Tag Archives: politics

Musings on political (un)affiliation

October 11 was National Coming Out Day, and while I didn’t have anything to share on that day other than support for friends and family in the LGBTQ community, I do have something to confess today, something that does, in a manner of speaking, redefine my identity.

I’m coming out of the political closet.

When I first registered to vote, way back in high school, I chose a political party based on….well, I can’t really give you any other reason than I’m fairly certain my father recommended I register with that party and I said okay. And, for the most part, I was quite content with that decision for many years. My political affiliation was a reflection of who I was and what I believed.

But then time passed, and the party changed, and I changed, and I went out searching for more. I stepped across party lines to get to know the other side and found that they weren’t the evil fiends they’d been made out to be.

It was eye opening, and educational, and I grew as a person as I explored these people and views that had been touted as “wrong”. But over time, I was dismayed to find that the other side held the same “us or them” mentality as the party I’d grown up with. Their views really weren’t really that different and the way they shared them wasn’t either.

Both sides exhibited generosity, compassion, and service to their fellow man.

Both sides exhibited bigotry, hatred, and hypocrisy.

Both sides were unwilling to budge, always insisting that they were right and the other side wrong, even when both sides were a little bit right and a little bit wrong, and everyone might be better served if they just met in the middle.

And so I’ve spent several years sitting on a fence, watching from the sidelines. Continue reading

Banners, business, and God Bless America

Five Mile Cafe in Penfield, NY

Five Mile Cafe in Penfield, NY

NOTE: This post can be read in its entirety at my blog at Patheos.com; at the end of this excerpt you can click to continue reading there. For the record, I don’t care one way or the other if the banner hangs or not. What I care about is that the truth of this story is told.

* * * * * *

Banners, business, and God Bless America
by Joanne Brokaw

I was a little surprised yesterday when I noticed that a story about a local cafe owner and her kerfuffle over a banner that reads “God Bless America” was trending on Facebook.

Jennifer Aquino is at odds with the Town of Penfield over a banner she hung on her Five Mile Cafe back in June. And if you believe everything you read on social media, the town was unpatriotic in its insistence that she remove the banner just as we readied to celebrate Independence Day. In fact, a Fox News story reported that Aquino asked for permission to hang the banner and was denied, so she hung it anyway.

Not true. She had permission to hang the banner. She just overstepped the parameters.

On purpose.

But let’s go back a bit and take a closer look. Why? Because I used to own a small business in a town that had seriously tight rules about signs and banners, and I suspected when I saw this story a couple of weeks ago that the back and forth between business and board was all about permits and regulations, and not about squashing patriotism.

And if there’s one thing I hate it’s when people cry about their rights being violated when, in fact, they’re just mad that they didn’t get their way.


50 thoughts on turning 50: #30 – Protesting and Social Media

comedians in cars trevor noah

(Click image to go to website)

My social media news feeds have been filled lately with rants and lectures and quips and tirades on myriad hot button social and political topics.

I’m all for supporting causes we believe in, but I’m often left wondering how often we hit “share” or “like” on social media and feel like we’ve done some great service to social justice, when in reality all we’ve done is hit “share” or “like” on social media.

I’ve been trying to sort through my thoughts on this when I saw this week’s episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”, and was struck by something guest comedian Trevor Noah said:

“People are now able to protest in their underwear. And that almost defies what protesting should be about. The whole point of a protest is to get up out of your bed, put your clothes on, walk out in to the cold and say, ‘I stand for this. I march for this.’ And now you really don’t have to have that conviction, ‘cuz you’re on the couch, in your underwear, you’re going, ‘You know what? I don’t like it, either.’ Punch in a few characters, and you’re ‘Yeah, yeah, I fought for the cause.’ No. You didn’t.”

For years I’ve struggled with this topic when it comes to church. We talk a lot about loving our neighbor, and we give to charities, and we support missionaries. But until we stand in the streets and publicly speak our mind, or get our hands dirty doing actual work, or sit down face to face with people on the other side of issues and actually inhale each other’s words in conversation, we really can’t say we’ve taken a stand, or fought for a cause, or had a discussion.

It’s easy to hide behind 140 characters and a photoshopped profile photo, easy to take a stand and argue back online when you don’t have to look someone in the eye, hear the quiver in his voice, feel the tension in the air, and be accountable for the words leaving your lips.

The other thing that struck me about this episode was Noah talking about apartheid in South Africa, and what it means to be black, white and colored (yes, those three are all different in South Africa), and growing up with parents who were illegally married (yes, in the 1980s), and what it means to live in a country where free speech was outlawed until the mid 1990s.

Really, watch the entire episode. It’ll give you something to think about.

This post is part of my series, “50 thoughts on turning 50″. Read more here.

Window shopping with my sister, Colt and Sig

Some women go window shopping for shoes. Today, my sister and I went window shopping for something waaaay more fun. They had these in my size:

My sister is an NRA certified handgun instructor, so it was fun to go and have her explain guns, and have Mark at Beikirchs show me all sorts of nifty weapons and answer my stupid questions. I felt very comfortable after handling several that I could comfortably carry and use one – I like the Sig; it felt comfortable in my hand, it’s small enough that I think I can carry it in my pocket or a holster while I”m out walking, and I’d definitely feel safer taking the dog out into the wood hiking around.

It took me 2+ hours when I got home to find my pistol permit. Now all I have to do is save up my pennies.

Until then, anybody up for doing a personal defense class with me? My sister can teach it – we can have some fun and learn how to hit an intruder in his trachea and make him go away. Then we can learn about guns. 🙂

Illegal immigration, children focus of moving documentary “Which Way Home”

I just finished watching the Academy Award nominated documentary called “Which Way Home”, which profiles children migrating from Central America and Mexico to the United States with dreams of a better life.

For some, it means finding a parent who left to find work in the States and never came home. For others it means escaping an impoverished or neglectful homelife.

While the film doesn’t focus on child trafficking, you don’t have to look too deeply to understand how children can essentially disappear off the face of the earth at the hands of smugglers and traffickers. Promised entry into the States, some are handed from smuggler to smuggler, and if they’re lucky taken into custody by immigration before something horrible happens to them. A few make it to their destination, alive but scarred physically and emotionally.

Others simply fend for themselves, hopping trains that take them further and further north towards to America, where cities gleam and jobs await, and the prospect of crossing the desert while avoiding immigration – and death – is just a fairy tale.

 But it’s estimated that the Border Patrol apprehends 100,000 children trying to enter the U.S. Children, not adults. No one really knows how many children make it to the U.S., give up and go home, or die in the desert.

Watching the documentary, I was left unsettled. I’m all for enforcing immigration laws, but there’s a human side to every political issue that needs to be handled with compassion. Sending a child home to parents who abuse him isn’t necessarily the answer. But what can person could do? Sponsor a child looking for a better life? I don’t know. I don’t have the answer.

If you get time, check out “Which Way Home.” I watched it on Netflix via my Roku. You can see the trailer and learn more on the film’s website. I’d love to know what you think.

Our kids are stupid, but at least they’re politically correct

A report out from The Education Trust, reported by the Associated Press, says that “[n]early one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions.”

It goes on to say, “The report by The Education Trust found that 23 percent of recent high school graduates don’t get the minimum score needed on the enlistment test to join any branch of the military.”

And we’re not talking physics and trig, here. They’re missing questions like “If 2 plus x equals 4, what is the value of x?”

A story at FoxNews.com says, “The military exam results are also worrisome because the test is given to a limited pool of people: Pentagon data shows that 75 percent of those aged 17 to 24 don’t even qualify to take the test because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or didn’t graduate high school.”

So our kids are fat, stupid criminals. But if you’ve been in an elementary schools lately, you’ll know that the kids have self-esteem and they recyle.

Not that those things aren’t important – they are. But when we’re graduating – graduating! – students who can’t answer 2 + 2, then clearly our priorities are askew.

I apologize.  This was politically incorrect and probably intolerant.

Joe Biden calls Milwaukee custard shop manager “smartass” (video)

Vice President Joe Biden visited a Milwaukee custard shop this past weekend. After tasting his cone, he asks the manager how much he owes him, and the manager jokes that if Biden will lowers taxes they’ll call it even.

Rather than laugh it off as a joke, Biden walks away without word and later asks the manager why has to be a smartass. Immediately you can see the VPs handlers shooing media out of the shop.

Nice behavior from the nation’s second in command.

If this were Dick Cheney making a stupid comment in his role at VP, the nightly news outlets would be running it as the lead story. Let’s see if they treat Biden the same way.