I’m having trouble writing in a calm tone today…there are just so many things going on that are hollering for something better.
The son of a friend, a chef in his 30s with a young son and loving wife, in good health, died suddenly at home this week.
The niece of a friend, together with 2 other high school friends, went for a ride together and all are now dead, thrown from the vehicle despite seatbelts.
The President is taken to Walter Reed Hospital because of a positive COVID infection and now, a few days later, says he is feeling better and planning to return to the White House. No one has said he is testing negative, of course. Everyone understands that this is way too early in the illness for him to be “better” but no one is adult enough to contradict him and order him back to bed. It’s gotten to a point that nothing that is announced from the White House can be considered truthful and reliable.
The desire for making a personal choice the highest rule of the land seems to stop people from noticing the strong correlation between unmasked events and infection outbreaks. Can you say Spring Break? How about Sturgis? And one recent superspreader event, the Rose Garden announcement? Can you notice people not thinking?
A candidate in a local election against an incumbent who has provided good service has been identified as an enforcer for compliance with rules of the Church of Scientology. Can she even serve equitably when so few are in agreement with her church policies? What is her real reason for running?
Another candidate for public office campaigned really hard to fight for a DEQ air quality sensor here in our city because perhaps someday there might be a reason to expand to automobile emission testing. So, during our wildfire season we have no way to know our local air quality, but must extrapolate the data from sensors 25-40 miles away. This man is proud of the way he “protected” us from maybe fees in the future and sees no reason why anyone needs to know if the air is unsafe.
Some people on various Facebook pages dedicated to food processing don’t even read any recipes when they start putting food into jars. The questions indicate a complete lack of any understanding about the food safety requirements.
A lot of people on freeze-drying Facebook group pages are thrilled about the candy they are processing, saying they eat it as fast as they preserve it because it tastes so good.
I can’t help but notice on trash day that my neighbors have a lot of take-out boxes and piles of plastic overflowing their large bin. I wish I could help them reduce their monthly bill to Recology by teaching them how to sort their trash at the very least and then to refuse all the single-use plastic next.
Recent surveys of the US population reveal that about a third of people are tuned into Qanon and hoping that yes, we will be rescued by aliens and all will be announced in October, no, wait, now the big reveal is in March. Stay tuned, obviously.
Other surveys of the American population disclose that about half are now drinking or drugging daily. As personal ownership of weapons rises, most new gunowners are not taking any safety instructions, and assaults at home are rising.
Meanwhile, I’m wondering why we are even trying to maintain a “normal” educational curriculum right now. This is the time to introduce Life 101 to include lessons on growing food, cooking and preserving; on sewing and ironing and doing laundry; on car maintenance; on household maintenance; on general small electrical repairs; on art and music and dance. This is the time for those of us close to the coast to teach about tides and sealife, including time for beach cleanup and plastic trash collection. Others can do to nearby rivers and streams and learn about the difference in those ecosystems. This is the time for matching older teenagers with adults who are working in a field that the youngster has expressed interest.
This is also the time for a huge survey of homes here in our town to identify which are not fully occupied. Those homes occupied by one or two elderly people who no longer can easily do the maintenance required may benefit from a match with a younger person or couple who can rent a room and provide some younger energy for daily life. Those homes that are sitting vacant may be able to be added to a housing program for people who currently can not afford to pay for indoor housing.
This is also the time for neighbors to join together to plan their 2021 gardens, so participating families can grow different foods to share with all in their circle. This is the time to arrange for seeds and jars and lids before the seasonal requirements run the stores empty.
We can’t sit in the doldrums. We have too much good work to do to help raise everyone.
Dewey grew up in Appalachia, in the southwestern area of Virginia. His father was an itinerant farmer and he worked on farms near the towns of Fries (pronounced “freeze”) and Galax before moving the family to Lynchburg. Dewey quit school in the 8th grade to join the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps. That was a program that President Franklin Roosevelt started to give work to young men while sending half their wages back to their families. It was the Great Depression and families were starving. Dewey worked building some of the park facilities we now enjoy along the Blue Ridge Parkway before heading to a munitions job in Virginia Beach.
And then he decided to enlist, even though he was underaged and had a finger that never had grown fully. He was trained as military police and served World War II in a detainment center for US GIs who had broken laws and also gone AWOL. When the war was over, he decided to stay in Tennessee and took a position with the Air National Guard in charge of the motor pool. As such, he was called up to serve in Korea. He never talked much about his experience except to say the “mamasans did a great job with the laundry for next to no money”.
He finally got his high school diploma and so, continued on his way. He never dreamed, just worked hard each morning before he headed to his job. He had 10 acres for a while and grew large amounts of food. He served as a helper for a local auction house on the weekends. He stayed very busy all the time. He didn’t play much, but he nurtured a flock of white doves and encouraged his boys to play the guitar and sing. He went on assignments with the Air National Guard. They ended up in Paris one year on July 14th and he said he headed right back to the airport because there was too much fuss going on. It was Bastile Day and he did not understand the cultural celebration.
Dewey was my father-in-law and when I got to know him, he already was in his 60s. I was the interloper, a Yankee married into his Southern family. I was pretty sure he did not like me but I knew he fiercely loved me because his son has chosen me. Dewey and I often did not see eye-to-eye but his actions were always easy to understand.
First point: Things were good because they had been done a certain way before and they should always be done that way. The fact that something or someone did not work well did not matter. Something was rated “good” because it had been done before. So, no need to drive on the new interstate highways when the old highway, you know the one with all the traffic lights, is right there. Also no need to go to college because there are jobs that don’t require that.
Second point: Those people who are bothered by things that don’t work well don’t really matter. They may be nonwhite, or nonmale. Probably also nonChristian. The acceptable people, the people who matter, are white Christian men…and maybe their womenfolk…maybe.
So, Dewey had some beliefs throughout his life that were based on lessons he had in the impoverished rural Appalachian culture of his youth and held strong his lack of opportunity or desire to learn other lessons from other places and times. And so, he was stuck in a rut that often caused family discord.
We all know people like that. They are so set in their way, so sure about their information, that no one can sway them off their mark. They can get downright ugly in their stubborn way.
The big difference between my pigheaded uneducated father-in-law and the people who remind me of his curmudgeon side is that Dewey was honest. Always. He also did nice things for other people. Always. And he never ever tooted his own horn. Never. And he was always polite with his words. Always. He also was a classic white southern male who grabbed a handful of female butt as he tried to french kiss what had been an attempted kiss on the cheek. Yup..that kind of good old boy.
Despite all the stubbornness, that fact that Dewey was honest, that I always knew his “WORD” was good, made me proud to be his daughter-in-law. I learned things from this unhappy man. And yes, one was to avoid his hands.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Trump, he 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I 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.
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:
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.
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.
And 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I want to share a story while providing some sense of privacy for the people who are at the center of this tale…..they are human like the rest of us. Like the rest of us, the choices they have made and continue to make seem to serve them but they are not happy people, so perhaps even they realize something is very wrong with their life path.
My birth family had its issues. My parents were very close, at times to the exclusion of my sisters and me. See, mom was not healthy. I have no idea what her diagnosis would have been but each of us kids have had our adult issues because what we were TOLD and what we OBSERVED were two different things.
My parents did a lot of good things for us that, for me, offset the negatives a lot. They took us camping around the United States. They encouraged us to learn musical instruments and we were all active in Girl Scouts. We received our religious education and while we did not go to Temple each Friday or Saturday, we went enough for me to understand my heritage and that doing good deeds was a part of making a good life.
But I always knew some of the things mom said were not based in the reality where I was living. I spent a few years in my early adulthood breaking many of those “rules”, proving my life would be just fine even if I rebelled. I stumbled, and I picked myself up and I learned very quickly that no one, not even my parents would ever ever rescue me.
My sisters and I have compared notes over the years and they did not have the same perception I did. The rules were the rules and there was a lot of guilt over breaking them. We had failed marriages. We had addictions. We grew through them and beyond them. We still probably continue to stumble sometimes but we have never ever said “stay away from me” because we are family.
source: Lucky Otters Haven
Meanwhile, around us are a kazillion other families, each trying in their own way to do the right thing with their kids. But we know our society has been failing. We have kids who are out of control. Adults now, they want what they want when they want it. They don’t know how to plan for a goal and deferred gratification is a concept that they never learned.
Many adults were not taught life skills by their parents and do not know how to cook a healthy meal. How to plan a budget. How to get along. How to TRY to get along. They feel what they feel and everyone else who feels differently is wrong wrong wrong. Even sick and maybe should be hospitalized. Attack and deflect if you can’t get along…..make it the other person’s fault and never never assume any responsibility.
And it goes to the parents….and then to those adult children who continue the cycle by striking out at anyone who ruffles the waters, who disturbs the system that holds the status quo together.
I have a friend I met over 20 years ago who needed a place when her family told her “don’t come here” and so, she came to me. Now, I know with my own mother, most people looking at our family never imagined we had anything less than “happy” going on behind our doors, but that’s the way it was. So I can imagine that it is hard for a 50-70 year history of aggravation to be set aside to rise and be a family, especially when there is a strong person in charge. Even if she is not healthy. Especially if she is not healthy.
I understand how hard it is to confront an irrational person, even when it is apparent to all around her that things are not right. Weak people tend to hide. They do not want to be the next target. So they are compliant and accept the way it is, and anyone who tells them otherwise, like me and this blog, is wrong.
Too many people would rather sweep issues that are difficult under the carpet in the attempt to ignore them. Too many people come on aggressively when they feel a horrible conflict with what they “should” do and what they “must” do.
And so, we see homeless people. We see people on drugs trying to make their world calmer, less scary.
When all they need is love and acceptance.
I know they will read this. I know it will not help calm the waters, but you know what, NOTHING I do would help. The only change that could happen has to be from them.
There will be tears. There will be anger. And you know what, it just is more of the same. A pattern that has gone on for over 70 years. People educated in psychiatry would be quick to tell me this blog is not wise.
But it is time for someone to speak up. Before more families do this to each other. Maybe someone somewhere will recognize that they need some meds or counseling or something to heal the pain that grew. Maybe……I hope so.
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”.
I came of age during the VietNam war and so, the diversification of our nation now is not a new issue to me. There seemed to be three camps in those days: my country right or wrong, things are not right so I have an obligation to protest to get change to occur, and the silent majority. Once again, we have proof that the more things change the more they stay the same.
A close friend recently posted on Facebook how dismayed she felt when at a kids’ recreational football game, the opposing team took a knee during the anthem. She has felt the protests at the NFL games are primarily a disrespect to the flag, to the military and to first responders. Her husband is a retired cop who walked his beat with patience and persuasion, so I understand well how they are angry that all cops have been brushed with the unethical and illegal response by others.
My understanding her viewpoint is the first step to initiating a discussion. That discussion may go no where, butting up against the brick wall of inflexible consideration of emotions and facts that do not fit an acceptable scenario. But it might also open a window to a new enlightenment.
What has particularly bothered me about people who condemn the protest is that they never address the base issue. They never talk about WHY the protest is taking place.
They don’t understand it is that silence, that negation of importance, that drives the need for protest.
And when I ask people what kind of protest would be acceptable, the silence is deafening.
When there is silence, there is acceptance. There is complacency. There is collusion.
People I know who protest the protest are usually loud in their argument that they are colorblind, that they treat each person equally. That may or may not be true and in truth, if each person actually believed in and lived the Golden Rule, we would be living in a whole different culture.
But the people who protest the protest NEVER say anything about the innocent people who are shot and killed, not because of their behavior but because of their skin tone. They NEVER say anything about court decisions that absolve responsibility for a death of a person of color whose actions in no way required being killed.
They argue black on black crime. Not the issue being protested–stick to the point!
They argue women are also subjected to discrimination. Oh yes, but not the issue being protested-stick to the point!
They point out cruelty to animals. Horrible, but not the issue being protested-stick to the point!
There are a lot of things that can use improving in our society. I can’t fight for every issue that calls to me and neither can anyone else. But a strong emotional response sure indicates this may be an issue that needs more attention. And attention means education first to gather the facts and reduce the emotional response as much as possible. To think calmly and logically. To even place yourself in the same situation, empathically.
Adding anger about protest is adding fuel to the fire.
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.
I’ve always wondered how people going through an upheaval actually emotionally dealt with the hardship of seeing their world as they knew it collapse and assume there was nothing they could do but hold on and ride the waves.
Sort of how it feels now.
We have two unstable national leaders playing a game of chicken.
We have a Congress that seems to forget who put them there.
We have a series of natural events coming fast and furious with hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires needing attention.
We have a huge segment of our population who is hiding as much as they can, not earning a living, because they are on a list to be removed and sent away.
We have Germany perhaps having their first elected fascists since the destruction of the Third Reich coming this weekend.
We have Britain’s Prime Minister trying to delay the departure from the European Union because since the vote more people know its a bad idea.
We have the US involved in wars We the People know little about.
We have military veterans coming home in emotional states that clearly show that war is hell and they were not prepared for it.
We have a segment of our population who seem to think they are above average while they line up with the rest of the sheep to support the 1%.
We have two major political parties that are dysfunctional and do not remember that this nation’s Constitution begins with We The People.
I could go on and on.
So, I have always loved to read and reading fictionalized or nonfiction accounts of how individuals live through a major crisis has given me concepts to consider.
The Scout motto, Be Prepared, makes sense. Have skills and equipment that will help survival opportunities improve.
While Preppers may have the message right, it seems difficult to store 3 or more months of food, water and other supplies. Many of us can at least have a supply of food for two weeks in our homes. I know many people who don’t keep a “pantry” with some staples. Time to wake up, everyone. It does not take a war to have an emergency when stores will not be supplied with your favorite treats. All it takes is a storm and a loss of electricity. A highway blocked. A bridge too unsafe to cross.
Start thinking NOW about how you will prepare food if there is no power.
Make sure you also store water, toilet paper, medicines, and first aid supplies.
I don’t need to tell you to store your weapon and ammo, but people, remember safety especially if there are children around.
And, by the way, your lack of preparedness does not make killing me or anyone else to get to our food and supplies an ethical or moral right. The time to think about protecting yourself and your loved ones is now. And might does not equal right.
Build a network of people you can trust. These are people who have complementary skills and common goals.
So many people have no close friends and are estranged from their families because of emotional battles that may truly be pretty insignificant if you thought about it dispassionately. Time to try to heal those wounds.
While many people disdain the concept of church, it does provide for an extended “family”. If you are not involved in some kind of organization or activity with other community members, it is past time. No man is an island
As the Governors of several states have recently done during hurricanes, martial law most likely will be imposed.
Recognize that the Internet and our cell phones most likely will stop Communication will have to resort to meeting with people face to face and talking.
ATMs will not be accessible and banks will be closed. Money will not be the currency of trade.
Most likely there will be restrictions on movement. Gas will be in short supply and expensive.
Now, I sure hope saner heads will prevail in this building concern with North Korea. We will not do well with a nuclear war.
I hope We The People have a better memory in the next election and actually participate and vote to remove Congressional representatives who fail at their job. No one should be returned to office who has not demonstrated their responsiveness to their constituents.
I hope anyone in places where there can be warning of a coming devastation like a wildfire or a hurricane can calmly and safely get their loved ones to safety. As hard as it is to lose “everything”, no matter how precious they are, they are THINGS. You can rebuild.
I hope people in places where devastation has occurred can remember they are part of the Family Of Man and will open their homes to provide shelter and sustenance to people who have lost everything.
I hope you feel compelled to speak to your morals and ethics when others are showing their fear in hatred to a minority. When we remain silent, perhaps out of fear that we will also be attacked, we condone the attack.
I hope you know first hand how cooperating with others may not bring you the riches you dream of, but allows you “enough” as well as the ability to understand we each need “enough”.
I pray that any loved one serving in the military comes home safe and sound, and if not, you stay patient to give them the succor they require. As difficult as it is to lose the someone you knew to a altered person, love can help bring them around. A sense of trust and safety can provide the way.
I urge you to start digging a bit deeper for information that shapes your opinions. So many of us do NOT read across the spectrum nor any news sources from overseas, but those are the only ways you can know if the information you are being fed is accurate. Also, if what you are reading is using inflammatory language, if the article tells you what to think, it is an editorial, not a news article. News articles must explain who, what, why, where and how and leave you thinking.
As for the political parties, the ONLY way we can gain change is for everyone to get involved. Simple. And please realize that the place your voice REALLY counts is on the local level. You want to see changes, get involved in your town.