AMERICA IS AMERICA BECAUSE OF IMMIGRANTS & REFUGEES

President Trump’s second attempt at an illegal travel ban against Muslims has inspired me to think more deeply about the history of refugees in this country.

What would art be like if Piet Mondrian, the Dutch painter and World War II refugee, was denied access to New York City in 1940? Or if Marc Chagall, the Jewish-Russian painter, was not allowed to seek asylum in the U.S. when he escaped Bolshevism?

What would have happened to Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. Secretary of State, if she and her family did not flee to America from Czechoslovakia in 1948?

What would have befallen Hannah Arendt, the political theorist, who was born in Germany, in 1933 and fled persecution by the Nazis, eventually becoming a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1950?

How different would the field of anthropology be if Claude Levi-Strauss, the French-Jewish ethnologist, was turned away from America after he was stripped of his citizenship under the Vichy Anti-Semitic laws?

How would the world of literature be different if Vladimir Nabokov was killed in the Russian Civil War rather than emigrating to the safety of America? Or if Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian writer and winner of 1970 Nobel Prize, was not allowed to go to the U.S., but was instead executed in the USSR?

Lastly, what would have happened to Albert Einstein if Princeton did not receive him in 1938? The Nobel Prize-winning physicist escaped Nazi Germany because an American university was willing to honor and reward his intellectual gifts by granting him sanctuary.

As these names surface to the forefront of my mind, I wonder if Trump’s cynical and unconstitutional ban is unique today because these individuals were white European intellectuals from non-Muslim majority countries? What other conclusion can be drawn? Over the past 100 years there has been more terrorism in places such as Germany and Russia than Yemen and Iran.

President Trump and his advisers do not want to understand that this country is bound together by the principles of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. These principles apply to all people. To be American is to be guided and protected by certain inalienable laws. It has nothing to do with geography, language, or religious beliefs.

For more than two centuries the hope has been that America can live up to its promise and be a place of openness, trust, and love of diversity for all human beings regardless of age, gender, race, class, or ideology.

Whenever we have tried to realize this promise, we have paved the way for groundbreaking achievements in the arts and sciences. It is the immigrant and refugee who has been America’s greatest legacy. If for nothing else, the world admires us because we are a nation of immigrants. From the first people to trek across the Bering Strait to the next El Salvadoran migrant to cross the Texas border, America is America because they are here.

George Cassidy Payne
Founder, Gandhi Earth Keepers International

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Choosing Love Over Hate: Radical Acceptance in the Age of Trump

I accept and love Donald Trump. I do not accept and love what he says. I do not accept and love what he purports to believe. I do not accept and love his wealth. I do not accept and love his fame. But I accept and love Donald Trump.

What has hate done that is good? If I hate Donald Trump’s words, beliefs, ego, money, and celebrity, it is because they are all the byproducts of hate. It’s a vicious cycle. Perhaps Dr. King said it best: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Instead of blindly succumbing to the eternal wheels of hate, I choose to accept and love Donald Trump as he is. I choose to accept and love the man that he was born to be. I love the person that the solar system conspired to shape out of the same mud and clay as you and I. I love him as an idea hatched in the fertile crescent of the Maker’s mind. Whether I like the idea or not is irrelevant. Whoever is behind this journey of the universe cares about Donald Trump just as much as it cares about me. Nature cares. Evolution  cares. Creation cares.

Simply put: Donald Trump is a being on this planet because there is a grace that is more powerful than myself. Who am I to argue with  omni-benevolence?

Furthermore, I accept and love Donald Trump for catalyzing millions of people to find their political voice, and to fight for causes that ultimately matter to them. Peaceful relations with other countries. Social justice at home. Fair wages. Equal opportunity. Safe communities. Equitable pay for women. High achieving schools for everyone. Safe and clean infrastructure. All over the world this man has presented a massive opportunity for people of goodwill to stand up and take action. Because of the danger he poses we must act courageously, wisely, mercifully, and compassionately in the face of fear, ignorance, and selfishness. The gauntlet has been thrown down. Will we rise to the occasion?

So yes, I accept and love Donald Trump not for what he stands for but for what he inspires people to stand against.

 

Love for Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

 

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Time For Americans To Reflect On Our Present…And History

* This article was first published KRWG TV/RADIO (New Mexico’s National Public Radio)

 

Affirming belief that America is an exceptional nation has become a test of patriotism in American politics. Michael Ignatieff

There is nothing exceptional about America. To believe that our nation cannot go over the moral cliff is utter nonsense. Not only have we gone over the cliff on several momentous occasions, we have perpetrated crimes against humanity that are every bit as depraved as the Nazis.

For example, those who believe that America is not capable of forcing refugees and war victims on a death march have no idea about the “Trail of Tears,” in which 4,000 Cherokees succumbed to hunger, anguish, and death. This campaign of terror was enforced by our federal government and sanctioned by the will of white Americans. (Many whites actually looted the homes of Cherokees forced to join the long trek West.)

Those who believe that America would never build concentration camps have no idea what happened to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Close to 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who lived on the Pacific coast were sent to these prisons in the middle of the country. The vast majority were U.S. citizens.

Those who believe that America would never kill innocent civilians in war- that somehow Americans are beyond the ability to commit massacres- know nothing of what took place in Vietnam. In the village of My Lai, for instance, U.S. soldiers murdered (over the span of 3 hrs) as many as 504 Vietnamese men, women, children, and babies. Some were ordered into lines in a drainage ditch before being executed by machine guns.

Those who believe that America could never maintain a gulag choose not to know what happens to detainees at Guantanamo Bay. All of them have been tortured in one way or another. Some prisoners have been mutilated to songs such as Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Drowning Pool’s “Bodies.”

And to those who believe that America would never deploy nuclear weapons are either too young or too feeble minded to know how Japan ultimately surrendered at the end of WWII. After the atomic bombings, at least 150,000 people were wiped out in Hiroshima and around 80,000 people were killed in Nagasaki; about half of the killings in each city occurred on the first day. In fact, America is still the only nation in human history to detonate a nuclear weapon on a human population zone. It is our Shoah. It is our Killing Fields. It is our own Rwanda from the air.

Finally, lest we forget, those who believe that America could never hold people in bondage for economic gain are either too young or two feeble minded to know why the business of North American slavery was so immensely profitable for hundreds of years. Driven by demands from the ever growing cotton plantations in the Deep South, the “Peculiar Institution” was a multi-trillion dollar industry that can only be rivaled economically by Microsoft and Exxon Mobile today. It took a civil war to stop it.

Put succinctly, in the words of esteemed NYT journalist Maureen Dowd: “The idea of American exceptionalism does not extend to Americans being exceptional.”

Yet, even after all that is aid, I can openly admit that I am a proud American. Not only do I love my country, it is the only country that I know how to love. It’s like my father to me. It’s like my mother to me. It’s like my sisters to me. I only have one country. I would not trade it for anything in the world. I would not live without it. I will pray for it and serve it for the rest of my life.

But, my country is deeply flawed, easily corruptible, and perpetually condemned by the horrors of the past. Like all families it has the capacity for monstrous acts of evil, as well as awesome acts of goodness. There is nothing exceptional about it.

 

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A Franciscan Prayer

 

Dear Creator,

Grant that I may respect your Ecosystem.

Where there is pollution let me plant beauty.

Where there is extinction let me spread conservation.

Where there is toxic air let me bring solar power.

Where there is drought and fire let me bring balance.

Where there is fear let be share my love of the biosphere.

O divine Partner,

Grant that I may not be superior.

Help me to give thanks.

 Regenerate all that I raise from the soils of waste.

Make me worthy of plowing the fields of eternity.

 

George Cassidy Payne

Rochester, NY

 

 

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Photo by George Payne

Inaugural Was An Act of Domestic Violence

While hundreds of thousands of protesters voiced their anti-Trump dissent in Washington, I decided to spend my inauguration weekend serving in a domestic violence center. Below is my reason why.

In 2013, Trump essentially kicked off his presidential campaign by tweeting that military sexual assault should basically be expected because men and women serve in the military together. This fall, Matt Lauer gave Trump an opportunity to restate his comments in a forum hosted by NBC, but Trump did not. “Well, it is a correct tweet,” he said.

More infamous was his tirade against Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, who he said had “blood coming out of her wherever“ after she questioned Trump for having demeaned women as “fat pigs” and “dogs.”

Remember his assault on Fiorina? In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, he said: “Look at that face!” “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”

Moreover, in an interview on MSNBC, Trump said “there has to be some form of punishment” for abortion if it were to ever be banned in the United States — and that punishment should fall on women.

In December, Trump mocked Clinton for being a few minutes late returning to the stage during a Democratic debate saying, “I know where she went, it’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it.”

And, after Clinton challenged Trump on his history of criticizing women’s looks and bodies, focusing on the specific example of Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe who says Trump called her “Miss Piggy” (after she gained some weight) and “Miss Housekeeping” (because she is Latina), Trump defended fat shaming Machado, telling “Fox and Friends” that “she was the worst we ever had.” “She was a winner, and she gained a massive amount of weight, and we had a real problem,” he said. “We had a real problem with her.”

There is also the Robert Ailes crimes. The former CEO of Fox News, was accused by many women of sexual harassment, including former news host Gretchen Carlson (with whom Fox News recently settled). But Trump defended Ailes, telling “Meet the Press“: “I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them.”

Frighteningly, this is merely a sampling of Trump’s most perverted attacks on the inherent self worth of women. There is also the rape allegations, sexual harassment allegations, and sick rumors of exploits with women paid for sexual favors in Russian hotels. If for no other reason than common decency, I can not accept this man as a legitimate office holder. He is not my president. He is not my representative. He is not someone who I will support.

As domestic violence writer Lundy Bancroft wrote: “An abuser can seem emotionally needy. You can get caught in a trap of catering to him, trying to fill a bottomless pit. But he’s not so much needy as entitled, so no matter how much you give him, it will never be enough. He will just keep coming up with more demands because he believes his needs are your responsibility, until you feel drained down to nothing.”

Bancroft stated elsewhere: “The abusive man’s high entitlement leads him to have unfair and unreasonable expectations, so that the relationship revolves around his demands. His attitude is: “You owe me.” For each ounce he gives, he wants a pound in return. He wants his partner to devote herself fully to catering to him, even if it means that her own needs—or her children’s—get neglected. You can pour all your energy into keeping your partner content, but if he has this mind-set, he’ll never be satisfied for long. And he will keep feeling that you are controlling him, because he doesn’t believe that you should set any limits on his conduct or insist that he meet his responsibilities.”

On January 20, 2016, the people did not elect a true president. What we collectively witnessed-like bystanders to a crime- was one of the largest and most public acts of domestic violence ever recorded. Trump’s taking the oath was an act of domestic violence. He is an abuser. His words are abusive. His actions are abusive. His policies are abusive. His history is abusive. His spirit is abusive.

God help us all.

Where, as a nation founded on civil rights and human dignity, will we seek an Order of Protection against this man?

I benefited immensely from the article below by Catherine Pearson, Women & Parents Senior Reporter, The Huffington Post
*http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/16-real-things-trump…

The Truth Matters

The truth matters was originally published in the Feedback section of Rochester CITY Newspaper (1/19/2017)

 

Donald Trump applauded Vladimir Putin for not quickly retaliating against Obama’s sanctions over Russia’s cyberattacks during the election.

“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” Trump tweeted.

Obviously, this is not the first time the president-elect praised the Russian leader. After receiving Putin’s endorsement during a vital stage in the campaign, Trump declared, “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”

In response to this flattery, Putin went one step further: “He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that… He is the absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today. He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it.”

Let us set aside the allegations, conspiracies, and pride and prejudice. How can it not matter to Putin’s supporters — including the president-elect — that he is a cold- blooded kleptomaniac who oversees the world’s largest mafia state?

How can it not matter to them that Putin violently eliminates anyone or any group that tries to oppose him? How can it not matter that in a 2015 Democracy Index study, Economist magazine classified Russia as “authoritarian” and ranked it 132nd out of 167 countries?

How can it not matter that Putin condoned the use of bunker-busting bombs to destroy underground hospitals and safety zones in Syria? He is a war criminal and vicious enemy of human rights. How can that not matter?

Perhaps Nietzsche said it best: “There are various eyes. Even the Sphinx has eyes: and as a result there are various truths, and as a result there is no truth.”

But the truth matters to me. I care about those kids in Syria. I care about those journalists and reporters who have been killed for doing their job. I care about my homosexual brothers and sisters who are persecuted for being themselves. I care about a free press. I care about human rights.

That matters to me. The truth matters to me. It may not matter to Putin and Trump, but it sure as hell matters to me.

GEORGE CASSIDY PAYNE

Founder, Gandhi Earth Keepers International

Trump Won Because Our Attention Span is Literally Shorter Than A Goldfish

According to the Television Bureau of Advertising, the average American family has 2.5 TVs per household. 75% of Americans have at least one television set in their living room, and 31% have 4 sets or more. Kids 2-11 spend 26 hrs a week watching TV. That amounts to 1,248 hours a year. The average American adult watches 4 hours of TV each day. Every 4 hours a viewer witnesses 80 minutes of commercials. That means Americans spend a little more than 20 days a year just watching television commercials. From the age of 3-80 an American will spend 1,540 days watching commercials. Divide this number by 365 days and you get 4.2 years.

Meanwhile, researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). The research sponsor Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. To put this in perspective, the average attention span for the goldfish is 9 seconds.

Could it be that the ultimate reason a cameo actor on The Nanny, Sex and the City, Home Alone 2, The Little Rascals, and Zoolander, and an executive producer of the Miss Universe pageant and The Apprentice, was able to become POTUS, is because Donald J. Trump is a commercial brand that screen addicted Americans know and trust?

Trump won for the same reason that consumers buy Sprite instead of the store brand lemon up.

He won for the same reason people buy a bottle of Advil instead of the generic brand. They  wanted what they saw on television.

Trump won because most Americans will spend 4 years watching commercials.

Trump won because most Americans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.

Trump won because he shouted loudest and most often on television.

 

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6 Months In: a new father embraces the terrifying miracle of love

Yes. Check mark. Scratch it off. Circle it in. Fold it over. Punch it through. Rip it off. Whatever the instructions say, count me in. Mark it down. Record it. Put it in the history books. I am in love.

6 months in and there is no slowing this train down. 17 lbs and 8 oz. 26.5 inches. Rolling around. Slurping mangoes. Sleeping on his face. Sucking on his wrist. No squash. No messy diapers. No getting his nose cleaned. And so it goes…

I never understood love like this. This love dumbfounds me. It often scares me. Some days it strikes like a full on panic attack. Lumpy throat. Tightening of chest. Contractions. Tears.

Other times I can only feel it creeping up from the inside. Like the sound of a distant enemy calling for retribution, these thoughts of terror sink in. What if this? What if that? What if… The questions smash through the surface of my confidence like iron rods shattering a plywood coffin.

Still, if I am honest, most of the time I feel ludicrously fortunate. Most of the time I feel as if I am the chosen protector of an incomparable jewel. Like a Buddha, I know that this living stone is more precious than a trillion rubies. If it came down to it, I would trade a trillion rubies for just one trillionth of a second with his smile. Time means nothing now without him. He is my companion. He is my mentor. He is my healer. He is my laughter. He is my logic. He is my faith. He is my moon. He is my son.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu

 

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