The Victory of Justice

I have a work colleague who occasionally makes good-natured comments about how I want the world to be “fair,” while asserting that the world “isn’t fair.” This often comes on the heels of me pointing out ways in which the various “systems” we are a part of do not live up to their self-professed ideals or principles of operation. I respond that I fully understand the difference between “what is” and its distance from “what could be.” But, I ask, should the acknowledgment of this reality prevent us from working toward a better reality for ourselves and our world?

As we begin this Holy Week, today’s words from Isaiah (ch 42) strike home: 

“I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.”

Trusting that All Will Be Well

Demonstrators in front of US Capitol (Dec. 2012)

Demonstrators in front of US Capitol (Dec. 2012)

This week has been hard.

Taking a brief 3-day cruise that began last Sunday, we were at sea and “off the grid” for the final days of the recent election. I did not sleep Tuesday evening, tossing and turning and praying all night. By 6 am we had arrived within sight of Port Everglades and cellular service was returning. While following my morning routine of going to the Deck 5 coffee shop, I was able to get a ful cellular signal. I opened the Washington Post app on my phone and saw the words, “Trump Triumphs.” I felt ill; I sat down for a few moments in the empty lounge I was passing through. I returned to our stateroom (sans cappucino) to share the news with my partner. I don’t think I’m revealing too much when I say that we cried. It remains unfathomable to me how anyone — including some family and friends — could have voted for a man who seems to be without moral compass and whose campaign brought out the worst in the human spirit. This Huffington Post commentary expresses what I and so many millions of Americans are feeling. As commentator Jennifer Sullivan writes, “The entire Trump/Pence ticket’s platform revolves around making other individuals be made to feel less than. It is divisive. It is harmful. And it stands in stark opposition to every ideal this country was founded upon.”  For me, the enduring feeling — as someone on Facebook stated — is as if my neighbors, my family, my friends voted against me.

It Is What It Is

One of the essential elements of mental and spiritual health is the ability to live in reality. And so I recognize and accept what is. Tuesday cannot be undone. Our quirky Electoral College system that allows someone who came in 2nd to be named the winner cannot be retroactively changed. One hundred million voters who decided their vote didn’t count cannot now cast their ballots and have their voices heard, too.

The only option we have is to move forward, reminding ourselves daily of the values we hold most dear and how those values impact our daily lives and daily choices. Like the demonstrators above who were not afraid to demonstrate for peace on the grounds of the US Capitol, we too must find ways of ensuring that our voices are heard in the public square — whenever and however we can.

julian-of-norwichAgain, this has been a tough week. But I took comfort this morning from this passage in Richard Rohr’s Everything Belongs (p. 132).

“Again I quote beloved Julian of Norwich in her famous thirteenth Showing. ‘In fear and trembling,’ she asked Jesus, ‘O good Lord, how can all be well when great harm has come to your creatures through sin? And here I wanted, if I dared, to have some clearer explanation to put my mind at rest.’ And he said, ‘Since I have brought good out of the worst-ever evil, I want you to know by this; that I shall bring good out of all the lesser evils, too.'”

Or, as Julian is famously quoted:  “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

 

Florida DCF Should Protect LGBT Youth in Foster Care

Florida Department of Children and Families
1317 Winewood Boulevard, Bldg. 4

Tallahassee  Florida  32399

ATTN:  Ms. Jodi Abramowitz

Dear Ms. Abramowitz,

My name is Timothy MacGeorge and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).  In my work as a therapist at a community behavioral health center in Naples (FL), I occasionally work with youth who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).

I am writing to urge the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to restore the language that was recently stricken from  Rule 65C-I4: Group Care Licensing (cf. http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/publicnotices/20160408-Notice-of-Change-65C-14.pdf ) being considered at tomorrow’s [April 8, 2016] public hearing.  As a therapist, I have seen first hand how a young LGBT person’s emotional well-being is impacted by the degree to which he/she is accepted by his/her family, friends, classmates, teachers, and society at large. When young people are accepted for who they are, they are more likely to thrive and reach their God-given potential. When young people are denigrated, shamed, and made to feel that their sense of self is an abomination to be exorcised, then the resulting high rates of anxiety, depression and even suicide should not come as a surprise. All reputable mental health organizations now recognize the broad range of sexual orientations and gender identities within the human family. They also recognize that any attempt to change or “convert” someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is not only clinically unsound, but also professionally unethical.

Media reports suggest that the impetus behind this recent language change in the Proposed Rule was pressure from religious groups in the state, including the Florida Catholic Conference. As a Catholic Christian (one who was also ordained a Catholic priest), I believe that there is more support in Sacred Scripture for accepting all of God’s children as they are, created in God’s image and likeness, than there is for any view which sees LGBT persons as “unnatural,” “not normal” or in need of so-called “conversion therapy.”

Please do the right thing and restore the recently stricken language from the proposed rule. Please act on behalf of all youth committed to DCF’s care — including LGBT youth.

Sincerely,

Timothy J MacGeorge, LCSW
Bonita Springs, FL  34135

True Fasting

PopeFrancis-mercy“Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed and lie in sackcloth and ashes?…

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!”

from today’s 1st Reading for Mass, Isaiah 58

Hate Disguised as Faith

In today’s meditation entitled “A Toxic Image of God,” Franciscan Father Richard Rohr makes the comment that, “it’s much easier to organize people around fear and hatred than around love.”

That seems to be the most effective strategy these days in American politics. And it’s certainly what’s happening in Florida now. The so-called “Pastor Protection Act” has advanced in the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 7-3. The proposed law is very brief. And while I”m no lawyer, it seems to me, the only thing this bill does is provide a forum to advance and promote public disdain for LGBT persons. If you doubt that, then watch what this so-called “pastor” has to say. Citing a tragic homicide, he basically claims that gay people are killers and do not deserve legal protection of their rights. Yes, “it’s much easier to organize people around fear and hatred than around love.” I wonder what Jesus would say about this man’s testimony??