"Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself."
--C.S. Lewis, from The Problem of Pain
The True Way We Become Human A Lenten Reflection
Andrew Sullivan has a lovely post on belief and suffering.
As much as it pains us, we all know that human suffering is inevitable, and as a Catholic, Andrew points to the Cross as the simple answer to the existential dilemma of one man who was broken by a mere glimpse of a human world of endless suffering unconstrained by even the simplest of moral logic.
As a Catholic, I am reminded of suffering as we enter the Lenten season. Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) said this about suffering in an interview with Peter Seewald:
Anyone who really wanted to get rid of suffering would have to get rid of love before anything else, because there can be no love without suffering, because it always demands an element of self-sacrifice, because, given temperamental differences and the drama of situations, it will always bring with it renunciation and pain. When we know that the way of love – this exodus, this going out of oneself - is the true way by which man becomes human, then we also understand that suffering is the process through which we mature. Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human. Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish.
In a story I recently read, I saw these words:
"True love is an acceptance of all that will not be.."
Those simple words gave me insight into the world of inevitable suffering, the crosses we all must bear, the love that makes us human and vulnerable, and the faith that enables us to transcend. We only find the fullness of beauty in being alive when we freely participate, unafraid and faithful, in true love for one another.
I am reminded of the Cross when I read the following story:
THIS IS WHAT LOVE IS ALL ABOUT
It was a busy morning, approximately 8:30 am, when an elderly gentleman in his 80's, arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He stated that he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, we began to engage in conversation. I asked him if he had a doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I then inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer Disease. As we talked, and I finished dressing his wound, I asked if she would be worried if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now. I was surprised, and asked him. "And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?" He smiled as he patted my hand and said, "She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is." I had to hold back tears as he left. I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, "That is the kind of love I want in my life."
True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.
When I am left to navigate the roughest sea with nothing save faith to guide me, my fervent prayer is that I will graciously take up my Cross with the knowledge that I have lived a full life in the way of true love. And like my mother before me, may I still possess the heart and the faith of a little child.
How is it that we have come to the pitiful point where Chris Matthews of MSNBC is spouting off deliriously about the "greatness" (yes, I said "greatness" if you can believe it) of Congressman (and House majority leader) John Boehner, a representative who has pandered to lobbyists and taken their gifts of golf trips at swank resorts - and who has doled out Big Tobacco checks on the floor of the House of Representatives - and who has neglected the better interests of our kids' and their college loan interests because of his big political contributor Sallie Mae. Boehner's own daughter works for a loan-collection company owned by Sallie Mae. "Greatness" - my ass!
Yes, we have come to that pathetic point where we have to sit and listen to pure crap like "Boehner is great" while the Democrats get limited play, the label of being a struggling/lost party, and assorted other cheap shots from Tweety O'Reilly Matthews.
In a WaPo article today (as always, portraying Democrats as "struggling"), Harry Reid said:
"By the time the election rolls around, people are going to know where Democrats stand."
..and I say to myself: JEEBUS! If they don't know what Democrats stand for NOW, how will they know by November?!?
I agree with a concern voiced in the article, namely:
Sen. Russell Feingold (Wis.) tried to filibuster the renewal of the USA Patriot Act, a move opposed by most of his Senate colleagues, including Reid. Kerry (Mass.) led an unsuccessful filibuster attempt against Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s confirmation as a Supreme Court justice.
I was so disappointed to see these men have the guts to stand up - only to have their lily-livered colleagues leave them to hang alone. If Democrats refuse to have each other's backs when issues like these arise, they will never - and I mean NEVER - win the public's confidence about being a party with a cohesive message.
Rahm Emanuel is a smart fellow, but I have serious concerns about something he has said in the same article:
"When you're in the opposition, you both propose and oppose. But fundamentally, this [2006 election] is going to be a referendum on [Republican] stewardship."
I strongly suggest that the Democrats do not rely too heavily on Republican failures and think they will win over the public's trust. It sure won't get any play on Tweety's show - and perhaps Tweety's not to blame this time.
We win the battle of ideas by electrifying the electorate with our ideas, not by being complainers who will turn many moderates off and cause them to sit at home on election day 2006.
I don't think Democrats should be unoriginal and rely upon the Newt Gingrich successes of 1994, especially since much of it involved the filthy politics of destruction - namely the destruction of Bill Clinton. Looking back, it's amazing how the pundits only recall the "glory" of the 'Contract with America' when it was actually a "contract out on Clinton." I didn't even vote for Bill Clinton in 1992. 1994 turned me into a registered Democrat because of all the dirty shit the Republicans were up to. Until then, I'd been an Independent. 1994? No - get away from 1994. Democrats don't want to go back to that place.
It's a no-brainer that Bush has become a liability for Republicans who, until Bush's popularity in the polls went to hell, were making the ugliest partisan decisions I've ever seen, acting as a bona fide rubber stamp for a White House agenda - always putting PARTY before COUNTRY. My attention span isn't so short that I will forget that kind of ugly partisanship anytime soon, but the mainstream media will mindlessly move on because they're the least tenacious and most government-tamed beast in the world. They've moved on after every one of the many revelations that the Bush administration has acted unethically or criminally. There is no story the American media will not DROP. I imagine that most Americans, especially with the mainstream's mind-numbing assistance, will forget how the Republicans led them to the sad state our nation's in today.
By election-time 2006, I'll bet the mind-numbing mainstream media could even be convinced by Karl Rove - and the same pliant media will consequently convince the public that it's all the Democrats' fault.
Any future Democratic success will need to revolve around something DIFFERENT. The status quo is unsatisfactory to two thirds of Americans. Democrats need something bold, cohesive, inspiring, and giving the appearance of a united front:
- A promise of truth-in-leadership
- Creative ideas and a way to confidently promote and defend them
- Standing by one another as Democrats (Why has everyone has been left to hang from Dean to Feingold to Kerry to Murtha?)
- New and refreshing honesty in Democratic rhetoric. If Bush f*cked up, SAY SO LOUD AND CLEAR. (Use bold/blunt/sharp rhetoric if need be. Don't be afraid of Howard Dean. Step away from your timidity!)
- Democrats should promise to build social responsibility into the everyday operations of our economic and political life. Tikkun's Rabbi Michael Lerner had a great idea. He suggested a law requiring corporations to get a new coroporate charter once every ten years, which would be granted to only those corporations which could prove to a jury of ordinary citizens that it had a satisfactory history of social responsibility.
- Democrats need better talent. Better campaign managers. Better rapid response teams. Idea people. People to come up with some dynamite soundbites. Great ads. Humor. (Is Jon Stewart available?) Maybe a bit of self-effacing humor (without looking like doomsayers) with equal time devoted to mocking the other side. ;)
- Democrats: Do not rely on the mainstream media to save or promote you. Repeat this to yourself once an hour: They are not my friends... They are not my friends.
Bill Press gives us a list of issues that Democrats already agree upon:
*Iraq - set a timetable for bringing the troops home.
*Tax cuts - replace Bush's tax cuts for the rich - with tax cuts for the middle class.
*Social Security - make it secure and protect it.
*Health Insurance - provide it for 45 million Americans who don't have any.
* National security - give first responders the tools they were promised by George Bush, but never received.
In true tough-Texan tradition, President Bush is stickin' to his guns on his threat to veto any legislation blocking that Dubai state-run company from managing U.S. ports. Most of the House Republicans had a political shoot-out with the president on the Ports issue today, voting to kill the deal. Bang-bang. They want Dubai Ports World to "git outta Dodge."
Interestingly, Democrat Jim Moran of Virginia voted against the House measure to block the Ports deal today, saying "It is premature, we don't have enough information and ... it may turn out to be unnecessary." Hmmm. What's up with that?
Democrats in the Senate are maneuvering for a vote in the GOP-led Senate. Republican leaders said they would hold a procedural vote aimed at heading off the Democratic effort. Senate Democrats don't want to let Republican Senators (who have a majority) off easily. Not interested in being pinned down, Republican Senators said it was possible they would pass a simple symbolic statement in coming weeks that would put the Senate's view of the takeover on record without "interfering with it." Democrats say the Abramoff scandal-stained Republicans are being wusses by taking this stance.
..by mid-afternoon Wednesday, with the Senate debating legislation to respond to a corruption scandal involving lobbyists, Democrats signaled they wouldn't be satisfied with a weak provision.
Gee - I wonder what David Brooks would say about those Republicans who (just last week) he praised for not being Buchananites while he accused Democrats of attacking the Dubai ports deal in order to "burnish their security credentials?" Where's the hypocrite alarm?
Paul Krugman tells us that George W. Bush doesn't feel our pain - and it shows. In his latest NYT column, he says
..the economy is expanding, so it's impressive just how large a majority of Americans disapproves of Mr. Bush's economic management. Why doesn't Mr. Bush get any economic respect? I think it's because most Americans sense, correctly, that he doesn't care about people like them. We're living in a time when many Americans are feeling economically insecure, but a tiny elite has been growing incredibly rich.
Gen. Odom: Dwarfish Leaders Won't Escape Accountability on Iraq
Thanks to Lew Rockwell's blog, I've learned about General William E. Odom's speech to congressional staff members on Thursday, March 2, 2006 as a guest of The Liberty Committee. General Odom opened his remarks by saying,
"I think we're in a time of strategic drift and dwarfish leaders."
He also said,
"This is not just an ordinary political gambit where you can sham it and get away with it. You're making decisions to go to war and kill people and bring them home and put their bodies down under the earth and try to tell people they did it for you, for some good reason. There's no accountability. I don't see how you can sit here and not be morally indignant about it." He added, "The war in Vietnam was as stupid as this one [Iraq war]." - [source: More Liberty]
The video of the speech is available HERE, courtesy of More Liberty. The video is 43:36 long. Q&A starts at 30:50
Mr. Rockwell says
his [Gen. Odom's] incredible understanding of world events and the shortcomings of our current regime make his critique of this administration particularly poignant. Along with his plain like-ability and use of colorfully descriptive language, Odom's talk is not to be missed -- especially the Q&A session at the end!
Speaking of Tweety, I got a gem of a tip from Eleanor last night.
Chris Matthews on John Boehner: 'You Can See This Man's Greatness'
MSNBC's Chris Matthews conducted a "hard-hitting" interview tonight with House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). The most aggressive line of questioning Boehner faced was over the hotly-debated question, "Is Hillary Clinton a socialist?" which Matthews asked three times. The segment concluded with Matthews declaring, "You can see this man's greatness." [Think Progress]
Boehner? Greatness? Oh - barf. Really. I can't think of anything better to say than simply "BARF".
UPDATE: John Byrne of Raw Story tells us that they've receioved an advanced report from Dave Johnson of Seeing the Forest revealing that Chris Matthews has "accepted hefty speaking fees from an array of conservative trade associations" while no records could be found indicating that Matthews has spoken before any Democratic-leaning organizations.