Sunday, January 31, 2021

Celebrating Vanessa

Yesterday was the birthday of an actor I greatly admire. . . . Yes, Vanessa Redgrave turned 84.

To (belatedly) mark the occasion I share the following excerpt from Vanessa: The Life of Vanessa Redgrave by Dan Callahan.

There are times when, watching Vanessa at her best, it is possible to think that there has never been an actor as extravagantly gifted and expressive as she is, not even Marlon Brando. Like Brando, Redgrave is led by instinct. Her failures, like his, are in Mount Everest areas where most actors wouldn’t even be able to breathe, let alone create. . . . “If there existed something like a dream in which a recipe was concocted to create an ideal actress, that dream would end with an entrance by Vanessa Redgrave,” said Tennessee Williams.

Asked by Charlie Rose in 1995 if she was satisfied as an actress, she said, “Oh, no, because any achievement you may make at any given time, or may know you have made, immediately you arrive at a new state or field. You then perceive whole other fields that you couldn’t perceive until you’d arrived at that particular state.” Redgrave has brought audiences up to fields and vistas that had never before been seen. “I’m lucky,” she said. “When there’s a difficult mountain to climb, I sometimes get chosen to make the climb. Growing up with Shakespeare, as I had to do, you lived with the challenge of what drama can mean as a social experience for people, how important it can be.” Meryl Streep, often called our greatest actress, disagrees with that assessment. She thinks that designation belongs to Redgrave and has referred to Redgrave’s work as “the pinnacle.”

– Dan Callahan
Excerpted from Vanessa: The Life of Vanessa Redgrave
Pegasus Books, 2014

Related Off-site Link:
Icon of the Week: Vanessa Redgrave, Stellar Actress and Courageous Activist – Nick Levine (BBC America, January 26, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Vanessa Redgrave: “Just Being Alive, Staying Human, I Think That’s Infinitely Precious”
Vanessa Redgrave: “Almost a Kind of Jungian Actress”
Vanessa Redgrave: “She Has Greatness”
Letting Them Sit By Me
Vanessa Redgrave: Speaking Out
Happy Birthday, Vanessa! (2017)

Images: Photographers unknown.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

In This Time Marked By Grief

Actor Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer five months ago today.

On the 28th day of every month since his passing, I’ve honored Chad in some way at The Wild Reed. I continue this honoring today by sharing an excerpt from Joshua Barajas’s September 9, 2020 NewsHour story, “What Chadwick Boseman’s Death Means In a Year Marked By Grief.”

The grief Barajas is referring to is, of course, the grief caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a pandemic that is still very much with us, even as the roll-out of vaccines continues to slowly pick up steam.

Because the pandemic is still with us, the grief – both individual and collective – is also still with us. Barajas' article is thus just as relevant in these early days of 2021 as it was five months ago, back in 2020. Indeed, it could be retitled, “What Chadwick Boseman’s Death Means In This Time Marked By Grief.”


A boy freezes as a TV reporter delivers the news that someone important to him has died. Wearing his “Black Panther” costume, the boy drops his action figure of King T’Challa.

“Daddy! Daddy! My h-hero is gone!” he cries in his father’s arms.

The boy is the center of a comic by artist Courtney Lovett, who at first didn’t believe the news that actor Chadwick Boseman had died. After seeing the late-night alerts on social media, she went to bed thinking it could have been a dream. But the next morning, the headlines hadn’t budged. Lovett said she doesn’t normally get emotional after a celebrity’s death. But this was no normal year.

The overlapping crises of 2020 have been acutely felt by Black people in the U.S. The novel coronavirus has worsened pre-existing disparities, both in health and financial security, and claimed a disproportionate number of Black lives. Police violence against Black people has not let up, touching off outpourings of anguish and months of nationwide protests.

Since COVID-19 began infecting and killing Americans, our rituals for grieving have changed. Not everyone can attend funerals of loved ones. Time spent reminiscing and honoring the dead has to be spent farther apart or over video chat. The process of grieving itself can be more isolating now.

At risk of understatement, Boseman’s death was shocking – the reactions on social media were swift in their immediate disbelief and despair. The official statement from the actor’s family revealed that he had been living with a colon cancer diagnosis for the past four years. The actor who had spent his career embodying towering Black figures in history – Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall – hadn’t been vocal about his diagnosis.

“It’s a lot to take on at one time,” said Monnica Williams, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at University of Ottawa’s School of Psychology.

“Every Black person I know is exhausted just from life right now,” she said.

Lovett, heartbroken, began to see the pictures posted by parents of children memorializing Boseman – a figure who had embodied Black lives in America and Africa. There were many Wakanda salutes, many makeshift memorials for Black Panther with superhero toys paying their respects.

With those images in mind, Lovett created a 10-panel comic that not only paid tribute to the 43-year-old actor, whose work and storytelling she admired, but to also leave a message of hope for the children who looked up to Boseman or his most famous character, King T’Challa, as an idol.

In Lovett’s comic, a black panther appears to the boy, who’s in bed grieving. The panther comforts the boy and then leads him to Boseman who delivers a message from the afterlife: The child, too, is a king.

Lovett said she wanted to end her comic by telling children that, “You are so great. You can still do these things, even though you feel that your hero is gone, we still have heroes here. You are a hero.”

[. . .] Lovett said she received comments and direct messages from people thanking her for her comic. Several said it helped them to grieve. Lovett said some parents told her they hesitated in telling their children about Boseman’s death, fearing that such news would make them feel defeated. But Lovett’s comic provided a doorway to a conversation around the loss of their hero.

Lovett said the outpouring after Boseman’s death felt like a “collective release.” Grieving for Boseman and his family was, in a way, also grieving for everything that has happened this year.

Joshua Barajas
Excerpted from “What Chadwick Boseman’s Death Means
In a Year Marked By Grief

The NewsHour
September 9, 2020

NEXT: A Bittersweet Accolade

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It’s Okay to Be Heartbroken
Christmas 2020: A Time of Loss and Grief, Gratitude and Hope
Grief and Gratitude
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
“You’re All Kings and Queens”
Remembering Chadwick Boseman
Honoring An Icon
Chadwick Boseman’s Timeless Message to Young Voters: “You Can Turn Our Nation Around”
Chadwick Boseman’s Final Film Role: “A Reed Instrument for Every Painful Emotion”
Celebrating a Special Day
Boseman on Wilson
Chadwick Boseman and That “Heavenly Light”
The Important Cultural Moment That Is Black Panther
Celebrating Black Panther – Then and Now
“Avengers Assemble!”
Jason Johnson on Stan Lee's Revolutionary Legacy
Another First for Black Panther
“Something Special,” Indeed!
Queer Black Panther

Opening image: Billy Thao.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Quote of the Day

[In 2008] Barack Obama and Joe Biden got themselves elected in the middle of an economic crisis after promising to pass a public health insurance option. It was a promise as clear and explicit as the $2,000 checks promise is today – their platform was explicit in pledging that “any American will have the opportunity to enroll in the new public plan.”

But then over the course of the year, as Republicans in the congressional minority kicked and screamed, the administration ever so gradually started backing down, rather than using the election mandate to try to shame the GOP into submission.

By the middle of the year, Obama said: “The public option, whether we have it or we don’t have it, is not the entirety of health care reform.” His Health and Human Services secretary said that it was “not the essential element” of health care reform.

By the winter, Obama flatly lied, insisting: “I didn’t campaign on a public option.”

And then by 2010, the Obama White House had killed the plan, and Senate Democrats refused to even bring it up for a floor vote when they had the chance. Soon after, voters delivered what Obama called a “shellacking” in the midterm election, effectively foreclosing on the possibility of transformative change during Obama’s presidency.

A little more than a decade later, the public option fight should be a harrowing cautionary tale for Biden on both the policy and the politics. He had a front-row seat in watching a bad-faith Republican opposition kill a much-needed initiative, and then use Democrats’ failure to deliver to win at the polls. He of all people should know that this story never ends well.

The question is: Can he and Democrats learn from the past?

– David Sirota
Excerpted from “There’s Really No Need to Compromise, Joe
January 26, 2021

Related Off-site Links:
Democrats Should Act As If They Won the Election – Jamelle Bouie (The New York Times, January 26, 2021).
Take Their Calls, Mr. President, But Don't Take Their Bait – Marianne Williamson (Newsweek, January 26, 2021).
Democrats’ Choice: End the Filibuster or Watch McConnell Win (Again) – Patrick Ries (Rolling Stone, January 25, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Acknowledging Where We Are
Norman Solomon: Quote of the Day – December 16, 2020
Cornel West: Quote of the Day – December 3, 2020
Progressive Perspectives on the 2020 U.S. Election Results
“As Much the Sounding of An Alarm As a Time for Self-Congratulations”
We Cannot Allow a Biden Win to Mean a Return to “Brunch Liberalism”

Image: Kristen Solberg.

Monday, January 25, 2021

From the Palliative/Spiritual Care Bookshelf

I continue this evening my series highlighting the wisdom found on my bookshelf at work. As most reading this would know, my “work” since September 2018 has been that of a palliative care interfaith chaplain in a hospital just north of the Twin Cities.

In this seventh installment I share an excerpt from Interfaith Spiritual Care: Understandings and Practices, edited by Daniel S. Schipani and Leah Dawn Bueckert. The focus of this excerpt is on spiritual caregivers as “soul companions.”

(NOTE: To start at the beginning of this series, click here.)


Faith is stepping into mystery. As Parker Palmer says, “Faith is a venture into the unknown, into the realms of mystery, away from the safe and comfortable and secure” (The Company of Strangers, p.64). Mystery is who God is. Becoming acquainted with God is departing from those areas of our lives that are comfortable and secure. Relating to God is a “stretch.” When we [open ourselves to] God we make ourselves vulnerable to the challenges God has for us. When chaplains step into a hospital room to visit a patient, they are entering the realm of Mystery. Patients in a hospital are often in physical, emotional, and spiritual crisis. They look to the chaplain to guide them through confusing feelings they may have about their relationship with God. Chaplains can do little to prepare for the visit. They need to become spontaneous and go with the “flow” of what the patient wants to deal with. The authority in the room becomes the patient and his or her spiritual agenda.

As spiritual caregivers we are also soul companions with and for others. Jean Stairs defines soul as “the spiritual essence of one’s existence expressed through body, mind, or any other facet of our being” (Listening for the Soul, p.10). In Genesis 2:7, soul could be understood as the breath of life God gave to Adam. Soul, in the Hebrew language means, “neck.” The neck contains the jugular vein, nerves that are connected to the brain and spine that connects the rest of the body to the head. Soul then gives us a vital connection to God as the life force, a sense of wholeness, but also a sense of interior presence about ourselves. When someone touches our soul, they reach the center of who we are.

Soul companionship is significant for [interfaith] chaplains because [through their interfaith ministry] the concern is placed on the spiritual needs of the person rather than on the religious differences. Soul companioning helps chaplains listen for the spiritual misery patients may be experiencing, and how they can help without changing or compromising their own or the patient’s faith convictions.

The goal of a soul companion is, first and foremost, to listen for the soul and the presence of God who is active in their lives. Chaplains need to establish a rapport with the patient, listen for feelings, reflect feelings, express empathy, and identify spiritual issues that the care-receiver is concerned about. Chaplains do not need to take responsibility for the patient’s religious (or non-religious) faith as such. Patients can take responsibility for their own beliefs.

Secondly, soul companioning affirms the commonality of our human experience. Soul companioning can provide a way of coming together that rises above differences. In spiritual matters we can be present to one another in ways that bring clarity of meaning and new understanding that comes out of empathy. Soul companioning opens up the opportunity to make meaning out of one’s spiritual crisis in a way that can be recognized, validated, and affirmed as a human experience elevated to a level of faith. If the patient is comfortable with his/her faith, he/she can validate the new spiritual meaning that develops out of the chaplain-patient relationship.

Thirdly, soul companioning, in the words of Jean Stairs, “expands our spiritual vision and helps us cross boundaries” (Listening for the Soul, p.143). Soul companioning challenges the chaplain to become more inclusive in a way that respects differences. Chaplains are on a learning curve all the time. We are not experts, we are learners about how God interacts with us during crisis. Soul companioning provides an opportunity to learn truths beyond our awareness and to discover new meaning “outside of the box,” if you will. It is a way to be aware of the truth that is beyond us, and that sometimes comes to us in a way we did not expect.

– Daniel S. Schipani and Leah Dawn Bueckert
Excerpted from Interfaith Spiritual Care:
Understandings and Practices

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
From the Palliative/Spiritual Care Bookshelf – Part I | II | III | IV | V | VI
Arthur Kleinman on the “Soul of Care”
Chaplaincy: A Ministry of Welcome
Interfaith Chaplaincy: Meeting People Where They're At
Spirituality and the Healthcare Setting
World Hospice and Palliative Care Day
Resilience and Hope
The Calm Before the Storm
George Yancy on the “Unspoken Reality of Death”
“Call Upon Those You Love”

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Seckou Keita

It seems quite some time since I’ve hosted “music night” here at The Wild Reed. To remedy this, I share tonight, as I shared last July, my love of the kora, a musical instrument often referred to as the West African harp.

Last year it was kora player Mbemba Diebaté whom I spotlighted; tonight it’s Seckou Keita. And I do so by sharing “If Only I Knew,” one of my favorite tracks from Seckou’s 2015 album, 22 Strings.

Beautiful, isn’t it? . . . I sure think so.

Following, with added links, is The Guardian’s Robin Denselow’s review of 22 Strings.

Born in Casamance in the south of Senegal but now living in Nottingham, Seckou Keita can be classed alongside the great Toumani Diabaté as one of the adventurous masters of the kora, the African harp. And like Diabaté, he specialises in surprise. His [2014] album, Clychau Dibon, was a gently exquisite set of acoustic duets with the Welsh harpist Catrin Finch, and it rightly picked up a batch of awards. It was preceded by albums in which he explored everything from flamenco to jazz-funk; his latest is an elegant solo set dominated by instrumental compositions. There are African influences, of course, along with tracks that echo western themes, with quietly hypnotic, repeated phrases matched against sturdy melodies. He adds relaxed and soulful vocals to three tracks, and the charming set ends with an upbeat, but still delicate funk finale.

About the title of 22 Strings, Seckou’s official website notes the following.

In 22 Strings, Seckou explores what it means to be a modern global citizen, and yet to live with seven centuries of tradition and heritage expressed through music. He gives us the kora in its purest guise, a wondrous instrument that can soothe the bloodlust of warriors and take the human spirit to a place of deep meditation, stillness and beauty. The title of the album says it all. Centuries ago, when the djinns, the spirits of the African bush, gave the first ever kora to the griot Jali Mady “Wulen” (“The Red”), it had 22 strings. Then, when Jali Mady died, his fellow griots took one string away in his memory. But back in its birthplace in southern Senegal and Guinea Bissau, the 22-stringed kora survives, with the extra string giving the instrument special advantages in terms of tonal reach and groove. For Seckou Keita, that one extra string represents home: the place where his heart resides.

Musicians previously spotlighted at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Seal | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | Carl Anderson | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo | The Breeders | Tony Enos | Tupac Shakur | Nakhane Touré | Al Green | Donald Glover/Childish Gambino | Josh Garrels | Stromae | Damiyr Shuford | Vaudou Game | Yotha Yindi and The Treaty Project | Lil Nas X | Daby Touré | Sheku Kanneh-Mason | Susan Boyle | D’Angelo | Little Richard | Black Pumas | Mbemba Diebaté | Judie Tzuke | Black

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Something to Think About . . .

Related Off-site Links:
Bernie’s Mittens – Abby Zimet (Common Dreams, January 21, 2021).
Bernie Sanders’s Mittens, Kamala Harris Using Two Bibles, and the Colour Purple: Key Moments From the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Inauguration – Lucia Stein (ABC News, January 21, 2021).
Bernie Sanders Rewears Mittens by a Vermont Teacher to the Inauguration – Liana Satenstein (Vogue, January 20, 2021).
The Meaning of the Mittens – Naomi Klein (The Intercept, January 21, 2021).
Bernie Gets Memed and Launches His FightThe Rational National (January 21, 2021).
Bernie Sanders Is Once Again the Star of a MemeThe New York Times (January 21, 2021).
The Cathatic Joy of Bernie Sanders Memes – Emily Burack (Alma, January 21, 2021).
This Is the Agenda Democrats Should Pursue Under Biden’s Leadership – Bernie Sanders (CNN Politics, January 19, 2021).

UPDATES: Bernie Sanders' Inauguration Mittens Meme: The Funniest Versions – Gael Fashingbauer Cooper (, January 22, 2021).
Yes, Bernie Sanders Loved All Your Mitten Memes – Yohana Desta (Vanity Fair, January 22, 2021).
Bernie Sanders Turned His Inauguration Meme Into a Sweatshirt to Raise Money for Charity – Celia Fernandez (Insider, January 22, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Carrying It On
The Case for Bernie Sanders in 2020
Bernie Sanders and the Corporate Media
Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution” is Ultimately One of Values – the Values of Justice, Hope, and Love
Marianne Williamson on the Contest Being Played Out by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders
Something to Think About – March 23, 2020
Progressive Perspectives on Bernie Sanders’ Suspension of His Presidential Campaign

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Brigit Anna McNeill on “Winter’s Way”

Winter’s way is one many humans have become fearful of. For it leads us to meet what is held within, the company we keep in the empty moments.

The stillness of winter does not match many people’s constant want for noise and distraction. Yet it is so important to keep a balance, an inward, outward breathing cycle.

Winter is whispering her restful deepening message into the land. Speaking it into the tree people, the plant allies, the bones of animals. Furred, winged, scaled, and two legged, and they all feel it. It is time to go inwards, to rest back in darkness and quietude. To listen and to feel what lies beneath in our own inner world.

Winter invites a period of reflection, inward work, and dreaming. Our own powerful annual retreat time, should we heed the invitation.

I wonder, what would people do if they really went with what their bodies and nature are calling them to take notice of. Would they sleep more, go to bed earlier, draw, listen, snuggle, light candles, nourish their bodies with good and simple foods?

For me this time is about lighting fires, reminding us of the fire and warmth within. Bringing light and love into our darkness, acknowledging ourselves with kindness and care. Resting, dreaming, writing, listening, and honouring what has gone by, and what is to come. Honouring our home, both inside and out, through taking notice and being attentive. Embracing with care, all we find.

– Brigit Anna McNeill
Excerpted from a Facebook post
December 15, 2020

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Brigit Anna McNeill on the Meaning of Winter Solstice Time
God Rest Us
Winter of Content
Meeting Truth
Balancing the Fire
Winter . . . Within and Beyond (2019)
Winter . . . Within and Beyond (2017)

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Quote of the Day

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Inauguration Eve Musings

On the eve of Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day, I find myself hoping that a Biden/Harris administration takes to heart a key component of one of their former fellow presidential candidate's platform. I’m talking about author and activist Marianne Williamson’s plan for a U.S. Department of Peace.

Marianne recently reminded people of this particular pillar of her 2020 presidential campaign by re-sharing it on various social media platforms. “That [presidential] campaign is over,” she notes, “but the campaign for a more enlightened political perspective must continue.”

Peace as an organizing principle

The mission of Marianne’s proposed U.S. Department of Peace is quite simple: to hold peace as an organizing principle. Upon this foundation the department will do eight key things: (i) promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights; (ii) coordinate restorative justice programs; (iii) address white supremacy; (iv) strengthen non-military means of peacemaking; (v) work to prevent armed conflict; (vi) address the epidemic of gun violence; (vii) develop new structures of non-violent dispute resolution; and (viii) proactively and systematically promote national and international conflict prevention, mediation, and resolution.

In short, the U.S. Department of Peace will “wage peace,” something I think we can all agree is sorely needed in the U.S. and across the globe.

Time will tell if Marianne’s radical (in the best and truest sense of the word) and much-needed proposal will gain traction under President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. I hope so. I also hope that Marianne will be tapped to serve in some capacity in the Biden/Harris administration. If nothing else, she would make a great official adviser in any number of areas.

Inauguration Day and beyond

As for tomorrow’s inauguration, first and foremost I pray that all goes smoothly and peacefully; that there’s no repeat of the right-wing extremist violence that took place at the Capitol just two weeks ago.

And, of course, I’m relieved and happy that the inauguration will put an official end to the horrors of the Trump presidency.

As to the extent of the political progressiveness of a Biden/Harris administration and a Democratic-controlled congress, I’m choosing to stay hopeful. There are definitely some hopeful signs . . . and some not so hopeful ones. Oh, and I’m heartened by the fact that Sen. Bernie Sanders will be assuming the powerful position of chairing the Senate Budget Committee.

About this decidely good piece of news, Jon Queally writes:

[W]hile the gavel is yet to be placed in his hand, Sanders and his staff have signaled in recent days that he will be ready and willing to wield it to push the incoming Biden administration – as well as Democratic leadership in the House and Senate – to enact the kind of bold, working-class friendly policies that fueled both of his presidential runs.

Among the chief powers that the chair of the committee will be able to utilize is fostering legislation through the Senate using the budget reconciliation process – a procedural tool that will allow, even under current rules, legislation to pass with a simple majority.

I close this Inauguration Eve post with some sage words from economic advisor, professor, author, and political commentator Robert Reich.


I keep hearing that Joe Biden will govern from the “center.” He has no choice, they say, because he’ll have razor-thin majorities in Congress and the Republican party has moved to the right.

Rubbish. I’ve served several Democratic presidents who have needed Republican votes. But the Republicans now in Congress are nothing like those I’ve dealt with. Most of today’s GOP live in a parallel universe. There’s no “center” between the reality-based world and theirs.

Last Wednesday, fully 95% of House Republicans voted against impeaching Trump for inciting insurrection, even after his attempted coup threatened their very lives.

The week before, immediately following the raid on the Capitol, more than 100 House Republicans and several Republican senators objected to the certification of Biden electors in two states on the basis of Trump’s lies about widespread fraud.

Prior to the raid, several Republican members of Congress repeated those lies on television and Twitter and at “Stop the Steal” events.

Trump has remade the Republican party into a white supremacist cult living within a counter-factual wonderland of lies and conspiracies.

According to various surveys, more than half of Republican voters – almost 40 million people – believe Trump won the 2020 race or aren’t sure who won; 45% support the storming of the Capitol; 57% say he should be the Republican candidate in 2024.

In this hermetically sealed cosmos, most Republicans believe Black Lives Matter protesters are violent, immigrants are dangerous and climate change doesn’t pose a threat. A growing fringe openly talks of redressing grievances through violence, including QAnon conspiracy theorists, of whom two are newly elected to Congress, who think Democrats are running a global child sex-trafficking operation.

How can Biden possibly be a “centrist” in this new political world?

There is no middle ground between lies and facts. There is no halfway point between civil discourse and violence. There is no midrange between democracy and fascism.

Biden must boldly and unreservedly speak truth, refuse to compromise with violent Trumpism and ceaselessly fight for democracy and inclusion.

Speaking truth means responding to the world as it is and denouncing the poisonous deceptions engulfing the right. It means repudiating false equivalences and “both sidesism” that gives equal weight to trumpery and truth. It means protecting and advancing science, standing on the side of logic, calling out deceit and impugning baseless conspiracy theories and those who abet them.

Refusing to compromise with violent Trumpism means renouncing the lawlessness of Trump and his enablers and punishing all who looted the public trust. It means convicting Trump of impeachable offenses and ensuring he can never again hold public office – not as a “distraction” from Biden’s agenda but as a central means of reestablishing civility, which must be a cornerstone of that agenda.

Strengthening democracy means getting big money out of politics, strengthening voting rights and fighting voter suppression in all its forms.

It means boldly advancing the needs of average people over the plutocrats and oligarchs, of the white working class as well as Black and Latino people. It means embracing the ongoing struggle for racial justice and the struggle of blue-collar workers whose fortunes have been declining for decades.

The moment calls for public investment on a scale far greater than necessary for COVID relief or “stimulus” – large enough to begin the restructuring of the economy. America needs to create a vast number of new jobs leading to higher wages, reversing racial exclusion as well as the downward trajectory of Americans whose anger and resentment Trump cynically exploited.

This would include universal early childhood education, universal access to the internet, world-class schools and public universities accessible to all. Converting to solar and wind energy and making America’s entire stock of housing and commercial buildings carbon neutral. Investing in basic research – the gateway to the technologies of the future as well as national security – along with public health and universal healthcare.

It is not a question of affordability. Such an agenda won’t burden future generations. It will reduce the burden on future generations.

It is a question of political will. It requires a recognition that there is no longer a “center” but a future based either on lies, violence and authoritarianism or on unyielding truth, unshakeable civility and radical inclusion. And it requires a passionate, uncompromising commitment to the latter.

– Robert Reich
Why Biden Can’t Govern From the Center
November 17, 2021


Related Off-site Links:
Don’t Let President Biden “Make Us the Dupes of Our Hopes” – Norman Solomon (Common Dreams, January 19, 2021).
Senate Democrats Prove “Democracy Reform Is a Top Priority” by Putting “For the People Act” First – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, January 19, 2021).
Biden to “Hit Ground Running” as He Rejoins Paris Climate Accords and Blocks Keystone XL Pipeline – Oliver Milman (The Guardian, January 19, 2018).
Biden Immigration Plan: 8 Year Path to Citizenship Will Be Unveiled on Day 1 – The Associated Press via, January 18, 2018).
Biden Picks Transgender Physician Rachel Levine as Assistant Health Secretary – The Associated Press via NBC News (January 19, 2021). Joe Biden Lifted His Health Care Plan From Insurance Industry Lobbyists – Andrew Perez and Julia Rock (Jacobin, January 19, 2021).
Biden's Inauguration Gives Us New Hope, But the Movement for Justice Must Continue to Build on Its Own Agenda – Jesse Jackson (Chicago Sun-Times via Common Dreams, January 19, 2021).
When Trump’s Out the Door, Biden Tackles the Winter of Our Discontent – Michael Winship (Common Dreams, January 18, 2021).
From Paul Ryan to Nikki Haley: GOP Nightmare of Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders About to Come True – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, January 17, 2021).
Why Progressives Must Not Give Joe Biden a Political Honeymoon – Norman Solomon (Common Dreams, December 21, 2020).

UPDATES: Biden Takes the Helm, Appeals for Unity to Take on Crises – Jonathan Lemire, Zeke Miller and Alexandra Jaffe (The Associated Press, January 20, 2021).
Cop who Warded Off Insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol Escorts Kamala Harris on Inauguration Day – Dylan Scott (Vox, January 20, 2021).
Amanda Gorman Captures the Moment, in VerseThe New York Times (January 20, 2021).
“Not Broken But Simply Unfinished”: Poet Amanda Gorman Calls for a Better America – Camila Domonoske (NPR News, January 20, 2021).
“Your Land?” Natives Question Inaugural Song – Felicia Fonseca (The Associated Press via Indian Country Today, January 21, 2021).
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Skips Inauguration to Join a Strike – Sharon Zhang (TruthOut, January 21, 2021).
A Look at Biden’s First Executive Orders in Office – The Associated Press via PBS Newshour, January 20, 2021).
Biden Order Blocks Keystone XL Pipeline – Jeff Brady (NPR News, January 20, 2021).
White House Website Recognizes Climate Change Is Real Again – Becky Ferreira (VICE, January 20, 2021).
President Biden Issues Most Substantive and Wide-Ranging LGBTQ Executive Order in U.S. History – Lucas Acosta (, January 20, 2021).
Biden Revokes Trump Ban on Some Diversity Training Addressing White Privilege and Systemic Racism – Alexandra Olson (The Associated Press via Chicago Tribune, January 21, 2021).
Biden’s Executive Orders Sound Promising. Activists Are Skeptical – Sarah Leonard (AJ+, January 21, 2021).
Joe Biden Must Put an End to Business as Usual. Here's Where to Start – Bernie Sanders (The Guardian, January 20, 2021).
Ten Ways Biden Can Be Transformational (Even Without Congress) – Robert Reich (Common Dreams, January 20, 2021).
Three New Democratic Senators Sworn In, Flipping Control of the Senate – Alex Rogers (CNN Politics, January 20, 2021).
“The Work Continues”: Cornel West and Maria Hinojosa on the Promise and Dangers of the Biden AdministrationDemocracy Now! (January 21, 2021).
The Way Forward: Can the Left Push Biden to Be a Transformative President Like LBJ, FDR and Lincoln?Democracy Now! (January 20, 2021).
If Joe Biden Moves Left, You Can Thank the Left – Liza Featherstone (Jacobin, January 21, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts relating to:

Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Progressive Perspectives on Big Tuesday and Beyond
Progressive Perspectives on the Biden-Harris Ticket
Eight Leading Progressive Voices on Why They’re Voting for Biden
We Cannot Allow a Biden Win to Mean a Return to “Brunch Liberalism”
Election Eve Thoughts
Election Day USA, 2020
Progressive Perspectives on the 2020 U.S. Election Results

Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
“A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Marianne Williamson and the Power of Politicized Love
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Marianne Williamson on the Contest Being Played Out by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
Marianne Williamson on the Movement for a People’s Party
“As Much the Sounding of An Alarm As a Time for Self-Congratulations”

Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Julian Drury: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2016
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Something to Think About – November 3, 2017
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – June 12, 2019
The Case for Bernie Sanders in 2020
Thoughts on the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses
Thoughts on the “Sanders Surge”
Bernie Sanders and the Corporate Media
Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution” is Ultimately One of Values – the Values of Justice, Hope, and Love
Progressive Perspectives on Bernie Sanders’ Suspension of His Presidential Campaign

Acknowledging Where We Are

Writes my friend Phillip Clark . . .

As a tumultuous presidency draws to a close and an uncertain inauguration looms large, let’s acknowledge where we are: Donald Trump has earned the unprecedented infamy of becoming the only US president to be impeached twice. Trump’s words fueled the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol – inciting fascist white supremacists to nullify electoral results by an attempted coup, destroy federal property, and violently riot to subvert the democratic process. Five people unnecessarily lost their lives.

Mitch McConnel and Senate Republicans won’t grow the balls to convict and remove Trump before Joe Biden assumes office. We must continue to explore the possibility of holding an overt white nationalist accountable for such actions. However, impeachment, or even conviction, does precious little to confront America’s pandemic of white supremacy, which has permeated our society long before COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency. Let’s keep it real: the match was lit 400, not 4 years ago.

Black joy and celebration will be mandatory when the Trump administration has entered the history books. Complacency is tempting after enduring four years of unvarnished racism, bigotry, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, and misogyny emanating from the Oval Office. But it is dangerous to hail Joe Biden as a compassionate savior to “restore” American democracy. Such a concept never existed.

The US will continue to perpetuate violence and murder throughout the world during the Biden administration – affirming an imperial and colonial foreign policy as the American way. Trump's insurrection was only a microcosm of the consistent paradigm of regime change the US has conducted, or attempted, against countless states – Libya, Honduras, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cuba, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Haiti, Yugoslavia, Syria, Palestine, and most recently, Venezuela.

It is morally hypocritical to abhor Nancy Pelosi’s office being ransacked, or members of Congress fearfully sequestering for their lives, while lauding Muammar Ghaddafi’s open assassination or anointing Juan Guaido to undermine Nicolas Maduro as a democratically elected president.

Building collective power, through organizing, activism, mutual aid efforts, and political education, are the only lasting means of creating a society that values human rights and transformative justice. The impeachment process underscores how severely limited electoral and political institutions are in confronting racial capitalism and systemic oppression.

We must inevitably prepare for more violent insurgencies in the future. Doing so is disheartening but can never dim the brightness of our vision for a better world. The ongoing pandemic illustrates how deadly and unsustainable the ancient global order is. As we behold this ancien régime crumble before our eyes, we must learn to radically place more hope in ourselves, communities, collective dreams, hopes, talents, joys, abilities, and resilience, than in any elected official or political figure.

The road ahead is long and uncertain but the possibilities for transformation are infinite if we remember who we are and where we are going. We got this, peeps! ✊🏾 🖤

– Phillip Clark
via Facebook
January 19, 2020

NEXT: Inauguration Eve Musings

For more of Phillip Clark’s insights at The Wild Reed, see:
In the Wake of Trump’s “Catastrophic” Election, Phillip Clark on the Spiritual Truths That Will Carry Us Forward
Phillip Clark on the “Karmic Wake Up Call” of a Year Ago
Christmas 2016: Relections and Celebrations
Saying “No” to War on Iran
Holy Week, 2020
Progressive Perspectives on Bernie Sanders’ Suspension of His Presidential Campaign
“New and Very Dangerous”: The Extreme Right-Wing Infiltration of the George Floyd Protests
Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol