Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Books · When Things Fall Apart
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When Things Fall Apart

Anne Stanton - March 15th, 2007
I was at an Interlochen Pathfinder School ice skating party recently when my eye caught the name of a book left on a folding chair: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun.
As it turns out the book belonged to a woman who formed a “Chodron” book study group with two other women. One of the moms at the skating party asked if
she could join the group. I was tempted to ask, too.
That’s because the title really hit me. Things really are falling apart, I thought, in the big world and my own little one.
In the larger world, glaciers are sliding into the ocean, yet some still argue whether
global warming even exists. Men are rotting in the Guantánamo Bay prison, without hope of seeing the inside of a courtroom. Iraq is obviously in chaos, Afghanistan is sliding back into chaos, and war is looming with Iran.
Then I’m hearing more firsthand stories of our country losing its footing at home.
Just recently I talked with Dr. Don Willman, a Traverse City physician who works in hospital emergency rooms around the country. He told me of a patient he saw a couple of years ago in the emergency room of a Sault Ste. Marie hospital. He was a 21-year-old college student (of Middle Eastern descent) who had crossed over from the Canadian side of town to join his schoolmates for a drink. He ended up in a county jail because he wasn’t carrying the proper paperwork.
He sat in jail for several days and was refused permission to call his parents or friends to let them know where he was. He ended up in the emergency room because he didn’t have his prescription drugs for an intestinal problem.
Dr. Willman talked to the deputy and then the young man. He quickly grasped that this clean-cut young man was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Willman asked the deputy, if he “got a lot of these type of people.” The deputy said in a frustrated voice, “Yes, and they’re filling up our jail.” In fact, he had been temporarily pulled out of retirement to help out.
The good doctor feared that he would get in trouble if he helped out the student, so he looked at the deputy for tacit approval while he handed the student a telephone to call his folks for the name of his medications. Willman also knew it would give him a chance to let his parents know where he was.
What kind of country have we become, Dr. Willman asked, when we don’t allow an arrestee the benefit of making a phone call? When we incarcerate people indefinitely without charges of wrongdoing or the opportunity to see a lawyer?
(A Chippewa County jail administrator said that inmates, even foreigners, are allowed to use a pay phone and seek out an attorney, and didn’t know what happened in this case.)

Everyday it seems to be something different, like laws getting passed in the dead of night when no one’s looking.
Did you catch the New York Times editorial, “Making Martial Law Easier.” The editor wrote that tucked into the massive defense budget bill was permission to use military troops as a domestic police force to respond to a “natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or to any other condition.”
“…these new presidential powers were slipped into the law without hearings or public debate,” the editor wrote.

On a more personal level, things aren’t really falling apart. But about a month ago, a Record-Eagle editor called my husband to ask him about Interlochen’s decision to close the Pathfinder School.
We were stunned. I couldn’t believe it. I emailed the Record-Eagle editor and
told him he was wrong (after all, no one had yet told the parents). He sent back
an e-mail: “Who stole your reporter’s keyboard?” Ouch.
School was abruptly canceled for the next two days, during which an Interlochen security guard came onto campus and a beloved employee was escorted off. This was not the Interlochen that my husband, an alumnus, knew
and loved.
Like the other kids at school, my daughter cried her eyes out that night. And then, amazingly, a group of parents stepped forward and announced that they would do everything in their power to save Pathfinder. They have worked marathon hours, opened an office, put up a website, and convinced scores of parents to enroll their kids next year. It’s looking good.
Yet my friend works at Pathfinder school and everyday is buffeted by grief and rumors. She was having trouble sleeping, suffered heart palpitations, and found herself riding an emotional tidal wave, getting swept this way and that.

Chodron discusses the different ways people typically deal with stress, not all healthy--drinking, drugs, avoidance and panic.
She says things will go better if you approach intense, painful emotions with an open mind. She calls it the middle way, which means relaxing with the painful feelings of loneliness, boredom and anxiety.
“Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a non-threatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down.”
My friend said that Chodron’s advice is particularly relevant for her.
“If my emotions are in chaos, I’m in chaos. She (Chodron) helped me figure out how not to be engaged in these emotions. I had to learn how to be present, but not to get caught up in what anyone said on either side.
“With all that’s been going on at work, I had to decide that I was going to practice peace—not to be part of the war that was going on in my world. Instead of ignoring or compartmentalizing it, I could simply accept what’s going on and acknowledge that I don’t have a lot of control over things. But I do have control over how I react toward others and my children.”
She now lets rumors whirl, waiting for them to prove themselves as facts.
The nice thing about a study group, she said, is that it provides a safe place to speak honestly. Her friends validate that pain is pretty much part of being alive. They also say what needs to be said. “There’s no gaming. I need to have people like that, and to be called on my behavior. Otherwise I’ll do other things, put in another load of laundry, and try not to think about it.”
The beauty of Chodron, said my friend, is that she is a mother of two and
a former teacher. Unlike some of the popular Buddhist authors, Chodron writes from a more accessible, Western perspective and relates to the challenges of everyday living.

Chodron talks a lot about the interior work you can do, but also offers suggestions on relating to the outside world. One is to stop hating the people who disagree with you. Instead, gather facts to bolster your case and communicate them in an intelligent and non-threatening way.
The other is to cultivate compassionate, energetic social action.
Doing just that is a loose-knit group calling itself the Traverse Area Peace and Justice Community. They recently hand-delivered letters to our U.S. senators and representatives, asking them to call for immediate troop withdrawal and to deny the additional money President Bush wants for the troop increase (the Congressional Budget Office just estimated that it will cost $27 billion for a year-long stay).
So far, none of the politicians have agreed to the letter’s requests.
Next step: office sit-ins.
Also planned is a week of nonviolent anti-war activities in March to mark the war’s fourth anniversary.
“I am so against this war—it’s so ridiculous and such a waste of human life that I have to use my own voice, even if it doesn’t do squat,” said Lisa Franseen, who delivered a letter to Senator Levin’s office. “I am doing this for my own good conscience. One of the points I make in my work as a therapist and workshop facilitator, is why do things at all? A lot of times it’s more for your own health and well-being than the results you’ll get—and that’s okay.”
The group will likely find that their representative leaders don’t agree with them—at least how to achieve stability in Iraq. So what? At least they have spoken their minds. As Franseen said, well-intentioned action is healing and constructive.
Chodron advises that the action must be delivered with a peaceful heart and an open mind.
No matter what your religious persuasion, much of Chodron’s advice in this tiny tome will likely hit home. “Curiously enough, if we primarily try to shield ourselves from discomfort, we suffer. Yet when we don’t close off and we let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings.”
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