Rants and word choices

It has been a while since I have posted anything.  Life has been a little on the crazy side for me.  It is long past due.

So, I was reading Facebook yesterday. One of my Facebook friends who I consider quite right wing posted a “rant”. He’s been off Facebook for a while, and came, and posted a “rant”.

One of the people who commented on his rant mentioned the word “libturds” And I’m mulling over this, thinking “this is what is wrong with this country. This type of rant, the use of words like “libturd” – maybe I should post about this…and then I stopped.

Whoa.

Wait a minute.

I am calling his post a rant. I am thinking that it is totally and completely out of bounds. I am saying that this type of thing is responsible for the hatred, the negativity in the country. But what was I just doing? By choosing the word “rant” – doesn’t that set up a implication in someone’s mind?

Was he really ranting?

What about MY word choices?

So I went back and reread it. No. He wasn’t really ranting. He made one sentence in this paragraph that, possibly, could be considered rant-like – maybe.   I don’t believe that sentence is true – but if he chooses to believe that people who follow the policies of the Democratic politicians that he named are not thinking, and are blindly following the party line, that is a personal belief.  The same thing can be, and has been said about Trump followers.  Did I agree with what he said? No. I would like to believe that I think about things, and research stuff.  I don’t agree with everything that the party line Democrats support.  Did he have a right to say it? Absolutely. Was it a rant? On reflection, no, not really.

It was a statement of opinion that, for the most part, stayed away from personalities, name calling, and what I consider ugliness. Would I have contributed to the problem by referring to his post as a rant? Absolutely. Words have power. The use of words can sway, can influence in ways that we don’t even realize. He was not ranting – but with my words I could influence people into viewing his post with a sense of negativity before they even read it.

Now, as far as the person who responded with the use of the word “libturds” – that person has influenced me into believing that she is expresses herself in ways that hurt issues at hand. As someone who would probably be described as a “libturd” by some people, even though I don’t know her, I now have a much lower opinion of her intelligence and use of words. I now have the impression of her that she is the type of person who makes things worse, who builds walls created by ugly words. Why would I want to listen to what she has to say?

And with that I have to wonder – how many times have my own word choices given that impression to others, about me?

Words have power. Use them wisely.

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Look for the good…

Well, it is that time of year again.  The time of year to think about resolutions.  I’ve already made mine.  I’ll say what they are later.  But first, I want to tell a story.

A man was working on his yard and visiting with one of his neighbors.  He lived next to a house that was being sold.  An open house was held for interested buyers.  Several people came by to see it, and one of them stopped to ask him a question.

“What type of people live in this neighborhood?”

The man answered with a question of his own.

“What type of people lived in the area that you came from?”

“Oh, they were horrible!  We couldn’t get along with anyone.  Kids were out at all hours, making noise.  Dogs barked, cats chased birds and yowled at midnight, yards were a mess, with unchecked weeds…when we complained, no one ever did anything about it.  We are very glad to get out of that area!”

“Well, you will probably find the same type of people here.”

“Oh.  Well, maybe we will keep looking for a better place.”

A little while later, another person asked him about the people in the neighborhood.

Again, the man asked,

“What type of people lived in the area that you came from?”

“Oh, we had the greatest neighborhood.  Everyone knew everyone else.  It was so safe, the kids could play outside for as long as they wanted.  It was pet friendly, and almost everyone had a dog or a cat.  One of our neighbor’s kids would bring everyone dandelion bouquets from their yard.  I am really going to miss our neighbors and our neighborhood.”

“Well, you will find people are about the same here.”

“Really?  Oh, that is wonderful!  I can tell we will feel right at home.”

As she left, the man’s friend, who had heard both answers, was confused.

“I don’t get it.  One person had a bad neighborhood, and you said this would be like that one.  The other person had a good neighborhood, and you said this would be like theirs. How can the same neighborhood be bad for one person, and good for another?”

“Ah, you see, it isn’t the neighborhood at all.  It is in the perception, and what the person looks for.  The first person looked for the negative.  She found it in her neighborhood, and she would find it here.  The second person looked for the positive.  She found it in her old neighborhood, and she will find it here.”

The story has an important lesson.

It doesn’t matter if you look for the good, or the bad.  Whatever you look for, that is what you will find.

I had a friend tell me recently that I always seem to look for the good in things.  That is something that I always try to do.  My father used to tell me that every cloud had a silver lining.  If I expect the bad, if I look for the bad, that is what I will find and see.  I would far rather look for the good, because eventually, I will find it.

So.  New Year’s resolution.  For the last several years, my New Year’s Resolution has been simply to Do More.  This past year, I have submitted a few more stories, sold a few more articles, lost a little more weight, exercised a little more, thrown away a little more stuff, done a little more repair work on the house I live in.  I have done more.

This year’s resolution is the the same as last – to do more.  But this year I am adding something specific:  Do more looking for the good.  I know I will find it.

 

 

 

More Alternate Truths…

Well, I am very excited and happy to announce that I’ve had another story published.  It is in the book More Alternative Truths, available at Amazon.

I will be very honest – I wrote a story for this anthology, not because I was politically motivated, but because I need money.  I have a couple of Facebook friends who have stories in the first volume, Alternative Truths.  One of them happened to mention that the first one had done so well that the publisher was going to publish a second volume, and had a call out for stories.  Somewhere around the same time, or maybe a little after, my other friend mentioned that she had gotten her royalties for the story she had in the first book.  And the amount she mentioned was enough that I decided to submit a story to the second volume.  So, not politically motivated, at all.

However, as I was pondering what I wanted to write about, I started remembering some of the things my dad said to me before he passed away.  My dad was a sociologist and a counselor.  He studied people, governments, civilizations.  Retirement did not stop his interest in how people acted, what the politicians were doing, how the world was faring.  And my dad started making predictions to me, based on his knowledge of how civilizations grew and died, and how people tended to act and/or respond.

His predictions were accurate.  And scary.

I knew about class riots in America before Occupy Wall Street.  I knew about race riots in America before Ferguson.  I knew there would be police assassinations two years before Dallas.  I knew about the refugee situation in Europe, quite some time before it happened.  When that started making the news, my dad looked at me and said, “I really thought we had another generation to go before this.”

The last two predictions that my dad made haven’t really happened yet.  Maybe.  He told me that if Trump was elected – and he passed away before he saw it – that America would go up in flames.  I asked him how, and he said he didn’t know if it would be internal revolution – which he said America was ripe for – or if Trump would get us into another World War.  That is a scary thought.

He also told me that my knowledge of herbal medicine would make me a valuable commodity – “soon.”  That prediction frightens me even more.

In thinking about my father’s wisdom and predictions, my story suddenly coalesced into shape and form.  What would happen if the Affordable Care Act was completely repealed?  If things like being overweight or having asthma were “pre-existing conditions” with corresponding extra large premium payments.  I thought of a relative who stays alive with very expensive gamma globulin treatments.  Where would he be, if his family did not have insurance? What happens to diabetics when insulin costs a thousand dollars for a week’s supply?  I pondered this, and had my own vision of the future.

And suddenly, I was writing “The Healer”.

Only, unfortunately, while my story is set about six years into the future, the reality of it is present today.  I was describing the background of my story to a member of the medical profession.  Every sentence that I said, she said something along the lines of “But that is already happening.”  “We already have this going on today.” “This is real, not fiction.”  The elements that form the background of my story are very real and present, not in the future, but today.

When my story was accepted for this book, I was thrilled and excited.  While writing my story was not politically motivated, it became a tribute to my father’s memory, and especially his wisdom.  As I was writing my story, I remembered our many discussions on life, politics, America, the world, life after death, religion…so much.

But my story is only one of many.  When I was sent the full author’s list, my jaw dropped.  There are award winning authors in this book – people whose books and stories have been on my shelves for years.  I have the magazine (1982, I think) that David Brin’s novella “The Postman” is in.  It has been read and reread.  It is on my list of stories or books that I like to read when I am depressed, because they give me hope.  I also have the expanded novel – and that has been reread, as well.  Jane Yolen – as a story teller, I was definitely acquainted with the folk story books she has edited – and as an early childhood teacher, I am also familiar with the children’s stories she has written.  I used one of David Gerrold’s books as a reference for a term paper I did in college on Star Trek.  That was back in the 70s.  Mike Resnick.  Esther Friesner.  Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.  Vonda N. McIntyre.  So many more.  People whose stories and books have been in my library for years and even decades.  It is so hard for me to describe how I felt when I found that my story was accepted with these amazing writers.  I still find it hard to believe.

Of course, the editing helped.  Lou J. Berger, Rebecca McFarland Kyle, Phyllis Irene Radford, and Bob Brown – it is amazing how good editing can tighten a story.  I hadn’t realized how much passive language I had used in it until I got back the first edits.  You can learn a lot about how to write from a good editor.  And of course, as they are writers as well as editors, you can read some of their works in this book.  Rebecca has a story in The Ladies of Trade Town.  I met her in person at the book launch event – because the first story that I ever sold, “The Oldest Profession?” is also in that book.

The stories, poetry, songs, and essays in this book vary widely.  Some will make you laugh.  Some will make you cry.  They all will make you think.  I have not read all of the stories yet.  I am stretching it out, savoring each one.  Laughing out loud at one story, wiping my eyes and swallowing hard at another.   Concentration camp trains, ghosts,  witches, taxes and the Ten Commandments – as edited by Trump.  All that and more can be found in this book.

So far, my favorite is a piece of poetry, “A Sonnet on Truth (after Spinoza)” by Philip Brian Hall.  I think one of the reasons that I like it so much is that a couple of weeks ago, I posted something on Facebook about truth, and how we only see what we want to see.  I also tell a version of a story that may be found in one of those books of Folk Tales that Jane Yolen edited.  When I tell it to children, I ask them what they think it means.  One child answered “When you believe something is true, everything you see will reinforce that belief, even when it isn’t true.”

Ray Bradbury once wrote, “I am not an optimist.  I am an optimat behaviorist, which means every day I write and create and in creating, help to change the world, I hope, for the better.”  It is my hope and prayer that maybe enough people will see the vision of the world that this book presents – and will start to work to change that future for the better.

Or at least, maybe a few more people will start to learn about the medicinal properties of herbs.  I know I am going to continue my studies…

In the meantime, please buy this book.  https://www.amazon.com/More-Alternative-Truths-Stories-Resistance/dp/0998963437/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1510729225&sr=8-1

Book cover More alternative truths

Being a Man, Being a Woman…

This is a warning.  This post will probably be politically incorrect.  There is a bit of Bible talk in it.  You have been warned.  Read at your own risk.

As I was decluttering in my office recently, I ran across a book that I had forgotten I had purchased.  I bought it at a used book store for two reasons, first, because I liked the book – “Captains Courageous”, by Rudyard Kipling, and second, because of the edition it was.  Classic Press put out a series of books, really for kids, I think, of some classic literature.  They were heavily illustrated, but what I really liked about them, even as a kid, was the fact that in the margins they had notes of interest and definitions for some of the more obscure things that were mentioned in these classic books, that might be less known at the time of their printing, which, for this book, was 1969.  The other thing about these editions was that they also included more information at the back of the book, in this case, a brief bio of Kipling, and a brief discussion of the history of sailing boats.  My parents had purchased me some of the books from this series when I was a kid, but I did not have this one, so when I found it at a used book store, I bought it.  It had gotten buried on a bookshelf, and when I uncovered it, I read it.

If you have never read the story, the basic plot centers around a spoiled millionaire’s son who falls off a luxury cruise ship.  He gets picked up by a fisherman, and the captain of the fishing boat doesn’t believe him when he says his father will pay him good money to take him back home.  So, he spends the fishing season on the boat, and learns to be a man.

While reading the info section at the back of the book, I ran across a couple of sentences that I have been pondering over and mulling over ever since.

“Modern man usually jettisons the baggage of the past, only to find later that he has lost something of value that he cannot replace.”

and

“By pitting the best in a boy – his wits, his courage, his strength – against the mightiest forces in nature – the wind and the sea – the boy soon is made a man.  That journey into manhood is as lost to us today as are the men who were made that way.”

Now, I consider myself somewhat of a feminist – in the sense of “Why would I want to be equal to a man?  Why should I give up my superiority?”  That is somewhat of a joke.  But men and women are NOT the same, and in some things, we should NOT be treated the same way.

In others, we should be treated the same.  I believe in equal pay for equal work, for example.  But if a male firefighter has to be able to carry a 200 pound man out of a fire, a female firefighter should meet those same requirements – and they should not cry “discrimination” if they don’t get the job because they can only carry 150 pounds.  If a particular job has a specific requirement for men, that same requirement should apply to women – it should not be made a lesser requirement just because of gender – or race, either, for that matter.

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes in Women’s choice – but who is against abortion.  I just believe it should be the woman making the decision, not the state.

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes that a woman’s place does not have to be in the home – but that the full time job of HOMEMAKER is one of the highest callings a woman can aspire to.

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes a woman should be allowed to do or be anything for which she is physically and intellectually, but who always wanted to be June Cleaver, with the clean house and cookies and milk for the kids after school. (I never achieved that particular dream)

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes that daddy can and should take care of babies – but if mommy doesn’t want to actually breast feed, I certainly hope that she is at least willing to express her milk for a minimum of six months to give her child the best start in life that it can have.

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes that a nursing mother should be able to nurse her baby anyplace, anywhere – but please use a nursing blanket out of respect for those who believe that the sight of a milk-engorged breast is either immoral or sexually arousing.

And…

I am somewhat of a feminist who believes the men should be in “touch with their feminine side” but should stay completely masculine at the same time.

Some of the past standards of behavior need to be demolished.  The ideas that “real men don’t cry” for example, is a bunch of hooey.  Real men cry – but they pick themselves up and go on.  Real men have emotion – and are not afraid to show it, in a healthy way.  Real men are strong – but are not afraid to ask for help when they need it.  Real men are leaders – but are not afraid to ask for suggestions and even change their mind about things.

I see lots and lots of stuff in the news, comments from friends, about victims – and how we are creating a society of victims.  I am not sure if we are creating a society of victims or not.  There are lots of things that are out there that do “victimize” people, whether we want to admit it, or not.  But what I do think is and has happened is that we have created a society where men are not allowed to be men.

We have a society that teaches men, not to be assertive, in a good way, but to be aggressive.

We have a society that teaches if you don’t agree with me, you are stupid, and shouldn’t be alive.

We have a society that teaches if something is wrong, the best way to fix it is with violence.

We have a society that has turned men, the ones that should provide comfort and strength to those in need, into either violent aggressive malefactors who brutalize those around them, or passive wimps who are not willing to stand up for or to anything or anyone.

I am aware that this is a generalization.  I am aware that not every man falls into the aggressive or passive category.  And I know that there was plenty of brutality from men of the past.

But still – something is wrong with this society.  And I think that part of the problem is that we have lost the proper (here it gets religious) Biblical ideas of what a man and a woman should be, and how their relationships should be.  This is from Ephesians 5.

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

A lot of people have used verse 23, Women are to submit to their husbands, to justify abuse of  women, or to justify men as the absolute rulers of the home.  That is NOT the intent of that verse.  Husbands are the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.  What did Christ do?  Let’s see, he healed.  He forgave.  He died.  They totally ignore verse 22 – where we are told to submit to each other.  Verse 22 sounds a lot like the men are supposed to do as much submitting as the women.   And they also ignore verse 25 and 28.  Love your wife as Christ loved the church?  Are you willing to die for your wife? Love your wife as you would your own body?  Do you hit your own body?  Do you insult it?  Do you ignore it?  Do you yell at it?  Betray it?  I hope not.  I hope you care for your body, feed it, do the things that it needs to be healthy.  And notice verse 33 – men are told to love their wives.  Wives are told to respect their husbands.

Now – what would happen to society if all the men were to love their wives?  And what would happen to society if all the women were to treat their husbands with respect? And if both men and women submitted to each other?  And most importantly – what would happen to our children, our sons and daughters – if that was the role model that they had? If a boy saw his father treat his mother with love and honor, how do you think he would treat women as he grew up?  If a daughter saw her mother treat her father with respect, how would she treat men?  And how would that influence their choice in a partner?

Personally, I think that if that were to happen, a lot of good things would start happening in society.

So – why did those quotes from that book get me to thinking about this?  Because there was a time in the past, when many men were taught to treat women with consideration.  There was a time in the past when many women were taught to show respect to men.  There was a time when certain family values were important – it didn’t matter what your race or nationality was – certain things were taught, like respect for your elders, consideration for others, reflection before action…

I am somewhat of a feminist, who believes that men should be taught to be real MEN, and women should be taught to be real WOMEN.  We need to be taught that we are different, and because of that difference, we are not and should not always be treated equally.  But we should always be treated fairly.

We all need to be fair, to be considerate, to be respectful to others, to speak up for the abused, to be assertive, without being aggressive.  We women need to respect our men.  We men need to respect our women.  And both of us need to learn when to submit “out of reverence to Christ.”

Well, these obscure thoughts trailed along paths that I didn’t know I would travel when I started.  Maybe some other day I will follow the path that I thought I was on…hope you enjoyed the thoughts, anyway…

Church – is it the building? Or the people?

I went to church today.  It has been a long, long time.  While I pray daily, and read and study scriptures regularly,  I have only been to church a handful of times in the last two to three years.  I think that today was only the second time that I’ve taken communion since the day before my dad died.

It has been over a year since I attended the church that I still think of as my “home” church. It has been closer to 3 years since I attended any church at all on any kind of regular basis.  I have not been out of fellowship with God.  But during the last few months of my father’s illness, I did feel abandoned by Christian leadership – an elder that I had turned to for help, and was refused.  And when my father died, and I no longer had the responsibility of weekend care for him – I thought “ah – I can start going back to church” – and I didn’t.  For over a year, now, save the rare visit to another congregation, I have not attended church.

I didn’t understand why I wasn’t going back to church.  I enjoyed church.  My home church had an awesome preacher.  I had friends at church.  But I found it so much easier to simply not go.  To sleep late.  To allow the headache to keep me home.  Even on days that I actually got up, got dressed – I would find myself listening to a sermon on the radio, rather than get in the car and go.

I simply didn’t want to go to church.  And as I pondered this, I realized that I felt hurt, abandoned, and angry over the fact that the elder that I had asked to arrange – not to do it himself, but to put up a sign-up list – to bring me and my father communion had turned me down.  At the point in time that I asked this elder, this church leader, about arranging communion, my father and I had not been to church in almost a year.  My father had reached the point in his illness that he needed someone at the house all of the time.   Unless I was out of town on business, I usually was at dad’s house on Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, and Sunday, plus other times during the week.  When he felt up to it, I would drive him to his church.  He had not felt up to going to church for nearly a year.  We both missed communion.  My father’s congregation was very tiny.  Some services, less than 30 people in attendance, and mostly female.  My congregation was much much larger – hundreds of people.  So I asked an elder if he would set up a sign-up sheet for people to bring us communion.  I said “Once a month, even, is better than nothing.”  And he said no.

As I pondered why I wasn’t going back to church, I realized that this sense of betrayed trust from a person whom I respected as an elder and leader of my home church, had resulted in a deep hurt and hidden anger that I had not allow myself to acknowledge.  And this hurt and anger was a huge reason why I felt no desire to return to services.  So I started working on it.  I prayed about it.  I talked about it to my counselor.

And finally, today, I went back to church.

The singing was great.  The sermon was inspirational.  The announcements…

Well, some things had happened, that I hadn’t even noticed.  One of the things that I had always liked about this congregation was the fact that it has tended to be a little more casual in some ways.  People could bring water bottles in with them.  Or travel cups of coffee.  Little snacks for their children.  I’ve always thought that was rather nice.  But today, one of the announcements was that the church had replaced the pews and the carpets recently, and in order to keep them looking nice for as long as possible, do not bring any food or drink into the sanctuary.

I looked around.  I had seen the new decorations on the wall behind the pulpit.  I had not even noticed that the carpet and pews were different.  I had been more interested in people, rather than in furnishings.  When I looked around at the new carpet and pews, I saw several water bottles that people had brought.  And the thought crossed my mind…

Is church the building?  Or is it the people?

And that thought reminded me of another congregation in the area, of the same non-denomination as my “home” church.  Several years ago, I saw that they were putting barriers up over the driveways into the parking lot.  Now, I thought at first that maybe they were going to be sign posts.  But no signs appeared on them.  After pondering what they might be, I actually called the church to find out if my supposition was correct.  To my immense sadness, it was.

They were putting up barriers to prevent tractor trailer rigs from coming onto their parking lot.  They were afraid that such heavy vehicles would tear up their parking lot and they would have to spend money on repairs.  My first thought was “What a wasted opportunity for evangelism.”  My second thought was “I wonder if that is what Jesus would have done.”

Jesus ate with publicans and sinners.  Jesus took opportunities to teach.  Jesus gave us a law of love – to love all people, everywhere, to do good to those who harm us.  He spoke on beaches, hill-sides, in people’s homes, in the synagogues, by wells…where ever he was, he taught and he healed, body and soul.

Is church the building?  Or is it the people?

If church is the building, then by all means, let’s spend money on decorations.  Let’s spend money on carpets and new cushioned pews.  Lets spend money on barriers to keep out people that we don’t want in.  Let’s put rules and regulations into place designed to keep things looking pretty.  Let’s build huge churches, so everyone will know we are there.  Let’s ban water for those who are thirsty, and food for those who hunger.

If church is the people?  Let’s meet their needs, whatever they are, in the best, most loving, Christ-like way that we can.

Is church the building?  Or is it the people?

 

Racism, Violence, Prejudice – thoughts on Charlottesville

This is going to be a bit rambling. They are some thoughts that I have had over the last few days. I suspect that some of my friends will not agree with everything that I am about to say. Oh, well. Feel free to comment – but keep it civil.
Now, those who know me, know that I am not a fan of Trump. But there have been some things that I have seen and read the last few days that has got me thinking.
 
I have not seen all the news. I have not seen all the analysis. I have seen stuff from the far right, which I distrust – especially since most of it was just words, and not actual video. I have seen stuff from the far left, which I also distrust. I have seen a little stuff from more mainstream sources. I do not know who actually started the violence. I saw videos of black people being beaten by the white supremacists. I saw videos of people being sprayed with mace or pepper spray, or rinsing out their eyes, and said that they had been sprayed by the counter protesters. I saw a video of a spray can being used as a flame thrower against the supremacists. I heard reports of urine being thrown on people from both sides.  I saw a video of a White supremacist pulling gun after gun out, that he had taken to the protest; I heard reports of Antifa and BLM people also coming armed, although I did not see any video of that.  And, of course, there was the attack with the car that resulted in a death and several injuries, and a video of a white supremacist saying the deaths were justified.
 But from what I did see, when Trump said there was violence on both sides – he was right. No, not all of the counter-protesters were violent – in fact, many of them were unarmed and peaceful. But not all of them. I don’t know who actually started the violence – but there is enough video evidence to show there was violence on both sides.
 
When Trump said there were good people on both sides of that event – he was right. I have heard of people, from their own testimony, who were taught to be racist. As they grew, however, and came to know people of other racists, they realized that the belief they had been taught as a child was not a valid one. And they changed. Who knows how many of those marchers might be like that?  Basically good people, who were fed a horrible lie from the time they were young?
Also, from what I understand, there were people there, not because they are racist, or believe that white people are better than anyone else, but because they do not believe the Civil War statues should come down. It is a part of our history. These statues are of people who often were war heroes before the Civil War. Some of them fought in the Civil War – not because they were fighting for slavery, in fact, in some of my historical studies, I have come across the statement, more than once, that some people who fought for the South were actually against slavery, but they were loyal to their state. I understand why people want to take certain statues down – but I also understand why people who are NOT racist or supremacists want to leave them up. There is an old saying – those who do not remember their history are doomed to repeat it.  Some people say that we need to keep these reminders so it never happens again.  George Washington was a slave owner, as were many other of our founding fathers – do we take their statues down, also?
 
Finally – Trump said “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” And that wasn’t enough for people. And when he specifically named the KKK, etc, “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.” He was criticized for taking so long to condemn those groups. One of the statements that he made was that he was trying to take the time to get all of the facts. So – I have seen Trump criticized for commenting before he has the facts – and now I have seen him criticized for waiting to get all the facts.  You can’t have it both ways – if you are going to criticize him for speaking too soon, how can you criticize him for waiting?
 
Unfortunately, in America, the fact that I have a primarily non-Hispanic Caucasian background has automatically made my life easier than my friends who are not Caucasian.  I know this – how? Because I have, in a small way, experienced racial prejudice.  
My parents were strong advocates for equality. My dad believed that “In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free.” He taught me to believe that we are all brothers. That our differences should be celebrated – but that we are all family. He did a lot of work behind the scenes to get the local college to integrate.  During the time of the Little Rock Nine, our city, an hour away, had a peaceful integration process – and part of that credit goes to my father.  I grew up with my father being the white preacher of the black Church of Christ in our town.  When my mother realized that no camp in the area allowed black children to attend, our property became a day camp for the local community. Years later, my father told me how their involvement in the black community had hurt my mother’s social life – my parents suffered prejudice because they believed in equality.  
While in my home town, I didn’t feel the effects of my parent’s involvement in Civil Rights, in the late 60s, I personally was affected.  We lived in Starkville, MS for two years while my dad was getting his PhD.  My mother was one of the first two white teachers to teach in the black school system.  KKK burned a cross in the other teacher’s yard – we spent the rest of the time wondering if they would do it to us, also.  The local Church of Christ basically told us that the children – mom’s students – that we were bringing to church (at their request) were not welcome – we found a denomination to worship at that didn’t care what color you were.  I don’t remember the piano in the sanctuary ever being played, but it was the first time in my life that I went to a church that had one – but equality in Christ was more important to my parents than the possibility of instrumental music.  And school for me – 5th and 6th grade – let’s just say that children can be cruel, and because of where my mother worked, I was the recipient of that cruelty on an almost daily basis –  I was called ugly names, ostracized, pushed around, and more.  Those two years in Mississippi are among the worst in my life.  So, I cannot claim to know what it was like to be the victim of prejudice on an ongoing, daily basis, but I do have a small taste of it.  
And it is wrong.  We are all brothers (and sisters).  We are all family.  If you are a Christian, Christ died for all of us – equally.  If you are not a Christian – we all bleed the same color, have the same type of internal organs, and all women share the same mitochondrial DNA from a woman who lived in Africa.
Violence is not an answer to hatred and prejudice.  Violence is not an answer to someone who feels they are superior based on race.  Violence begets violence.  But what is the answer to violence?  The answer is love.  And it is hard, so hard to love someone who hates you.  But to respond with hatred and violence only creates a vicious circle, and one that will only spiral down into a worsening situation.
Martin Luther King, Jr said it well:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
And for the believer, Jesus said it even better:  “Love your neighbor.”  And the example he gave made it clear that your neighbor is not just the person who lives next door, who looks like you – rather, your neighbor is anyone in the world that you come across.
The only way to solve problems of prejudice, hatred, violence – is with love and understanding.

Happiness is a memory of my sister…

I am reading a new-to-me book right now.  1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently.  It is by Marc & Angel Chernoff.   It is a series of articles, quotes, and thought provoking questions.   Some of it is very repetitive – I’ve read the same paragraph, with just a little difference, at least three or four times now, in different chapters.   Considering how repetition is so important in retention, this is actually a good thing.

One of the pages is titled “Happiness questions to make you think.”  One of the questions is “What is your happiest childhood memory?”  When I read that, I had three memories flash through my mind, almost simultaneously.  One of those memories was of the times my mother told us bedtimes stories.  She TOLD us stories, she seldom read to us – at least, not that I remember.  I am a storyteller today, and I attribute a lot of my skill to listening to my mother as a child.  I loved those bedtime stories.

The other two memories both involved my sister.  I found that very interesting.  You see, usually when I think of my sister and my childhood, I tend to think of sibling rivalry, resentments, favoritism (we both thought the other was the favored child), fights – a lot of negatives.  I am not used to thinking of childhood memories of my sister in connection with happiness.

So when TWO of my three happiest memories involved my sister, I was surprised, to say the least.  I enjoyed remembering those times.

We lived out in the country.  Our nearest neighbors were half a mile away, on either side of us.  We had grass that, when we were much younger, literally grew above our heads, and even as we grew taller, it was still chest and waist high.  We used to play hide and seek in the grass.  We created tunnels and secret passageways.  We played house.  I can remember flattening a section of grass and putting towels down on the ground and sunbathing together, with grass walls rising around us.  Playing in the tall grass with my sister, and sunbathing with her, is one of my happy memories.

The other one?  We had a lake.  Our dad built a floating platform out in the middle.  When we got older, mom would (reluctantly) let us go down together to swim – without obvious adult supervision.  And I remember skinny dipping in our lake with my sister.  We didn’t do it often, but that is one of the happy memories of my childhood.

And that third memory?  Of mom telling us stories?  Well, for a long time, we shared a room – so my sister was part of that, as well.

Wow.  “What is your happiest childhood memory?”  Three memories flash through my head.  My sister is in all of them.

Sometimes I think that we get stuck in the pain of the past, and forget the happiness that we had, as well.  I’m glad that I had this reminder of some of those happy times.

I love you, sissy.  Thanks for the good memories.