at war

Sometimes my penchant for sarcasm must be suppressed.  Sorry.  I believe in transparency.  Can someone please share with me why in the last 2-3 years, our nation continues to go to war?  We keep engaging in brand new “military conflict.”

 

There is the war on drugs, war on labor, war on terror, and war on teachers.  Not to mention the war on education, war on guns, war on Catholics, and war on Christmas.  Lest we forget the war on poverty, war on Wall Street, war on faith, and war on freedom.  Ladies and gentleman, we are a nation at war!

 

I have wondered for some time why the verbiage has regressed to such sensational standards.  Interestingly, after the shooting of the congressional representative in Arizona 15 months ago, many called for the ceasing of rhetorical combat; however, many of those who called for the cessation have quickly learned to reload and refire.  I therefore conclude that there exists something unique in the utilization of war terminology that stirs the emotions to a level that prompts action.  In particular, it prompts votes.  Sadly in this society — more than adhering to a nonporous standard of integrity — when words prompt votes, the appropriateness and exaggeration of the words seem irrelevant.

 

Our newest war?  A war on women.

 

My sarcasm is again tempted, folks.  A war on women?  A war?

 

Last I knew a “war” was when 2 different nations or states picked up their arms, attempting to blow one another up, because they had different desires for what the end result should look like.

 

The roots in the latest round in this feminine “war” began months ago with talk of contraception.  Should the government provide it for free?  Should one taxpayer subsidize it for another?  Women were divided.

 

The “war” advanced again this week when one powerful pundit, strategist Hillary Rosen, referred to Gov. Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, as having “actually never worked a day in her life.  She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and why do we worry about their future.”  Ann Romney, a survivor of both multiple sclerosis and breast cancer, was a stay-at-home mom, raising 5 boys.

 

Let it be known that Rosen later apologized for her “poorly chosen” words.  Prior to that apology, however, she initially reaffirmed her claims via the world of Twitter.  (My keen sense is that most likely, the pundit failed to initially recognize the unpopular military conflict she was just responsible for escalating.)

 

Thus, the Intramuralist is left with 2 questions:

 

  1. What are we doing?  And…
  2. Why do we keep acting as if this is “war”?

 

What are we doing?  We are dividing people.

 

As best I can discern, we are challenged as a nation to respect those who are different than us.  Hence, most either accept all difference as equally good and healthy (when it might not be) — or we look down on others, thereby creating division.  Rosen — albeit arguably unintentionally — was communicating in a way that gave the impression she looked down on Ann Romney.  I don’t know Rosen nor Romney’s hearts, but we would be wiser if we wouldn’t minimize the perspective of another primarily because their circumstances are different than our own.

 

So why do we keep acting as if this is “war”?  When Rosen apologized — no doubt also motivated to move past her personal role in the “war” escalation — she said, “Let’s declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.”  Amen.  I agree.  There is no war against stay-at-home moms in this country.

 

But there also is no war against poverty, against labor unions, against education, or Christmas.  Remember that “war” means picking up our arms and attempting to blow up one another.

 

We could thus better “focus on the substance” if people would quit acting as if this was war.

 

Respectfully,

AR

bye, Rick…

Everyone brings something to the table.  A passion perhaps that he or she uniquely brings that’s quickly embedded into the conversation and thus impacts the emotion and dialogue going forward.  Such is true whether your last name is Goldwater or Gore, Sharpton or Nader, Clinton or Quayle.  Today my focus is on the contributions of former Pennsylvania senator, Rick Santorum.

 

This is not an endorsement; that’s not the Intramuralist’s calling nor desire.  Just as Ron Paul prompts us to consider the limits of constitutional government — or as Ronald Reagan reminded us of a national sense of renewal and “Morning in America” — or as Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama each embraced the inspiration of “change” — Rick Santorum has left his mark on the table and on the progression of our dialogue going forward…

 

Santorum reminded us that family comes first.  The involvement of his family in his decision to both enter and exit the campaign seemed genuine, more than a convenient, political photo op.

 

Santorum caused us to wrestle with the reality of life.  What’s most important?  When is life viable?  How as a nation do we desire to move forward with the government’s involvement in this deeply, divisive and sensitive issue?  While opinion varies, as a nation, we need to extinguish our infighting and discern how to best move forward.

 

Santorum modeled that quality of life is not always ours to assess.  All one has to do is look at his precious Bella.  Ok. True.  As a special needs parent — the parent of one considered “on the margins of society,” as the former senator said — Bella touches my heart immensely.  I never voted for Rick Santorum, but when I witnessed the authenticity of his love for that beautiful, almost 4 year old girl, never did Santorum catch my attention more.  He never treated Bella as if her life was somehow lesser… a judgment the most intelligent among us sometimes feel free to make.

 

Santorum challenged the standard economic thinking when he suggested that “the bottom line is we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing… We hear this all the time:  cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine.  No, everything’s not going to be fine.  There are bigger problems at stake in America.”  While his words were unconventional and not necessarily garnering of votes, Santorum brought attention to the perspective that not all of the ways the American family is evolving are healthy.  Not all societal development should be celebrated.

 

Santorum taught us that money isn’t everything.  While the election bank accounts of both Romney and Obama continue to boom, Santorum began his campaign with very few financial resources.  He had so little money and momentum, that few thought he could make a splash in the presidential pool.  So Santorum instead focused on individual contact and face-to-face meetings.  Piquing at seemingly just the right time, he won the first caucus of the year.  For years to come, historians will examine Santorum’s strategy, what he did well and what he did not.

 

Don’t let me act as if Santorum never irritated any of us.  Whether it be how he articulated passionate social issues or proudly donned that sweater vest, that’s not my point.  Most all candidates irritate us somehow, in some way, about something.  In fact, if we ever feel a candidate agrees with us 100%, then we probably haven’t realized that candidates sometimes share different words in different circles, attempting to “be all things to all people” or at least generate future votes.  I appreciate that Santorum didn’t attempt to be “all things.”  Like him or not, I appreciate that he didn’t change his words as much depending on the circle.  I appreciate what Rick Santorum added to the conversation at the table.

 

Yesterday, after his official exit, Santorum was asked, “What’s next?”  To which Santorum responded, “I’d like to get some sleep.”

 

Get some sleep, Rick.  Regardless of who’s elected in the fall, thanks for adding to the national conversation.  I appreciate your spot at the table.

 

Respectfully,

AR

humility

Call it question day… a few thought-filled, brief ones…

If the Supreme Court rules that the healthcare law — and specifically, the individual mandate — is constitutional, will all those who have declared otherwise acknowledge that they were wrong?

If the Supreme Court rules that the healthcare law — and specifically, the individual mandate — is unconstitutional, will the President and all those who have declared otherwise acknowledge they were wrong?

If concrete evidence is found that George Zimmerman was unprovoked in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, will his vocal supporters acknowledge they were wrong?

If concrete evidence is found that Trayvon Martin did indeed physically attack George Zimmerman, will Martin’s supporters acknowledge they were wrong?

Oh, how the arrogant grieve me.  They pour out words, full of boasting, crushing those with whom they disagree.  When will they become wise?  We aren’t good at admitting our wrongs.

Chances are likely that in most (if not all) of the above, instead of humbling oneself and acknowledging potential mistakes, those on the opposing side of the proclaimed truth will do one or both of the following:

  1. Attack the judge.
  2. Politicize the judgment.

Dare we ask:  why?  Why is responding wisely so hard?

In Sunday’s blog identifying the prevalent motives for all those interested or involved in the Trayvon Martin investigation, the Intramuralist proposed that justice is an innate human desire.  We desire justice.  We seek justice.  We believe in just consequences.  However, we are often conflicted when someone else’s judgment contradicts our own view of what exact form justice should take.

Note that I did not argue that the need for justice was the only motive for those interested or involved.  Other motives are most certainly in play…

For some, to avenge an eye for an eye… the motive to get even.

For others, to be on camera… the motive to be noticed.

For still more, to make political strides… on the right…. on the left.  Both.

For more still, to be personally satisfied… to fight for something greater than self, to find a purpose bigger than you and me, as that can be satisfying indeed.

And for still others — again on the right, left, or somewhere in between — it is not so much about fighting for justice or injustice, but rather, about responding to a perceived prejudice.  Don’t let me act as if prejudice isn’t alive and well on planet Earth.  I would only add that there exists prejudice on all sides of the equation.  In those who fight for… and in those who fight against.

The only way we can react wisely to all situations when we disagree with the judgment — be that with the healthcare law, George Zimmerman, or simply any messy dispute in our daily lives — is to be humble first.

To be humble first.  To embrace humility.

Did I mention we aren’t good at that?

Respectfully,

AR

justice for all

As we witness the emotional response to the death of Trayvon Martin continue to pour out, I’m reminded of one prevailing, human emotion. We have a need for justice.

Why does Martin’s family cry out, demanding George Zimmerman be arrested now? Because they desire justice.

Why does the Zimmerman family defend the shooter, crying out that he is wrongly accused? Because they desire justice.

Why do Spike Lee and Rosanne Barr tweet supposed addresses of Zimmerman’s family, invading their privacy? Because they desire justice.

Why did Pres. Obama stir the conversation, saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”? Because he desires justice.

Why do Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson appear adjacent to the family before all those rolling cameras? Because they each desire justice.

Why did the New Black Panther Party but a $10,000 reward out for Zimmerman’s abduction? Because they desire justice.

Why has the Sanford Police Department taken so long to investigate? Because it desires justice.

Why did the U.S. Attorney General’s office get involved? Because it desires justice.

Why do Facebook users post continual rants in support of Martin? Because they desire justice.

Why do Facebook users post continual rants in support of Zimmerman? Because they desire justice.

Herein lies the problem. The Intramuralist believes most of us want the same thing. We want justice. The challenge is that we are uncomfortable when someone else does the deciding as to what exactly justice is.

The God I serve is said to be just. Call that radical. Call that conservative. Call it something. Throughout all of recorded history, his justice is both proven and proclaimed. I’ll be honest with you; sometimes it’s hard to trust in that. It’s hard to see that without him having skin on. But I must remember that the God I serve is still bigger than you and me. He’s got his eyes on the planet, and my guess is that there isn’t a thing on Earth that escapes him. Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he not hear or see Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman?

God knows what is just.

You and me might necessarily not.

Can we be ok with that? Can we be ok with not taking justice into our own hands or deciding for ourselves what authentic justice looks like? Were we ok when a jury of their peers found both OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony “not guilty”? What about no jury or no peers ever determining the fate of Adolf Hitler? … or never even catching Jack the Ripper? I’ll be honest again. That’s hard for me. It’s hard when thinking about Martin and Zimmerman.

Everything in me says that we can figure this out; we can decipher accurately every, minute detail; we can completely comprehend exactly what happened that night and discern in totality what is true. But we can’t.

We can’t.

Back to that God who is just. Back to all people on this planet finding a way to be ok with that.

Respectfully,

AR

Trayvon Martin

On Feb. 26th, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. The case has made national news. Here are some of the facts:

  • Martin was 17; Zimmerman is 28.
  • Martin was an African-American; Zimmerman is Hispanic.
  • Martin was wearing a “hoodie,” aka a hooded sweatshirt.
  • Martin had no criminal record nor any violent infractions on his school record.
  • At the time of his death, Martin was serving a 10 day school suspension for possessing a baggie with marijuana residue on it; this was his 3rd suspension — the first for possessing a “burglary implement” and second for vandalism.
  • Martin was carrying Skittles and a can of iced tea; Zimmerman was carrying a gun.
  • Zimmerman is a volunteer watch coordinator with Neighborhood Watch, an organized group of citizens devoted to crime and vandalism prevention.
  • Martin was walking from a convenience store to the home of his father’s girlfriend, when Zimmerman — on the phone with the Sanford (FL) Police Department — began following him, saying he witnessed suspicious behavior.
  • The police advised Zimmerman not to do anything.
  • There was soon a physical altercation, in which Zimmerman fatally shot Martin.
  • At the scene of the incident, Zimmerman claimed self-defense; he had a bloody nose, blood stains on the back of his head, and grass stains on his back.
  • Zimmerman has to date not been arrested, with the police department saying on March 12th that they have not found evidence contradicting his assertion of self-defense.
  • On March 13th, ABC News reported there was “questionable police conduct” in the investigation.
  • On March 19th, the U.S. Justice Dept. announces its involvement.
  • The Zimmerman family denies any racial profiling.
  • Many analysts suggest prosecuting Zimmerman is difficult due to Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law, saying that a person may use deadly force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to first retreat.
  • Throughout March, there has been an intensifying, articulate uproar (an observation — not a fact).
  • Outrage has been echoed from many, notably from Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the NAACP, and Martin’s family.
  • Others have brought increased attention via their public comments, including Pres. Obama, Geraldo Rivera, and Spike Lee.
  • Also in response, hoodies have been donned by both Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and the Miami Heat. Obama’s presidential campaign unveiled a new “Obama 2012” hoodie.
  • The New Black Panther Party has issued a $10,000 reward to any who would abduct Zimmerman.
  • Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, warned of “retaliation.”

No one has all of the facts. That’s a significant reminder. Hence, here are the Intramuralist’s subjective thoughts and observations:

  • Martin’s death is tragic; may God be with his grieving family.
  • Prejudice is rampant — by both whites and blacks.
  • God is the ultimate giver of justice; on the days I wonder if Casey Anthony and O.J. Simpson sleep well at night, I remind myself that God is just. I, well, sometimes, am not.

Additional, heartfelt commentary…

The reality is that none of us were there that fateful night. None of us know what happened. Martin should not be considered guilty because he was black nor Zimmerman innocent because he is not. The color of a person’s skin speaks not to their innocence nor guilt. We cannot judge simply by means of what our eyes see nor what our heart’s believe; that speaks to profiling and social justice. The Intramuralist is thus uncomfortable with society’s immediate rush to judgment… be that judgment by George Zimmerman… or be that judgment by society in response.

While uncomfortable, also, with those who promote or politicize support or opposition for personal gain, I am most disturbed by society’s collective lack of wisdom. We would be far wiser if we would recognize that we don’t know all of the facts. We would be far wiser if we didn’t accuse or support based on skin color. We would be far wiser if we didn’t “profile” based on skin, dress, handicap, weight, party, status, education, income, etc. We would be far wiser if we didn’t think we “knew it all.”

In that respect, Martin’s death is disturbing. So is the response.

Respectfully… always…

AR