Women Deacons Online Discussion

A couple of weeks ago I shared Women Deacons, A Discussion, A Community that received a fair amount of attention yet the purpose was to form an online discussion group and community of interested people. I’m convinced there are other Catholic women and men interested in the issue of women deacons and who would like to learn more.

All interested people are welcome to join the discussion of Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future utilizing the Reflection and Study Guide available for download. No preregistration is required and you do not need to commit to all of the session.

Like many of you, I have a very busy schedule and online discussion groups make it possible to engage with people that share an interest. The discussion does not require you to register and one of the beauties of an online discussion is that you can mute your end or turn off the video if you are camera shy.

The study guide walks us through four sessions. I added six sessions so there would be an opportunity to discuss next steps for anyone interested in continuing our support of the women deacons.

I hope that you will join.


Roberta Lavin is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Women DeaconsTopic: Women Deacons Discussion
Time: May 29, 2019 7:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Every 2 weeks on Wed, until Aug 21, 2019, 7 occurrence(s)
May 29, 2019 7:00 PM
Jun 12, 2019 7:00 PM
Jun 26, 2019 7:00 PM
Jul 10, 2019 7:00 PM
Jul 24, 2019 7:00 PM
Aug 7, 2019 7:00 PM
Aug 21, 2019 7:00 PM
Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.
Weekly: https://zoom.us/meeting/213000398/ics?icsToken=3fc503c4e3d2fe4227d6394fd3b48c99f49d202be7eda491fe01823f81026cfd

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/213000398

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Dial by your location
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Meeting ID: 213 000 398
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The link has a limit of 100 people, but I really doubt that will be an issue. Also, if you have never used Zoom before and email me at roberta.lavin@gmail.com and will happily send you instructions.


 


The Hypocrisy of Abortion Politics Revisited

Human dignity rests above all on the fact that humanity is called to communion with God. The invitation to converse with God is addressed to men and women as soon as they are born. For if people exist it is because God has created them through love, and through love continues to keep them in existence. They cannot live fully in the truth unless they freely acknowledge that love and entrust themselves to their creator.

Gaudium et Spes (“The Church in the Modern World”), Vatican II, 1965, #19.

As a Catholic, I struggle with the issues surrounding abortion. I am at one time horrified by taking a life and equally horrified by forcing a woman to be pregnant especially when that pregnancy endangers her life or results from rape. I recognize abortion as the most difficult decision a woman will ever make and know that whether legal or not ultimately the decision is hers alone.

This week we had one governor sign into law legislation that would ban abortion after six weeks with no exception for rape even if the person raped was 10 years old and the next day the same governor allowed the execution of a man.  Missouri has passed a law outlawing abortion after eight weeks with no exception for a medical emergency or rape of a child. In other words, it is acceptable to let a woman die which will also result in the death of the fetus but essentially says it is not acceptable to save the mother if you can’t save the fetus.

Thus we have learned this week that pro-life is an obsolete word that is without meaning. It isn’t obsolete because people of faith do not believe that abortion is morally wrong. It is obsolete because it has been co-opted by opportunistic politicians that are no more opposed to abortion than anything else they espouse and then do absolutely nothing to change. Worse, they focus solely on the act of abortion and ignore all the factors that lead to abortion.

The Catholic Church is consistent in its teaching that life begins at conception and many faith traditions agree, but certainly not all. Officially abortion can be forgiven, but it can also result in the most severe punishment in the Church – excommunication. It is maintained that from the moment of conception a human embryo is fully human and deserving of all the protections of any human being. If one viewed this statement simplistically, it seems compassionate. We must treat this new life as if it were the same as a school child or a treasured grandparent. It is when one realizes that in saying “all the same protections of any human” it must necessarily mean that the mother is subservient to the human embryo so what is clearly meant is the same protections as a man. She must give up the control of her body to that human embryo, which is why some people make caveats for rape, incest, and life of the mother. If we logically followed this reasoning a man should have to do the same, but there are no laws requiring a father to give an organ to save the life of his child or for that matter to even give blood for his child.

hypocrisy of abortionPoliticians and pro-life and pro-choice advocates were outraged by the statement of Donald Trump when he suggested that women who have abortions should be punished during his campaign and to avoid that we have decided that if a physician performs an abortion it is murder, but the person that contracted for the murder has no guilt. It is no surprise that pro-choice advocates and most women were outraged then as they are today. However, for pro-life advocates and politicians who build careers preying on the faithful, it is nothing short of hypocrisy. We have already heard of two politicians that had their children aborted. Those that claim outrage against Trump’s statements need to consider what he said and what they claim to believe. Claiming the woman should be punished is consistent with what I would expect of someone that believes that the human embryo is the same as a child or an adult in rights. If a mother killed her 6-year-old or her neighbor, it would be expected that she would be punished. If one believes abortion is murder, then it would be expected that the person who committed or hired someone to commit murder is punished. However, what isn’t consistent is not also punishing the person that incited the murder – the father, or the driver that waited in the getaway car while the murder was committed. If one believes life begins at conception, and the human embryo is fully human and deserving of human rights rather than potentially human from that moment, then one should support Donald Trump’s original statement. Likewise, we should do away with all those fertilized embryos waiting to be implanted. Isn’t the physician that isn’t implanting them holding them hostage and when they dispose of them doing the same as the person who performs an abortion?

What about rape? Even if one agrees that the fetus is fully human and endowed with human rights by six weeks then what is being said about the child of God that has been raped and is pregnant. We are saying it is acceptable to enslave her body for nine months against her will. We are saying it is acceptable to treat her like nothing more than a human incubator. We are saying it is acceptable to endanger her life, cause her pain, and attack her every day for nine months. If we say the child is innocent then we are saying the rape victim is not. We are saying her well being is less important than that of the child of a rapist. This is what I cannot reconcile with reason or my conscience.

The Compassionate Alternative

Wanting to punish a woman for having an abortion shows a complete lack of compassion for a woman in trouble. Isn’t that what we teach with excommunication. When we say we punish the woman and not the man we are clearly setting different standards for men and women, doctors that do abortions and women that hire them, and mothers, fathers, and significant others that drive women to the abortion appointment. If one truly believes that abortion is a mortal sin, then to condemn the woman as a murderer is too easy and self-satisfying. It is too easy because it allows us as a society, a faith community, and as individuals to do nothing to help her through the pregnancy, to dismiss her as immoral, and to condemn her and those who assist her as murders and consign them to the criminal justice system. Calling abortion criminal allows us to continue to advocate against abortion without showing the same concern for women before pregnancy, during pregnancy, or after birth.

The child/fetus in the mother’s womb is drawing its life directly from the mother, and she must be nurtured, nourished and protected. Only then will the child develop to its full capacity. Not only is it necessary for a mother, a woman, to be cared for during her pregnancy, but we know through medical science that nutrition is essential even before conception. What we are doing for all women of childbearing age we are also doing for the child she will one day nurture. When we fail her, we fail to defend the integrity of the human embryo that will grow into a child.

We can begin our compassion by ending the use of the terms pro-life and pro-choice. Let us start saying what we believe. In stating our beliefs, we may find common ground that brings us together to find solutions that don’t criminalize acts of fear and desperation and further grow our flawed criminal justice system. I reject be label as pro anything. Here is what I believe:

  • Women are fully human – not less than men or human embryos or human fetuses.
  • A human embryo has all the genetic material of a human being but is not sentient from the time of conception.
  • The human embryo/fetus is drawing its life from the mother.
  • Self-determination should be a right for all sentient beings – rights come with responsibilities to make moral decisions.
  • However, pregnancy is a choice in most circumstances – rape, incest, and the life of a mother are special circumstances that force choices between the good of the human embryo and human fetus and the good of the mother.
  • Contraception meant to prevent implantation is not equivalent to abortion – it does violate the teaching of the Church, but can result in a reduction of abortions.
  • Poverty, abuse, lack of child care, few education options for women with children, fewer job opportunities and discrimination against women with children, and inadequate support for those that are pregnant impact a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
  • Abortion is a moral decision – women are endowed with consciences and can make moral decisions.
  • Pregnancy is stigmatizing – society values fertility, but not the always the pregnant woman especially if she is unwed or poor.
  • The objective act of abortion being immoral does not equate to the person carrying out the act as being either good or evil.

The compassionate solution cannot be to build a wall between women and legal and safe abortion and expect it will end abortion. It cannot be to take away safe abortions and not explore laws to help women care for their children. We should begin with compassion and start by passing laws and making policy changes that will encourage women to give birth and value pregnancy.

  • Paid maternal leave for six months
  • Affordable child care based on income
  • Educational support for pregnant teens and new moms
  • Adequate nutritional assistance for all women of childbearing age
  • Free adoption that isn’t limited by religion, sexual orientation, or whether one has a fire extinguisher in their house (don’t ask as you will be angry)
  • Women’s health care in all communities that is free to all women of childbearing age
  • Corporations that don’t disadvantage women with children
  • Mental health care for all women that have been raped and all with unwanted pregnancies

If we put the same passion into supporting pregnant women as goes into preventing abortion, the result may be surprising. I look forward to the day we are praying in the streets outside of community health centers and family practice clinics insisting that they provide women’s healthcare including maternity care or that we march on Washington every year to insist that all women have paid maternity leave and affordable childcare. This week taught us one important lesson – justice must include compassion. It is inhumane to treat women seeking abortion and physicians that care for them as criminals.

I cannot find it in my heart to condemn a woman to carry the child of a rapist. I find it to be inhuman to not recognize rape as a crime that should not punish the woman by forcing her to carry the child thus being raped over every single day for nine months. I can understand the fetus as innocent, but I also understand the woman as innocent. If we ask a woman to suffer and recognize her as having equal human dignity then if she is forced to carry the child to term we must fully support her.  Certainly, we should not ask her to pay the medical bills, to forgo her education, to have anything less than the best and most nutritious food, to have a fully funded education for that child, and to provide her all the medical and mental health support she will need.

This is not an easy issue and I would never violate the teachings of my faith, but I will not ask others to abide by them. I will only encourage people to explore all the implications, consider the possibilities, and know I will never turn my back on a woman struggling with the most difficult decision of her life.


Catechism of the Catholic Church on Abortion

Abortion

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.72

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.73

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.74

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.75

God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.76

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,”77“by the very commission of the offense,”78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

“The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”81

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, “if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safeguarding or healing as an individual. . . . It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence.”82

2275 “One must hold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but are directed toward its healing the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival.”83

“It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material.”84

“Certain attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities. Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being and his integrity and identity”85 which are unique and unrepeatable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Do Catholic Women Want Women Deacons

When I taught at Clarke University Sr. Joan told me I should start all meetings with a prayer. I was fresh out of the 21 years of active duty where you did not pray at federal meetings. Asking me to lead a prayer before meetings caused me great anxiety. I was so bad at it that Sr. Kate gave me As We Gather, As we Part which contained 150 opening and closing prayers.  Mostly, I was bad at it because I didn’t feel I had led a life that deserved to lead a prayer, but I looked around at the Sisters and knew they had. Last night I searched the house for the book and couldn’t find it. Today I found it in my office. I should have known it was packed with office books because that is where I used it at Clarke. I knew I needed it.

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the mind of the wicked is of little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense. Proverbs 10:21-22

Women are not fragile! I don’t know what women were like in 533 AD, but my guess is fragile was far from accurate. Today women are definitely not fragile. We fought for the right to vote and then we literally fought for the right to fight for our country. We fought for the right to work and then for equality in the workplace. Despite the obstacles, we continue to raise families and in most cases take on the majority of that task. We continue to show up even when you treat us as less than because of our gender. Fragile, those Bishops should have looked inward. I suspect their egos were what was fragile.

I’m not sure how many people are interested in the topic of women deacons. I’m not sure if Catholic women care enough to be the Dorothy Day of our time, but I do. Show up and be counted. If we do not bring equality to the church it will be diminished in our lifetime as young women walk away because they see the hypocrisy and the misogyny in the Bishops that deny history.

Let’s not be the fools that die from lack of sense. If we don’t trust that there are women chosen by God to be Deacons and stand and support them, then we are no better than the Bishops that saw women as fragile. Are you fragile or are you ready to be a suffragette?

Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system. – Dorothy Day

 


Plastic, Time, Cooperation

Healthcare is an industry that uses a lot of plastic. That use is necessary to save lives, prevent the spread of illness, and make it possible to provide better care. Plastic cups are an exception as there are other options that are equally safe and less toxic to the environment. There is little I can do about the amount of plastic used in a hospital, but it serves as a reminder to do all I can in my personal life and that as a society, we could do to reduce the use of plastics. The grocery store is a prime example. It might be the first step in saving our environment and all beings.

However innumerable beings are, I vow to save them.

I shop at three grocery stores on a regular basis. Krogers is a big corporation that caters to all manner of shopper and is highly unlikely to make any changes without a massive community effort. Earth Fare attempts to be conscious of their impact on the earth but does a poor job with all manner of plastic containers.  Three Reivers Coop is much better but still falls short on plastics, but is the most likely to be willing to make changes.

Step 1: Do What is Easy

I would like to imagine a world where when I go to buy a bicycle lock it isn’t packaged in plastic and where all plastic is recycled. When I examined all the single-use plastics in my house it was easy to figure out that the majority of them actually came from the grocery store.Plastic_objects

Plastics Easy to Avoid

  • Milk in plastic bottles
  • Soft drinks in plastic bottles
  • Water bottles
  • Drink cups (except at sporting events or concerts)
  • Plastic forks for lunch
  • Plastic tubs of lettuce
  • Plastic produce bags
  • Plastic grocery bags (though I grab these for kitty litter and don’t know an alternative)

There are things that we can all do to help, but we must remember to help within our means and not expect all people can do the same. I buy milk in glass bottles and then return the bottle for a deposit. Without the deposit 64 ounces of milk cost me $6. A half gallon in a carton is about $2.89. However, I realize that a family of four with an income at or slightly above the poverty line would never be able to afford the milk in glass bottles and it would be a poor use of their money. God help them if they had four teenage boys. They could, however, avoid plastic by using a carton.

I buy my ginger ale in cans. I haven’t bought a bottle of water in almost a year and carry my Hydro Flask with me everywhere. The $20 for the hydro flask seems expensive until you count how much one spends on bottled water. I actually prefer my mesh reusable bags for fresh produce to the plastic ones. I suspect if everyone used mesh bags the cost savings to the stores would be enough they could lower prices though it isn’t clear they would. 

Step 2: Work on What is Hard

There are things that I haven’t figured out where to buy without the plastic or how to avoid without taking a considerable amount of my time. Time is a valuable commodity to me. I’m much more stingy with my time than my money and probably because I feel like I have less of it.

Plastics Hard to Avoid

  • Plastic containers for prepared foods (yogurt is the biggest one, pimento cheese 2nd)
  • Things wrapped in plastic like cheese, veggie burgers, veggie sausage, etc.
  • Pill bottles
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Laundry detergent
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Condiments almost all now come in plastic
  • Bread

Today I bought a yogurt maker. It is one step to reduce my use of plastic and at the same time reduces sugar. Unfortunately, it is time-consuming though appears it will be cheaper than buying the yogurt. I make my own bread at times, but it is also time-consuming and so unrealistic to do it all the time. I love to buy crumbled goat, feta, and blue cheese, but it comes in plastic containers. Even if I buy it in a block it is still wrapped in plastic.

Step 3: Work Local

I think that the local coop could do more to promote reduced plastic use. Why can’t I bring containers for prepared products the same as I do for produce? Rather than putting the deli product in a plastic container, they could put the portion in my reusable container. How hard would it be to bring a shampoo bottle to refill or refillable laundry detergent?

I have neither the time or knowledge to make all of the things I use on a regular basis, but it seems like the coop could do more to make options available. If I can bring a spice jar to refill why not laundry detergent bottles? There must be like-minded people that want to significantly reduce the use of plastic in my community and think that we are losing the battle fight the government so maybe we start local and grow.

“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”
― Ansel Adams


Women Deacons, a Discussion, a Community

When I was a new nurse the Officier in Charge gave advice about how to manage meetings as one of the few women in the room.

When you know the meeting will be contentious bake cookies.

While we might imagine that Bishops and Priests are stuck in their male-dominated mindsets that see women as less than and will never change it wasn’t until this past year that there were more women in medical school than men. Fifty years ago I guarantee you that most physicians could not imagine a woman as the head of surgery or the chief of staff or any other role in the hospital leadership except in nursing. We have now had female Surgeons General. Those graduating female physicians are entering an entirely different environment than their mothers did because their mothers fought for their rights. In the next 20 years, we will see equal representation in leadership in healthcare. Let’s not let it stop there.

It would be nice if getting the Pope to move away from the misogyny that has dominated the Chruch was as simple as baking cookies. Yet, there may have been more to the baking cookies advice than my feminist ears could hear in my twenties. It could be that she had learned how to make powerful men drop their defenses around a woman that was smarter and more determined than they were. Should we have to bake cookies, absolutely not? But, if we want to win the battle for equal human dignity we need to figure out how to break down barriers.

I consider myself a feminist. Granted from the school of us born in the 1960s when what we wanted was the right to only bake cookies because we loved family and friends and not because it was an obligation or a way to get men to listen to us in meetings. It was all about equality. Maybe it is time to send cookies to the Vatican since it is a behavior that seems to disarm men who view a woman as less than. Clearly coming to the table with evidence and a historical record didn’t work. The problem is I’m annoyed and so I want to lash out at misogyny. Honestly, I would rather fling the cookies at them.

Like any good nurse, I know that the world is filled with misogyny and people that refuse to believe the evidence. How many patients believe there is a magic cure to their knee or back pain but refuse to recognize the extra hundred pounds they are carrying is making it worse? How many providers continued to do unnecessary test long after the evidence shows that it results in unnecessary procedures? Yet nurses teach and advocate even when we know the person isn’t ready to hear us.

The Pope made clear he didn’t have ears to hear. I for one need a like-minded group of people that want to discuss this issue. I want people fighting as hard as I am to stay in the church and not throw in the flag and say if you want a boys club you can have it. I’m taking my spirituality and my faith and going home. The feminist in me says I will die before I will step aside for misogyny and men that still think the world is theirs to control

Macy, Ditewig, and Zagano wrote a book, Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future that serves as an excellent study on the issue of women deacons and they have produced a free study guide to accompany the book. I would enjoy being part of a group of like-minded people that want to read and discuss the book.

Like many people I have a busy schedule and once I’m home from work I’m unlikely to go back out. I set up a Zoom meeting if anyone wants to join me to start discussing the book and then maybe planning what we can do as an online community to advocate for women deacons. If you are interested and like-minded please join. I’m not a theologian so I don’t want to debate the issue, but rather learn and eventually plan some activism. It is my church too and I’m fighting for the human dignity of women.

Women Deacons

Roberta Lavin is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Women Deacons
Time: May 15, 2019 7:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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The link has a limit of 100 people, but I really doubt that will be an issue. Also, if you have never used Zoom before and email me at roberta.lavin@gmail.com and will happily send you instructions.

 


Curse of a Nurse: Social Justice Nursing in the World

The curse of a nurse is an educated mind often formed by religious and social backgrounds combined with work experiences which enable us to see things from a little different perspective. Principles of religion, education, and nursing practice illuminate what is wrong in our society.

We are both blessed and cursed with what we see and experience. The day of an average nurse is full. It is full of cultural perspectives, love and hate, grief and joy, violence and compassion, and fear and bravery. Nurses see people when they are vulnerable and willing to share truths, but they also see them when in the delirium of medication or pain they reveal what they would normally never give a voice. The nurse in the clinic or at the bedside sees the end result of failed policy, bigotry, and poverty. The nurse also sees those with privilege, success, and wealth and realizes the results of disparities.

Nurses experience all we see and what we see fills our lives with wonder and a search for the truth. There are days that we are bone tired with aching feet. The best we can do is ramble on about what we have seen to supportive family and friends. There are times when the mind is too tired to resist and in those times the truth is most apparent. There are also angry and frustrating times when we can identify with the worst instincts of humanity. It is a unique perspective and empathy that drives us to work for social justice. Out of our wonder, we find joy.

Many nurses are called to address social justice in the world and see it as part of what it means to be a nurse. It is tied to our spirituality. I write from my perspective as one who embraces the curse of a nurse and strives to pursue social justice in my small piece of the world. Love my perspectives or hate them, but know I have a thick skin and think we all grow through open and honest conversation even when it is difficult.

And so the [hu]manwho philosophizes and wonders is ultimately superior to one who submits to the despairing narrowness of indifference. For the former hopes?  – Joseph Pieper


Destructive divisions

I hope they never distinguish what we share. I wish I had your way of bringing heart and soul into writing.

Radical Rhymes

They stand us up against one another. You know the drills as well as I do, just as you recognise their scape goating. Their adoption of diversity is just another means of creating divisions, of directing our accusatory gaze sideways rather than upwards.

Famine, terrorism, discrimination, nationalism, the destruction of the environment, all are the products of a corrupt system built and maintained for the benefit of a very small minority. The divisions they stimulate and exacerbate between groups of people are designed to channel frustration and deflect attention from the real causes of most human ills – inequality and injustice.

Immigrants bring crime, disease, cultural  incompatibility. Age old tropes that they wheel out periodically to generate divisions they then mercilessly exploit. Look up media accounts from the 19th century, then compare them to tabloid coverage today. Place them side by side, and you won’t be able to distinguish them.

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