An Abortion Rights Manifesto

Betty Ford on Abortion Rights

Betty Ford, First Lady of President Gerald Ford

“Any woman should have the right to a safe and legal abortion,”  — First Lady Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford

“If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”  — Seen on a T-shirt

On March 30, 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump said that in his America abortion would be banned and “there has to be some sort of legal punishment” for women who have abortions. After fierce criticsm from both left and right, he flip-flopped and said that not the women but the doctors who perform the abortions should be punished. Whether fines or prison time he didn’t say. Sounds like Fascism to me. And many Republicans talk about being “libertarian?” Despite their disavowals, Ted Cruz’ and Marco Rubio’s views sound pretty similar to me.

Let’s step back into history and hear what “Mr. Conservative” Barry Goldwater said. “I am frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ . . . I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.’  . . . I believe a woman has a right to an abortion, That’s a decision that’s up to a pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders on the religious right.'”

In 1964 Democrat Harry S. Truman and Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower served together as honorary co-chairs of Planned Parenthood. That organization actually prevents a huge number of abortions by its extensive contraceptive counseling (which the Vatican and the American politicians who follow its script don’t like either.)

The Religious coalition for Reprocuctive Choice, a nationwide alliance of more than forty mainstream Protestant, Jewish, and other religious groups agrees. It says, “every woman must have the right to consider all options when she faces a problem prenancy and the freedom to allow her to come to a decision that is in harmony with her own moral and religious values–without government intrusion. . . .  The abortion debate in America is not a conflict between the ‘God-fearing’ and the ‘Godless’ but is instead a struggle between those determined to undermine religious freedom and those determined to preserve it.”

Jesus Christ was totally silent on both contraception and abortion, taking no position about either.

I dislike name-calling –especially in online comments where people hide in anonymity.  I’m all for owning your own likes and dislikes instead of pretending that they’re reality. (Unfortunately manyi people can’t tell the difference.) But I’m pissed off. At the whole ultra-right-wing extremist Republican establishment. And a name that seems to fit some of what I like least about them just popped into my mind: Pesudo-Libertarian Fascism. These days that’s what extremist radical right-wing Republican politics (and that seems to be most of it) seems to boil down to, Unlimited freedom ( equals libertarianism) for big corporations, for the plutocrats (the very rich few who basically run things), and for religious imperialists who want to impose their ideology on everybody else.  Meanwhile, they wrap themselves in the flag, play the national anthem loudly, and act like that justifies their views.

Me, I care about your Aunt Sadie and Sister Sue. Even if they’re dumpster divers. For that matter, even if they’re plutocrats. And I don’t want Trump, Cruz, Rubio, or misguided fundamentalist male chauvinists who are contemptuous toward the separation of church and state bending the government to make it force you to follow their agendas.

For the record, here are the views of some of America’s founding fathers about religious views and politics.

Revolutionary war hero Ethan Allen: “While we are under the tyranny of Priests, it will ever be their interest, to invalidate the laws of nature and reason, in order to establish systems incompatible therewith.”

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence: “The priests have so disfigured the simple religion of Jesus that no one who reads the sophistications they have engrafted on it . . . would conceive these could have been fathered on the sublime preacher of the Sermon on the Mount. . . .   It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself to resist invasions of it in the case of others. “

James Madison, a principal writer of the U.S. Constitution:  “In no instance have… the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people. . .  Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

Thomas Paine, patriot and advocate for independence: “I fully and conscientiously believe that it is the will of the Almighty that there should be a diversity of religious opinions among us. . . . My mind is my own church.”  And, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”  Let’s keep it out of our private lives.

Abraham Lincoln said, “No man is good enough to govern another without that other’s consent.”

George Washington accompanied his wife Martha to Church but waited outside in the carriage while she went in to Mass.

In recent times, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm observed, “Women know, and so do many men, that two or three children who are wanted, prepared for, reared amid love and stability, and educated to the limit of their ability will mean more for the future. . . than any number of neglected, hungry, ill-housed and ill-clothed youngsters.”

Finally, opposition to contraception and abortion is a male agenda. Half the people of our nation are women. President John Adams’ wife, First Lady Abigail Adams said, “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or representation. . .  If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women. . . .  All history and every age exhibit instances of patriotic virtue in the female sex.”

NO POLITICIAN  OUGHT TO DARE OPPOSE WOMEN’S SELF-DETERMINATION BY WOMEN OVER THEIR OWN LIVES. IT IS TIME TO RATIFY AN EQUAL-RIGHTS AMENDMENT BY ALL STATES THAT ENSURES THAT NO FUTURE POLITICIAN IN ANY STATE CAN EVER AGAIN PURSUE AN ANTI-WOMAN, ANTI-CONTRACEPTION, ANTI-ABORTION PROGRAM.

Note:  Some of the material in this blog is cribbed from my own book, THE RADICAL WRONG: LIES OUR FOUNDING FATHERS NEVER TOLD US — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Others Refute Right-Wing Extremists.  It is readily available as an e-book or hardcopy at many online booksellers. See http://www.amazon.com/The-Radical-Wrong-Washington-Right-Wing-ebook/dp/B0085XYI9S or http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-radical-wrong-victor-daniels-phd/1111323061?ean=9781620957844

       

MEDITATION: THE ESSENCE II – Concentration & Focus


MEDITATION — THE ESSENCE

Basic Meditation Instructions, Part II

  FREE: Right here, right now, no charge.

 Shiva

CONCENTRATIVE MEDITATION

Concentrative meditation develops your ability to know what you are doing with your attention at any given moment and to focus your attention (and often that of others with whom you are conversing) where you wish.  This ability has been shown to be useful in diverse areas of life.  It is also essential to witness consciousness or mindfulness meditation, which will be described in Part III. Two different forms are described here, and you can choose the one you prefer or use them both at different times.

Counting style.  Choose any object to focus your eyes on. As you did just above, count from one to ten.  This time silently count one number on each incoming breath, from one to ten. Then count the same number ten times on each outgoing breath.  Like this: 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, etc. up to 10-1.  Then take a single  breath in which you do not count.  Then count a second sequence of ten, like this:  1-2, 2-2, 3-2, etc. up to 10-2.  Another empty breath, then ten breaths with the number 3 on your exhalation, etc.  Ideally you will do this for 110 breaths, up to 10-10.  Then do ten more snapshot breaths to end your session.  Whenever you lose count, continue from the last pair of numbers you can remember clearly. If you don’t have time or don’t want to count up to 10-10, stop whenever you wish and end your session with ten snapshot breaths.

On each outbreath, notice all the chatter and images that have formed themselves in your mind and imagine them flowing out of you and away as you exhale, leaving your mind calmer and clearer. Whenever you notice that you have forgotten your counting or you are no longer looking at the object you chose for your visual focus, first notice where your mind has gone in case it’s to something important you need to remember (you might want to keep a pad and pen to jot down a word or two as a reminder when things occur to you.) Then gently move your mind back to your counting. Don’t try to keep things out of your mind – just bring your mind back to your counting, again and again if needed.

Mantra style.  Select a mantra that feels agreeable and useful to you.  You can find one by looking at the index at this link, or by doing a web search for “Sanskrit words” or “mantras.” Or even choose a word or phrase in your native language that refers to a quality you want to cultivate. Just as with the counting above, choose an object for your visual focus. On each inhalation, silently repeat your mantra to yourself.  On each exhalation, you can either (1) count the same number for ten numbers as described just above, and then move to a second number for the next set of ten breaths,  or (2) just repeat the mantra on your inhalation and let your mind go silent on the exhalation, allowing the thoughts that have formed themselves to flow away.  When you notice that you are no longer repeating your mantra, return your thoughts to it. DO NOT, however, use repetition of the mantra to try to “push” other thoughts, feelings, or sensations out of your mind. You could end up pushing out things you very much need to notice or hear. Just notice where your mind has gone, jot down a reminder of that if it’s important and you wish to, then bring your attention back to your mantra. Here too, ten snapshot breaths are a good way to end your session.

 

OR, you can regard the starting sequence and a period of concentrative meditation as the first two stages of your sitting, and then go on to mindfulness / witness consciousness meditation or to a contemplative meditation.

Part I of this series of five mini-articles offered an introduction to what meditation can do for you and presented a useful meditation “starting sequence.”

Part II describes concentrative meditation.

 Part III will describe witness consciousness (yogic term) and  mindfulness meditation (Buddhist term) and They overlap considerably but not totally. (not yet posted)

 Part IV will describe contemplative meditation. (not yet posted)

 Part V will be on everyday awareness practices. (not yet posted)

All this is just “the essence.” If you’d like this and many advanced practices all in one handy place, you will enjoy Matrix Meditations, by Victor Daniels and Kooch N. Daniels. Click on the cover to go to the book’s home page. You can get the e-book for under $10.00, and used copies online for little more than postage. Of course, a brand-new hardcopy (from your local bookstore, the publisher, or another online vendor) is a treasure. 

 

Matrix Meditations: A 16 Week Program to Developing the Heart - Mind Connection

Matrix Meditations: A 16 Week Program to Developing the Heart – Mind Connection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEDITATION – THE ESSENCE: Basic Meditation Instructions I

 

 

MEDITATION — THE ESSENCE

Basic Meditation Instructions, Part I

 

FREE: Right here right now, no charge

 

 

woman meditating by Ganges River

 

INTRODUCTION, & STARTING YOUR SESSION

 

 

BENEFITS OF MEDITATION

Reduce your stress, feel more relaxed, become more focused, centered, and probably more successful, and clean up problem areas in your life. Seldom be bored, as you can almost always find something interesting around you or inside you to notice.

 

If you have never meditated, have tried and been unsuccessful, or are unsatisfied with your method, try this. (If you are an experienced and expert meditator and are looking for new depths and horizons in your practice, you’ll find them in other blogs soon to be posted and at this link.)

 

FOUR FORMS OF MEDITATION

The four kinds of meditation described here are suitable for ordinary people in their everyday lives. You do not have to sit in a cave in the mountains or go to a retreat center. The four are:

 

Concentrative meditation.  You become able to focus your mind where you want it. (Research has shown that this skill improves life-effectiveness of diverse kinds.) Developing this capacity, and your mindfulness or witness consciousness, occur at the same time in the method described here.

 

Mindfulness meditation, aka witness consciousness.  You learn to notice what your mind, emotions, and body are doing, moment by moment, rather than being completely caught up in your thoughts (as most people are most of the time.) This is called “mindfulness” in the Buddhist tradition and “witness consciousness” or “developing the witness” in the Yogic tradition. There are small differences between the two forms but they mostly overlap.

 

Everyday awareness practices.  These help you take a more meditative consciousness into your everyday life.  They are also ideal for people who have a hard time sitting still to meditate.

 

Contemplative meditation. Once you have mastered the two meditative forms just above, you will have the ability to meditate on specific aspects of your inner self or on outer concerns important to you. The resources of your large and creative unconscious mind will become available to supplement the conceptual thought, daydreams, and “monkey mind” that comprise most of most people’s ordinary waking consciousness.

 

HOW LONG SHOULD YOU MEDITATE?

Sit for at least five minutes to get any value from this. Ten or fifteen is better—but if you think, “I don’t want to spare that much time,” then just commit yourself to five minutes. When that time is up, sometimes you will probably want to continue.  When you are starting out, don’t sit for more than half an hour. When you feel ready, you can allow yourself 45 minutes, or even an hour.  Once you are experienced, you might want to go to a retreat where you sit for a day, or several, or even longer. But unless you have the supervision of a capable meditation teacher, stop after no more than an hour.

 

BEGINNING YOUR MEDITATION SESSION: YOUR POSTURE

For most people, the best thing is to sit up straight with no support for your back if you can do that. (Just noticing when you lose this position and slump helps you maintain a present-centered consciousness.) If your back muscles won’t hold you straight up you can sit with your back against a wall or the back of a chair. If all else fails, I have had some students meditate successfully while lying down.

If you are sitting cross-legged on the floor or the ground, sit on the front edge of a doubled-over pillow or a meditation cushion to raise your butt a few inches off the ground. Outdoors, sitting on a slope with your butt a little higher than your  knees and feet will do. Or use any other object to raise your butt slightly. Otherwise you will have a hard time sitting up straight. You can sit in a full lotus posture with each foot upside down across the other thigh, a half lotus posture with just one leg above the other thigh, or a regular everyday cross-legged position.

If you are on a chair, choose one with no arms or low or wide arms so that both your elbows can extend outward comfortably. You can either put your feet facing forward just below your knees and about shoulder-width apart or you can cross them as if you were sitting cross-legged on the ground.

           In any other position, do what feels best. Just know that it will be somewhat harder to develop your mental focus than in one of the positions just above.

          Position your arms with your palms face up. Touch your thumb and forefinger  or middle finger of each hand together. This is a mudra. As you inhale, let them separate about a sixteenth of an inch.  As you exhale, let them touch each other. This is a moving mudra. (The moving mudra will help you focus and watch your mind. When you notice that they have stopped opening and closing as you breathe, it tells you that your attention has drifted off.)

 

A STARTING SEQUENCE

  1. 1.    Balance. Find a sitting position in which you are totally centered in relation to gravity, so that if you move even a little forward or backward or to either side you feel unbalanced. Try those movements, then return to your center.  I suggest that you also try this standing up. Imprint in your mind what that totally balanced position feels like. (Then later in the world, when you start feeling “off balance” or emotionally “pushed out of shape,” take a minute to physically balance as you just did. That’s your first “everyday awareness practice.)
  2. 2.    Breathe.  Sit (or lie down or whatever you do) in a position that opens your windpipe and lungs as fully as possible. If you are sitting or standing up, pushing your chin backward with one finger can help do this. . . .

 

  1. 3.    Notice and release tension. The first time you do this, use the method described by Edmund Jacobson in 1929. Starting at the top of your head and going down to the tips of your toes, do an internal body scan. Notice each place in your body where you are holding even a teeny weeny bit of tension, intensify it for several seconds – tighter, tighter – then let it go. Some places many people hold tension is in their forehead, around the eyes, jaw, neck, shoulders, hands, arms, stomach, anal sphincter, thighs, and calves.   (You may have your own unusual tight spots.)

 

After the first time, you can skip the tightening. Just do an eyes-closed body scan in which you release the tension you find at every point, except for whatever tension you need to sit upright. When you’re done – probably just a minute or two – notice how good your body feels when you let go of the places you chronically hold tight.

 

  1. 4.    Take ten “snapshot” breaths. Count your breaths from one to ten. With each cycle of inhalation and exhalation, let your eyes rest on a different visual object. It can be anything from a statue to a smudge on the wall. Imagine that you’re taking a picture of it, and also that after you’re done you will have to draw it from memory, so scrutinize every detail of it as carefully as you can during that one breath. (You could also do this by listening to a different sound with each breath.) Why do these ten snapshot breaths? Because it is very nearly impossible to do them with a wandering mind. To do them successfully REQUIRES you to maintain mental focus. This gives you a hold on the reins of the wild horse of your attention, giving you enough mental focus that you can go on to other meditative practices.

 

CONGRATULATIONS! You are now meditating. You can stop now, or continue your session by simply continuing to count your breaths, or by repeating any mantra that has value for you on each breath for as long as you wish to continue.

 

 

When you are ready, you can go on by clicking on the links below.

 

 

Part I of this series of five mini-articles offered an introduction to what meditation can do for you and presented a useful meditation “starting sequence.”

 

Part II will describe concentrative meditation.

 

Part III will describe witness consciousness (yogic term) and  mindfulness meditation (Buddhist term) and They overlap considerably but not totally. (not yet posted)

 

Part IV will describe contemplative meditation. (not yet posted)

 

Part V will be on everyday awareness practices. (not yet posted)

 

Remember—all this is just “the essence.” If you’d like all this and many advanced practices too all in one handy place, you will enjoy Matrix Meditations, by Victor Daniels and Kooch N. Daniels. Click on the cover to go to the book’s home page. You can get the e-book for under $10.00, and used copies online for little more than postage. Of course, a brand-new hardcopy (from your local bookstore, the publisher, or another online vendor) is a treasure. 

 

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2-12-14

 

 

 

Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. . . The means of defense against foreign danger have become the instruments of tyranny at home. If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. –James Madison

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Glastonbury

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