The Ruth Moore Act of 2013 is an important FIRST step in helping the victims of military sexual trauma. Please sign this petition and write your Congressional Leaders urging them to address the causes and conditions that result in military sexual trauma.
Here is a copy of my letter:
The military has resources. The military also has a culture that ostracizes anyone who is injured or ill and attempts to utilize those resources. The hypermasculine, homophobic, and misogynistic culture objectifies women and creates the causes and conditions that enable their victimization. It inhibits reporting. It victimizes the reporter. If a person does not report, seek, or receive assistance after leaving the military, via the VA, the person is re-traumatized again and again. The VA willfully ignores the military culture and prohibitions against reporting. Rather than assisting Veterans, it delays and denies assistance to them. These delays and denials are additional traumas that amplify the sense of learned helplessness experienced by the victim. Instead of helping a Veteran reconstruct her life, the VA acts are deconstructive and destructive of life. PTSD symptoms worsen and the person is nearly or wholly rendered disabled. This happens to both women AND MEN. Arguments to exclude women on the basis of gender, rather than establishing objective performance standards, dehumanize women as the other, as lesser. Women are not a problem. A lack of professional leadership, inadequate civilian oversight, and legal accountability at the highest levels of leadership are responsible for the persistent and pervasive troglodytic military culture. It is essential that Congress pass the Ruth Moore Act of 2013 as a FIRST step towards a comprehensive process of Congressional Oversight and Accountability of the Military.
Signed, Raymond M. McDonald US Military Academy, 1993 Former Armor Officer (Captain), 1993-1998
Buddhism, Christianity, Economics, Health, Interbeing, Liberation Theology, Love, Non-dualism, Oppression, Politics, Poverty, Radical Love, Religion, Social Justice, Socioeconomics, Spirituality, Wellness
1. Unfortunately, when viewed from psychology and history, I fear that the slow economic decline and corresponding decline in infrastructure and quality of life, will, in general, be endured until it manifests to a point of social decline that results in such scarcity of resources that small conflicts will increasingly erupt into riots. This violence will, by and large, be contained and internalized within the locations of the economically oppressed. History tells me scapegoat-ism will increasingly manifest and blame and violence between immigrants, the historically structurally disenfranchised, and the former middle class. Under these conditions, disorganized violence can become increasingly organized against one another and/or the upper class leading to a combined military and police response and suppression or institutions (I am thinking interfaith alliances united in moral-ethical common cause) can unite the oppressed as a single body in nonviolent common cause. Unfortunately, a violent and destructive outcome is positively reinforced by a post-war type economy of restructuring built on more debt.
2. I am a M. Div. student. We watched this video in my Spiritual Leadership class. My witness as a former continuous improvement leader from a top 25 MBA program who worked in some of the largest corporations in the world: this wealth is entirely extractive and exploitative. Year after year, companies report increased financial growth and efficiency. 1%-10% of individuals possessing asymmetrical information are able to differentiate between real/sustainable gains and unsustainable gains and thrive in good and bad times. The benefits have not translated to improved quality of life for the majority of people. The masses work under conditions of increasing stress, declining health, and declining health care. Under conditions of socioeconomic insecurity, families suffer and are broken. The quality of life is declining generation to generation. Yet, each individual suffers in isolation. Minds, bodies, and spirits are being broken. Individuals within the bottom 90%, under stress, react in fear and anger against one another. The “Protestant Work Ethic” makes poverty and unemployment sinful; the poor and working poor are made to feel like failures at home and at work. More adults cry in Corporate America than people think – at all levels. People have become human capital resources whose productive “value” is extracted. Once that value is exhausted, they are discarded like so much manufacturing waste. Neither the three branches of Government nor the “fourth” branch, the media, are doing anything to change this growing injustice. It is my hope, in the spirit of MLK, Jr. and others, that our Churches, as the 5th branch of Government, will organize the individual voices into collective prophetic voice and action that will lead to a sustainable reversal of this inhumane trend – both at home and abroad.
3. Our Government has been hijacked by Corporations. When corporations are endowed with the legal status of individuals, they co-opt individual rights, as well. Legal protections that serve as internal checks and balances no longer maintain the social contract. In such states of disequilibrium, it becomes incumbent upon extra-governmental institutions to organize people, to co-locate with the oppressed and from their position to hold the Government accountable, to demand justice and ensure the social contract between the government and the governed. I think a compelling case can be made that the freedom of the press and the freedom of religion serve as checks and balances not just to ensure individual rights, but to operate in conjunction with the right to assemble. In theory/de jure, viewed as a closed system, the Govt is limited to three branches. In a broader view/de facto, the Govt is composed of quasi-governmental bodies like lobbyists and corporations on one side that must be balance by other institutions that are not of the Government, but are necessary forces in the operation of a healthy and functioning Government.
4. To be clear, I also believe the economic oppressors are oppressed. Their perception of the “rules of the game” reinforce their greed, anger, and ignorance and lead them to attach to material wealth. Sadly, like hungry ghosts, they can never be satisfied, yet continue in a single direction for the answer. Liberal and conservative leaders both fail to recognize the intrinsic common distortion created by their bourgeois location. I think Kerry, Romney, and others have made it crystal clear how disconnected they have been and are with reality; the result is dehumanization. Like Cornel West and Tavis Smiley pointed out, it creates The Rich and The Rest of Us. Think of the impact on RFK of leaving Massachusetts, visiting Alabama, ad witnessing with disbelief that we can have whole areas where individuals suffer from severe malnutrition and distended stomachs in the U.S. Whose nutritional insecurity fatally limits their growth, livelihoods, and lives. You cannot witness and be moved from afar. You have to be in the room, look in the eyes, taste, smell, and feel it with nowhere to run to, and to hear the cries of the children and the angry words of the parents, to feel it. We are designed for empathy (i.e. mirror neurons). We must feel the imminent and immanent threat of death and emptiness in our collective belly and womb. We are not only destroying ourselves, but the planet. The ongoing debate in the media between liberal and conservative bourgeois positions say “sorry, we are trying but we canot seem to agree on how to help you” while the financial news testifies to the fact that in the midst of their failure to help us, they have no problem increasingly helping themselves. It’s a scam and we need to organize and stop being willing passive partners in being bamboozled.
Passive disconnected spirituality cannot be acceptable. People need to look without as well as within. It is my hope that individuals will go forth and open themselves to being vulnerable, to allow the pain outside to contact the pain inside, and to unite in solidarity with one another in common cause. Every small act matters. We are disenfranchised. Yet, every call or letter to a politician is calculated to represent the viewpoints of hundred if not thousands that do not call. Therefore, let us unite around important legislation and court cases and change the Govt. Our churches and community organizations are good places to come together. Let us move from witness to justice!
On the seventh day, God rested. So, we are reminded to keep the Sabbath a holy day of rest.
The communal meal was a central part of Jesus’s ministry. It was a ministry of presence. Likewise, we are called to feed our bodies and our spirits daily – in my tradition, three times per day we are called.
When two or three come together in the name of God, God is present with them. Rather, I believe God is always with us, but coming together in the name of God is about bringing our intention and attention into the moment. We return to ourselves, to one another, and to God in our midst.
We sleep. This is an extraordinary gift. We rest. We renew. Perhaps we dream. When we awake, we can begin anew. This is the day that God has made. A new day is born and us with it.
Resting. Preparing a meal. Eating a shared meal. Sleeping. These are not hindrances to life. These are not mere enablers of work. These are intrinsic parts of life.
When I got married, I remember a very long moment of looking into my wife’s eyes. I was 100% present with my wife in that timeless moment.
On my daughter’s birthday, I lingered in a long hug with my young daughter. We made it last as long as possible, joking about who could maintain the hug the longest before one or the other’s body gave out.
What is a rose if not an invitation to stop, to look at it, to linger a moment in timeless space and smell it?
We are called to live in faith, to live in global and local community with one another. Yes, we are called to work and to works. Work is good. But, we are called to more.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matt. 11:30).
I am tired. I am tired of being tired. I believe many of us are. But, greater is my weariness over the persistent and pervasive ethos that idolizes work, in which individuals measure one against the other on the basis of works alone.
One is not justified by work(s) alone.
A life is to be lived. This is our calling. Many a time, as a father, I find my greatest failing in doing and my greatest success in being…being present, being in the moment, sharing time and space with my daughter. I am a husband. I am a friend. Etc.
I believe a new ethos is needed. I believe we need to stop oppressing ourselves and one another. We must stop mimicking behaviors that perpetuate mindlessness. Let us begin anew. I would ask that we perpetuate mindfulness. I would ask that we live the life we imagine for ourselves and one another now. This is our living faith.
Let us stop judging others. It is enough that we judge ourselves. Even this wears at the bonds of community for implicit in the judgment of ourselves is the judgment of others we impose on ourselves.
To borrow from Henri Nouwen: There is a time for solitude. There is a time for ministry. There is a time for community.
I have used a faith-based model of living. However, I suggest this model of living in homeostatic equilibrium is equally valid within the secular biopsychosocial diathesis-stress paradigm. I believe, if we are still, we will individually realize our innate need for literal bread and literal water and spiritual bread and spiritual waters as our sustenance. To fulfill these individual needs, we must feed not only ourselves, but one another.
I have a vision of how wonderful life would be if we could support one another as faith partners in living it. Won’t you share it? Let us create a new ethos. Let us all support one another in placing doing in context as a small but necessary part of our greater calling – being.
If economics, or socioeconomics, describes the structure and function of society and the economy as a body, then the political and business leaders are like a cell occupied by a virus. Once occupied, the cells shift from benign to malignant. They no longer recognize other cells. They grow, extracting more and more resources. In return, they excrete deadly toxins. We are witnessing the death of healthy citizens due to the corrupt and corrupting behaviors of once healthy citizens turned malignant. If history is a guide, we must restore health or we will certainly from the body the rise of antibodies, of killer cells, that will destroy these malignant cells. This will result in the loss of many healthy cells in the surrounding tissue and leave a hole and a scar. All I know, for now, is that when there is sickness and injury in one part of the body, its effects, particularly pain, are felt throughout the body. This pain is a call to the healthy parts of the body to respond. It ought not be ignored. In the case of a particularly malignant infection, it is ignored at peril to the entire body.
Buddhism, Christianity, Economics, Health, Health Care, Interbeing, Liberation Theology, Love, Military, Non-dualism, Oppression, Politics, Poverty, Radical Love, Religion, Social Justice, Socioeconomics, Veteran
We, the people, are possessed.
Through our possessions, we are possessed.
Through our possessions, we are oppressed.
Possession focuses life on material wealth and leaves us poor in social wealth. Unwilling to share material wealth, the possessed are poor in spirit.
Repossession illuminates the emptiness of impermanent material wealth and the emptiness of social wealth that it displaced.
But what concerns me most is dispossession.
In its positive form, dispossession is the personal decision to abandon attachment to possessions as a source of suffering. It is liberating.
But, dispossession is only liberating if it is manifests from a source of autonomy.
Dispossession is a cause of suffering and trauma when it is motivated by external sources and creative of economic and social disequilibria.
According to the Federal Poverty Guidelines for the 48 contiguous states for 2013, the poverty level for a household of 3 is $19,530 (http://www.familiesusa.org/resources/tools-for-advocates/guides/federal-poverty-guidelines.html)
The order of magnitude differences in the cost of living between cities and states across the contiguous 48 states render the publication of a single figure criminal.
Even if that figure is adjusted by the Federal General Services Administration (GSA) locality pay rate adjustment for Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside of 27.16%, the figure only rises to $24,834.
By contrast, the California Budget Project (http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/17/business/fi-wages17)
estimated that a 3-person household in Los Angeles with one working member needs $51,035. This figure assumes the household rents their residence, owns/leases a car, and provides their own healthcare. According to this figure, rent accounts for 23.3% of income.
I would argue that even THIS figure is NOT middle class according to historical definitions/expectations. It does not include retirement savings (e.g. IRAs), College, College Savings, Vacations, Holidays, or Emergencies!
To live in an area with top-performing schools increases rent to one-third of income! This does NOT include utilities.
In other words, if you are a member of a 3-person household and meet these criteria, you are poor and you are engaged in a life that has a high probability of bequeathing poverty to the next generations.
As a student and member of a 3 person household, it was the inspiration of The Rich and the Rest of Us by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West that inspired me to calculate these figures.
The newly poor and charities are engaged in a mutual distortion of reality. Both sides insist for reasons from education, job, zip code, race, and more on identifying certain individuals and households with equivalent incomes as middle class and others as poor.
The reality? Both are poor.
The reality? A significant number of charitable and grant-funded organizations are dispossessing the nominal middle class (i.e. the new poor). These organizations are self-aggrandizing. Despite an altruistic veneer, they are part of the 1%. They do not serve the poor. They serve themselves.
Too many institutions that should be prophetic voices for social justice take socioeconomic security and return only guilt and a demand for more.
I am a co-founder of an agenda-less community, Veterans Engaging Together (V.E.T.). We intentionally decided not to incorporate as a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Instead, as an agenda-less community, we are a mutual aid and support society. We provide intergenerational mentoring and help Veterans reintegrate with themselves, their families, and their communities.
This is the kind of model employed by my grandfather during the Great Depression. Individuals, Families, and Communities came together to support one another. They recognized the limits of will and ability for society in general and the Government in particular to help.
I wasn’t there in that time. But, today, it seems that the limits of will and ability to help on the part of the Government and Institutions is greater. Help is too often destructive of dignity, of wealth, and, at times, of individuals and families, instead of restorative.
We founded a Nation and a Dream and hoped they would merge to form a Great Society.
We have to dispossess ourselves of the ideal and examine the real. The Dream of a Great Society has become the Nightmare of an Oppressive Plutocractic Oligarchy engaged in perpetual war that has extended beyond the limits of humankind to include the Earth and all life on it, human, animal, plant, and mineral.
We have to disposses ourselves of the notion of middle class identity and WAKE UP to a poor reality.
Then, and only then, will we recognize our only possession, Free Will. It is then that we must rise individually and collectively with one voice, WE THE PEOPLE, to repossess our Government, a Government by the people, of the people, and for the people.
In closing, this essay is not intended to dispossess the historically poor from their identities as poor or to minimize or relativize their suffering. Rather, it is a call to the misidentified middle class to STOP identifying with the 1% and joining them in their oppressive policies and practices. It is a call for the former middle class to identify with the new reality. It is no longer “there but for the grace of God go I.” It is now “there go I.”
I invite perspectives from my brothers and sisters within and without the United States of America.