goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Our Heart is Sick

I start my mornings, when I have time, with a cup of coffee and the Internet. First, emails. Then, Facebook. I’m sitting here today in embroidered blue jeans and my tie dyed tee with fringes on its sleeves….about as “hippie” as my attire can get, I guess.  I select something from Pandora and find my attention caught by this music.  It got me thinking.

Thinking about the way our nation, our communities were in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We were as split and splintered as perhaps no other time since the Civil War. It was a time, like now, when a person’s political stance fractured families and friendships.  Even in myself, understanding the sense of patriotic pride that pushed some guys I knew to enlist and go off to what was most assuredly a blood bath, I had trouble balancing that sense of pride with the horror of what the war was doing to the people in VietNam and more importantly, the people who came back damaged by their experience.  We were cruel to our veterans who returned and many remain burnt out to this day. Others were proud of their service and resumed life. Still others were angry at the anger and so the split continued.

There has always been a crowd chanting 

and others proclaiming

We talked about a generation gap but no one really worked on healing the other divide. And so we who were teenagers when college students who were peacefully protesting were murdered have now become senior citizens. And the divide seems to be greater than ever.

When I heard the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song Ohio playing on Pandora it made me pause and I then had a very disturbing thought…and that is why I turned here to try to find a pathway through it.

Today, if we had a similar shooting by a government ordered militia of four kids on a college campus who were peacefully demonstrating would it stop the atrocity that they were protesting?

And I don’t think the answer would be yes today. Not any longer.

When a man gets dragged out of his reserved and purchased airline seat and people start posting things that are not perfect about his life as a way to discredit HIM, someone has lost their values.

When grieving parents of a fallen soldier offer the Presidential candidate a copy of the Constitution and then they are attacked for not being perfect, someone has lost their values.

When Congressional Representatives refuse to meet with their Constituents during a recess when time to schedule town halls is normal, someone has lost their values.

When there is growing evidence that our President is focused on personal gain and benefits for his peers in the uber wealthy, and his supporters criticize the messengers, someone has lost their values.

When friends stop talking to long term friends because there are differences of opinion, someone has lost their values.

My mom called the Baby Boomers the “me” generation. From her view she saw a lot of young people who wanted to break with conventional behavior and do “their own thing.” She felt this kind of individualism would move us into a broken community and while there are many benefits for people pursuing their pathway even when unconventional, there is a truism that if the focus is ONLY on the individual, the community loses.

As I drove south last week to go to the Shakespeare Festival held in Ashland, Oregon, I passed through the beautiful green fields of the Willamette Valley. One town, Junction City is a conservative stronghold in this very mixed region. At the southern edge of town in front of  a tire dealership, the owner often posts political statements. This one caught my eye and I laughed. “Snowflakes ahead” referring to the city of Eugene, a very strong liberal community.

Being called a snowflake is a trendy insult used by conservatives generally against anyone who thinks individuals have rights.  They say we are responding this way because our feelings are hurt and so they belittle us.  They don’t understand that it is not our own personal feelings that are hurt but an empathetic response for members in our community who have been hurt.  To me it implies short-term issues and perhaps a lack of intelligence. I tend to feel irritated when someone refers to me as a snowflake because I have been this way for …hmmmmm at least 5 decades that I can claim to my own thinking and reasoning.

The problem, though, is not what my cohort is called, but the fact that people prefer to demean and detract instead of trying to understand.

It gets down to core values.

If you feel people who suggest you read something and think about it makes you feel dumb, you have a self esteem problem.

If you feel people who expect women/Blacks/Latinos/LGBTQ/handicapped to have equal access and equal opportunity are causing you pain, you have a vision problem.

If you feel that there is only one way that is right, you have a navigator problem.

If you feel that people who are not wealthy are better than everyone else who then is worthless and there for you to use, you have a humanity problem.

If you feel that the homeless have done something bad and deserve their hard times, you have a cardiac illness.

As a society, as a community, we are sick and most of all, it is our heart that needs to repair.

Can we do it?

All I know is that if something horrendous like Kent State happens today, I wonder if will we react as a unified community, realizing we ALL must move off our spots to work together?

The short answer is….no. We did not act unified about Standing Rock. We did not act unified about Flint. We did not act unified about how Congress is dismantling laws that hold corporations responsible to make sure the water they spill into and the air they emit into stay clean. We have not acted unified about the idea that our government has been influenced by anther country over an election (as we have influenced countless other countries’ elections). We did band together pretty well a few weeks ago about health insurance but the power mongers are still wanting more more more and this fight is not over yet.  We have not acted united about how this President ignores rules and conventions of his office.

The longer answer is……perhaps we can. If we don’t lose our way even more first.

What do you think? Your comments show you are thinking…a very good sign.


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Secular Christianity in America

Believe it or not there are over 300,000 churches in the United States, with affiliation to about 217 different Christian Protestant denominations. While about 60% of people say they attend church each week, the number is really about 20%, thereby showing us the first crack: not walking the walk. After all, the Ten Commandments includes Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness…..in other words, DO NOT LIE.

So, what we have here is a situation where a lot of people claim they are Christian, but in reality do not even attempt to walk the walk. A lot of people claim Jesus as their Savior but few attend church any time other than Christmas and Easter and even then, attendance is not as full as in past decades.

America is no longer a Christian nation. It is a Secular Christian nation.

We have a lot of people storming the stores and knocking down anyone in their way on Black Friday to capture the deals, the better to pile presents under the Christmas tree.  We have people who know one verse and the chorus to Christmas carols but not the subsequent verses nor the story of the origin of the song.  We have a lot of people who have elaborate trees and lighting, not realizing these are traditions that are based in other belief systems. We have millions of people who truly believe the baby Jesus was born with cows looking over Mary’s shoulder and Mary, of course being perfect, did not have labor pains. Oh, they probably never thought of that.

We have people who stuff candy treats into baskets for their kids on Easter.  We have millions of kids who love the Easter Bunny and have no idea that anything else is being celebrated that day.

We have people whose comprehension of their religion is limited to the Sunday School stories they were told when they were little.  They don’t have the time or inclination for any Bible study and might really be amazed to try to reconcile the differences in the gospels if they ever did a side-by-side evaluation.

There are many people who believe there is a war on Christians because over the past few decades there has been a rising awareness that not everyone here in the United States is Christian. There are Jews. There are Muslims, There are Buddhists. There are Jehovah Witnesses. There are Mormons. There are (gasp!) atheists.  And in recognition of those other people, some communities realize that pushing JUST the Christian symbols is not the right thing. And so, Happy Holidays, which has been a saying that has been a part of American culture since the late 1800s, has recently become a nastygram to many. We have some people who believe snowmen on coffee cups are a sign that Corporate America is the Devil…it may be, but red and white decor is not the sign of that. starbucks-xmas-cups

Why are Christians feeling under assault where there is no problem?  I have no idea…maybe an inferiority complex that starts with color and sexual identity and goes on into church attendance and understand Jesus’ teachings.

Okay, who am I to be calling the kettle black right now? I am a secular Jew who has been attending church for 10 years with my Christian husband.  When he asked me if I would go with him I told him I would as long as I was respected. And his response was perfect, “If you are not respected we are in the wrong place.”

In the past 10 years I have attended 4 churches with him. One for 6 months when we were on sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado was my big introduction. There the choir members welcomed us and helped me understand the rituals. I focused on the similarities of the mass and of course, it made sense; Judaism is the root. If any church misses the Jewish root in their practice, they are not practicing anything close to what Jesus did.

The next seven years was in a church in Huntington, West Virginia. There were a few people who were a bit hesitant accepting me, but over a short time they saw I was not there to mock. The priest, when I attended a class, misinterpreted that I would want to be baptized afterwards. I told her learning is part of life, but did not necessarily mean complete acceptance of doctrine.

When we moved to Oregon we started in one church but moved to another because there was a lack of music as well as no real warmth of community. We found it more comfortable with another congregation across town.

So, four different settings. I’ll bet you I pay attention more than many. It is rote to most other congregants.

I have learned enough to be “dangerous”. I have attended about ten different study groups where I have caused lively conversation because my viewpoint is different. I have been told we are all imperfect so I should not expect people to walk the walk all the time.

I don’t expect people to be perfect. But I do expect people who loudly and publicly profess to be Christians to at least be NICE.

In reality, I have met only a few people I feel live their faith. They exhibit true acceptance and understanding of others without imposing their viewpoints on others.

However, I have also been told I am doomed to Hell by more that I care to count. My husband has been pulled aside and told he is responsible for saving my soul.   This is not the message that wins. This is a message that alienates.

And it alienates more than me. It alienates other people who claim to be Christian but just do not do something exactly as someone else thinks they should. And so, people stop attending church.

Numerous studies in this country indicate the biggest reason that Christianity is losing membership, active or passive, are the behavior of the “do it my way or you are doomed” people, most of them fundamentalists.

And many of them do not know the soul of their religion. They can spout chapter and verse but can not find the love.

And so, pass the fruitcake. The eggnog is ready.  Christmas is here.buddha-love

 


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A Next Step

Like many others I was hoping, but not expecting, the Electoral College to act in an unprecedented but authorized way to negate the Trump presidency. Had that happened, however, it would have opened other doors of unknown outcome, so maybe this is the best way.

This way, we can hold the incoming President to his Constitutional duties and responsibilities. We do have guidelines for that and will know when he inappropriately strays.  I expect he will stray, as his prior comments indicate he is not clear on much of what is ahead of him.

Meanwhile, enough angst. Each of us either feels distress now or will soon. Each one of us. The efforts of a Republican Congress backed up by this President will mean we have big changes ahead.  It is the anticipation of some of those changes that have people already upset. However, the rest will join the fray when program cuts begin to affect them. When campaign promises go by the wayside. When life does not get better for the many many people who expect the Federal government to fix things for them.

So, onward.

I have said often on my Facebook feed that I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to help retain the rights won by all of us to give equal access and protection of the law to all our citizens. I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to make sure the least of us continue to be helped regardless of any political stance.  I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to make a positive difference.

Back in 1970 when Earth Day was initiated I heard a slogan that resonated. “Think globally but act locally.” We know the earth has overwhelming issues, not only environmental but in every aspect of life.

Image result for think globally act locally

We have a choice, each one of us.

  • We can ignore and carry on, dong what we do that may help or hinder any situation, self-centered and choosing to stay apart from the community of the world.
  • We can get stirred by all the need in the world and affected so deeply we can’t deal with it, so we freeze, stuck in despair.
  • We can opt to get involved in one or two issues that deeply resonate. We may send money or sign petitions or write letters or emails or even show up at our state capitol to join a protest.
  • We can chose to get active in our own communities, making our voice and action count where it will show a difference.

I’ve done each of these. Earlier in my life I was focused on my own young adulthood and all that involved including building a career and raising a family. I had a nodding relationship with a few issues but not much money and not much time, so not much involvement.

I’ve been on listservs that overwhelm me with need. It seems that I receive more than 20 a day with hands outstretched asking for $1, $5, $25 or more. It was with extreme pleasure that I unsubscribed from almost all recently.

I sign petitions and sometimes post them on Facebook urging others to take the minute to add their  support. It seems to be the LEAST anyone can do.

Mostly, I am active here in my town. I have chosen three main areas and participate as much as I can. I do what I can, offer my skills to forward the mission of the group. I self impose a limit on what I feel I can do and ask for the group to respect that. (If the group doesn’t, as some have in the past, I moved my energy elsewhere.)

I hope by this example you can see how you might work through the coming years when so many of us feel what we have known about the United States of America will be changing. I plan to keep on keeping on. Joining with other like minded people empowers all of us. emplowerment


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When the Blue Line is Not Acting in the Public Interest

I believe we need police. There are people whose ethics are so debased that they do what they do whenever they want to do it and so, take advantage of people, destroy property, assault people and more. We need police to help protect us from them. To identify them and to hold them apart from society in order to protect society.

In the past year the police themselves have been targeted because of anger over unequal treatment by police of minorities. However, it is right and proper to condemn the attackers and support the people in blue who serve us. To mourn their killings and support their families in their loss.

But….sometimes, it becomes clear that law enforcement is serving private interests, not the law.  We saw it during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and now, we are seeing it again against the Indigenous People who are protecting the Missouri River.  Because the pipeline is being constructed by a corporation with profit forever as the primary motive, those people care more about their pockets than their future ability to obtain clean water, we are seeing the subversion of police to serve private needs over the public good.

Many of you know about the stand-off at the Dakota Access Pipeline. Many of you do not because it generally is not covered by the major media. Here is a New York Times article from the end of August which will present the issues at that time.map-standing-rock

The protesters initially were from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, located just south of the planned Missouri River crossing. They are protesting not only the destruction of some ancient heritage sites, but the very real possibility of an oil leak polluting the water so many people depend on for drinking.  Now, called Protectors, the people there include not only Indigenous People from all around the country but many allies of all races, cultures and religions that arrived even with cold weather to stand with them against the wrongness of police standing to protect private interests.

So now we have nonviolent protesters who have set up their camp in the way of the proposed pipeline.  We have nonviolent protesters who stand at make-shift barricades blocking the pathway.

standing-rock-police-pepper-spray-water-protectors-crossing-river-to-land-owned-by-pipeline-co-110216-by-reutersFacing them we have police from law enforcement agencies that are not only local but from across the country, suited up in riot gear.  They have used water cannons (similar to what was used to knock down peaceful protesters in the 1960s) in sub-freezing temperatures, causing many people to require hospitalization because of hypothermia.

 

They have used rubber bullets to shoot at people, causing injuries. The most heinous occurred two days ago when a young woman was hit in the arm which may need to be amputated. sierra-rubber-bullet-wb

 

The way this protest is being handled is in stark contrast to that of the Bundy group who invaded and took over a federally owned wildlife refuge. Not only did law enforcement officials give them a lot of room to move on and off the property, but it ended shortly after the police shot and killed one of the protesters.  The trial exonerated all the protesters, leaving us Oregonians scratching our heads, wondering why we tax payers need to cover all the damage they caused to the site itself.

The law enforcement presence in North Dakota is not being as strongly aggressive as they could be, thank goodness. If the bullets become standard and people start dying I believe this protest will not end. It will become even larger.

A line of police move towards a roadblock and encampment of Native American and environmental protesters near an oil pipeline construction site, near the town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Rob Wilson

A line of police move towards a roadblock and encampment of Native American and environmental protesters near an oil pipeline construction site, near the town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Rob Wilson

Now we hear that the Corps of Engineers will require the camp to be moved to a location south of the river to “protect” civilians from being hurt. Is that a veiled threat to say “you stay, you will pay”.  They were told they must vacate by December 5th.

My son-in-law is on his way there now. He has learned there are over 15,000 people with the Protectors. This is not some small protest. This is water versus gold. last-tree


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The Disvalue of Money

In an earlier chapter of my life I was married to a man whose parents had met in high school. Like many teens, their libidos ruled and there was no easy access to birth control in those days. Eventually they learned she was pregnant and their families supported them by permitting them to marry. In those days pregnant girls(even if married) did not attend school, so she earned her GED while he went on to graduate. The cards were stacked against them but they managed and both went to college, even as their family grew to include three kids by the mid 1950s.

They earned decent money and once all their kids had gone on to their own adult lives, they celebrated by buying a large house for huge family gatherings and they also got to travel. They were, by all measures, successful and living the American Dream.

I married one of those kids and found my in-laws to be a bundle of contradictions. They were surface loving and underneath judgmental.  Once, my mother-in-law asked me if I wanted this or that for dinner and not being a fan of one, I said I would enjoy the other. I got a sour face and was told she wanted to make the first. I thought, but didn’t ask, why she had bothered to ask me my opinion. Okay, you get the picture.

But they were very giving. They purchased tons of things for their children and grandchildren. If it was needed, or even just whined for, it was soon made available.

Money was easy

Ethical behavior was not.no-right-way

So, we all probably know someone like that. They give a gift…with strings attached. They do a favor for you once and you hear about it for years.  If they are an acquaintance, you can distance yourself. If they are family, you can’t.

And if it is your President Elect, you certainly can not turn a blind eye hoping things will improve. The man is who he is. It is easier for him to pay out 25 million dollars than admit he has been part of a fraudulent activity to take people’s money by offering them less than promised and purchased.

Think about it: 25 million dollars is chump change.calvin_ethics

We’re only starting here, folks. Be vigilant…and ready to act.

By the way, I am NOT saying all people who have money are unethical. There are poor people who are unethical. Middle income people who are unethical. All kinds of people with all kinds of money have all kinds of ethics.

I’m just saying I have seen this before, and it never improves. You’ve seen it too.

 

 


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The Pathway We Are On

As I go about my day, happy that we finally have some “free” time that we can pay attention to some delayed house cleaning, I found myself thinking of my friends who are on hard and rocky slopes right now. I want to send healing energy to

  • a man I have never met but I know of his good works. He suffered a devastating blow yesterday..maybe an aneurysm, the info on Facebook is not complete….and his wife and family and close friends are trying to hold him up through his pathway, in the hopes he circles back to them. I wish I could be there to nurture them as they help him.
  • a man I have never met but we connected through a mutual friend on Facebook and have been celebrating our commonalities and exploring our differences with love is also fighting a potentially life ending illness. His attitude is as upbeat as can be expected being in pain. I wish I was close enough to hold his hand, but he is not alone on his pathway, held by a loving wife.
  • a woman not too far away who seems to live under a dark cloud. She has had a number of hard blows in her life and the hits, unfortunately, still keep coming. I wish I had the means to make her dream possible, but I can’t do much to boost her pathway other than what seems to be empty hugs and platitudes.
  • another woman nearby who struggled to make her marriage work and was devastated this week when her husband moved out with no discussion. She knows I will be here as much as possible for her.
  • one of my sisters who after learning her landlord wanted to sell her longterm rental sought housing and lost first one and then seemingly a second house to purchase to unethical behavior of sellers. She finally has made her move and is in the throes of unpacking and finding a place for everything and sounds exhausted.
  • my other sister who also is figuring on moving and has to make considerable arrangements just to handle the packing and storage issue as she works out of town.
  • my children who have their own personal issues of delayed dreams as well as dealing with the turmoil caused by a family member. You always have a haven here.

There are so many people in pain, so many people whose pathways have so many roots and rocks tripping them.

People, realize we have no idea what strangers may be going through. Be kind.


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Love is Blind

We have a candidate for President of the United States of America which, despite some increasing dysfunction, is the voice of the free world. The President is a leader that the rest of the world watches, our allies and the ones that need careful handling. The President needs to be a person the nation and the world can respect.

So, this candidate has said that he can shoot someone on 5th Avenue in New York City and his followers would still love him. Love is blind.

This candidate has said he can not share his tax returns until the audit is over. The IRS says he can share them. He just says the same thing again. And his followers don’t care. Love is blind.

This candidate has said he believes the Department of Education can be mostly eliminated. He also has said he loves dumb people. His followers smile. Love is blind.

This candidate says that climate change is a hoax. That it is snowing so it must mean there is no global warming. (See above statement about loving dumb people.)  That he would eliminate the Department of Environmental Protection.  And his followers cheer. Love is blind.

This candidate says Hillary should have stopped Bill from his philandering. His followers ignore his own infidelities and think he is right. Love is blind.

This candidate says he will bring jobs back to America. No one questions why his own clothing line uses factories in Asia. At the first Presidential debate when asked how he would bring jobs back, he did not answer the question. He has no answer but his followers are not needing one. Love is blind.

This candidate says he is a great businessman which is hard to understand with countless business failures and a number of bankruptcies.  More stories are coming out about how he did not pay subcontractors to the point of causing their businesses to fail. But his followers are not those people so they don’t care. Love is blind.

This candidate has made it very clear that women are valued by their shapely bodies and big boobs. He denigrates women who have pointed out how his behavior is inconsistent with his words on issues.  He did not like how a moderator asked questions during a primary debate so he made a comment demeaning her because she is a woman and has hormones. And his followers, including women, do not react. One told me he didn’t mean it. Love is blind.

This candidate says there are people with good genes and only they should have children. This is only one of many statements he has made that indicate his admiration for Hitler.  But his followers do not recognize themselves. Love is blind.

This candidate made behind closed door deals with Cuba during the United States embargo. He does not act as if laws apply to him. His followers find excuses to not care.  Love is blind.

This candidate thinks there are changes needed to the Constitution, including ending the balance of power between the three areas of government. (See above note about Hitler.) But his followers know only the Second Amendment and nothing more about the Constitution so are not concerned. Love is blind.

This candidate says that more nations should have access to nuclear weapons. In a world with so much anger, allowing weapons of mass destruction in more hands is not a way to a peaceful existence. But his followers are silent. Love is blind.

And why is love so blind?  Because of Killery, they say. Thanks Obama, they say.

These blind people are the ones who claim this is a Christian nation and there should be Ten Commandments in all courtrooms. Can they state them? Do they live by them?

And Jesus made it even simpler….bringing it down to TWO:                                                                        ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 
And
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

These blind people need new glasses.  And somehow, the ability to reason better.nohatebig