Definition of epiphany
What’s the most important job in the world? Nope, not being the President of the United States, although we are learning right now how leadership in that role can influence how others think about us. But few of us can do that job well, and so, not just anyone should assume the mantle.
I’m speaking about parenting. Many of us are parents, have been parents, or want to be parents. Many of us should NOT be parents.
Ouch! Was that too nasty? Perhaps….and perhaps not.
Let’s take an example from something on my Facebook feed today. Facebook is an excellent way to measure the values of your extended community. Some people who post on your feed are people you know well, others not so well, and others are “friends of friends” and you don’t really know them at all. It’s a microcosm of society. Facebook is NOT good for trustworthy news….make sure to check everything you think is news there. But Facebook is good at understanding people’s viewpoints and that is what makes up society.
This morning a friend shared a concern that a teacher friend of hers had with parents of elementary school aged children. The teacher had posted that she starts the school year each year for the past 25 years the same way. She sends home papers for the parents to complete. We know this pile, and yes, it is an annoyance. But she sends home one more that she originates. She asks for information about the child: likes and dislikes, attitudes about going to school, family life and activities and more. She said she used to receive these essays from 98% of parents, she said in the last decade she has noticed a huge decline. Only 20% of parent’s participate in this.
Yes, I know we all work long hours. Yes, I know there is a lot that needs to be done each and every day. But, this is parenting. You had babies. Now, the question becomes, what kind of adult do you want to grow?
About 30 years ago I had to make a decision about my marriage. I had two small children (ages 1 and 3) and a husband who was self-centered and diagnosed with several mental health issues. When I saw the toddler mimicking his father’s behavior I knew I was not raising those kids in a healthy environment. I knew that my job was NOT what made money and supported the family (he had stopped working) but to raise those children to be healthy adults who not only could function in society but contribute to it.
We have lots of complaints about kids’ behavior and lack of ambition. We hear all too often that some kids lash out in anger over disappointments. We hear that there have been three generations of families on support programs. We have a problem and it IS us.
It is parents who are not emotionally mature enough to recognize that their priority for the next 18 years after giving birth is to raise a child who finds joy in life, is excited to be intellectually curious, and enjoys participating in community service to feel a part of solutions.
What? No time? Unless you are physically out of the house trying to earn a living 16 hours a day, that won’t fly. And if you are out of the house that much, who has your child? Surely you will place your child with a caregiver who will be teaching them how to tackle life’s challenges and embrace the wonderful things.
But I think most people are not away from their children. Most people may be struggling themselves with the burdens of everyday life and may be focusing on their own needs as their first priority. And that is still not the best.
Yes, you need some alone time to regenerate energy. No question about it. I chose 5am-6am. I asked no one to disturb me even if they were awake. That was MY time.
Then at 6am we could start the kids’ day. They had picked out their clothes (with my help as age appropriate) the night before so there was no “where are my shoes” emergencies. There is time for breakfast and packing a lunch before needing to be out the door for the bus or walk or car ride to school when you start early enough.
Can’t get up that early and be functional? Why not? What time did you get yourself to bed to sleep? What kind of “help” did you use to relax the night before that leaves you sluggish in the morning? What are you teaching your children about responsibility and how they will be as adults? They will mimic you.
When my youngest was in high school he ran cross country and track. After the first track meet I saw I would be sitting in the stands for 5 hours between his first and last race. The next meet I brought my camera and started taking photos. My husband did also. We were recognized as team photographers and allowed on the field and for 4 years we captured photos of all 80 kids trying their best.
I posted the photos on a site where (with a password) anyone could grab them and just about all the kids and some parents thanked us for our effort, but no one took over when we “graduated”. It really amazed and saddened me when most parents never showed up to the high school track meets, even when they were held at our school. No car? There’s a bus and there are other people you can call for a ride. There are ALWAYS solutions. It depends on you and what you want to do with and for your children.
Just as lust is not love, having sex does not mean you should have a baby. But if you DO have a baby (and this is for men as well as women) you have just assumed responsibility to raise them. To be better than you are! To learn right and wrong! To develop solutions to problems! To recognized they are part of a community and receive benefits from that community so make time to give something back in service!
Because parents are ducking their responsibility, the concept of “life 101” classes to be held in middle school and high school needs to include a lot of things parents USED TO teach their children. How to develop a budget and live within it. How to balance a checkbook. How to cook so you can make healthy meals and not need to depend on frozen options that are full of chemicals. How to sew so you can at least put a button back on a shirt. How to iron. How to change a tire. How to make a goal and work towards it. How to how to how to. The list goes on.
How to adult. Just because you are over 18 and legally an adult does not seem to equate to maturity with many people. My parents had a saying that irritated me but it was a truism. At that time 21 was the age of legal majority so they would say “You do not automatically become an adult and know how to do everything when you are 21.”
They taught me much of what I needed to know and yes, some of their concepts were outdated and I rebelled. I failed and picked myself up again and went on. That is also part of what we need to teach our kids. How to be resilient.
So, when you look at that beautiful newborn and get teary eyed over his potential, develop your plan of action. When you catch yourself spanking the 2-year-old trying to explore her world, change your parenting discipline to one that teaches with reason, not pain. When your 7-year-old tells you he hates you, explain calmly you know that feeling because perhaps right then you are hating their behavior, but you know they can choose to behave in a way that is better. When your 10-year-old gets Cs, look to your own time helping with homework; if you haven’t been you should be able to help pull that grade up to a B at least. Long before your 15-year-old gets pregnant tell her age appropriate information about the physical and emotional responsibility of actions….ALL actions. (Get over it people….you had sex and guess what, they will too!)
It takes work to be a parent. And to be a good parent takes a lot more work than many people are putting in.
Look around you. How many people are lonely? Their kids have flown away and hardly ever come to visit or have contact. How many people are so judgemental that if the child had opinions that differed from the parent the kid was told they were wrong but not why the parent feels that way. I talked to an elderly man who was trolling the parking lot of the church looking for his daughter who was homeless. He told me how he hated her having a Latino boyfriend and had told her she could come home but not with him. He did not see he had built the wall that his daughter would not climb over. Do you know people like that?
It starts with babies. How you raise your kids makes a difference. Remember that each time you are ready to condemn the actions of “kids today”.
When I was in first and second grades my teacher, Mrs. Hibbard, helped establish a wonderful foundation for the love of learning. One year, for example, we built a list from encyclopedias and other little kid references for each day of the month of February. We all know February 2 is Groundhog Day but did you know that February 1 is Victor Hugo’s birthday? Imagine knowing at age 7 who he was and what he did!
She had a bowl of those tiny hearts with sayings on them that are sold around Valentine’s Day. They were a treat, a carrot so to speak, for achieving something good. Most typically they were for behavior not scholastic performance, so achievable to everyone equally. With those small bits of sugar she taught us self control.
A little less than a decade later my mom often criticized the hippie concept of “do your own thing” as a problem. I guess, Mom, you may have hit part of the reason we’re so messed up now on that philosophical rebellion against the establishment. If only we were satisfied to stay in the proscribed roles, our society would have been “great” all these years. And yet, there was and continues to be good reason to make noise about some of what the people in power have foisted on us.
To put it mildly, this movement to break through conventional gender roles, color barriers and more upset the Establishment. Those of us who are old enough to remember the late 60s and early 70s also remember how divided this nation was. There were those who supported the way of life that had been good enough for generations and the fact that those conventional mores restricted equal protection and application of the law was not recognized by people who perhaps felt threatened by others being given “equality”. And the fight continues.
As we’ve moved away from back fence discussions with neighbors we know to the faceless aspect of Facebook, these discussions often become rude and completely worthless as an exchange of concepts. Part of the population never quite understood that “political correctness” just meant being polite to all people and most of the population never learned how to hold a persuasive argument. If a person has no way to frame their position like a salesman, gently showing the benefit to the “prospect”, that person has no recourse but to say the same thing again and again and then, in frustration, turn to denigration.
I have a good number of friends that I have made in places I have lived. While we never really talked about politics until recently, I had commonalities with them that nurtured our friendship. Some of them have disowned me; others continue to today and are able to present their viewpoints and respond to mine. What’s the difference in broad terms between these two groups of people? Generally, it is their own self confidence in the life choices they have made and their self control in the way they live and speak.
I have other friends on Facebook, people I have never met face to face. They became friends because of some commonality. The farm-to-table movement attracts people who are concerned about how the food we eat affects our health, and politically, we are all over the spectrum. It amuses me that one of the people who “likes” almost every food warning I post on Facebook is unable to write out her own feelings on the political issues that shake us, and relies on some of her Facebook friends to engage with me.
It doesn’t bother me to have discussions with people who hold opinions different from mine. How can we ever find our commonalities and perhaps solutions to these issues without sharing our concerns?
But there are many people who degrade rapidly or eventually. It’s as if they just can’t handle the points I raise. Perhaps they start to agree but their longer held position pulls them back and scared a bit, they lash out. Perhaps they just can’t imagine that anyone who holds a different viewpoint is worth their time, a classic example of cognitive dissonance.
It doesn’t matter if they are smart or average. It doesn’t seem to matter what their financial status is. It DOES seem to reflect on their love learning or lack thereof.
And I want to stress here that this kind of childish behavior is displayed by people throughout the political spectrum, not just one side or the other.
So, if you, like me, wants to see us avoid another civil war, I urge you to get a handle on your self control.
In 1979 Jerry Falwell, with thousands of followers, started a new political party in the hopes of presenting candidates with good Christian morals. The issues that attracted followers: anti gay, anti abortion, anti school segregation, anti science teaching among others. The Moral Majority prided themselves as being pro Family and yet, many of the leadership were found to be having affairs or liaisons. So, despite strong evangelical Christian support, the party dissolved late in the 1980s. The people who supported Falwell waited silently for their next hero.
Perhaps they never really got silent but their more recent activities begins to beg the question about the basis of their Christianity.
Look, you know I’m Jewish but I would bet you that I pay more attention at church than cradle Christians whose memorized responses do not require any brain involvement. My Christian husband asked me to attend with him 10 years ago and I said I would as long as I was respected. My introduction began at Ascension Episcopal Church in Pueblo where I marvelled at the similarities; of course! this was a denomination not far off the Catholic shoot and that church was derived from Judaism. Funny how the symbolism, while morphed a bit, still exists. In West Virginia we attended St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington and once again, not only were people respectful, they sought me out at times asking if I would join a study group because they knew my viewpoint, being different, would spark more interesting discussion. And now in Oregon we attend the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, a combined church of Lutheran and Methodist congregations.
I listen. I study. I ask questions. And you know what? The teaching of Christ in the churches where I have worshipped seems to be very different from what I see proclaimed by the evangelical Christians who walk a very different pathway.
Now we have this judge, twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court who is running to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he was named Attorney General in this administration. Roy Moore has been accused by several adult women that he inappropriately touched them sexually when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One girl was 14-years-old. And this morning, another woman has come forward who has announced she, also, was 14-years-old when this man took her innocence.
I’ve read a number of essays that this is not uncommon with evangelical Christian men. They want to have relationship(s) with women that they can mold, women who will not be mature enough to know that a healthy marriage is one based on mutual respect.
While this is also very common in other societies with fundamentalist religions, few more educated communities expect women to be subservient like this. Few educated societies permit children to become married. Fewer still think sex is an appropriate activity for budding adolescents.
As much as this angers me, what bothers me more than the men and women who believe this is a good way of life are the many people who say they will still vote for Roy Moore despite the behavior they don’t like. They will vote for him because he is a Republican. That voting for a Democrat is worse.
Now, before any Democrat starts feeling superior, the same is true in that camp. Here locally we have a woman beginning her campaign for a state house district. Personally, I can’t vote for her because I do not live in her district, but I have gotten to know her and I know she would have my vote if I could. Even though she is a Republican.
There is not much difference between the warring factions in the Middle East killing people because they do not agree on who was Mohammed’s heir and people who are so fixated on the NAME of their political party that they never put any effort into thinking about the person running for office. Or effort working for that party to help make sure it runs honest candidates who WILL represent the common people.
Look at the issues, yes. You don’t like abortion, I understand. But the clinics do more than that…..don’t shut your eyes to the good that is done. Don’t be so narrow in your outlook that your hate encompasses good.
Look at the experience the candidate has had to help you understand if they know the important aspects to do the job fairly. It is very clear that Trump meant it when he said he plans to shut several federal departments; his appointments for their secretaries were selected carefully so the most damage could be done. While many people like the concept of “small government” few people like the idea of letting corporate interests destroy public lands for private enterprise.
Look at their ethics and decide if they are like yours. You don’t rape little girls? Then don’t vote for someone who prefers his meat tender and juicy and well below the age of consent. And yes, “meat” is rude but surely you don’t think what Moore was doing was a meaningful relationship and one you would enjoy? He did NOT mentor these children; he raped them.
If you vote for someone who admits sexual predation like Trump, you have something missing in your thinking process…..or you also believe women are playthings. If you think the idea of children and unconsenting young women being sexual objects is not healthy, then you need to speak up when an abuser proclaims they want to represent you.
So, simply, I’m holding my “from the outside looking in” card and tell you that these people are not learning the teachings of Christ. Being an imperfect human being I can understand. I can understand that just about all of us have done things that have been unwise. But being proud of reprehensible behavior I can not understand nor support. And anyone supporting it blindly will only continue the deterioration of the American culture.
Yes, that will. Not the immigrants, legal or illegal. Not the LGBTQ community, not the NFL players who kneel to add their silent voices to the protest that not people of color do not have the same equal access to the law that is promised.
Nope, those are all part and parcel of this great land with its wonderful Constitution. But the society will continue to circle the drain if all citizens don’t start thinking about how their actions affect everyone. Or lack of action. The time for Monday morning quarterbacking is over. Your choice to act or stay silent is your legacy to this American culture.
It has been easy, since the campaign season, to compare statements and actions by Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler. Also comparable is the excited reaction of support by a significant minority of the population. Additionally, what can also be compared is the silence of a larger minority of the populations, providing tacit approval. These two groups provide a majority base for power.
So, using Nazi Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s as an example, why do “good” people stay silent when witnessing discrimination of others? Later on, it can easily be understood that they were frightened that they too would become a target for internment or death. But at the beginning of the growth of power, why the silence?
All the insight I have is based on discussion with people I know who supported Trump during his candidacy. I was told “He doesn’t mean that” many times. When asked how they knew that, the discussion faltered, but the tenacity to that one statement was evident, “I know.”
Each of us is indoctrinated to think certain ways. It may be the way you were raised, or it may be completely opposite the parental viewpoint, but our upbringing-the ethics displayed in our households, the education we had (meaning how we learned to learn, not just how we did on tests), and the people in our close circle all influence the way we think and act.
I, for one, was taught early and often about World War II. My grandparents were immigrants in the early 20th Century and we lost family members in the Holocaust. It was personal and there was no doubt about it but I was taught to hate Germany. As young as 3-years-old I watched the documentaries showing newsreels of US Army liberating the death camps. I know what slow starvation looks like. I also know what determination to survive despite the odds looks like.
When I had the opportunity to travel for work to Germany to spend six months there on a project working with the US Army, I was uncharacteristically slow jumping at the chance for free travel. I understood why and I tried hard to face that prejudice, learned as a baby, and overcome it logically. And I accepted the assignment.
Waiting at the Frankfurt airport for another part of the team to arrive from the States, I had plenty of time to people watch and came to an obvious but, to me, important understanding: they look just like me. And when our coworkers arrived, we got on a train to head to Kaiserslautern, and I thought, oh yeah, here I am, a Jew, on a train in Germany. The next morning, reporting to the military office, I noticed the swastikas that were part of the architecture. The base had been built in the 1930s. The spector was all around me. Despite my best intentions, a certain low level anxiety showed I had carried much of my baggage with me.
So why did “good” Germans and others in occupied Europe, for the most part, stay quiet about the actions being taken against the Jews, the Communists, the homosexuals, the gypsies, the handicapped? Was it mostly fear that they might be next?
Or was it that they really agreed that these groups of people were inferior and the nation, the world, would be better off without them?
We see denial of similar issues here and now in our own nation. For example, we hear lots of white people complaining about the silent and nonviolent kneeling protest during the national anthem at professional football games. They believe, because it is the information being presented by news sources they trust, that the protestors are not being respectful of the flag and thereby the veterans who fought to protect our rights. They will not recognize the actual purpose of the protest. They believe that people have trouble with the police because they are bad people, but 100% stop talking about the issue when I asked what a 12-year-old sitting on a playground swing holding a toy gun did so bad that he was shot dead within seconds of the police arriving on the scene.
This lack of facing facts is a clear sign of cognitive dissonance, the stubborn and willful choice to not consider information that is not aligned with their convictions. And all of us have some level of this infliction.
It is so very easy to think that what I believe is THE RIGHT WAY TO THINK and that everyone else is crazy or stupid. But that way of thinking is also cognitive dissonance.
This morning there are statements by various high level Republicans who have an opinion about Roy Moore’s alleged sexual behavior affecting the upcoming election for Senator from Alabama to fill Jeff Sessions’ seat. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that if the allegations are true, Moore should step out of the race. But other Republican leadership are once again blaming the women (why did they wait so long?) and are supporting Moore fully.
With the recent #MeToo social media campaign I remembered and told my kids about one incident in my life where my boss tried to inappropriately insinuate himself into my life (I was 24 at the time and he was 49). Recently I read there is a new social media campaign gaining ground to “Name the Pig.” Instead of telling how we were assaulted, we are encouraged to name the person who behaved illegally and unethically. So, I think about that former boss of mine. He would be 88-years-old now, if he is still alive. What good would it be to “out” him? None, I believe. (I dealt with that boss directly, facing him and telling his he had been inappropriate and it had to stop. He listened and complied…..at least with me. ) But I also support every woman, from Anita Hill to the women who named Bill Cosby to the ones in the Moore situation, for speaking out when we are dealing with a man who has been a role model or could become politically powerful.
Meanwhile, we continue to have at the head of our government a man whose code of ethics seems to be best described as “ME FIRST.” The die hard supporters still believe in what the rest of us know are empty promises (I’ll get your coal jobs back, I will make sure everyone has affordable health care coverage….and more, so many more). One supporter, in the course of a calm and reasonable conversation stated, “I think Trump is the savior of this nation.” I knew that the ground had tilted and there was no middle place to find a commonality there.
So why are these people this way? Simply, they are not hearing nor reading what the rest of us are learning. They typically rely on media that comes from the same viewpoint and never cross check with other news sources to see another aspect of the same issue. Before condemning him or the countless others, think first. Do you? Do you cross-check issues that are getting your blood pressure up? Or do you just confirm with other sources that are in the same camp?
Most of us react emotionally first and often speak next. Few recognize that if the information just received appeals to your sense of greed or outrage it MUST be verified by cross-checking across the media, liberal and conservative. I urge everyone to take the few minutes it takes to do that search and read before climbing aboard some bandwagon that you might not like to own later.
Remember, the “good” people of Germany allowed things to take place that eroded their prior sense of right and wrong because it was not directly affecting them…until it it did, and then, it was too late for most to take a stand.
We live in a nation that has an amazing set of laws backed by the Constitution that provides protections for all people here to speak their mind, gather in public, practice their faith, purchase weapons for home protection and hunting, keep from illegal search and seizure, protection from having soldiers living inside your home, certain rights of prisoners and people arrested, and other rights kept by the people and by the individual states. The NRA has massaged the fear of firearms being confiscated to drum up massive purchasing by frightened people. The fact that some news agencies report on the inept leadership currently in Washington does not mean they are fake news; it means the people responsible want to distract you by blaming the messenger.
Don’t ignore the message.
About thirty years ago I had an epiphany. My job was not the activity I did that provided income. My job, it hit me, was to raise those little munchkins I had birthed to become healthy and happy adults who could function as contributing members of society.
It wasn’t an easy road, as anyone who has walked it can attest. Having a spouse who had a completely different parenting philosophy was harder, believe it or not, than when I was a single mom. But trying to parent alone can be a constant struggle against fatigue and a slippage of consistency.
I’m not a deep analytical thinker generally but as a kid, whenever I chafed at the rules and restrictions imposed by my parents that seemed unfair, I thought about why. What was the purpose of the rule? Was it fair? Could my parents have achieved my compliance more readily if they had presented the need for a certain behavior a different way? It seemed to me that the answer was yes, life was unfair to me then.
I knew my parents, overall, were okay. I understand better now that they had their own issues and that they did what they thought was the best thing for my sisters and me. And despite some developmental restrictions I had to learn to overcome as an adult (i.e, how to deal with anger in a way where it would not blow up into World War III) they gave me a lot of experiences that many other kids don’t get.
Our family was in no way child centric, but my parents were involved in activities that provided for my exploration and growth. Scouting, encouraging my love of reading, camping and travelling, helping us learn to swim, and PTA were things they did. There were inconsistencies about religious training and practice which I now recognize was a struggle between the way my dad and mom had each been raised. They encouraged my participation in the music education program starting in 4th grade, something I did with my kids and learned quickly to appreciate that my parents had provided that model.
What’s fascinating is that when I discuss memories and issues with my two sisters, their experiences sometimes were considerably different from mine. If that can happen in the same environment, the whole nurture vs nature concept shows up more clearly.
Looking back it is easy to see that each of my kid’s personalities was evident right from the beginning. They were who they are even as infants and toddlers. The way they expressed themselves, their willingness to explore or need to stay close, and their responses to me were challenging and wonderful and scary, all at the same time. I recognized that this was my biggest responsibility in life and I knew I wanted to give them something better than I had had.
I knew I wanted to parent differently but also knew that unless I made an effort to learn a new way, the guidance I heard in my head and heart would be the way I had been raised. I was fortunate that my older two kids attended an elementary school in the “poor” neighborhood of a town in Connecticut where education was held in high esteem. (in other words, we paid higher taxes for the school system there than any other place I have lived.) The principal of the elementary school was a consummate grant writer and we had an amazing array of programs, offered free. One was a parenting class called Systematic Training for Effective Parenting. While child raising practices have moved on, this served as an amazing framework for me to teach my kids about fair communication, accepting responsibility, and understanding that there will be consequences for misbehavior. One of the best parts, particularly after a year or two of practice, was that we all had fewer angry meltdowns. Me too.
I know it would be interesting to read their perspective of the experience. Now adults in their 20s and 30s, I suspect I would hear about all the horrible things I did to them. But I also think there would be many more positive issues. (I recognize that statement might be self serving. LOL)
I just came back from a long weekend to celebrate my youngest’s 23rd birthday. The joy I felt was better than any drug. I could easily see that despite a pathway taken that was not the original planned, he is doing fine. He is healthy. He is supporting himself (well, almost). He has good friends who also are finding their way along their own pathways.
One important difference, I think, between my parents and me is that I do not expect my kids to live their life the way I would if I had their opportunities. This son struggled in school, a surprise to all of us. Yet in today’s economic turmoil, a college education is not proving to be the answer it was to my generation, so understanding there are other ways to earn the money to live is part of my letting go. After all, earning a living is NOT the same as building a fulfilling life. My hope for this young man is the same as it was when he was born and he is well on his way to being the healthy, happy, functioning adult I tried to aim for with my parenting.
I’ve never been a light hearted soul…..things just are not right so much of the time that it concerns me.
That’s not to say I’m not a happy person or enjoy a good laugh. I AM a happy person who is pretty positive but I don’t laugh easily. Most of the time, it seems that other people think is funny just don’t hit me the same way.
Recently, in an effort to still try to talk to people who have viewpoints on the conservative end of the spectrum I have begun to respond to comments they make, particularly if the reaction of their other friends is laughter and the issue is not funny to me. If the meme or comment is a putdown, so the joke is at someone’s expense, I am the stick in the mud who points out that it is not funny. That perhaps they forgot to pull on their Christian compassion before making fun of someone. ( I only say that because they post a lot of Bible quotes and also how important it is that Jesus is in their lives.)
Generally, my comments are not appreciated. No surprise there. Someone who uses humor at other people’s expense generally is not comfortable being told, even when calmly and with quiet language, that their choice of words is not healthy. I suppose it is only a matter of time until I am unfriended. Not a biggie, but it will be sad because the more we stop talking to each other, the sooner we will forget we have more commonalities than differences.
Being told to “lighten up, it’s only a joke” is something I’ve lived with. My last blog I told you about my first husband. This time, the story is about my second husband.
Before I go further I want to say this marriage produced two beautiful children who are now healthy adults, participating in society and enjoying life. Despite all the angst that resulted in that marriage I would never say or feel it never should have happened. I am blessed to have those children.
The differences between that man and me, our views on what life can be and our ways of aiming for our goals were very clear. Still, I can appreciate a few things he gave me that were gifts of insight I never would have made because I just did not think the same way.
For example, when my dad had been living with Parkinson’s disease for 10 years and no one would talk about it, he called us out on it.
For example, I had been fighting my naturally curly hair all my life trying to make it straight and he suggested I get it cut well so it would be acceptable to me.
For example, when he asked me if I liked to dance and when I said yes, pulled over to the curb and pulled me out to dance to the radio on the grass.
But those were few and far between. Life with him was usually off kilter at best and downright fearful of what I might find when I came home when things were at the worst.
See, he is mentally ill. His diagnosis has changed over time but he never worked to “get better” because he argued the therapists wanted him to change. Well, duh. What you’re doing is not working. Maybe a change would be a good idea?
And his favorite expression, after he would denigrate me was “I’m only joking.” Sorry, forgot to laugh. In fact, instead of not laughing I had to work hard to stay calm because of his fragile mental state.
It was clear that he thought only of himself and how the world revolved around him. He is unchanged to this day.
Now, I do not know this Facebook friend well enough to know if she also has some issues so making jokes like that helps her cope. No idea. But I won’t stay silent. I will not be, nor will I permit someone to be, the butt of a joke.
I read something else today on Facebook, also from a person who I don’t really know. But I do know one of her adult children and that gives me a lot of insight about her. She noted that in times of recent crises we saw people ignore any political, religious, or racial differences and just pull together to help each other. She suggested we live this way.
Think about how much better we would be if Congress, for example, sat down and said “yes, too many innocents are being killed. Let’s talk together to see if something we who have the power can do to make this country safer.”
How much better we all would be if instead of saying it is their own fault, that we pitch in to work with the homeless to provide safe housing and health care for what ails them.
How much better we all would be if we all could have a living wage with a 40-hour job. Then we could afford housing, put food on the table and not have to run from our issues into drugs or booze.
How much better we all would be if we all could teach how to learn instead of how to pass a test. If we could all understand that not everyone is going to make an A and perhaps there are other skills the ones who have trouble in school could handle well.
How much better we all could be if we decided on what we wanted to be when we grew up and didn’t have to pay for the education to attain that the rest of our lives.
How much better we all could be if we stopped putting other people down. If we chose to recognize when someone makes us uncomfortable it is a learning opportunity, not a joke. And continue the discussion.