Tag Archive | Sarah Palin

Surviving Sarah Palin’s “Mourning” in America

As a bereaved mother who mourned and still mourns the loss of her three year old son, Michael, in 1994, I cringed when I heard former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, in reference to the families of the victims of the terrible shooting in Tucson, say offhandly, “May God turn their mourning into joy.”

In my view, such ostensibly nice little sentiments, which seem so commonly held in this religious country, show a complete misunderstanding and even a kind of contempt for both mourning AND joy, and maybe even for God too.

Let’s leave politics aside for the moment, along with my personal feelings about Sarah Palin. I’m sure (I hope) Ms. Palin meant those words to be comforting to the suffering families, the poor parents of little Christina Green, the parents of Gabe Zimmerman, the three sons and wife of Judge John Roll, and families of Dorothy Murray, Phyllis Schenk, Dorwan Stoddard, not to mention the children and husband of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and the other injured people.

Yet such apparently harmless sentiments, much like that deeply offensive and overused word “closure,” are a misguided attempt to shrink-wrap and even deny the enormity of losses like this. They imply that grief is an event rather than a lifelong psychological process in which you gradually figure out a way to incorporate your losses into your life and move on from there. There actually is something to be gained from loss, but knowledge of what it is only comes from long suffering and deep searching.

Yes, Ms. Palin is no doubt relating her own and many others’ understanding of God’s goodness, or perhaps talking about joy that one’s loved one is now in Heaven. But consider the implication of the statement. When you’re in pain over the loss of a child, you might hope or even pray that God will take away your pain. But turn it into joy? What God would want to deny the enormity of your loss and the meaning of the life you lost by taking away your authentic emotions and feelings that your loss is real and important, and replacing them with an inauthentic happiness?

Just like those old standby cliches, “Time will heal,” “It’s time to get on with your life,” and “God must have wanted another angel,” such comments as Palin’s have a kind of delegitimizing effect on the griever.  They imply that there is something he or she can do that will end or take away grief. They suggest that the pain you are feeling isn’t what you should be feeling and if you would just take this advice you wouldn’t be feeling it.  This is the opposite of what the person who attempts to comfort the bereaved should do.  My favorite definition of compassion is a Buddhist one: Compassion is willingness to be close to suffering. This doesn’t means denying, deflecting or babbling your way through it, but sitting with it, no matter how uncomfortable intense emotion makes you feel.  And this means:

Be present. Be humble. Observe. Reflect. Allow silence. Don’t judge. Accept. Listen.

After seventeen years, my grief is no longer a hissing monster, it’s quiet now. I have found the way to move on and learned the lessons my life has offered.  But the idea that I would ever, even now, experience joy in connection with my loss is offensive. While that sort of “feel good immediately” sentiment is consistent with the increasingly short attention American span, and might even be popular in this country (at least among those who haven’t suffered major losses), Palin’s words aren’t; in my view they’re an insult to me, my son, my family, and to all those suffering families in Tucson.

Turn mourning into joy? Do we really want God to transform us into smiling Disney characters?

McCain/Palin: Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same old thing and expecting a different result.” With polls in recent days actually showing that Sarah Palin’s Vice Presidential candidacy may be moving people toward the Republican ticket, I’m beginning to wonder if our whole country has gone insane, or at least half of it, anyway. Could the country actually be on the verge of doing the same thing…again, and expecting a different result? How can even a small proportion of the eighty-two percent of Americans who think the country is going in the wrong direction buy the notion that McCain and Palin are going to take the country in a different direction, when McCain himself has voted with Bush 90% of the time? The only different direction in which McCain and Palin are going to take the country in is even further to the right, with a Vice President-in-waiting who apparently believes that global warming isn’t man made, creationism ought to be taught as science in schools, Iraq is a war from God, and books that don’t conform to her faith-based world view ought to be banned, and who might actually get to BE President, given McCain’s age? Yes, Washington is broken, but it’s not ONLY because of corruption, as McCain keeps saying over and over and over; it’s certainly because of policies, and on that, electing  McCain and Palin is doing the same thing.  Isn’t it insane to expect a different result? 

But it’s even worse than that.  I’m starting to worry about the sanity of the candidate himself.  John McCain has actually been touting the idea that Sarah Palin has foreign policy experience because Alaska is next to Russia.  And Palin, who crammed like a schoolgirl for the now infamous ABC interview with Charlie Gibson, echoed that bizarre absurdity by saying that her foreign policy bonafides include her vision: the fact that she can SEE Russia from Alaska.  Between all this, and  McCain’s perseveration on “We are all Georgians” rhetoric, on peculiar ideas like “Sarah is my soul mate,” and “She’s the most wonderful Vice Presidential candidate in history;” and his impulsive, cynical, irresponsible, politically-motivated pick of this extremist, unvetted, untested Vice Presidential candidate, I feel as if we’ve all landed in the movie Doctor Strangelove, and we’re stuck in the room with General Jack Ripper ranting and perseverating about those Commie Ruskies and our precious bodily fluids. I keep thinking about what a member of McCain’s own party, Thad Cochran, Republican of Mississippi, said once about Mr. McCain, “The thought of his being President send a cold chill up my spine.  He’s erratic, he loses his temper and he worries me.”  Me too, Thad.  Me too. Has anyone actually considered the longterm personality consequences of five years of torture?  Is it possible there’s PTSD here? 

But this isn’t Dr. Strangelove, after all, it’s 1984, and the Republicans seem to have so mastered the art of doublespeak that a sizeable number don’t even realize that we’re being had….again.  When McCain nominated Sarah Palin, I thought surely women, except the true religious right, weren’t going to buy her  just because she was a woman and “one of us?”  We did that already with Bush, who was judged by many as “someone you’d like to have a beer with.”  Are we about to do that again, and get the same result?  I’m sure John McCain is fun and likable in his own way, and Sarah Palin is a lot of fun on a moose-shooting expedition, but why don’t we try something new after eight years, maybe elect someone really smart to the highest office in the land?  After eight years of George Bush, underachiever, do we really want to elect someone who graduated near dead last from Annapolis?  Isn’t that doing the same thing and expecting a different result?  Isn’t that insane?  

I keep asking myself what can be responsible for this vulnerability of Americans to Swift-boat tactics instead of logic and common sense? Why are so many unable to look at a problem and figure out the right solution? Or at least a different solution than the one that hasn’t been working?  Is it a lack of education or critical thinking skills?  Identity politics?  Is that people have no memory? Is it that people can’t prioritize what’s important any more?  Is it that our consumer culture has made us so used to being bombarded with ads and sales pitches that we’re unable to go beyond sound bites and jingoistic phrases? Is it a media that simply isn’t doing its job?  Is it something in the water? Have we gone insane to even think for one moment that we’ll get a different result with McCain and Palin? 

They can call Obama an “elitist” and a “pervert” and whatever else their Rovian minions dream up, but the result will be the same.  While the world moves forward in science, technology, and medicine, we’ll be banning highly promising lines of medical research like stem cells, teaching Adam and Eve as science to our young people, and arguing over irrelevancies, like gay rights, which should be a given in this country. 

While the world burns and terrorists proliferate, to a great degree as a result of OUR policies, we’ll continue with our “tough talk and bad strategy,” to quote Senator Obama. 

While the planet sputters and begins to die, we’ll continue to prop up Petro-dictators in the most repressive, pre-modern, anti-woman countries on earth, countries in which the Church IS the state, and further erode our own separation of church and state in the process.  In the end, we’ll look more like them than they do like us.

While the rest of the world looks on in horror, we’ll continue down our current path, increasing our deficits, mortgaging our and the world’s future, adding to the world’s overpopulation by pushing abstinence only and restricting access to sex education, birth control and abortion, and doing nothing to stop the world from moving toward nuclear catastrophe. 

 

While the signs of global destruction mount all around us, from melting ice in the Artic to wild weather in the Americas, we’ll just continue along the same path we’ve been going for the last eight years, and expect a different result. And the Republicans will continue to live in their fantasy world, insisting that America is still and always will be the world’s “leader,” and calling anyone who would dare speak truth unpatriotic.

 

Bush calls us the “angry left,” but I’m not angry.  I’m horrified that the country has gone insane. I’m grieving. I grieve because we’ll be electing a war monger who will not only keep us in the unnecessary, disgraceful war we’re already in in Iraq, but is going to get us into another war with his bellicose “We are all Georgians” rhetoric. 

 

I grieve for the demise of this country and this planet.  But instead of fighting as we go down, some of us will be chanting insanely “Drill Baby Drill.”  Maybe it’s something in our precious bodily fluids.  Or maybe its in the oil