Saturday, July 13, 2024

To all the white guys in my life...

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Dear white guys.

I truly hate the descriptive “white” as it is used to define some people. I’m using it today because I’m being forced to. Perhaps being forced will end up working as an effective tool for me. Coercion has always left doors open to big things, hasn’t it.

I’d like you to close your eyes and picture the people in your life who could be described by the term “white guy”. In today's understanding of it, try to get a good feel for who exactly that term could apply to in your circle. If it includes yourself, put yourself in there and just go with it. There’s no judging here- you’re just applying a label. You’re not actually making yourself or them into something different or changing who they innately are. Please remember that.

OK, so all of us have some folks in our minds who could get this label? You probably based your decisions on their looks or maybe you even went so far as to consider DNA. You might have used “balls and penis” to define “guy” and maybe you decided anyone whose family hails from Europe is what you call “white”. Maybe. Because over time, different parts of Europe weren’t considered “white” here in the US. Even today, folks whose ancestors were from Spain are labeled “Hispanic” and not “white” on a lot of forms, correct? And folks who came from some areas of Asia look “white”. Did you lump anyone you know whose relatives immigrated from Russia as “white”? Let’s not forget Jewish men or anyone who has historically “passed”? White? Does your vision of “white” include an assumed layer of Protestant Christianity? Hmm…

Let’s just leave that alone for now and move on. Much has been said in recent decades and into  2024 that the United States needs to go “back” to something. Some say we need to follow the “original” Constitution.

The Constitution was written incredibly vaguely to neither support or attack specific people. The definition of people was left to each state mainly because some of the dudes who wrote the Constitution and people they knew owned people. One thing we do know is that every single person who wrote the Constitution was defined in their time as 2 things: white and male. How did they get to these positions of power? Land and material goods manufacture. How did they get these things? Through generational wealth and the systems they and their families (headed by men) brought from Europe.

What about women? No term in the original Constitution applies directly to women. The document does not define state or federal citizenship. When it was written, women had little to no guaranteed rights or independence. We must remember that the colonials came from Europe and that was a predominantly patriarchal, land wealth-based system.  It was possible for a white woman to be independent, but rare. 

On July 11, 2024, Glenn Grothman, a Republican representative from Wisconsin said that if Trump wins reelection, the U.S. should work its way back to 1960, before “the angry feminist movement…took the purpose out of the man’s life.”.

Wisconsinite Matthew Trewhella preached to his Waukesha County congregation in 2020 that, “When you see sodomy running rampant, when you see women in government, when you see men behaving like effeminate little squirrels, judgment is in the land,”. Mr. Trewhella has become a prominent part of the Republican Party of Waukesha County according to a Propublica article posted by Wisconsin Public Radio on July 10, 2024. A quote from this article:

“To him, that [the law of God] means outlawing abortion and same-sex marriage, or even violently resisting the government if necessary, noting in his book that there are times when men “must redden their swords.””

What is Mr. Trewhella’s vision when he uses the term “men”? I am assuming that Mr. Trewhella is including himself in this group that must “correct” things with swords. Is he open to anyone with balls and a penis? Or is his definition of “male” and “men” affected by other things like skin color, ethnicity, religion, sexual preferences, favorite foods, preferred music, sports appreciations… The filters can go off into the weeds. Regardless, thoughts of Mr. Trewhella are being supported by a local political party.

In Mr. Trewhella’s and Mr. Grothman’s worlds, what if EVERYONE in your “white guy” category HAD TO- an actual societal expectation on them and obligation- HAD TO assume these roles or face shame, legal punishment, and/or familial disowning:

  • Be a Christian of good standing

  • Marry a woman

  • Have children

  • Never get divorced

  • Financially support said woman and children for the rest of your life

  • Ensure your children marry, have children, and your male children financially support their women and children

  • Defend with arms or otherwise your means of supporting your woman, children, and income and that of other men locally and nationally

  • Ensure everyone in your family maintains their statuses as Christians in good standing

As I recall seeing and holding my sons for the first time, I cannot imagine thinking to myself in that moment that the above list of things would be their goals. If they freely chose one, some, or all of these things would be one thing. But to have that brief list define their potential value and role? And in conjunction with that, have my own life and everyone else's (who in your world would fall outside that group of white guys you had in your mind?) structured by the ramifications of all that?

Absolutely not.

I’m reminded of Zen priest angel Kyodo williams and my thoughts on her On Being talk that I listened to and wrote about in 2018. That essay is called Spring and the Death of Denial.

If we work in a state of grace, we can face and transform beyond the past to the point where these artificial labels and denials of universal truths will fall away.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

On the Timeline of History

The takeover of local, state, and federal governments that included Wisconsin's era of Scott Walker, voting restrictions, and Act 10 was calculated and progressed in planned, concerted steps.

With that 10+ year success, which was partially cracked only this year with the gerrymandering conviction and mandated redistricting in WI, the next plan being leaned on is Project 2025, which is populated by a host of individuals associated with former president Trump.

It's vital to understand this:

A new, long-range, and detailed political plan is in place and its scope in both depth and breadth deserves a title Version 2.0. It is being packaged as being for the modern patriot and that the entire system, not just the current administration, is King George.

I don't accept that. To do so is to say the Great American Experiment is over.

Yes, I do find myself wondering if I'm wrong and my descendants will carry the stigma that colonists who remained loyal to the crown did, as did their descendants.

I hope not. I don’t believe the facts validate this fear. When I look at the list of changes being promoted, I cannot support them. Dismantling the Department of Education? Rolling back regulations enforced by the EPA? Reversing Health & Human Services policies on reproductive rights (including birth control) and LGBTQIA issues? Making it OK to quickly fire and replace career civil service employees if they are objecting to an administration?

I believe those Americans grabbing for the mirage being sold want to belong to a group that promises a piece of imagined glory that no one else can provide as their reward. That method of manipulation is a tried and true one. We have to remember that those who lived in the South who didn’t own people didn’t fight that system because they actually hoped to someday be in that position of wealth and power themselves. They were incentivized to support slavery.

Project 2025 was written by 35 main authors and hundreds of contributors. Twelve of the main ones listed are:

- Rick Dearborn for the White House Office

- Russ Vought for the Executive Office of the President

- Christopher Miller for the Department of Defense

- Ken Cuccinelli for the Department of Homeland Security

- Kiron K. Skinner for the Department of State

- Lindsey M. Burke for the Department of Education

- Bernard L. McNamee for the Department of Energy

- Roger Severino for the Department of Health and Human Services

- Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., MD for the Department of Housing and Urban Development

- Gene Hamilton for the Department of Justice

- Jonathan Berry for the Department of Labor

- Diana Furchtgott-Roth for the Department of Transportation

You can get the full chapter and author list on the Heritage Foundation website.

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud anyone who has the foresight and organizational skills to design, build, and maintain a detailed action plan. It shows dedication and determination to set out one’s desires and plans and follow it. I certainly hope all political parties do this. And all businesses, charities, etc.

It’s all about the actual content and how one seeks to achieve one’s plans. That’s the problem here. The people behind this project supported the 45th president and they are writing this plan to ensure that his next time through doesn’t face any inside roadblocks as was seen in the first or outside ones.

This plan *could* be applied under any “conservative” presidency. 2024, 2028…whenever. It’s built for whoever wants this machine to work for them and them for that person. If that person fails this group think, I am sure they will be abandoned and a new figurehead would be found who will.

Racism, sexism, cronyism…all the -isms where here when “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” was written, and they are still here today. We’ve changed- thank goodness. We need to evolve much more- please, may it be.

I have faith it’s possible within the system we have that’s lasted now for 248 years.

If we don’t give up.

Please vote in every election you are eligible to vote it.

Monday, July 1, 2024

My Problems with Math

We're in this together.

Many forms of mathematics leave me dazed and confused. That frustrated my father and he attempted repeatedly to assert that I believed *women* couldn’t do math. 

It wasn’t true. No. 100% no. 
The fire of his belief always took me aback.

Unlike some, I cannot compartmentalize groups of people based on some specific trait. Why not? It would be so much easier to say:

Women can’t do A. They can do B.

Black people can’t do A. They can do B.

Indigenous people can’t do A. They can do B.

Non-binary sexual orientations or genders can’t do A. They can do B.

Those with disabilities can’t do A. They can do B.

Those A’s and B’s vary by the descriptives pulled by those making these judgements. The A’s can be (and have been) things like going to high school, going to college, running a company, owning a home, living in a town, getting loans, going to the bank across town, getting married, driving, going to this school, being a doctor, earning a living wage, and more. What are some others you thought of?

After I started this list, I realized that there really isn’t a “Men can’t do A. They can do B.” category. Then I had to add a condition: Is there an assumed filter or bias (By me? By all?) on that term “Men”? Is it only *white* men? Do they have a “can’t” or would it be more accurate to say theirs is closer to “don’t need to”? Or “don’t even consider doing”? I wonder.

I haven’t yet touched on the problems relating to the subjects in the can/can’t statements I sketched out: Women. Blacks. Indigenous. LBGTQIA. People with disabilities. For example, race is a construct. It’s emphasized by those in power to maintain that power. Gender was also used to be a “solid” way to divide us into 2, until our knowledge expanded and the problems of this “gimme” of categorization and ranking became apparent.

What is my point? It takes effort to change our thinking, but there are goals we should work into our realities:

I can’t do math well. But anyone who can should have the opportunity to fly with their skills. (Colleges have banned a host of categories of people over the years. Today, affordability is a huge hurdle.)

I can get married. Anyone who wants to should have the opportunity. (Different races weren’t allowed to marry each other for quite a while. More is needed.)

I can get a divorce. Anyone who wants to should have the opportunity. (Women used to not be allowed to divorce their husbands. No fault divorce is in jeopardy.)

I can’t run fast. Anyone who can should have the opportunity to fly with their skills. (Different people have been not allowed to compete in all kinds of sports at different times over the country’s existence. Why do we still have male/female categories? Couldn’t we have a range of inclusive leagues with different abilities?)

The list goes on and on. We’ve never been perfect as a country. We have evolved. Both of those statements are true and the additional truth is that we can and must do a lot more to be bigger people. It won’t freeze us into the inability to act. It will allow us to maximize our potentials and alleviate hurt. It won’t make us lose our identity. It will help us see our species more clearly.

Humanity is capable of both exquisite beauty and monstrous ugliness. Each new day is an opportunity to move the needle a bit further. Let’s remember that each dawn and each sunset.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Wisconsin 2024


The folks who currently sit in Wisconsin legislative seats that were found to be excessively and illegally gerrymandered are attempting to change the Wisconsin Constitution AGAIN.

After we all vote and decide the November 2024 election, we will have an entirely new legislative body than what we have today in Wisconsin. The maps have been redrawn (I urge you to check your address and see your new districts and leadership). The current legislature approved the new maps.

And yet they are again trying to make state-wide constitutional power changes in the August primary.

They succeeded in convincing enough voters this spring to make 2 changes to the state constitution regarding elections. We have yet to see how those amendments will affect election funding and administration. Will there be big unexpected and unapproved expenses? Will we have smooth elections with enough staffing? We do know that the state does not fully fund our election needs and that there has been much argument over expanding or restricting voting right access in Wisconsin and elsewhere. We’ll see.

Now, there’s another attempt with 2 additional changes to our state constitution, which the League of Women Voters has analyzed and determined are, as they had said about April’s changes, are too vague and not helpful and should be VOTE NOs.

Here’s my issue: I have a serious problem with making ANY changes to ANY state’s constitution that are asked for by ANY group of people who were in power because they cheated to get there. 

Constitutional changes should be carefully crafted and vetted. Their ramifications must be weighed across time before being put into place. A state’s constitution should not be made the playground of sore losers trying to punish those they feel wronged them.

Sometimes the state gets allocated chunks of money from the federal government. The two amendments being proposed to voters seek to give the legislature sole control over these monies. If you recall, some COVID money stipulated that the money given had to be used for specific COVID-related expenses or losses. At the time, the governor was willing and able to do that while our legislature complained. Evers eventually vetoed a bill brought up by the legislature that sought to seize control of those funds. These new amendment requests seem, in my mind, to be another attempt to circumvent balances of power between the 3 branches of Wisconsin government. 

Federal money can be for things like a pandemic. Or a huge tornado. Or a devastating drought. Or a chemical spill. Basically, any situation that a state seeks help with from DC and receives funds. It’s national money for our combined benefit so it should be allocated as the nation indicates with the support of the elected officials of the state. All the officials. Not just the state legislature, and especially not one whose operation has been manipulated so grossly for so many years that it finally caught up with them through the efforts of citizens and the court system.

If a Republican or other takes the governorship and leaves the legislature as Democrat-controlled, I would want both offices to work together. If federal money came in, I’d hope the 2 branches would work together with whatever restrictions are placed by the grantor. Neither would “win” all the time.

To me, life’s not about “winning”. It’s about working for overall positive movement. It’s hard. It takes time. It takes compromising and negotiation.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

My Vessel- A Poem

I thought of my 3 parts this morning and some words came out:


My Vessel

Three parts: body, mind, and soul.

Body feels so small now

How can I bend forward and already be at my feet?

I thought I was bigger.

My beautiful feet-

Beautiful because of what they have allowed me




I love them more now that

The path we’re on is so much shorter than it was before.

Mind is so much slower now

Why do I always seem to be forgetting something simple?

I wished for years for it to stop.

My beautiful brain-

Beautiful because it has connected and recorded so so many things




I love it more now that

It works more in tandem with my feet.

Spirit is so much more content now

How can I express the delicious peace I am able to reach now?

I howled in pain for so long.

That beautiful spirit-

Beautiful in its veil of acceptance that slowly settles when allowed




My feet.

My mind.

That spirit.