Monthly Archives: August 2016

Paul is No Friend of Women: Head Coverings

I read a passage in Paul’s 1 Corinthians 11:5-6 the other day that got me scratching my head. In it, Paul argues that in an orderly church, a woman who prophesies must have her head covered, or else get her hair cut off or shaved off. In Paul’s mind, it was a dishonor for women to speak out without their heads being covered, and this reflects Paul’s extremely negative views towards women.

The fact is that Jesus most certainly did not object to women speaking out in church as prophets or otherwise while their hair was uncovered. Perhaps the most dramatic proof of this is the anointing scene attested to in John 12:3 (and also mentioned in Mark 14:1-9 and Matthew 26:6-13). According to these accounts, while Jesus was reclining or laying back in either a chair or perhaps even a sofa beside a table, Mary anointed Jesus by pouring expensive oil on his head . . . but also according to the account in John 12:3, she went even further. She anointed his feet . . . and wiped the nard off his feet with her hair. Explains John:

Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was served in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of perfume. John 12:1-3.

From the standpoint of answering Paul’s views on women speaking out at church, should this occasion (where Mary anointed Jesus in front of his disciples and family members) be considered a church meeting? Church can simply be defined as the coming together of more than one people to worship God. Any time Jesus met with his disciples, he taught them about God. Jesus was speaking about godly matters during Mary’s famous anointing of him for burial. Therefore, such a meeting should most certainly be considered a church gathering.

Paul said no woman should speak at church, nor should a women prophesize with her head uncovered, or else she should have her head shaved. Jesus obviously disagreed. Jesus considered Mary’s act a beautiful thing. Her anointing was a highly symbolic act, for she was anointing him to prepare him for his death. And the family and apostles present did not object to the way she touched him or the way she acted as a prophet or priestess during the anointing process; instead, Judas objected to the wasting of the expensive nard, which could have been sold and used to feed the poor.

Jesus replied,

Leave her alone . . . She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her. Mark 14:6-9.

Two things are very clear from this statement:

By Autore sconosciuto (images.vogue.it/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Autore sconosciuto (images.vogue.it/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Jesus approves of a woman acting in a symbolic and highly prophetic manner. After all, the anointing of him by Mary foretold or indicated that Jesus was about to die. Like many symbolic acts by Jeremiah and Ezekiel, John the Baptist and Jesus, Mary’s anointing represented a godly sign of what was to come.
  • Jesus honors Mary’s anointing act, and treats Mary as an equal and beloved member of his church.

Moreover, Mary’s head most certainly was not covered, nor was that of the other woman who oiled and then dried the Savior’s feet with her hair during an earlier church meeting involving Jesus. Luke 7:36-50. This woman, who was “a sinful woman,” wept over Jesus and wet his feet with her tears.

Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Luke 7:38.

When the Pharisee who was hosting Jesus objected, Jesus told a parable about a moneylender who forgave the debts of two people, one of whom owed more. The man who owed more was forgiven more, and thus he would love the lender more; just so, Jesus explained, would the woman love more if she were forgiven more.

Therefore, I tell you, how many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little. Luke 7:47.

In other words, Jesus not only refuses to rebuke a woman who kisses his feet and rubs away the tears she has shed on his feet with her hair—he uses the opportunity she gives him to teach yet again about his main commandment, which is to love. Jesus does not care about the rules of the surrounding institutions. He does not respect the orthodoxies of the rabbis or other Jewish authorities.

Unfortunately, Paul does respect these orthodoxies and he does apply the preexisting and prevailing institutional bias to how churches created by him treated (and often still treat) women. Unlike Jesus, Paul is no friend of women:

And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her head. 1 Corinthians 11:5-6.

By Olympe de Gouges (Originally from [1].) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Olympe de Gouges (Originally from [1].) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Paul contradicts Jesus here. And by contradicting Jesus, Paul departs from the true teachings that Jesus brought with him. And if Paul wrongfully taught that women should not speak in church (or prophesy with their heads uncovered), then Paul could be wrong about other things as well (such as the submissive role a wife must take in marriage). Paul is not equal to the Savior, and his teachings on inequality often reflect this.

Jesus brought a new set of teachings, with new laws, when he brought his new covenant. Paul spoke in derogation of these new laws many times, particularly regarding women. If anything, Paul was enforcing the old Jewish laws that Jesus disregarded. The old laws that Paul is enforcing were in fact abrogated by the Savior’s life and Crucifixion. Hebrews 8:7-8, 13. Paul never walked and talked with Jesus; in fact, he only visited with Jesus a couple of times, and not in physical form (and this, after Paul persecuted the early church, which Paul himself freely admits to doing). Paul himself states that he should not be considered an apostle:

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 1 Corinthians 15:9.

Perhaps Paul should be taken at his word.

And yet Paul’s teachings are accepted widely and have been used for thousands of years to repress women. It’s ridiculous that the one Apostle who never walked and talked with Jesus is accepted as readily as the other apostles, such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Phillip and Thomas (among others). All of these apostles worked hard to spread the words of the Savior—and they kept true to his word. When Paul strays from the letter and spirit of the Savior (such as on matters of women’s equality in the church), his teachings should be considered moot and obsolete.

Should a woman speak in church? Of course. Mary spoke and acted symbolically in the church that Jesus created, as did Martha and other women, like the Samaritan in John 4. See Luke 10:38-42. If the Savior allowed women to have a role and spoke to them as equals, why should we listen to Paul when he treats women as less?

 

 

 

 

 

 




Don’t Pick Sides When You Pray

Yesterday I wrote about division. I wrote about the Blue Lives and Black Lives, and how both must matter. Both should be loved and supported, in prayer and in action.

I favor unity in all cases. I don’t think a sense of unity is created when we choose to pray for only police officers. We can support both the men in blue as well as the black men in hoodies, perhaps with a different set of prayers, but with loving intent all the same.

Here’s what I wrote yesterday . . .


 I saw a sign in a local church today:

Pray for the Men in Blue

And certainly I’ll pray for them. I’ll pray that they use discernment when they see black men in hoodies. I’ll pray that they receive the support and training they need when they try to sort out their threat matrix. I’ll pray that they enforce the peace with love and tolerance in their hearts. I’ll pray that they, as well as the black men in hoodies, make it home safe to their families tonight.

Of course I’ll pray. But I’ll pray my ass off for the black men in hoodies too. I’ll pray for all humanity as we try to forge a straight path in these dark days; I’ll pray that we walk with love and in the light no matter how difficult the two may be to grasp hold of and live with; I’ll pray for all sinners that they may live more like saints. Always, I’ll pray—for all of us.


Someone very close to me read this and asked me to clarify my thoughts on cops. “Don’t you think most cops are good?” he asked.Pray_meninblue

And of course I think most cops are good. Most cops wake up every morning and put on their blue or brown uniform and go out with the intention to “protect and serve.” Most cops have good intention throughout their day . . . and the same principle applies to most civilians. When a black student at a university, say a football player, grabs his collegiate sweats and takes a walk, he’s just trying to live his life. He doesn’t deserve to get stopped and frisked at gunpoint just because a black man (bearing a completely different physical description aside from skin color) in the same city has robbed a bank. Or when a black father gets into his car and drives through town to get an errand done, he’s just trying to take care of his family. He doesn’t deserve to be harassed and treated as if he’s a criminal during a routine traffic stop.

In other words, the vast majority of black Americans and the vast majority of cops begin their day, they don’t wish to hurt anyone. They are doing their jobs and living their lives. They are not looking to hurt the innocent or commit a crime.

But at times things go awry. The black American who shot the cops in Dallas was motivated not so much by a misguided desire to achieve reform, so much as hatred. What that man (and I won’t say his name because I think this encourages those who seek fame through their bad acts) did was wrong. It was evil.

We should all be motivated by love. Buddha said in the Dhammapada:

Hatred can never put an end to hatred; love alone can. This is an unalterable law. Dhammapada 1:5.

Jesus said something similar:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 28-31.

No matter what we do for a living, we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves and we should be motivated by love rather than hatred.

When police officers go out in the field, or in the line of duty, they should not merely be looking to serve and protect. They should be looking to love, serve and protect. If love is at the fount of their service, then the police officers will be able to better see and understand the people they are serving. They will be motivated less by fear and more by a willingness to disregard triggers that lead to undisciplined and paranoid reactions to innocent black Americans.

I have watched videos of cops killing civilians, and in the worst of the videos, I’ve seen malfeasance and hateful intent, but with the help of a retired military cop, I have learned to watch these videos with greater discernment. For example, I have watched the killing of a Navajo woman by a cop in Winslow, Arizona (which is shared below).

As I watched the video, the retired military cop explained to me all the mistakes the frightened cop was making (that led to what was later ruled a justified shooting). “He’s too close to her right here. He’s not approaching her with sufficient distance, he’s not giving her clear voice commands. He’s escalating the situation. He should have waited for backup. He should not have laid a hand on her here, he should have used a baton, not his hands here . . . and now, he should not have pointed his gun in the same direction as his partner. He’s not controlling the situation . . . and now she’s got a weapon in her hand. He has no choice now. It’s kill or be killed, but all of this could’ve been avoided if he had approached the situation better,” explained the retired military cop. “Approach determines response,” he concluded. “And his approach was all wrong.”

I have also discussed the issue of cop training with a gun instructor. As this instructor explained to me, “Too few cops are training properly on the use of firearms. They are going to the shooting range, but they’re not training with live people, they’re not training on close combat, they’re not learning how to handle the very difficult scenarios that cops may or may not have to face. But when a difficult situation does arise, you must have trained on it in order to be able to handle it correctly,” the instructor said to me.

With all of those caveats in mind, when I pray for the men in blue, I pray that they get the training that they need to handle difficult situations. I also pray that they approach all civilians in a manner that is fair and just. I pray that cops treat a black child wearing a hoodie or a black dad driving in his SUV with the same love and protectiveness as the cops treat any white child or white dad.

When love informs how we see the world, we’re better able to see that every soul is precious. When love provides the filler for the fuzzy spaces within our hearts, we are better able to identify the innocent as not posing a threat. When love alone is what motivates us, we’re not as likely to think that someone is a threat to us just because their skin is darker than ours. Indeed, if we view all other humans as being our brothers and sisters, part of the same Body of Christ or as descendants from the same Maker (the Father), then we treat all the people we encounter as deserving of our love.

Division arises from a bad choice. We choose to see others as different, and as a threat to our way or to our identity or to our sense of comfort. Cops fall into the same bad habits as the rest of us do. We identify ourselves by our colors, whether they’re drawn on the uniforms of sports teams we follow or patched onto the sleeves of uniforms we don when we go to work or dabbed onto our very skin.

We choose our colors and we choose to think that one color makes us superior . . . and yet beneath the skin we wear, we are all the same color. Our souls all shine white, lit by a brilliant light. The lamp that is our soul looks the same as any one else’s soul, for it emerged from the same One Light that created us all.

I pray that we all remember that One Light guides us all. I pray that love wins, and love alone rules us all.

 




The Non-Perils of Tolerance

I am an interfaith minister who preaches a doctrine of love, tolerance and peace, and usually my route is an easy one. I believe that all altars, followed in good faith, lead souls Home. I embrace the teachings of the prophets from the major (and sometimes minor, or less popular) faith traditions. Jesus was the Son and the Savior, but believing in him as our Savior is not the sole route to paradise. Living like Jesus (or following the path that he and other prophets, saints, and spiritual leaders have followed) is what matters, both for this life and for life afterwards.

I am also the mother of three children, and church for us will soon consist of worship services I lead in Front Royal, but for now, church is mostly what I teach at home. I don’t limit my teachings to Sunday mornings, but I do read from the scriptures and teach from the Word on Sundays. Most of the time, we work on the Bible, but I also teach from eastern scriptures. Sometimes we will read from the Mahabharata (the Hindu holy works); sometimes from Rumi (a Sufi mystic from thirteen-century Turkey); sometimes we will delve into poetry from Walt Whitman. In other words, our church embraces all well-intentioned routes to finding God.

Paris_-_Bibl._Mazarine_-_ms._0924,_f_150v

http://idlespeculations-terryprest.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-apostles-creed.html

So what happens when my daughter says, “Hey Mom, Dad wants to take us to church with his new girlfriend? And he says we gotta pack our church clothes?”

The honest answer for us at least was somewhat humorous. The kids and I looked at one another, each with a bit of apprehension and perhaps a tad of annoyance. “Church clothes?” My daughter said.

“Church clothes?” My middle child said.

“Huh?” My youngest child said.

It took us a while, but we found some clothing that was more or less church-appropriate. Our scavenging was not without a few remarks about the lack of guidance in the Apostle’s Creed regarding church attire (a train of thought that I may have started). But we got it figured out, and I also had a chance to go over the Apostle’s Creed with my children.[1]

To be clear, as a servant of God I do accept the main tenets of this creed. I don’t believe in the supremacy of the Holy Catholic Church. I don’t think it’s necessary to accept the pope or the catechism to be okay with God. I’m also not quite sure about the phrase, “he will judge the living and the dead” as applied to Jesus, for I do not think that Jesus is co-equal to God. Jesus was God’s Son, and he obeys his Father’s orders, but does he wield the staff at Home? I was thinking through these doctrinal matters as we searched for “proper” church attire.

And then my daughter piped up, “Mom, is it okay for us to go to his church, or his girlfriend’s church?”

A funny thing happened inside me. I hesitated. I had to think about it. I didn’t immediately say a loving, fearless, “Well, yes,” because I didn’t feel it. I felt uncertain. I pictured in my mind several different churches at once, and some of what I saw was good; some was not so good; some was innocuous but uninspiring. The worst of what I saw was an intolerant, fear-instilling Baptist preacher commenting on the sins of gays. The best was a Methodist minister reminding his flock at Christmas time that “we can’t take it with us,” so we should not focus on earthly material gain. But mostly I saw a little girl sitting in a pew reading a Bible instead of listening to church announcements. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; after all, anytime someone gets curious about the Word, one more soul is hearing God’s call.

As I was thinking, my daughter said, “What if they teach things we don’t believe? What if they say it’s sinful to be gay or what if—”

“—I don’t think any minister in Northern Virginia is gonna go there,” I said.

“Better not,” she said. “I couldn’t stand it when they went off on that during Bible study last year.”

I issued a quiet nod and remarked, “If they were to refer to that same passage in Romans, you could remind them of what?”

My daughter’s face screwed up in concentration. “Doesn’t Paul say you’re not supposed to judge anyone else’s sins, because we all sin?”

“Yep.”

“Okay,” she said, “But you don’t really think homosexuality is a sin.”

I nodded again. “Yeah, but you don’t need to argue that every time. You can always peacefully remind someone that the very same thing they’re using in the Bible to condemn others says you shouldn’t condemn or judge anyone, seems like a better way to change their minds right? More peaceful.

I smiled at my daughter, who was shrugging and shaking her head. “I don’t feel so peaceful when people say mean things at church,” she said. “In fact, I feel like kicking them.”

“Not good,” I chuckled.

“But Mom, they’re hateful.”

“Who’s hateful?”

My daughter stopped and thought about it, and then she said, “Mom, you teach a different way, and it’s never hateful. Will it be okay?”

“You mean, will it be okay to go to church, maybe hear what some other folks have to say? Or do you mean, will it be okay if they say some things you don’t agree with, maybe some things I don’t agree with either, do you mean will you be okay if you sit still and listen?”

My daughter was trying to roll her eyes at the direction my question was going, but her curiosity was piqued. “So would you go, if you were invited?”

512px-Westboro-church1

Photo by Americasroof, Wikipedia

I smiled and then laughed. “Well, I don’t think I’ll be invited . . . but . . .”

We both chuckled, and then I continued my line of thought. “I always go to worship services if I’m invited, if I’m able of course. There are probably a few churches I wouldn’t go to, like Westboro Baptist—”

“—They’re the ones who protest at funerals, like when soldiers are killed, they protest against gays?”

“Yeah, that’s the ones. I wouldn’t go to their church because for sure they’re spewing hateful stuff, for sure. But the vast majority of Christian churches are good, they teach some fear-based stuff sometimes, that’s not good, but mostly they share the Word and they do their best to help people.”

“—Mom,” my youngest son interposed, “Are Catholics also Christians?”

“Yeah, Catholics are Christians, so are Protestants, so long as you follow the Apostle’s Creed you’re Christian.” I glanced at my daughter, who appeared thoughtful. She didn’t say anything, so I continued talking. “You should never be afraid to hear other people’s opinions, whether they’re right or wrong, accurate or completely off-base, you need to assume that they’re trying their best to get it right, especially when you’re going somewhere to worship God, even if you don’t love the service, even if you don’t feel totally comfortable, you can see a different way of worshiping him, and while you’re there, you can talk to Him yourself or you can think about Home, it’s never a bad thing to think about Home, it’s never a bad thing to see how someone else thinks about Home.”

“Mom?” It was my youngest son again. “Are we Christian?”

I rubbed his head. “We are all whatever we choose to be, I for one follow the teachings of Jesus, and I think he is God’s Son and the Savior, I just don’t think Jesus and the Father are the same. I guess this makes us nondenominational Christian, because most denominational—”

“—What’s denominational?” My middle child now was listening in.

“Oh, it’s a specific church, like Lutheran, Methodist, that’s what you all were baptized in, Baptist, Episcopalian . . .” I paused and waited for my middle child to nod at me. “So most Christians who belong to these denominations, they follow what they call the Trinity, but when I read what Jesus said, I think all along he said he was the Son, and he was obeying the Father, he was ‘doing the will of Him who sent him,’ but it’s okay to disagree with folks on this issue, it doesn’t make them bad or us better or them good and us worse, it’s just a different interpretation.”

My youngest son bounced away. He was done asking questions. But my daughter was still a little stuck. “It doesn’t matter who’s right? What does the Apostle’s Creed say?”

“You mean about the trinity or about gays?”

“Trinity, I know they’re wrong about gays,” she said with a winsome smile.

“It says nothing, it says the Father and the Son, treats them as separate, but a billion Christians think they’re the same, it’s just what is taught to kids when they’re young. But it doesn’t matter, trinity or no trinity, one God or Father and Son, it doesn’t hurt people if they’re wrong about some doctrines, what matters is that they’re well-intentioned, and the same goes for people who actually deny that Jesus was the Son, who say he was just a man—”

“—But you are sure he was God’s Son, and you’re adamant about it, right Mom?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.” I poured a glass of water and checked the time. It was Thursday morning and I wanted to take the kids to the mountains for the afternoon, so I needed to wrap it up. “The thing is, it’s important to be accurate, but it’s not so important to be right.” I smiled because I was repeating some advice a close friend had once given me. At the time, I had thought being right was incredibly important, but I had realized that being right is only important to those of us who have too much pride. I still struggled with this, and that was probably the gist of the issue for my daughter too.

Sure enough, she said aloud, “But aren’t you right, I mean about doctrines like the trinity?”

I lifted both hands and smiled. “Doesn’t matter.”

“Why not?”

What matters is how you love and how much you give. What matters is using your abilities to serve others. Those things matter so much more than being right. It’s really important to just do your best, and that applies to ministers and to preachers as well. I don’t sit here and judge other ministers. I don’t want it to be about figuring out who’s right and who’s wrong. As long as ministers are trying to help people get Home, that’s good. Whatever the faith, whatever the dogma, whatever the creed is, so long as it’s based on love and is taught with love, it’s good.”

438663_Bible

Image from www.christianbooks.com

______

A few days later, my daughter called me. It was Sunday afternoon, so I asked how church had been.

“It wasn’t bad, actually, it was really cute, Ben sat and read the Bible the entire time, I think he got as far as Leviticus.”

“Awww,” I smiled into the phone. “That’s what I used to always do in church, I’d get bored and then I’d start reading the Bible, always loved it.”

“Yep, he says he wants a new Bible, a blue one.”

“Blue?”

“Yeah, that’s what he said, Mom.”

I grinned and added, “Tell him I’ll find a blue one.”

__________

[1] I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic and apostolic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.



Martin Luther King, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

I’ve been studying the life of Martin Luther King this summer. I discovered that at the end of his life, King was moving more in the direction of seeking revolutionary change. Or more to the left, if you will. A few days before he died, he was planning a major march on DC to protest poverty. A federal judge issued an injunction that forbade King from conducting or leading the protest. King retorted, “That’s unconstitutional,” and he stated that he was going to go to DC despite the judge’s order. A day or so after announcing his determination to disregard the judge, King was assassinated.

King said something else of note just before he died:

Violence or nonviolence is not the issue . . . the issue is poverty and neglect.

To be clear, King was not advocating violence or anything tantamount to clear political rebellion with this remark, nor he was a member of or supporter of the revolutionary Black Panther Party. He was, however, observing that the civil rights movement had fallen short of ensuring equality and freedom to black Americans. King was concerned that the legal revolution overturning the Jim Crow laws in the south had not resulted in revolutionary or even meaningful political or social change in either the south or the north. Black America still lived in “the Other America,” to coin a King phrase. This Other America was an impoverished one, where families suffered from neglect and lacked true opportunity in the economic sphere.

As I studied King’s final days, I also was watching the current political conventions. And I kept thinking that the promise of American democracy is belied by the nomination of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively, for the Democratic and Republican parties. The nomination of these two individuals suggests that true and meaningful democratic choice is dead.

By Minnesota Historical Society - http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/5355384180/sizes/o/in/photostream/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19183908

How? The political system promises to guarantee individual rights, protect American liberties, and provide for the common good, but the electoral process has instead become a corrupt vehicle for the wealthy and the influential. In the absence of strict enforcement of campaign contribution and lobbying laws, only politicians with wealth and influence can court the voters via a system that resembles a gravy train of graft, corruption and undue influence.

As it stands, we’re left with two wealthy and influential candidates, and neither possesses the moral character requisite to lead our beautiful nation. Trump, the billionaire, lacks sincere desire to take a stand that would protect our economic freedoms. While he blusters about making America “great again,” he flip-flops on economic and social policy, and when asked to elucidate his positions, he resorts to ad hominem attacks on his real or imagined detractors. Trump would sooner hand American jobs to countries with horrific civil rights records than he would actually follow through on his racist and lowly threats to deport all believers in the Muslim faith from our nation. Trump will work for the institutional behemoth that empowers his corporations while feeding hate candy to the uninformed.

By Chad J. McNeeley - http://www.defense.gov/PhotoEssays/PhotoEssayImage.aspx?id=3093&name=Mullen,%20Cartwright%20Confirmation%20Hearing, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3408496

Clinton at least espouses a traditional and seemingly compassionate creed, which, if followed, would hopefully result in a better outcome for at least some minorities and embattled members of the lower classes. And as several friends of mine have pointed out, Clinton does preach acceptance of gays and a commitment to protecting social liberties. And while I distrust her veracity, I don’t find it impossible to believe that Clinton will follow through on some of her campaign promises. But I cannot stand by and support a candidate who so clearly lacks moral probity, a willingness to follow the laws that other citizens are bound by, and who so obviously is the choice of the rich and influential.

Clinton, after all, garnered lavish fees for speaking to corporations and took money from any and all corporate donors. She chased down the nomination through whatever means necessary. She undoubtedly leaned on investigators and somehow dodged indictment for national security breaches that would have resulted in the indictment of almost any other American citizen. Clinton seems to wear an invisible coat of Teflon when it comes to criminal activity. She gets help from powerful actors in institutional as well as corporate spheres.DWSPortrait

It is obvious from the latest Wikileaks that leaders of the Democratic party did everything in their power to undermine the campaign of her main opponent, Bernie Sanders. And immediately after the Chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, resigned in ignominy after said actions were detailed, Clinton appointed Schultz to a position within the Clinton campaign. Clinton released the following statement:

“There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie–which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign’s 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states.”

Schultz, mind you, was supposed to have been an unbiased leader within the DNC. Now her lack of impartiality is being rewarded.

As best I can see, Clinton has been nominated undemocratically. Trump, while nominated somewhat more democratically would, if elected, pass measures that would undermine the best of American democracy. Our American democracy is founded on securing the individual’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_5.jpg

Trump does not concern himself with such ideals. He rarely speaks of free markets or economic liberties or lowering taxes or reducing the size of the federal government, or any of the central ideals that prior Republicans have made part and parcel of the party’s narrative. Why, after all, did so few Republican leaders attend the RNC Convention? In part because Trump does not preach traditional Republican values, and in part because Trump’s pronouncements are filled with vitriolic appeals to divisive populism.

Despite his version of his own rise to greatness, Trump is no Horatio Algers. He’s a spoiled rich kid who inherited and then mismanaged a great deal of wealth. Trump is no individualist, nor does he possess a consistent set of ideals whatsoever. He doesn’t speak of any principles beyond his own questionable excellence. Most importantly he does not speak to matters of liberty. He speaks in bromides about making America great again, but appears to be willing to sacrifice the rights of unpopular minorities to that pursuit of greatness. There is no American greatness absent the securing of each individual’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Indeed, the best feature of American democracy is its protection of individual rights. All Americans should be equally protected by the American government. And all Americans should possess an equal role in governance and in the electoral process. Under the current system, corporate interests have much more power than the lowly individual citizen. Until this changes, we will be left with candidates who represent corporate interests (in the case of Clinton) or with populist candidates with demagogic appeal (in the case of Trump).

By Unknown - USIA / National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group 306, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4344206

Rosa Parks with King in the background.

It is said that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote cast into the wind. It is said that failing to vote for the better of two evils is a failure to vote, period. While I understand this position, I view my choice as somewhat different.

I am exercising my American choice to protest the current two party system. I refuse to be a slave to a system that is broken. I refuse to waste my precious vote on a candidate I feel lacks the proper values to represent my liberties and defend my freedoms.

More than fifty years ago, black Americans protested the political system they found themselves chained by, and surely their small refusals, their tiny whispers made at the twilight of a long workday, seemed of little value. But when enough black Americans refused to move to the back of the bus, or when enough black Americans refused to frequent a certain store, or when enough black Americans marched to the beat of their own dreams, a movement was begun.

Each small step taken in furtherance of individual liberty matters. Refusing to cast a vote in favor of Trump or Clinton for moral reasons is not a wasted gesture. I will vote my conscience, and I will not regret it. I will unfurl my vote into the breeze that flies with the wave of every flag our hearts and minds hold dear.

 

  1. Photo credits: Martin Luther King. By Minnesota Historical Society – http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/5355384180/sizes/o/in/photostream/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19183908
  2. Hillary Clinton By Chad J. McNeeley – http://www.defense.gov/PhotoEssays/PhotoEssayImage.aspx?id=3093&name=Mullen,%20Cartwright%20Confirmation%20Hearing, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3408496
  3. Debbie Wasserman Schultz By U.S. Congress – Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Congressional Website, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36700236
  4. Donald Trump https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_5.jpg
  5. Rosa Parks with King By Unknown – USIA / National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group 306, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4344206



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