Tied together

The Artdog Quote of the Week

I ran across this quote in a column by Michael Gerson, who quoted one of my favorite modern philosophers:

Our country–indeed, our world–seems riven by factions, divided into mutually hostile camps. Yet I dare to hope that many of us retain enough of our grip on reality to remember this.

Amongst all the shouting and all the fear-mongering, please hold tight to this idea. We are all inescapably “tied in a single garment of destiny”–and thus “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.”

Humanity becomes inhumanity when we turn on each other. Let’s not, okay?

IMAGE: Many thanks to Sendable Quotes for this image. And even more thanks to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for saying it in the first place.

Independently together

The Artdog Quote of the Week: 

My vision of Strength in Diversity has everything to do with people from different cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, and life experiences coming together to pool their collective wisdom.

That is, in fact, also the essence of creativity: drawing ideas from a range of sources and putting them together in new ways. Only through that process can we innovate, develop our potential and make progress toward a better world.

This attitude does not mean I’m a pie-in-the-sky idealist who just wants to sing Kum By Yah with everyone else in the world because of the overflowing goodness in my heart.

And I don’t espouse my ardent belief in the vital importance of social justice out of some ambition to be politically correct.

No, my primary reason for affirming the importance of a diverse and interconnected society is that I firmly believe it’s my nation’s best route to a strong, positive future. It will take the intelligence, and the fortitude, and the creativity of ALL of us, to get ALL of us out of the messes we’ve made.

As allies, not enemies, we need to think independently together.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Inner Journey Outfitters, via Pinterest, for this image.

Who and where are the “Good Cops”?

This week’s Artdog Image of Interest is a Video:

Today I’d like to share my little platform with a guy whose Internet identity is “Mike the Cop.” He’s part of the Humanizing the Badge organization, which is doing its part to share a perspective on law enforcement officers that we don’t always get from the media.

If we’re genuinely interested in exploring the extent of our diversity, then this is ALSO a minority who should be heard from. So if you’re willing to listen, Mike has some concise, true and important things to say about “Good Cops.”

VIDEO: Many thanks to Mike the Cop’s YouTube channel for this video, to Humanizing the Badge for helping me find it, and to the vast majority of our law enforcement officers, who serve every day and do their best always to be good cops.

Peace and Justice and Black and Blue

The events of this month so far have left me feeling torn in pieces.

From Dallas, before the attack. Can we see more of this, please, and less of what came later?

Anyone who reads my blog from time to time will likely have noted that I am interested in, and largely sympathetic toward, law enforcement. Yet another dominant theme for me is social justice Indeed, on July 2nd, I announced that my theme for the quotes and images of this month would focus on diversity as a major strength of my homeland, the United States of America.

I chose it because the ugly rise in open racism that I have seen in recent years troubles me deeply, and I believe the most patriotic thing I can do is oppose that trend. I’m not the only one in my country who feels torn by seemingly competing loyalties, or betrayed by the oversimplifications it’s too easy to fall into.

If I am supportive of the police, am I automatically unsympathetic to the minority communities that have so often been targeted, or oblivious to the seemingly-endless cases of unarmed black men (and boys) killed by police?

If I affirm that the protesters often have an all-too-valid point, am I undermining the authority and values of law enforcement, or denying the value of the rule of law?

No. I want a third way. I want a way where everyone’s intrinsic value is affirmed: where ALL neighborhoods have access to good food, good education, health care, and job opportunities, and where the presence of the police is honestly welcomed.

As President Obama said in Dallas, we must keep our hearts open to our fellow Americans. “With an open heart, we can abandon the overheated rhetoric and the oversimplification that reduces whole categories of our fellow Americans not just [to] opponents, but to enemies.”

I pray he was right when he said, “I believe our righteous anger can be transformed into more justice and more peace.” But it won’t happen if we stay back in our bitter, angry corners and refuse to see each other’s humanity. Each one of us has a responsibility to step up: to do all we can to make that vision a reality in our world.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Quartz, for the photo of the protester with the cops. 

Liberty: Mission NOT yet accomplished

Artdog Quote of the Week: 


In case you were wondering, John F. Kennedy said this in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961. He was speaking to the world, during the Cold War with the then-Soviet Union, and he had human rights all over the world–particularly in impoverished countries elsewhere–on his mind when he said it. 


I’m not sure he gave as much thought to the poor of the United States when he addressed “those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery.” But we had our own share of huts, villages, and the urban equivalent when he addressed the nation that day.

Kennedy didn’t need to look beyond our own shores for people “struggling to break the bonds of misery.” This Appalachian man’s rural Kentucky community had lost most of its jobs by the time John Dominis took this photo in 1964.
Urban poverty in Harlem, New York: the Fontenelle Family, outside their home in 1967, as photographed by the legendary Gordon Parks.

When you speak stirring words, people everywhere may challenge you to live up to them. What we now know as the Civil Rights Movement and the Feminist Movement already had begun to stir before this speech, but they grew in impetus during the decade that followed this speech. 


Unfortunately, the work of neither movement is anywhere near being finished yet.


Later in his speech Kennedy proclaimed “a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself,” and at the end he challenged his countrymen to “ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” 

Long-term poverty persists in Appalachia, despite 50 years having passed since the “War on Poverty” was declared in 1964 (in another Inaugural Address, this one from Lyndon B. Johnson).

I would submit to you that the work Kennedy laid out for us is as much needed as ever, and nowhere near finished. Not even right here in our own back yards. 

Not as much has changed on those fronts since 1960 as we’d like to wish, and while the problems grew worse for many in 2008, they have been far more deeply entrenched, for far longer. There’s never yet been a golden era when poverty was eradicated for everyone.

Homelessness among the urban poor grew worse when the psychiatric hospitals began discharging many of their patients in the 1970s and 1980s. It got another boost during the Great Recession that began in 2008.

And it seems to me that a greater sense of civic duty among all of us, directed at making our communities safer and more healthy for ALL of us, would go a long way toward preparing us for our country’s greatness in the future. 


Liberty for all is an ideal, a goal–but never a destination. We can never stop and say, “okay, that’s done.” Now: do I mean to say that freedom from poverty equals liberty? No, not at all. But it’s only when people find ways to ease the desperate burden of poverty that they can begin to find ways to live up to their truest potential and be their best selves. Once they can do that, they can begin to participate in the joys of liberty.Without those base-line necessities, the rights, privileges and duties of liberty can seem a distant, impossible dream.


IMAGES: Many thanks to Quoteszilla, via the Quote Addicts “Patriotic Sayings and Quotes” page, for this image. Thanks also are due to the UK Daily Mail, for the photo of the Appalachian man (photographed in 1964 by John Dominis for LIFE Magazine) and the Harlem family (photographed in 1967 by Gordon Parks), to the Turkish Daily Sabah for the photo of the homeless US veteran (photographer unattributed), and to the New York Times for the photo of Ms. Short and her dog in West Virginia (photo by Travis Dove).

We are America

I was sent a video on Facebook the other day that seems the very soul of my theme for this month. It’s part of the “Love has no Labels” campaign from the Ad Council. I thought I’d share it as a follow-up to my 4th of July post.

There’s not a lot I can add to what John Cena says in the video, except to endorse the message wholeheartedly. 

We can only be our best United States of America when we are a whole USA. The great thing about this country is the rich diversity of all of us, because our diversity gives us such deep and amazing range. 

VIDEO: Many thanks to the Ad Council and YouTube for this video. Thanks, guys! I couldn’t have said it better myself! 

Happy Birthday, USA!

The Artdog Quote of the Week: 

 I think there has never been a time when the great experiment of democracy in the United States has not been enduring a test of one kind or another, and this period in history is certainly no exception. 
 
We’re currently mired in an ideological struggle between ever-more-sharply-divided factions, each of which perceives the country to be in peril–but the perils they perceive are much different from each other, and the struggle threatens once again to tear us apart (or did we forget the Civil War?).
 
Wherever you stand on the threats and forces that work within and outside our nation to do us harm, I hope that on this anniversary of the United States of America you will (prayerfully, if that fits your spiritual practice) consider how to nurture the strengths inherent in our centuries-long affirmation of human rights and human dignity.
 

 We haven’t always gotten it right, in the USA. Lord knows, we aren’t perfect. But the idea endures, the hope persists. As long as we look for ways to make tomorrow better, we can  hope that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was right when he said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” 
 
It’s important to look back into our history for guidance, but we must remember that there never was a golden age when everything was perfect. We still have yet to form a union that couldn’t get any more perfect.
 
By all means, please enjoy the Fourth. Put on a parade. Break bread with friends, neighbors and family. Deck the porch with bunting, and tonight may you have fireworks, and have them abundantly.
 

But once you pick up the cares and duties of your world again, give a thought to the ideals expressed in the sonnet by Emma Lazarus on the base of the Statue of Liberty:
 

There’s a popular quote (from Pope Paul VI), “If you want peace, work for justice.” Like most slogans, it’s a little simplistic, but it conveys a truth we’d be wise to heed. 
 
In the days to come, please remember that “liberty and justice for ALL” part, from the traditional Pledge of Allegiance. If we all do that, we might just pass our current test without losing our nation’s soul.
 
IMAGES: Many thanks to Marketing Artfully for the image with the flags and the Peter Marshall quote; to the National Constitution Center for the photo of the title of the Bill of Rights; to All Posters for the photo of Grucci fireworks in the sky over the Statue of Liberty; and to Daily Inspiration for the graphic of the Emma Lazarus sonnet (please note this image is part of an interesting article about the poem that adorns the base of the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island).