Racism, paideia, personal transformation, and activism

Edward Kelly, Jr. is a former Pentecostal Fundamentalist minister.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in his 1963 book Why We Can’t Wait, “Suddenly the truth was revealed that hate is a contagion; that it grows and spreads as a disease; that no society is so healthy that it can automatically maintain its immunity.”

I was a vicious carrier of that disease, marked by the symptoms of fear, hatred, and bigotry. I carried and spread it as a contagion for 30 years as a Fundamentalist preacher. I took great pride in my views, even referring to myself from the pulpit as a “Bible Bigot”—as if intolerance based on scripture was morally acceptable.

In 1996, while serving as an interim pastor in a small Assembly of God Church in eastern Iowa, I experienced a depressive suicidal crisis. There is something to be said about the Buddhist practice of accepting suffering as a part of the human experience. My depressive episode opened me up to introspection. After treatment, I began a long process—taking two decades—involving paideia.

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After 9/11, we weren't all in this together

I spent much of Saturday reading or watching eyewitness accounts or reflections on the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

I was living in the UK, so the first half of my day passed routinely as I worked on my dissertation at home. Nothing unusual was on the BBC newscast I watched over my lunch break. The first plane struck the World Trade Center a little before 2:00 pm. I got a call soon after urging me to turn on the television and watched the horror unfold for the rest of the day and evening.

The attacks were a top news story in the UK for a long time. Most people don’t know 9/11 was the deadliest terrorist incident in British history. At least 67 UK citizens lost their lives, mostly in the World Trade Center or on the airplanes. No Irish Republican Army bombing had ever claimed nearly as many victims. For weeks afterward, I remember random strangers in London offering their condolences for what happened to my country as soon as they heard my American accent.

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Celebrating democracy in an age of backsliding

“What would you say if you saw it in another country?”

Dartmouth political science professor Brendan Nyhan used that catch phrase throughout Donald Trump’s presidency (up to its very last day) to highlight the president’s public comments or official acts that in any other country would be seen as warning signs of a slide toward authoritarian rule.

The thought experiment always resonated with me, because I saw it in another country.

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Iowans face long wait for disability services

Kyla Claussen is one of some 16,000 Iowans on waiting lists for disability services. -promoted by Laura Belin

My name is Kyla Claussen and I’m from Avoca, Iowa. I have an unknown progressive neuromuscular disorder that has been slowly taking skills away from me over the past five years. By March 2020, I was unable to walk independently anymore or work. Last August, I went on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and then applied for the Physical Disability Waiver and the Health and Disability Waiver.

I’m now waiting for services in my home, along with 15,956 Iowans on the waiting list for one of the waivers for people with disabilities. Most likely, I will be waiting for one to three years.

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Getting by on unemployment in Iowa during the pandemic

Lori Hunt is a Democrat from Polk County, a member of the Planned Parenthood Speakers Bureau, professional cat wrangler, writer, breadwinner, and bread baker. -promoted by Laura Belin

One of the first questions people ask when you meet someone is what do you do for a living? Where do you work?

If you are in between jobs or not quite at your desired one, you sigh, explain your circumstances, and give an elevator pitch as to how it happened and what you’re looking for. Our job is so tied into our identity and self worth. 

I was furloughed from my retail job at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was scheduled to start another job with the U.S. Census Bureau, but that got put on hold as well. In March, the warehouse called my manager at home and told her of the plans to temporarily shut down the store. She came over, locked up, and sent us home. 

In the rush to get out, I didn’t even grab my empty Tupperware and cheese in the fridge. We all figured we’d be back in a month. Not so likely.

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