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Read more in Solstice Fire and the Art of Service, by Eric Francis.
“… the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?”
— Chief Justice John Roberts
As we contemplate the Art of Service to one another, we define what is important in our lives. When we are in service to something larger than ourselves, our lives expand with opportunity and growth. We have seen what happens when we serve only our own needs and desires, contracting into a kind of littleness that does not serve anyone. When Edgar Cayce told us that here, on planet Terra, we “serve or suffer,” I suspect he meant exactly that.
Here at Planet Waves, we hope you will grow with us by supporting the work we do, if you are able. You will find several ways to contribute to our mutual well-being here and we thank you for all you do.
This was the week that Chris Christy decided we needed another belligerent presidential candidate besides The Donald, whose annual Miss America/Miss Universe beefcake presentation was canceled by Hispanic channel Univision after he called illegal Mexican immigrants rapists. NBC decided to turn the “You’re Fired” meme around on him, no longer supporting him as host for Celebrity Apprentice, and Macy’s will no longer carry his menswear line. Appropriately, New York Mayor de Blazio is “reviewing his contracts with the city.” Trump being Trump, he will sue (everyone, apparently).
As fallout, the ineffectual responses to Trump’s racist allegations by candidates have moved the Hispanic community farther away from the GOP than ever, as has the Pope’s encyclical, which has galvanized Hispanic youth in support of sound environmental practice and acceptance of climate change. If you have concerns about the young ones, read America Ferrera’s take down of Trump and soothe yourself. Unless the Republican leopard can change its spots, the likelihood of their capturing the national flag anytime soon is slim.
Christy, meanwhile, has pledged not to sugarcoat any issues, not that we expected him to — he’s a Jersey boy, after all. Obama mentioned that if this funneling of candidates into the Pub locker room keeps up, they will soon have enough contenders for their own version of the Hunger Games. A chilling thought, eh?
This was also the week that the media noticed that Bernie Sanders isn’t just a scruffy old socialist curmudgeon but a viable contender for the crown. Everywhere Bernie goes, his staff has to upgrade the facility to hold more warm and enthusiastic bodies. The message is the medium here, and the medium is a grassroots populist movement that has raised over $15 million dollars of support since April, with no big donors. This deems him legit, making his race against Hillary’s well-funded war chest suddenly ‘do-able.’
Pity the Pub who still wants to demonize the word ‘socialist’ when it no longer plays with those who hear Bernie’s populist message: citizens who think fair is fair and government is meant to benefit them, not pound them into silly putty. Starting out virtually unknown, Sanders is now just 8 points behind Hillary in New Hampshire and within 19 points nationally, according to a recent poll. He has consistently drawn the largest crowds on the stump, proven by no less than 10,000 people flocking to hear him speak in Madison, Wisconsin this week. The Elizabeth Warren wing of the Dem party is alive and well and it’s got legs.
A fifth Dem, Southern centrist Jim Webb, has thrown his hat in the ring and brings a bit of gravitas with him. As a senator from Virginia, Webb voted against Shock ‘n Awe, disapproves of the war on drugs, and has populist appeal. But he also voted against women in combat (or even admitting them to our service academies) and against strict carbon emissions standards, and he has continually — and recently — defended the Confederate flag, none of which will play with the Dem base. At minimum, we now have a mix of left-leaners, almost all of them left of Ms. Clinton.
A year and a half from the next presidential election, we’re well begun in terms of defining what we want to come next. Although it seems tedious to follow the election hijinks so far in advance of the event, it feels somehow appropriate to me — at this juncture, to again quote Poppy Bush — to recognize that re-definition is exactly what we’re up to, now that so much of our national persona is bent and broken and drowned in the Republican bathtub. With all the Sturm und Drang of attempting to move us backwards into what was, a very clear assessment of what is would serve us well.
In the decision to allow same-sex marriage, each of the four conservative judges — Alito, Thomas, Scalia and Roberts — wrote his own dissent. Each followed the philosophical thread we’ve come to expect from the right, which amounts to fear and loathing of change = instability = chaos. Out of all the nonsense sputtered by Scalia (watch this excellent little Fiori ‘toon to get a sense of the lyrical word salad he mixed with these two lost decisions), the tone-deaf meanderings of Thomas, and the harsh pronouncements of Alito that remind me of Cotton Mather pounding his podium, it’s a phrase from John Roberts that grabs my attention: “Just who do we think we are?”
This was a finger pointed at the apparent hubris of attempting to change the social order that has kept the marriage bed sacred for the propagation of the species. Essentially, Roberts considers the ruling unconstitutional, although — to give him his due — his dissent seemed the most secular. And clearly, to Roberts’ thinking, messing with that ‘natural order’ brings up too many questions to juggle in one little ruling, fiddles with the old paradigm notion of a husband in ownership of both wife and child, opens the possibility of polygamy, and worse. Most dreadful of all, now anyone loathe to tolerate same-sex marriage will no doubt be vilified and called bigot!
Amazing how hypocritical this seems, flipping the zeitgeist. Now it’s the Christians who are bigots, much as it’s the racists who defend their flag without a hint of remorse for the cruelty that inspired it. Looking in that mirror isn’t for sissies, my dears — it takes a big sack, as Stephen Colbert would say, and some of us just aren’t up to it. Smell the fear?
Indeed, the gay marriage decision made Scalia so verklempt he called it “The end of democracy,” and scorched his own seat at the table by calling SCOTUS “a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine.” I don’t recall him saying that when he ruled on Citizens United, which DID turn the democratic process on it’s head. I can’t help but think of the historical holes in their dissent, obvious enough to twist an ankle should we be unwise enough to step in one.
If we are to hold to the societal absolutes of the period in which the Constitution was brought forth, Justice Clarence Thomas would be standing at the door to the court, helping the white gentlemen with their coats. The Aztecs frequently broke open the chests of their slaves and enemies in order to raise their still-beating hearts to the crowd, a triumphant public offering and sacrifice to their cruel gods. As for marriage between one man and one woman, that is a complete cheat. The early Biblical law that later distilled itself into a one-on-one began with a plurality of wives under the same tent. We forget what is inconvenient to remember.
Still, with all the hot air wasted on this marriage argument, now encoded into law, Roberts’ question of who we are — meant as a chiding reprimand — is the most important question of the season, especially as we contemplate the snarled mess we’ve made of our Republic on this 239th national birthday weekend.
We, the People, have a very imperfect union right now. That doesn’t discount the extraordinary potential of the documents upon which our government was formed. The founders themselves were flawed humans, not holding to their own declarations. Feet of clay is the way of these things, historically. Best not to confuse the message with the messenger. Our childish mythologies about who these people were — mostly hard-nosed businessmen — must take on some reality if we’re to put a flawed past behind us, and this would be a good time to invite them off their (elitist) pedestals.
We have much to be concerned about and much to remedy, going forward, but we’re not lost yet. We still haven’t decided whether we should enter a hologram to take us back to those Good Old Days of colonialism and vigilante justice, or we’re to pitch in, each of us, to rebuild this nation with an egalitarian platform that supports a diverse and creative population. That’s up to us. That’s the assessment we must make.
That’s the question that’s finally posed itself, made clear by an embarrassment of riches in candidates like The Donald, the captain of crony capitalism and ego-speak, or Rick Perry, a delusional type who has assured the African-American population that they’re much better off voting the GOP. And even Hillary — who has more political experience than most of the others and would surely make history as the first woman president — is too busy courting Israel, to whom she promises to be a better friend than Obama, and dodging positions on the trade deal, for instance, to do more than offer lip-service to the progressive ticket.
In a perfect world there would be voices like Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein and old friend Dennis Kucinich heard loud and clear, bypassing the muck and mire of establishment politics and big money to propose answers to that profound question at hand. Yet in this imperfect world, amazingly, we do have one like them in Sanders. The miracle of the moment is that he’s no longer considered a long shot and his message can’t be missed.
In fact, if you like the idea of a populist reformation ticket, Bernie is putting together a “series of conversations about how we can organize an unprecedented grassroots movement that takes on the greed of Wall Street and the billionaire class.” If you want to host or attend an organizational meeting at the end of this month, you can contact his campaign here.
With the election still far off, promising allegiance to any particular candidate seems premature, but sharpening our skills at grassroots organization sounds pretty productive. As for Bernie, I haven’t heard any other candidate say “They have the money, but we have the people, and if we stand together, there’s nothing we cannot accomplish.” Until any of the remaining four do — and until they convince the people of this nation (as has Bernie) that they’re just one of them, lucky to be born an American and committed to making her that place the founders hoped for — he’s my pick.
The revolution that started this nation so long ago is not dead, just resting, as they say. There’s energy stirring from the bottom up to take on the greed and avarice at the heart of our social and political problems. On a joyful occasion like the Fourth of July, with fireworks and barbeques and family gatherings all around, it would be a fine thing if our nationalism was used not to mark or defend who we were, but to celebrate and define who we will become, because that IS the question, isn’t it?
Marianne Williamson tells us we didn’t come here to play it small. Neale Donald Walsch urges us to become the best version of ourselves we can conjure. Just who DO we think we are, this Independence Day? That decision holds the design of our future.