It’s the end of the world as we know it…

It’s the end of the world as we know it… January 28, 2017

And I feel far from fine.

After this first week of the Trump era, I am left without words. I’ll be back in touch when I find them again.

For now, I have three things for you. The first is a quotation from the gospel of Matthew:

¨I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.¨ (Matthew 25:35).

The second is a website that, if you oppose anything you’ve been hearing over the past week, will give you ideas on how to turn discontent into action.

And finally, a poem of mine. I wrote it years ago. Please tear down the walls. Good fences do not make good neighbours.


She is my sister.

I had never visited her family’s shanty,
just as she’d never seen my home in the suburbs.
She always wore the same yellow dress
on her way to the market to sell chewing gum,
while I wore a starched plaid uniform
on my way to school.

Each morning we met on a grassy field
halfway between our homes.
We walked hand in hand,
picking flowers,
sharing secrets
that only the ground beneath could hear.

Then, one morning, they came with their shovels.
“Stand back,” they cried out.
Dazed, we watched
as they started to dig a ditch
and built a chain-linked fence
separating us.

After they, with their shovels, had left,
we passed friendship bracelets
through holes in the fence,
picked dandelions that grew alongside
and blew their seeds so they would grow
thick and fast and knock the fence down.

As teenagers, we found
the chain-linked fence replaced
by a wooden one
with gaps as thin as wafers
through which I barely glimpsed her face.
We still wove flowers through grooves,
still scattered seeds.

Now that we are adults, a brick wall divides us.
Each morning, I go alone,
wondering if she is on the other side,
if she too is pressing her hands against the wall,
kneeling down to plant seeds that
will one day be climbing roses

Somehow I know she too believes
we are sisters,
that halfway between our homes
there is still an open grassy meadow
with only the sky and the ground
as fences.

""Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy ..."

Welcome to Babylon: When a Wall ..."
""I’d waited patiently for years."That was your mistake. It shouldn't take years. Several months max. ..."

An old millennial, unlearning entitlement
"Sorry for the delayed response here. Having a bit of a neo-luddite streak myself as ..."

So what is the problem? A ..."
"You dismiss the sexual revolution as one of the “fierce cultural winds blowing against the ..."

So what is the problem? A ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Big Ed

    We welcome strangers. We have a problem with those who are not humble, who take without offering payment and who disrespect our Christianity. Jesus didn’t ask us to be doormats.

  • I live outside the country, and thus it is difficult for me to make the telephone calls that the organization whose name you linked is recommending. However, I linked to it at my Facebook page and recommended that all my friends in-country subscribe. It’s going to be a terribly difficult four years, if we don’t stop at least some of this.

    • Thank you. If you are American and have a family address you can use, you could still call the representatives in your home district using Skype. Otherwise, thank you for sharing.

  • ndarecca


    Time for you, and all of us to find our collective voices and resist the callous, un-Christian, thoughtless, demagogic, narcissistic, dishonest, ahistorical, fearmongering tactics of our illegitimate president. I liked the poem. Is it based on actual events or your imagination? If the former, where and when did this occur?


  • Jesus talked about compassion, but it was one on one. No government or religious or a corporate organization can have compassion. If you are so concerned adopt or foster some refugees on your own without boasting to the public. Do it for the sake of Jesus.

    • I disagree when you say no organization can have compassion. Organizations are made of individuals, and if they have compassion, the organization will be compassionate. We need individual actions, like the one you are suggesting I do, but we also need actions at the systemic level.

      • Absolutely, organizations can have compassion, from small parish soup kitchens to major ones like Doctors Without Borders. But leave it to a proponent of small government ( except when he wants roads without potholes, police departments, firefighters, the certainty of buying food that will not give him food poisoning, drugs that won’t poison him, emergency medical care in case of an automobile accident, beautiful national parks that are well preserved for HIS vacations, airports with traffic controllers. Should I go on or is that too much government already?) to try and discourage any help for our less privileged brothers and sisters. My biggest fear when I die is not the lies I may have told or the times I missed Mass on Sunday. No, it’s going to be Jesus saying to me,”I was hungry and you didn’t give Me to eat; I was thirsty and you didn’t give Me to drink; I was homeless and naked and you didn’t sheltered or clothe Me.” And I’m going to ask Him,”Jesus, when did this all happened?” And He’s going to answer,”When you didn’t feed, give to drink, shelter or clothe the Least of your brethren, you didn’t do it for Me.” And the Gates of Hell will shudder because my life on earth will have been worthless. The Examen wreaks havoc on my soul every day because it’s not about me, it’s about how I interact with others that says what kind of a Christian I am. So, there are organizations out there that help us walk the walk for those of us who need help finding the way. Don’t listen to those who sit in their caves hoarding for doomsday. Doomsday already came for them.

  • Thales

    The 65 website brings to my mind this puzzle: I didn’t vote for Trump, as I found his character to be entirely unsuitable as President. (Nor did I vote for Hillary, as I found her character to also be entirely suitable, for different reasons.) So I understand the concern with Trump and some of his policies. (I thought Trump was wrong on a number of policies during the campaign.) But why are those on the left/the Democratic party becoming so extreme in their leftism, more and more so all the time? At the website, the rabid leftist positions on school choice, abortion, and marriage equality is so off-putting.

    • Thales, I will have to give that some thought. Part of it might be a reaction to the right becoming so extreme in its rightism, with rabid positions on the environment, migration, health care and many other issues. We are living in a moment where people are having a hard time meeting in the middle, but we have a hard time agreeing on where the ¨middle¨ should be. For me, after living in countries like the UK and Canada, I see the ¨middle¨ as being more to the left of where most mainstream Americans would see it. But yes, we are living a moment where both sides are finding it hard to compromise. This is why Trump got the nomination rather than someone like Kasich, and it is also part of why Clinton did not win.

      Here is an article that I believe does a decent job of analyzing this moment we are living.

    • David Cruz-Uribe, OFS

      Thales, I am also giving this some thought and have ideas for a post entitled “Catholic in the age of Trump.” It is hard, though, for a lot of reasons.

    • Julia Smucker

      I’ve been thinking about this too. I think much of it is indeed a reaction, and in a way that leaves me feeling profoundly alienated, because I abhor many of the same things the left is reacting to, but am also very much put off by the entrenchment of leftist positions such as the ones you mention. Maybe in a way the feeling of alienation is a good thing, in that it makes it far less tempting to confuse the Kingdom of God with a political platform. But it’s frustrating, because in many ways I want to join the opposition (for lack of a better word) but I can’t follow it in the direction it goes.

      This was definitely on my mind when I ran into a protest the day after the inauguration, where many of the signs I saw presumed positions I couldn’t associate myself with, a number were downright vulgar, and a few were suggestive of violence.

      • Thales

        Great comment. You posted this after I had written my longer comment below. You’re touching on exactly what I’m thinking too.

        I think you’re right: the feeling of alienation is a good thing. It’s a good reminder to not put your trust in princes. In some ways, I find it kind of freeing to not have a current political “home”, because neither the Trump side nor the Dems side speaks for me. Neither side speaks for me, and neither side represents me. I’m more free to criticize either side when they’re wrong, while still recognizing either side when they’re right. And it makes me less invested on how “my side” is doing in the political struggles, giving me more opportunity to simply ignore the political struggles and more time to focus on the important things of my own personal faith and family life (at least, I try to. 🙂 )

  • Thales

    Jeannine and David,

    Thanks for the comments. Let me add a little more to my thoughts. Disclosure: As David knows, I tend “conservative” in my views and policies (for whatever that’s worth. I know these labels of “conservative” and “liberal” are often useless.) But I was bothered by many Trump policies during the primaries (e.g., the abhorrent torture/target-innocent-families-in-war position; immigration; general crony-capitalism/big-business/trading-favors/corruption, among many other things). Add that to his complete lack of personal integrity, lack of personal character, and untrustworthiness, and he was someone who I couldn’t vote for. (I didn’t vote for Hillary, either, because I found her completely unsuitable too, based on her policies and based on her lack of personal integrity and character.) (As another aside, I know many “conservatives” like me who aren’t Trump fans. The thing that I’m most worried about in a Trump administration is that Trump’s worst characteristics/policies/ideas will identified as “conservative” principles, even though they aren’t. Trumpian nationalism and protectionism is not in any way conservative, IMO; neither is the possible racism of some of Trump’s more extreme supporters.)

    So I’m not in the Trump camp, and I’m open to looking around, and I peek over at the “other side” (i.e., the left/Democratic side) and UGH…from my perspective, it looks like that side is becoming more and more extreme leftist. More than that, to me, it looks like it’s a group that does *not* want to welcome me or any other pro-life person of faith. The dust-up with the Women’s March excluding all pro-lifers is a example. Another example is this past year’s Democratic party platform abandoning the status quo of keep-Roe-v-Wade-with-abortion-safe-legal-rare (along with tolerating pro-life Democrats), in order to subscribe to the extreme position of Hyde-Amendment-must-be-overturned, taxpayers-must-pay-for-abortion, abortion-is-a-right-that-Catholic-hospitals-have-to-support (and apparently, no longer tolerating pro-life Democrats, at least as it appears to me). My general sense from reviewing the commentary, editorials, blogposts, and blog comments from the “left” is that the “left” has a growing hostility to people of Christian/Catholic faith. (See, for example, any Hobby Lobby case criticism or the Memories pizza fiasco.)

    At any rate, that’s my perspective from my “conservative” side of the river. I’d be interested in hearing more from you, Jeannine and David, on how your perspective looks from your side of the river. From Jeannine’s comment, it sounds that it looks like the right is becoming more right in its “rightism”; to me, it looks like the left is becoming more left in its “leftism.” Maybe both are true, as both sides hunker down more and more, and the rhetoric becomes more and more hysterical from both sides. Or maybe it’s just a matter of perspective. Also, Jeannine says “Part of it might be a reaction to the right becoming so extreme in its rightism”. Maybe that is correct. But maybe the right is becoming so extreme because the right is reacting to the left becoming so extreme. (Consider the fact of people embracing Trump’s crudity because they consider it standing up to over-the-top political correctness from the left.) Again, maybe both are happening in a vicious cycle. (Another aside: Jeannine, your comment that your “middle” is more left to where most mainstream Americans is a little curious — ordinarily, where the most mainstream people are is, by definition, the middle. But that’s a different discussion. FWIW, I consider myself more “right” than the mainstream on some issues, and more “left” than the mainstream on other issues. I think that conscientious Catholics often find themselves in that position.)

    At any rate, David, a “Catholic in the age of Trump” is a great topic to mull over, and one that we’ll probably be discussing at length for the next 4 years. I look forward to hearing more from you in future posts.

    • Mark VA

      Thales – nice post! Here’s my 3-cents worth (seriously):

      Bernie Sanders, whose heart I admire and whose most political views I don’t, got the rough end of the deal last fall. When the thinking progressives get over the shock of Hillary’s loss, they could petition President Trump to find a place for Bernie in his administration – maybe as an ah hoc (an intentional pain in the arse) presidential advisor? After all, Trump is not really a Republican, and Sanders is not a Democrat – a marriage made outside of DC?

      I realize this may be a “bridge too far” for conventional thought, nevertheless, such a deal is possible. It’s a given Trump and Sanders will disagree on much, but disagreements, if handled right, are often beneficial for all. If…

      By the way, we can’t have the “End of the World (as we know it)” without good music. Here is my choice for such a momentous occasion:

      • Mark, thanks for injecting some levity right now. I am (temporarily) over my utter shock and sorry, and I am starting to turn from despair toward action.

        About Sanders…I agreed with Sanders on the majority of issues and worked on his campaign. But I certainly saw his shortcomings, and in some ways he and Trump really did mirror each other. They are certainly both populists.

      • Mark – I think I can speak for Bernie Sanders when I say he would rather swim in nuclear waste than give any legitimacy whatsoever to the Trump Administration’s agenda.

        • Mark VA


    • Thales, I appreciate your comments. We are certainly in an age of extremes. I would argue it began on the right with the Tea Party Movement, but I cannot be sure of that. One possibility might be that the issues we have been facing in the 21st century have been increasingly extreme in nature. Global terrorism, war, environmental degradation. Perhaps we are fighting over what the priorities should be and how to handle them.

      As far as my “mainstream” being to the left of the typical American mainstream, the reason for this is because I lived outside of the United States for most of my adult life – from 2004 through 2015 in the UK, Poland, Uruguay, Nicaragua, and then seven years in Canada). So this gives me a different perspective. The US is my country…But to me it seems like quite a bizarre country, even without a figure such as Donald Trump at the helm. I will write more about this soon.

      • I don’t want to be divisive ( that’s already a set up ) so I won’t address all the comments, like people’s posters, but I do want to say that most laws passed in this country that have root in social justice and have improved the lives of people, have been drafted, fought for and eventually made into laws by Democrats: the NLRB, Social Security, Workers Comp, Medicare, Clean Air Act, the Affordable Care Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Lily Ledbetter Act and so many other laws that have made the lives of Democrats AND Republicans alike so much better. I don’t see members of Congress or wealthy people turning down their Social Security checks or their Medicare benefits. I’m not saying that Democratic politicians cannot be corrupt. But within their corruption they still manage to fight for their constituents. Republicans will only fight for others AFTER it has affected them personally. Two cases in point: Senator Rob Portman was against all things LGBT. And then…his son came out and then ( I commend Sen. Portman, don’t get me wrong) Senator Portman couldn’t untie himself fast enough; Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also was anti LGBT and then her daughter Amanda came out as transgender. Now she’s one of the most active members among the transgender movement. My mother had no one in her family who was gay, who had AIDS or HIV, but for 13 years starting in 1985, way before it was the thing to do, she volunteered at San Francisco General’s Ward 5A, where all the AIDS patients were treated. Her mission was to accompany the patients so they would not die alone. They had been abandoned by their families at their neediest moment and my mother responded. This was a woman with a second grade education in her 70s who had just lost a daughter in a tragic accident. And her answer was to give of herself.
        That’s what I try to do every day. What is it that St. Ignatius tells us to ask of ourselves? What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ? Yet, I know I get caught up in what others do or not do. So I’m sticking with social justice and the Dems who somehow with all their imperfections, manage to squeeze in helping the underdogs, those no one wants to look at in the eyes. And I’ll let the Republicans judge everyone else.

        • Perfect response to most of the rubbish that the “Trads” and “conservatives” write here!

          • Dismas, this comment is too trollish for my taste. Vox Nova is not a liberal blog. Everyone who wants to be here is welcome here.

          • It’s telling that Jeannine is concerned that we may be sounding “too liberal” yet when conservative opinions are espoused over and over as if they stand for the “Church” I don’t remember “liberals” reminding anyone that this is not a conservative blog. We may disagree with the writers but no ownership of the blog is expressed. And Thales, quite interesting that the one issue you brought up that Republicans hold dear to their hearts is school vouchers. Show me where that issue fits in about giving without strings attached? One issue which is about taking money from public schools to spend on private schools. No, I’m not going to engage in the ins and outs of the issue because what galls me is that you mentioned one issue that is not about giving to others for the sake of giving which was my argument about Democrats: that even when they leave a lot to be desired, they still manage to write legislation that helps Democrats AND Republicans, no exceptions. Look at Ryan, McConnell wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act in spite of the fact that it is covering 22 million people and instead of wanting to work with Democrats to fix what it’s wrong with it, they want to repeal. Period. Cause chaos in people’s lives. Even deaths in some cases. I’m not going to continue because the one thing I’ve learned is that you never argue about people with Republicans/Conservatives. Democrats are about people and Republicans/Conservatives are about things/money. Social justice is not is considered communism, socialism not caring for your fellowman. Then let me be a liberal, I’ll deal with Jesus and my politics at the end but today, I’ll look at the least of my sister and brother in the eye and know that I will try and do the most for her and him.

        • Thales


          Respectfully, may I suggest to you that there are many people who tend to vote Republican because they actually think that Republican policies/politicians would have a greater tendency to improve the lives of people than Democratic policies? (School choice is a good example to comes immediately to my mind.) I don’t doubt you have the opposite perspective, but I find it helpful to break of out of the respective bubbles we all live in, to see that there are well-meaning people on the “other side of the river”, as I discussed above. (Which is why I come here to VN, to break out of my bubble! 🙂 )

          Heh. Talking about me? Or Agellius or Mark VA? (I lurk most of the time here on VN, but I can’t recall that many conservatives posting in the comments, much less any conservative comments that would qualify as “rubbish”.)

        • jeanninemarieddymphna, I put “conservatives” in parentheses for a reason. I consider MYSELF to be a genuine conservative, in the Western, traditional and Burkean tradition (we are called “Tories” in Britain.) I don’t think that you Americans who call yourselves “conservatives” are “conservatives” at all–and you certainly aren’t “conservative” in relation to preserving the TRADITIONAL social justice and “just war” traditions of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, It seems to most of us, out here in Europe, or in Africa or in Asia, or in the Middle East, that all you American “conservatives” care about “conserving” is MONEY and PROPERTY. So my “conservative”–in parentheses STANDS, and I will not back away from it to suit an American taste.

  • Thales


    You talk about school vouchers and say “Show me where that issue fits in about giving without strings attached? One issue which is about taking money from public schools to spend on private schools. No, I’m not going to engage in the ins and outs of the issue because what galls me is that you mentioned one issue that is not about giving to others for the sake of giving which was my argument about Democrats.

    I find your comment to be fascinating, because from my perspective, I think you’ve got it exactly backwards. From my perspective, school choice is exactly about giving to others.
    (You’ve got a point that the Democratic party traditionally tends to be about “giving to others”… which is why I find it particularly bizarre why the Democratic party tends to be on the wrong side of the school choice debate.) Let me explain.

    You say “taking money from public schools to spend on private schools.” I think you’re very mistaken. The money is not public schools’s money; the money is the student’s money. The money is allocated to the student, and follows the student where the student goes to school. The public school district only get money based on whether a particular student is enrolled in school at the beginning of the year; if a student is not enrolled, the public school does not get money. If a student leaves one public school district and moves to another disctrict, the money goes with the student to the other district.

    So, the money is the student’s, not the public schools’. Therefore, why should we “give” the money to a public school? Isn’t it more “giving” to “give” the student’s money to the student and the student’s parents? In other words, from my perspective, I think that money should be given to the student and the student’s parent, so that the parent can use the money to send their child to a school that the parent wants the child to attend. Consider an inner city parent who does not have the finances to send their child to an expensive private school — why should the parent be forced to send their child to a failing-grade inner city public school, when there are better alternative schools in the neighborhood, like a charter school or a parochial school? Let’s give the student’s money to the student and parent, so that the parent can enroll their child in a better school. From my perspective, that seems to be much more “giving to others” instead of your position.

    • Do you know anything about the private, “for profit” charter school racket in the United States? Do you realize that most of them have taken up, with abandon, the notion that “edumacation” is teaching to tests?

      I accidentally once found myself in a proprietary educational institution in Germany purporting to be an “international school.” The organization is called SABIS, and it runs charter schools in cities in America where it has often been sued by parents who realized, too late, that the “edumacation” being offered was fraudulent, taught through a system of mindless memorization, and “assessed” by means of regurgitation on error-laden “bubble-in-your-guess” tests churned out by the organization itself, which also printed their own dumbed-down texts that families were forced to buy.

      When I tried to use better more effective materials, I was told I had to use SABIS materials for instruction. When I (a senior high school instructor, by licensure) was told to teach a class of Greek and Roman history to eighth graders, and given inferior materials to do it with, when I was reviewing students for semester exams with SABIS materials full of errors about the history, and was correcting the errors, as I was reviewing, one student told me, “We appreciate that you know more ancient history than the people who wrote these tests, but we have to pass the tests to get our parents off our backs, so JUST TEACH US THE ERRORS!”–THAT, from a student! Frankly, I’d trust home-schooling to do a better job of educating children than the charter school movement.

      • Thales


        Sorry, but I don’t find your comment persuasive. Your story of one bad charter school is outnumbered by 10 stories of success with charter schools, and 100 stories of bad public schools. Also, I Googled SABIS (as I was unfamiliar) and I find that their incompetence actually illustrates the benefits of the charter system. Consider: I see that at one of their schools in the U.S., their management was so bad that they were sued—but that’s in contrast with public schools, where you can’t sue them if you’ve got bad public school management because they’re immune from lawsuit! My Google search of SABIS also showed an instance where SABIS was removed from management of the charter school by those governing the school — and that shows the benefit of charter schools because, again, that can’t happen with public schools: charter schools have extra layers of accountability when compared to public schools because the charter school’s Board, or the university sponsoring the charter, or the state authorizing the charter, can revoke the charter or close the school or change the management or do something if the school is not meeting the standards set out by the state or by the charter. Not so with public schools. Finally, charter schools have a final level of accountability from the students and their parents themselves: no one is forcing a parent to send a child to a charter school — they do so willingly, and if the school is not working out, the parent can withdraw their child. In contrast, too many parents are forced to send their children to failing public schools because there have no other options.

        Your last story about “teaching the errors” makes me think of public schools because that kind of thinking happens all the time at public schools too. You say “Frankly, I’d trust homeschooling to do a better job of educating children than the charter school movement , and I respond “Frankly, I’d trust homeschooling to do a better job of educating children than the public school movement.” So might there be a point of agreement between us? Could we possibly agree on the benefits of a child tuition tax credit, which would make any schooling option chosen by the parent (whether public, charter, or home school) affordable for the parent?

        • The “point of agreement” between us will be, because of my own experience with “charter schools” both in Germany and in New Mexico, before I left America: “Frankly, I’d trust homeschooling to do a better job of educating children than the charter school movement OR most public schools.” And, I will remind you that, all of your evidences of recourse against bad education to the contrary notwithstanding, it took numerous legal battles and many, many months before SABIS could be driven out of those schools. Meanwhile, children’s educations were harmed–and that is regularly happening with the charter school movement all over America. Children’s educations do not belong in the hands of for-profit institutions, because such educations are almost ALWAYS dumbed down and cheapened by market forces. Education in America DOES need “reform,” but not “reform” of the professionals who work in it, but, rather, reform of the dreary, archaic, irrelevant and depersonalized curricula and the punishing teaching methods that are required by curricula that are needlessly content-laden, whilst being largely neglectful of various disciplines’ processes of investigation and analysis.

        • Mark VA

          Public Education is highly problematic,
          Some of it is noise, some is static;
          The Standards ask to compare, contrast, and spell,
          But not how to think con spirito and well.

        • Thales


          Then let’s set aside the topic of charter schools. I think we can agree that parochial schools are generally offering better education opportunities than public schools? So along with homeschooling, why not get systems of public funding or vouchers or, better yet, tax credits, set up so that parents can afford sending children to parochial schools or homeschooling?

          I just came across this article on “educational pluralism.”

          Interesting stuff. The government-funding-only-for-public-schools system that we have here in the U.S. appears to be an anomaly. In Canada, England, Italy, Netherlands, Israel…. you’ve got government funding for nonstate or parochial or religious schools. The U.S. should break out of its enclosed bubble when it comes to thinking about how to educate kids.

  • Thales, I basically agree with you; I myself will never teach in another public school–mostly because of the politicization and the bureaucratic red tape. I’m all for parochial schools and their subsidization, but I don’t believe that they should have the right to turn away children of lbgt parents, if they are receiving such funds–or to sack lbgt teachers if they “come out” or are “gay married.” (Preaching the Church’s teachings about such in theology classes is fine, however.) I have a very close friend who teaches in one of Washington, D.C.’s most prominent Catholic high schools, and he told me the last time I visited there that priests are awaiting with great anxiety the first time that a “gay” student opts to bring his boyfriend to the prom–which they know is inevitable; they have decided to quietly accept it, with no comment. You can probably guess what order they belong to.

    • Thales

      Ah, lgbt in Catholic schools… a whole other topic of debate which we can save for another day. Since I think we’ve come to an understanding on the primary issue we were discussing, cheers! Till we meet again.