Author Archives: mlaf2013

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…

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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.

Role Reversal

I have been pondering something the last few days.  I have been thinking about my children.

I have a certain attitude towards my kids.  I understand that this is a common feeling among parents.  I have tended to think of my children as just that – children.  I have all the memories of their childhood.  I remember all the times when they asked me for help, when Momma had the answers that they needed.

Even tho they are grown, I still have those memories that color our every interaction.  I still have the feeling of “Momma knows best.”

At least, until a few days ago.

I had the opportunity of visiting my oldest son’s work.  He is the assistant manager of a store chain that I frequent on a regular basis.  I was passing through his town, heading home from a business trip.  I stopped off to say hi, and to pick up a couple of things.  As I am just the mother, I got to wait while he assisted other customers.

I watched him answering questions, directing people to what they needed, competent, confident, and assured.

And I had a sudden thought – When did our roles reverse?

I was waiting for him – to ask for his advice and instruction.  When did that start happening?  When did that young boy, who came to me asking for help and directions, morph into the young man, that now I was asking for help and instruction?  Wasn’t it only yesterday that he was seven?  Twelve?

No.  That was years ago.

There are still subjects that my son will ask for feedback on, or information, or even help.  But now there are just as many times that I turn to him, for his expertise on something.

Role reversal.

He isn’t a boy anymore.  He has grown to a man.

A Social Media Experiment

According to Facebook, my activity for the last few days:

On Dec 29, I posted on my own timeline  6 times.  I commented on 19 posts.  I liked 7 posts.

On Dec 30, I posted on my own timeline 2 times.  I commented on 14 posts.  I liked 15 times.

On Dec 31, I posted on my own timeline 4 times. I commented on 15 posts.   I Liked 11 posts by others.

On Jan 1, I posted or shared 4 times on my own wall.   I commented on 12 posts. I liked 4 posts by others.

On Jan 2, I shared 2 comics to my wall.  I commented on 7 posts, I liked 7 posts.

Jan 3, I posted a birthday wish to a relative.  I made 1 comment.  I liked 2 posts.

Jan 4, nothing.

Jan 5, No timeline posts, 1 comment, no likes.

Jan 6?  Nothing.

Jan 7? Nothing

Jan 8?  Nothing

Jan 9? Nothing

Jan 10? Nothing

Jan 11?  A question on a business page.

Jan 12?  So far, another question on a different business page.

Between Dec 25 and Dec 31, 26 posts, 73 comments and 53 likes, for a total of 152 Facebook interactions for 7 days.

From Jan 1 until Jan 11, 8 posts, 21 comments, and 13 likes, for a total of 42 Facebook interactions for 11 days.  And 6 of those days I did not post anything.  I did send a couple of private messages to people.  I continued to play my Facebook games, but my game posts are set to me only, so they shouldn’t have showed up on my timeline.

I don’t believe I have ever gone that many days without posting on Facebook before.

Now, why did I suddenly stop my normal Facebook activity?  I got curious.

I was listening to news a few days ago.  On Wednesday, Dec 28, a young woman was live-streaming to Facebook when she evidently had some kind of seizure or heart attack and died.  Her toddler was present.  Her family said that over a thousand people were watching as their daughter died, and no one did anything about it.  She was at a friend’s house, and not found until the friend came home, some 30 minutes later.  According to the reports that I heard, although the screen had gone dark when she dropped the phone, the audio was still on.  You could hear her struggling to breathe, with the child crying in the background, until you can’t hear her breathe anymore.  The friend who found her was the one who turned the live stream off.

I thought about that.  I wondered – I have 491 friends listed on Facebook.  What would happen if I suddenly, without warning, disappeared?  Some of my other friends have gone dark, but they have usually given notice first – let their friends know that they were going to not be posting for a while.  I watch for them, and a few days later, they are back.

But what would happen if, without any notice, someone stopped posting?  Would anyone notice? If they did, how long would it take?  What would they do about it?  Anything?  Would they ask me if I was OK?  Would they comment on my wall?

One of my posts at the end of December I talked about the fact that I was climbing on a very shaky ladder, and I wished someone was with me in case it fell over.  I am a fairly solitary person.  I live out in the country, and while I have family living nearby, we don’t interact on a daily basis.  If I were to fall or hurt myself, how long would it take before anyone would notice my absence?

I decided to go dark on Jan 2.  I realized on Jan 3 how hard that would actually be – I was still reading Facebook.  There were so many things that I wanted to comment on, that I wanted to like.  I was tagged on posts that I wanted to respond to, but didn’t.  I wanted to share things.

I had not realized until this past couple of weeks how much I use Facebook to feel connected to people.  I don’t talk to people on a regular basis – and Facebook has become my substitute for casual conversation.  So many times this week I would have a thought and I would think “Oh, I need to post that” and then stop myself.  Facebook is my social connection.  Without Facebook, almost all of my conversation would be one-sided.  I talk to whoever on Facebook might be listening (or rather, reading) rather than talking to myself.  Sometimes, thru comments, I can have extended conversations that might last for a couple of days.

And I wonder how many others use Facebook for their primary social outlet.

And what happens when they no longer are posting?  Are they sick?  Are they depressed?  Are they suicidal?  Are they hurt?  Have I even noticed?  And if I have noticed that someone isn’t posting as much, have I ever asked about them?  Have I checked on them?

I have, actually, once or twice.  More likely, I don’t even notice.  If something isn’t on my feed at the time that I am on it, I never read it.  It is easy to miss postings by people.  And thus, it is easy to not be aware if someone stops posting.   I do, occasionally, go to a friend’s page to check on things.  But  with 491 Facebook friends, I’m not going to go to every single page to see what I might have missed.

Something else I realized these last few days – since I wasn’t using Facebook as a social outlet, I got more things done at home.  I cleaned more.  I painted.  I read.  Even when I don’t comment on things, I avidly read what comes across my feed.  I can spend hours and hours just reading Facebook.  This week, to help keep myself from posting, I haven’t been reading as much.  And that has meant that I have had more time to do other things.  I have thrown away things, put away things, decided to discard things.  I’ve researched, written – in general, I have accomplished more in this last week than I have in a while – and mainly because I haven’t been glued to my computer all evening.

So, this experiment of going dark has taught me a couple of things – that I am almost dependent on Facebook for my social interaction.  And with less Facebook, I got more things done at home. This experiment has also made me wonder how observant I am of my Facebook friends.  How many times have I not noticed when someone simply quit posting from Facebook?  And what would do if I did notice someone’s absence?

And did anyone of my 491 Facebook friends notice that I was no longer posting or commenting on things?  One person private messaged me on January 5th.  Another person private messaged me on January 7th.  Both of them had noticed my absence from Facebook, and asked me if I was alright.

But this experiment also taught me how solitary I really am.  If something were to happen to me – if I ever fell and hurt myself, had a stroke, whatever – it would be days before anyone came to check.

 

I would rather help someone who didn’t need it…

This Christmas is my first Christmas without my father.  In fact, since my mother died several years ago, this is my first Christmas as an orphan.  An adult, but orphan nonetheless.

Over the last few days, I have shared some of my memories of my father.  Some of them have been in speech conversation, others in online conversation.

One memory was sparked when someone mentioned that they had seen cars at a free toy giveaway that were much newer and better than their own car.  The person who commented is a hard worker, and disapproved of people who in his opinion, based on the car they were driving, did not need free handouts.  The resulting conversation reminded me of something my father said to me.

My father and I had been in a discussion of welfare, Obamacare, and people who beg and ask for handouts.   Part of the conversation involved a description of a man who was panhandling locally.  People had posted about him, and had said that this person was a scam, had been offered work, had turned it down, had declared that he would rather beg than work, etc.

My dad said something that I basically already lived by, but had not, until this conversation, realized where I had acquired this attitude.  He said

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”

Read that again.

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”

That was my dad.  That was part of his life philosophy.  Read it again.

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”

Now think for just a moment.

What would the world be like if everyone had that attitude?

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”