Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Acts of Forgiveness

We need stronger advocates for the poor and struggling in the US! Who can we turn to?

A Look Into Faith and Activism
by C.A. Matthews

We take a short break from the relentless stress and insanity of COVID-19 quarantining this week to take a look at the intersection of faith and activism, two forces that generally work together for the good of the community, locally and globally. When I was contacted as editor about having The Revolution Continues become a part of the blog tour for the release of the Rev. Ted Karpf's memoir, I  jumped at this opportunity to learn more about one of the early AIDS/HIV activists who helped save thousands of lives.

Clergypersons who live their faith out loud, boldly and with distinction, have

always been personal heroes of mine. I can start with such notables as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Archbishop Oscar Romero, both of whom lost their lives in the struggle to bring the injustices suffered by the poor and people of color to light in the larger society.  I also have to include activists who are very much currently in the news, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call to Moral Revival movement.

And of course, my admiration for people of faith who "walk the walk" as well as "talk the talk" began with my father, the Rev. Dr. John C. Cooper and my grandfather, the Rev. John Knox "Jack" Johnston. Dad was always outspoken on environmental issues, the Vietnam War, and the hate-filled actions of the Ku Klux Klan. I remember celebrating that very first Earth Day with him and how he wouldn't flunk his college students in fear they'd be killed or injured like he was in yet another distant country. Dad was a double Purple Heart recipient who served with the Marines in the Korean War, so he felt it was his duty to keep his students alive and help them become better people prepared to serve all of humanity--not just the insatiable greed of the military-industrial complex.

My grandfather, the Rev. Jack Johnston, worked tirelessly as a missionary in the slums of Sao Paolo, Brazil, during the 1920s-30s. Addressing the social and spiritual needs of the poorest of the poor were paramount to him and my grandmother. At the start of World War II he returned home and joined the Army, serving as head chaplain of General George S. Patton's division in Europe during such actions as the Battle of the Bulge. I remember my grandfather being rather soft spoken and not a particularly physically imposing person by any stretch of the imagination, so you can imagine the quiet inner bravery he must have possessed advocating for the hearts and souls of his soldier-charges while conversing with "Old Blood and Guts" Patton in those bloody battlefields. 

I think wearing a clerical collar and carrying a Bible can instill courage in a social justice activist every bit as much as carrying a sign or a loaded weapon--if not more so. Read my review of Ted's story below and see if you don't agree.

And now a special book review for the  

May I Die In Your Church?  
A Closer Look Into The Life And Times Of An Activist/Priest

Acts of Forgiveness:
Faith Journeys of a Gay Priest
Ted Karpf
Foreword by Ray L. Hart
Toplight Books
ASIN: B081Y8LHZN, ISBN-10: 1476679592, ISBN-13: 9781476679594

“I have learned that while we can’t always see the real outcomes of the victories of our battles for justice, inclusion, acceptance, and respect, each of us in our own way has won those liberties, not with the ease of largesse and privilege, but with an understanding that no matter the cost, what we did/do and why we did/do it was critical for the larger humanity.”

Retired Episcopalian priest Ted Karpf’s engaging memoir, Acts of Forgiveness, can be read on several levels. First, it’s the life story of a gay man overcoming an abusive childhood and coming out to a hostile society, receiving some modicum of success while working during different seasons of his life for the church, the federal government, and the World Health Organization. Second, it can be understood as the experiences of a social justice warrior who jumped into the early fight to bring health and dignity to the thousands dying of HIV/AIDS in the Dallas gay community and later to the millions infected in South Africa and surrounding countries. Third, and perhaps most of all, it is the journey of an individual seeing God at work in the world and its people while accepting the fact that to have faith doesn’t mean one will be protected from heartache, harsh criticisms, or even tougher judgments, but knowing that one will find love, peace, and joy along the way.

“How many times do we forgive?”Jesus of Nazareth’s disciples asked him. He replied, “Seventy times seven” or an infinite number of times. “Father Friendly,” as Karpf was nicknamed, would agree, but would also agree that forgiveness doesn’t always come quickly or easily. From an early age, Ted knew he was different. His parents sensed his homosexual orientation and attempted to keep him from becoming a “sissy” through verbal, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse. After he left home, he found hard-won self-acceptance with the support of his mentors during his academic years at Boston University School of Theology. He learned to follow his heart when supporting others and to love them unconditionally even when it hurt, a lesson that would be tested again and again in his relationships with his lovers, colleagues, and particularly later in life with his adult son and daughter.

When Ted’s marriage dissolved after he fell in love with a fellow activist and was outed as a gay man in the paranoid climate of the late 1980s, Ted lost his church in Dallas, St. Thomas the Apostle, a congregation that had become particularly noteworthy for its open acceptance and support of those afflicted with HIV/AIDS. He was fortunate that his soon-to-be-ex-wife Kaye wanted Ted to co-parent their young children as much as possible, but life outside of the church brought a new chapter in his service to others and new challenges both professionally and emotionally.

Ted’s work within the Dallas area HIV/AIDS community had gained him the attention of—and then a position with—the US Public Health Service as a regional liaison specialist to call attention to the magnitude and impact of the AIDS epidemic in five states. After three years at the USPHS, Ted returned to AIDS advocacy within the Episcopal Church in the Washington DC diocese. From there he was called to serve the Anglican Community in South Africa in the 1990s where the spread of HIV/AIDS had become a tragedy of almost unimaginable proportions. His service there was praiseworthy and necessary, but then it was terminated abruptly and he was falsely accused of a crime that he could have never committed.

Ted was eventually exonerated—through the testimony of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, among others—but once again he found himself seeking a way to forgive and move on and to serve humanity, which eventually he did through the auspices of the Diplomatic Corp of the United Nation’s World Health Organization. He advocated strongly for the “3 by 5” program, a program to reach 3 million needing treatment out of the estimated 6 million infected with HIV/AIDS globally by 2005. The goal was obtained by 2006 and saved literally millions in developing world. Ted worked tirelessly from Geneva until his retirement from WHO in 2010.

“May I die in your church?”

A man covered with lesions from Kaposi’s sarcoma and suffering from tuberculosis and the severe wasting associated with AIDS walked into Ted’s church office in 1985 making that simple request. “Everything in my life before that moment paled,” Ted states, “The desperate sincerity of the question combined with his grim motivation resonated deeply within me.” The acceptance of death in the midst of day-to-day existence is a recurring theme throughout Ted’s life, be it the death of friendships, of work relationships, or most poignantly, of an ailing stranger or a dear loved one.

From the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, Ted has sat by more bedsides and performed more funerals of individuals, some cruelly rejected by their own kin, than perhaps any other priest. He also sat by the side of his mother as she lay dying, forgiving and loving her in spite of his unhappy childhood experiences. Ted has been there for many others in their time of personal tragedy, a source of comfort and advice, but he is quick to note that he isn’t always as accepting of loss as he could be.

After his abrupt dismissal from his position in South Africa, Ted felt directionless and decided to accept an offer to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. He didn’t want to go at first, but a series of coincidences finally convinced him that going on a pilgrimage was exactly what he needed. Hiking the 800 km trail, Ted experienced blisters and then found God along the way in the way the Creator worked in the lives of his fellow sojourners. An impromptu baptism of a pilgrim in the fountain at Santiago at the end of the journey brought his life into sharp focus. Ted reconfirmed his service to humanity by demonstrating God’s love through his calling as a priest and advocate for all who are in need.

Perhaps the greatest act of forgiveness is the one we grant ourselves when we discover and re-affirm our own purpose in the eternal dance of life and death. Ted's story bears witness to this truth.

About the Author: Ted Karpf

Ted Karpf is a priest, public servant, international diplomat, journalist, university administrator and educator. He was educated in New York, Texas and Massachusetts. A gay man, Ted is a father and grandfather. He has been and remains a man who reflects the times in which he has lived while offering a hopeful vision for the future. Ted watches clouds and tests the winds and prays while residing in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

You can find Ted at his website https://www.tedkarpf.com/

Acts of Forgiveness is now available to purchase on Amazon.comTarget.com, and Barnes and Noble.


Criminal-justice reform experts have been warning for weeks: Prisons and jails will become deadly COVID-19 vectors if immediate action is not taken to reduce their population sizes.

It's already beginning. Inmates and guards alike are testing positive at federal and local facilities from California to New York. Fearing the coming virus, nine women escaped from a South Dakota jail and two terrified Alabama inmates threatened to commit suicide with homemade nooses.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that when we care for the sick and for those in prison, we care for him. We might be social distancing, but we can still practice social solidarity by slowing the spread of this devastating pandemic in America's prisons.

Tell America's governors: Fight COVID-19 by reducing state prison populations

More than two million people are currently incarcerated across the U.S. Many prisoners are vulnerable and at heightened risk -- especially the elderly, immunocompromised, sick, and pregnant. They are held in overcrowded conditions ripe for rapid viral spread, with limited access to healthcare or necessary sanitation.

But there is momentum for change: Earlier this week, Los Angeles County announced that it has reduced its incarcerated population by 10%, releasing 1,700 people from jail. A handful of other jurisdictions -- Cleveland, Nashville, the state of New Jersey – are also beginning to take action.

This is a good start, but a few places here and there is simply not enough. To avoid preventable deaths, we need widespread action in every city, county, and state, and at the federal level.

The National Council of Churches, the Brazilian Bishops' Conference, Chicago's religious leaders, and many more have been courageously speaking out for coronavirus prison reform. Add your name to echo their faithful calls for justice in the halls of your governor's office today.

Tell America's governors: Fight COVID-19 by reducing state prison population

We will also send this petition to the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Thank you for everything you do to love your neighbor and put your faith into action during these uncertain times.

In peace,
- Rev. Nathan and the Faithful America team

"But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." - Amos 5:24


Air pollution
Center for     Biological     Diversity   
The Trump administration just gave polluters a free pass to pollute our air and water with impunity.

Using the COVID-19 pandemic as cover, Trump's EPA announced it will no longer enforce legally mandated public health and environmental protections nationwide — indefinitely, while the pandemic crisis lasts.

Letting oil refineries, chemical plants and other industrial polluters off the hook is disgusting and shamelessly opportunistic.

Never before has the EPA just given up and stopped enforcing its own rules at this scale.

The pandemic has upended what is normal for everyone, but that's not an excuse to toss aside environmental protections.

We've seen countless attacks from the Trump administration on wildlife and the laws that protect it. The Endangered Species Act is already under tremendous threat from being weakened in its ability to save plants and animals.

Now, with the EPA turning a blind eye to industrial pollution, our public health could be even more seriously threatened. This cynical ploy is a new low, even for this administration.

Tell the EPA to reverse course and keep in place its enforcement of laws intended to keep our air and water clean.

We are in the midst of an unfolding public health crisis due to the coronavirus — but our current state of emergency results from a deeper, much longer-term crisis — that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that ignores the needs of 140 million poor and low-wealth people. We know that we must enact the demands of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival to fully address this crisis.

We support the call to pass House Coronavirus Bill - HR6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act because it provides critical resources for food assistance, testing, unemployment insurance, immediate paid sick days, and protection for health care workers. Importantly, this bill also includes things the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has been demanding for a long time — a suspension of work requirements for SNAP, worker protections in the form of paid sick leave, increased resources for Medicaid and free testing for all, including the uninsured.  

In this moment, we must join the call to demand that our government face this crisis — we cannot go back to business as usual. We call on each of you to reach out to your Senators to vote and pass this bill immediately (see below for a call script you can use).
This bill alone, however, will not fully address this crisis, nor the ongoing crises of poverty and inequality in this country. We call for important additions to the bill, listed below. Many of these demands are already a part of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival’s Moral Agenda. It’s clear we need them now more than ever:
  • We demand more targeted and specific protections for low-wage and temporary workers, including child care workers and care providers. Rapid, direct payments to individuals is the most effective way to ensure low-wage workers who are especially sensitive to changes in work schedules have the resources to provide for their families and households and to manage their care and treatment.
  • We demand targeted and specific protections for homeless people, including and especially children, who will not have access to online learning, meals, or running water outside of their schools; this can and must include a call on city and local governments to open and prepare vacant properties to house the homeless.
  • We demand a national moratorium on evictions, tax foreclosures, and rent hikes.
  • We demand a national moratorium on water and utility shut-offs and maintained access to communications and Wi-Fi.
  • We demand a national moratorium on medical debt collection that would compromise an individual, family or household’s ability to provide for their health and care during this emergency.
  • We demand a suspension of Medicaid work requirements.
  • We demand the reauthorization and protection of community health centers and rural hospitals, including the suspension of any pending closures of rural hospitals.
  • We demand targeted protections for people in mental health facilities, prisons, jails, immigrant detention centers, juvenile detention centers, and nursing homes, especially in the form of supplies, personnel, testing and treatment.
  • We demand that immigrant communities are able to seek safe testing and treatment by suspending CBP and ICE enforcement and declaring all emergency provisions as disaster relief, thereby making immigrants who are otherwise ineligible for health care, nutrition and other government programs eligible for these emergency programs.
  • We demand that nobody — no individual or corporation or financial interest — is profiting off a public health crisis by ensuring that vaccines and treatments are affordable and/or free for those who cannot afford the costs.
Text COVID19 to 747464 or call 1-844-633-2048 to easily reach your Senator.
Thanks to MomsRising for providing this service.

You can adapt the following script with your Senator's info when you call. Most importantly, strongly encourage them to vote for this bill!

“Hello, my name is ______ and I am from [city/town]. This is urgent: Please tell Senator _____ to vote for the House coronavirus bill without watering it down at all. You must take action to ensure that no one goes without food, that everyone can get testing, medical treatment, paid sick days or unemployment insurance if they can’t work during this emergency and that our health care workers are protected. The House bill is a necessary start — you must do more [add 2-3 examples from our list above], but please vote for this now.”

Let’s continue to mobilize, organize, register, and educate for our demands in this uncertain time.

Forward together,
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Life Down the Rabbit Hole

Life Down the Rabbit Hole 
by Coast Watcher

So here we are... The great and glorious American Empire is shuttered due to an pandemic few saw coming. Thanks to COVID-19 stores are emptied of toilet paper and hand sanitizer almost as soon as they hit the shelves. Fighting breaks out over the last pack or bottle. Security guards stand ready to force limits of one pack or bottle each, and the number of canned goods you can purchase at one time are restricted. People have bought up an entire supply of goods and quite often they appear on social media or eBay trying to sell the stuff for a heavily marked-up price. Businesses are closed by order of state governments with a few exceptions held to be vital, such as liquor stores. In a number of states even travel has been restricted. Retirees from the medical profession are returning to the front line to help their embattled colleagues.

The National Guard is deploying where needed. Churches are limiting services and/or the number of congregants therein or livestreaming. The USPS is restricting customers by setting distances of six feet apart in lines and permitting only three customers at a time within the sales area. People don’t hang around to chat or take their time anymore. They rush from place to place with hunted, almost furtive looks on their faces. Social distancing has become the watchword.

That’s not to say the response has been even across the country. In Florida, the state governor has refused to close public beaches because, "It’ll hurt the economy."

And it all took less than a month for America to grind to a halt. But it doesn’t mean everything has stopped in its tracks. The GOP is busy trying to get a bill through the Senate that will give trillions of dollars in bail out money to Big Businesses without any ties or restrictions. Contrast that idea with the generally held opinion that the government will do far more for the economy if it gave the money to ordinary Americans instead. Even the more socially aware Republicans want to hang caveats and codicils about the idea, limiting the payments to $600 in total to the poorest. 

And let’s not forget those senators on both sides of the House who took advantage of prior warnings at the onset of the pandemic to sell stocks on Wall Street instead of preparing their constituents for the disease. We mustn't prevent the one-percenters from making profits at the public's expense!

At the time of writing, the Senate has failed yet again to clear procedural problems to pass a bill aimed at helping ordinary citizens as well as businesses affected by the coronavirus shut down. Senate Democrats blocked the stimulus package, denying the Republicans the majority needed to feed yet more money exclusively to Big Business. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned it could be several days before the Senate can proceed to a vote on the deal. 

McConnell, of course, is the darling of Wall Street, slavishly obedient to any
and every move to give the rich more cash. It’s not a surprise to learn that a clause covertly slipped into the relief bill includes wording aimed at denying Medicaid funding to non-profits, such as home and community-based disability providers, community-based nursing homes, mental health providers and health centers, group homes for the disabled—and even rape crisis centers.

Yes, even faced with an unprecedented disaster, the Republican pro-Big Business politicians are still trying to ride their laughably "pro-life" hobby horse rough shod across the land. Of course the Democrats, in their guise of actually caring about ordinary Americans, are looking nervously over their shoulder in case the populace has become so angry about things they erupt into open revolution.

For many it’s still business as usual. Goldman Sachs gave its CEO a 20% pay increase. This while the company predicts that the US economy will shrink by 24% next quarter. This prediction is positively sunny compared with Morgan Stanley which foresee a 30% drop. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicts a 50% decline.

And what of so-called President Trump’s behavior throughout this crisis? It’s not very appealing to say the least. His responses are based mostly on "It has nothing to do with me," and, "I’m not taking responsibility." Trump closed the White House office responsible for coordinating the response to disease outbreaks, claiming it was a waste of money. He tried to do a deal with the German manufacturer of a coronavirus vaccine that would have made it exclusive to the United States. He refused to order emergency supplies of equipment because Big Business complained it would scare people and hurt their sales.

Read some of Trump's pandemic-related tweets in this video. You'll be amazed. Or disgusted.  https://youtu.be/EIi9N_tcNt0

At the time of writing it’s rumored that Trump is blowing hot and cold on the shelter-in-place strategy enacted by many states, even though this policy has proved to contain the outbreak and enable the flattening of the curve of transmissions. In a Tweet—his usual method of releasing important policy information—Trump stated using all caps:


Trump has also called the coronavirus "the Chinese virus." Such loose-lipped remarks have led to Asian-Americans suffering racist attacks, both verbal and physical. Even after all this, Trump still gets a 45% approval rating according to one poll. His supporters must reckon he’s doing a good job.

As if all this wasn’t enough, the latest report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) states the virus pandemic is accelerating. Predictions are that anywhere from 40%-70% of the population will contract the virus eventually.

It’s difficult to predict where things will end. With some states such as Ohio settling in for a two-week shutdown, small non-essential businesses will be seriously hurt. Denmark at least has unified behind a single approach to remedying the economic crisis. Under the plan, which has drawn 100% support across the political spectrum, the Danish government will pay 75% of employees’ salaries to avoid mass layoffs. It requires the government to spend as much as 13% of the Danish national economy in the space of three months. That works out as roughly equivalent to $2.5 trillion spread out over thirteen weeks. Contrast this plan with the recent American government’s attempt to support Wall Street with a $2.5 trillion package that succeeded for all of fifteen minutes.

In the face of such adversity people are pulling together. A wealth of mutual-aid

support groups have sprung up, covering anything from neighborhoods to entire cities. A spirit of We’ll get through this together pervades. That’s not to say government need not do more to alleviate the suffering of ordinary citizens. After all, that comes under the promote the general welfare part of the Constitution.

Humanity is a resilient species. We’ve survived disasters before and no doubt will do so again. But in this year 2020, life will not be the same for millions across America and billions across the world. Will this be the time people finally wake up to the fact the rich, Big Business, the uber-wealthy multi-national corporations are not their friends? There’s no doubt that the European countries and those other nations with universal healthcare are coping far better than the for-profit American system. That much at least has to change, if any kind of lesson comes out of this.

In any case, I hope my readers will come through this crisis safe and sound.

See you on the other side!

BIO: Coast Watcher is patiently waiting for the day when all Americans wake up and realize their system of government isn't a democracy, but a corrupt oligarchy filled with rich, white males who couldn't care less whether the working classes live or die, just as long as they can hop around the globe in their Lear jets visiting their private islands of underage sex slaves. Maybe a devastating plague is what is needed for workers to make the connection that a billionaire is not their friend, never has been their friend, and never will be their friend.

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Coronavirus: Trump Wants US Open For Business Amid Pandemic

People for the American Way
Tell Congress to pass additional coronavirus legislation now! Sign today.
Congress has taken an important first step by passing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Members of Congress who pushed hard for swift passage of the bill deserve our gratitude, as do the nearly 50,000 PFAW members who took action to urge Congress to quickly pass the bill. In part because of your activism, millions of Americans will be provided paid family and sick leave, unemployment insurance will be expanded, and free COVID-19 testing will be provided nationwide (although we still need to play catch up on making more tests available – and fast).

Now, Congress must tackle the next phase of dealing with this unprecedented crisis and pass a historic stimulus bill to protect the economy and provide vital resources to the people and communities who need the most help.

The economic effects of this public health emergency are already being felt, but a proper government response, with the scope that this crisis demands, can help mitigate the damage and improve the outcome for all. Any industry relief package must include conditions to ensure that workers are taken care of, not C-suite executives and shareholders. Direct relief payments must be targeted to the workers, consumers, low-income people, and others who are most vulnerable and whose spending will spur the economy much better than massive “trickle-down” benefits for corporations and the ultra-wealthy.

And critical relief services will need to be adequately funded if America is going to come out on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic unscathed.

As usual, however, some Senate Republicans are throwing up roadblocks to common-sense emergency legislation at every chance they get. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) almost halted the passage of the Families First Response Act by forcing a last-minute vote on an unnecessary amendment. Their delay tactics are, in the words of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), “a colossal waste of time.”

Time is at a premium for halting the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, so we can’t let the Republicans waste any more of it.

Stay safe and healthy,

- Sarah, Digital Campaigns Associate
With its broad sweep, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us into an unprecedented national emergency. This emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer term crisis - that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that ignores the needs of 140 million people who are poor or a $400 emergency away from being poor.

Right now, Congress is considering an influx of urgently needed money from the federal government—one TRILLION dollars. We need to bear witness and make sure that money gets to where it is most needed – extending fundamental needs like paid sick leave, health care and housing security to everyone. 

We call on President Trump, Vice-President Pence and all Members of 116th Congress to fulfill their moral and constitutional responsibilities to the American people: join your voice to expand the emergency provisions and enact our Moral Agenda.
We cannot return to normal. Addressing the depth of the crises that have been revealed in this pandemic means enacting universal health care, expanding social welfare programs like SNAP and LIHEAP, ensuring access to water and sanitation, providing cash assistance to poor and low-wealth families, guaranteeing good jobs, living wages and an annual income. It means ensuring that our abundant national resources are used for the general welfare, instead of war, walls, and the wealthy.  
Sign on to the Poor People's Campaign's demands in response to COVID-19. 

Forward together,
Rev. Dr. Willam Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis
Co-Chairs of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

P.S. Join us for a live discussion Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 PT with MoveOn about a Moral Response to the dual crises of Pandemic and Poverty—we'll be live at Facebook.com/MoveOn and Facebook.com/ANewPPC! 


Tell us your COVID-19/Coronavirus story. Send your piece in the body of an email to thebernieblog2016@gmail.com . Remember, we're all in this together.

If you're able to help us keep the internet connected and the lights on, please donate to us at the following Paypal link: http://paypal.me/camatthews  Thanks, and keep fighting!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Socially Distanced

Socially Distanced 
by C.A. Matthews
Humanity may have at last reached the tipping point. We may have come to the conclusion that our faith in capitalism to save us is a load of bullshit. We may have determined we’re fully “woke,” and we won’t be fooled again.
Or we may have just given in and decided to remain “socially distanced” from one another and begin another Netflix binge.
We may have concluded that uniting the working classes to overthrow our billionaire oppressors is simply too much work. We may have just sat back in our chairs, kicked off our shoes, cracked open a beer and declared, “Who really gives a damn about universal health care coverage? I've got mine. Screw you.”
This trendy new term “social distancing” is a dangerous concept in many ways. It encourages separation, division, categorization and a sense of otherness—the “other” labeled as “enemy” and not as “brother” or “sister.” Already there have been instances of xenophobia and race hatred expressed on social media and elsewhere. One wonders if a Kristallnacht complete with the painting of crude icons on the homes and businesses of this century’s unwanted people—coronavirus sufferers—will occur. Maybe it has already happened and we simply don’t know about it because the corporate-owned-and-operated mainstream media can’t be bothered to tell us?

Now more than ever, we can’t let the for-profit-health-care capitalists divide us. We have to fight back against the hysteria to distance ourselves from our fellow activists in the struggle. We can’t give in to the institutional despair the oligarchs consciously create to keep us in our place—distanced, unsocial, uncaring and suspicious toward each other. We must practice true compassion – not faux concern – for those who have been left behind.
The biblical parable of The Good Samaritan illustrates perfectly what I mean. A man is robbed and beaten half to death and dumped at the side of the road. The first two men to encounter him—both important, wealthy, educated, well-respected men—do nothing to help the suffering robbery victim. They walk past him with their eyes averted and keep to themselves. They pretend he doesn’t exist in their reality.

What you can’t see and you don’t acknowledge doesn’t exist, now does it? And what doesn’t exist doesn’t need to be addressed. You can forget about it.
Finally, an outcast, a man from Samaria whose race was despised and whose very existence was an abomination to the first two respected men, passes by and has compassion for the robbery victim. The “good” Samaritan stops and bandages the man’s wounds and gets him to a hospital, as it were. He doesn’t even ask if the wounded man has health insurance—he pays the bill upfront! The Good Samaritan simply does what needs to be done to make sure the unfortunate man is taken care of, no questions asked, no repayment necessary.
The Good Samaritan doesn’t deny reality. He sees, acknowledges, loves and cares for his neighbor whom he finds lying by the road in a puddle of blood.
There is no “social distancing” being practiced in this story. The Good Samaritan gets his hands dirty and puts his own health and safety at risk. Who knows? There could have been more robbers in hiding around the bend and possibly no one would arrive later to wrap the Samaritan’s injuries since he was of the wrong skin color and spoke a different dialect. One of the robbers could have--gasp!--given him COVID19. The beauty of this story is in how it demonstrates the courageous, selfless meeting of “the other’s” needs with a level of commitment that ignores even the possible threat of harm to self.
It is “social involvement” like this we need before we reach the point of no return as a society and for our planet, not social distancing. Involvement and action brings about positive change, not distancing and separation from and demonizing of those less fortunate.

If we continue to social distance from each other, we risk widening the gap between those with and those without. We risk being lulled back into our false reality “bubble” where everyone has enough to eat, access to health care, a roof over their heads, and, of course, the latest in technology so they can communicate solely with like minds and be entertained from the comfort of their cozy home even if they’re quarantined.
We’ll never be confused with the Good Samaritan in the story if we’re blind to how elitist and damaging to others those self-centered assumptions are in twenty-first America, let alone in the rest of the world.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Walk out of your bubble of reality. Be your neighbor’s savior in his time of need so he can help you, in turn, in yours.

If you need more explanation, read this: https://bernie2016.blogspot.com/2020/01/why-are-rich-so-scared-of-socialism.html

Related video:
Warning: This excellent video has great information and charts, but it contains adult language.

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Coronavirus: What Does Social Distancing Mean?

Coronavirus: Will It Lead To Compassion or Chaos?

Biggest Public Threat: Health Care For Profit

Lakota Law

In times of trouble, here’s some great news! Since I last wrote to you about our Standing Rock foster home, your support has facilitated something truly remarkable. Since January, our Native-run home has already hosted a dozen different foster children, ranging in age from one to 17 years old. Your generosity and a great working relationship with tribal Child Protective Services has created a comfortable environment that emphasizes education and traditional culture.
Lakota Law
If you have not already watched our video about kinship care at Standing Rock, I encourage you to do so.

We couldn’t be more grateful to all of you helping to create this amazing shelter for some of our most vulnerable children. Your gifts have helped us purchase beds, clothes, a computer workstation, and a truck to transport the kids and needed items. As COVID-19 makes its way into the Dakotas (the first case was discovered in North Dakota yesterday), it has never been more important to provide a place of refuge and security.

So much at Standing Rock depends on basic necessities — not just because of the current pandemic, but because the poverty here has always put these children at increased risk. Of 3,142 counties in the U.S., the reservation’s per-capita income is in the bottom 45. We want these children to know they can expect the same things that many others have.

They should know the feeling of safety in a time of crisis, of getting new clothes, of going out for an occasional dinner, of a birthday celebration. They should feel the elation of spreading their wings and leaving for college one day. All this, of course, starts with the resources you’re helping us provide.
Right now, 300 foster children from Standing Rock remain in non-Native care off the reservation. We call them “split feathers,” and studies show they are subject to psychological suffering caused by removal from their tribe and culture. The more we can build foster care capacity on the reservation, the more kids we can bring home to grow up with their relatives and a better chance at a happy life.

Now, especially, is the time to strengthen tribal sovereignty because the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), meant to keep Indigenous families together, is under legal attack by Texas in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. We are winning for the moment, but nothing is guaranteed with Trump in the White House making appointments to the federal bench. And so I thank you, sincerely, for sharing these challenges with us and these young people at this critical juncture. You are making the world a better place — one child at a time.

Pilamaya — my gratitude for standing with our families!
Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
The Lakota People's Law Project

Put a Competent Medical Professional in Charge of Coronavirus Outbreak. Get Pence Out!


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The scariest part of living in the US right now during a pandemic is that the people in charge are so obviously incapable of actually protecting us. They have made mistake upon mistake for months, all while spreading misinformation that has actively caused harm and confusion. It's time to get some competent people in the room to make decisions.
In January, Trump refused the World Health Organization's (WHO) offer to send testing kits to us — kits that have proven to be much-needed, since our own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) botched their initial attempt to create their own, and have only just now begun rolling them out to healthcare providers.
Then, Trump tried to control the virus's spread by limiting travel from China, but that was ineffective because the virus had already spread to multiple other countries. On top of that, US authorities did an inadequate (and sometimes non-existent) job of screening folks coming in from hot spots in other countries. All of this has led to the rapid community spread of the virus from American to American — and it will only get worse. Sign on to demand a qualified leader than can get us through this public health crisis.
Thank you,
Kelsey B.
The Care2 Petitions Team

Here's a summary: Mike Pence is not equipped to handle the public health crisis of COVID-10 infections. Sign on to demand an actual public health professional takes Mike Pence's place.

Everytown for Gun Safety
Gun Violence Is A Women's Issue
With gaps in our country's gun safety laws like the boyfriend loophole, women remain at risk of intimate partner violence and gun violence across America.

That's why this Women's History Month, I'm asking you to recommit yourself to fighting against this crisis. Contact your U.S. Senators today and demand that they support the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that includes life saving gun safety provisions.

We've been pushing the U.S. Senate to include gun safety provisions in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act — and gun violence prevention champions in the Senate listened. They put forward S. 2843, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, which would add life-saving gun safety provisions to VAWA that will keep firearms away from dangerous domestic abusers and provide law enforcement with important tools to intervene when domestic abusers try to obtain firearms illegally. This bill has already passed the U.S. House, with bipartisan support, yet the Senate has failed to act.

This Women's History Month, we must do better to protect the nearly 1 million women alive today who have reported being shot or shot at by intimate partners, and the 4.5 million women who have reported being threatened by a gun. This Women’s History Month, we need action.

Send your U.S. Senators a message and demand that they support the Violence Against Women Act that includes life-saving gun safety measures.

Thank you for everything you do,
Sarah Trumble
Senior Director of Federal Affairs
Everytown for Gun Safety