Category Archives: Politics


Just past dawn…

Sept. 11, 2021

Fastwrite this morning. Still dark outside.

A devastating day, a devastating sight/site. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. And yet, other countries experience this all the time: senseless violence on their own soil. We’ve had Pearl Harbor and 9/11—and the rest was mostly internal destruction (the Civil War) or against native peoples (a holocaust), or the slaughter of Black people, minorities, and—always—women.

Is it all the fault of men?

I rather think so. Sorry, guys, It seems to be your nature, not ours. (If that makes you uncomfortable, think of it as an archetype: the “unconscious masculine.” There’s an “unconscious feminine,” also. We all have both.)

Because really: Why would women destroy anything? Then we’d have to clean up the mess, and we have too many other things to do to take care of our families, our communities, Mother Earth.

The warped male territorial battle is now played out with sophisticated rocks and sticks and sharp objects. Having lost the lesson of curbing their mating habits when resources are scarce, their progeny are imposed upon women and consuming the Earth. For those who resist, there is violence and an ever-growing presence of oppression (let’s talk Texas). Our sin, as women, being our ongoing acceptance of this state, too many of us lucky enough to be sheltered by it not motivated enough to change it.

I always said we should have dropped diapers, not bombs, on Afghanistan’s hills. Heal the hunger, heal the pain; the warlords have no psychological basis for battle. No excuse for painting America the enemy. I never, never, never supported our response to 9/11. Ever. And I was right.

Kindness, and curiosity, and a decreased dependence on fossil fuel could have been our legacy instead. Environmental conservation, increased compassion, greater cultural understanding.

But no. Hundreds of thousands of people dead and maimed, and it was literally all for nothing. A 20-year garden that could have been planted with the common good was turned into vast destruction that further undermined everyone’s freedom, everywhere, including yours, and including mine.

The current divisiveness of our country, our false patriotism, showed up for me not long ago in the form of an older white woman who glared at me for a full five minutes in an opera house in Cincinnati when I refused to sing the national anthem on that random Sunday—an imposed nationalism for no particular reason that I refused to cater to. At a football game? Sure? I used to sing with the loudest of them, hand over heart, tears in my eyes—but in an opera house? No, thanks. Remember, freedom of speech includes silence, also.

Of course, now that I know that Francis Scott Key did not believe that Black people could actually feel pain, I’ve lost respect for the song itself. Take a knee? I’ll take a time out. We need to find a new song.

Who knew that democracy could be so easily attacked—in the form of a plane flying into a building or in the eyes of an aggressive white woman inside an opera house? The fact is, we are ALL under attack right now, our freedom and our integrity—yours, and mine.

But there IS another way to respond than with war. Until now, we’ve been taught that there is only one response to conflict: fight, flight, or freeze. This response was documented by a male behavioralist in the 1930s after he studied ONLY men (women were considered too emotional due to our hormones, apparently.)

Turns out there’s another response, documented by a TEAM of men AND women in the 1990s, and it’s called the “Tend and Befriend” response. These scientists, who included men AND women in their studies, found that those darn hormones were actually a major asset in conflict. Here’s why.

Since women often have children to care for, they cannot run. So instead, they gather the children to their bosom while reaching out for support to community members. This releases the powerful hormone oxytocin (and others), flooding them with feelings of care and compassion. This helps resolve the conflict and solve the problem at hand. In other words, they are saved by love.


If only, in this new century, we could begin to use that model instead, to understand that essential truth found in every religion: that Love is ALWAYS the answer. Always.


In the garden.

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Dear America: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?


“Love is at the root of everything — all learning, all parenting, all relationships.
Love or the lack of it. And what we see and hear on the screen
is part of who we become.”
—Fred Rogers

Dear America:

I wish we could be kinder to one another.

Growing up as I did, under the influence of my Pittsburgh “neighbor” Fred Rogers (and lots of storybooks), I did always believe we were “the good guys.”

In my mind’s eye, I saw the American soldiers coming to free the Jews in the Nazi concentration camps. Square-jawed, fresh-faced, tall and healthy, they were shocked by what they saw there, and earnestly went to work to help them, to free them, to feed them. I saw them holding emaciated bodies in their arms, giving them soup, and kindness, and love.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was my World War II hero, and Eleanor Roosevelt (my namesake) was my model of the enlightened national cultural leader. He created the New Deal for Americans, one that protected them from the dire poverty of the Depression with Social Security (think about that phrase) and Medicare. He wanted to ensure that no one would starve here in our own country due to extreme poverty or age or poor health.  Not on his watch.

Then Eleanor served as the first Ambassador to the new United Nations and was named the chairman of its Commission on Human Rights, relentlessly pursuing the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by all countries until it was done. She helped forge an agreement around the world, an agreement joining all nations to work together toward peace and justice for all so that the destruction and savagery of World War II might never happen again.

The phrase, “Lock her up” to me means, lock up love. Lock up the mother.  Lock up kindness and nurturing and goodness. And then throw away the key.

Today, however, I find it painful to acknowledge that some of my own friends, neighbors, old classmates, and even relatives have elected a president and therefore an administration that, to me, is the anti-FDR, the anti-Eleanor, the anti-Mr. Rogers. These leaders are not kind, nor loving, nor compassionate in any way.

Instead, under the guise of “we need strong leadership,” and while watching the hyperbolic prat of TV screen pundits, they are able to justify, or ignore, or perhaps even secretly support:

  • taking babies away from their mothers seeking asylum at our borders
  • the United States not only not paying our fair share of the dues we owe to the United Nations, but actually withdrawing from U.N. Human Rights Council
  • the relentless pursuit of dismantling and undermining of every civil and environmental and human rights advancement we’ve made in the past 50 years

But of course, the truth is even uglier than that. Turns out that we never really were the good guys. We built this country by enslaving and exploiting our First Nation peoples, African-Americans, immigrants, and, for certain, women and children. We’ve been separating children from their mothers throughout our history. Today we do this mostly through our privatized prisons, which have been shown to do more harm than good for mothers and their children. ICE, in my opinion, is just another form of this idea that “locking people up” is some kind of real solution. The phrase, “Lock her up” to me means, lock up love. Lock up the mother.  Lock up kindness and nurturing and goodness. And then throw away the key.

I watched the story of Fred Rogers last night in the movie “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” My God.  He is the antidote we need in this world! He represents the enlightened male, the nurturing, kind man, the spiritual leader we need. He is the feminine side of man, and, yes, he was berated and even hated for that. After a lifetime of ministry to children and America, he had done so much good in the world.  But by the end, after 9-11 and the vitriolic hyper-patriotism that followed, he wondered, did he make any difference at all?

Today, on this Fourth of July holiday, as I reflect on this anti-woman, anti-mother, anti-father, anti-nature, anti-immigrant, anti-kindness, anti-love state of our country,  I must ask, America, seriously, Will you admit this is unjust?  Will you admit that we can’t go on like this? Will you at LEAST support greater compassion for the people asking for asylum at our border?

Will you be the great nation I thought you were?

Seriously, why can’t be good neighbors? Why not work to create a place of safety for all of us? A “neighborhood” based on love and all the possibilities of what we can create together, not fear of losing what we have? After all, despite our dark past, I do believe this is what actually made America great.

The question we face now is, who DO we want to become?

If nothing else this Fourth of July, I hope that you will—that we all will—make a commitment to greater compassion and love when we go to the voting booth this fall. Especially if you are a mother or a father, I ask that you remember this: Our children, our little children, are depending on you.  I hope you will show them the way of love and kindness for all, as Mr. Rogers did.

In the American garden.

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Filed under Politics, women writing