Life Before Liberty


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In his daily COVID-19 press conference on April 22, Governor Andrew Cuomo took a question about protesters against the restrictions to stave off the disease outside the capitol building at that moment, and the answer was astounding. He said, “The illness is death. What is worse than death?… Economic hardship? Yes, very bad; not death. Emotional stress from being locked in a house? Very bad; not death. Domestic violence on the increase? Very bad; not death. And not death of someone else. See, that’s what we have to factor into this equation. Yeah, it’s your life, do whatever you want; but you’re now responsible for my life. You have a responsibility to me. It’s not just about you. You have a responsibility to me, right?… It’s not just about ‘me,’ it’s about ‘we.’ Get your head around the ‘we’ concept.” I think this is the perfect response to all the people waging protests about the stay-at-home orders and demanding to open the United States immediately.

The protests in numerous states— including heavily armed and armored people in Michigan, Virginia, and Pennsylvania— were about opening the states up again in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are decrying government actions as tyranny and not a quarantine, some rallying cries of various conspiracy theories, and demanding their freedom from what they see as imprisonment. All of this makes Cuomo’s response much more fitting.

The preamble to the Declaration of Independence (which many government officials often confuse with the Constitution) clearly tells us that the government only “derives their power from the consent of the governed”; but equally clear is that “liberty and the pursuit of happiness” comes after life. The Constitution’s preamble mixes it around a bit, but the sentiment is the same: these rights are to protect all living members of society. The Constitution is also a balancing act between the various freedoms to (e.g. to speak and assemble freely) and freedoms from (e.g. preventing illegal searches and seizure of property), and yet these rights truly belong to the living. The ultimate purpose of a society is to protect the life of its citizens; without human life there is no society (and for full disclosure, I am pro-choice—a fetus is not a human life but a potential human life, but that’s a whole other blog post). In the middle of this pandemic where there is NO cure or vaccine yet and no sense if having caught this virus will keep you immune from it again, precautionary measures are being taken to preserve the life of those infected and at-risk (high and low) of being infected. These are not meant to permanently curtail freedoms, but to prevent people from infection and/or death until we can beat this disease. Anyone telling you these are a violation of your rights is trying to sell you a really bad right-wing agenda (and point of fact, many of the protests around the COVID requirements and reopening of businesses are being organized by the same alt-right that brought you the Straight Pride parade, The Charlottesville riot, and the Trump “presidency.”) It is morally reprehensible to endanger others for those who favor an ideology that does not represent everyone. And yes, we need to be thinking of everyone.

No one has to like the situation we are in (I don’t), but it is not unprecedented. The 1918 Spanish Flu infected about one-third of the world’s population (approximately 500 million) and killed 50 million people worldwide. It was a pandemic that came and went in waves, and such is the case with COVID. With the technology we have at our disposal we can better handle the situation, but ONLY if people cooperate in the best interest of each other. All those refusing to wear masks in public are only prolonging the course of a pandemic longer than needed. While Benjamin Franklin said “those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” we must realize that we are temporarily sacrificing some personal liberties to purchase essential life. Our lives and the lives of others must take precedent over needing a haircut, going to a movie/bar/restaurant, or the next party—and honestly always should. Those carrying assault rifles and chanting “give me liberty or give me death” en masse at state capitols are not real patriots. The true patriots have been at home, washing their hands, and wearing masks if they need to go shopping.

Paying Attention in a Pandemic


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Once again, my good friend Michael Dobson wrote what I was feeling down on his Facebook page. Again he graciously let me post his words on my blog. I do have to add something of my own. While we are in lockdown, other people are encouraging us to better ourselves– start a new exercise routine, find a new hobby, learn a craft–something to improve ourselves and keep us occupied during this strange isolation. Yet in an election year, the current leading Democratic nominee is saying that we need to vote for the same stuff we had before 2016 (and possibly for a decade before) as a way to make us all better. If we truly believe in improving ourselves, we really should embrace changing our society. This pandemic has proven that the United States can afford to pay for Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, better funding of infrastructure, and a host of other fixes to a society that is in a slow drawn out death spiral; the Fed pumped close to $3 Trillion to keep the stock market afloat for a week or so. If we are going to improve our society after the pandemic is over, we must learn to invest in the populace over profit. For now, listen to my friend Michael Dobson.


The hardest part in all this for me, isn’t the deaths and losses. I grew up around death and loss. It isn’t people suffering. I have seen a man in a hospice bed suffer greatly for months as he died. It isn’t seeing people – including people I know, people I care about – lose their jobs, fear economically. I’ve lived through recessions, they’re pretty much baked into our economic system; and I fear losing my job. It isn’t “shelter in place” orders or quarantines. I’ve been in survival situations before, where I have been glad to come out of where I was in, glad for still having my life. These are all situations you and I have little to no control over, beyond what we can do with ourselves.

It’s the callousness. It’s the hard-heartedness. It’s the people who are seeing people suffering, seeing people who are genuinely afraid of the economic impacts on them. And going “oh well.” Because it doesn’t affect those callous individuals. Yet.

I wanted this to not be political when the thought came to my head. But the truth is, it is. The truth is, this is EXACTLY the time where we need a strong federal government to be stepping in, and showing people that they will be taken care of, that they will be ok. Fuck Libertarian fantasies of us all living out in the woods somewhere, growing and hunting our own food, relying solely on ourselves. That hasn’t been the way of life for the majority of America before my father’s time. Never mind how things like mine waste and fracking run off can fuck up your idyllic cabin in the remote wilderness, real quick. Ask someone who lives in West Virginia how much you can count on water from a stream or creek.

The thing is though, it’s not just Republicans I’m angered by, in all this. It’s the callousness and hard-heartedness I see in moderate and centrist Democrats. It’s recognizing that we are living in an age where (and y’all know this statistic, because I saw how many of you share it) a $400 emergency would financially devastate the average American family. And seeing hospital bills for people – even with the “good” insurance – be over 10X more than that. And watching these same callous people still argue for the same healthcare system we already have. Which’s not only going to screw more people over financially, but we’ve already seen people die because they were turned away from medical treatment, because they didn’t have health insurance. It’s seeing people talking about how “grocery store employees are the real heroes,” and not wanting to guarantee those “heroes” the same kinda health insurance and medical care that my friends in Canada and the United Kingdom take for granted. Or a minimum wage they can actually live on. It’s seeing stuff people have been pointing out for years are REAL problems, that are impacting REAL PEOPLE, get made so much worse under the magnifying glass in the sun that is this damn virus. For all some of you listen to NPR and hear people talk about folks in other countries – do you either not get that we could have the same standard of living as people in other developed Western nations? Or do you just not give a fuck – because hey, you’re white and middle class, so this shit ain’t on your doorstep?


We are facing another Great Depression. Anyone who’s telling you or themselves otherwise, is either high, stupid, or selling something. We need a lot more than a doddering, sundowning idiot sexual predator, who will talk about small business loans, but won’t talk about rent or how we’re going to subsidize people actually staying the fuck in their homes, like every goddamn doctor keeps telling them to. (For all some of you laud science and doctors, you don’t seem to be making connections between what they’re telling us to do, and what is actually needed for average people to do those things.) You REALLY think that $1,200 check means shit for people who are entering their second month of this?

I have said this before, and I will say it again here: we are either going to have another FDR (without the racism, segregation & Nisei camps), or we’re going to end up looking like Germany, Spain, Italy, and Japan in the 1930s. You are not going to beat white nationalism and fascism with moderate incrementalism and appeasing compromise. The Republican Party has already said it’s a-o-kay with white nationalism. Running a person who not only has told younger people to “give him a break” about problems they were facing before this damn virus, but who clings to some outdated fantasy about “meeting in the middle” with the Party of Trump; isn’t how we stop what’s coming. If you’ve spent years telling me Republicans are the problem – why do you want someone who wants to be friends with them, and has stated they’re even open to having one as VP?

I don’t know how to teach you empathy. I don’t know how to teach you to care about other people. I know these are lessons I had to learn in things like the Scouts; where you wanted to give a damn about a guy in your unit going down at camp or on trail, if nothing else because you sure as shit would want someone doing the same, if’n’when it was your ass. Caring about each other was something kids who weren’t old enough to shave or smart enough to keep their boots out of the fire, could still get through their thick heads. Some of y’all, with all your college degrees, should at least be that smart.

Reflection on Impeachment (Guest Blogger)


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I didn’t write this, but I’m glad somebody did. My friend in Ohio, Michael Dobson, always has something interesting to say about the day’s events and can link it back to our own shares humanity. He wrote the following about the Trump impeachment “trial” and the road we are on right now. I agree with everything he says here, but I want to add my two cents. The candidate to destroy Trump in the general election is Bernie, plain and simple. Everyone else is not on his level. Biden is sundowning fast and needs to drop out now. None of the other centrists have the policies to gather everyone. Liz Warren is my Senator and I love her as my Senator and she should lead in the Senate in a Sanders’ administration; she has good policies, but Bernie’s go further. It’s the difference between a Magna Cum Laude student and a Suma Cum Laude student. In my opinion we need the best of us; for me that’s Bernie. With that said, I’ll give Michael the forum.


What I’m about to say isn’t going to be popular, but hear me out.

The Senate shouldn’t impeach Trump.

I know, I know, but hear me out. Yes, he sought to have a foreign government interfere in the coming presidential election, via withholding military funds in exchange for a foreign administration working to dig up dirt on a potential political rival. Yes, he had people under him work to obstruct this – how many people under him have gone to jail for obstruction of justice? And yes, all of this is absolutely why a president should be removed from office. The precedent this sets is dangerous to the United States. I’m not disputing any of that for a moment.


Trump needs to be removed from office, in a way where there will not be questions of validity. The Republican Party, which has become seeded with Trumpism, which’s now openly running and electing people who are publicly spouting white nationalist talking points, needs to have it made clear exactly how politically damaging continuing to pursue white nationalism and Trumpism are. They will look at an impeachment and removal, and not get that message. They will do as they’re doing now, and claim it was all partisan, all biased, all the machinations of a few elite people in positions of power. If you think that they will take him being removed via the impeachment process as a lesson and back down? I highly encourage you to look at the last four years of them, and the rhetoric coming out of them now. This won’t end next week, next month, or even this year; if this’s the course that’s taken.

Trump needs to be removed from office, in a way where there will not be questions of validity. The best way to do this, is for him to be thoroughly and unequivocally beaten in a national presidential election. And when I say that, I don’t mean beaten in an election where it’s 51/49 against him. I don’t mean where Democrats win the Electoral College but lose the popular vote, or eke by in either or both. I mean that he needs to be beaten like Obama beat McCain. I mean that he needs to be beaten in ways so thorough, that nobody will be left questioning whether he “might have won the election if…” If this is something that Democrats are able to pull off, Republicans might – and I say “might” because I recognize both stubbornness and the entrenchment of white nationalism within the party – pull back from what they have embraced. It’s our best initial chance, and it is very necessary at the crossroads where we find ourselves. A great way to cement it, would be to have a Democrat who, once in office, enacts the kinds of needed sweeping changes that actually make life better for people who live in a country where a person working minimum wage can’t afford an apartment in all fifty states; where most people are working two to three jobs, and still not getting by; where people are going bankrupt or dying from a for-profit healthcare system that can be changed; where we’ve got an entire generation facing a student loan debt crisis that will financially hamstring them for the rest of their lives.

Look, I get it, one of the problems with those of us on the Left, is that we collectively too quickly run towards calling anyone we don’t like or disagree with, a Nazi or fascist. But look around you. People who studied Germany in the 1930s, who studied the Holocaust, and even Holocaust survivors themselves – are all warning us. This isn’t like Bush, or Reagan, or Bush Jr. Again, you can openly run as a white nationalist in the Republican Party right now. It’s happening – exactly like Richard Spencer said he wanted it to, in his victory celebration in Washington DC in November of 2016, after the election.

If you think this is “normal” politics, or “business as usual,” or that “things will go back to normal” once Trump is gone? I implore you, look around. We’re not “going back” from this, once one person is out of office. And hey, I get it, you don’t like Trump, really don’t like him. I don’t either. But I’m going to tell you something that if you haven’t thought about, you should. With the way things are going in what’s become of mainstream conservative America (and please, stop telling ourselves that the “never Trump” Republicans will rise up and depose him – Kasich, Meaghan McCain, or someone else could run against him in the primary, run as a third party candidate in the general election, and stop him, but they’ve made it clear they aren’t & won’t)? There very well will come a day when we look back and miss Trump. Because he’s a feckless idiot, who lacks focus and drive. Because he’s easily distracted, and doesn’t care about something he ranted about a week ago. You think every politician or white nationalist getting into politics, is like that? There very well will come a day when someone younger, smarter, focused, driven, is in the White House. Imagine Richard Nixon and COINTELPRO with 21st Century surveillance capabilities. Imagine every time our country has trampled on the human rights, not just civil rights, of a group of people for being a minority or different; but add 21st Century capabilities like drones, advanced ways of harming, torturing, or killing people. Imagine someone who considers people of color stupid and racially inferior, actually starting a war in a place like Iran or China. You and I should be scared of this.

Where we are now, is not and will not be “normal” politically. There are people who study the collapse of nations and coups. Look at what they’re warning us is legitimately on the horizon for us now. And look at the world and history; what happens when a despot is removed by a court or small group of people in power, generally? The results really don’t always go well.

I know what I’m talking about here is the hard way, not the easy way. I know that by sitting back and rooting for impeachment, many of us on the Left don’t have to do the work we would do in working towards a political landslide in November. I know this turns yet another primary season from yet another who we “like,” to something much more higher stakes.

But the truth is, the responsibility is and should be on us. Not the Senate. Who are actively showing they’re not up for it anyway. This is where it matters. Where we need someone who will appeal to more than just the traditional Democratic base – primarily college educated, middle to upper middle class white people. This is where someone who will get younger voters to turn out, who will energize poor & working class people, really matters. And I get that that is a responsibility some of us just don’t want.

Right now, it’s someone else in camps. Someone else’s kids in cages. At least if you’re a white, middle class liberal. But if you’ve studied history? This gets worse. The best way to prevent that, is collectively taking responsibility and bringing about change. No “going back to the way things were,” which quite frankly precipitated a lot of this mess. People were still working 2-3 jobs and not getting by when Obama was president, and going bankrupt or dying because they couldn’t afford medical care. Nationalism, which often links arms with white nationalism, rose up to give them an answer to what their problems were. It was wrong, but it was an answer – as opposed to telling them everything was basically ok, unemployment was low, and the stock market was up (yeah, that was a big part of 2016 too). Moderate or tepid responses to real problems, will only push more people into the arms of white nationalism. Gradual incrementalism, or an urge to return to pre-2016, will also do that. We need real, bold, progressive change.

Now, more than ever, before it is too late.

Celebrate What?


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I’m not sure anyone is feeling patriotic this July 4. In past years, I’ve taken part in readings of Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again,” and took pride in reading the stanza:

“O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!”

This year I can’t even do that. With the constant horror stories of inhumane treatment in the concentration camps on our southern border, the build up of the alt-right’s “Straight Pride” parades/facades planned for August, and the perpetual attacks on female autonomy under the banner of pro-life heading towards a horrendous crescendo at the now conservative Supreme Court, who feels like celebrating America? Who feels like celebrating even the concept of America while it is being smothered with a pillow in front of our eyes? While this administration complains it doesn’t need to provide basic prison necessities to asylum seeking refugees held in captivity, they tweak numbers to find $9 million for a military parade to soothe the huge ego of “President” tiny-hands. Day by day, elected government officials erode the basic tenants of our democracy in exchange for power and wealth all the while claiming to be true patriots. It’s impossible and insulting to celebrate freedom from tyranny when a tyrant rules our daily lives.

So I’m joining the boycott of July 4 this year. If we are to remember that the first Gay Pride march was a riot, we must remember that the first celebration of American freedom was a declaration of war. Like then we have people who are loyal to the crown, and rebels demanding their rights. The problem those loyal to the crown think they are the rebels. The more this country starts heading in the right direction towards diversity and equity, the more a small but loud group of people that feel extending the rights they already have to everyone else feel marginalized; they aren’t marginalized, they just don’t like to share. This is why they feel their spray tanned leader is a God-sent messiah; he isn’t, he just hates to share even more than his base, which is why they love him. You can’t have a rational discourse with a person who feels his entire identity is wrapped up in status, prestige, and privilege; unless they are looking down on someone, they feel less than. All this does is give migraines to those of us that care about each other and how everyone is treated. Empathy is seen as weakness, compassion seen as deficient, dissent seen as unpatriotic. To celebrate our country in this environment is backwards, if only for the reason that it will affirm all that the tyrants believe. This year the truly patriotic thing would be to remember Bastille Day—guillotine and all. But I can be moderate and simply say don’t show those in power that we tolerate their actions, edicts, or behaviors. Join a protest, stage a sit in, write your representatives, refuse to buy anything, donate to the ACLU or to migrant legal fees or incidentals, turn off your TVs, and listen to N.W.A., Public Enemy or Rage Against the Machine all day. I’ll leave you with the end of Hughes’ poem, which better fits the message of the day:

“Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!”

Announcement About the Show


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I guess this would technically be a letter of resignation, but it is definitely an announcement: on April 14, Activate Media will broadcast the final original episode of Theology in Action. We have three original shows airing starting March 31, but after April 14, there will be no more original broadcasts.

There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one for me is self-care. If you’ve been a regular listener or reader, you know I’ve made no secret of my own problems with mental illness and how that has hampered my own efforts to achieve not only life long goals, but often day-to-day goals as well. Lately my own brain and I have been sabotaging my own efforts to keep the show going smoothly and consistently. Now that I’ve gotten older and more worn down, multitasking has become harder and harder to do and/or manage. When I started doing the show in 2011, I had help from a friend who served as a producer for me to help run the show. When she left, I carried on by myself and did okay. Later it’s been harder to do just okay, and now it’s become too hard to do the show by myself any longer. We are a small volunteer run online station. There are plenty of shows on the roster that have great staff and messages that serve the station well, so I know the station is very well off even as I leave it.

I would love to say Trump didn’t make me run for the hills, but that’s not true. What the current administration has done is increase the burden that activists have to carry. It’s impossible to keep up with his regulatory rollbacks, the executive power grabs, the flagrant and all-encompassing corruption, nepotism and racism, and everything coming out of the cesspool tat is the White House every day. Many activists have manged to stay safe by focusing on their core issues and assisting others when there is an overlap. Maybe my mind doesn’t work that way, but I can’t focus on one issue what I see it intersecting in everything being done. Even the scope of he show includes dealing with a lot of all of this. I tried to hold out as long as I could to still be a voice among the masses speaking up, but I can no longer do so without hurting myself. I’m no good to anyone burned out, and I have remained in that state longer than I should have. So now is the time to back out and take care of myself before I hurt myself any further.

It’s hard to let go of this as I’ve been doing this show on and off for 8 years, but it’s for the best. I’ve always said if I can’t do the show at a decent quality that it would be better to close up shop. Unfortunately that time has come. While the radio show and Facebook page will go dark after the 14th, the blog will remain open. I can still write so every so often I will have something to say that fits the forum. But the show has been on a good run and it is time for things to end. There will be plenty of people to thank on air so I will leave it for then, but I do want to thank everyone who has read this blog and listened in from all over the world. You have made it easy to try to continue and hard to leave the show, and I thank you all for that. Hopefully I’ll hear from most of you in the future.

David Concepcion

Two Good NGO Interviews


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This fall we had some really good interviews on the show, and I’m proud of them because they took a while to set up and I’m glad they came to fruition. First we had Cynthia Parker, Senior Associate at the Interaction Institute for Social Change. The IISC does diversity training for other organizations and their teams in order to further their mission work. I was very happy to have her on the show and highlight their organization. To listen to the interview with Cynthia Parker, click here to download.  To learn more about the IISC, check out their website here.

Second was Elizabeth Grady-Harper, the Executive Director of the Boston Faith & Justice Network. Early in the show’s history, I interviewed a couple of people from the BFJN, a group that connects other Christian activists to other organizations. So it was a pleasure to interview the new BFJN Executive Director. To listen to the interview with Elizabeth Grady-Harper, click here to download. To learn more about the BFJN, check out their website here.

Damn the Intimidation


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There is something I wanted to say on my last broadcast talking about the upcoming election. I think I did but I wasn’t blatant enough. Basically this is it: DON’T give into fear. I’m sure I said something like that on Sunday, but it felt a little more like don’t give into cynicism, which is also very important and true but not what I needed to say. Not letting fear get us is essential now because all of the effort to scare people away from the polls, and scare all Americans, has gone into overdrive.

While there are pipe bombs and racist shooters coming from the right, the administration has put the onus of that violence on the media (nee the “Left”) and doubled down on on hatred of immigrants by deploying 15,000 troops to the southern border to “protect” us from a group of 7,000 asylum seekers that are headed towards the US yet are 1,000 miles. Trump has ordered the troops to treat any rock thrown by the “caravan” like a gun–thus firing upon mostly Spanish men, women, and children, whom he says are MS-13 murderers and ISIS members with smallpox, TB, and Ebola. Trump has also insinuated there would be “violence” if the Democrats won the midterms, stoking violence against people who don’t like/follow Trump’s agenda. All of this is to stoke his base and heighten the fear in everyone else.

My words to you: Damn the intimidation! Get out and vote!

For too long, fear and threats of violence have been used to suppress the vote–be it against Blacks, women, Latinos, or any other marginalized community. The way communities handled that fear was simple: stand up to the violence, fight the oppression, and demand the one true American right we have to vote. It is a right, not a privilege; and with the stakes as high as they are right now, you MUST use that right. If you think your vote doesn’t count, answer this: why do the GOP spend so much money, time, and effort gerrymandering districts, creating voter ID laws, and throwing obstacles in the way to keep you from voting?

My advice to all of you is this: ignore the vitriol and noise from the right. As Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth  “It is a tale told by an idiot, of sound and fury signifying nothing.” To stop this insanity, vote! To curb the idiocy, vote! To make yourself heard, vote! Do what you need to do: get out to the polls and vote on Tuesday!

Yes on 3 (Massachusetts) Rally and Radio Download


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On September– 50 days before election day– there was a rally at Copley Square to start the push for the Massachusetts Yes on 3 campaign. The focus is Question 3 on the election ballot; if passed, the result will take the laws for statewide Transgender right/protections off of the books. Yes on 3 is the campaign to keep Transgender rights as law where they should stay.

The photos below are from the rally. Election day is 5 days away and I have been remiss in not getting these up sooner, but if you care about human rights, learn more about Yes on 3 by going to their site Earlier in the month, I hosted a talk on the show with Taj Smith, Faith Organizing Director at Yes on 3, and Maya Shaffer, Director of Critical Mass News. To listen to the discussion, click here to download and listen to the show. Check it out and tell your friends in Massachusetts to vote, and vote Yes on 3.


Back on the Air


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“Theology in Action” will air a new show tomorrow Sunday September 30, at 8:00 AM EST streaming live from the Activate Media website ( It’s our first new show in several months and the first day Activate Radio is back and running on the net! Please tune in at 8am EST on Sunday to hear us on again. Thanks!