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In Other Words

"Justice in the life and conduct of the state is possible only if first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens."
Plato, 427 BC - 347 BC

"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today."
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1882 - 1945

"The highest office in the land is that of citizen."
Harry Truman, 1884 - 1972

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."
Margaret Mead, 1901 - 1978

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. You will be changed, events will change you, but you have to decide not to be reduced."
Maya Angelou, 1928 - present

"If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time."
Noam Chomsky, 1928 - present


Welcome! From throughout our country, these engaging blogs are authored by ordinary citizens with things to say about social, economic, environmental, human, or political conditions in our nation or world. We hope you will sign in and add your comments, too.

April 3, 2014

Nate Silver: Democratic Money Raiser

Posted by Diane Wahto on April 3, 2014

As a registered Kansas Democrat, I find myself on every Democratic fundraising e-mail that ever existed. These e-mails come from local candidates as well as state and national candidates. I even get fundraising e-mails from candidates for office in other states. Lately, I’ve noticed these e-mails have been citing Nate Silver and his projections for the fall House and Senate campaigns to rouse Democrats to send money to different groups. Since I don’t plan to respond to these e-mails, I’m not even sure which groups are targeting me and other Democrats.

Silver, the statistician who was featured as a character in the movie Moneyball, used his skills to aid a baseball team manager build a winning team. (See the movie if you want the details. It’s a fun one, particularly if you like baseball…and Brad Pitt.) Silver also uses his skills to predict election outcomes. In 2012, he predicted Barack Obama would win a second term, despite others who said Mitt Romney would win.

Read More Here ...

March 31, 2014

Post Traumatic Church Syndrome and Moving on From Church Conflicts

Posted by Angelo Lopez on March 31, 2014

For the past decade or so, I've been struggling to understand and move on from several conflicts that I've had in church. It's been tough trying to find others who've gone through similar experiences who would be able to empathize and understand. A few years ago, when I attended an Episcopal Church, I inquired if there was any group that I could attend for people struggling to overcome painful church conflicts, but they didn't have any. I recently met some people in Facebook who have had some painful church conflicts and I learned about a new term: Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome.

Read More Here ...

March 18, 2014

Urban Farming and the Christian Imperative to Feed the Poor

Posted by Angelo Lopez on March 18, 2014

One of Jesus's greatest imperatives to his followers was for them to care for the poor and to feed the hungry. Many Christians over the centuries have tried to follow Jesus's mandate, serving in food kitchens and building shelters to feed and house the poor. In today's industrial society, a new problem has appeared that affects the health of many of the poor. In many poor neighborhoods in the cities and towns, the poor have no access to healthy fruits and vegetables, and they wind up eating cheap and plentiful junk food. This has led to a higher incidence of obesity, diabetes, and heart problems in many poor communities. To try to give poor people more access to healthier foods, Christians are looking to the urban farming movement for possible solutions.

Read More Here ...

March 2, 2014

News or No News?

Posted by Diane Wahto on March 2, 2014

I don’t watch TV news much. I can’t remember when I gave it up. I know there was a time when I stayed glued to the evening news to find out what was going on around the world and here at home. I watched local news, and at times, appeared on it when a reporter needed to interview someone on some issue that I knew a little about.

Then I began to see a shift in the kind of news TV broadcasters were covering. It became a scandal-spiced race to see who could get the most jabs in at the most people, usually politicians or entertainers, one and the same in some people’s minds. Forget any analysis. If Pres. Bush said we had to go to war against Iraq because of 9/11, then go to war we would, with news anchors trumpeting the lies coming out of Washington, D.C. If two kids named Justin or Miley get in trouble or reveal too much skin in their acts, those events were covered with the same intensity as the civil war in Syria or the Boston Marathon bombing.

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February 26, 2014

An Interview With Progressive Christian Blogger and Writer Joel Rieves

Posted by Angelo Lopez on February 26, 2014

One of the most insightful blogs is written by Joel Rieves. Joel was raised in the North Carolina Piedmont, where he acquired a sense of humor, a healthy disrespect for authority and sense of duty toward others. During his 23 years as a fireman, Joel saw firsthand the large numbers of people living poverty in this country. In 2012, he quit the fire department to pursue his dream of being a writer. His views have been formed by his work with non-profit ministries such as Love Wins, years in the church and incessant reading. He writes a blog on religion and spirituality called "But Not Yet".

Read More Here ...

February 21, 2014

Thank you Ken

Posted by Angelo Lopez on February 21, 2014

Thank you for your insightful comments, Ken. Very perceptive analysis. I've learned a lot from reading Charles Dickens. Dickens criticized the economic and political system of Victorian England, but his main focus was human nature. Dickens explored in books like Great Expectations, Little Dorrit and Tale of Two Cities how vulnerable human nature was to the corrupting influence of power, money, dogma and status. Churches, corporations, governments, or any other group will be imperfect because the humans inhabiting those groups will always be imperfect.

Read More Here ...

February 18, 2014

Silence Is Not Golden

Posted by Ken Poland on February 18, 2014

Angelo, you are almost like a voice crying in the wilderness. You've done a pretty good job of filling our menu with very timely and interesting research.

As you can see, the corporate "Christian Church" has many sins and failures to admit to. We have had many courageous leaders who have stood up and spoken out and admitted to the world that the corporate "Christian Church" is too often ruled by selfish men, who are as much interested in maintaining their position of authority as they are to yielding to the leadership of the true spirit that reflects the Love of God. The Perfect Love of God is beyond the ability of finite men to understand or deliver.

Man's natural instinct for survival in an environment that threatens his position in the chain of command, either animal or human, prevents perfect love. God is not threatened, in spite of the corruption of mankind. If the corporate bodies of religious groups think they are protecting God, they are dissolutioned in a major way.

We have those who contend that God has been kicked out of our schools and the branches of our government. Some of those same folks decry the threat for our environment, by man. Now wait a minute! If man can't destroy Gods dominion over the environment, how can man throw Him out of society? The truth is that God is not a finite object or thing. He exists in the heart and soul of man. He is present in the man's heart that may be surrounded by a multitude of men who deny His existence. History is replete with instances of the faith of one man or a remnant of faithful men who have withstood unimaginable odds of those who defied God's existence and influence in the world.

February 15, 2014

The Christian Church Apologizes for Past Sins

Posted by Angelo Lopez on February 15, 2014

Over the past five years, many Christians are going through a profound change in their views on LGBT issues. More and more Christians are coming around to supporting the civil rights of LGBT individuals, and many are changing their views on whether homosexuality is a sin. As one sign of this, Evangelical Christian groups like The Marin Foundation and Str8 Apology have attended LGBT Pride Parades across the nation to apologize to LGBT individuals for the way the Christian Church has harshly treated them. This is not a unique thing for Christians. In the recent past, Christians have apologized for the Church's past support of racism, sexism, antisemitism, islamophobia and other prejudices that have done great harm to a minority group. These Christians realize that whenever the Church has supported unfair prejudices that cause bigotry against a group, it does great long term harm to the Christian religion. In the same way some Christians today use the Bible to justify homophobia, many Christians in the past used the Bible to justify racism, antisemitism, sexism, among other bigotries. This had the effect of demeaning the Bible and to overshadow the many good things that the Bible has to offer. To make amends for these past actions, Christians have issued formal apologies to the targeted group of people and attempted to build relationships and learn about the things that bind different people together.

Read More Here ...

February 9, 2014

An Interview With Cartoonist Brad Diller

Posted by Angelo Lopez on February 9, 2014

When I wake up in the morning, one of the first things I do is go on my Facebook and look up the latest cartoons of Brad Diller. Brad's first cartoons appeared in 1992 and ran continuously until 2000 when he left the newspaper business to pursue a career as a freelance illustrator. His comics have appeared in Funny Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, WV), the now-defunct Nashville Banner, and the Reno Gazette Journal, as well as various other smaller papers. Brad has also been a bartender, baker, carpet layer, and a writer. Currently, Brad lives in Reno, NV with his wife and cat. He is a partner in a printing company that specializes in backstage passes, media and security credentials and pretty much any event that needs ID tags. You can look at more of his cartoons at Fundaymorning.com.

Read More Here ...

February 7, 2014

More News About Christians Fighting for LGBT Rights

Posted by Angelo Lopez on February 7, 2014

Many people have a stereotype that all Christians are homophobes who are against any laws that protect the rights of LGBT individuals. In 2008, for instance, the Evangelical, Roman Catholic and Mormon Church lobbied strongly for the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which outlawed same-sex marriages in the state. In spite of this impression, though, in reality many Christians do support LGBT rights and marriage equality. Since 2008 I have occasionally written blogs that highlight Christians who fight for LGBT rights. Even in the three denominations that had lobbied for Proposition 8 in 2008, more of its members are supporting the civil rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. Today 58% of American Catholics support LGBT rights and marriage equality. Though 70% of older white Evangelicals are still against LGBT rights, around 50% of younger Evangelicals support LGBT rights and marriage equality. In this blog I will highlight some of the latest news that I've encountered about Christians who fight for LGBT rights within their churches.

Read More Here ...

February 1, 2014

Jasper Takes a Car Trip

Posted by Angelo Lopez on February 1, 2014

Read More Here ...

January 21, 2014

Riding the Freedom Train from San Jose to San Francisco

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 21, 2014

For the past few weeks I've been waiting for Martin Luther King's Day to come. I had been wanting to go to the Freedom Train and join in the celebration in San Francisco for King's legacy. It was a lot of fun. A diverse group of people went on the train in San Jose, and everyone was having a good time talking to each other and sharing about their lives. When we reached San Francisco, we went on a march to Yuerba Buena Gardens, where various events took place to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. I figure what better way to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day than to go on a march.

Read More Here ...

January 19, 2014

Medicare, the ACA, and the VA

Posted by Diane Wahto on January 19, 2014

Two days before Christmas, I was in the hospital undergoing a minor but potentially life-saving surgical procedure. The Friday before, the cardiologist I see told me I needed a pacemaker installed and it had to be installed right away. So, I spent a day and a half in the hospital, then came home with instructions not to do any heavy lifting or lift my left arm above my head. Fortunately, my husband and I had planned a low key Christmas celebration and the gathering with my kids and their families didn’t take place until the following weekend, so I had a few days to recuperate and enjoy the season.

I didn’t get a bill for this procedure and I won’t. I’ve been on Medicare for several years now. During that time, I’ve had surgery three times. I didn’t pay anything for the surgery or for the doctor’s visits that keep me healthy the rest of the time.

Read More Here ...

January 18, 2014

Deep-Pocketed, Right-Wing Republican Advocates Increase in Minimum Wage

Posted by Richard Head on January 18, 2014

Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley executive and former editor of The American Conservative magazine, is among the most eloquent in his championing of a ballot initiative to increase the California Minimum Wage to $12/hour. His argument makes a great case for making $12/hour the Federal Minimum Wage.

A couple of pull quotes from the interview with an NPR reporter:

What we're talking about is a massive system of hidden government subsidies for these low-wage employers where they can shift the costs of the workforce over to the taxpayer. I think businesses should stand on their own two feet and have to pay their workers instead of forcing the taxpayers to make up the difference.

Wal-Mart is America's largest low-wage employer. Three hundred thousand Wal-Mart workers average about $9 an hour. All Wal-Mart would have to do to cover a $12 minimum wage is raise their prices by 1.1 percent one time. The average Wal-Mart shopper would pay only an extra $12.50 per year. People wouldn't even notice the price hike.

Full article here.

January 14, 2014

Thoughts About Health Care in January

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 14, 2014

I read recently that over two million Americans have signed up for health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, either through the federal website or through the state health exchange websites. The government's health care website is working better now and many people who need insurance are finally able to get it. As the law has been unveiled over the past few years, it's benefits and flaws have become more apparent. Both liberal and conservative critics rightly point out problems that have ensued because of the law. Obamacare is not a perfect law, but there are more good things about the law than bad things. I thought I'd write this blog because in the past two months I've had a lot of conversations about Obamacare with friends, relatives and even strangers.

Read More Here ...

January 11, 2014

The Little Tramp Turns 100

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 11, 2014

Last week I read that Charlie Chaplin's iconic character the Little Tramp will celebrate its 100th anniversary this coming February. Chaplin is one of the seminal figures in cinema history, and also one of the most subversive. The Little Tramp is a member of the underclass, a homeless vagabond who in each film is in constant conflict with the authorities of society. In Chaplin's films, the Little Tramp takes on government officials, corrupt police, exploitative factory owners, and petty dictators. Chaplin's films are relevant for today because its humor is still fresh and it champions the poor and the working class.

Read More Here ...

December 26, 2013

Thanks Ken

Posted by Angelo Lopez on December 26, 2013

Thanks Ken for your two blogs this December. I always learn from reading your insights and enjoy reading of your experiences. I hope you and all the readers of Everyday Citizen had a good Christmas, and a happy holiday season. Have a wonderful 2014.

I'll end this blog with youtube videos of people and groups who have helped the homeless during past holiday seasons and thoughout the year.

Read More Here ...

December 23, 2013

Empty Words or is it Empty Hearts

Posted by Ken Poland on December 23, 2013

Angelo says, “Some people have argued that the Pope's gestures are just empty words.” Popes have issued apostolic exhortations, many of which Angelo referenced for us in an earlier blog. And indeed, many of those exhortations ended up being empty words, as far as changing the centuries old attitudes and rules within the hierarchy of the church. That doesn’t mean that they were not of any value. Seeds were planted. Those words have limited power if the speakers themselves weren’t willing to encourage their readers to follow them or didn’t follow them themselves. Leaders, even in a highly structured organization such as the Roman Catholic Church, can’t perform miracles in changing the hearts of people. Even God does not force change. Eventual consequences may make us wish we had changed, but God allows us to decide when we want to change, then He helps us, time after time, to make those changes.

I guess you could say Jesus issued some ‘apostolic exhortations’ and the New Testament writers gave us many exhortations. But they didn’t change all of the world immediately. They met strong opposition from the established Jewish leaders of the day. There was some dissension, even, in the ranks of the New Testament church leaders.

Human beings are social creatures, but we just can't seem to get along with one another.
.

Read More Here ...

Admiring Pope Francis

Posted by Angelo Lopez on December 23, 2013

One of the great joys of the past year has been in watching how Pope Francis's papacy has unfolded in his first few months. He has emphasized the church's historical role in championing the rights of the poor and the marginalized; reached out with respect to atheists, Jews, Muslims, gays and lesbians; he granted audience to children, the disabled, refugees; he has reached out to divorced Catholics who are excluded from important church sacraments. He adopted a humbler style, residing in the Vatican’s modest guesthouse rather than the lavish Apostolic Palace, he carries his own luggage, and he pays his hotel bills in person. Pope Francis traded the armored Mercedes SUV that ferried his predecessor for a far more humble Ford Focus. Though he hasn't yet made any changes in church teachings, his humble manner has captured the respect and admiration of the world, especially of those people who have had antagonistic relationships with the Catholic Church.

Read More Here ...

December 20, 2013

JFK's Legacy

Posted by Ken Poland on December 20, 2013

Angelo, it is hard for some of us oldsters to realize that less than half our voting population were old enough to know anything first hand about John F. Kennedy and his Administration. My oldest son was only three years old when Kennedy was assassinated. The vast majority of adults in society today have been influenced by the biased opinions of their parents, teachers, and historians. Yes, I said biased. I happened to agree with JFK's social and political views, therefore, I ignored some of his flaws.

He has been idealized and eulogized by some and unfairly judged and criticized by some. He was not perfect by any means. The 'cold war' that followed WW2 and the Korean conflict was at its hight, in the late fifties and early sixties. The race to reach outer space and establish dominance there was critical. The economic boom created by war was beginning to wane. Civil rights activists were getting bolder and bolder. The cultural revolution was letting women and youth establish independence. Religeous influence of Christian churches had peaked in the early fifties and was in decline. The leaders in the business world and government were no longer dominated by those who were in leadership positions during the depression of the thirties. JFK grew up during the thirties and was the first President that hadn't been responsible for making personal, business, or political decisions before being inducted into the military during WW2. He was, I think, the youngest elected President to take office.

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