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September 22, 2022
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TODAY’S INTRO

Hispanic heritage: Remembering a 9-year-old’s pioneering step

Before there was Brown v. Board of Education, there was Mendez v. Westminster.

This Orange County suburb is one of those postwar drive-by burgs that are an unremarkable blur at freeway speed.

However, the quiet stratifications of Westminster history are quite remarkable: Indigenous culture overlaid by vast 19th-century Mexican land-grant ranchos, then the fragrant citrus boom of the early 20th century. And – since the 1970s – it’s become one of the biggest concentrations of Vietnamese immigrants in the United States, known as Little Saigon.

But in the 1940s, a group of Mexican American families here waged a pioneering battle against the sorting of children by ethnicity – Anglo-American children to one school, Mexican American to another. The reason, a local official testified, was: “Mexican children have to be Americanized ...  taught cleanliness of mind, mannerisms, dress.” Bracing inspiration for forced segregation.

Grade schooler Sylvia Mendez, who today in her 80s is still on the civil rights speaking circuit, was barred from a school close to the land her father ranched and sent to a “Mexican school.”

In 1943, Sylvia became the lead plaintiff in the case, which did not claim the segregation was racial discrimination (because Mexicans were legally considered white) but that the social, psychological, and pedagogical effects damaged Mexican American children.

They won. And Thurgood Marshall used the precedent in constructing his Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case that in 1954 successfully established separate but equal education facilities for racial minorities as inherently unequal.

This fall, Westminster is opening the Mendez Historic Freedom Trail and Monument. It’s a creative oasis of landscaping, art, and historical interpretation commemorating the courage and perseverance of the families who won their desegregation case.

Last week, Jeff Hittenberger, Vanguard University professor of education and the creator of the trail’s interpretive panels, brought student teachers to see the nearly finished site.

Before his course, none of his students had heard of Sylvia Mendez.

One graduate student, Gilbert Angeles, noted that before he studied the Mendez case and talked with his mother about it, he had no idea she’d spoken only Spanish when she came to the U.S. from Mexico and rose from janitorial work to become the professional director of a mental health program.

Exiting the monument, Mr. Angeles gushed comparing the “sacrifice and perseverance” of Sylvia’s parents to his mom’s: “This is our history, too!”

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A deeper look

With buses and planes, GOP governors put border in spotlight

Both sides agree the current system isn’t equipped to handle such a huge influx of migrants. But after decades of partisan finger-pointing, agreeing on solutions remains a significant challenge.

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Since the spring, the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have been sending busloads of migrants north to Washington, New York, and Chicago. Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis upped the ante by sending two chartered flights unannounced to Martha’s Vineyard, a vacation haunt of former President Barack Obama and other wealthy liberals.

The governors’ campaign has supercharged the national debate over how to handle a migration crisis on the southwestern border, where the largest influx in decades is overwhelming law enforcement resources and further clogging an immigration and asylum processing system that was never designed to handle such numbers.

For years, Republicans and Democrats have failed to make the hard compromises necessary to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, while accusing each other of exploiting the issue for political gain. And although the upcoming elections may only intensify that dynamic, some experts remain hopeful that increasing frustration among voters could lead to a breakthrough.

Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former adviser with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) who now works for the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, says the public should push leaders to quit the blame game and work together toward solutions, telling them,“Don’t keep coming and telling me how upset I need to be at the other guy about it. Why don’t you fix it?”

With buses and planes, GOP governors put border in spotlight

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Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters
Migrants, mostly from Venezuela, wait to board a bus to New York at the Migrant Welcome Center managed by the city of El Paso and the Office of Emergency Management, in El Paso, Texas, Sept. 16, 2022.

The breaking point for Ricardo, a police officer in Venezuela, came when he refused to carry out orders targeting anti-government protesters – and found himself being targeted instead.

“I was a victim of harassment and persecution from other officials,” he says, adding that his unwillingness to engage in what he viewed as “crimes against humanity” put him and his family in danger.  

So in July, he set out on foot with three of his cousins for the United States. The monthlong journey took him through the perilous Darién Gap in Colombia, where he says he witnessed terrible assaults. In Mexico, he says, the police robbed him. 

When he reached the Texas border, he was quickly processed – and then put on a bus to Washington, D.C., by officials he says were wearing beige uniforms with the Texas flag on the shoulder. Like thousands of other migrants in recent months, Ricardo was dropped off at Union Station without money or belongings. And while he was quickly helped by a local aid organization – and is happy with his new surroundings – he realizes he is a pawn in Republican efforts to pressure the Biden administration. 

“From what I’ve heard, it’s like a war being waged by the governor of Texas” with migrants as collateral, he says. It seems like the Texas authorities have decided, “‘we’re going to throw these people over there so they can figure it out,’” adds Ricardo, who is identified by his first name only because he is working illegally.

The Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have been sending busloads of migrants like Ricardo north to Washington, New York, and Chicago since the spring. Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis upped the ante by sending two chartered flights unannounced to Martha’s Vineyard, a vacation haunt of former President Barack Obama and other wealthy liberals.

The governors’ campaign has supercharged the national debate over how to handle a migration crisis on the southwestern border, where the largest influx in decades is overwhelming law enforcement resources and further clogging an immigration and asylum processing system that was never designed to handle such numbers. For years, Republicans and Democrats have failed to make the hard compromises necessary to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, while accusing each other of exploiting the issue for political gain. And although the upcoming elections may only intensify that dynamic, some experts remain hopeful that increasing frustration among voters could lead to a breakthrough.

Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former adviser with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) who now works for the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, says the public should push leaders to work together toward solutions, telling them,“Don’t keep coming and telling me how upset I need to be at the other guy about it. Why don’t you fix it?”

The scope of the issue

So far, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey have sent nearly 10,000 migrants to Washington, including four busloads recently dropped off at Vice President Kamala Harris’ home. 

Paul Ratje/Reuters
Asylum-seeking migrants wait at a new mobile en route processing unit, used by U.S. Border Patrol to rapidly process migrants on the border in downtown El Paso, Texas, Sept. 21, 2022.

That’s a token amount compared with what border states have absorbed since President Joe Biden took office. In the fiscal year that ends this month, Border Patrol has charted more than 2 million encounters with unauthorized immigrants or asylum-seekers, in between ports of entry – quadruple the annual average during the Trump administration. And the number of “known gotaways” – migrants identified by cameras or Border Patrol but not apprehended while crossing into the U.S. – has far outpaced last year’s total, with an estimated half-million crossing from October to July. 

The Biden administration has been quietly flying thousands of migrants from the border to other parts of the country for months, in part to unite unaccompanied minors with family members or sponsors. But the GOP busing strategy has pushed the nation to grapple anew with a border crisis that for most Americans exists only in headlines. It has spurred an outpouring of compassion and aid for migrants like Ricardo from nonprofits, faith organizations, and city and state officials. It has also prompted renewed criticism of the Biden administration’s inability or unwillingness to stem the flows, and the national security implications of that. 

By August, the Border Patrol had encountered 78 individuals on the terrorist watchlist trying to enter the country between ports of entry – five times more than during the previous fiscal year. Through June, the Del Rio sector alone had apprehended 1,651 criminal migrants. And at a time of record drug overdoses in the U.S., the Mexico border has become the main conduit for fentanyl: Of the 12,900 pounds seized so far this fiscal year, 95% of it was apprehended along the southwest border. 

Many crossing between ports of entry are seeking asylum. The U.S. is a signatory to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, which stipulates that “subject to specific exceptions, refugees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay.” Due to backlogs, many asylum-seekers are released into U.S. society while they await adjudication, which can pose a challenge for law enforcement. This spring, unsealed court documents revealed that the FBI thwarted an alleged plot by an Iraqi asylum-seeker with ties to the Islamic State to assassinate former President George W. Bush.  

But the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Ms. Brown cautions against overstating the threat posed by the small number of suspected terrorists. “It serves no one to imagine that because some of those people might be a danger, then we should treat everybody as if they’re a danger,” she says.

Many people across the political spectrum would like to see Congress and the Biden administration lead by example. They just can’t agree on how. Congress has tried for decades to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would address concerns about border security, improve a backlogged system for processing immigration and asylum claims, and clarify the status of more than 10 million unauthorized immigrants who have established lives here.  

“The U.S., overwhelmingly so, has the resources, the skills, the knowledge, the capacity – you name it – to manage migration in a safe way with dignity,” says Anika Forrest, legislative manager for migration policy with the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington. “Yet so often our policymakers treat migration as an occurrence that’s ‘besting’ us.” 

Many on the right argue that a broken immigration system with inadequate border enforcement is not compassionate because it incentivizes cartels and human traffickers. Last week, an Aug. 9 indictment was unsealed that showed federal officials had dismantled a multimillion-dollar smuggling ring that had been cramming unauthorized immigrants into semitrucks or wooden crates to bring them across the border. 

Critics of the administration say the influx of migrants could easily be curtailed within a few months by reinstating programs like Remain in Mexico and stepping up efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

“All you have to do is reach on the shelf and pull out the Trump-era playbook on border security,” says Mark Morgan, former CBP commissioner under the Trump administration and a visiting fellow with the Heritage Foundation. “When you remove incentives and apply consequences, [illegal immigration] will go down.” 

Community organizations stepping in

More than 20 community organizations in the Washington area have gotten involved in helping the migrants bused here from Texas and Arizona, estimates Madhvi Bahl, an organizer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network. Usually, they get about half a day’s warning, but sometimes it’s as little as 20 minutes. 

Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette/AP
Migrants who arrived on a flight sent by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gather outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts, on Martha's Vineyard, Sept. 14, 2022. A Texas sheriff on Sept. 19 opened an investigation into two flights of migrants sent to Martha's Vineyard from San Antonio.

Faith organizations are getting involved too, says Gary Sampliner, director of Jews and Muslims and Allies Acting Together and a member of the Bethesda Jewish Congregation, which along with Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church and the Maqaame Ibrahim Islamic Center has been assisting arriving migrants and asylum-seekers.

“I think it’s actually helped D.C. become a more welcoming place,” says Elias Johnson, executive director of Congregation Action Network. “Each time we do something like this, we build our muscle, we build our infrastructure, and we build our cohesion as a community and our ability to welcome people.”

Likewise, on Martha’s Vineyard, the community rallied to help the arriving migrants. Polly Toomy, owner of Among the Flowers cafe, provided breakfast last Thursday and Friday for all of them. “Even people who are vacationing here were offering to come and help,” she says.

The migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard were moved to an Air Force base on nearby Cape Cod, where GOP Gov. Charlie Baker deployed National Guard troops to assist. The DeSantis administration told reporters that the migrants, who were picked up in Texas, were homeless and hungry and chose to board the flights knowing the destination. They were reportedly given meals and pamphlets listing the benefits available to refugees in Massachusetts, as outlined on the state website, although it’s not clear those benefits would apply in this case.  

On Tuesday, some of the migrants filed a class-action lawsuit claiming they were lured by $10 McDonald’s gift cards and hotel rooms, and then deceived into getting on the flights by false promises of housing and jobs in Boston or Washington. 

Back in Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser is bracing for more busloads. On Sept. 8, she declared a public emergency and announced a plan to create an Office of Migrant Services with an initial budget of $10 million. The measure, which creates a system separate from that serving homeless people, passed. Some activists have criticized it as rendering many migrants ineligible for services. 

“We’re not a border town,” Mayor Bowser told reporters Sept. 15, after migrants were dropped off at Vice President Harris’ home. “We don’t have an infrastructure to handle this type of and level of immigration to our city. But we’ll create a new normal here in our infrastructure and have a humane welcome for people.” 

Border towns overwhelmed

If the arrival of 10,000 migrants is straining Washington’s support services, says GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, just imagine having hundreds of thousands arrive. The Arizona city of Yuma, population 96,000, has seen 284,000 migrants arrive since last September –a 200% increase over the previous year.

“If the D.C. or New York mayors don’t like it, they ought to pick up the phone and call the Democrats who are in charge [of federal policy],” Senator Cruz told the Monitor last month. 

For their part, Democrats are calling on the GOP governors to show better leadership.  

“They should start behaving like governors and stop behaving like human traffickers,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, on Tuesday. 

Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, says his organization will be filing complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice and the district attorney in Bexar County, Texaswhere the Martha’s Vineyard flights originated, to determine whether the transport of migrants constituted criminal human trafficking. He blames Governors Abbott and DeSantis for stoking fear of the other for political gain. 

Yet as someone with relatives in Eagle Pass, Texas, who frequently see migrants walking around asking for help, he’s also acutely aware that border towns need more help from Washington. 

“This is an American problem, not a blue-state/red-state problem,” he says in a phone interview from Martha’s Vineyard, where he visited last Friday. “It’s going to require Biden to provide resources to those border communities that are disproportionately impacted.”

(Editor’s note: This story was updated on Sept. 23 to better reflect the context of Theresa Cardinal Browns quote about increasing public pressure on leaders to find solutions.)

School 2.0: Has the pandemic transformed education?

Has the idea of bringing innovation to public schools after the lockdown years come to fruition? The opportunity remains, but for now, small steps rather than big leaps guide progress.

Clara
Ron Harris/AP
Students work in a classroom at Beecher Hills Elementary School on Aug. 19, 2022, in Atlanta. The pandemic was seen by some as an opportunity to reimagine education. Since the return to in-person schooling, changes have mostly been incremental.
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With classes back in session, experts say the quest to reimagine teaching and learning – which was urged during the pandemic – has resulted in modest changes like greater use of technology and tutoring. Some alternatives, such as virtual schooling and microschools, still attract supporters. And districts have started to give more attention to the mental health needs of students and teachers.

But the prolonged difficulties of navigating COVID-19 protocols, and the additional scrutiny of teachers because of culture wars, has left many educators and families exhausted and longing to return to normal. Those who want to see greater changes say that innovation, at least in the current education landscape, will take more time and persistence.

“Our mindsets about what school looks like and feels like and how it should operate are pretty deeply embedded,” says Scott McLeod, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver. “It’s not that we’re going to snap our fingers and reinvent schools.”

Community members and school districts need to form alliances to make progress, says parent and co-founder of The Oakland REACH, Lakisha Young.

“We can’t just wag our fingers at the system,” she says. “We have to create the solutions and bring these solutions to the table.”

School 2.0: Has the pandemic transformed education?

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Over the past three pandemic-interrupted school years, as educators scrambled to respond to the greatest disruption to schooling in over a century, a common refrain emerged: Don’t return to the way things were. 

Scholars, policy makers, and school leaders have advocated for using the global health crisis as an opportunity to rethink and reinvent how education works in the United States, so that fewer gaps exist between kids of different racial and wealth backgrounds, and students are prepared with skills needed in the modern workforce.

With classes back in session, experts say the quest to reimagine teaching and learning has resulted in some modest changes, like greater use of technology and tutoring. Some alternatives, such as virtual schooling and microschools, still attract supporters. And districts have started to give more attention to the mental health needs of students and teachers. 

But the prolonged difficulties of navigating school COVID-19 protocols – and the additional scrutiny of teachers because of culture wars around instruction about race and gender – has left many educators and families exhausted and longing to return to normal. Those who want to see greater changes say that innovation, at least in the current education landscape, will take more time and persistence.

“Our mindsets about what school looks like and feels like and how it should operate are pretty deeply embedded,” says Scott McLeod, a professor of educational leadership at the University of Colorado Denver. “So trying to move those mindsets in new directions is really hard and long and slow and difficult work. It’s not that we’re going to snap our fingers and reinvent schools.”

People are nostalgic for pre-pandemic schooling, says Justin Reich, an associate professor of digital media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director of its Teaching Systems Lab. School leaders face “powerful reasons to be pulled into retrenchment, but the old normal didn’t work for a lot of kids,” he says. 

Charles Krupa/AP
Teachers participate in a workshop meant to help them cope with the demands of the classroom, Aug. 2, 2022, in Concord, New Hampshire. Since the pandemic, schools are giving more attention to the mental health needs of educators and students.

Lakisha Young, a parent in Oakland, California, and CEO and co-founder of The Oakland REACH, an advocacy group, says parents in her city have the same goal now as they did in 2019: “Our community has never changed its fight and focus in terms of getting our babies to read,” she says, citing low literacy rates for students in Oakland Public Schools. Her group is recruiting community members to serve as “literacy liberator” tutors in the district. 

Many parents are hopeful that this school year will finally feel regular. In a recent survey, 57% of parents said the upcoming school year will be better than the last for their child, according to a Harris poll released in August and commissioned by Lexia Learning, a company offering literacy products. 

There’s also hope coming from some academic rebounding, including student growth last year that tracked with pre-pandemic learning rates. Yet overall student achievement remains a concern. Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress – or NAEP – of 9-year-old students, released this month, showed the largest declines in math and reading scores in two decades. 

“The reality is those needs are significant right now and not just for students, but for teachers,” says Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), a research organization based at Arizona State University. 

“This recovery was not something that was taken care of last year. This is going to be a very long-haul recovery, and we have to get ready to meet all those needs with less money [when pandemic relief aid expires in September 2024]. In every other sector those kinds of wicked problems call for innovation,” Ms. Lake says. 

She suggests exploring different staffing models, such as team teaching, and working with community organizations to provide more options for students like mentoring, internships, or mental health support.

Small scale experimenting

Susan Enfield, superintendent of the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada, says she needs to wait and see if her district and others around the country can implement large changes.

“I don’t know that any of my superintendent colleagues, nor would I, say that we have met that challenge to radically transform how we essentially do schools in our public schools,” says Dr. Enfield. “That doesn’t mean we haven’t made some changes and some things are different, but I don’t think we’ve seen a wholesale translation in the way that many of us dreamed or hoped would happen.”

Better use of technology to engage with parents, such as offering remote participation for back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences, is one change Dr. Enfield cites. She hopes for bigger revisions, like reevaluating the traditional school calendar and finding ways to assess learning that happens outside of school – such as students spending more time with relatives to deepen understanding of home cultures. 

The upcoming school year might result in more innovations due to educators finally catching their breath after being in “survival mode” the past few years, she suggests. 

John Minchillo/AP/File
Abigail Schneider engages with a learning game on a laptop in her bedroom as her mother, April, steps toward the doorway, December 2021, in New York City. Greater use of technology, for both student learning and partnering with parents, is among the ways education looks different than it did before the pandemic.

Chris Gaines, superintendent of Mehlville School District in suburban Missouri says his district used to offer virtual classes for high school students only, but now offers its own standalone virtual school for elementary and middle school students. The elementary school enrolls about 15 to 20 students per grade for kindergarten through fifth grade, he says. 

“The demand was there from parents and students for virtual school,” Dr. Gaines says. 

He is also talking with colleagues about how the district might reimagine senior year of high school. Initial ideas include letting students earn more credits in earlier grades and over the summer, so that they have more flexibility for Advanced Placement classes, dual-credit classes with community colleges, or apprenticeships.

The popular areas where schools are investing their share of the roughly $190 billion in pandemic relief funding from Congress include staffing, summer programs, social and emotional learning materials, and HVAC systems, according to an analysis by Future Ed at Georgetown University. Data released recently from CRPE suggests that large, urban schools are investing in facility and technology upgrades, and social-emotional supports. 

Yet a majority of superintendents expect they will decrease or end current summer learning and enrichment activities after relief funding expires, according to a July survey from AASA, the School Superintendents Association.

“In general I would say we see school districts experimenting, but within the box of traditional schooling,” says Ms. Lake, from CRPE, of the overall approach educators are taking.

“We have to create the solutions”

Outside of public schools, some individuals say they’re taking lessons from the pandemic to create new educational models that they hope will serve increasing numbers of students.

Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, the popular online company with free instructional videos, sees a future for virtual learning. In August he launched Khan World School, a virtual school, in partnership with ASU Prep Digital, an accredited online school at Arizona State University. Khan World School will start with 52 ninth graders this year and plans to expand up to grade 12.

When the pandemic hit, “it was clear that, generally speaking, remote learning wasn’t being done well,” says Mr. Khan. He wanted Khan World School to “show people that online doesn’t have to be this mind-numbing experience – it can be quite engaging.” The school runs a daily seminar, promotes student mastery of topics, and allows for flexible schedules. 

Amar Kumar says he believes learning pods will outlast the pandemic. In 2021, he launched KaiPod Learning, which operates in Arizona, Georgia, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire and has enrolled 124 students in grades three through 12. His company charges tuition and provides logistical support for families who don’t want to run a pod, or small learning group, themselves. Mr. Kumar envisions more partnerships with public school districts. In New Hampshire, the state education department pays the tuition for students enrolled in KaiPod learning centers.

“I think the real long-term potential might be for traditional schools to see pods as pathways in their systems,” says Mr. Kumar. 

Declining enrollment in public school districts may compel them to experiment more, says Michael B. Horn, author of “From Reopen to Reinvent: (Re)Creating School for Every Child.” “That will put more pressure on traditional districts to say we’ve got to innovate. Otherwise we’re losing students, losing dollars, and the staff that comes with it,” Mr. Horn says. 

Professor Reich from MIT spoke with students and teachers in 2021 for a report he co-authored, “Healing, Community, and Humanity: How Students and Teachers Want to Reinvent Schools Post-COVID.” Students discussed how schools could address their social isolation and foster the autonomy many felt they developed during remote learning. 

“Nobody has all of the answers, but we often do not attend to the wisdom that our students have,” says Professor Reich. “When you take young people seriously they will give you serious, thoughtful answers to your questions about educational systems, and they can be powerful partners in making them better.”

A key element for improving schools is encouraging community members to form alliances with districts, says Ms. Young from Oakland. 

“I think it’s critical if we don’t want these systems to go back, those of us that are somewhat on the outside need to push in harder with solutions,” she says. “We can’t just wag our fingers at the system. We have to create the solutions and bring these solutions to the table.”

Voter trust: Mexico shows how fast it can be lost – and regained

Trust in electoral outcomes is a foundation of democracy. A study of Mexico shows how quickly that confidence can be lost – and how much time and effort it takes to rebuild.

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Mexico’s violent democracy isn’t often held up as an example to follow. And the country experienced one of the most infamous cases of a defeated presidential candidate claiming fraud. When Andrés Manuel López Obrador lost the 2006 presidential race by less than a percentage point, he organized encampments in downtown Mexico City, driving the capital to a halt. Voter confidence in the electoral institute plummeted.

But today, as political figures from Donald Trump in the United States to Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil cast doubts on their electoral systems, Mexico’s National Electoral Institute, known as INE, is one of the most trusted civilian-run institutions in the country.

Reforms put in place in the aftermath of Mexico’s deeply contested 2006 vote may offer some important lessons on maintaining – or regaining – citizen trust in elections. Mr. López Obrador eventually backed down, running for president twice more and finally winning by a landslide in 2018. He’s halfway through his six-year term, and INE has nearly 70% public trust.

“On the electoral dimension, [Mexico provides] lessons for other countries,” says Guillermo Trejo, professor of comparative politics at the University of Notre Dame. “Until recently in the U.S., no one knew who was organizing elections, who was in charge. In Mexico, everyone knows.”

Voter trust: Mexico shows how fast it can be lost – and regained

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Eduardo Verdugo/AP/File
Supporters of former presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador attend a rally in the Zócalo plaza in Mexico City, Jan. 25, 2009. Mr. López Obrador, who is now the president of Mexico, refused to accept defeat in the 2006 election, declaring himself the "legitimate president."

Donning a black suit and a red, green, and white presidential sash, the man raised his right hand and swore his allegiance to the Mexican people as their “legitimate president.” A crowd of tens of thousands of supporters packed into the historic Zócalo plaza to hear him.

The problem? He had lost the election months earlier.

Perhaps one of the most infamous cases of a defeated presidential candidate claiming fraud and refusing to concede, for nearly two months in 2006 Andrés Manuel López Obrador organized protests and encampments in downtown Mexico City, driving the capital to a halt and feeding distrust in the electoral system. He’d lost by just a 0.56 percentage point, and his request for a total recount was denied by the top electoral court. Voter confidence in the electoral institute plummeted by nearly 20 percentage points to 43% by 2008.

But today, as political figures from Donald Trump in the United States to Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil cast doubts on their electoral systems, Mexico’s National Electoral Institute, known as INE, is one of the most trusted civilian-run institutions in the country.

And in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection in the U.S. or threats from President Bolsonaro that he will not accept electoral results if he loses in Brazil’s Oct. 2 race, the aftermath of Mexico’s deeply contested 2006 vote may offer some important lessons on maintaining – or regaining – citizen trust in elections. Mr. López Obrador eventually backed down, running for president twice more and finally winning by a landslide in 2018. He’s halfway through his six-year term, and INE has nearly 70% public trust.

Mexico’s democracy isn’t often held up as an example to follow, especially “given that it’s become one of the most violent democracies in the world,” says Guillermo Trejo, professor of comparative politics at the University of Notre Dame. “But, on the electoral dimension, there are lessons for other countries.”

“One was to create an election management system that is really well-known, well-funded, and that works well,” he says. “Until recently in the U.S., no one knew who was organizing elections, who was in charge. In Mexico, everyone knows.”

Reforms at the top

For the past eight years, Lorenzo Córdova Vianello has been the one in charge.

On a recent morning, the president of INE ticks off the changes the body has undergone in an effort to regain voter trust – from a more proactive communications approach that includes combating fake news to a sophisticated identification card system that most citizens rely on – to avoid a repeat of 2006.

Whitney Eulich
Lorenzo Córdova Vianello, president of Mexico’s National Electoral Institute, stands in his office on Sept. 12, 2022.

Widespread reforms to the electoral institute in 2007 and 2014 turned it into a national body with centralized control over all elections, including electoral training, voter registration, and auditing campaign spending. The reforms also prohibited anyone – parties, citizens, private companies, and others – from buying radio and TV airtime (parties get free government-regulated time on radio and TV) in an effort to address allegations that “third parties” were spreading misinformation about President López Obrador in the lead-up to the 2006 vote.

But regaining citizen trust went beyond legal reforms, Dr. Córdova says. “The INE is present in the wallets and the bags of all Mexicans over the age of 18,” he says, referring to the voter ID card that serves as one of the most commonly used forms of identification in the country. The name recognition – and confidence that personal, biometric data is kept safe by INE – translates to a baseline comfort with the institute that exists before anyone even walks into a polling booth on election day, he says.

INE also struck deals with major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to monitor and correct misinformation.

“If the [U.S.] electoral system is founded on trust,” says Dr. Córdova, whose nine-year, congressionally appointed term ends next year, “the Mexican electoral system is based on mistrust.”

Mexico has a long history of political control by one party, the PRI. Incidents like a 1988 election where an opposition candidate was in the lead – until the power went out – are etched in the nation’s collective memory as evidence that corrupt people in power have always been able to manipulate results for their own benefit.

“All these numerous rules, conditions, prohibitions, they have been demanded to combat the distrust,” Mr. Córdova says.

Counting ballots together

Marco Fernández was selected through the INE lottery system to serve as a citizen poll worker during the June 2021 midterm elections. That meant attending training sessions in the lead-up to the vote, setting up the polling station with a handful of neighbors, and overseeing and assisting the voting process – including counting ballots – on election day. The professor in the school of government at Tec de Monterrey says this tradition of having citizens run polling stations, which began in the late 1990s as a response to earlier threats to democracy, is one of the aspects of Mexican elections that continues to build the most trust.

“Undoubtedly Mexicans trust their peers more than their leadership,” says Dr. Fernández, the anti-corruption program coordinator at the think tank México Evalúa.

As political polarization grows, Dr. Trejo says having neighbors with different political beliefs randomly selected to work together to help their community vote could serve as an antidote. “Maybe they get to know each other a little better. Maybe they’re able to put some of their differences aside, organize an election by the book, and contribute, in a way, to mitigate polarization,” he says. Being tapped to run a polling station is something he sees as a point of pride for Mexicans, bringing the population together in a way you rarely see, except, perhaps, following natural disasters. “You see levels of citizen engagement and duty to community,” Dr. Trejo says.

“Anything could happen”

Valeria Metz, who runs a boutique PR firm in Mexico City, voted in her first presidential election in 2006, casting her ballot for Mr. López Obrador. When he took to the Zócalo calling for every ballot in every voting station to be recounted, she and her mother eagerly joined the protests, walking through the crowds and feeling a sense of civic duty.

But by the time he backed down, she was so disillusioned that she didn’t even bother voting in 2012. By 2018, her vote helped Mr. López Obrador clinch a landslide presidential victory. “The INE has changed and improved” since 2006, Ms. Metz explains. “But Mexicans, we know anything could happen. We’ve seen candidates killed, elections robbed, organized crime influencing politics,” she says. “We are a country of impunity, and that’s our biggest problem.”

President López Obrador’s 2018 victory – as well as the many victories of his Morena party on the national and local stages in the years since – has given the INE an added boost of legitimacy among former critics.

But the president himself still distrusts the body. He rails against the election authority in his daily press conferences and last spring proposed a handful of amendments that he claims would end electoral fraud and finally transform the country into a “true democracy.”

The reform would politicize INE, essentially doing away with the current setup to create a smaller, centralized body with a shoestring budget. Senior leadership would be elected by popular vote, instead of by Congress, and the electoral court would become part of the Supreme Court. The reforms aren’t expected to pass, but the proposals could damage trust.

“Thirty years ago it was common to analyze democracies by groups: young democracies, like those in Latin America vs. established democracies” like the U.S., says Dr. Córdova. “Today, the problems faced by democracies are global – like fake news, disinformation, lack of credibility in political parties, the concentration of power in the executive.”

“Building confidence is a slow process, measured in small increments,” he says. “But loss of trust can happen in an instant … and it’s measured in kilometers.”

Graphic

Charting a global drought – and the world’s quest to respond

Drought has created stress on water supplies and agriculture in numerous parts of the world. This adds urgency to getting better at responding. Early warning systems are just the start.

Clara
Steven Senne/AP
Hay farmer Milan Adams releases a handful of dry soil in a recently plowed field in Exeter, Rhode Island, on Aug. 9, 2022. Mr. Adams said the soil in the field is powder a foot down. Scientists say the severity of droughts worldwide has been increasing. U.N. leaders are among those calling for efforts to build drought resilience, including by better management of land and water resources.
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As we pass the official end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, drought persists in many areas, notably parts of Europe and the southwestern United States. In the Southern Hemisphere, a lack of rain is creating an increasingly dire situation in the Horn of Africa. 

The challenges for agriculture and water access – including concerns about the role played by climate change – are putting fresh focus on action in response. 

“Droughts, along with other kinds of climate change impacts, are indeed already becoming more intense, more frequent, lasting longer,” says Rebecca Carter of the World Resources Institute in Washington, citing the published consensus of global climate scientists.

Dr. Carter, who leads the World Resources Institute’s climate resilience practice, says a United Nations push for early warning systems is “a really important first step.” From farms to cities worldwide, new efforts to manage water are needed, too.

Some actions might help both to adapt to climate change and to slow it. Lands that lose forests and vegetation are more susceptible to runoff, degrading soils and worsening floods and droughts when they occur. Reforestation can build resilience and also mitigate climate change, Dr. Carter says, “because those trees store carbon.”

Charting a global drought – and the world’s quest to respond

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As we pass the official end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, drought persists in many areas, from drying lake beds in the southwestern United States to European rivers where once-sunken warships are now exposed to public view. In the Southern Hemisphere, a lack of rain is creating an increasingly dire situation in the Horn of Africa. Chile faces its 13th straight year of drought.

All this has stirred growing concerns about how climate change may be affecting regions’ ability to maintain traditional farming output and sustain water supplies. But these concerns are also putting fresh focus on action in response. 

“Droughts, along with other kinds of climate change impacts, are indeed already becoming more intense, more frequent, lasting longer,” not necessarily in all places but in general, says Rebecca Carter of the World Resources Institute in Washington, citing the published consensus of global climate scientists.

Both recent experience and the scientific assessments “should convey a sense of urgency, compelling everyone to build resilience against future drought risks,” Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, wrote this summer.

At United Nations meetings this week in New York, one priority for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is to build support for expanded early warning systems intended to cover every person on Earth from conditions such as drought, heat waves, and floods.

Dr. Carter, who leads the World Resources Institute’s climate resilience practice, calls this “a really important first step,” which then will need follow-up. 

SOURCE:

SPEI Global Drought Monitor, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, National Drought Mitigation Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

For farmers, next initiatives might be drought-tolerant seeds, more insurance against crop failures, and even changing where they farm in the first place, she says. People “need time to figure out what it’s going to mean for them, rather than waiting until the crisis hits and then expecting people to be able to change that quickly.”

From farms to cities worldwide, new steps to manage water are needed in many areas. Dr. Carter, with roots in Tucson, Arizona, points to the Colorado River basin as a prime example, where states are now having to rethink old assumptions about water use. A knock-on problem: Hydropower is also depleted when reservoirs sag.  

Some actions might help both to adapt to climate change and to slow it. Lands that lose forests and vegetation are more susceptible to runoff, degrading soils and worsening floods and droughts when they occur. Reforestation is a nature-based solution that can build resilience and also mitigate climate change, Dr. Carter says, “because those trees store carbon.”

In a U.N. report earlier this year, Mr. Thiaw said, “One of the best, most comprehensive solutions is land restoration, which addresses many of the underlying factors of degraded water cycles and the loss of soil fertility.”

He also pointed to the opportunity for nations to shift from “reactive” or “crisis-based” actions toward longer-term planning, policies, and partnerships.

SOURCE:

SPEI Global Drought Monitor, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, National Drought Mitigation Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Q&A

In the story of women’s rights, diverse voices add depth

The struggle for equal rights was carried out by Black and white women, but their contributions were not equally acknowledged. A historian shows how a diverse array of voices enriched the women’s movement. 

Clara
Christa Case Bryant/The Christian Science Monitor
Elisabeth Griffith, an acclaimed biographer of Elizabeth Cady Stanton who has been teaching and writing about women's history for 40 years, highlights a diverse cast of characters in her new book, "Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality 1920-2020." She signs copies of her book at an event in Washington on Sept. 18, 2022.
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In her latest book, “Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality 1920-2020,” historian and scholar Elisabeth Griffith takes a comprehensive look at the women’s movement in the United States through the lens of race, politics, and society.

She explores the differing motivations of Black and white women who were fighting for equality, and how they first banded together but then divided over competing priorities. 

In an interview, Dr. Griffith says that what she learned in researching the book is that the story of women’s rights is complex. “You cannot generalize about women in America. ... Women are very diverse,” she says. 

Dr. Griffith sees positive signs in the large numbers of women registering to vote, both Republican and Democrat, who are energized by the issue of reproductive rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“That is heartening to me, because maybe it means we can begin to find more common ground among women in different parts of the political, economic, and racial spectrum,” she says. 

She makes the case that women today can play a role in addressing the deep divisions in the country. “Women have gifts for connecting through conversation and finding common ground. There’s just evidence of that forever in American history,” she says.

“We need to find ways to repair this country, and women can be good at that.”

In the story of women’s rights, diverse voices add depth

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The story of how women got the right to vote is a fascinating nail-biter that came down to one vote in Tennessee. But then what? Many didn’t – or couldn’t – vote.  

So Elisabeth Griffith wanted to know: If women weren’t voting, what were the obstacles? She found answers by delving into the different priorities of Black and white women, and the tensions those created – a dynamic often overlooked in tomes on women’s history. 

“Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality 1920-2020” starts with the certification of the 19th Amendment and ends with the confirmation of Donald Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, an arc that Dr. Griffith says highlights the diversity of the women’s movement. 

Dr. Griffith knows a little about that herself; as a young college graduate, she got involved with the newly formed National Women’s Political Caucus, the bipartisan and interracial political arm of the women’s movement. Now an acclaimed biographer of Elizabeth Cady Stanton with 40 years of teaching and writing women’s history under her belt, she traces the stories of a large cast of characters – many heroic but largely unknown – in her latest book. 

Though a self-proclaimed optimist, she says women still have far to go. After 75 years, for example, the share of full-time college faculty members has increased only 5%, to not quite one-third. And, she adds, the women’s movement has lost ground with the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June that overturned Roe v. Wade. 

Dr. Griffith spoke with the Monitor about what she learned in writing “Formidable” and what it means for women’s rights, for men, and for American democracy. The interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity. 

"Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality 1920-2020," by Elisabeth Griffith, Pegasus Books, 416 pp.

You’ve been credited with providing a more inclusive look at women’s struggle for equal rights. Why did you decide to write this book? 

Until women’s history becomes a formal field around 1970, everything that ever happened in America seemed only to happen to white men. So white women historians are insisting, we want to be visible – and then seem to neglect that there are other people whom they could be making visible at the same time. 

There were African American women writing from the start. But many of the books written about the progress of women since 1920 have focused primarily on white women, unless they’re written from a specifically Black point of view, and covering a Black topic within that chronology. That intrigued me. I wanted to know more about it. The sources were deep-rooted racism and segregation – and distrust by Black women of white women, because at various points in American history, they had been treated not well. 

But there are moments when they are allied. From 1915 to 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt is able to create a multiracial, multigenerational national campaign. It’s brilliant. And then it splinters, because everybody who wanted the right to vote wanted it for different reasons. And those reasons were sometimes competitive. 

After 1920, white women did not take up the cause of Black women, who now have the right to vote but are discriminated against at the state level. White women think that’s not their fight anymore, which was really a missed opportunity for them.

So there are lots of complications to the story. And most of the parts of it had been told by other scholars. But I made the effort to tie it all together in one book.

What are some of the differences in how Black and white women pursued equal rights that have been overlooked in women’s history?

I would argue that we weren’t as successful as we would like to take credit for, because it didn’t reach as many people as it should. You can’t just stop with a privileged, educated cohort. 

It’s one of the tensions between Black and white women, because white women would say, “We got all these political rights.” But if you’re talking about food deserts, the lowest-paid kinds of jobs, or rates of incarceration, or racial violence, or police violence – those need to be the agenda of the women’s movement, too. 

Christa Case Bryant/The Christian Science Monitor
Dr. Griffith speaks about her book at an event in Washington earlier this month.

White women wanted the rights of white men and had a political agenda with some social change, like wearing trousers to work. Black women from the very first wanted to safeguard the community. They were working for male and female; it was an entire community movement. They wanted to get rid of lynching. They want to get rid of Jim Crow. They wanted to get rid of every form of repression that segregation allowed. So it always had a much broader base. 

And it was harder for them. White women could function in the world without risking their husband’s job, their own job, physical violence, or being thrown into jail. Black women were always aware of the risks to them or their families. When Ruby Bridges integrates the school in New Orleans [in 1960], her grandparents are thrown out of their rental building. And her parents lose their jobs. 

You have said we study history to learn and to be inspired and to be chastised sometimes. What do you think we need to be more humble about regarding women’s history?

I have a Ph.D. in American history, and I learned at least as much as I had already known to write this book.  

You cannot generalize about women in America, because there are all kinds – every political point of view, religious, regional, ethnic, racial, educational, whether they’re married or not, whether they’ve had children or not, all the sexuality issues – women are very diverse. And they all have different views on every topic, including against most of the things that the activists in my book were for. So you have to take into account a lot of players. 

I feel very strongly about history. I almost think it’s a civic duty to know American history. A fact-based history that includes the good and the bad shows the strength of American democracy. We shouldn’t be afraid of it. I would hope that it would inspire greater civic pride and participation. 

What inspired you most in writing this book, and what gives you hope about women’s struggle for equal rights going forward?

My cohort of female friends graduated at the cusp of a second wave of women’s activism. I came to Washington in the early 1970s, and was marching and lobbying and working for things. And they happened. So that gave me a sense that the system worked. 

I don’t think the system works anymore. But as a teacher, I also have faith in young people. I keep trying to say to myself that the best thing about the Dobbs decision will be that it will energize a new generation of young people who have benefited from so many changes and have no recollection that they even had to earn those rights.

The numbers of people who are registering to vote and the Kansas vote [on abortion] are quite reassuring. I have to say I’m really annoyed that that many people were not registered to begin with, though. What were all these 18-to-45-year-olds doing? Do they know that people went to jail? Do they know that people got beaten up and killed? Why aren’t they voting? It’s a responsibility.

Do you see women as having a particular role in addressing the deep divisions in our country right now?

I think we all need to work on that. But I do think women have gifts for connecting through conversation and finding common ground. There’s just evidence of that forever in American history, and in other cultures as well. 

We’ve got to start somewhere. And for me, it would be with people who vote for people I don’t like. So how do I open that conversation? I grew up a Republican, and I still have some friends and relatives who are. We find so many things in common. The government ought to work; people ought to come together and solve this problem; you could start with something small and then fix the next step. 

The women who are registering to vote are both Republican and Democratic women, and the common ground is reproductive rights. So that is heartening to me, because maybe it means we can begin to find more common ground among women in different parts of the political, economic, and racial spectrum. 

We need to find ways to repair this country and women can be good at that.

Is feminism good for men?

If you go to the most basic definition [of feminism] – equal social, economic, and political rights with men – it ought to be a rising of all boats. 

I wish people would not see it as a threat. But I think sometimes – this is certainly true politically – you think that if you expand a right to somebody else, somebody has lost something. 

I have always been related to feminist men. My father had only daughters. My husband was a fabulous feminist who marched with me and was on the NARAL [an abortion-rights organization] board.  

I can’t imagine that men who love the women they live with or were raised by do not want them to have equal rights. 

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Israel revives hope for a Palestinian state

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In a speech today at the United Nations, Israel’s caretaker prime minister, Yair Lapid, revived an idea that many Israelis and Palestinians have long abandoned. It is to set up a Palestinian state alongside Israel, or what he called “two states for two peoples.” While the details of creating a “two-state solution” remain as difficult as when the concept was more viable decades ago, Mr. Lapid’s offer seems shaped by an emerging recognition in the Middle East of equality among all peoples.

Since 2020, four Arab states have normalized relations with Israel, joining Egypt and Jordan. Other Muslim countries, such as Indonesia, could soon join them. Within Israel itself, the 1 in 5 citizens who are Arab supported a ruling coalition in 2021 put together by Mr. Lapid (but which fell apart June 30). As he seeks to remain prime minister after a Nov. 1 election, the former TV anchor told the U.N. that the “cultural mosaic” of Israeli society reflects “full civic equality between Arabs and Jews.”

Peace between former foes, he said, is not a compromise but rather “the victory of all that is good.”

If Mr. Lapid is serious about his offer, the next step would be a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Such a meeting would send a signal that equality is possible between the two peoples, something the Mideast has long sought.

Israel revives hope for a Palestinian state

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Reuters
Prime Minister of Israel Yair Lapid addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 22

In a speech today at the United Nations, Israel’s caretaker prime minister, Yair Lapid, revived an idea that many Israelis and Palestinians have long abandoned. It is to set up a Palestinian state alongside Israel, or what he called “two states for two peoples.” While the details of creating a “two-state solution” remain as difficult as when the concept was more viable decades ago, Mr. Lapid’s offer seems shaped by an emerging recognition in the Middle East of equality among all peoples.

Since 2020, four Arab states have normalized relations with Israel, joining Egypt and Jordan. Other Muslim countries, such as Indonesia, could soon join them. Within Israel itself, the 1 in 5 citizens who are Arab supported a ruling coalition in 2021 put together by Mr. Lapid (but which fell apart June 30). As he seeks to remain prime minister after a Nov. 1 election, the former TV anchor told the U.N. that the “cultural mosaic” of Israeli society reflects “full civic equality between Arabs and Jews.” 

Peace between foes, he said, is not a compromise but rather “the victory of all that is good.”

Mr. Lapid may have used the stage of the U.N. General Assembly to declare support for a Palestinian state because so much else in the Mideast depends on progress in providing Palestinians with a secure and prosperous homeland. Saudi Arabia is withholding recognition of Israel for now while talks to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions are at a critical stage. Israel is also eager to end cycles of violence with Islamic militants in Gaza and Lebanon as well as attacks by Palestinians in the West Bank.

One alternative to a two-state solution is for Israel to somehow accept Palestinians into its society as equals, or what is called a one-state solution. Opposition among Jewish Israelis is strong against that idea, which has led to a proposed third alternative. Earlier this year, a group of prominent Israelis and Palestinians suggested a “confederation” in which Israeli settlers in the West Bank could live in a Palestinian state while groups of Palestinians could find a home inside Israel.

In each of these concepts, the core issue is an acceptance of equality – between the “land” of each people or between the peoples themselves. For its part, the Biden administration seeks “equal measures of freedom, security, dignity, and prosperity” for both sides.

If Mr. Lapid is serious about his offer, the next step would be a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Such a meeting would send a signal that equality is possible between the two peoples, something the Mideast has long sought.

A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

Duty, joy, and protection

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When we’re letting love for God and for our neighbors motivate us, blessings ensue – even when circumstances seem less than ideal, as a woman experienced when unexpectedly faced with a 3 1/2-mile walk home on an unusually hot day.

Duty, joy, and protection

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Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition

A modest experience in my own life recently helped me see that God does indeed give us the strength to do whatever we need to do on any given day, even in less than ideal circumstances – and to do it with joy and protection.

Christ Jesus gave us a two-pronged duty to govern our thoughts and actions under all circumstances. He said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39, New King James Version).

God is Love – invariably beneficial Love. And this divine Love embraces, loves, and holds each one of us, at all times, in our true identity as God’s pure and perfect spiritual image. Living out from this basis – which includes obeying our duty to love God with all our heart, and to love everyone as God’s spiritual, flawless reflection – brings joy and protection.

I experienced this one day earlier this year when it was atypically hot for where I live. I had taken a cab for an early afternoon appointment 3.5 miles from my apartment. After my appointment, however, there was such an unusually high demand for cabs because of the heat that I was told it would be at least two or three hours before a cab could come to take me home.

The Bible assures us, “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (I John 4:16). And “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy – the discoverer, demonstrator, and teacher of the healing spiritual laws of God Jesus practiced and taught – explains, “Whatever it is your duty to do, you can do without harm to yourself” (p. 385).

My first duty was to love God and my neighbor. As I prayed quietly for guidance, it came to me that I could fulfill this duty with joy, and experience God’s care while I walked the 3.5 miles home.

While I walked, I silently affirmed that divine Love was right with each individual who crossed my path or came to my thought. Divine Love embraces and cares for all, and everyone is capable of feeling and experiencing God’s loving care. It was a joy to mentally greet each individual as God’s loved and cared-for spiritual reflection. The beginning of Hymn 139 in the “Christian Science Hymnal” expresses what I felt as I walked and prayed: “I walk with Love along the way, / And O, it is a holy day” (Minny M. H. Ayers).

When we are fulfilling our duty to love God and our neighbor, God meets our every need. As Jesus affirmed, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Despite my status as a senior citizen and the heat, I didn’t feel one bit weary or thirsty during that walk. When I reached my apartment building, I felt refreshed and energized by my prayers.

Indeed, it had been a holy walk!

We can all experience the joy and protection to be found in genuinely loving God and our neighbors, which opens the door to feeling God’s loving care. Thank you, God!

Viewfinder

Legacy of Khmer Rouge

Heng Sinith/AP
People are reflected in water as they arrive for the hearings against Khieu Samphan, former Khmer Rouge head of state, at the United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sept. 22, 2022. An international court in Cambodia will issue its ruling on an appeal by Mr. Samphan, the last surviving leader of the country's Khmer Rouge government, which ruled from 1975 to 1979. He was convicted in 2018 of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes and sentenced to life in prison.
( The illustrations in today’s Monitor Daily are by Karen Norris. )

A look ahead

Thanks for joining us today. Please come back tomorrow when our Scott Peterson reports on how a spirit of freedom is infusing anti-hijab protests in Iran despite a violent crackdown.

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