... a blog to make sense of the world through writing and acts of creativity, to reflect on and respond to the crazy world in which we live. Can beauty, creativity, compassion, and activism emerge from this tension?
By their fruit you will know false prophets
Published in Medium recently
I have a journal in which I’ve been collecting quotes for decades. I came across this one recently — “Pray to God but row away from the rocks,” attributed as a Native American proverb. That seemed appropriate today. I am particularly bedeviled (thesaurus find that also seems apt — you’ll see why) by a sequence of articles about Christian folly that came to my attention on the news and via my feed.
Since I am a believer in context, I’ll quickly give you my “testimony.” (I crack myself up. In Jesus circles, this is a thing, sharing testimony on how you were saved.) I grew up a Christian, from being Southern Baptist in my teens, in my young adulthood I flirted with New Age Christianity and Unity, and then became a very active Episcopalian. I eventually left that church too, over a leadership issue. I have always been a seeker and a questioner — which is why I disavowed my first church when I started thinking for myself. I could never stand hypocrisy and man’s inhumanity to man. When my Sunday school teacher at the Baptist church refused to extend equality to blacks saying that the Bible was only referring to Jews and Gentiles, not to “negroes”, I knew at fourteen, that there was something wrong with that. I am skeptical and critical of any religious leader who spews hate and spreads fear, as I believe in a God of love. That’s my context, in a nutshell.
Don’t be mad — we’re still needed to save our country
Posted on Medium recently
I wanted Elizabeth to be the next president of the United States, the first woman president. I always liked her, even before she was a Senator. I remember her as a guest on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart when she was a law professor. She was smart, articulate and funny — a real triple threat. She called out the corporate power structure that controls so much of American politics and democracy. She dropped out of the race before I submitted my primary ballot, so I voted for my second choice, which was Bernie.
I AM a liberal, a progressive! I am opposed to the corporate control of our democracy, where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class keeps shrinking. I am for a government that provides services for the good of the whole. So, of course, I would vote for Bernie, even though it seemed that the majority of Democrats (not just the leadership)were steering towards Joe.
Joe does not inspire me, he’s pretty conventional, a moderate who, like President Obama and Hillary, plays nice with the corporate world, though not as flagrantly as the current administration. It seems that he will be the nominee and we will never know if Bernie would have awoken the sleeping giant of young voters, idealists, and revolutionaries. But the majority of Democrats think Joe is the best chance we have of dethroning our current POTUS, whose name I don’t want to sully my page with.
I worry about my fellow Bernie supporters who are angry at this move, as they were four years ago when Hillary became the nominee. One said she was so angry that she would not vote for Joe. The slogan, Vote Blue No Matter Who, is being widely criticized by angry Bernie supporters — like how dare they tell me that. To my fellow idealists, I plea with you to stay the course, take the long view. And read on for my story of frustrated idealism. Spoiler alert: I’m still an idealist and progressive.
How where you stand reveals who you are
Published on Medium on March 9, 2020 or read it here.
The island that I live on, like all of the Hawaiian Islands, was originally formed from volcanoes. There are five volcanoes here, three considered active and two not. One of these dormant volcanoes is the subject of a major controversy. Mauna Kea, which last erupted 6,000 to 4,000 years ago, is the tallest mountain in the world, if you are counting from the sea floor. Even if you’re not, it’s pretty tall, 4,207.3 miles, about 14,000 feet. Its height as well as other factors such as low humidity and absence of light pollution, make it a desirable location for astronomy.
The latest proposed telescope, called the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT), is the subject of the most contentious protest to a development in my memory. In the 70s, there were actions to stop the bombing of Kahoolawe, which were ultimately successful. I recall protests in the 80s and 90s over the H3 freeway on O’ahu. In Kona, before I moved back here, local activists acted to protect a strip of pristine coastline that was being pursued for an exclusive beachfront community. There are many stories of activism in Hawaii. Current events do take a front seat in one’s memory and there is something about this controversy that is different, more significant. Protests in support of the “protectors” have taken place in places outside of Hawaii, such as in Las Vegas, California and Guam. I mean, if superstars Jason Momoa and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson visit the site in support of the protestors, if Janet Jackson refers to it in a concert in Honolulu, that’s pretty impactful, right?
There is something going on. Something in the air. Something like a tipping point. Something bigger than local politics. Something. What is it?
Published on Medium on 2/25/20
As I seek to understand the current confusing chaotic state of our country, I like to see what my Trumpian friends post on Facebook. It gives me a glimpse into their thoughts. In the beginning of his presidency, I would challenge these friends by asking questions about their reasoning. I’d point out to them when they posted memes or articles that were in error or outrageous to me. I gave up after a while when I saw it made no difference. I think I was unfriended a couple of times but I have never unfriended anyone.
So one of my friends posted this article about the practice of witchcraft in America. Intrigued, I clicked. It is just the kind of evangelical screed that infuriates me, especially because it started out by praising the end of the “witchhunt” to impeach the president. Apparently, there was a binding spell cast on him at Halloween. The writer also mentions a similar hex placed on Brett Kavanaugh as he was going through his hearing. The article goes on to describe the problem of witchcraft in America, how it and associated practices such as astrology, ouija boards, and tarot cards, are evil.
We Need to Win the War on Public Education
I came of age as a professional educator before the advent of so-called education reform, which most notably became federal policy under Bush (W) as No Child Left Behind and sadly continued under Obama with his Race to the Top directives. Of course, it is even more ominous in the Trump era and an Education Secretary who sees vouchers as “the conservative answer to what ails public education.”
This reform agenda was the bane of my profession, eventually causing an early (and now blissful) retirement. It continues to be an issue I care deeply about. I still work as a substitute teacher. I still have friends toiling in the system. I still love children. And I still believe in the need in our democracy for an informed citizenry. The struggle continues even though I am no longer in the war. But in this era of chaos and confusion, I am provoked to do my part to advocate for public education.
Why is public education important? The opposite of public school is private school. Parents have their personal reasons for wanting their children to attend private school, and if they have the means (including financial aid), they will make that choice. I struggled with this conflict when my daughter went into middle school. I explored options to public middle school, believing that this was a vulnerable time, and I wanted to protect her. I arranged for her to attend an all-girls Catholic school with a full scholarship. She hated it. And the next year, she attended the middle school in our district, a feeder from a public housing project, that turned out to be a phenomenal school. Her high school experience was equally impressive, and she got into a very good college with scholarships and good financial aid.
One of the conversations I avoid but would like to be able to handle better is the one about salvation, whether or not I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I have close relatives who claim to be saved and have made it their duty to save as many unsaved loved ones as possible so that we will spend eternity in the afterlife. I journaled about a conversation with a very close relative who asked about the state of my spiritual life as she drove me to the airport. I gave this entry the title “An Annoying Conversation.”
Published in Medium, October 13, 2019
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Posted on Medium on October 5, 2019
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I had been reading Medium articles for a while - 3 articles at a time, which was what you got for free. At some point in 2019, I realized that I enjoyed this platform, and there were many more articles I wanted to read. $5 a month was not too much to pay to read interesting articles and become a member of this writing community. So many of the articles that come through my feed are on writing and how to make a living as a writer ON THIS PLATFORM. I decided to give it a try. The blogs I have written so far, have been rather light, as this first one. I have written 15 pieces on this platform since October 2, 2019 and I have made .21. I have not given up, but I have since realized that I get more reads on my personal werbsite. So I am giving it more attention now. But I haven't given up on Medium. I will try to do both from now on.
Here is my first piece:
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First posted on Medium on October 3, 2019
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Diane Aoki is a writer who explores other modes of creativity as her intuition leads her.