Glory in Our Children

Glory in Our Children

Today is Holy Saturday and Passover has commenced.

For Christians, this is the day between Good Friday, when the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth is remembered, and Easter Sunday, the day on which the resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated.  Today is also Passover when Jews remember their liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt.

On this Saturday, I spent part of the day participating in a South Bend March for Peace. African American leaders of our community, including pastors, community activists, mentors, and Mamas Against Violence spoke eloquently calling for an end to gun violence on our streets. Holy Saturday is very much an “already not yet” sort of day.  On the one hand, it is because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that Christians believe that Love is ultimately victorious. On the other hand, there is still the cross indicting humanity for what we do when confronted with unconditional Love.  Mothers are still burying their children due to gun violence.

Today, nearly 50 years since April 4, 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. was assassinated, I am keenly aware of the speech Dr. King gave just hours before his death.  In it, he said that God had allowed him to go up to the mountain. He looked over and had seen the Promised Land. Dr. King continued: “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Today, on a Saturday in a park in South Bend, listening to a mother whose child had been struck down by gun violence explain why she has been laboring for 15 years to cause the change necessary to prevent another mother’s child from dying by gun violence, the feeling of the “already not yet” surrounded me. The child’s mother spoke, not fearing any man, and called all of us to keep up the struggle for peace. Clearly, she calls us to be united and to love. With her eyes brimming with grief and anger at this Nation’s sickeningly slow response, she at the same time offers to each of us a rallying call to hope.

Today at South Bend’s March for Peace this day is indeed holy. Tomorrow, may the Easter dawn bring with it Peace. Let us with Moses and Dr. King go up to the mountain, and looking over, see the glory of the One who is Love. This time, though, may we find it in our children of all colors and creeds. May we be united and make each day a march toward peace.

Happy Easter and Blessings on this Passover,

Pat

March 31, 2018


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The State of Our Union

The State of Our Union

It has been a week since Donald Trump went to Capitol Hill to deliver his State of the Union speech. I must say this blog post has been hard to write for two reasons. First, it was difficult to watch a man who has no regard for the rule of law and has had no legislative accomplishments other than an indulgent, obscene GOP tax law casually use the words “we” and “us” as though he understands the precarious situations many Americans face on a daily basis without sustainable wages or adequate health care. Second, I know we need hope in a situation that is very serious and very grave, but I can’t talk about the state of the union without mentioning Donald Trump and his abysmal performance since he’s taken office. I can, however, point to the foundational values on which this nation was founded that are the guiding principles for being a united country.

The State of Our Union is so much more than what we heard from Donald Trump

When I think of the nation’s annual State of the Union Address, I think of executive accountability, democracy, and a shared sense of the common good. The State of the Union Address is an evening when the President comes to Capitol Hill to address representatives of all three branches of government, to report on how “We the People” are doing economically, and how best we might move forward legislatively and otherwise. Historically, it’s a practice that was not always delivered in person. Americans would read the President’s report in the newspaper, or years later, gather around the radio, then television. Regardless of the time, it is understood that it is an evening for us to gather and take stock of who we are as a nation and who we aspire to become. Early in my life, I recall that it was not the President’s party affiliation that was most important. Instead, it was understood that we are persons who are part of a larger “We the People.” We are in this experiment of democracy, together – responsible for a good common to all. This is not what I heard this past Tuesday evening.

Trump’s Speech: An Exercise in Division

Mr. Trump used a lot more references to “we” and “us” during his speech than is his usual custom. Buried, however, within Donald Trump’s rhetoric and professions of national unity, we heard a clear articulation of his agenda of disunity. When discussing the need for immigration reform, Trump diminished new American immigrants by equating them with gang members and murderers. Having fomented fear in his listener, Trump then went a step further and attempted to erase the particularity of fear of deportation faced by our nation’s Dreamers by claiming that all “Americans are dreamers, too.” Repeating again his racially fraught theme of “Make America Great Again,” Trump further tried oratorically to erase the legacy of this nation’s first African American President. He touted gutting the Affordable Care Act by repealing its funding mandate as part of a tax bill that will explode the Nation’s deficit by 1.5 trillion dollars making the rich richer and the poor poorer, and he announced his reinvigoration of Guantanamo Bay for the purpose of indefinitely warehousing and interrogating enemy combatants. He noted the appointment of judges who purportedly would take an originalist interpretation of the Constitution as written and gave a nod to gun manufacturers when he chose to give a shout out to the 2nd Amendment fueling a wedge issue that has been framed to separate Americans from reasonable gun legislation that would protect our nation’s children. Particularly distressing, and one that should sound the alarm bells to all patriots who hold dear our democracy, was Trump’s request of Congress to empower his cabinet members the right to remove federal employees who purportedly betray the American trust. This is code for removing lifelong civil servants who believe in science or who place nation before Trump. Of course, the lowest point of the speech was when Trump called for the United States to modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal – a position antithetical to all modern Presidents before him both on strategic as well as moral grounds. The speech was not only an exercise in division, but a path to annihilation. Overall, not a good evening for those in our Union who are women, persons of color, new immigrants, religious minorities, LGBTQ citizens, and people who care about the survival of our children, grandchildren, and creation.

Peaceful Resistance: As Antidote and Patriotic Act

Many citizens and some House Democrats boycotted the State of the Union Address. Others watched and cathartically tweeted in response while Donald Trump told this nation who he is and what he wants – absolute power- political and economic while cloaked in the righteousness of his prosperity gospel. It was a calculated message far more antithetical to “We the People” than even his demeaning anti-democratic tweets.

There is only one way to survive this unprecedented assault on our democracy. We must continue to peacefully but actively resist. We must continue to talk to one another to remind ourselves we are more alike than different. We the People are united against all threats to our democracy both foreign and domestic. We are in this social contract together to keep this organic, live democracy thriving for the promotion of dignity and justice for all, not the few.

It is the American promise to solve the problems of the nation. In the last few months as I’ve traveled throughout this district, the main streets of our towns and neighborhoods, and as I’ve been invited into your homes to listen and speak, I’ve witnessed just that. I’ve witnessed you feed our neighbors at the Roosevelt Center in Elkhart. I’ve prayed with you as a part of a larger interfaith group, discussed peace and conflict resolution in round group discussions, listened to thought-provoking discussions on creating “Circles of Care” to end violence in our community, and then witnessed you gather leaders to discuss cultural diversity at the South Bend Civic Theater. I read “All About My Dad” by children of Union workers who wrote about why they love their dads on sheets of papers that hung on the bulletin board of the Union Hall. I met with Dreamers who believe this country is the beacon of hope for their future and the future of their children’s children.

This country was founded on a social contract and it is this social contract pursued with reason, not bluster, that furthers our collective discussion to solve the serious national and international problems we face in the 21st Century. Now more than ever our vote is both an antidote and patriotic act to the disunity currently being spread in this nation. Repeating the words of Barbara Jordan, “We must not become the new puritans and reject our society. We must address and master the future together. It can be done if we restore the belief that we share a sense of national community, that we share a common national endeavor. It can be done.”

Pat Hackett
2/6/2018

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Martin Luther King, Jr: A Lesson in Faith and Citizenship

Martin Luther King, Jr: A Lesson in Faith and Citizenship

Martin Luther King, Jr. whom we celebrate today as the leading social activist of the Civil Rights Movement, was also a Baptist Minister who received his Doctorate in Theology from Boston University in 1955 after receiving a Bachelor of Arts from Morehouse College and a Bachelor of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary.   Why does this matter? I submit to you that it matters because this Nation needs the lesson in faith Dr. King has to teach us as much as his lesson in citizenship we remember on this important holiday.

Dr. King’s Lesson in Faith.

As a Christian, Dr. King understood that Justice is constitutive of the Gospel. In other words, Justice is essential for those who claim to follow Jesus Christ. The understanding of human dignity informing Dr. King’s pursuit of racial justice, his effort to eliminate poverty, and his witness to peace was an awe-inspiring appreciation that we are only fully human when we are persons of compassion for whom justice and love are one.

Racial discrimination, indeed discrimination of any kind, poverty, and violence, have no place in the salvation history in which Dr. King understood himself to participate. The lesson for us is that discrimination, poverty, and violence must have no place today for any person who would claim discipleship in Jesus Christ.

Dr. King’s Lesson in Citizenship.

Dr. King understood that the Establishment Clause of our Constitution requires a healthy separation of church and state, just as our same Constitution requires religious freedom. Today, an appreciation of the wisdom of the Establishment Clause is woefully lacking in political discourse and practice in the United States, particularly because of the influence of Mike Pence and others who have created an extraordinarily disturbing alliance with Donald Trump. This partnership currently finds expression in discrimination in the name of religion, and its related theology of hate, which is fueling attacks on the civil rights of certain persons in our country, notably women, LGBT citizens, religious minorities, and people of color.

The brilliance of Dr. King which we celebrate today, in contrast to the theology of hate influencing our current politics, is the enlightened and liberating integration of Dr. King’s faith into his politics, not the distortion of politics by a presumptive and oppressive faith. This is why when one studies those who joined Dr. King in his movement toward civil rights, his campaign against poverty, and his commitment to peace, one discovers a magnificent array of believers from most Christian denominations and world religions as well as humanists and other non-believers alike. The same is true when one surveys the crowds of people who are celebrating this holiday in 2018. The diversity of persons celebrating the day is remarkable and indicative of the timeless truth of Dr. King’s message. Indeed, it is a message that speaks to the dignity of all persons which is the basis of our cherished values as US citizens – namely that we are an indivisible people, seeking justice, equality, and inclusion for all.

The Communion of Faith and Justice.

I want to conclude this reflection as a candidate for Congress and as an American citizen by affirmatively and unequivocally condemning any practice of religion that is used to harm others, particularly the vulnerable and outcast of one’s country or community. As a Christian, I also want to affirmatively and unequivocally say that I celebrate and admire Dr. King’s liberating integration of his faith and politics. Finally, to those of you who are experiencing the cruelty of the discrimination and theology of hate present in the current administration, and find it difficult to imagine that Christianity might be an instrument for good, I offer you the following thought as corrective to the perversion of religion currently at work by those in power. Jesus did not define himself against others, exercised no coercion toward women or anyone else. He did, however, welcome the stranger (immigration reform). He fed the hungry (a fundamental option for the poor). He gave drink to the thirsty (stewardship of our waters and lands). He clothed the naked (care for the homeless). He cared for the sick (health care), and he did not abandon the imprisoned (prison reform).

Thank you, Dr. King. A grateful Nation celebrates you.

 

Pat Hackett

January 15, 2018

 

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There’s A Pony In There Somewhere

There’s A Pony In There Somewhere

New Year’s Eve 2017

As 2017 draws to a close and 2018 begins, it is helpful to take stock of where we stand. We are, in fact, still standing, despite the body blow the United States suffered with the Inauguration that occurred on January 20, 2017 and since. The fact that we are still standing as a democracy is due in no small measure to the patriotic resistance that began with the Women’s March on January 21, 2017, and has continued throughout this arduous year.

When I review the events of 2017, I am reminded of an image my Mom shared with me when I was a child and was feeling hopeless about something. She said, “Patty, picture a room full of horse manure. Now remember, there has to be a pony in there somewhere.” Well, our pony is our patriotic resolve. In 2018 our Nation’s patriotic resolve and resiliency will propel us into midterm elections that will transform the makeup of Congress.

My hope lies in the women who have been leading the grassroots initiatives sweeping throughout our Nation, registering as candidates in record numbers, and renewing our democracy. The tsunami of misogyny that swept through our Nation last election cycle did not succeed in destroying us. Hillary Clinton’s “village,” in which we really do need one another and which our children count on us to preserve, strengthen, and improve, has survived. My hope lies in the young people who have persisted in speaking up for our Dreamers and against racism and discrimination of all kinds. My hope lies in the men who have courage to speak out and confront other men who sexually harass women, who support equal pay for equal work. My hope lies in the wisdom of the generation of my parents who have seen our country face threats to our democracy before and stepped up to those threats with courage. My hope lies in the many disenfranchised and marginalized people who choose to step forward and be seen instead of hiding in the shadows of discrimination.

The women and men of this Nation are a resilient people. We are this Nation’s workers, scientists, middle class, elderly, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ citizens, religious minorities, sick and disabled, and the marginalized– all those who the current Administration and its enablers in Congress would seek to disenfranchise. Our democracy is not finished and, because of our Nation’s resolve and courage, Dignity and Justice for All will be realized.

If any of you are still on the sidelines, I’m asking you to join me and make your voices heard. This is a movement not a moment as people wrote on signs carried at the Women’s March. Let your passion for healthcare, education, the environment, immigration, labor, racial justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, sensible gun legislation be your reason to start now. Martin Luther King, Jr said, and I quote, “There is no noise as powerful as the sound of the marching feet of a determined people,” and there is no better result than those thousands of people marching to the polls. Democrats must take back Congress if our Nation is to remain the beacon of democracy it was founded to be. We must continue our patriotic resistance in 2018 by continued coalition building, peaceful protests, calling and writing our representatives, running for office, and most importantly exercising the power of our vote in 2018.

All best to you and your loved ones in this New Year,

Pat

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Tax Bill: The GOP's Metastatic Attack On Democracy

Tax Bill: The GOP’s Metastatic Attack On Democracy

On January 20, 2017, for the first time in our history, this Nation inaugurated a President who does not believe in democracy. Yesterday, December 20, 2017, our Republican-controlled Congress enacted a tax law which unequivocally shows that Congressional Republicans are active participants in the metastatic spread of an attack on our democracy. Let us be clear – neither Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, nor Jackie Walorski believe in Dignity and Justice for All. Instead, they believe in what Senator Sherrod Brown calls “…using their privilege to make their social class richer.” Wealthy Republican donors and Vladimir Putin, Trump’s fellow oligarch, should be thrilled.

The tax bill will not increase growth and jobs. Instead, the Nation’s deficit will explode. Estimates place the increased debt at between 1 and 1.5 trillion dollars. Wealthy shareholders of corporations, wealthy individuals and their wealthy families, by inheritance, receive permanent benefit. The majority of Americans, however, including the upper and lower middle class, working poor, the elderly, and those in medical need have been injured. (For example, the tax bill removes the mandate from the Affordable Care Act. It is estimated 13 million Americans will lose their health insurance.) Substantial decreases in Medicare will occur. Taxes will increase over time for most Americans and Paul Ryan and his cohorts in Congress, including Jackie Walorski, now will have an exploding deficit they will use to disassemble the earned security of American citizens found in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Paul Ryan’s long-held goal of destroying these security programs will be realized.

The United States is now governed in two of its three branches by ruling elites whose purpose is to take away the security of the citizens of this nation while disenfranchising them from each other through institutionalized bigotry, disenfranchising them from their property through self-serving tax laws, and disenfranchising them from the power of their vote through hostile gerrymandering and voting restrictions. Add to this mess, Donald Trump’s pernicious attacks on the freedom of the press, rule of law, including evidence-based accountability, and his assault on other essential institutions of our democracy, and we all should be deeply concerned.

Democrats must take back control of Congress in 2018. Jackie Walorski must be defeated, and Indiana’s Second Congressional District must have a Congresswoman devoted to our common good and the Dignity and Justice for All, not the few.

Please join the Pat Hackett for Congress campaign.

Sincerely,

Pat Hackett

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Abundant Love Thanksgiving 2017

Abundant Love

Thanksgiving 2017

I give thanks for all who are making room at the table today, and whose spirits reside in the liberality of love. What we celebrate today is more than the harvest; it is more than even friends and family. Our Thanksgiving Feast is at once an act of communion and atonement—the bounty of which one hopes is love in abundance.

An Act of Communion

Throughout this week, food has been collected and prepared. Friends and family will gather in more homes than on any ordinary day. Strangers and those without homes or families will find welcome at someone’s generous table. Volunteers at shelters and missions will serve up food and kindness, and in the act of communion, the seeds of compassion will be sown.

An Act of Atonement

Relationships that over time have become tattered and wounded have the possibility for healing when we choose to come together and gather around the table. The historic roots of the holiday will be told, and by some, a prayer of atonement will be offered for what has been done to our Native American sisters and brothers, and to the goods and creatures of this land once so bountiful.

Love in Abundance

At the table, we find love in abundance in persons of quiet courage, hilarity, goodness, steadfast fidelity, perhaps even heroic virtue. Never mind the quirks and limitations voiced as dishes are passed. The occasion of communion is there to be found if one is attuned to it.

And so, we give thanks on the cusp of the darkest and coldest of seasons with tables full of what was once hidden but is now nourishment. We give thanks even in this year of tumult and challenge to the very soul of this Nation. We find and celebrate hope within this feast of generosity.

My best wishes for a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with abundant love,

Pat

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©️Rita Koehler 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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