About web-wife Faith Gibson

August 9, 2012

A little background about me

Let me say up-front that I don’t have any formal credentials for the political activism that I am proposing — no degree in political science or sociology. And except for knocking on a few doors, I never worked for a political campaign or ran for elected office.

My only relevant experience is an ‘interesting’ life and being passionately committed to the well-being of our country in general and our democratic republic and what we generally refer to as our “American way of life” in particular.

After I retired from obstetrical and emergency room nursing, I spent two and a half years as a VISTA volunteer (‘Volunteers In Service to America’ or the domestic Peace Corps). I was assigned to a community development project in a small tobacco farming area of on the western border of North Carolina.

For the last 30 years, I have provided midwifery care in an intensely midwife-unfriendly healthcare system.  I have many personal and professional experiences with the profoundly dysfunctional nature of our healthcare (actually a sickness care) system and maintain websites on both of those topics.

Arrested and Prosecuted for the illegal practice of allopathic medicine

In fact, today, August 9th, 2012, is the 21st anniversary of the day that I,  as a Mennonite midwife practicing lawfully under the religious exemptions clause of California’s Medical Practice Act (section 2063) was arrested by agents of Medical Board of California. It’s officials claimed the exemptions clause did not apply the non-medical practice of midwifery and therefore I was illegally practicing of medicine.

After for former client family paid my $5,000 bail, and I appeared in court for no less the 16 pre-trial hearings (!)  20 months and I raised an additional $30,000 from friends and family to pay my legal expenses, the criminal charges against me were dropped, accompanied by a public statement by the prosecuting DA to the San Jose Mercury the maternity services I had been providing were actually lawful.

An Autodidact in the Digital World ~ little piggy in hogs heaven!

Last but not least in my puny resume as a non-partisan political activist is the fact that i am an introvert and I love to read. I got my first kindle reader in 2005 and my Audible iPhone app in 2008. At least 50% of the 500+ Kindle and Audible books are on social, ethical, scientific, political, philosophical and religious topics.

A sampling of my library includes such divergent topics as works by or about Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, The Art of War, The Prince, the History of Philosophy by Will Durant, and the Dover edition of Marcus Aurelius ‘Meditations’. Books written in colonial times about our democratic ideals and way of life include  Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense“, essays of the Fouding Fathers and the Federalist Papers, and (of course!) the US Constitution.

Modern and more topical books that i highly recommend include “Genghis Khan & The Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford,  “The Science of Liberty” by Timothy Ferris,  “Intelligence Governance for the 21st Century” by Nicolas Berggruen, et al, George Soros’ lectures, “The Black Swan” by Nassim Taleb, “The Tyranny of Ideas”  by Matt Miller, “Words that Work: Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear” by Fran Luntz (Republican operative) and “Googled — the end of the word as we know it” by Ken Auletta.

My favorite books on American non-partisan politics

But I am moved to action by two contemporary authors – Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer in their books “True Patriots” and “Gardens of Democracy“. They have the most compelling vision — one that identifies the problem and provides a simple and truly inspiriting model for a functional democracy based on citizenship participation.

we-can-do-it-rosie-the-riveter-wallpaper-2-abTheir ‘can-do’ philosophy reminiscent of the WWII  “Rosie the Riveter” posters.

I call this “Garden Party Patriotism” and it starts by proposing a new narrative for the idea of patriotism, one that that examines and ultimately rejects the current popular definition of the word — a form of patriotism that accuses many segments of our society as ‘unAmerican’.

This hard-edged, often militarized definition of patriotism focuses on defending the country from foreign enemies. Unfortunately, it generates a vocabulary of ‘fighting words’ that labels those who believe differently as ‘unpatriotic’s and sets us up to hate people who don’t agree with us.  Anyone who dares to participate in a bipartisan endeavor or cooperates with any of these stigmatized groups risks being accused of ‘consorting with the enemy’. At a practical level, this harsh policy doesn’t further the ideals of our democracy or serve our us as individuals or communities.

Authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer are proposing that we believe the word ‘patriotism’ of this useless baggage by reclaiming the original, more inclusive and magnanimous meaning. True patriotism has very little to do with political parties or winning elections. For a country that was invented in the name of representational government, justice and the betterment of self and society, the “original patriotic tradition” describes a shared pride in what our American democratic freedoms have enabled.

Pride in being part of a world-changing experiment starts with the simple precept of extending our concerns for ourselves to include a present-tense concern for American democracy and its people, both as cultural groups and as individuals.

As my Mennonite and Amish ancestors and relatives know so well, rugged individualism is no way to get a barn built. Liu and Hanauer describe this as “a revival of a civil religion” that rests on public morality as a coherent moral framework within which our public policy position fit.


My brother, Roger Grunow, who is a Gardener Extraordinaire!

Boots on the ground: the practical meaning of these ideas

So what does this mean to us, as ordinary but nonetheless ‘patriotic’ American citizens?

Liu and Hanauer use the familiar example gardening to help define work of citizenship at a practical level. Anyone who has run a farm, landscaped their own yard, or tended a vegetable garden knows it takes a certain kind of activity to succeed — that is, to harvest a healthy crop of tomatoes or enjoy the beautiful blooms in one’s rose garden. Success in gardening is based on certain mental attitudes and behaviors.


This includes committing an adequate amount of time for the work, cultivating the habit of being fully present, paying attention to details, and carefully nurturing something delicate in order to facilitate new growth.

When this metaphor is applied to the human condition, it means both seeding and weeding  — feeding what is good, eliminating what isn’t helpful, and taking the time to figure out the difference.


It also means respecting and working with our fundamental human nature and patiently tending to our human need for physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual sustenance. This includes providing information and listening to the ideas or feelings of others.

These ‘active verbs’ of citizenship take both time and the right ‘timing’. What was done and how it was achieved would be quite different for a working mother with 3 kids than it would for a college student on summer break, or a healthy retired person with lots of time and energy to spare.

No matter how novel or high-minded, ideas aren’t worth anything until they are translated into active verbs. This requires a process to turn the ‘theoretically-possible’ (good ideas) into a practical reality, in this case,  a plan that is just, compassionate, internally consistent and able to be applied to large groups (politics!) as well as to individuals.

So stay tuned as this “Garden Party Patriotism” site provided a forum for developing a ‘plan for action’. I will start off that process by posting my thoughts and suggestions from my friend and family and soliciting your suggestions and feedback.

A Personal Note ~ arrested, prosecuted, persisted, prevailed –  August 1991 to October 1993

How these events convinced the state chapter of the AMA to finally, after 17 years, to not block legislation that created the Licensed Midwifery Practice Act of 1993 — professional licensing for the community-based practice of midwifery in California.