Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: National Politics

On the other side of yesterday

Morning rain drops and
tears of cleansing spread
welcome relief on streets
torn with grief and disbelief

An ambulance screams
by my window racing
to aid the sick the dying
and the dismembered

A distant bell tolls mindlessly
chiming out its last breath
of hope for better tomorrows –
Or at least a reprieve from public preening
blind to yesterday’s attempted slaughter
of truth and justice for all

No, Mr. Trump, you did not receive justice.
Nor did many of your friends honor you with truth.
Sadly, enablers are a dime a dozen.

I applaud each leader and member of congress who dared stand up and be counted on the side of truth and justice.

I do not applaud congressional and religious leaders who cheered and applauded Mr. Trump’s rant at yesterday’s nonpartisan, interdenominational and interreligious prayer breakfast. We are all dishonored by behavior like this, no matter what our political preferences may be.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 February 2020
Photo found at bbc.co.uk.jpeg

The Resistance

Bursting dams explode
Fueling unhinged tongues

Roiling water floods old landscapes
scarred beyond recognition

The end of this world collides
with the untimely birth
of a new world ruled by
winners of a rigged lottery

How shall we then live
with death-dealing word-bombs
hanging over our heads
seeking to silence the resistance?

I woke up this morning with yesterday’s impeachment vote on my mind.

I’ve known resistance all my life–as a girl child, and later as an adult woman. This includes fierce resistance inside me when my full humanity isn’t honored, and sometimes polite, unrelenting resistance brought to bear against me as an adult woman with a mind of her own.

I’m also one of the so-called fortunate whose skin is white, whose citizenship is not in question, who isn’t living on the streets due to gentrification….and I could go on, but won’t. You get the picture.

I was deeply moved by Senator Romney’s courageous statement and vote yesterday to impeach our President on one count. The morning news was full of POTUS comments and other tirades against Romney. The news was also full of support for Senator Romney. He isn’t a saint (which I find comforting). He simply and directly told the truth and cast his vote as he saw it, against every other member of his party.

Silence is deadly. So is speaking out, especially when it’s costly. As I see it, I have a choice. Shut up and sit down, or stand up and open my mouth. I choose the latter. How about you?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 February 2020
Image found at pinterest.com

climate change and politics

Restless wind lashes out
Sucks moisture from air
Whips back and forth
Tossing its weight around
Lost in desperate attempts
To make things happen but
Will we survive to tell about it?

I drafted this poem under another title in early April, 2019. We’d just experienced fierce wind storms in the Northeast. I was sorely tempted to make a connection between the storm outside and the growing storm in the White House.

This morning we have yet another storm brewing in the Northeast, as we move closer to a presidential election in November. Perhaps this explains the sometimes contorted speech we’re hearing from Senators up for reelection.

The ongoing drama of our current President’s behavior is important.

At the same time, nothing is more important for our future than addressing climate change. Actually, I don’t care what you call it, just so you get the point. Planet earth is sick unto death. And we, the gardeners, don’t have any quick fixes.

There are reasons for upheavals and breakdowns in our ecosystems. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the drama of presidential politics and neglect what we can do right now to care for even a small patch of planet earth.

Money is important, but it won’t solve the problem. Nature doesn’t know about our bank accounts or our retirement funds or underground bunkers being built so we’ll ‘survive.’ Nor does Nature care whether we’re Democrats, Republicans, Independents or Nothing at All.

This is a disaster of our own making. Innocently enough, perhaps. Yet even so, isn’t it better to admit we were wrong, and demand that our towns, cities, states, and nation do the right thing? There’s more up for grabs in the coming election than who will be the next President.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 February 2019
Photo of Hurricane Irma passing through Naples, Florida, September 2017 (AP Photo/David Goldman); found at wunc.org

Blinded and distracted by rhetoric

Blinded and distracted by rhetoric
Vision dims for planet earth
Its seas and splendid birds of the air

Coral reefs and dying species
Beneath and above the seas
Unseen and neglected drown
In a growing swamp of rhetoric
And passion for one-issue politics
In which survival of a human fetus
Viable or unviable has become
The battle cry of policy driven
By the need to collect and nurture
Votes, favors and money

Meanwhile this earth and its seas
Birds of the air and coral reefs
Neighbors and strangers
Disappear before our eyes
And before their time
Unseen and neglected
In a growing swamp of self-righteousness
Nurtured by good intentions laced
With half truths and outright lies
Plus a primeval need to be right
And righteous no matter what
The cost to ourselves or others

No one ever promised life together would be easy.
Nonetheless, we can and must do better than this, together.
Not for our own survival, but for coming generations already endangered.

Prompted by a recent news item regarding evangelical Christian support for Donald Trump. Not every Christian who identifies as evangelical is in this boat. It is, however, a large, influential and enthusiastic boat. Kept afloat in large part due to Trump’s support for anti-abortion legislation and, in my view, his need for votes and affirmation.

No, I’m not a political commentator. I am, however, a commentator on what I see and what I think. Especially when it has to do with people and places I know and love, no matter which boat they’re in.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 January 2020
Image of Great Barrier Reef found at http://www.sciencemag.org

This house of cards

Nothing
Keeps me awake
Nothing

Every cell in my body
Wants to shut down
Pull up the covers
Abdicate responsibility
For this day

Gray clouds and
Lazy drizzle
Mask consequences
Long repressed
Between layers
Of paper-thin sheets
Crammed into closets
Rotting into
Nothingness
Moldy leftovers
Of a thousand
Ill-conceived plans
Now haunting
This house
Of cards

We live in a nation besotted with lethargy. Except, perhaps, when we’re enraged or enthralled. Or speaking with people with whom we already agree. Everything else is too difficult. Too complex.

Complexity is not one of our favorite things. Becoming fully informed seems a dying art. Withholding quick agreement is cause for suspicion. We like to be liked. Now. And we love to be catered to in word, if not in deed.

When did code words or hearsay repeated over and over become tests of truth? Or shows of outrage? Or the level of venom and loathing on Twitter?

Then again, what about lethargic retreats into silence because somewhere along the way, someone convinced me that Silence is the Best (Safest) Policy? How willing am I to let go of my desire for security and survival? It seems the longer I wait, the higher the stakes become.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 December 2019
Photo found at medium.com

Living in the purple zone

Living in the purple zone*
Unconstrained by party loyalties yet
Uneasy about befriending strangers
Or talking about tough issues –
What has happened to me?

How many times have I caved
To the lowest common denominator
Or looked the other way
Or changed the subject
To avoid tough conversations?

Why do I hear few references
To injustices of yesterday
That might help me understand
Currents and tides now miring us
In the swamp of us versus them?

Perhaps there already lurks within
A deep longing for this disquietude
To disappear into the bowels
Of our churches, cities and towns
Afraid to stir up what won’t go away

Meanwhile we mere mortals living
In the purple zone or not go about
Our daily lives minus truth or
Justice or even a quick look into
The mirror of our own demise

*The purple zone: neither red nor blue, the two major political party colors in the USA

Here’s my dilemma:

I have a handful of friends willing to talk openly about social/political realities that are in plain view every day. These realities drive our politics, social lives, economics, and increasingly our church preferences. They also impact us differently depending on things like race, gender, age, immigration status, color of skin and dialect.

These and a host of other ‘sorting out’ categories lie just beneath the surface of every social interaction and social avoidance technique.

For the most part, we here in the USA seem to have deeply ingrained avoidance habits. We like being with birds of our feather. Especially in spaces where we might have conversations that matter. Places like churches or other religious institutions, small study groups and classrooms of all kinds.

Though I’d like this to be my dilemma alone, I fear it is not. Any and all feedback will be gratefully received.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 September 2019

A fool’s paradise

We live in a fool’s paradise
Breathing toxic air and
promises of a better
tomorrow arriving daily
at our front doors from
gluttony and avarice —
smiles pasted on faces
covered with guile taking
us down without a whimper

I love silly pranks that do no harm. Sort of. That’s because I’ve rarely been on the other end of a silly prank and felt no harm done. There’s something demeaning about being taken for a fool, or watching someone else be taken for a fool.

On another level, what would it take to make us wise as a nation? Or how about treating ourselves and each other as human beings capable of weighing evidence or even telling the truth about how things are for us right now? Or listening to us without interrupting to tell us about some pie-in-the-sky grand fix for everything?

No, I’m not down on the democratic process. However, we’re already getting into presidential campaign rhetoric and it’s only April 2019. So I’m staking out my position now.

Here it is: I don’t want to waste time listening to reassuring promises, sure-fire fixes or negative rants against ‘the other side.’ Perhaps we could get right to the heart of the matter—listening and responding thoughtfully to the voices of the people. All of us. Even those we call foolish.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 April 2019
Quote found at askideas.com

One inch short of war

Howling winds
Rattle doors and windows

Random bursts
Of unseemly fury
Hurled through air
Turn lashing trees
To toppled dreams
Caught off guard
By one lone ranger
Unleashing havoc
One inch short of war

Pointing out the faults of others, especially those of POTUS, is dangerous business. Some say we should cut him a break. After all, doesn’t our own uncontrolled behavior make us as guilty as the next party?

Perhaps it does. Nonetheless, national leaders are held to higher standards because of the number of people who depend daily on their decisions and actions. Especially, but not only in situations of national emergency. A wall on our southern border is not cause to declare a national emergency. Hurricane Maria was. A test of our readiness to do the right thing. Together.

So yes, POTUS is rightly held to higher standards. And yes, my ability to see fault-lines in POTUS likely means I’m all too familiar with this set of behaviors. In myself and in others.

It brings to mind my history with self-confident men and women who believed themselves ordained by God to keep me in line. In my place. Voiceless and without power. One inch short of being used and abused in a subterranean war fueled by abuse of power.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 February 2019
Photo of Hurricane Maria damage in San Juan, Puerto Rico; found at nbcnews.com

Lost in an internal maze

Brilliant winter sun-rays
Filter through frigid air
Endangering darkroom eyes
Unaccustomed to light

Blinking he looks away
Unwilling to sacrifice
Hazy unclear sight for clarity
Or the fine details of truth

Better the sweet comfort
Of blurred lines mixing
Facts with fiction or
Reducing them to nothing

Stumbling blindly
From pillar to post
He makes his lonely way
Lost in an internal maze

I didn’t set out to write about Mr. Trump, yet it seems I have. So now I’m sitting here wondering what’s going on in me. Have I given up on his presidency? Disengaged myself from caring anymore?

That might happen if I believed that whatever he does, I will likely weather the storm. Yet I don’t believe that. His actions put us and others at risk every day.

More likely, I wrote this because I lack visible power over what’s happening in Washington. I voted. Now it seems there’s no more I can do to make a visible difference.

Nor can I say I hope for something better from Mr. Trump. I don’t. I’m an aging citizen, with limited time and energy. I want to know how to make my voice and my concerns heard.

Though I could perhaps feel sorry for Mr. Trump, that isn’t an option. He has openly chosen his way of doing business, and is following it regardless of intended or unintended outcomes for our nation or our allies.

What now? If I remember right, Jesus rebuked those who paraded their supposed righteousness before everyone’s eyes. Instead, he recognized with gratitude and admiration the widow who, almost unnoticed, gave from her heart the bit she had.

I want to find my bit, and offer it from my heart. Not to Mr. Trump, but to this world God already loves — the same world I’m learning to love in spite of our differences and blurred visions of reality.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 January 2019
Photo found at freepik.com

A Day! Help! Help! | Take 2

Emily Dickinson’s short poem came to mind this morning. I first commented on it in March 2017, after the 2016 election and January 2017 inauguration of Mr. Trump as POTUS.

Tomorrow we get to vote again, though not for another president. My comments follow in the form of a letter to Mr. Trump.

A Day! Help! Help! Another Day!
Your prayers, oh Passer by!
From such a common ball as this
Might date a Victory!
From marshallings as simple
The flags of nations swang.
Steady – my soul: What issues
Upon thine arrow hang!

c. 1858

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

Dear Mr. Trump,

I am not one of your fans. I am, however, a believer in more than chance happenings.

First, a confession. For months, I’ve been captive to the anti-Trump approach to daily happenings. I didn’t think about you all the time. Nonetheless, following your election and inauguration, my days seemed governed by what you did and what I thought and felt about it. Usually it felt like going from one bad scene to an even worse scene.

Looking  back, I don’t regret thinking all that through, or writing about some of it. In fact, I rather enjoy going back to see my small trail of contributions to what’s been a national preoccupation and discussion. Trying to figure you out.

There isn’t, of course, any figuring that will balance things out nicely. Especially for those whose lives are in disarray thanks to your words and deeds. Plus the words and deeds of others you’ve enabled, if not unleashed.

And so I’ve moved on. I still believe each day contains the possibility of Victory, no matter how tomorrow’s midterm elections turn out. I also imagine Emily Dickinson’s “common ball” as our planet, which I would describe as this grand terrestrial ball. A dance, open to anyone who wants to accept the invitation. There’s only one hitch. Our Creator presides over this dance. Not any human leader, billionaire or organization.

So I’m taking dance lessons again. My neighbors and their pets are teaching me to lighten up. Women and men of color are teaching me to listen deeply to what’s happening. Children of all colors are teaching me to forget about how I look and how old I am. Friends of many years are helping me reconsider my dance partners. I’m tired of the same old rhetoric, the same old hopes for tomorrow, the same old anxiety about whether I’ll be asked to the dance.

I’m already in the dance! Stumbling along, sometimes gifted with a bit of insight, scraping together my courage, and showing up in the grand ballroom of life. You might like to try it yourself, if you dare.

From one voter among millions,
Elouise Renich Fraser

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 November 2018

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