January 20, 2017

Last evening I was thinking about history, in particular, the history of our country. In 1776 our founding fathers chose to protest and separate from an oppressive imperial government. They chose to fight what they saw as injustice and for the most part they won that battle. Yes, most were elitist, and some were slave holders, they were, to put it mildly, a product of their time. But for the most part they had a vision of a country where each person would have the right to an equal chance at “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I wonder what they would say about today’s inauguration, I believe they wouldn’t be very proud of us right now.

I know, I know, those writers of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution didn’t have the foresight to include women, people of color, those with different beliefs, or the LGBQT community in their plans, but, the blueprint was there. And, in more than 200 years we have grown and matured as a nation, as a people, and now most of us see each person in our country as important, valuable, to the success of us all.

Throughout our history, we have struggled to open our understanding of who is an American. In the last 100 years, great strides have been made in insuring the poor, woman, people of color, those with differing gender identities, and those with differing beliefs have the same rights as rich white males. We opened the doors of our country and people from all over the world have enriched our society in every way possible. But now those advancements seem to be coming to an end.

This country elected someone who only sees value in rich white men. This man and his followers see the population of the U.S. as a means to an end, an end that fills their pockets. To accomplish their purpose, they duped other white men into believing they too can be ‘rich’ knowing that what they will do while in office will prevent anyone but themselves from succeeding. They have done it by demonizing the poor, people of color, women, those of differing beliefs, and those with differing gender identities in order to hide their true intent, to make themselves wealthy and more powerful. They don’t have the interest of the country at heart, the only thing they think about is how much power over others they have and how much money fills their coffers. Not a very nice picture of our current government.

Our Founding Fathers weren’t perfect, they owned slaves, they thought the poor should do more, they didn’t acknowledge women as citizens and they certainly didn’t accept anyone who identified with a different gender. Yet they managed to set aside most of their bias’s and conflicts to craft our government’s documents that had the flexibility to, in time, include those who had been excluded. Not perfect men but wise men.

So, are we returning to an ideology that pre-dates our Founding Father’s? I hope not, but, I fear so. In the last eight years, we have seen the rise of hate crimes instigated by the very people we elected into office. The gains we have made in racial and gender equality are threatened by elected officials who use the fear of being marginalized to demonize anyone who is different. Our so-called representatives have built on misconceptions and lies to produce a constituency across the nation that, while they are well off, thinks they are poor and being discriminated against. Most of these representatives have benefited from the social improvements created since World War II, but, apparently, they believe they are the only ones who deserve to be so honored.

In the next four years, we could lose this country to a society reminiscent of Nazi Germany and that scares me. But I also have hope. I have hope because so many people are speaking out, willing to put their hopes and dreams on the line by standing up and defying those that would roll back the achievements we have gained. Women are marching all over this country and all over this world to say we will not allow our hard-earned rights and privileges taken away. People are organizing to combat hate, racism, and violence. They are banding together to promote justice and mercy in the face of those who would take our health care, our education, our environment, our dreams.

My fear is that if we don’t see progress quickly then many will become discouraged and leave the fight. We cannot do waiver, success won’t be easy nor quick rather it will be very difficult. We will face insults and threats on our lives and lively hood, and that is scary. Each one of us has something we can do, whether it is getting out the vote, writing a letter, or marching in protest. There are small to big tasks, and all are important.

So, do not be afraid, you aren’t alone. Participate at whatever level you are most comfortable with, whether it is writing, financial support, all the way up to running for a government position at the Local, State, or Federal level. But do something, be part of the fight, be part of what we are to become.

Ruth Jewell, ©January 20, 2017

An Election Prayer

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Tomorrow, November 8th, is election day and I am becoming increasingly concerned about what will happen tomorrow and in the days and months that follow. This campaign has been so very divisive, hateful, and acrimonious that I fear for the safety of whoever wins and for our own. The name calling on both sides and the call to kill a candidate, the call to commit treason, and murder goes beyond anything we have seen before. We are in a difficult time where we need to step back and rethink our and way forward.

It will not be easy to heal the wounds opened in this election cycle to much hatred and anger has been spewed into our air to make this a comfortable process but we must begin to forgive each other if we are to be the people we profess to be. The spiritual practice of prayer, individual and corporate, helps us focus on each other rather our own selfish interests. Prayer can awaken our concern for the welfare of all and quiet our fears that we are threatened by forces we cannot control. Prayer gives us the courage and strength to take control of who we are as spiritual beings.

To begin I offer a prayer written by the Rev. Kara Markel, a pastor friend of mine, for the Council on Christian Unity, to begin our election day and post-election spiritual practice. As we offer our prayers may we remember Jesus cared for all of us; poor and rich, Christian and non-Christian, Male, female, and differently gendered, and peoples from all cultures and ethnicities. Let us open our hearts to reconciling with each other in prayer.

An Election Prayer
11/5/2016

Let us be a people at prayer in these days of waiting:

We pray for our president elect, that they will lead our country with strength and compassion; that they may represent the very best of the United States around the globe; that they may be committed to justice and peace, and bringing our nation together to address our challenges.

Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray for our governors and legislators, that they will be responsive to their whole constituency and enact laws that ensure the wellbeing of all the people they represent.

Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray for all others elected to public office, that their service to their people would be just and beyond reproach; that where ever they serve in local government, schools, or law enforcement, they would treat all people with dignity and serve the common good.

Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray for our nation, our cities, and our neighborhoods, that together we can create a place where all people are respected and safe, where difference of opinion does not lead to violence, and where our combined creativity heals brokenness of all kinds.

Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray also that regardless of the outcome of this Election Day, we would remember that we are called by Christ to care for our neighbor, pursue peace and work for justice in our communities. Inspire us to work together, across divisions and difference, to create beloved community where ever we can.

Lord, hear our prayer.

From the Council on Christian Unity
written by The Rev. Kara Markell, Pastor
Lake Washington Christian Church
Kirkland, Washington

Ruth Jewell, ©November 7, 2016

A Prayer for the 4th of July, 2013

July 4, 2013
July 4, 2013
Holy Spirit, as we celebrate our country’s birth I lift up in prayer the people in our nation who are hungry and homeless, who protect our streets, homes and country here and in far places, our President who carries the burden of responsibility to guide us and his family. Please keep all safe from harm here and abroad. I also lift up our elected leaders in our cities where they walk the frontlines of budget with less funding, poverty, hunger and homelessness, and keeping our streets safe. I lift up our state leaders who struggle with budgets that are bigger than state incomes as they make difficult choices about funding education, infrastructure, and public services. I lift up in prayer our national leaders who are in such conflict with each other. On this day of celebration help them to overcome their differences to become the effective leaders we elected them to be. I lift up those who come to our shores looking for a better life, help them to discover their dream and find friendship and love in our community. Most of all, Abiding Spirit, I lift up our planet and ask for forgiveness for the damage we have done to your creation. Creator help us find our way to healing our relationship with the Earth, each other and you. Amen

Guns, Fear, and Paranoia

For the last several weeks I have been trying to make sense of the tragedy of Newtown Connecticut and all the rest of the massacres before and since Newtown. I am especially confused by America’s fascination with guns and I must admit I don’t understand.  Why do we need to have everyone armed?  I keep thinking people who carry handguns, or own automatic or semi-automatic weapons are feeding a deep seated inadequacy and guns allow them to feel powerful.  I wouldn’t call such people cowards but they obviously have fear issues that they blow way out of proportion to what the real world offers. And, if someone thinks 6 and 7 year olds are a threat to your life then you really need to see a professional and get counseling. 

The NRA tells us that more guns are the solution to our problem of gun violence, and I respectfully question their thinking and sanity.  How can more guns on the street prevent gun violence?  It didn’t in 1800’s and it won’t now.  Wasn’t it Wyatt Earp in Dodge City who banned guns in town and reduced the level of violence that the town was famous for?  How does the NRA support such a ridiculous statement? 

While I am primarily a vegetarian I accept the fact that some people still hunt for food, especially in Alaska.   But, I just don’t see the sport in killing a living animal. In the lower 48 is it really necessary to go out and kill an animal for food these days?  Can’t people get the same thrill of “hunting” using a camera to “bring home your trophies?  After all you’re in the same outdoor environment and it takes as much, or more, skill to get a good picture than it does to kill an animal.  

I am at a loss as to why anyone would own any weapon other than a single shot rifle.  Everything else is only good for killing another human being.  Unless, of course, you want shredded deer meat you aren’t going to use an automatic rifle to go deer hunting and I can’t imagine what such a weapon would do to bird. 

Unless you have to hunt to put food on your table then there is no excuse or reason to own a gun.  If you are a collector then all your specimens should be permanently disabled and securely locked up to prevent them from being used at any time. 

I am afraid that just like everyone else I don’t have answers other than to say this country needs massive group counseling for paranoia.  The world can be a scary place when you don’t know what tomorrow brings.   But in my experience tomorrow is never as bad as the “so called experts” say it will be and contrary to all rumors the world will not end if individuals do not own weapons used only for killing people. 

Gun violence isn’t about guns, it’s about people, individuals and groups, who see the worst in the future and can’t imagine a world that embraces life rather than death. I have great pity for such people for they live in a world I am totally unfamiliar with.  Such people are sick and should be treated as such, with compassion and sympathy and help for their fears that feed their paranoia.  So maybe that is my solution – group therapy for people who own guns.  I don’t think it would hurt and maybe it would help those who feel a false sense of fear feeding their personal inadequacy, which leads to paranoia, which leads to violence.  Maybe, just maybe, there would be fewer massacres such as Newtown, Portland, Colorado, Seattle, Tacoma, there are too many to name.  Sick people use guns to kill other people, I get that, but what I don’t get is why we don’t address the root cause and that is, unreasoning fear and paranoia in large numbers of people in this country.  We need to address that issue, and then guns won’t matter.

Ruth Jewell, ©January 14, 2013