Thursday, January 29, 2009

I have a job! Yay

I just got offered a job, no, not as the new Governor of Illinois, but with a River Cruise Company. I start Monday. My mortgage is all screwed up, but with a real income stream I think it will all work out in the long run.

As for Blago, I am delighted to learn he can never, ever, ever hold public office in Illinois ever again. See what really bad hair can do for ya, Rod?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More thoughts on Rick Warren

In the film, Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood plays a man who is as racist and hate-filled as they come. He hates the Priest; he really hates his Hmong neighbors. He flings every possible epithet there is during the course of the film - it's really difficult to empathize with his character, except to see how his neighbors continue to include him and through that process of inclusion he is changed.

In The Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous, there's a phrase that says "we are people who normally would not mix." But through the process of recovery and the inclusive nature of AA, we find ourselves embracing people with whom we disagree on other issues - and they become close friends.

President Obama ran a campaign of inclusion - he embraces people with whom he disagrees, because he knows at the deepest level that only through intense dialogue can people be touched. Asking Rick Warren to give the Invocation is just such a moment - perhaps, with enough dialogue and exposure to various people he despises, Rick Warren can be changed and his heart can be opened. Even if just a little, it's a step in the right direction.

I don't like Warren, nor his message of hate - I disagree with him on so many levels - but I would be a fool to close the door on dialogue. I've got friends who hate homosexuality, and voted for Prop 8. We disagreed. We discussed. We are still friends, and I am sorry for THEIR closed-mindedness. It is their loss to exclude people. I find my life is made richer by the inclusion of people who are completely different than I am.

President Obama inherited a nation that is in deep trouble, courtesy of an administration that was filled with haters and people who excluded so many. But he is practicing a principle that we in AA must embrace and live by, which is to recognize we are all in the same boat and unless we put aside our differences and find a way to work together, we'll all sink in the same boat.

I would like to think that this sort of attitude and behavior can have a positive effect on people like Pastor Warren. Apparently, Clint Eastwood thinks so too and showed it in Gran Torino.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama's Inaugural Address

"With hope and virtue", he quoted George Washington. "With hope and virtue," President Obama calls on us to honor and seek our higher selves to try to do better. Listening now to Rachel Maddow, waiting for MSNBC to go to the Balls, I'm thinking about the nature of President Obama's campaign as well as some of his controversial choices along the way.

Mr. Obama is all about finding our similarities and building bridges. His focus has never been on our differences, but on all the wonderful ways we can connect with one another to create a better nation. He asks us to contribute our selves, our actions, to a greater good - a call to service our nation. Along the way, he embraces people who are Liberal and Conservative; he calls on women and men; Gay and Straight; White, Black, Brown, and everything in between; people of all Religious beliefs (or not). He embraces, and even when he disagrees he does it with respect for other ideas.

This day has been a little surreal for me - I feel such joy and yes, pride again to be an American citizen. Mr. Obama, his administration, Congress, and all of us have a hard row to hoe ahead of us, yet I feel hope and virtue because I believe we can find our similarities.

And this inclusive stance, for me, includes being able to listen to Rick Warren's invocation today - I don't agree with him on the issue of Gay Marriage - but it is his right to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Rather than attack him for his beliefs, I would rather discuss with him the necessity of keeping his religious views away from the legistation of marriage. I would prefer a dialogue rather than an outright dismissal of him and his message. Because as I listened to him, he was all about the absolute beauty of the moment - that this nation has finally elected an African American to the highest office of our nation. He emphasized the beginning of the end of racial division - and I appreciated that sentiment.

Mr. Obama brings together so many different points of view because he believes in the necessity of listening to all ideas. How else can we learn, and get to understand each other if we don't listen and debate, and keep our hearts open? And our minds, open?

Today, I feel hope in a most extraordinary way. Let's embrace the spirit of his message and move forward.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Coming up for air

Dear Gentle Readers - I apologize for being scarce. Really, for not being around at all. It's so easy to hide with Facebook, as there are games (Mob Wars, Scrabble) to distract - and that's what I do.

Income has been scarce since I went independant, and finally I filed for Unemployment. It looked like I was going to lose my condo, but on 12/31, Countrywide sent me a re-worked deal that saves my home and I will be able to meet the mortgage payments. It's quite amazing, really. But in the meantime, I am trying to find a steady job to suppliment me while I try to build my business.

I've never seen an economy this bad. It hasn't been this bad since the Depression, actually, and it hasn't bottomed yet. Nevertheless, I have hope for our future. Without hope, there's no reason to exist.

It has been hard, really difficult and I won't pretend otherwise. The end result for me is that I tend to isolate and really circle the wagons. And I am grateful to all of you who check in from time to time - eventually I will be able to get back to this more regularly but right now, it's all I can do to just keep above ground. Please continue to check in; email works (jkblue AT cox DOT net is the email). Lots of love to you all.