Monthly Archives: February 2016

What ever happened to civil debate and discussion?

It has finally happened.  I have joined the ranks of those unfriended on Facebook because of a political post that I shared.

This particular post that I shared was from Huffingtonpost.  It can be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeremy-nix/an-open-letter-to-my-frie_2_b_9293694.html

The post starts out “I’m cool with you removing me from your friends list if you don’t like this post.”   Now that is from the post itself.  When I shared it, I said “If you are a Trump supporter, you don’t have to remove me from your friend’s list. But I hope you read this and think about it.”

My former Facebook friend replied “That post was full of misquotes flat out lies and hate full speak. It is too bad people have to be so jealous of successful people. And I will remove you.”

I asked, both in response and by private message – which probably went to his “other” box, since he did, in fact, unfriend me, what were the misquotes and lies in the post.  I never got a response.

I am the kind of person who, in general, likes to fact check.  I have posted things that I found out later were wrong, and I posted the corrections.  I didn’t fact check this particular article – mainly because I had seen enough video clips of Trump saying these things that I figured it was fairly accurate in what it attributed to Trump.  So I asked my former friend for corrections.  He hasn’t given me any yet.

I try to maintain an open mind, and if I’m wrong about something in a factual sense, I truly want to know.  And if you want to try to change my opinion, which may or may not be a correct opinion to have, you have to do it with facts, with good arguments and civil debate.  Name calling, unsupported accusations of lies, and misquotes will not change my mind – in fact, it tends towards the opposite.  My former friend lost his chance to show me a different side of the story.  He chose to make accusations of “misquotes” and “flat out lies” without showing the proof of those lies and misquotes.  He chose to unfriend me in a bout of emotional anger – which is actually one of the things the article says – that Trump supporters are angry – rather than to use logic, reason, and fact to show me where the article was wrong.

Unfortunately, that seems to be a trend.  People in general seem to have forgotten that differences of opinion are OK to have.  You can still be friends and not agree on certain things.  Debate and discussion about those disagreements is great – as long as it stays civil.  Far too often today, disagreements means degenerating into name calling, personalities, misinformation, lies, misquotes, quotes taken out of context, and “hate full speak.”

Too many people read something, or see something, that is taken out of context or simply a down right lie.  But if it agrees with what they want or how they feel, they will not bother checking it out, not bother putting it into context – and woe betide anyone who disagrees with what they have decided is the truth.  It is far far easier to unfriend someone than it is to truly seek the truth.  It is far easier to simply spread a half-lie than it is to fact check.  It is far easier to believe something that you want to believe anyway, even if a simple google search will bring up all the information showing both the lies and the truths of the matter.

And I have found, to my personal sadness, that some friends, even when you can show them the true facts – both pro and con – about something, will persist in believing the lies that they have chosen.  Too often, these are also the people whose debate or conversation degenerates into name-calling, personalities, angry responses,  and “hate full speak.”

So, what has happened to civil conversation?  What has happened to proper debate, with facts, not misinformation? What has happened to the idea that disagreements, done properly, can actually be healthy instead of toxic?

Simply because someone disagrees does not make them an enemy, nor does it make them not a friend.

I wish my former Facebook friend understood that.

When someone you know has lost a loved one.

Disclaimer:  My father just passed away.  He was an awesome, awesome man.  Although this was expected, it still is very hard.  So that means that I am writing this in the middle of intense grief, and am prone to burst into tears at any minute.  It also means that my perspective on things are quite likely to be skewed right now.  Please keep that in mind while reading this.

So…

Someone dies.

People, friends, want to do something for the family.  So what do they do?

They bring food.    They may or may not have asked about food allergies first.

They say things like “He is in a much better place now.”  Well, that might be true – but we want him or her HERE.  With us.

“He isn’t in any more pain.”  No he isn’t.  But we are in immense pain.

“He died at home?  That must have been so hard.”  Harder than you can imagine, unless you have gone through it yourself.  But we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“If you need anything, just let me know.”  We are too numb to know what we need, and by the time we start thinking again, we don’t remember who said that.

“Is there anything I can do for you?”  Again, we are too numb to know what needs to be done, and by the time we think of it, we don’t remember who offered.

What do we really need?

Yes, food is really great.  Sometimes we have no appetite for it. I’ve taken a pair of pants out of my get-rid-of pile because I’ve lost enough weight over the last month that they fit again. But we know we need to eat in order to keep up our strength in order to do the things that we must.  Having people bring meals truly is wonderful – it means that much less that we have to worry about.  Even with no appetite, we will eat if something is brought to us.  And the food will come – for a couple of days, maybe, and then stop, usually long before we are ready to think about preparing food again.

We need hugs.  We need people willing to sit with us and just let us cry, maybe even cry with us.  We need emotional support, not just now, while it is fresh, but for many months to come.

What we don’t tell you?

Unless you have been there, we can’t possibly explain how broken we feel inside.  We will try to stay strong, to smile bravely through our tears – and save our collapse until we are all alone, or with the family members who are feeling the same way we are.

We will say thank you for the food, and you might not realize how very very much we mean that, because we are still numb, still fighting not to cry – but fixing food for our family is one thing we don’t have to worry about now, and that is so important.  But in our grief, we won’t be able to express how important that is.

On the other hand, sometimes we will say thank you for the food, and inside we wonder where the support was when our loved one was still alive and could have seen it.

We don’t, and probably won’t, tell you how this is affecting us financially.  But often, even for families that appear fairly well off, money is a real immediate need.  Unless you are family, or a very close friend, we won’t tell you that we are worried about money.  We won’t tell you that we haven’t worked a steady job in a long time in order to be available for assistance for our loved one.  We won’t tell you that we have taken the last few days, or weeks, or even months, off so we could spend what time was left with the person we love – but those days of not working will mean that we won’t have quite enough money for the electric or phone bill this month.  We won’t tell you that we are worried about the medical bills that have piled up.  We won’t tell you if we are confused by the whole social security issues – how many older women today know that things will change when their husband dies, but they don’t know in what way?  We won’t tell you that our husband, or father, or mother was a great provider when he or she was alive, but had no or little life insurance to cover expenses after they died.  We won’t tell you that we aren’t sure if we will be able to pay the mortgage of the house that our loved one had hoped to have paid off before they died.   We won’t tell you that we are worried about how long it will take to cut through any red tape in order to use any insurance that might be in place to cover the bills, the expenses.  We won’t tell you that the credit cards are maxed out, that we have been trying to figure out which bills can be postponed, which bills must be paid now, and which bills are no longer important.

So – How can you help when someone dies?

If it was an expected thing, a known illness – be there during the illness, with meals, hugs, listening ears and respite care.

Continue bringing food after the person dies.  And for a little while after the funeral.  Don’t just make it a couple of days – food can be comforting, and sometimes we need that feeling that someone is still there who cares.

If you don’t know what to say, simply say “I’m so sorry this happened.”

Offer to help with something specific. “I know you will be having a lot of relatives come in.  I would like to help you by mopping your floors.  When is the best time for me to come over?” “I am putting my name and my phone number on your refrigerator with a note to call me when you start to go through his clothes if you don’t want to do it alone.”

Clip out the obituary notice for out of town relatives who might like to have one.

Listen to the stories about that person – It is so bittersweet, but it helps to talk about them.  I find myself talking about dad to relative strangers.  While it might feel uncomfortable to the listener, it can be very important to the person who is grieving – even weeks and months after the death.

Pay a bill.  Or part of one.  You can do it anonymously, or you can do it openly.  Bring a check made out to a utility company, or a pre-paid debit card, or a gift card. There are always extra expenses involved in a death, and even a gift of $10 or $20 can help make a difference, especially if the family is poorer or have already been dealing with financial issues like lay-offs or no-pay work leave.

If you ask how they are doing, really mean it – don’t just ask socially.  And let the person know that it is more than a social statement – that you are really interested.

Continue bringing meals after the funeral, and take them out to eat once in a while – maybe not everyday, maybe not even every week.  But often enough so that they know someone is thinking of them.  Especially if the person is older and all alone.

Send a card on those special days – anniversaries, the deceased’s birthday.  Or call.  All you have to say is “I know today is probably extra hard.  I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you.”

Survivors frequently want to share stories of their loved one.  Often people are uncomfortable with that.  Listen anyway.  Ask questions.  Ask them to share a favorite memory.

Learn about the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, anger, and acceptance – and remember that we can go through them, and then back to one that we went through previously.  Some of us will go through the stages in different orders from others, and some will reach full acceptance earlier than others.

Please don’t say “You have grieved long enough – don’t you think you should be over this now?”  We will never get “over” it.  We can come to acceptance, we will eventually move on with our lives, but the death of a loved one will leave a lasting effect.

I invite anyone who has been through the grieving process to comment with tips and suggestions to help those who are newly facing this.

If you believe in God, have you wasted your life? NO!!

A friend posted something today on facebook.  It was a poster meme, with a red background, and it said “If I’m wrong about God then I’ve wasted my life.  If you’re wrong about God then you’ve wasted your eternity” Lecrae.

https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xla1/v/t1.0-0/p480x480/11205141_10152845360601179_4413137991245426747_n.jpg?oh=d39ca2df7e628e34ce01f705d1916eb9&oe=573CC105

Now, I appreciate the idea behind this thought.  I understand what this person is trying to say.  The only problem is, it is so wrong.  A belief in God, regardless of whether or not He actually exists, is not a waste.  The only way that believing in God would be a waste is if you believe that what is commonly considered “sin” is a preferred way of life.  Drunkenness, theft, murder, drug addictions, sex with whoever you want… If that is part of your value system, then, indeed, a belief in a God who does not exist would be a waste.

But I have found that a belief in God has done so much more for me.

Because I believe in God, I look for the good in people.

Because I believe in God, I have a more positive attitude about life in general.

Because I believe in God, I pray for strength – and I receive it.

Because I believe in God, I find the rainbow in the rain.

Because I believe in God, I believe that I can change for the better.

Because I believe in God, I continue to try.

Because I believe in God, I try to help others.

Because I believe in God, I stand back up, no matter how many times I fall down.

Because I believe in God, I have hope.

Because I believe in God…

I could go on and on.

Even if God does not exist, belief in Him is not a waste.  It is life.  It is strength.  It makes my life better in so many ways.

Because I believe in God…