The needle hasn’t moved much since last year

This was originally posted last year on September 11. We continue to be a badly broken country in too many ways. No photo today.

How we have failed since September 11, 2001

Tonight President Obama will address the nation about ISIS and any actions that we may take in response to the horrific murders of Americans and innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists.

Tomorrow there will be an observance in my community, and many others, to honor the thousands of lives lost to hate and terrorism, and to support the families and friends who knew someone they loved would never return home again.

Since September 11, 2001 we as a country have talked a lot about being kinder to one another and being a better country. Yet 13 years later this is what consumes us as a country:

  • fighting about allowing two consenting adults of the same-sex to legally marry each
  • failing to take care of the thousands of veterans who have defended our country, many of whom returned with horrible wounds from the Middle East since September 2001
  • allowing private corporations to decided which forms of legal birth control they will cover for employees through company based health insurance because some corporations should have the same privileges as churches
  • granting corporations the same rights as citizens so businesses can pour money into elections and our representatives’ pockets
  • making it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote
  • subsidizing corporations with huge tax breaks while their employees working full-time never earn enough to break the poverty barrier
  • denying the hard facts of science because profits should come before cleaning up the mess we’ve made of the entire planet
  • deporting children
  • complaining about failing schools while slashing teacher pay and testing our children to death
  • sitting by silently while racism and sexism are displayed proudly
  • being sure we can take our assault rifles into the grocery store
  • we pay for and support violence on playing fields, in the movies we watch, video games we buy, music we listen to, and television shows we watch, but we react with horror when students are sprayed with bullets in their classrooms, women are drug from elevators by their hair, students are bullied, children and women are raped as well as being forced into prostitution
  • too many among us are convinced that their brand of faith should be followed above all others, and if necessary the rights of other citizens should be denied because they choose to worship differently, or not at all

We absolutely should remember and honor the victims of September 11th’s violence. I’m just not convinced we are a country that is a better reflection of the democratic values and freedoms which terrorists intended to destroy 13 years ago.

We have failed our heroes

Today is Memorial, or Decoration Day, a day of pause begun decades ago for decorating the graves of Civil War soldiers.

The long weekend is now dominated by stores holding big sales, high school graduations, blockbuster movie openings, and the unofficial beginning of summer. 

Today media outlets will provide us with beautiful photos of thousands of small flags doting the graves of the heroes buried in Arlington. The President will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown and make some remarks. Local television will update viewers on local ceremonies at 6:00 and 11:00 tonight. 

Before the day ends, our country will have 22 more veterans to mourn, soldiers whose lives where cut short due to their willingness to serve in our armed forces. 

The United States spends billions on waging wars with no exit strategies. Our fighting forces are built on the backs of the poor, officers who tolerate sexual assault and intimidation, and military families who can’t afford to feed their children without food stamps. 

Even worse, when our soldiers return, we fail to provide them with the services they need and deserve. 

Our failure as a country is why 22 veterans will kill themselves before Memorial Day comes to an end. Twenty-two brave volunteers who came forward, and survived, will reach their breaking point today and succeed in ending their pain and agony. Twenty-two families, made up of parents, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, will begin preparations to bury their soldier.

Because there are war injuries we can’t see with our eyes, we fail to see them with our hearts.

Where’s The Friday Photo?

I didn’t post a photo last Friday because I didn’t think I had anything that was worth posting. What I did think about a good bit on Friday, and other days, was about putting Rural and Progressive on hiatus to figure out if I should continue.

It takes me A LOT of time to crank out posts that are heavy on politics. Fact-checking, reading a variety of sources, double checking, proofing, maybe asking for a review before posting, and triple checking take time. When I worked at home and my schedule was flexible I could pick up and put down posts throughout the day.

And then today Hillary announced. So I signed up and donated to her campaign.

This election isn’t about electing the first woman POTUS (even though we’re behind the curve on electing women to national leadership in America). This election is about children, women, seniors, people of color, my LGBTQ friends and family, the middle class, the working poor, our veterans, energy production, peace, public schools, rural communities, national infrastructure, the arts, health care, housing, food shortages, and our natural resources.

So I ‘m figuring out what Rural and Progressive will be in the future.

Got a suggestion? I’d love to hear it.

 

The groaning board

The Friday Photo
March 27, 2015
food

My mother-in-law died peacefully this morning before breakfast.Homemade food began arriving in time for lunch.This photo captures most of what arrived after 5:00 pm.

In the rural South no one ever wonders what they’ll eat when they
have to plan a funeral.

Not feeling the love

At $4.5M for a 30 second spot, Super Bowl commercials get just about as much hype as the two teams playing. McDonald’s made sure it was in the mix in front of a huge television audience Sunday night. Ronald McDonald and friends need to find a way to regain dominance of the fast food market. With profits down 30 percent, clearly the Golden Arches aren’t the first choice for families anymore.

The giant fast food chain didn’t try to win customers with highly styled photos of their menu items. Instead, they decided to focus on their customers’ hearts rather than their stomachs:

Companies giving away products to build consumer confidence and loyalty isn’t new. What also isn’t new is the fact that many McDonald’s employees can’t make ends meet on what the restaurant pays.

Just how bad is it for a McDonald’s employee living on minimum wage? A full-time worker (40 hours a week) clocking in for minimum wage earns $15,080 per year. A Bloomberg View article points out that the median individual earnings are $40,040 per year. The U.S. poverty level is $23,550.

A full-time minimum wage worker at McDonald’s makes $8,470 LESS than the poverty level.

McDonald’s thought it could help employees by providing them with a sample budget:
McDonald's suggests budget to employees

The company doesn’t include any costs for heat. Or food.Or clothes and shoes. But it does include income from a second job.

McDonald’s wants to win back the hearts of customers who choose to drive past the Golden Arches with a free meal, while the people bagging the fries and burgers tighten their belts.

I’m not Lovin’ It.

 

 

 

 

The one week when Friday comes early

This Thanksgiving, lots of Macy’s employees will be curtailing their time with family because the department store chain will open its doors on Thanksgiving evening at 6:00 pm, two hours earlier than it unlocked the doors last year.

Black Friday isn’t on Friday any more. The Thanksgiving holiday has become an almost weeklong slug fest among major retailers.

If you don’t want retailers to open their doors on Thanksgiving, the choice is simple-put another log on fire and stay home.

How we have failed since September 11, 2001

Tonight President Obama will address the nation about ISIS and any actions that we may take in response to the horrific murders of Americans and innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists.

Tomorrow there will be an observance in my community, and many others, to honor the thousands of lives lost to hate and terrorism, and to support the families and friends who knew someone they loved would never return home again.

Since September 11, 2001 we as a country have talked a lot about being kinder to one another and being a better country. Yet 13 years later this is what consumes us as a country:

  • fighting about allowing two consenting adults of the same-sex to legally marry each
  • failing to take care of the thousands of veterans who have defended our country, many of whom returned with horrible wounds from the Middle East since September 2001
  • allowing private corporations to decided which forms of legal birth control they will cover for employees through company based health insurance because some corporations should have the same privileges as churches
  • granting corporations the same rights as citizens so businesses can pour money into elections and our representatives’ pockets
  • making it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote
  • subsidizing corporations with huge tax breaks while their employees working full-time never earn enough to break the poverty barrier
  • denying the hard facts of science because profits should come before cleaning up the mess we’ve made of the entire planet
  • deporting children
  • complaining about failing schools while slashing teacher pay and testing our children to death
  • sitting by silently while racism and sexism are displayed proudly
  • being sure we can take our assault rifles into the grocery store
  • we pay for and support violence on playing fields, in the movies we watch, video games we buy, music we listen to, and television shows we watch, but we react with horror when students are sprayed with bullets in their classrooms, women are drug from elevators by their hair, students are bullied, children and women are raped as well as being forced into prostitution
  • too many among us are convinced that their brand of faith should be followed above all others, and if necessary the rights of other citizens should be denied because they choose to worship differently, or not at all

We absolutely should remember and honor the victims of September 11th’s violence. I’m just not convinced we are a country that is a better reflection of the democratic values and freedoms which terrorists intended to destroy 13 years ago.

 

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

The Friday Photo
August 29, 2014

Gringos, Milledgeville, GA
Gringos, Milledgeville, GA

To borrow a slogan from an old toothpaste commercial, “Put your money where your mouth is.” I’m making a real effort to find and support businesses who are willing to post a sign saying guns don’t belong in theirs.

 

Fox News “A-Team” doc says Michelle Obama “needs to drop a few”

Shepard Smith isn’t the only one making completely inappropriate comments at Fox News this week. Yesterday psychiatrist Dr Keith Ablow,  a member of the cable channel’s “Medical A- Team” said First Lady Michelle Obama isn’t qualified to advocate for improved children’s nutrition because she needs to “drop a few” pounds.

This is wrong on so many levels, but I’m short on time.

Ablow is another man criticizing a woman and her intellect by saying her weight makes her unfit (no pun intended) to advocate for better nutrition. (I guess a Harvard law school degree and being a concerned parent aren’t enough to understand the basics of nutrition and exercise.)

Albow’s larger mistake, literally, is to criticize an obviously fit women while his own gut strains against his shirt buttons and spills over his belt.

The women surrounding him aren’t any better about Ms Obama’s nutrition advocacy. One complains that the First Lady sounds like a duchess (is that code for she speaks like Kate Middleton?) while another envies Ms Obama’s “booty.”

But like I said, I’m short on time.

The best of Southern traditions

The Friday Photo
July 25, 2014
Joy Pendry

About two years ago a woman newly relocated to Sandersville from New York State readily made friends with a group of women who like to begin their day with a 5:45 aerobics classes.

Just a few months after settling in arthritis problems flared up and she required a second hip replacement. She was determined to cook and freeze food so her family wouldn’t have to care for her and cook.

We told her not to bother but she looked puzzled. Our collective response was, “In the South you don’t cook when there is a serious illness or death in your family. We’ll bring you meals. That’s what we do for each other.”

This Southern tradition continues with my family this week. Within just a few hours of letting people know there is an illness in our family (manageable but disrupting our regular routines) I got a message asking when we needed food, and for how many people.

Last night my father-in-law went home to fresh vegetables and homemade chicken and dumplings for dinner from a much-loved family friend, Joy Pendry. She insisted that all I need to do is raise my hand again if we need help.

Because that is the way we do things here, y’all.

When you are among Friends

If someone says, “I went to UGA” or any large college or university, most people can readily identify something about that school (football, agriculture, technology, etc). When someone asks an alum of a Quaker school where they went to school, sometimes the person asking the question looks kind of lost if they follow-up and ask what type of school that is and the answer is a simple, “Quaker”. (I have on a few occasions extolled about one benefit of being an alum of a Quaker school is the lifetime supply of free oatmeal. I should not prey on the innocent.)

Quakers are not Shakers (but they can and do shake things up sometimes), or Mennonites, or Amish. Quakers are Quakers just like Methodists are Methodists. They come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and varieties. Flaming Liberals-yep. Middle of the Road-got plenty of those. Conservative- there are some of those too.

If you are wondering who Quakers are and what they do, The Huffington Post ran an article in June, “4 Things We Can All Learn from One of America’s Oldest Religious Communities” which does a good job of explaining some of the ways Quakers work together as a faith community (and as a result in their communities beyond their church).

There is a new family living in Ragsdale House, where the President lives at my Quaker college alma mater, Guilford College. The search to hire our ninth president was unusually transparent when compared to how many schools hire their administrative leaders. When the College announced that Jane K Fernandes had accepted the offer to join the Guilford community, there was a huge outpouring of genuine and heartfelt excitement. Jane said she truly felt called to Guilford, and her passion for the values of Quakers, a Quaker-based education, and Guilford are palpable.

Why am I calling Guilford’s Ninth President “Jane” instead of “Dr Fernandes” or “President Fernandes?” Rule 5 of  22 things only someone who went to a Quaker school would understand, written by a Guilford alum, explains it (slight NSFW language).

Rule 1 about bumper stickers? So true, as a Friday Photo from Rural and Progressive a few years ago demonstrates:

Guilford Alum, Class of 1961, leaves no doubt about her politics
Guilford Alum, Class of 1961, leaves no doubt about her politics