Dennis Kucinich and the Oath of Office

An Ozark E-Zine

It started with me doing a bit of stumping for presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. Then an email conversation developed into some deep thinking about our Constitution, the accountabilities identified thereto, and each individual's personal responsibility for attaining awareness about all kinds of stuff like this. To read all about it, click here.

Reality check...
I've been on a bit of a tirade lately, about the nature of Constitutional things, and I'll make no apology for it.

I'm a mother. I want the "best" for my children. Who among us, really, does not?

And I do not see "the best" as sprouting forth from so much of the stuff I see going on haphazard around me.

Around us, actually. And just about everywhere we look.

Yet contrary to the (seemingly overwhelming) validity of these broad brush strokes, there is powerful evidence of a burgeoning undercurrent that to my eyes bodes abundantly of common sense. For example:

Dear Ms. Weiss,

Your presentation of the reasons for our constitutionally guaranteed separation of church and state was so well-reasoned, so thorough that I wish everyone in our country could read it.  It should be posted in every public building and school house in this great country of ours.  I thank you for it.

Cordially,
Jim Turner

Thanks for this, Jim. Your note (and Bob's, see below), more than being sincerely appreciated by yours truly, resonates with the sentiments that bubble to the surface of nearly every phone chat, neighborly visit, family discussion and professional meeting that I am involved with every day. And -- though you'll just have to take my word for this -- I interact with a LOT of people.

And from my various sources I also know that a lot of these very fine folks are feeling rather pissed about much of the "patriotically correct" shenanigans that have been going on, which I personally think are admirably summarized in this little video presentation.

But it seems that -- if we put our ear to the ground, hearing the hoofbeats in the distance --  that our collective "technical problems" are getting to be more than "embarrassing."

To see for yourself how public opinion is mounting about all this, click here, which leads to a forum board upon which one of the posters comments:

"If we are ready and willing to go to work at all levels and create a movement to take our country back..."

About which I feel compelled to ask: Are we ready to do the work? Really? Are we ready to "take back" those "quality of life" things which rightfully belong to us?

Because if we are, then we must simply do it. We must make it manifest, resonant from the inside>out, in each and every one of our actions, all the time, everywhere, for the rest of eternity.

Yet of course we know this is true, and of course we endeavor to do it... but do we actually accomplish the objective? Or are those among us who are best equipped to implement the requisite changes still hiding in the closet of "group acceptance"...??? That is, do the lifestyle (aka: career) choices we make day-to-day belie the righteousness of our ideals? For example:

In a cruel irony, the two-income couple's quest for security may be inherently self-defeating...

Average family budgets from 1973 and 2000 make the argument painfully clear. ''Tom and Susan,'' Warren and Tyagi's typical single-income family from the early `70s, had an income (in today's dollars) of $38,700 -- all from Tom's salary. Fifty-four percent of that income went toward the mortgage, insurance, and other fixed costs. The balance -- $17,834 -- went to food, clothes, and other discretionary items.

In sharp contrast, ''Justin and Kimberly,'' a typical contemporary two-income duo, get by on a seemingly princely $67,800. But the mortgage, child care, and other fixed costs take away fully 75 percent of their income, leaving them with -- voila! --  $17,045 to spend, almost precisely the same amount that Tom and Susan had left over.

Two incomes, one bankruptcy:
"Reexamining the agony of the middle class"
By Christopher Shea, 9/14/2003
Boston Globe

Now think about this in light of the fact that during this same period of time the world's wealthiest folks have gotten extraordinarily richer and the world's poorest folks have fallen further behind. Specifically that since 1980, the average pay of regular working people increased just 66 percent, while CEO pay grew a whopping 1,996 percent. According to Business Week, the average CEO of a major corporation made 42 times the average hourly worker's pay in 1980, 85 times in 1990 and a staggering 531 times in 2000.

Comprehend the absolute fact that our (individuated/collective) "sweat equity" is the primary (and some would say "only") source of fuel for this blazing economic march of lop-sized consumerism.

Yet knowing this with absolute certainty, how many of us are actually going to "rebel." How many of us are going to look around, take stock of our own lives, do some earnest introspection and have an epiphany which inspires us to  change jobs and/or rearrange our personal lifestyles in order to stop feeding the dragon that is terrorizing the  mindscape of OUR LAND...???

Anyway, those are my thoughts about this moment in time... all of which seem to keep leading back to the importance for ALL of us to be critically aware of the powers, authorities, privileges and responsibilities identified as rightfully belonging to "we the people" by our Constitution... and then EXERCISING same by being "accountable" for EVERY (interdependent) action we take.

But of course I might be wrong about this... so tell me, how important is the Constitution to you?  Respond to our Poll Topic and cast your vote!

Thanks for Gozarks.com
And thanks very much, Christine Weiss, for the rebuttal to "Samuel Thompson" of the "silent majority."  Well done! I agree with you 100%.

~Bob Scharff, Oakland, CA


About the above, first let me say thanks, Bob. Your complimentary words mean a lot to me. And second please allow me to mention that I do not usually publish the notes of praise that Gozarks is blessed to receive. It just feels too braggadocios. But I think that Bob's note says something greater than this. Something we all deserve to hear...

That we are sane.

That there are many of us who agree about stuff like this... and that (in my opinion, which is based in my personal experience of meeting and working with scads of people over the course of my thus far life) I sincerely believe that WE are "the silent majority."

The sane ones.

The ones who've become so dern good at "live and let live" that (it seems to me) we're allowing ourselves to be steamrollered by a minority league of fear-driven lemmings who are doing everything manipulatively possible to divide and conquer us... keeping us step-and-fetchit-ing to their mass-marketeering ploys. 

Keeping us in line. Driving us (aka: the economy) like a herd of cattle headed to Chicago. Pushing us to run faster and faster on the consumerism treadmill. Cracking the whip to make us "want to" achieve what THEY want us to achieve. Satisfying their ends with our means.

And I believe that the "Samuel Thompson" scenario is a prime example of this. That is, it occurred to me that with this genre of pass-along email (and there are several permutations on this patriotic theme pinballing around the virtual networks right now) there is much more going on here than meets the public eye.

For one thing, I'm thinking that "Samuel Thompson" is actually the nom de plume for a mercenary spin doctor who probably knows that the assertions made in his (or is that her?) carefully crafted piece of persuasive rhetoric are neither factual nor logical, in and of themselves, but at the same time these false assertions have been carefully (and logically) contrived to amplify a particular point.

Also I believe that the author knows that these inaccuracies are socially palatable. That is, that people who are sufficiently knowledgeable to recognize the flaws will simply ignore the missive. However, because of the (carefully structured) emotional tone of the  writing, the uninformed mind will be subliminally influenced to accept these inaccuracies at face value, tending more to believe that the distortions are real.

"Repeat a lie long enough and loud enough..." and it shapes the public mindset. Distorts the mindset, really. Predisposes it, by means of persuasive indoctrination, to cleave to the idea of "separateness." 

Us against them. Our side is right. Their side is wrong. Our side is good. Their side is evil. Majority rules. Might makes right. Only one team wins and if you don't march in our peace parade we're going to punch your face off....

And we, being the sane ones in this burgeoning (yet nearly imperceptible) battle for control over the quality of the sanctity of our mindset, are being badgered and battered by this malevolent, divisive and pervasive propaganda... making us feel like if we fail to fall in line with the dunning chant that there must be something wrong with us, which of course is not the case at all.

Yet we must be wary. We must be alert. We must learn to discern the distinctions between facts and political/emotional distortions, or else our "live and let live" way of life is doomed.

Another example of what I'm talking about is posted here, which I must say -- before you view it -- is a magnificently well done, vibrantly powerful and earnestly deserved tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

The imagery, text and audio of this slideshow is spectacular in its potency. I doubt that any red-blooded American could view the presentation without feeling the tug of heartstrings and the dew of misty eyes.

Yet if we step back just a bit from the emotions stirred in us by this sensory engendering and look to the core message subliminally hidden behind the photographs and words, the social standard being promoted is one of "business as usual" divisiveness, fueling the seemingly unending spiral of us against them.

Yet those of us who are sane know that this type of vying for superiority must cease in order for all of us to have a life worth being lived. And those who are driven by fear-based ideologies know this about us. They know that as a general rule what we do best is roll over and give in. Because among those of us who are sane, this is simply the way we live.

We give other people their space. We don't "take offense." We suck it up, brush the dust from our sandals and, when pressed to our limits, we simply (though often reluctantly) move on.

But the thing is now that we are running out of places to move on to, and this is only because we have allowed the manipulators of the fear-based (propaganda) machinery to gain control of our own hearts and minds. Because without us, they are nothing. Without us, they cannot win. Without our willing cooperation and consent, they have no control.

Thus I challenge us to reclaim the territory of our own psyche. I challenge us to "know" (because we know that we know) that we are sane and that if we are to "win/win/win" this particular battle, then the enemy that we must annihilate is the fear-based ideology itself and the only way we can do this is to take a stand and speak out about the necessity of building trust. 

We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Anyway, here are a couple good places to start:

#1 -- Did you know that our government used tax payer dollars to produce blatantly untrue and emotionally ramped-up ads calling marijuana users terrorists? Did you know that it is Constitutionally forbidden for our government to use our money to "propagandize" us (for or against) anything? Did you know that select committees within our government are now formulating new 'drug war' laws which, if enacted, would violate our Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism? Did you know that the only folks who have the power and authority to stop them from doing this is "us," aka: We the People. And did you know that you can learn more about this issue by clicking here?

#2 -- Did you know that an historic step forward in the national movement supporting patients' rights is also unfolding right at this very moment? Did you know that for the first time ever, a federal law recognizing the validity and authority of state laws on subjects such as the legal status of medical marijuana will be introduced in the U.S. Senate in October? Did you know that NOW is the time for you to write your representative and express your strong opinion on such matters? And did you know that you may learn more about this issue by clicking here?

#3 -- Did you know that September 21 is an annual "global holiday" called the "International Day of Peace" and forwarded in the interest of promoting non-violent resolutions, convening a world wide ceasefire, and instituting the cessation of hostilities among all peoples and governments, everywhere? Did you know you can download the United Nations declaration of this grand proposition as a PDF, by clicking here and find out more about various events being held in honor of this occasion by clicking here?

And did you know that all you have to do to be instrumental in the activation of this grand plan is to "be the change" you wish to see in the world? And that you can do this all by yourself?

Stop. Look. Listen. Question. Think.

Fear may only be eradicated by choosing to trust. 

Church and State...
The “separation of church and state” is being debated today with more spirit than ever I recall, and personally I think this gusto is making God grin.

But of course in the context of alleging this I have “humanized” God… giving him (or is that her?) a “face” and a “mouth” which can smile or frown.  And, in the most reverent space of my mind, I wonder… Is the personification of Almighty God as a being with human characteristics really a “good” thing?

You see we humans have this tendency to want everything to look “like us.”  We want it (whatever it is) to be custom crafted, color coordinated and – above all else – in harmony with the lifestyle we’re living (or believe that we want to partake). We want every element of the unique little space (and presence of mind) we occupy on this planet to be “a perfect fit” with everything else that we already think, expect, and believe. 

Yet so much of life comes at us pre-packaged as “one size fits all.” For example…

A passalong email – claiming to take a stand on behalf of the “silent majority” -- arrived in my Inbox this morning. The well written (with Madison Avenue style) text of which was attributed to (somebody named) Samuel Thompson and began like this:

I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December.

As I read this I thought, I do believe in Santa Claus…, but hey – it’s okay with me if you don’t because tolerance and appreciation for diversity is a cornerstone quality of our “Great American Dream”… right?

Samuel continued:

I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution.

I thought: I do agree with Darwin, at least in part. But I am also convinced that the fundamental tenets of all the various theories about Creationism (including those of Native Americans, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jews) should be taught in schools right alongside theories about Evolution and Punctuated Equilibrium. (And if you’ve never heard of this 30-year-old “evolution in the blink of an eye” scientific theory about the origins and progression of -- imho “God given” -- life, then you have a clue about why my children are homeschooled.)

Samuel continued:

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game. "But it's a Christian prayer," some will argue. Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles. And we are in the Bible Belt. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect-somebody chanting Hare Krishna? 

I thought: Wow… this Samuel guy has no factual knowledge of our nation’s history. He seems completely ignorant, for example, of the fact that our Constitution was NOT “founded on Christian principles.” In fact, many of the key framers of our Constitution did not consider themselves to be Christians. Also, that our Constitution was modeled in many ways on the forms of democratic self-governance that were widely practiced by Native Americans and pre-existed the White man’s  arrival on the North American continent by several thousand years.

I also thought that, at least by my standards, Samuel doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what “being an American” is all about. That is, that we claim ourselves to be a “land of the free” but we seem to forget that such freedoms apply to ALL of us, including the Hare Krishna and Atheist folks.

Which means, at least to me (and I thought to every red-blooded American citizen) that when “We, the people of the United States of America” gather together at a public event that is funded in full or in part by OUR tax dollars, we are NOT to use the podium as a pulpit in tribute to anybody’s (version of) God. Which actually seems to go hand in glove with the dictates of Christian theology, at least according to Jesus, who specifically said:

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Matthew 6:5-7

Samuel, self-appointed spokesperson for (what he claims is) "the silent majority,"  continued:

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer. 

If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer. 

If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha. 

And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit. When in Rome...
 

Now I must assert that in Jerusalem and Baghdad, Samuel would have no choice but to not be bothered by whatever the local "religious" custom was because in these essentially theocratic nations certain aspects of the state-sanctioned way of doing things like praying (or not praying) are regulated as a matter of law.

Regarding China however, first I must set the record straight: No Buddhist has ever prayed to Buddha because Buddha is NOT thought of as either “a god” or “The God.” Second, though more important to the core of this conversation, according the Chinese ConstitutionThe People's Republic of China is a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship…” and the worship of God in any form is seriously discouraged to the degree of legal prohibition.

All of which is what makes the U.S.A., in theory at least, “different” from all too many other nations around the world: Our Constitution makes it illegal for our government to in any way express an opinion about, cater or defer to, expend public funds in support of (or against), meddle with or otherwise get involved in any sort of devoutly religious affair, ie: “praying.”

From that point on, Samuel went into a bit of a tirade, extolling a set of “majority rules” edicts that mandate how "the few” are to be tolerant of "the many” by virtue of excusing themselves from exercises of (one particular sect’s) “religious freedom” in publicly owned space.

"Just humor us for 30 seconds,"  Samuel beseeches, advising that anyone who objects to the use of public domain for the preferential propagation of a personal religious predilection should, in essence, shut up and go to hell because "God is on our side."

I thought: My-my, Samuel… how very un-Christian-American of you.  How completely void of spiritual enlightenment. How sad and how egregiously Constitutionally uninformed.

Thus my earnest recommendation to Samuel is to get educated. Read ALL the words in the Bible and stop warping verses out of context. Then also read the entire Constitution of the United States of America, which by the way makes us a Republic (not a Democracy), which means that the majority has the duty to protect and safeguard the rights of the minority… which in accord of the truths we hold to be God-given and self-evident is what being an American is (supposed to be) all about.

And finally, near the end of his (intolerant) note, dear Samuel penned something so outlandishly offensive to me that I refuse to republish his words but feel compelled to reply:

Stop using the sacrifices made by our Military Service men and women to justify and rationalize your bias, narrow-minded and bigoted version of “liberty and justice for all.”  Not only is such conduct on your part morally reprehensible, socially shameful and culturally embarrassing, in my personal opinion it is libelous of the love of God and in some parts of the world it would be considered a crime.

Then, if you really are the devout Christian you purport yourself to be, go into your closet and pray in secret, thanking God for the Constitution of the U.S.A. and for every man, woman and child (of every nationality, creed, and life-style persuasion) whose life was or is given in service and devotion thereof.

Wishing all of us a life worth living, filled with all those things we prefer, desire, wholeheartedly celebrate and richly deserve to enjoy.

Christine Weiss
editor@gozarks.com

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Town Hall Meeting with Presidential Candidate General Wesley Clark
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OCTOBER 5, 2003
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