL” at our last national General Assembly.  They wanted to get the message across that everyone matters, despite gender identification, skin color, religion, or culture everyone is important.  There are very few slogans I actually believe in, but I believe in that one.  If I can do nothing other than let each and every person know how much they matter in my life, in the life of my Faith Community, and in the life of the greater community we are all part of then I have done the best I can.  That will have to be enough.

Ruth Jewell, ©December 8, 2014