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Thu Feb 11, 2016, 02:39 PM

Strawberry Statements Forever

“I count no sacrifice too great for seeing God face-to-face. The whole of my activity, be it called social, political, humanitarian, or ethical, is directed to that end. And as I know that God is found more often in the lowliest of his creatures than in the high and mighty, I am struggling to reach the status of these. I cannot do so without their service. Hence, my passion for the service of the suppressed classes. And as I cannot render this service without entering politics, I find myself in them.”
-- Mohandas K. Gandhi

In a recent campaign event, Bernie Sanders was asked about his religious/ spiritual belief system. He gave an intense answer, with none of the plastic that we can normally expect from a candidate running to be president. The same people who insist that President Obama is an Islamic atheist will, of course, attempt to attack Sanders for his heritage and religion; however, rational people found his integrity as a human being to be reassuring.

The Constitution contains what is known as the “No Religious Test Clause,” or Article VI, Clause 3. It is pretty clear: “…; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Still, not all self-proclaimed patriots are interested in what the Constitution says.

The topic of religion and politics always involves some degree of tension. In today’s world, there are numerous examples of intolerance and violence upon the part of those who wish to inflict their religion upon others. And our nation has a history of denying human rights to groups of people, based upon the religious ideology of the majority. Thus, every time a republican states, inaccurately, that we are a “Christian nation,” it’s cause for concern. For the republican goal is to deny human rights to those who do not share their particular belief system.

Martin Luther King, Jr., as we know, was a registered republican up until the 1960 presidential election. His father was, too. But in that year, King recognized that a Kennedy administration offered greater promise to the Civil Rights movement. His ministry -- particularly in the 1960s -- offers us a powerful example of the proper relationship between a person practicing their own religion, while being active in social-political issues. For King wasn’t seeking to restrict anyone’s rights -- he was attempting to expand everyone’s rights as American citizens. And that, to me, is the difference between sugar and shit.

Yet, King faced fierce opposition …..primarily from Christians. Much of it was quite simply due to gross racism. But a significant amount of his opposition was because he was considered to be a socialist. And, in fact, he was. However, he was not attracted to the Soviet model, which was actually a form of limited state capitalism, or to “Red” China’s authoritarian version. King looked to the advances being made in European nations with mixed economies.

I was fortunate, as a youth, to have a mentor who had been friends with King. My friend had also been acquainted with Malcolm X, who by no coincidence had also begun to lean towards socialism in his final years of life. Years ago, when the movie “The Hurricane” came out, I showed some of Rubin’s letters, from while he was incarcerated, to co-workers at the mental health clinic. I remember one, who had studied to be a Jesuit, saying, “Oh, cool. Liberation theology.” (I would introduce several of my co-workers to Rubin back then, too.)

In sociological studies, “liberation theology” is usually described as having its roots in the Catholic Church, and being prominent in Central American’s struggle to gain freedom in the 1980s. That’s accurate for the Christian strain, though its actual history goes back much further. More, it is not dependant upon “religion” -- Rubin, for but one example, was an atheist. He reminded me, somewhat, of Carl Sagan, in that he didn’t discount the possibility of “God,” but thought that the general description, or definition, that most people accepted was not only restrictive and inaccurate, but frequently presented a stumbling block to individual and group growth and human progress.

As an old man who favors liberation theology, I find the Bernie Sanders campaign to offer the greatest promise for advances in the quality of human life, here in the United States, on planet earth. The time for this is now, not in the afterlife. Like Rubin, I believe in science, and am convinced, for example, that advances in modern medicine are miracles. I do not believe that such miracles should be granted to the highest bidder, any more than I think that rights to water and air are the private property of large corporations.

I know that this universe -- which is a miracle -- is billions of years old. I recognize that the earth is not the exact center of the universe, at least not to anyone not inhabiting the earth. From my house, I can hear a nearby creek running, especially after a hard rain; I recognize that as true power. I know that all life on earth -- including the family tree that led to modern humans -- originated in the great oceans. And I know that climate change is a reality, and that our current global crises relating to climate change is a result of our ignorant and greedy destruction of the natural world.

What type of Democratic socialist who practices liberation theology supports Bernie Sanders, you ask? To provide an answer worthy of the DU community, I find I must quote from James Simon Kunen’s classic, “The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary” (Avon Books; 1969):

“ ….I, for one, strongly support trees (and, in the larger sense, forests), flowers, mountains and hills; also, valleys, the ocean, wiliness (when used for good), good, little children, tremendous, record-setting snowstorms, hurricanes, swimming underwater, nice policemen, unicorns, extra-inning ball games up to twelve innings, pneumatic jackhammers (when they’re not too close), the dunes in North Truro on Cap Cod, liberalized abortion laws, and Raggedy Ann dolls, among other things.” (page 10)

Kunen listed things he disliked, including three that he was working to change: racism, poverty, and war

The Sanders campaign provides us with the opportunity to institute serious changes in our society. In part, it has the promise of combating the “-isms” that are social pathologies, and which crush human lives. And, in part, it provides fertile ground for every person to reach their full potential. To reach that potential, people need access to education and health care. And that’s why I support Bernie Sanders for president.

Thank you,
H2O Man

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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply Strawberry Statements Forever (Original post)
H2O Man Feb 2016 OP
Faux pas Feb 2016 #1
H2O Man Feb 2016 #2
Gregorian Feb 2016 #3
H2O Man Feb 2016 #4
Gregorian Feb 2016 #5
Sensitive soul Feb 2016 #6

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Feb 11, 2016, 02:47 PM

1. Kickin'

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Response to Faux pas (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 11, 2016, 02:49 PM

2. Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Feb 11, 2016, 03:52 PM

3. I find inspiration in your post.

What I find amazing is that having been what I feel is a total outsider from the human race, and seeing things that no one else seems to see, I find such parallels in how I think, and how you also do. This has given me great optimism over the years of reading your posts. I'm not just some oddball who thinks that what everyone is doing is crazy, and maybe it's just me. It's not me, and the planet also disagrees with what is happening. I also see miracles. I've had things happen in my life that went against every ounce of energy I could muster. And somehow I ended up avoiding nightmares that could have ruined my life.

Through everything, there is one thing I have always felt strongly about. And that is, 'I don't know'. I do not know how things work. I do not know the whole truth about anything. I've experienced miracles, and yet I don't know. I see and interact with nature, and yet it's a mystery. I believe in a god, but I can't be sure. So I say I don't know. It's almost comical since it's the opposite of a definitive answer. I have spent much of my life in not knowing. I feel that when someone says they know something, they haven't thought it through.

I'm not sure this is even on topic, but it's what came to mind as I read your post. But it is on topic in this sense: it does have something to do with knowing. Who knows anything? We have new ways of looking at molecules now. We have good reason to believe gravity is a wave. We know some general things. But when it comes to really knowing the whole truth, no one knows. And as we keep looking closer and closer, the whole truth seems to be moving away at the same rate. What's electricity? What's magnetism? And even when gravitational waves are a known fact, what is gravity? We still won't know, even if we know how it works.

So if no one really knows, then how can we be at odds with each other? My ego wants to be certain. Then it will be righteous. We draw conclusions, and if we're smart, they can be accurate to the point of perfection. Yet there is a conclusion that is drawn which leads one to believe they know the whole truth. I believe this is at the heart of the world's problems. Wars are started and fought over people who believe they know the truth. I've always thought that most disagreements have misunderstanding and false knowing at their heart. We believe that living a life of luxury with the help of petroleum is worth invading another country over. For some of us it is easy to see that there is a bigger truth which includes love of another human being, which overrides the desire for oil, and money.

On the other hand, I do feel that I know the results of a Sanders vision versus the other candidates' visions. I can clearly see a better future with one versus the others. So how do we work with one another, if we see different truths. I believe there are truths. We seem to have a blindness to the complete truth, and are only capable of seeing partial truths. Yet some truths are better than others.

I'm not sure this is much help in this subject. It's just my thoughts.

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Response to Gregorian (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 11, 2016, 09:49 PM

4. Thanks.

That's one of the good things about the DU community -- we find others who think kind of like we do. I know that for me, it really wasn't until I went to college that I found friends who read the same types of things that I did, or were nearly as interested in social-political activism. But I suppose part of that was due to my being raised in a poor household -- and being kind of marginalized as one of the "poor kids" in my class -- and thus being involved full-time in amateur boxing. It's a sport that appeals primarily to marginalized young men.

This forum has not only others with very similar backgrounds and experiences, but people with varied enough backgrounds and current opinions, to make this a valuable place to talk -- at leas some of the time. Lots of negativity, too, especially during primary season!

Are you able to watch tonight's debate? I'm hoping for a civil discussion of the issues. I'm thinking that it might get pretty tense, at times, though it doesn't need to. But different people have very different opinions about proper campaign tactics.

Let's hope its a good one for both candidates, and talk more soon!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 12, 2016, 12:22 AM

5. That was a lot of fun watching the debate.

True masters of the sport. Bernie segued from one topic to another in order to take a jab at her partnership with Kissinger.

What I love about the forum is the diversity. It serves to get a fuller picture of the truth. Narrow monoculture yields thin results.

That's it for today.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 12, 2016, 01:07 AM

6. Hope

You are passing this one on to the grass roots. Very good reading and I also agree with these beliefs.

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