Earlier, you received a post from me titled “An Update on My Lost R-A-N-T, Plus Some Positive Stuff.” But all that was shown was the photo above. (Two of you even liked it; that was very generous!)
Here’s what happened: After losing my post last week, I followed the instructions from the WP Happiness Engineer (HE, for short, which is gender-neutral).
I saved the post that was supposed to appear this morning under the above title in my Administrator, so there would be a history, HE said. I then moved it to Publish and scheduled the publication for 10:45 AM today.
But I decided to add the photo you saw there–and above–in the morning. Once I’d done that, all my text and images disappeared, just as they had last week.
They’re not in the Administrator file either. I sent out another SOS to the HEs and cancelled the publication altogether–to save myself the embarrassment of an empty post appearing.
But the Gremlins are apparently merciless. Or perhaps the subject of my rant has reached into the inner recesses of WP? Nah, I won’t allow myself to dwell on a conspiracy theory. So I went back to work. I hope this post reaches you intact.
MY UPDATED R-A-N-T
My initial R-A-N-T was in response to the President’s actions. You’ve now probably read about those particulars in so many places that I see no need to repeat them.
I have a continuing struggle between my pursuit of lovingkindness and my reactions to current events. So I’m going to keep this R-A-N-T as brief as I can. (For me, this is brief…)
When Trump foolishly pulled the US out of the carefully crafted Iran nuclear deal—which by all accounts was working and during which no Americans were attacked—he set in motion events that now make us and many others much less safe.
At this moment, the disastrous war that came close to erupting seems to have been averted because the Iranians—never known for their moderation—made it possible for the President to back away, at least temporarily.
But here are the things that trouble me the most:
*Iran is now a little more than two years away from making an atomic bomb, whereas we had a fifteen-year window under the peace accords.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who was instrumental in securing that treaty, said in an Op-Ed:
“The tragedy of our current plight is that diplomacy was succeeding before it was abandoned.”
I don’t see how we get Iran back to the table.
*We will be forced out of Iraq under terms not our own, giving Iran free rein in the area and providing ISIS with an uncontested field in which to regroup.
*The President’s threats to destroy cultural sites in Iran, if carried out, would have been a war crime; even raising the issue makes us appear to the world on this point as comparable to the Taliban, ISIS, and al Qaeda, which have committed such acts in Afghanistan and Syria.
*The President’s claim during his press conference that the Iranian attack was paid for by money former President Obama “gave” them is a blatant lie.
The truth is that as part of the agreement to get Iran to sign onto the nuclear control pact, the US released Iranian assets we had been holding. It was Iran’s money—not ours.
*Most poignantly, there have long been signs that many of the Iranian people, who include a substantial educated middle class, are actually pro-American.
They have been suffering under Iran’s weak economy and harsh leadership, and there have been growing protests in the streets very recently.
But Trump’s actions have united the Iranians in a way that nothing else could. “Death to America” has replaced those hopeful signs.
And now we must demand that these questions be answered:
–Why was the decision to kill Qasem Suleimani made? Where is the proof of the claims of a plot that had to be disrupted with this assassination?
The Administration’s Congressional briefing was met with bipartisan outrage due to the confusion, lack of details, and unwillingness to answer questions.
–Who were the deciders?
There have been reports that both Secretary of State Pompeo and Vice President Pence had the President’s ear. (See John Cassidy’s New Yorker article.)
And both men have described their opposition to Iran with apparent religious zealotry, as this New Republic article describes.
–What does that tell us about the possible rationale for this decision?
If US foreign policy is being guided by people enacting their over-the-top religious convictions, is our fragile democracy even further endangered than it’s been by Trump’s disregard for law and belief that Article 2 of the Constitution allows him to do whatever he pleases?
— Why should we believe that Americans are safer as a result—as both the President and Secretary Pompeo have claimed?
–And how can our increasingly isolated country counter all the trouble spots that are sure to sprout up worldwide?
* * * * *
Having finished my R-A-N-T, I’m switching gears here because I’m determined to try to remain positive as the new year and new decade dawn, even as our surroundings have turned darker. So please accompany me as I discuss some really valuable forces for good that I’m involving myself in during this year.
WORLD WAR ZERO (to combat Climate Change)
This is an ambitious effort by a bipartisan coalition of notables to bring the urgency of climate change to the fore and seek consensus and meaningful solutions as the clock keeps ticking.
Former Secretary of State/US Senator John Kerry has brought together more than 60 founding members, who include former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter (bless his heart—the man keeps going), former Republican Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Kasich, and from the “glitterati”: Leonardo diCaprio, Ashton Kutcher, and Sting, among others.
According to The New York Times,
“The name, World War Zero, is supposed to evoke both the national security threat posed by the earth’s warming and the type of wartime mobilization that Mr. Kerry argued would be needed to stop the rise in carbon emissions before 2050.”
The hope is that this diverse group will succeed in bringing along skeptics.
In the US, they plan to hold town meetings—including in the battleground states that are central to the 2020 election.
They’ll also go to military bases, where climate change isn’t often discussed, “and to economically depressed areas that members say could benefit from clean energy jobs.”
To draw people with diverse viewpoints, the group has declined to state a position about the various approaches that might be used.
Katie Elder, who founded The Future Coalition, a network for organizations led by young people that organized climate strikes in September, supports the Green New Deal. But, she says,
“While I may be disagreeing with some of the things that other folks involved in World War Zero believe, that doesn’t mean we can’t work together. Collaboration is our key to survival.”
ALL ON THE LINE (to end gerrymandering and ensure fair elections)
Former President Barack Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder formed this group with a sense of urgency to make our electoral map align with our electorate. One person; one vote. Not too radical, right?
Here’s how they describe their efforts:
“We’re on a mission to end gerrymandering because it contributes to the polarization and dysfunction in our political system. It’s time to end map manipulation and finally have fair districts.”
“Whether you care about providing access to affordable health care, reducing the gun violence that plagues our schools and communities, protecting voting rights, achieving equal pay, or solving the urgent threat of climate change, there is a fundamental structural barrier that prevents progress: rigged electoral maps drawn with surgical precision by politicians to preserve their party’s political power and silence the will of the people.”
The efforts are focused on key states where they feel they can make a difference: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Although the organization may sound partisan, it is devoted to ending gerrymandering wherever it exists.
And with the Census in 2020 leading to redistricting in 2021, when Census data is used to draw new congressional and state legislative district maps, they issue this clarion call:
“The time to act is now. The next decade of our nation’s politics and progress is on the line and we need you on the front lines.”
APOPO (to save lives and limbs worldwide)
This organization is new to me, but it’s become dear to my heart. I’ve written about my late friend Peter, who expanded my vision in a number of ways. One of them was to appreciate the intelligence and value of rats.
Before Peter died in November, he had asked that donations be made in his memory to Apopo.org. I was very pleased to do so, especially after perusing their website.
Apopos are African giant pouched rats that are trained to detect buried landmines. These potential killer detritus of wars exist in 60 countries.
Landmines not only kill or maim civilians—47% of them children in 2017—they also interfere with the development of fertile land in vulnerable communities.
It takes nine months to train a rat, which wears a little harness as it goes sniffing into the fields. The rats are too light to set off the landmines, but they are able to discern what is a land mine and what is nonexplosive metal—and they can do so faster than metal detectors.
These rats are also trained to detect tuberculosis that has gone undiagnosed, thereby facilitating treatment and saving lives in yet another way. That’s why they’re called HeroRATS.
The website is inspiring and poignant. I had to stop myself from spending so much time gazing at the photos and reading the stories.
These three organizations are new ways to help me feel empowered to do a little good amid the gloom of our political scene and heightened international tensions. (They are in addition to political involvement and other organizations I’ve long supported.)
What are your views about any of the above? Anything you’d like to note about how you are navigating this new decade, with its dangers and possibilities?