I Hide My Chocolate

Midlife observations

Tag: Politics

Today’s Postcard

Say NO to Eliminating Federal Funding for Public Education and Nutritious School Lunches

Are you tired and annoyed by everyone posting political rants? Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of. So, I hesitate to post. You know me, I’m very non-confrontational. God forbid I should post something provocative or polarizing. Here’s the thing. I’m just a fair-minded, run-of-the-mill feminist and democrat who has never been politically active.

Until now.

Not a day goes by without some news item causing me to exclaim WTF in anger or disgust or cry in despair. I mean, really, what kind of world is it going to be in 10 years for our children and grandchildren?

Let’s be real, I work full time, I have a husband and children, I teach yoga. I am busy. I am not saving the world. What can I do? Does it even make a difference? After the initial shock, where we all shared outraged articles and felt overwhelmed, I took a bit of a deep breath and a bit of a break. I am not someone who jumps into the fray. No no. I need to research every issue and understand all points of view. Then pause and reflect. Then articulate my point of view, in writing. Then assess how I want to move forward. It’s exhausting and overwhelming, especially when every day presents you with a dozen new outrageous items to consider.

I’ve joined my local Indivisible group. I participate in some closed facebook groups. I read a lot and listen to a lot of political podcasts. I didn’t need a new activity, but there you have it. Our country is too important. Our democracy is too important. Our children are too important. Hell, the Earth is too important. I think we have no choice. To put your head in the sand and pretend that everything is going to be okay is immoral. There. I said it. I.M.M.O.R.A.L.

So, I’ve been sending postcards to my congresspeople. I try for one a day, but have not been successful. I get nervous on the phone, so the postcard thing works better for me. I am skeptical of petitions, so I tend not to sign them. So as not to annoy my friends, (I told you I was non-confrontational), I limit myself to no more than one post a day. I imagine that when I post a political pov, a contingent of my friends rolls their eyes and moves on. But, I don’t know, maybe not. Maybe there’s a quiet group out there that appreciates that I put myself out there.

Yesterday, one of those quiet friends quietly asked me what I knew about HR 610. Nothing. I knew nothing. So, I researched it. Yowza. Here goes my limited interpretation of this brief, but devastating bill:

HR 610, the “Choices in Education Act of 2017,” is a bill under consideration in the House of Representatives that proposes “to distribute Federal funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students and to repeal a certain rule relating to nutrition standards in schools.”

  • HR 610 will repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which is the most far-reaching piece of federal legislation affecting education. It is responsible for ensuring that our public school system is fair, providing funding for low-income students, special education, English as a second language, and much more.
  • HR 610 limits the authority of the Department of Education, such that federal funding would be in the form of block grants to qualifying states. In other words, federal funding of public schools will now be transferred to the states. So, if you’re lucky to live in a progressive and affluent state, all good, probably. But if not, your education system will suffer. So will your children. So will your property value.
  • States, theoretically, will use these funds to create a voucher system for eligible families and schools. In other words, a family could use the voucher to buy a place in a private school.
  • But, more likely, the effect of vouchers could result in a middle class student migrating from a public school to a private school. It does not typically benefit a low-income student.
  • HR 610 repeals the No Kids Hungry Act, the requirement that school lunches meet specific nutrition standards.
  • Say what?! Let that sink in a moment. This bill says school lunches don’t need to be healthy. Um, that might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard, at least today. What does anyone have against nutrition for children? For some kids, school lunch is the most healthy food they eat all day. A well-fed child is better able to learn. A well-fed child is healthier and less likely to need medical care, which low-income families will be less able to afford under the new American Health Care Act, if approved.

See what I mean? It’s exhausting. Just a tiny little bill is fraught with complexity. But this one…well, it seems awful to me. So I am sending my congressman a postcard. I hope it helps.

What Can I Do?

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Ever-Widening Circles of Love

The news is bad. Frightening. Each new crisis pushes yesterday’s crisis below the surface. What about the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram 2 years ago? How are they doing? What about Ray Rice’s wife, Janay Palmer? I heard she was pregnant with their second  child due this Fall. I wonder how she is doing. Is she happy? Is she safe? I wonder.

After skimming (I seem no longer able to read, really read) the latest awful and bizarre highlights from the newspaper, I get hit with an onslaught of more of the same awful and bizarre highlights on my Facebook feed, peppered with articulate and impassioned rants from a variety of people I respect and read. I wonder how I can add value to the fast and furious conversation. It moves too quickly for me to react thought-fully. They are too smart. I am too sad and overwhelmed. I understand why the rants are interspersed with pet videos and yoga poses. Really, how much despair can a person take?

After Orlando. Feeling a mixture of anguish, outrage, and numbness. The most eloquent post popped up. Simple. Not long. “How do we end the hate?”

Well, that’s it, isn’t it? It’s not about terrorism, gun control, or cogent posts. It’s deeper than that. I shut off my phone and reflected. What can I do? Really. I am one person. Busy busy busy in my world. What can I do? Differently. I am not an activist. I am not particularly authoritative about lots of political facts and policy implications. I am quiet. Sensitive. A mother, a marketing executive, a yoga teacher. What can I do?

And then I remembered. My new year’s “resolution.” The one I forgot around January 25th. Greet each person with enthusiasm and joy. Curiosity. Love. That’s it. Simple, right? Look them in the eye, welcome them into my world and open my heart to them.

But it’s not simple. I forget. I get annoyed. I get anxious. I get overwhelmed. I snap. I send off a vibe of “I’m busy busy busy! Leave me alone!” Or worse, I get judgmental. I’m so judgmental. And competitive. You know. I’m more important than you. Or I’m better than you. Or I’m smarter than you. Or I’m more right than you. Ugh! It’s exhausting. And not true. So. Not. True. Being judgmental is a sign that you need to prop yourself up. I don’t need to do that any more. I am good enough.

So, like a meditation practice, when I notice that I’ve forgotten and gone off in some unintended direction, I bring myself back. Maybe gently. More likely with frustration. And greet each person with enthusiasm and joy. Curiosity. Love. Especially my family. They get the brunt of my bad behavior. And maybe, just maybe, if I act with more love and less hate, then maybe, just maybe, the people in my life will also act with more love and less hate. And maybe, just maybe, like water rippling into ever widening circles, there will be a little more love and a little less hate.

That is what I can do.

Image Credit: Lake Ripples by Rosemary Craig

Win Hillary Win!

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I Endorse Hillary Clinton for President

For me there is no other candidate. Win Hillary Win! My support comes from a deep-seated, intuitive place. I don’t have a bunch of statistics at my fingertips. I don’t know every bullet point on her platform. I’m educated and I read the news, but I’m not particularly political and I shy away from arguments, conflict avoidant, not trusting my knowledge of the issues to be better than my opponent’s. I usually rely on: “Because it’s the right thing to do!” Which doesn’t get me very far with someone who is more versed in the nuances…or more skilled at arguing. And with someone who is very persuasive, I can find myself seeing their point of view and shortchanging my point of view.

It’s easy to wave the flag for Hillary with other women I know who support her.  But it’s more difficult to champion someone or something with an adversarial audience.  I tend to not speak or hide what I think.  So, at the risk of alienating my more progressive friends and readers and at the risk of alienating my more conservative friends and readers, it’s time I come out clear and strong, no hiding what I think: I support Hillary and can’t wait to vote for her.

They say women like me are part of Hillary’s core support: white and middle-aged. And it is said in a disparaging way. You know, like soccer moms. Yes. That’s me. White and middle-aged, and I’m still driving a mini-van. I support her. I’m right on trend. Right smack in the middle of my demographic. No apologies.

They say we support her because in our lifetime we’ve seen how hard women have had to struggle to make the gains we’ve made. Indeed. In my industry (the dying magazine industry), I see brilliant, hard-working women run magazines, brilliantly, at companies run by men. It’s discouraging.

They say younger women don’t consider themselves feminists. That the feminism of my day is an unnecessary and old cause. Hmmm. Let them work for a decade and get back to me. I am a feminist.

My mother was the first feminist I knew. She was a charter subscriber to Ms. Magazine in 1972, when I was 10. She encouraged me to be proud of being a woman and to think I was capable of doing anything I wanted. I dreamt of being President and couldn’t wait for a time when a woman was considered equal to or better than a man at being our Commander-in-Chief. I’m still dreaming and waiting, not convinced that time has come yet.

I plan to vote for Hillary. Because she is a woman. Apparently, it is anathema to support a woman just because she’s a woman. It discounts her credentials as an outstanding candidate. It’s the height of sexism. Nonsense. One reason I support Hillary is because she is a woman. She’s had to be more organized and better prepared and more experienced. She’s had to deal with the sexism, the barbs, the challenges, the defeats. She’s a mother and a wife. How can it not matter that she is woman?

She fights for issues I care about: women and children, reproductive rights, education, gun-control. She is the most experienced candidate at representing the United States internationally and nurturing international alliances. She is, dare I say it, pragmatic.  She will do a good job. She will bring a sense of mission to her role and, dare I say it, be a great President.

Oh, and her hair is looking good! Damn! You got this Hillary!

Photo Credit:  Doug Miller/The New York Times

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