Saturday, November 11, 2006

For Chafee - after the Vote

Now that the mid-term elections are over, I feel a certain sorrow for our beloved Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee, who was defeated simply for being a Republican.

This was a heart-wrenching decision for many of us. I know, because I am one of the ones who voted for his opponent Sheldon Whitehouse: the balance of power issue was that important. I am satisfied that Whitehouse is a good man, and that Rhode Island will still be well served by its senators. But as a citizen, I did and do love Chafee and what he stood for: courage to make the unpopular votes against enormous pressure from his own party, protecting our beautiful environment, speaking truth to power, setting an example of reasonableness and straightforward common sense.

These qualities are not Republican or Democrat, they are honorable human qualities, regardless of party. To me, Lincoln Chafee is the Independent Man he so identified with on the state house dome. He doesn't rush his decisions, he thinks them through. Having worked as a farrier as a young man, he wasn't dismayed by the political mudslinging around him, but kept at his task. I often thought what a great preparation this nitty-gritty work around horses was for a career in politics.

I sincerely hope Lincoln Chafee continues his honorable efforts on behalf of all Rhode Islanders, in whatever way he finds most fruitful. And that we all can benefit from his example of service.

Gail Murray

Monday, November 06, 2006

Let's get voting right!

I'm hopeful the the Progressives will have a huge and leavening effect on the country. But among all the very good agenda items on the Progressive plate, LET'S GET VOTING RIGHT!

Living in Rhode Island, I feel pretty lucky about how we vote. Using a felt tip pen, I mark the paper ballot. Then I walk over and feed it to the machine, which pulls it in and counts my vote. If any tally is in doubt, my paper ballot is there as backup.

The new electronic machines used elsewhere either leave no physical evidence or they print out a confirmation slip for the voter. While this sounds reassuring, as a former computer programmer, I know how EASY it would be to produce a printout that deliberately lies. The machine could be manipulated through software to count the vote differently, but print a receipt that makes it look like what the voter entered was what the machine counted.

If procedures to print the receipt, have it approved by the voter, and securely stored are rigorously followed - the same as should be done for paper ballots - then this method would be acceptable. These days democracy requires eagle-eyed monitors of both parties at every polling place and ballot handling facility to ensure such prodedures are carried out.

The American election should be a model of citizen confidence and transparency. Voting machines are fine. Mail-in ballots are fine. But always the vote must be verifiable - by humans, not machines.

Gail Murray 11/6/06

Friday, November 03, 2006

Why I am Optimistic About the Future

Last year I submitted an essay to a contest . The contest was entitled "Why I am Optimistic About the Future", an almost irresistible subject for me. I heard nothing further from the organization, but months later, browsing the web, I found my essay:

I am optimistic about my future because I trust my inner guidance. Through years of spiritual practice, experimentation, observation and awareness - I have learned how to make a really good day.

I am optimistic about THE future because I have learned that any person on earth can do this, anyone who wants to learn and practice and create. We are all different, and there is no one right road to attain this kind of inner confidence. There are many roads, and we each have guidance we can rely on to take us where we need to be.

I do not have control over the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of the other citizens of my planet, but I have learned to control and shape my own. This is not a rigid control, but a gentle sensing of the good, holding that in my thought, and letting the next logical steps and actions flow from that vision.

This works amazingly well. Creativity and relationships flourish, abundance flows, and I have the great feeling of guiding and riding a wave of pure life energy, a divine Source of well being that is there for all to discover.

I have learned to stop reacting to negative experiences and worldviews, and to proactively reach for a future that feels better. This is the essential spiritual skill of our time, and the more people learn it, the better things can be. I think there are many people quietly learning to work with their own thought, and I am grateful to be alive and a part of it all at this time.

Gail Murray