Monday, January 28, 2013

God bless Jimmy Carter, and you know she will.

Losing my religion for equality

Jimmy Carter July 15, 2009
Illustration: Dyson
Illustration: Dyson
Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.
I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.
This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.
At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.
The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.
In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.
The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.
It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.
I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.
The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."
We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.
The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.
I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.
The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.
Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happy Birthday to P

Let's just take a moment to remember my fabulous late sister, P, shall we? A gal who knew how to purge a closet of useless clothing (Have you worn that in the last six months? Then toss it!); who was invariably the mostly chicly dressed gal at the party; with a wit as dry as the Sahara; who could somehow light a cigarette and two drags later have filled the entire room with smoke; who knew from the age of nine her life would be a brief one, yet never met a joke she didn't like; whose sense of irony never failed her; whose feet I failed to rub often enough; whose wry smile I'll miss til my dying day;  the classy broad who taught my four year old daughter to read.

Shout it from the rooftops: She will always carry on.

And hey! How bout that Sloane gal whupping Serena's queenly behind?  You go, girl.

Here, P, this Bud's for you. Cheers.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

As to the Question of "Why Bother?"

Perusing Jesse's Cafe Americain this morning, a blog I like reading now and again because he lives in Paris and is very smart about financial stuff and food, I read his entertaining and insightful commentary on the platinum coin "solution" (a trick known formerly as "slight of hand") being tossed around the punditry as a solution to US debt.  Then scrolled down further to find this terrific video I wanted to share with whomever out there finds themselves occasionally sighing "Why bother? It's all so pointless."  If you're too impatient to watch all of it,  (but really, would it kill you to watch to the whole thing? Surely we learn from these timeouts) skip ahead to minute 45 and listen to his response to a woman's question as to why, if the world's so utterly fecked, we should even bother choosing just and moral actions that may get us in trouble, and may not change the big picture at all – ever.  Of what value is moral behavior, are moral choices and stands, in an immoral and corrupt world? Not surprisingly, Chris Hedges, bless him,  has thought about this and has valuable insight to share, and a lovely story or two.

He reminds us most of all that "despair is the engine of totalitarianism." A sticky that belongs on every fridge.

To borrow yet another spot on quote from  Terminator 2 via John Connor, "This is deep."

Like a long, cool drink of water on a hot day.

From Jesse's today.

“If you can feel that staying human is worth while, even when it can't have any practical result whatsoever, you've beaten them.”

George Orwell

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” 

Viktor E. Frankl

Peace out.