Another path?

History fans might enjoy many aspects of David Abulafia”s 2011 book, “The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean”‘.
In detail, the author (a professor of history at Cambridge in Great Britain), relates the political, commercial and religious interactions of the many peoples living around that body of water over the past 3 thousand years.
Power struggles, technology changes, migrations and religious tensions, these have been challenges for every generation, not just ours.
Seen from this long view, one feels the futility of all battles that cause so much death and injustice, for temporary wins of ideology or political power.
Instead of asking if we have the will to survive, to “defend our values at any cost”, why not ask if we have it in our national character to take a leap of faith into following another path, a path that looks forward, beyond violence?
In our American experiment with governing for, by and of the “people”, we claim that governments have been instituted among men to secure our inalienable rights, but in truth, no government before ours did this. We were the first. We must revive our thirst for establishing justice, for defining more appropriately for our times what domestic tranquility and the general welfare consist of.
Can we, like the founders, mutually pledge our fortunes on making a more perfect union, one that strives to support each other?
As a Christian, I have no call to support “nationalism”. I have no call to support any particular economic system.
I do have a call to make a leap of faith into loving both the neighbor and the enemy, no matter what political or financial system i live under.
Although we now call his followers Christians, Jesus’s message and ministry were focused on reminding his own Jewish community that in their zeal for law and order, they had misunderstood God’s desire for justice and mercy. The community was lost on a downward path of an ever-tightening noose of solving violence with more violence.
Don’t we find ourselves here, now? Maybe our hope lies in making the leap of faith into his path of good news, of countering past understandings of laws with his statements of “but I say,” that value mercy, forgiveness, peacemaking as the goals, more than vengeance and punishment.
How would a leap of faith into an attitude of not being afraid, of not letting fear guide our daily behaviors or our political direction?
How would a leap of faith into taking seriously his call to not store up treasure for our selves here on earth, added to the call to care for the least of these, translate into making our government, of, for and by the people, create a management style that values restorative justice, learning opportunities and support, and healthcare availability through our national community via government?

Laura Twing




2nd Amendment

Why do we need such unlimited freedoms to own guns more than we needed Andrea Farrington and the thousands of others we will sacrifice this year as collateral damage?
Those who keep guns in the hope of helping the next revolution forget that we will need to organize a new system of managing our common needs and resources after the shooting is finished. Guns won’t help us gather the knowledge and wisdom we will need to get through that process.
Our current issues with governmental tyranny stem from laws that protect harmful business practices over the citizens who are harmed. Guns aren’t going to help clean up our waterways, or educate people well enough to avoid needing public assistance, or encourage wider participation in democracy.
The 2nd Amendment no longer offers our best pathway to a better form of government, and the collateral damage is heartbreaking.
Let us repeal, or regulate.

Minor Debate

Another testy week in Des Moines.

We all certainly could use a laugh to lighten the mood in the Capitol building, but, once again, an attempt at such got very lost in translation.  A silly book title (with blank pages inside, I am told), an inappropriate caption for a picture of a representative holding said book, and social media converged to send an inaccurate picture of Iowans nationwide.

No laughs, and less motivation to dialogue and work together.

Today we have the third example in little over a week of how far we are from substantive debate.  Republicans brought forth HR 8, encouraging a constitutional amendment to  restrict the authority of the federal government.  Yesterday, we had the discussion on changing the collective bargaining procedures for teachers.  Last week we had discussion about prerequisites for performing abortions.

Hopefully, all three of these are dead, dead, dead in the Senate chamber.   Republicans were likely aware of this fate, and although referring to the proposed changes as minor in scope, and knowing that there would be principled opposition to each, they engaged all of our legislators in a certain waste of time and money.

I would feel better about the floor time spent on these, if anyone had brought up sincere points that had a chance of educating and changing minds on these issues.  But there were none.  There was no attempt to present a thorough picture of all the tangents in each issue.  No one started these floor “debates” with even the slightest intention of listening for new information, and that is where the disrespect of bringing these issues up at all, solidifies into rancor and distrust.

We get it, that you disapprove of abortion. But making it illegal, or harder to access, doesn’t end it.  Doesn’t even lower the numbers substantially.  Punitive laws that make no difference to reducing those numbers are not Christ-oriented, just vengeful.

We get it that you hate taxes.  Change the debate to focusing on our current and future common needs, not finding arbitrary levels of “low taxes”.

We get it that you want to root out inefficiencies in education. Show us that this is not a backhanded attempt to dismantle public education, by being as vigorous about finding inefficiencies in other areas.

We get it that you don’t like “government”.   But there will always be “governing” by some process, and a representative democratic republic is always a better choice than the oligarchy/theocracy that republicans are pushing for, no matter what size it is.  Smaller does not equal efficient, period.


Disappointing. Unfortunate. Sad. Discouraging. Troubling. So many words available to describe how the IowaGOP felt about Congressman Loebsack not personally attending the Israeli Prime Minister’s speech to the U.S. joint session. But, they chose to use the word “outrageous”, a word more highly charged emotionally, a word that deliberately moves away from engaging in productive, adult discussions of the issue at hand.

Let me offer some alternative uses for the word “outrageous”.

I find it outrageous that people who are so intensely concerned about eminent domain and property rights, are completely silent about the families who lost land that had been in their families for generations, when we “gave” land “back” to someone who left it two thousand years ago.

I find it insulting that people who are so intensely determined to prevent abortions, turn a blind eye to the injustices done to innocent children by America’s ally. Displacement, torture, murder and callous disregard to their needs for medical attention, are those actions sad, unfortunate, troubling; or outrageous? As long as it isn’t via abortion, killing Palestinian children is not a problem for you?

I find it discouraging that followers of Jesus Christ, AKA the Prince of Peace, deliberately choose to engage in actions that bring us closer daily to the “end times” and final battles of Armageddon.

I find it very sad that people who think they are the “serious adults” in discussions of any kind, see no irony in basing our policies, thus affecting others’ lives, on religious allegories.

I find it intensely depressing that those who bring us “peace through strength” fail to see that our current volatility in the MidEast is directly tied to our destabilizing of Iraq.

I find it outrageous that people who supposedly value “honor and integrity” hide from discussion of all of the relevant history of this issue, and ignore injustices that interfere with their personally desired outcome.

I am deeply troubled that claiming a special relationship with the people of Israel based on our shared religious background, is resulting in violating one of the most common themes presented in our shared religious writings, that of championing justice. We cannot build peace on the back of injustice. I fully understand the emotional appeal at the end of WWII, of providing a homeland, a safe place for our Jewish neighbors, but the majority of Jews left that region two thousand years ago. The people now known as Palestinians, who were there before the Jews in the first place, never left. The Palestinians have the rightful claim to this property.

The corresponding problem to this, is that outside of the Holy Land, anti-semitism is on the upswing again. We cannot put all of the world’s Jews in the small space of Israel. We must also fight injustice to people of Jewish heritage everywhere, and offer them safe lives in other countries. Here, in the U.S., those least tolerant of Jewish people as our neighbors tend to vote for the party that is spending $8 million dollars per day to perpetuate the above-mentioned injustices. Does anyone else find some irony in this?

No mistake about it, I was unhappy about Loebsack’s vote on Keystone, and I certainly let him know that. But skipping the speech, no. Not embarrassing to Iowa. Not “not doing his job”. I am proud that he has the vision and guts so outrageously missing in the IowaGOP.

Supporting Jewish people and Jewish heritage? Absolutely! Tolerating the injustices done to Palestinians for a political homeland? Never. Not in my name. Not in Jesus’ name!

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Diverted Definitions

A voting misstep by my favorite Iowa congressman this past week moves me to visit Orwellian doublespeak land.

HR 935 “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act” wasn’t expected to pass and didn’t. This would have amended some aspects of pesticide use near navigable waters.

While I would have preferred that Dave had stood up against any pollution, my unease is with the act’s title, and with letting the definition of burden/burdensome be “owned” by business and farm management interests.

Burdens and burdensome should better describe and call for more sympathy for those whose lives are affected by decisions made by unregulated businesses.