After US Election 2016

My hope for my country, now that the 2016 election in the United States is over, is really quite simple: conversation.

I am addressing everyone with this plea – Democrats, Republicans, every third party member, every person involved in a movement, and every independent.  We need to stop shutting conversations down with insults and labels.  Examples: by being pro-life, someone is not against women; by wanting tighter gun restrictions, someone is not mambi pambi.  Being human, and, therefore, limited, we seem to find living life easier when we put people in little boxes.  But, that’s not freedom.  We can’t box up people to make our lives easier.  We need to find a way to understand where each of us is coming from and how we can move forward, peacefully, together.

Did I call my hope simple?  Well, it is.  But, also complex and profound.

What a National Conversation Means

After all of the competition, conflict, and insults in this campaign, we need healing.  As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  If we are going to remain the United States of America, then people who disagree must be able to enter into open, honest conversation with one another, truly trying to listen to what each other understands as true.  We must speak the truth that we understand from our hearts – and then truly listen as people on the other side of the discussion speak from their hearts.  True respect of others doesn’t denigrate or dismiss – it sees other human beings for what they are: human beings.  We are all vulnerable and we are all fallible.  With this humility, we can have honest and even loving conversations.  Discovering the hopes and fears of others and, in this discovery, establishing common ground, we can find ways to work peacefully together for the common good.

Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin with Me

We cannot let our passions get the better of us.  This is true in each of our own personal lives, when we are daily deciding what we should do, what direction we should take.  “If it feels good, do it” is not a recipe for lasting joy and full-life satisfaction, but, rather, for the bottomless pit of self-indulgence.  Selflessness, generosity, virtue, real love – these are the things that make us good people and make our lives good, as well.  Controlling our passions and desires for self-indulgence is also central to honest conversation.

Insults and name-calling hurt – plain and simple.  We know this.  Being overrun with emotions and anger can cause us to silence people’s opposition to our beliefs by calling them names, thus shutting down conversation.  Without an environment where people feel free to speak from their hearts, we can’t have understanding.  And please hear this: having an understanding of opposing opinions does not mean concluding that those who hold those opinions are less educated, less patriotic, or less loving then we are.  Without a sense of compassion for those who disagree with us, we will forget that we are all human – the key to understanding – and we will never be a truly peaceful, secure, and happy people.

This is important to note: compassion does not mean self-righteous pity, a kind of looking down our noses at those whom we deem ignorant or immoral.  Compassion means “suffering with” – we are all in this life together.  My daily life is different than your daily life.  I don’t know many of the things that you know and you don’t know some of the things that I know.  But, our differences don’t make us any less human or any less deserving to be heard and understood.

Confession:

I am not always a person who speaks reasonably and compassionately.  (My loved ones are not shocked by this confession.)  With my closest family members, especially those who agree with me, I have a tendency to be cynical and make cracking remarks about “the other side” of an issue that’s important to me/us.  And, for a moment, the anger gives me a kind of pleasure or adrenaline rush, and I feel very pleased by my wit.  But, it doesn’t last, because I know that I will never be able to bring about the change that I desire by being crass, cutting, and uncompassionate.  I want to live my life for the good.  Wisdom means something.  Forgiveness and forbearance cannot be forgotten.  Reasoning must be reached through loving.

Later, look for a post about a specific subjects dividing our nation – ones which I will write about from my heart.  Until then, thank you, as always, for reflecting with me.

© 2016 Christina Chase

Abortion and the Democratic Party Platform

After the 2016 DNC, I have a question:  Why is the Democratic Party making it more difficult for me to vote for Democrats?

Since I don’t usually get into politics here, let me start by stating that I am a pro-life independent.  And, yes, by pro-life I mean all of life.  I’m not a hypocrite.  So, I’m against the death penalty, human embryonic destruction, needless destruction of wildlife habitats, euthanasia, preemptive missile strikes, elective abortions, etc.. I subscribe to neither of the major US political party’s platforms, because neither party’s platform holds all of my beliefs.  Therefore, I choose between both Democrats and Republicans when I vote, being open to members of “third parties”, as well.  And I do vote, taking this civic responsibility very seriously, just as I was raised to do by my family here in New Hampshire.

The Platform of the Democratic Party used to contain the goal of making abortions “more rare.”  But, that kind of thinking is long gone among the party majority and leaders.  The language of the 2016 platform, regarding abortion, states that the Party upholds a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.  Among Democrats, indeed, the rhetoric has been building for years toward equating abortions – even elective abortions – to healthcare.

To be clear, I not only believe that human beings begin at conception, I also know it.  There is no other point, scientifically speaking, at which we can state that a human being becomes a human being.[1]  Is the termination of a pregnancy, then, as a “healthcare decision”, merely the removal of some kind of growth?  No.  Not unless every human being is a mere “cluster of cells” or “clump of tissue” – and the Democratic Party isn’t saying that.  (So far.)  Continue reading

Self-Evident Truth

In the United States, we will soon be celebrating Independence Day. Sometimes, we, moderns, think that the United States was formed without any thought of God. Americans, we believe, are self-made Men who will not submit to the authority of any other country – or any god. If that’s what you believe, then you don’t understand the very foundation of the United States of America at all.

Our foundation is the Created Order, which is truth, to which we are subject. We don’t just do what we do because we feel like doing it. The rational mind understands cause and effect, in the truth of order. And the rational mind also understands that faith is not without reason.

Sharing here two quotes. Let’s start with a famous one that we will credit to Thomas Jefferson. And then go on to a quote that I was surprised to learn came from jovial Benjamin Franklin. I invite you to reflect upon them as you will, this Independence Day. But, try not to stray from the truth of the quotes themselves. Following each are some of my own reflections…

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And the next part is important to remember, Continue reading

Politics and the Human Person

For whom do I vote? That is the question. As an independent voter in New Hampshire, with presidential primaries around the corner, it’s a very pressing question.

I am so grateful for what I have – especially right now with my dad recovering well from two surgeries and my undauntable mother giving her all – and happy with my life and home. But, that’s not enough. Self-centeredness is sin. I must consider my neighbors and their well-being, too. Are they suffering from some great unfairness? Are there starving people whom I could help or people who are in danger of being killed whom I could save? I cannot sit content with my own little lot, ignoring the plight of others. If there is something that we, as a society, can do together to help someone in need, then we should do it. And, reasonably, helping those who are vulnerable will help me when I am vulnerable, too. For much of the goodness of my life is safeguarded by a society that addresses the needs of the disabled – like me.

But, the goodness itself comes from God.

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Nobody can guarantee happiness for anybody else. No government can solve every problem of the governed. We are created to seek the good and we create governments to help safeguard our right to seek it. Human rights are given by God, not the government – and no legitimate government can take them away. In the democratic republic of the United States, it is the responsibility of the people to vote to ensure that our government does what it should do and does not do what it should not do.

I was raised with a sense of civic responsibility. I will definitely be voting in Tuesday’s presidential primary. But, for whom will I vote… well, I, like so many of us in New Hampshire, am still undecided. I don’t consider myself a member of either the Democratic or Republican parties – I don’t want to be a member of any party. I’m an independent.

And I have no candidate.

It doesn’t help that I am both proenvironment and pro-life. Why don’t these two things go together in politics? I really don’t understand. If I want to protect all wildlife and natural habitats, if I am passionately against destruction and waste, then shouldn’t I also want to protect all human life, passionately defending people from being dehumanized and killed? And, yet, I so often have great difficulty in finding a candidate who shares my passion. Someone who doesn’t want government and paid employees to become more important and relevant than charities and volunteers. Someone who knows that the willingness to pay higher taxes isn’t the same as loving kindness for the person next to you. Someone who understands that the definition of a human person should not be based upon appearances or levels of dependency and ability.

It would also be nice to have someone who truly appreciates the value of every dollar, isn’t conceited, is brave and honest, and doesn’t fall into petty bickering and party politics.

But now I really ask too much.

If you have a candidate that you are passionately supporting, then you could probably tell me exactly how your candidate fits all that I need. But, you really can’t. No one person can fulfill my every need for a leader. That is why our society isn’t comprised of just one leader. Different parts of society look after different needs, like families, religious organizations, neighborhood communities, governments (local, state, and federal) and charities. They each have an important role to play, just as we each have an important role to play. That’s my very basic understanding of the Catholic concept of subsidiarity. (It’s way more complex than that, but, basically, if your elderly neighbor needs her driveway shoveled, shovel it if you can, or get your kids or grandkids to do it. This will not only be good for her driveway, but also good for her heart and soul – and yours, and your kids’, and your grandkids’. For those elderly people who are snowed in and don’t have good neighbors or family members, come together with your community to work out a program to fulfill their needs. Volunteers will be best. Legislated programs with paid employees should only be last resort.)

faithful citizenship

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Anyway…

A national president is very important. But, we should never let everything ride on him or her. That would not be good governing – I think both parties can agree on that. But, I guess I really wouldn’t know. I’m not a party person (in more ways than one, she said with a smirk.)

This is what I comfort myself with when I have great difficulty picking a presidential candidate. All that I can do is the best that I can, staying as true as I can to my conscience. I’m not deciding the fate of the world with this vote. But… in the living of my day-to-day life, I should be more conscious of the consequences of my actions on my family, my neighbors, as well as my town, my state, my nation, and my world. We’re all in this together.

© 2016 Christina Chase