Tommy CarcettiTommy Carcetti's Journal
I had some time in the car, and given yesterday's events, I figured I'd get my schadenfreude on, and I sampled some right wing radio nuts.
And at least one of them actually expressly stated he was "too depressed" about the prospect of the government re-opening.
Now, just think about that for a minute. What are they really depressed about?
They're depressed about the government worker who will be able to collect a paycheck again and can put his or her money back in the economy.
They're depressed that national parks are open, and not only do the parks themselves go back to business, but the nearby hotels, restaurants, gas stations, shops and other businesses surrounding the park that are so dependent on tourism also get to go back to business.
They're depressed that our food will be properly inspected again.
They're depressed that the federal government that our taxes go to fund is actually up and running again like it is supposed to be, instead of acting as a $24 billion pit.
I'm just left speechless at this. Are people that politically blinded that they don't actually understand that our government re-opening should be applauded as a good thing?
I'm perfectly fine that there's no White Entertainment Television. I'm perfectly fine that there's no White History Month. I'm perfectly fine that colleges don't have White Student Organizations and that there's no National Association for the Advancement of White People.
All this ridiculous whining and consternation from some white people that they don't "get" the same cultural markers as black people or they don't get to say certain terms about African Americans even though blacks use that same term. It's ridiculous. It's insane. You're forcing the issue and you ought to give up, because you look like fools.
Let me tell you something. If for the first century of this country's history white people were considered property and not full human beings, and for the second century of this country's history white people were subjected to institutionalized segregation laws, and for the third century white people had to deal with the lingering after-effects of the first and second centuries, then all of those things would be perfectly okay for white people.
Most African Americans in this country have had a shared cultural experience, one marked with both great trauma and overcoming such trauma, that allows them to identify with each other as a race.
White people in this country have never had that. Not as a race. Many of us have a cultural identity with the country in which your family has its origins (Italian, Irish, Polish, etc.) and that's terrific. Because when the Italians and Irish and Polish crossed the ocean to this country, they too had a shared cultural experience in that aspect, and that's something you can pass on to future generations.
But there is no White American culture to speak of in this country. It's a myth. And that's perfectly fine with me.
Please forgive me for bringing up the Catholic topic, but with the selection of the new Pope a little less than a week ago, I wanted to put in my two cents while there was still some newsworthiness about the story and before my thread gets locked and I am forced to post it in a forum that--face it--barely any of you would ever read.
But in many threads, I noticed a good amount of either non-Catholics or longtime former Catholics very angry at the church (for reasons usually justifable, I would add) demanding currently active Catholics on this board (which as we all know is comprised of Democrats, liberals and progressives) leave the church, or at least cease participating in the church or donating money towards church related causes. Usually, this is on the grounds of either the Church's atriocious (and sometimes criminal) handling of the well-publicized sex abuse scandal, or based on the generally conservative (at least socially conservative) outlook by a majority in the ranks of the Church's heirarchy.
Again, for the most part, the criticisms voiced are typically valid and well founded. But I do believe those persons demanding that us active Catholics who also call ourselves liberals or Democrats leave their Church in protest don't fully understand the context from where most Catholics are coming from. Especially in light of the reforms enacted after the Vatican II council, where lay persons were encouraged to take a more active in participating in the religion. (Contrary to what some might think, Vatican II was more than just about having masses said in the native tongue as opposed to in Latin; it was intended to change the entire outlook lay Catholics took towards their faith.)
Very few Catholics consider themselves Catholic because of the heirarchy. Very few of them have a close enough relationship with their bishop to voice their concerns to him. I suspect a good many of them might not even know the name of their bishop. And while the excessive majesty of the Vatican may be cool to look at (and I'll freely admit, watching live the announcement of the new Pope was really, really fucking cool to watch with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it), it's not the selling point for the faith. And it may in fact be rather counterproductive due to its ridiculous excess.
But in the end, that glaring disconnect that the ordinary Catholic may have with the heirarchy is not that big a deal. Because most Catholics identify with their church on a very local level. They know their local pastor who they can approach on a regular basis. They get to see and converse with people that they know they will get to see on at least a weekly basis. And the local church will provide services to the community, valuable ones. My home parish in Maryland, for example: it ran a homeless shelter. It had a pre-school. It had a youth group. It had a community center, with a gym and a theater. You had CCD. With the litugy itself, you could be a lector. You could be a Eucharistic Minister. Just about any social event or group or activity imaginable, it provided. Yes, the masses on Sunday are what brought people together ultimately, but people found meaning in their faith beyond that one weekly hour with all these activities and groups.
The heirarchy? Most ordinary Catholics view it as necessary structure to keep the faith doctrine focused and organized, but that's about it.
So I'm telling you now, asking Catholics to leave their church is a non-starter. People generally have very positive feelings towards their local parishes and they are not going to want to leave them behind and scatter. My mother was very involved in our hometown parish, and when she moved out of state, she would tell you that leaving her parish was hands down the most difficult part of moving. Probably even more difficult than leaving our house where me and my sisters were raised. Whatever qualms a given Catholic might have with the actions of a member of the heirarchy, or a direction the heirarchy might take, is far overshadowed by their emotional tie to their local church. I'm sorry, but that's just how it is.
So why not then individual local parishes "secede" from the Church? That way, some might say, the social structure of the parish is kept intact but it is free from the control of the dysfunction of the heirarchy. Well, I hate to tell you, but that's not going to work, either. Besides the fact it would be incredibly burdensome to do logistically, having countless little splinter churches out there that run the risk of diluting the Catholic identity, especially when it comes to faith doctrine and matters of liturgy. People would quickly lose interest. Despite all its misgivings, the heirarchy does serve some useful function in creating a sense of cohesion, nothwithstanding all its other problems.
So what can be done? Well, members of individual churches need to capitalize on their sense of community. Not all churches have parish councils, but they ought to, to give a better voice to the layity. Individual Catholics need to come together and discuss some of the issues they know are important but for whatever reason the heirarchy is not keen on discussing, at least publically. And some sense of consensus should be brought forward from parish to parish and grievances should erred publically. So if enough parishoners want a better means to ensure abusive priests are not sheltered, that gets put forward. If parishoners want the bishops to consider ordination of married persons and women, that gets put forward. If parishoners wish the bishops to quit wasting their time on silly lawsuits over contraception coverage, that gets put forward. And so forth and so on. But really the only thing we are missing right now is a better voice from individual lay Catholics. If we find a way to better publicize the direction we want our Church to take, mark my words, the heiarchy will have no choice but to listen.
And it should also be noted that the individual parish priests--who deal with lay parishioners and ordinary matters on a daily basis--may actually be more receptive to new ideas than one might think. I could see as mere matter of practicality that a good number of priests would actually be fine with expanding the priesthood to women and married persons, for the simple reason that the current shortage of priests willing to take a vow of celibacy has created an overwhelming burden on the priests who are there to perform more and more services for their respective parishes. I would suspect they would think the more help, the merrier.
Pope Francis, the new pope, is a Jesuit. One thing you may not know about the Jesuits is that they are bound by a sense of duty where if they disagree with the position of the superior, they must speak up and say so. So let us active Catholics seize the opportunity of our new Jesuit Pope and do what the Jesuits do.
Let me first preface this by saying I've long prided myself with not making arguments out of base emotion. I'm a long, outspoken opponent of the death penalty, and whenever I've been asked, "Well, how would you feel if a loved one of yours was murdered?", I've always responded by stating I'd probably be very angry and upset, but that wouldn't change the basic facts that the death penalty is neither a deterrent nor a true sense of justice to the victim's loved ones, and is hypocritical to its very core.
But that aside, I will say that the entire Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy has shook me to the very core. And in the past week, I've heard the brave, haunting testimony of Neil Heslin and David Wheeler. I've read the opinion piece authored by Mark and Jackie Barden. And I will freely admit as a man who usually is a master at holding his emotions in check, I've found myself just welling up with tears on multiple occasions at the mere thought of what they've had to say. I know that none of them ever wanted that type of attention. None of them wanted their 15 minutes of fame to be having to relive the death of their child before a government panel or in the pages of a well-circulated newspaper. But out of a sense of duty and a basic sense of what is right and what is wrong, they knew they could not remain silent.
You see, I'm the proud father of two young and beautiful daughters. One of my daughters is not much younger than those first graders who perished that December morning. Every evening, they greet me with smiles and shouts of "Daddy!" when I get home from work. Every evening I get to play games with them. Every evening I get to read books to them and tuck them into bed. Yet there is the creeping thought in the back of my mind that in some extremely fucked-up alternate universe, I am Neil Heslin. I am David Wheeler. I am Mark or Jackie Barden. What I get to experience every night has suddenly been brutally robbed from 20 sets of parents. And beyond the city limits of Newtown, Connecticut, it has been robbed from countless other parents and children and husbands and wives and friends, and continues to be robbed on a daily basis.
There's been considerable talk about the Second Amendment, what it says, what it doesn't say, what it means and what it doesn't mean. And that's all fine and a worthy conversation to be had. I also know that many of the proponents of a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment are parents themselves, and they may indeed take that position because they believe their ownership of guns (including those with maximum firepower and capacity) is somehow meant to protect their own children from whatever forces that be.
But we cannot lose sight of our priorities here. As has been said over and over and over, there is no legitimate effort in this country to ban all private ownership of all guns. Many people will continue to have bolt action shotguns if they like to hunt. Many people will continue to have a pistol in their home for self-protection, hopefully secured in a proper and safe manner. And the issue staring us square in the face--gun violence--is truly a multi-faceted dilemma. It's not just about semi-automatic rifles or high-capacity clips. It's not just about background checks or mental health screening and treatment. It's not just about a violent society. It's not just about what constitutes self-defense. It's not just about securing one's weapons. It's about all those things, and more.
But for those who have honed in on ownership of high powered semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines, and what they view as an affront to the Second Amendment if there is any legislative action taken to restrict ownership of those items, I just implore them to stop and take a step back.
If one is suddenly by law prohibited from buying an AR-15 or buying a 30 round clip for their own personal use, in the end, it means nothing. Nothing You can still freely buy a less powered weapon or a smaller sized package of ammunition, and you can still achieve whatever basic sense of satisfaction that you sought from those items.
But if someone loses a child (or any sort of loved one) as a result of a shooting such as Newtown or Aurora or Virginia Tech or Tuscon or Columbine or countless others, it means everything. Every single little thing in the world.
Assuming you have a good relationship with them and they have not predeceased you, your children will show up at your funeral when you pass away. Your guns will not. Your children will carry on your family name and legacy. Your guns will not. Your children are capable of giving you grandchildren. Your guns will not. Your children will accompany you on family vacations and bless you with holiday memories. Your guns will not. Your guns will never hug you back or tell you that they love you; your children will. Even those who don't have children of their own (whether it be by fate or by choice) are someone else's children, and know all too well the power of having that sense of wonder and astonishment of the world that comes with childhood.
A gun will never, ever give the sense of satisfaction or meaning that a loved one can give you. Their interests will always be subjected to the interests of human life and human dignity.
And one more thing. Guns did not write the U.S. Constitution. People did. Keep that forever in mind when you speak of the Constitution.
The testimony of Neil Heslin:
The testimony of David Wheeler:
Op-Ed Piece by Mark and Jackie Barden:
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