As always with Touré, a champion melodist, his melodies are clear, beautiful, and sticky enough to become earworms. The harmonies are trance-inducing, definitely reminding of a pure and authentic form of African music. The lyrics are varied, from touching on political issues to observations on his states of mind.
Of my top three candidates, the one I'm most passionate and energized about supporting is author, spiritual teacher, and activist Marianne Williamson. Why? Well, she's a progressive in terms of her politics, and, in my mind that's what's needed to defeat both Trump and the rising tide of fascism we're witnessing today in the United States. This is because a genuine progressive mindset and platform recognizes that Trump isn't the problem but rather a symptom of the problem. Or, as Marianne put it in a recent interview with The Guardian, “Donald Trump did not create the problem. The problem created Donald Trump.”
Here's how Marianne identifies and describes this problem:
We have essentially moved from a democratic to an aristocratic situation where our government works more to advocate for short term profits for multi-national corporations than it does to advocate for the well-being of people and the planet. Our government works more to make it easier for those who already have a lot of money to make more of it and harder for those who do not have any money to even get by. This corruption, which has progressed over the last 40 years, has created an amoral economic system where economic values are placed before humanitarian values and the well-being of people and the planet. And our democracy itself can no longer be accurately described as a government of the people, by the people and for the people [but rather a government of the corporations by the corporations and for the corporations]. It’s only when we recognize the depth of this corruption that we can move into a path of genuine transformation. Because until then, all we’re doing is addressing the symptoms and no one is naming the cause. All we’re doing is making incremental changes seeking to diminish the pain that people are experiencing because of all this, but not challenging the underlying forces that make all of that pain inevitable. . . . I stand for an actual pattern disruption of the political and economic status quo.
Along with her progressive politics, I greatly appreciate Marianne's authenticity and gravitas, qualities sorely missing from the U.S. political scene. For instance, when recently asked who she thinks is the person, or people, to beat in tonight's debate, Marianne said the following.
I don’t think that way at all. That’s not the way I see any of this. I’m not running against anyone, I’m running with a lot of good, smart people. In a way I hope that we all do well. I think that it’s the best thing that could happen for America. There’s a higher goal here. And my impression is that all of us are very aware of what that is. We’re living at a critical moment in our democracy and something is going on here so much bigger than who beats who in a debate.
In short, I totally agree with Greg Korn who, in a recent YouTube comment, notes that “Marianne Williamson should not be underestimated. She has a rare ability to articulate the ethics of the left in an approachable, graceful, confident, and wildly intelligent way. I truly believe that she's the most intellectually and philosophically sophisticated candidate I've seen in my lifetime.”
Left: With my friend Kathleen and wearing my Marianne 2020 t-shirt. We're at the June 30, 2019, rally and march in Minneapolis against the Trump administration's rhetoric and policies on immigration, especially as they relate to the inhumane practice of separating families seeking asylum at the southern border and the placing of migrant children in over-crowded and unsanitary "detention centers" that have been described as concentration camps. (For a description of Marianne's involvement in a similar protest at the notorious the Homestead detention center in Florida, see the end section of this previous Wild Reed post.)
Ahead of tonight's Democratic presidential debate, here are eight informative and insightful interviews with Marianne Williamson from the last two months (June-July 2019). Accompanying these videos are excerpts from Kaitlin Johnstone's recent Mediumarticle in which she shares her thoughts on Marianne and her presidential bid. Enjoy!
On PBS's Newshour, June 6, 2019 (7 mins) . . .
• As mocked as she is, Marianne Williamson would still make a better president than almost any Democrat running
Granted, given the platoon of plutocratic palace eunuchs that is the 2020 Democratic primary race, this isn’t much of a compliment. But it’s still worth noting that her overall platform is more progressive than most of her primary opponents, and that she appears to be far less invested in coddling the oligarchs than Biden, Warren, Harris, O’Rourke, Buttigieg, Booker, or almost any of the other twenty-something candidates. Only Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard have more to offer in terms of challenging existing power structures, and of course Mike Gravel (who Williamson helped fundraise for) if you feel like counting his interesting campaign.
I tend to ignore any self-proclaimed “progressive” if they don’t express a determination to overhaul the status quo of the US-centralized empire’s forever war, but Williamson has been promoting significant changes on that front, including the creation of a Department of Peace. In a debate that was remarkably scant on any foreign policy questions, Williamson was the only candidate to point out during the immigration section that many immigrants are fleeing their countries because of disastrous US foreign policy.
Williamson also has unusually awake views on things like race, slavery reparations, and putting children first in a real and tangible way which could do a lot to heal America’s deep psychological woundedness, something she seems to prioritize in all her political thinking.
Marianne Williamson on CNN, June 18, 2019 (14 mins) . . .
• She has the ability to capture America’s attention
Because of her willingness to talk about love and say things you’re just not meant to say on a presidential debate stage, Williamson was the most-searched candidate on Google after the last Democratic debates, with interest surging nearly every time she opened her mouth. You can tell me that a lot of that was the undesirable kind of attention, but if Donald Trump’s election taught us anything it’s that undesirable attention isn’t necessarily a thing for presidential candidates.
Williamson’s challenge is using that attention in a way that wins people over and captures their imaginations. If she can find a way to put out concise, forceful, positive messages that really light people up while she has America’s attention, it’s technically possible for her to turn interest due to novelty into actual support, especially if she can get better at taking advantage of her massive social media following. Unlike Gravel, Williamson is actually sincerely in this race to win it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she picks up a few tricks to help push toward that goal.
Williamson has a unique knack for getting herself into the bloodstream of the zeitgeist. There’s a very famous quote almost everyone has heard at some point that goes, “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
The New Progressive Voice's analysis of Marianne Williamson's appearance on The View, June 20, 2019 (23 mins) . . .
• The “anti-science” smear is bullshit
Williamson has repeatedly denied that she is opposed to science, vaccinations and medical care, so the only way to continue to believe that she opposes those things is to decide that she’s a secret science-hater who is trying to get into the White House to wage a covert war on science. This would obviously be stupid. Williamson has said weird things in her weird guru-lady life to talk about the power of the mind, but if she’s saying in plain English that she supports modern medicine then there’s no reason to disbelieve her.
This is a common wedge issue against the political left in America that the establishment narrative managers are all too happy to use; they used it constantly on Jill Stein in the lead-up to the 2016 election, and she’s a bloody doctor. It works as a wedge issue because it turns the dreadlocks/patchouli lefties and the rationalism/atheism lefties against each other, thereby rendering them both impotent.
There’s no good reason to believe that Marianne Williamson is secretly plotting to become president so that she can steal your measles vaccines, though. Don’t be a doofy conspiracy theorist.
Marianne interviewed by CNN's Kate Bolduan, July 3, 2019 (6 mins) . . .
• Her underlying premise is absolutely correct
One of the things that sets Williamson apart from the other candidates is her insistence that the only thing which can really turn things around for America and for the world is a profound psychological change on a mass scale in the way human beings operate. Her stated goal is not just to change policies in a more progressive direction, but to help get people learning to relate to themselves in a more awake and truthful way.
Williamson is right to promote this goal. We’re never making it out of this mess if we keep operating and thinking in the way that we do. Only a profound shift in our relationship with thought will enable humanity to shake off the psychological chains of plutocratic propaganda and use the power of our numbers to force real change. Positive change isn’t coming by any other route, so it’s nice to see someone talking about the fundamental issue.
Whether Williamson is the person to facilitate such a shift is another matter. Generally if someone’s insights into the human condition have been sufficiently deep, they can talk about them like a normal human being without sounding all woo woo hippietastic. But maybe Williamson talks that way for her own reasons. In any case, it’s not like anyone else in US politics is speaking about inner work with any amount of profundity.
Marianne interviewed by CNN's Ana Cabrera, July 6, 2019 (10 mins) . . .
On Anderson Cooper 360, July 17, 2019 (7 mins) . . .
• She has self-reflection
[For some] she’s endlessly mockable, but Williamson knows how to laugh at herself, which is an astoundingly rare characteristic for someone with her reach, ambitions, and audience. Rather than react to the barbs with pursed-lips and aggression, she has a light way of dancing with the attention that ameliorates its effect.
She is a deep thinker that is humble enough to change her mind when presented with evidence, but she doesn’t back down easily either. In politics, where nobody ever says sorry and changing stances is seen as a weakness, modelling her brand of agility and self-reflection is a blast of much needed fresh air. Of course, manipulators will use any apologies as a weapon against you, so you need to only apologise for things you have actually done and wish to change. Most of us use only defense or use only submission. She seems comfortable with both.
On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, July 22, 2019 (8 mins) . . .
• At least she’s interesting
Is she perfect? No. Do I think she’s got a chance of being president? Stranger things have happened. But I’m glad she’s up there, right up in the guts of the establishment politics making them all work a bit harder. I love that they feel like they need to attack her right now, but she could go further.
If I ever got her attention, there’s a bunch of tweaks I think Williamson could make. For example, her Twitter game is sub-optimal for what it could be with the follower size she has, because she doesn’t make the kind of large, bold statements that could blow out a giant hole in the Overton window. With the following she has she could easily get people talking, but she has to give them something to talk about.
Williamson talks about “fear versus love” a lot, presumably a hangover from her A Course In Miracles days, when I think “life versus death” is a much more useful dichotomy for what we’re actually looking at today. When the status quo’s only solution to every problem is to apply the salve of death, in my view she wants to strongly put the case for applying healing and applying life in terms that people can understand. Whether it be the homeless crisis, healthcare, foreign policy etc, the only solutions we are being offered right now are predicated on lots of people dying so they’re not a problem anymore. It’s okay to fear that, and loving that isn’t going to fix it. Put the case for life, Marianne. That’s what I’d say.
But whatever, in any case, I’m glad she’s a thing. The presidential race is much healthier because of her.
Look at Robert Mueller and internalize this: we are all, everyone of us, headed in the direction of a slower version of ourselves. There isn't enough Viagra or skin cream, there aren't enough candy apple red convertibles in the world to stop it.
What is not inevitable is that when we get there we will have lived a life of service to people and higher principles. What is not a forgone conclusion is whether at 74-years-old we could testify for seven hours and not once be triggered by personal attacks or bought by fawning praise.
[This New York Times article on Mueller] is a red flag that our culture of high speed media is privileging pouncing predators and sleek soundbites over slow, methodical, careful and reasoned thinking that increases everyone's responsibility without the satisfaction of a triumphant moment.
You will strain to find it in the hundreds of clips but Mueller genuinely thanks people for corrections. Apologizes for inaccuracies in his answers. Listens patiently without interrupting. Never once lets his face show disgust or irritation or bruised ego.
His center of gravity is simply located elsewhere. Outside of the hearing room. Possibly in the National Archives amidst founding documents. Possibly with his family and those with whom he served in the military.
One thing is for sure, in that congressional hearing room amidst politicians and the media, he was a foreign object.
And the proof of that is this New York Times headline that belongs amidst pop up ads for hair loss and ab crunching devices.
A. J. Heschel once said, “When I was young I admired people who were clever, now that I am old I admire people who are kind.”
Director Mueller, let me close by returning to where I began. Thank you for your service and thank you for leading this investigation.
The facts you set out in your report and have elucidated here today tell a disturbing tale of a massive Russian intervention in our election of a campaign so eager to win, so driven by greed, that it was willing to accept the help of a hostile foreign power in a presidential election decided by a handful of votes in a few key states.
Your work tells of a campaign so determined to conceal their corrupt use of foreign help that they risked going to jail by lying to you, to the FBI and to Congress about it and, indeed, some have gone to jail over such lies.
And your work speaks of a president who committed countless acts of obstruction of justice that in my opinion and that of many other prosecutors, had it been anyone else in the country, they would have been indicted.
– House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) Excerpted from his closing statement in response to former special counsel
Robert Mueller's July 24, 2019 testimony before Congress
Image: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) questions former special counsel Robert Mueller as he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP/Shutterstock)
Presidential platforms have always been aspirational versus practical, and this year is no different. [Any given candidate's] platform tells Americans where [he/she] wants to lead America, not what they believe is achievable. A good president sets a high bar and then fights to reach it. They don't accept ahead of time that something isn't possible and prematurely surrender. Democrats have already suffered from too much of that defeatist attitude. And as far as the primary is concerned, it's not wrong to criticize other candidates and point out the flaws in their plans. That's not “in-fighting.” It's the way the process is supposed to work, and there's no evidence that it results in a weaker nominee in the end.
I would have liked to have been out at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport earlier today to show my support for Rep. Ilhan Omar as she returned to Minnesota from Washington D.C. (left).
Here's how Minnesota Public Radio's Cody Nelson reported on Omar's arrival and the recent controversy around President Trump's racist and incendiary comments directed towards her and three other women of color in the U.S. congress.
Rep. Ilhan Omar met a warm welcome in her home state Thursday, as a crowd of supporters greeted the Minneapolis Democrat at the airport following days of racist remarks that President Trump and his supporters directed at Omar and three other congresswomen.
“The reality is everybody talks about how [Trump] is threatened because we criticize him,” Omar told a crowd shortly after getting off her plane. “But the reality is he is threatened because we are inspiring people to dream about a country that recognizes our dignity and our humanity.”
Omar will moderate a town hall in south Minneapolis on health care tonight with U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat who represents Seattle.
Trump tweeted Sunday that four progressive women in Congress should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The tweet is widely thought to refer to Omar and other Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. [Three of the four were actually born in the U.S.] Later, Trump singled out Omar in an impromptu exchange with media at a White House event.
Ilhan Omar's comments at the airport today remind me of a recent op-ed by Moustafa Bayoumi, who writes that “lurking behind the statement 'go back to where you come from' is the clenched fist of a privileged but frightened group . . . the future belongs to a multicultural, multiracial, and multifaith America.”
Following, with added images and links, is Bayoumi's op-ed in its entirety.
This Is What Today's America Looks Like. The Squad Is Us
By Moustafa Bayoumi
July 16, 2019
On Monday, the best of the United States of America was on full display.
In a moving press conference in Washington, DC, the four progressive congresswomen now known the world over as “the squad” – Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashid Tlaib – proclaimed their profound support for each other after enduring blatantly racist abuse by Donald Trump. And they did more. They redoubled their commitments to improving the lives of all the people in this country.
It was a remarkable moment, an urgently needed example of what leadership – real leadership, leadership that is principled, intelligent, courageous, and resolute – looks like. I hope Nancy Pelosi was watching.
What I saw at this press conference was an inspiring tableau of today’s America, four women of color offering moral and political guidance to a nation that is being goaded by its commander-in-chief to embrace the schoolyard taunts of a wanton bigot.
Not that much prodding has ever been needed to activate racism in this country. If your skin is any darker than the peel of a honeydew melon, if your eyes have ever been compared to the shape of almonds, if your name has been called unpronounceable and changed without your consent, if you’re constantly asked “but where are you from from,” if you’ve been complimented for being different than the rest of them, if your faith elicits unsolicited political commentary, if people always seem to want to touch your hair, then chances are you’ve also been told, at many times in your life, that you should go back to where you came from.
I, for one, have been frequently told this all my life, and it happens most often now in hate mail and missives that regularly land in my inbox. In my case, the insult routinely borders on the comical. Never quite sure where they should be sending me back to, my detractors will dutifully resort to some internet research, only to discover that I was born in Switzerland. Somehow, “Go back to Switzerland!” just doesn’t carry the menace that they seem to think it has.
We can laugh at the racism of fools, but every person of color in this country will also recognize the simmering violence behind these (and similar) statements. To be told to “go back to where you came from” is to be told not only that you don’t belong, but that you have no say in what the standards of belonging should be in the first place.
To be told to “go back to where you came from” is a form of being told to shut up, an obvious attempt to silence dissent and political participation. And being told to “go back to where you came from” is to deny the history of slavery and the colonization of indigenous lands in this country, since it also assumes that we all came to this territory voluntarily.
Lurking behind the statement “go back to where you come from” is the clenched fist of a privileged but frightened group, one that is dreadfully afraid of listening to “those ignored, left out, and left behind,” as Ayanna Pressley put it on Monday. Merely listening, they believe, will weaken their traditional hold on power. All around them they see a fabled version of the old America slipping inexorably away.
But the old America that they dream of never was and never will be. All the attempts by this administration to turn back the clock of change – from adding a citizenship question to the census, to distorting the rules on asylum, to wrenching families apart with Dickensian cruelty, to barring Muslims from entering the country – will ultimately fail to produce the America they desperately desire.
On the contrary, the future belongs to a multicultural, multiracial, and multifaith America, and watching the four congresswomen of “the squad” on Monday only confirms this fact. “Our squad is big,” Pressley stated. “Our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world. And that is the work we want to get back to. Given the size of this squad and this great nation, we cannot, we will not be silenced.”
She’s right. I have seen the squad. The squad is us.
At some point in our lives we began to pour concrete [within our hearts]. It was made of anxiety, fear, and stress. Our task is to bring down the walls of our own inner dams [made of this concrete]. We can learn to dismantle them. And we can begin by asking ourselves what kind of lives we want. Do we want to micro-manage every moment, or do we want to dismantle our control and trust the great river to carry us forward?
An untamed river, after all, is alive. It erodes banks and bursts them; it seeks new courses. It floods, and is astonishingly powerful. Dammed water is monumentally static: trapped, regulated, stagnant. Do we want to live in faith or do we want to be held back by fear?
When I'm in the flow – writing, hiking, making love – I know these are the most ecstatic times of my life. These are the times of my great self-forgetting, when the ego drops away and my anxiety with it. I become a channel for something wonderful to flow through me . . . creativity, celebration, love.
In these moments the breath of spirit reminds me to let go and ride the wild river into the heart of my life.
I established The Wild Reed in 2006 as a sign of solidarity with all who are dedicated to living lives of integrity – though, in particular, with gay people seeking to be true to both the gift of their sexuality and their Catholic faith. The Wild Reed's original by-line read, “Thoughts and reflections from a progressive, gay, Catholic perspective.” As you can see, it reads differently now. This is because my journey has, in many ways, taken me beyond, or perhaps better still, deeper into the realities that the words “progressive,” “gay,” and “Catholic” seek to describe.
Even though reeds can symbolize frailty, they may also represent the strength found in flexibility. Popular wisdom says that the green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm. Tall green reeds are associated with water, fertility, abundance, wealth, and rebirth. The sound of a reed pipe is often considered the voice of a soul pining for God or a lost love.
On September 24, 2012,Michael BaylyofCatholics for Marriage Equality MNwas interviewed by Suzanne Linton of Our World Today about same-sex relationships and why Catholics can vote 'no' on the proposed Minnesota anti-marriage equality amendment.
"I believe your blog to be of utmost importance for all people regardless of their orientation. . . . Thank you for your blog and the care and dedication that you give in bringing the TRUTH to everyone."– William
"Michael, if there is ever a moment in your day or in your life when you feel low and despondent and wonder whether what you are doing is anything worthwhile, think of this: thanks to your writing on the internet, a young man miles away is now willing to embrace life completely and use his talents and passions unashamedly to celebrate God and his creation. Any success I face in the future and any lives I touch would have been made possible thanks to you and your honesty and wisdom."– AB
"Since I discovered your blog I have felt so much more encouraged and inspired knowing that I'm not the only gay guy in the Catholic Church trying to balance my Faith and my sexuality. Continue being a beacon of hope and a guide to the future within our Church!"– Phillip
"Your posts about Catholic issues are always informative and well researched, and I especially appreciate your photography and the personal posts about your own experience. I'm very glad I found your blog and that I've had the chance to get to know you."– Crystal
"Thank you for taking the time to create this fantastic blog. It is so inspiring!"– George
"I cannot claim to be an expert on Catholic blogs, but from what I've seen, The Wild Reed ranks among the very best."– Kevin
"Reading your blog leaves me with the consolation of knowing that the words Catholic, gay and progressive are not mutually exclusive.."– Patrick
"I grieve for the Roman institution’s betrayal of God’s invitation to change. I fear that somewhere in the midst of this denial is a great sin that rests on the shoulders of those who lead and those who passively follow. But knowing that there are voices, voices of the prophets out there gives me hope. Please keep up the good work."– Peter
"I ran across your blog the other day looking for something else. I stopped to look at it and then bookmarked it because you have written some excellent articles that I want to read. I find your writing to be insightful and interesting and I'm looking forward to reading more of it. Keep up the good work. We really, really need sane people with a voice these days."– Jane Gael
"Michael, your site is like water in the desert."– Jayden