Focusing on the important things in life

Published 9:26 am Friday, June 28, 2013

Column: Paths to Peace, by Jeremy Corey-Gruenes

I took a mistress last December. I didn’t intend to, but before I knew it I was deep into a relationship that threatened my family’s stability. If you hate confessional writing, you might want to stop here.

Jeremy Corey-Gruenes

Jeremy Corey-Gruenes

I don’t want to go too crazy describing her. Let’s just say I find my mistress intoxicating and intensely satisfying at times. She also has a huge screen. For a legally blind guy who uses his computer a lot for work, I can’t begin to describe what that does for me.

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Since I don’t drive, I’ve joked that my wife will never have to worry about me being unfaithful because I’d have to ask her for a ride to meet my girlfriend. So my new computer with its 32-inch screen really is the ideal mistress because she’s close-at-hand and I have perfectly legitimate reasons to openly spend time with her.

Comparing a computer to a flesh and blood mistress may be ridiculous, but my mistress/computer has contributed to behavior typical of a man cheating on his wife. The computer draws my time and attention away from my wife and kids. I also stay up late, ostensibly “working,” while often streaming movies or playing on social media. I don’t directly lie to my wife about what I’m doing afterhours, but I don’t always dispel her assumptions that I’m doing work for school either. So I’m guilty of lying by omission — another signature behavior of a cheater.

I’ve been trying harder to spend less time on the computer and focus more on the things and people that really matter, but it’s been tough recently.

First of all the NBA draft took place this week. I’m the most committed Timberwolves fan I know, giving scant attention last week to arguably the most exciting NBA championship series in a decade because I was instead obsessing on the Timberwolves’ draft options. I’ll have submitted this column before knowing who the Timberwolves actually drafted, but I’ve logged an embarrassing number of hours online researching draft prospects, tracking trade rumors and generally doing the type of work that Flip Saunders should be paying me for. Ultimately, of course, it’s a complete waste of time. No one from the front office is calling for advice.

In addition to NBA Draft week, it’s also been a huge week for the Supreme Court. Following @SCOTUSblog and other Twitter accounts from various journalists and political pundits has made keeping up with the Court’s proceedings incredibly easy — albeit time consuming — and I found both joy and disappointment in a few particular rulings from the Court.

The Court’s decisions to declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and to leave in place a lower court’s ruling striking down the same-sex marriage ban in California added to an amazing year for marriage equality. While neither of these cases makes same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States, they are monumental steps in the right direction, progress I couldn’t have imagined a year or two ago.

My joy for these recent strides toward justice is countered by my reaction to the Court’s decision to significantly weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Court ruled that the nine identified states (mostly from the South) with histories of race-based discriminatory voting practices will no longer need federal approval for changing their voting laws.

In defending the Court’s decision, Chief Justice John Roberts suggested that racial minorities no longer encounter the same significant barriers to voting they did 40 years ago — a broad, bold suggestion — but explained that Congress is free to rewrite the law and again identify states in need of federal oversight, using a new formula based on updated data.

While this leaves the door open to establish federal oversight again — and even expand this oversight to places in obvious need of help (e.g. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida) — Congress has proven itself unable in recent years to accomplish much of anything requiring bipartisan support.

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, President Barack Obama immediately invoked Congress to pass legislation to ensure “equal access to the polls” and to re-strengthen the Voting Rights Act. We might expect significant opposition — or at least ambivalence — to this invocation among Republicans, if for no reason other than thwarting President Obama’s agenda. Too petty to be true? See Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s comments regarding why members of his party voted against his own background checks bill in April.

Moreover, national election data show that Democratic candidates benefit more than Republicans from increased minority voting. It follows — and I don’t think it’s overly cynical to suggest — that a passion to ensure equal access to the polls may lag among significant numbers of Republican law makers.

History occasionally calls us to put aside distractions and self-interest and do what’s right. In this case, we are called — Republicans and Democrats — to demand that Congress act thoughtfully and expediently to ensure that voters of every racial group can vote without obstacle and that districts with significant minority populations are not redrawn in efforts to benefit one party or the other.

The NBA draft is over, the Supreme Court is on recess and I don’t go back to school until late August. While I will be distancing myself a bit from my mistress/computer, she and I will be spending some quality time together publicizing this issue and urging lawmakers to do the right thing.


Jeremy Corey-Gruenes is a high school teacher in Albert Lea, where he lives with his wife and two young daughters. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @jemcorey.