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I Tried to Understand….and Have a Glimmer of the Concept…You?

I think ALL of us can agree on one thing: our American society is sick right now.   So much finger pointing is going on about the causes, but there are some truths that can’t be ignored.

One is on male anger: our young boys are taught to “man up”, to suppress their natural dismay and fear and unhappiness and learn to be stoic. And the hurts build up until it festers.  Some people turn inward and we have a lot of teen depression and anxiety. Others, unfortunately, turn outwards and access a way to strike out. Such are mass murderers nurtured…..and it is all of us who parented that one. Because we are part of the society that encourages this way of raising boys. Today there was another shooting in Texas with 5 dead and 21 injured..and it was a young white male who is the (now dead) suspected perp.

The other is white male privilege. I read an opinion piece I urge you to read. It’s long and you might want to close it down. I urge you, instead, to read it in bits. Take it in. Share it. It may not resonate with you but when I read it, I had a few insights of enlightenment. Perhaps you can, too.

Christianity and the Cult of Trumppublished by Utne Reader, was written by Miguel A. De La Torre, from Burying White Privilege.  

It is apparent to anyone who is not a white male that the white guys have access to many things that people of color and women generally have to work harder to achieve. And we know pay scales are different. We know perception of why people act the way they do is different based on color and gender. This article develops the historic reasons why. Image result for being a member of a group and outsider

The ONLY time I ever was close to a position that the white males of the USA enjoy was the summer of 1972 when I went to Israel. It took a few weeks there when it hit me: most people around me were Jewish. It was the first time in my life that I was in the majority. I was no longer an “other”.

While I had entered the identifiable group, I was only on the fringe because I did not have the language nor a lot of the modern cultural knowledge, but, once learned, I would be there.  I propose to you to consider the experience you had when you visited the country  where your family’s heritage is based. You may not been able to speak (fluently) in that language and you would not know the day-to-day societal norms, but you could learn them if you immersed.  If you have never gone to the “old country” nor ever really learned any ethic cooking, dances, or stories, if your family has lost its cultural heritage and you just “know” you are part Irish, for example, you probably will not be able to access this point of insight.  It is NOT the feeling you get when you are on your 5th green beer on St. Patrick’s Day and just looovveeee everyone in the bar.

That feeling of “belonging” to a group that is in the majority and has a strong voice in the society gave me a sense of calm……and I had not recognized prior that I was otherwise anxious. That anxiety increased greatly when I lived in the Bible Belt and was very definitely an “other” much more than when I grew up in the ethically and culturally diverse New York metropolitan area.

So, without even going into the God-given rights as discussed in Christianity and the Cult of Trump, I could see that white men subconsciously feel safe. Since they have been the predominate group, they have the power.  And when I felt for the experience I had, the feeling of being IN the group in Israel, I could finally grasp just what white male privilege is.

 

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Part of the pushback by angry white men MIGHT be because  it sounds like they are being considered “inferior” because of skin color and that is an impossibly hard concept to swallow (and yes, ironic as hell).  No, it’s not your skin color……it is your attitude. But your skin color gave you access and so your attitude is that everyone has equal access, which is not true.  Once you wake up to the difference, we can begin the job of healing this society.

The second insight I received reading this article was related to religion. As you know, I am Jewish but married to a Christian. For twelve years I have been attending church with him, learning about the stories and practices of this faith. And what I have learned has taught me that Jesus was all about teaching love by actions. He tried to simplify things, since people then like people now seem to have issues with reading long and deep. He acknowledged the Ten Commandments but basically said it comes down to treating others the way you want to be treated. That really should be simple enough for people to understand….but it is not.

I told my husband I would go to church with him but only as long as people respected me. His answer, “If they don’t, we’re in the wrong place.” So I was embraced by people at Ascension & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Pueblo, Colorado for my introduction. The people at Huntington, West Virginia’s St. John’s Episcopal Church asked especially for me to participate in study groups because my point of view would be different and would lead to more interesting discussion. Now in McMinnville, Oregon at McMinnville Cooperative Ministry, a blended Lutheran-Methodist church, I am participating in actions to help the community and even though I am not baptized, I am recognized as a full member of the congregation.

Simply, the exposure I have had to Christianity has lead me to understand that we are all imperfect but should be striving to BE LIKE JESUS.

In contrast, the Christianity I saw on full display living in the Bible Belt was, for the most part, significantly different.  When I first moved to Nashville in 1975 I was greeted “Hello! Welcome to Nashville! What church do you belong to?” in one continuous breath.  Sunday mornings were the best time to go grocery shopping (except the beer was inaccessible until noon, not a big problem for me.) because people either were in church or sleeping in; basically not going out in public if not at church so not to be identified as “one of those”. It also was when I learned not to expect to schedule anything on Wednesday night, as many had midweek church suppers at the very least.

So, if they were so tuned into church life, why was there so much anger towards “others”?

I worked for 18 months (way too long) in an office in Vanderbilt Medical Center where the electronic medical equipment was repaired and kept running at peak efficiency.  The assistant director was a guy in his late 30s who proudly told me he was an elder in his church. He also told me that all the other people who thought they were Christian were not. He belonged to the XYZ Christian Church and others went to Southern Baptist or Church of Christ or some other denomination without “Christian” in their name. Ergo, they were not Christian.  He said all this with a straight face.  Image result for my god is better than yours

This same guy stumbled into work bleary-eyed one morning shortly after his second child had been born. I asked if the baby had kept him up. No, it was another problem. At his church.  Apparently, one of the Sunday School teacher positions had to be filled and the congregation had been asked for volunteers. Two men had offered but they just could not be considered. Why? He was hesitant to speak it….I wondered if he knew his indoctrination was not quite right and that caused him distress? He finally said that the two guys were “a couple.” I responded with “What’s the problem?” He was shocked I didn’t automatically “get it” and asked “Would you want one of THEM teaching your kids?”  I kept calm and asked him if the Sunday School has a curriculum that the teachers use to teach the religious training they want the kids to get. Yes. I asked if any of the curriculum included getting naked and touching each other. NO!!! “Well, then,” I repeated, “what’s the problem?”  He stomped away in frustration. (I seriously hated using that argument because it feeds the convoluted concept that homosexuals are pedophiles even as we hear at LEAST once a month about some ordained Christian minister being caught in incest or some other inappropriate act with a minor. And THAT gets no discussion so it really is a GREAT example of white male privilege.)

The next morning the boss stumbled in again and I played coy and again asked if the baby was ok. Yes,….it was “the other thing.”  Turned out, after kids were asleep and his wife also and he was just drifting off he clearly heard a deep resonant voice (James Earl Jones?) “Love your brother!”  And a few seconds later, it was repeated, “Love your brother!” I asked him if God had ever talked to him before and he slowly said ” noooo”. So then I told him the message was pretty clear…..and was he going to approve hiring the two volunteers for the teaching spot. He didn’t want to. So, I pushed a bit, “But God told you to LOVE YOUR BROTHER and I think God would be okay if you just let him teach the class.”

I have no idea what eventually happened there.  I would prefer to think that those guys found a better church family, one that could respect and love them as Christ taught. (Is it considered teaching if teh lesson is not learned?)   But this was only one of many many incidents related to the need to make everyone believe the same that I experienced and for many, I was the one they were trying to change.

These experiences, when compared to the ones I have had at the churches where I attended, have been significantly different and when Miguel A. De La Torre wrote in his essay Christianity and the Cult of Trumphe mentioned that Christianity as practiced in the South IS different from Christianity practiced elsewhere in the USA.

I want to interject that I know there are “liberal” churches in the South, just as there are “conservative” churches throughout the country.  In the 21 years that I lived in Tennessee I had five active Christian friends who walked the walk and loved me as I am with no “need” to fix me.  And I have also met others in other areas of the country who very much want to “save” me.

The point Mr.De La Torre wrote and I sensed is that when a culture has a majority population with a similar mindset, it influences the mores of the area.  So, with a pervasive attitude in the Bible Belt that the fundamentalist spin is the ONLY right way to Christ, it makes everyone else an “other”. That means the unchurched, the nonChristians, and so many others need to be fixed or made to leave.

I very much felt like an “Other” in the South and there are a few people around me that may try also.  Because white men essentially run this nation and the conservative Christian church has learned how to make their voice heard, we are all immersed in this struggle.  The first step is to stop denying it.

 

 

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Aim for Information NOT Confirmation Bias

Seven years ago, about a year before we planned to move from West Virginia to Oregon,  I got deeply involved in helping establish The Wild Ramp, an indoor year-round local food market. Among other things, I visited the farms and other food producers basically to get their stories to tell consumers, but also to verify that they were raising or producing the yummies they brought to sell at the store.

For a person who grew up in the paved part of the Garden State and one who earned a degree in urban planning, finding myself knee deep in mud was one of my earliest experiences and I immediately bought muck boots for later farm visits. I am a quick learner…at least in some issues. 2014-10-07 10.48.42

I believe the first farmer’s patience with me and my questions helped establish my process: I spent an hour asking questions sitting usually at the kitchen table, and only then did we walk the farm and I got to see and take photos.

Because I knew next to NOTHING about farming (other than going with my grandpa into his chicken coop when I was 3-years-old was a terrifying experience which he sure could have made easier!) I asked tons of questions. I may not know a lot but I am curious.

“What’s the issue about corn fed versus grass fed” was a question. “What kind of cows are these?” was another. (The answer to that was also enlightening: “Well, ” the farmer slowly answered, “they’re black.  Angus are black, so I guess we can say they are Angus.” And my response: “So ARE they Angus, or are you riding a marketing message?” was answered with a smile.

So I learned something there and I later learned that perhaps it is not always just the breed but also the diet that helps make some meat tastier than others.

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The point is, I was not afraid to appear that I did not “KNOW”. In other words, it was okay for them to figure I was ignorant and it was their job to teach me. And almost all of the 70 farmers and food producers I visited were happy to give me the two precious hours of their work day. The later sales jump after the blog was written and read by the consumers was worth the work interruption.

So last night I again watched the debates. And I will watch the 2nd debate with the rest of the Democratic candidates tonight. WHY?

Because I am not going to rely on what news organizations chose to tell me. I am not going to read my Facebook friends’ comments as a basis for my own decision-making. I do find comments by people I know and even people I have no idea what their background basis is for their comment. This is our reality: people have various levels of evaluation tools and their decision making may or may not be similar to mine.

When I read restaurant reviews when I am searching for a place to eat in a location I have not fully explored, I have no idea if those reviewers’ taste buds are similar to mine. I have no idea if they value food without additives, as I do.  Same kind of issue when I hear how people love or pan a movie. How can I know if any person making a comment is aligned with my values on what entertains me?

Even more important is the much more rigorous and important evaluation for the next President of the United States.  A crummy meal or movie may, at worse, provide a wasted couple of hours or a tummy ache, but typically not more than that. Playing passive on the evaluation of candidates can provide for poor leadership that will affect me…and you…and the world.

So, it’s all theater. I made a comment on Facebook as the debate started that the narrator sounded like he was introducing a sport event. But this is NOT the time we chose one winner and all the rest are losers.

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Source: Apple Podcasts

Each person standing on that podium last night had something that was important to be heard. Each one.  How would you know if you don’t put your own mind to work?

Do I think they are all equivalently experienced for the job of President. Hell no! But they have their viewpoint and it may overlap someone else’s, including your own.

Let’s be careful not to throw support to one candidate so early that we don’t listen. Let’s be careful to listen and evaluate how we feel about the various solutions to issues posed.

And let’s remember that the way the government is working now will not change much without some huge changes that are, unfortunately, needed to be made by the people who currently would not want them changed.  For example, we have clearly seen the damage to the election process that the Supreme Court decision about Citizens United caused.  By permitting money to be equivalent to free speech, and corporations defined as “people”, we have seen that our government is now being controlled by megawealthy corporations and people. Very few people. And the rest of us, working (or not) to make the changes have a tough uphill battle. How can that be changed to give the governing of this nation back to the people? Listen to how the candidates suggest changes and see if they align with you.

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Source: UMass Dartmouth

Above all, quit sitting back and only using your voice to armchair quarterback. Get out there. Locally, you can have some huge influence in the way your city or county runs.  On the national level, if you like a candidate, get involved. Give an hour a week…..that certainly is not too much of a drain when you think of what gets decided that will affect you.

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Source: Waupaca Rotary Club

 

 


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Walking a Divergent Pathway

Growing up in the New York metropolitan area provided an introduction to the diversity of the world.  It seemed, at least from my juvenile perspective, that people just sort of understood there were differences, but no one was pushing their way as the only way.

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Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

In elementary school we all decided the Protestant kids had the easiest time of it. While the Catholic kids left school early on Wednesday to take a bus to Catechism downtown, and we Jewish kids were taken by our parents to once a week Hebrew School, the other kids just sort of grinned and enjoyed their week day freedom after school.

 

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I moved to Nashville in 1975. This is the buckle of the Bible Belt and it was a cultural shock to me in many ways. Besides learning that the only way to eat green beans was after they had been simmered with raw bacon for at least two hours, I also quickly learned that it was a welcoming question to include, with “what’s your name” the query “what church do you belong to?”

While I first interpreted it as a way to invite me, I gradually understood it was a way to identify the tribe.  Who was in and who was out.

These were very very real experiences I had:

“My church is the only CHRISTIAN church because it is the XYZ Christian Church. The others are not Christians. They are Baptists or Methodists, not Christians.” (my supervisor, mid-30s)

“My church is the only RIGHT church. All the others are wrong.” (14-year-old in the boy choir who belonged to a congregation of 50 people.)

“You MUST take Christ as your Savior! You could have died and been in Hell for eternity.” (after I had recovered from bacterial meningitis, a 45-year-old wife beating neighbor)

“We can’t have THOSE people teaching our children at Sunday School.” (same supervisor, discussing that the only volunteers to respond to the call to fill a vacancy, a homosexual couple.)

“Jesus was a Christian” (10-year-old who attended a fundamentalist church).

When I got into discussion with people who I now understand were Episcopalian, they cautioned me that no one is perfect. That acceptance of all people also includes acceptance of their flaws.

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That is a truism, but I need not follow the advice of people I feel do not align with me on ethical and moral terms.

Image result for come as you areI started going to church with Graham 12 years ago. I told him I would attend as long as I was respected and he said the very right thing: “If they don’t, we are in the wrong place.” So, until we came to the McMinnville Cooperative Ministry, we attended Episcopal churches in Pueblo, Colorado and Huntington, West Virginia. We also started here in Mac at St. B’s but did not feel the community connection we both enjoy. Jeanne Rahier invited us to sit with her one Sunday at the Coop  and after the Christmas music program at St. B’s fell way short of what Graham enjoyed for celebration, we decided to make the switch.

I think most of the pastors have enjoyed my questions and my comments. Certainly, the members did as I was often asked to be part of a study group because they knew my perspective would allow for more interesting discussion.  I participated in the “Inquirer’s class” and the Priest  completely misunderstood and told me I could be baptized afterwards. When I told her it was not my goal she was surprised I was “merely” interested in learning.

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source: CCA

So, why am I not jumping over after 12 years of exposure to Christianity, especially when I no longer actively go to Temple any longer?

Two main reasons:

  1. To keep my mom’s voice out of my head, I have been focusing on the similarities. I think that was one reason the Episcopal church was comfortable. It has a great deal of ritual. It took me a few Sundays to see the “game plan” so to speak, and once I did, I recognized the patterns. In a way, I understood the root of the practices in a way most of the regular people in the congregation did not. I knew the Church had developed from the Jewish faith and while practices vary from denomination to denomination, there are clear signs of the origin of most practices being from Judaism.  I will say that the Episcopal church never considered me a member while the Coop has. And that makes me feel that the energy I put in to being part of the community is accepted and appreciated and I feel included.
  2. I just don’t understand and can not accept on faith two big doctrines of Christianity: that we are born with “original sin” and that once we accept Christ, we “live forever”. These issues are, I believe, part of the root of the problem with the fundamental branches. Original sin is the stick to demand behavior compliance and the carrot is baptism.   As I was told in Nashville by more than one poor excuse for a proselytizer, they “had their ‘get out of jail free card’ already.” I don’t expect people to be perfect, but I don’t expect people who think they have the ONLY right pathway to be SO damn flawed.

I believe EVERY religion’s fundamental branch has this problem; that they believe in a very narrow and strict interpretation and anyone who questions it is considered to be on the outside and not worth being a part of their community.   In our fear and concern about fundamentalist Islam, we have been quick to be concerned about sharia law. And yet EVERY fundamental branch of every religion has similar rules controlling behavior.

Image result for religious requirement for women to cover their hairAnd many rules relate to controlling women. Have you noticed that ALL religions have long had a tradition of covering women’s hair? Pretty sexy stuff, hair.  Or women and men pray apart? Or clothes must provide certain coverage and women must appear modest.  The common theme is men have problems concentrating on the spiritual realm when women are around.

Women, including women in the South, have long adapted to restrictions on behavior. Many are broken down and fall into line, often being the most vocal and angry that other women disagree. And there are many who disagree, but they remain quiet, in order to keep a “happy home”. And a few, thank goodness, still have a backbone and a voice, but like all protesters everywhere, their plight is not easy.

My first job out of college was for the Tennessee Supreme Court. In 1975 the Old South was still very strong in those halls. All the justices were men. White men goes without saying but is important to say. As a recent grad, I was the flunky, but I was able to take on the tasks they assigned me well and a new project related to upgrading the system how to count court cases was given to me. The opportunity to attend a conference in San Jose, California was offered by my supervisor but had to be approved by the Big Boss. I was 23-years-old, living on my own 1000 miles away from my parents, but he was not happy with the idea of a young woman travelling across state lines on her own. He actually mentioned the Mann Act.  So, as I had learned in the 2 years I already had lived there, I knew the game I needed to play. I connected with a friend of a friend who lived in California. They offered to pick me up at the airport and have me over for dinner one evening. And so, the Big Boss felt better since I had “family” there.  I never saw them again, but I did get an amazing recipe for the pasta sauce they served me. The big take-away, however, was I learned in this instance to act like a Southern woman. All smiles and all duplicitous behavior.

There is an amazing pathway to enlightenment that is not difficult.  It requires each person to have the desire and freedom to learn and reason through things. To be permitted to question and gently guided to better understanding through neutral discussion of alternative options. There are ALWAYS more than one way to solve a problem. Without that inherent capability, people become sheep to be lead. Image result for education opens doors

Sheep are herd animals, generally perceived not to be smart because they follow enmasse what the leader directs.  I personally do not understand why the Christian Church preaches that good believers are good sheep. I do understand the symbolism of Christ as the Shepherd, but I see that in any choice with farming, there is a wide range of farming styles and management. And some of the preachers and pastors and priests and rabbis and imams are very rigid in how they control their flock.

Why am I not going to Temple any longer?  A number of issues, least among them the distance to the closest one.  I was a teenager when I was told after I asked a question that I “should know the answer already.”  That was poor management of this growing soul. And later, when I turned to the Temple I WAS attending regularly for help through a crisis, I was ignored. That is not my community.

And so it goes for many people in the United States. Probably we Baby Boomers were introduced to religion before we could walk much more than current children and so we learned our baby Bible stories.   But somewhere along the way, we slipped off and few every have examined their faith with adult questions. And many found the setting too restrictive. And so, we have many who state they are Christian but behave in a way that would cause Jesus to weep.


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The Ten Suggestions

I think many of us last got this reviewed when we were under 12 years old so, let’s go over it again for a minute. Interpretations are mine, of course, based on my education and experience and very much on my observations of what people actually DO.

 

1. You shall have no other gods before Me.

Outside of the common organized religions we find in our towns and cities, there are many other belief systems that appeal to many.   Some do not hold a belief in a Higher Power, but see life and its value in many forms, including Jedi Knights, which many put this down as their religion on the UK census in 2001 believing that Midichlorians exist in all living beings, which create a ‘living force’ that can be interacted with. While we can smirk at this, it is evidence that mainstream religions and the way their churches act on the holy scripture simply does not appeal to many.  My suggestion: since so many of the major world religions have similar guidelines for nice behavior, please realize that the religion you claim as your own is most typically one you were born and raised in….so it was a matter of when and where you were born. Nothing much more special than that.

2. You shall not make idols.

There seems to be a type of Christianity that worships the almighty dollar.  As stupid as that sounds, there are many conservative Christian churches who preach that successful people are rich….and if you are not rich it is because you are not getting right with God. So send in more money to Preacher Living High on the Hog so he can upgrade his mansion or car fleet or buy a new jet. Meanwhile, you feel bad you are not one of the chosen. My suggestion: find a new God to worship than the one your church is touting.

3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

Personally, letting off steam by shouting “God damn it!” is not demeaning to the Lord. What you are doing is calling on your Higher Power to punish someone…significantly.  And if this sounds okay to you, my next question is do you use witchcraft much? Hexes, bad curses, all that stuff? Perhaps you might want to think of a new way to express your dismay. And I know what you mean when you say Gall dang it……same thing.  My suggestion: be respectful to all, as we are taught we are made in God’s image. If you mistreat anyone, you are maligning your God as well.

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

I learned in an intense Bible study group that this commandment was added to the others at the time of the Babylonian exile.  (Don’t remember that story.? It’s part of the Tenach, the Torah, the Old Testament or what you may refer to as the Hebrew Bible. It is part of your history if you are a Christian.) The rabbis at the time were very concerned about the people becoming assimilated so this commandment was added. Also added at that time were all the laws regarding foods that are clean or unclean….the kosher laws.  My point? Well, two fold. 1. So much of what many believe in the Bible is historically proven to be written by men. 2. Hold time aside (you pick the day if you want) where you can quiet your activity and spend some hours thinking about who you are in the scheme of things in this world. My suggestion: Connect with all that you consider healthy and  calm in your life. Do it with others in community.

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5. Honor your father and your mother.

Seriously, some parents can never win your respect or admiration because of their attitudes and behaviors. Hopefully, you will have at least one or two other adult mentors in your life that will help guide you. Good parents and mentors will challenge you; that is part of their duties to help you grown and stand on your own feet. We end up in arguments. That’s always been the way of the world. But unless a relationship with an adult is toxic, be patient and polite, and learn. And parents: smacking your kid because s/he does not respect you does not work.  They are learning that bigger and stronger wins…so guess what they will do to your precious grandchildren?  My suggestion: Do better when it is your turn to parent.

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6. You shall not murder.

We will always have certain people  in our lives who are affecting us in a challenging way and it is tempting to wish they would just disappear.  While I know many people who get really REALLY steamed up, I recognize they probably would not act on removing the person in question from this earth. But I also know many who would, if pushed to the point. Taking a life of a living person is wrong. Yes, there is evil in this world. But the death penalty has not provided a deterrent; no one says, oh I better not rape and kill this woman because if caught I will be put to death.  And we know of some individuals who torture and kill puppies and kittens. Also wrong. Now, the next hard spot is abortion.  The scientific part of me says no way is a zygote capable of life.  And the emotional side of me says, I support your right to chose while being glad I never had to. My suggestion: be pro-life in all its stages, not just the gestational one, but as part of that, allow that someone else’s life might not permit them the same decision making as your.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

Do you remember when President Jimmy Carter was roasted over the coals for admitting when he looks at an attractive woman he felt he was guilty of lust in his heart. Why did people make fun of him?  I think it’s very clear now that it was because society’s behavior is worse. Our current culture permits men to rape and sexually assault women and get away with it. So, back to being a better parent…..we are NOT doing our job teaching our children what it means to make a lifelong commitment. Now people hold their hands behind their backs, fingers crossed, when they swear “I do.” I do…until the next sexy body crosses my past. I do…..until I get irritated at you and need to feel loved again. I do…until I am bored. I don’t. SO many don’t. My suggestion: We must be much more serious when we make our promises, especially ones where we promise to partner with love and care for the rest of our days. Realize lust is NOT equal to love. Use birth control. As I told my kids, birth control fails, so be ready to have a lifelong commitment to the parent of that child, regardless of marriage.

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8. You shall not steal.

I suspect most of us have broken this one. I was challenged by a Bible thumper that when I took a pen from work I was just as guilty as a shop lifter or someone who bilks others of their life savings. Perhaps, if you truly believe Santa Claus is keeping a list. But starting with a pen and discounting it can lead to bigger issues. Why is there a need for stealing?  Are you hungry? Did you take advantage of the programs in the area where you can access free food? Are you an addict and need money for your habit? You have a larger problem than stealing and you might not be concerned about either, but get some help and you CAN do better. Most people want what they want when they want it. Deferred gratification and saving up for something desired is a skill set many people lack.  And then there are those who assume that someone is better off and they can afford to be without this one thing. Really? Feel like judge and jury often?  My suggestion: If your stealing habit is small and you want to stop, replace what you took. If you can’t do that, give something to someone who needs it. Now, if you think it’s no big deal, I really can’t help you. You missed some major ethics and morals lessons early on.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

When we have a President who lies daily and then lies that he lied, it sets a bad precedent in society. When we have people who like him and discount all his lies, we have a sick society.  Many of us fear we are seeing signs of a society descending into something similar prior to Hitler leading Nazi Germany. There, as in other right-wing dictatorships, people turned against people and reported them, even if not true. We have an episode in our own American history with the histrionics over Communism.  After McCarthy destroyed many lives, he was overcome when Joseph Welch, chief counsel for the U.S. Army asked “have you no shame?” Well, currently, it is clear the people in power have no shame. But we should. A person’s good reputation was something to be honored. My suggestion:  Tell  the truth. Don’t be cruel. Be honest about your own work and actions. Image result for telling the truth quotes

10. You shall not covet.

This one is hard because we are beaten daily with things to buy to make ourselves more beautiful, healthier, happier. After the World Trade Center collapsed, President George W. Bush told us to go shopping.  American’s debt level is at an all time high with more and more bankruptcies all the time.   There have been times in my life where my income dropped below what we needed for housing, food, medical care and the normal day to day. There was a time when it was recommended I declare bankruptcy. But I didn’t. Those credit card bills were our doing. The fact that we couldn’t pay them because of illness is a major reason why many people take that step and one more reason why we need to get healthcare costs affordable to all. But we had control over how we spent money during that time. We were on bare minimums and no, it was not fun and yes, it went on way too long, but it finally ended and we climbed out of our hole, proud that we had acted in a responsible manner. My suggestion: make a budget. Really. I remember one woman where I worked around 1980. She earned $400 a week. She wanted to buy a sewing machine. She sat down and made her budget work, saving $25 a paycheck. And in a year, she had her machine and started a new business. Own your life by keeping your desires under control.

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Final suggestion

If all that is still too hard, no matter than you’ve known this all your life here is ONE rule instead. If you can do this, all else will fall into place.

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I’m Reviewing My Life: Seeing the Trend

Image result for jimmy carter not a democracyLike many of my sisters and some of my brothers I am pretty disturbed by the way things work out in Washington, DC. We have moved away from a government with checks and balances and I can agree with President Jimmy Carter than the United States is no longer a functioning democracy.  He actually has been warning about this for quite some time; the need to have millions and millions of dollars to run a campaign is one sign, the way a whistle blower like Snowden is cast as a villain because he is illuminating secrets that are not to be aired for public consumption, and because women and other groups are not accorded equal protection under the Constitution. You may not think he was a good President but he sure stands tall as a good person, a mensch.

So, I’m thinking back over my life, seeing where I benefited and where I was hurt solely because I am a woman.

I was born in 1954 so the first 10 years of my life were in the era the Trump supporters are longing for—a time when we pretty much stuck to the roles society had set out for us. I learned to cook at an early age, how to sew, but not how to change a tire. I learned how to let the man pick first, how to let the man I chose as my husband be the boss.

But I also wanted to be a cowboy. No this was not a case of gender confusion. I just saw week after week on the tv shows of the time that cowboys had more fun than the “cowgirls”. I wanted to be able to chose what I could do.

I was lucky to come of age at a time when there was some movement to hire more women (albeit at a lower salary I found out later). But here are some snippets of what I remember from my life:

  • I married a man who said all the right things “before” and then turned out to be abusive to me and others. He stole from where he worked and made it look like a man working for him had done it.  It was the South in the 1970s and the man was Black. He was fired and my husband was proud no one suspected him.

 

  • This man was emotionally abusive to me, to the inane point of blaming me for red lights and rainy days. I took it, trying all different ways to reach through to him. Whatever I tried earned me more abuse. But I had been brought up in the time when divorce was NOT an option, so kept trying.  I was sweet, I was firm but friendly, I was silent. I did not argue back. Nothing worked. But the day he crossed the line and hit me, I knew I needed to get out. He was a Green Beret and he could kill me.  His response: one more rape.  Yes, rape occurs in marriage but only when the man believes he can take it whenever he wants and has no interest in making his partner ….. a partner. By the way, I was raised to expect it every night…..but come on, it CAN be fun and does not have to be painful! And I bet he would have enjoyed it better, too…since it seemed to take forever…….maybe he had not made me cry enough.

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  • Working for the Tennessee Supreme Court in my first job after graduating college I wanted to go to a week-long training for people doing exactly what I was assigned: changing the information system (how many court cases in each court throughout the state) from a paper system to one that could be computerized.  The training was held at San Jose State University in California and the boss, a Southern man in his 60s, believed a young woman (I was 22) should not travel without an escort outside state lines.  A friend of a friend in San Jose said she would pick me up from the airport and I spent one evening at their home for dinner. Since he agreed I would be “safe”, he let me go learn.

 

  • There were about 8 of us in our group at the Supreme Court. While most of us in our division were not Southerners, one woman was the epitome of a “Southern woman”. She flaunted it (big hair, tight sweaters and a lot of things that are stereotypical of Southern women of that time) and whenever I want to “channel” how to act Southern, I think of her. I can’t even say her name without a Southern accent.  We were all in our mid 20s to mid 30s and when she told us that she went on a weekend with a guy friend and they slept together but did not “sleep” together we all laughed. We were not born yesterday. But she stuck to her story. We still did not believe her.

 

  • Back in Nashville years later, I was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting my turn to go in when a unknown man in his 60s approached me and told me I would be beautiful if I would just lose 50 pounds. I managed not to get too huffy and smiled, telling him I had just lost 200 pounds. (My divorce was recent history.) He patted me on the head and told me to keep working on it.

 

  • Again in Nashville but a few years later, I was in the elevator at Vanderbilt Medical Center with my 8-year-old son. We were leaving from the Neuro ICU where his dad was in an induced coma trying to get his brain chemistry regulated…again.  (We didn’t know but the next 18 months would be the most stressful of that long illness with cancer.) Sam was carrying a stuffed bear that he had purchased for himself the Christmas before and he clung to that baby as if it could save the world. Some man  in his 60s leaned over in that elevator and said “Son, you’re a little old to be carrying a baby doll.”  I got in his face and quietly snarled, “His father is in Neuro ICU dying. He can hold on to any damn thing he wants as far as I’m concerned.” The man backed off rapidly, apologizing.Image result for women in their place
  • A man where I worked served in a position of leadership in his church. He is one who comes to mind when people ask me why I don’t convert.  Basically, after observing this man and many many others who profess they are Christian, I see nothing I want to emulate. He said to me “You know, they think they are Christian but they’re not. We’re Christian because we belong to the XX Christian Church. The rest of them are Baptist or Methodist, not Christians.” But the most telling view of his struggle was the two conversations we had shortly after his second child was born. Dragging into work one day I asked if the baby had had a rough night. No, he said it’s a situation at church. He told me that they needed a new teacher in the Sunday School but the only people who had offered were gay.  I walked him through it….”does your church have a curriculum to teach the kids?” “yes” “Does it include getting naked and touching bodies?” “NO!” “So….?” I asked. He stalked away, frustrated I didn’t understand his viewpoint. The next week he walked in again, dragging his butt. Again I asked if the baby was doing ok. “Yes,” he answered, and then told me how he heard something int he night. His wife was asleep, all was quiet, when clear as a bell he heard “Love your brother!” Not once, but twice. I think my moth dropped open. I said “I don’t think many people have had God talk to them that clearly.” And then I asked what he was going to do. His answer “I don’t know” clearly showed me where his priority lied.Image result for fear of homosexuality

I’ve lived in many places in the United States. I grew up in New Jersey in the New York metropolitan area….that is 21 years. Then Tennessee….I spent 7 years in the 1970s and 80s and then another 13 years 1990s-2000s (so about the same there than in New Jersey!). I also lived in Pittsburgh (6 months), Pueblo CO (6 months) and West Virginia (6 years) as well as Connecticut (12 years). Now in Oregon (6 years).  I have gained a perspective about regional cultural attitudes that few others have firsthand.

What I can simply say is this: in an area with the diversity I grew up in there definitely was sub-textual fears and concerns between people who had differences in religion, nationality and color, but we all lived together and worked together as best we could.  In other places, particularly the South, many of the white people I knew felt that “others” should know their place. Deviating from what was culturally normal brought up conflict.

  • Bonnie, a woman my age who worked at the planning and engineering firm in Memphis when I was there, had never learned to swim. I invited her to come home with me so I could teach her in my condo’s pool. Her first question to me “Is it allowed?” She is African-American. This was 1980.
  • When I was about 50-years-old I contracted meningitis and almost died. Recuperating afterwards  I was approached by a well-meaning man (in his 40s) asking me if I had been afraid of dying. He wanted to “save” me.  He would not take “no thank you” as an answer and I had to cut off talking with him. (This was not the only time this kind of action happened.)

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So, my personal assessment from my time living in the South is that  many people have been uncomfortable for decades over the changes that have been happening. It all shakes up the position of prestige and power if woman gain ground, if people of color really are equal, if the needs of any people with some physical or emotional or mental issues have to be met. It is as if they believe all those people should just simply be invisible. Image result for equality doesn't mean pie

I will not be invisible. Neither will my awakened sisters and brothers of all colors, religions, national origin, or ability.  We are here and we know our Constitutional rights perhaps better than many of the people who only know to spout “2nd Amendment” as their excuse for the latest round of mass shootings.

So, what to do? Keep making noise. Will people who are afraid of losing ground be won over? No. Will their emotionally beaten down wives and daughters? Perhaps. Will their grandchildren? Hopefully.

We are no longer the land of the free , home of the brave. We are  a nation of patriotic lip syncers, people who know stuff by rote but can not explain a thing because of their own perception that they know enough and don’t need to read any more.  What does the Pledge of Allegiance mean? Do you know what the Bill or Rights includes? Do you understand that the Founding Fathers were pretty wise but recognized that we would have issues so they gave us guidelines: keep religion out of government and government out of religion, for example. Image result for patriotism vs nationalism

I have long believed many of us would fail the test people who want to become citizens must pass. The actions of my fellow Americans shows me we all have a lot to learn.

 


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Real Truth, not just based on YOUR life

Do you know that about a third of Americans believe the slaughter of millions of innocent people in World War II is fiction.Image result for why people do not believe the holocaust happened

Do you know that about half of all Americans believe climate change will not affect them?Image result for people who believe climate change will not affect them

Do you know two thirds of Americans think they have above average intelligence?Image result for how people assume they are smarter than average

Do you know that most American households have the television on almost 8 hours a day? (And that does not include streaming over the internet!)Image result for people who watch tv

Do you know that just over half of voters in the United States actually voted in the 2016 election?Image result for not voting

Do you know that almost 40% of adults refuse to make personal changes to help improve environmental problems?

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Reading the comments posted on the Newberg Discussion group on Facebook indicates that people there have similar reactions to what people here in McMinnville have experienced: many say no problem and it’s about time, adapting easily if they were not already carrying their own bags into the stores. A vocal minority have a number of issues in protest ranging from “I use my plastic bags for other things” to “How am I going to pick up my dog poop with out these bags?” to “the government is too involved in our life”.  We know change is very hard for some people and they will use more energy fighting something that feels irksome than to just adjust. I personally think the funniest comment about not liking to have to pay for paper sacks is that they will drive 10 miles or more to go shopping in the next town. They obviously feel their personal decision is more important that the financial strain of paying for extra gas usage in their car.

Salem and Bend are considering the bag ban and, if passed, will join McMinnville, Portland, Corvallis and Eugene and several other cities in Oregon. The state of Hawaii has banned the bags, which makes sense since they are a series of islands and residents would be very aware of how plastic pollution is affecting their beaches.  Washington state also has at least 18 cities that have eliminated single use bags from the check-outs at stores.

Reluctance to change is strong in people who are not tuned into environmental concerns. Even though we live an hour from the Coast, many people never make that trip and so, never see any of the issues personally.  If people do not see plastic bags as roadside trash, they do not understand there are many places where roadside trash does not even occur because people are more aware they have a responsibility to be good mentors of the earth.

As stated above, many  people refuse to accept that things happen unless they experience it themselves.  Perhaps the Holocaust is too horrific for people to get their heads around, but it is that kind of lack of recognition that people can made to participate in horrific events that permit horrific events to happen again and again in human history.

How do we help those people understand?  When McMinnville was working towards the bag ban Zero Waste McMinnville provided a service to the community to educate them. This included making them aware there would be several public discussions at City Council meetings where people could listen and speak.  It also included working with store managers to set up a system to notify customers, including printing and disseminating information sheets in English and Spanish. Zero Waste McMinnville volunteers sat in front of stores before and during the implementation to answer questions and distribute reusable bags.

And yet there were many people who fought against it, even trying to get the ordinance changed. The energy spent in fighting was high, and yet easier for those people than making the very small change needed.

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source: Workplace Psychology

Life experience is important to consider when speaking to someone about a change they need to make. If someone has never traveled, if that person has only had a high school education or perhaps even dropped out of school, if that person’s free-time focus is on entertainment and they never consider community involvement, they most likely do not recognize that they are part of a larger society.  There are many people who never give much thought beyond their own personal needs, so asking them to help clean up the environment is not a consideration.  Asking some people to consider how the earth will be when our children and grandchildren are adults often is met with “I don’t care, I won’t be here” as a response.

No man is an island, and for those who think they are, they might notice their shoreline is getting littered.

Trash collected by one volunteer at the SOLVE beach cleanup in Oregon on Earth Day.


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What’s the Goal?

They’re brain dead. Idiots. Bigoted. Racist.  And they feel the same way about us.

They listen to their tv news, read their schlock newspapers and believe in unfounded opinion articles as news. And so do we.

Not me! You declare. So, I ask you….whatever place on the spectrum you live, have you read “the other side’s ” news? Ever? Just to try to understand why they don’t know what you know?  Not even once? Once per day would be a good try.

I posted an article  on Facebook recently that asked people to state their opinion after reading it. I also emailed this to some friends who are not on Facebook, to ask their opinion.  The article, by NBC News, explains a study done by political scientists at Texas A&M.  I  am not going to summarize it here; it is THAT IMPORTANT that you read it for yourself.  What I will tell you is that most people did not respond, and those many who commented back to me had NOT read the whole article. One said it was too biased. Another said he knew that NBC was a liberal organization so he didn’t bother.

So, I just wonder who is pulling the strings? Who are the puppet masters?   Why are we allowing this?

I don’t feel like a sheep, following the leader blindly. I suspect you don’t feel that way either. And yet, for much of what is going on, we are experiencing a significant effort to keep us separated. To make us angry at people who don’t agree with us. To reduce them to less than equal status in our thinking….and then in our behavior.

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source: RISE OF THE AMERICAN SHEEPLE: 10 Signs You’re A Sheeple

But we have had situations that have polarized us when, in truth, we really should all have a similar reaction. The horror of people being pulled from their cars and beaten. The rhetoric of our nation’s leadership making broad statements about a group of people based on…..pick one….color, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation….and many feel threatened instead of talking to people they personally know in that identified group of people to get first hand information about the situation.  The unbelievable situation where children are taken away from their parents when they enter the US illegally, and about 1500 have been “lost”. The lack of transparency on the actions of some government agencies whose actions beg answers. The science showing us we are essentially killing ourselves, ruining the planet’s oceans, air and more.  All these issues should really have a unified reaction by EVERYONE regardless of where they are on the political spectrum.

I think we each have a choice. We can continue sharing news that is phrased in ways to agitate and polarize or we can seek the truth behind the news and point out who the puppet masters are and why they want us distracted and separate. Follow the money is a truism.

When laws are passed to permit cars to hit protesters who are blocking a roadway, when peaceful protestors who point out the inequities of police treatment are distorted as demeaning the flag and the military, when the anger over abortion leads states to close clinics that provide all kinds of health services and screenings for people, when we incarcerate illegal aliens and separate their children from them and then “lose” some because of poor record keeping, and I could go on….we are being played. We are being made angry to uphold values we consider very important to the definition of what this country is.

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source: Mercury News, Charlottesville, VA

Both sides feel this way.

We need to stop paying attention to WHAT is being said and start asking WHY. And like a curious toddler, the WHY question needs to be asked again and again until we finally get to the truth.  And if, like an impatient parent, we are cut off from the explanation, as adults we know that is not right and we need to push some more.

Yes, there are people in this nation whose concept of what the United States should be would be to eliminate many of its current citizens and residents from being here.  They do not think beyond their discomfort and fear. They do not recognize that there are consequences to deporting or otherwise eliminating a class of people not “desirable”. They do not know the slippery slope they propose would, inevitably, include them. How can I suggest this? I’ve read my history. Not only Nazi Germany but many other countries where tribal factions, religious schisms, ethnic identification have resulted in millions dead.

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source: http://genocidewatch.net/2015/06/01/sudan-making-money-off-genocide/

I am appalled when I see people threatening civil war if something happens they don’t like. They need to read. They need to watch some good films that will clearly show there is no winner in war, other than those who own the corporations who run the war.

So ask yourself when you have a reaction to something you read…..how can I bring THE TRUTH to people in a way they will listen, and join together?  This means no knee jerk reactions or you are fanning the flames.

Be smart. Let’s turn ourselves around.  What’s the goal?