Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Lord, Open My Lips

The rancor on social media has exploded since the possibility that Jussie Smollet, a young actor, has lied about being the victim of a hate crime.

I waited before I spoke about his assertion because I have learned from past mistakes.  Yes, something about the whole episode as he described it did not seem to make sense but I did not know anything about this young man.  I don't watch the show he is on, because it is a tv soap opera with good actors and I knew I would get sucked into the story line.  Frankly, I don't have the time.  I watch two shows faithfully for my own enjoyment and cannot afford to add another to my list.  I need to read more, not watch more television.

Also, quite frankly, I have no idea what type of lifestyle the young man in question leads.  I don't know if he is, in the parlance of MY day, a 'partier'.  If he is, then deciding to go get a sandwich at Subway at 3am makes a whole lot of sense.  Disregarding the possible safety issues of being on a dark street in Chicago at 3am all alone seems reasonable.  I remember those days.  I remember thinking, "Is Jack In The Box Open?" and driving to Oakland all alone, a young beautiful blonde piloting a Gremlin X through a drive through lane to get a burger because, well, I had the munchies...and I was drunk.

I now no longer believe Mr. Smollet was attacked and I am no longer angry at him.

Yes, I was angry.  I was angry because people I love identify with the LBGTQ+ community and their well being - both physical and spiritual - matters to me.  I know what dangers have always lurked out there.  Just as there are men who believe all a woman needs is a good smack in the face to 'keep her in line' there are people - men AND women - who think weekends should be spent stalking homosexual men and women to hurt them.

There is still a serial killer - The Doodler - out there who is responsible for the murder of 14 men during the 1970's whose only crime was being sexually attracted to other men and acting on that attraction.  Despite what anyone thinks, the death penalty is not appropriate for acting on that attraction.

People who pretend to be a victim or who perpetrate a hoax regarding a crime do far more damage than is initially believed.  Law Enforcement hours are spent unravelling the lies but far more important, LE then braces for an onslaught of crimes against the class of people already marginalized....why?  Because when some idiot pretends to be a victim and the public is outraged, those who get a thrill and validation out of raping a homosexual woman or beating a homosexual man are emboldened.  They are pretty sure it will be awhile before their criminal activity is discovered, reported and then believed.

And the victims?  They get quiet.  They recognize that someone, usually one of their own, has screwed things up again and so they doubt it will do any good to report a crime, even if that crime is domestic violence by their same-sex partner.  Why bother?  No one is going to care anyway.

I am no longer angry at Mr. Smollet because I do not know what his real motivation was and, quite frankly, he is still maintaining he was the victim and the Grand Jury testimony has been suspended because of some information given to the Prosecutor by his Defense Team.  I do not know what drove him, what type of mental illness he deals with and what has to be addressed in order for him to regain his footing in life.  I am saddened, I am wishing this had not happened and I am tired of it already because there are more important issues in the world we need to address right now than whether or not an actor lied and caused himself legal problems.

My prayer is that we do not forget those who need our love and our protection simply because one man behaved like an ass.

Let's pray for him...and for all our brothers and sisters that walk in fear for whatever reason.

May the healing Light of Jesus surround them and make them understand that, no matter what, they are loved.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

My Truth

Recent developments in the Abortion Movement have left many people, including me, confused.  Trying to do a fact check on exactly what the State of New York now has on their books is difficult.   I found at a reasonable explanation of what has happened in New York.

It does not calm my heart.  In fact, it made me cry.

Recently I was in a discussion with a woman who identified as 'pro choice' but was concerned about women being told the truth about fetal development in the womb.  My problem with her concern is that it sends a message: women are not strong enough to hear the truth about what goes on inside the womb during a pregnancy.  I suspect that the real fear is that women who are given all the information about their pregnancy will opt out of an abortion, choose to carry the human inside of them to term and then either give it up for adoption or raise it themselves.  In other words, the choice they might make is not the choice that certain organizations want them to make.  Thus, it is not a good idea for them to have an ultrasound, hear the fetal heartbeat, be given information about the capacity of the human they are carrying to feel pain during the procedure and the possible need for them to receive mental health support after having an abortion.

This worry, this willingness to protect women from their fragile emotional selves, flies in the face of the entire "Woman Warrior" scenario popularized by the media, FB Memes and the Lean In Movement.  We are either strong enough to hear the truth or we are not.  We either need to be protected from our own fragility or we are not.  Pick one, but don't tell me how women can do anything from govern a country to play in the NFL as long as you don't show them pictures of what the child looks like at 22 weeks of life.

The Women's Movement has gone off the beam and lost its way in the weeds of contradiction.  I rarely pay attention to 'Leading Feminists' today because their faulty logic and their inability to speak to nuance of the human condition hurts my ears.  Once again, at the ripe old age of 63, I am on the outside looking in when it comes to women in the world.  I see our difference from men and I applaud it.  I understand that some women do not want to be mothers but want to have sex.  I get it that some women are physically attracted to both men and women or to women alone.  What I fail to understand is why the majority of the left seems to think we are dumb bunnies that need to be protected from the harsh realities of the world on the one hand, and given the keys to the White House on the other hand.

I wish there was no abortion.  I also understand that the legality of abortion has been codified in such a way that I doubt it will ever be criminalized.  I am not sure I WANT it to be criminalized.  What I am hoping for is a return to common sense, to a balance that makes the ending of a human life the last possible choice a woman has to make.  I am hoping for an advancement in science that would allow a woman to terminate a pregnancy without killing a child, thereby guaranteeing an adoptive mother and father the chance to add to their family in a beautiful way.    I doubt that will happen in my lifetime and I am not even sure of the ethics around that idea but at this point I would welcome any solution that did not end in the death of a child so that a woman can continue her life in the way she wishes.

Ultimately I would hope that all humans, men and women, would move away from a subjective philosophy that puts themselves first rather than seeing themselves as a wonderfully small part of a glorious whole.  I would love to see a movement begin that put God, family, society first on the list with the Almighty ME and MY Fulfillment fourth or fifth on the list.  I would love to be in a neighborhood filled with children and the elderly and the generation in between all interacting and living, not necessarily in peace and harmony but in reality.

When I was little, there were wonderful older couples around me.  Mrs. Chappelle taught me to bake cookies after my first independent attempt tasted like rubber butterscotch. Mrs. Rhodes always bought my Campfire Girl Mints.  My first babysitting job (50 cents an hour, people.  Yes I am old) was in my neighborhood for Mrs. Hardly's 8 month old.  The Ward's down the street had 12 kids, the Grey's had seven,  the place was hopping with kids and adults.  Mr. Tompkins was 91 and lived with his daughter and son-in-law, and would take a walk every day in a suit and a hat.  Sometimes, I would walk next to him and he would tell me stories about being a cowboy in Montana.  I found out, after he passed away, that he had never been to Montana and you know what?  I did not care.  The stories were great and he let me tell him that I had a dragon living under my house.

Today, because of a variety of causes, I have to INVITE kids to come trick or treat at Halloween.

Today, I have been told that a Catholic ministry dealing with the Domestic Church is for husbands, wives and children which (of course) completely ignores their obligation to people like me that is expressly spelled out in the Catechism.

We have lost of sense of humor, we have lost our sense of taste, we have lost our sense of true self realization and replaced it with the idea that the only thing that truly matters is whether or not WE are HAPPY.

I feel sad.

Pray for me.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Feelings vs. Reality

 Far be it from me to pretend I am immune to being driven by my feelings rather than the reality of any situation.  I am a human.  I have a heart.  I cry at old MacDonald's commercials when a toddler in p.j.'s with feet in them leaves a coupon for Santa Clause.  The NBC hit series This is Us is not watched without a supply of Kleenex next to me.  I may be happy that a kid from my alma mater is playing in the Superbowl I will not root for him if he plays for a team from L.A.   I have decided to forgive Richard Sherman for going to Stanford.

Because I can be emotional I held off on writing about all the stuff hitting the news these past ten days.  I have a stick or two in the fires of controversy surrounding the kids from Covington and the Native American Elder.  However, I know that my take on it could be driven by my emotional reaction and so I wanted to put some distance between me and what happened before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

I was prepared to write about it all today - about my bias because of my experience with someone who pretended to be a Vietnam Combat Veteran and my bias because I am the aunt of young men and I have seen them smile and smirk when they are so dang uncomfortable about having to stand up for what they believe that their faces do not seem to connect to their internal feelings.  I was prepared to be fair and loving and Catholic and to suggest that we all need to calm down and stop jumping to conclusions because the people involved are a color we currently despise.

However, this morning I woke to the news that a friend I made on Facebook over a decade ago had passed away.  Suddenly a man with a drum and a kid wearing a MAGA cap was just not that important to me.

Antoinette was spunky and funny and what the mainstream would call an 'unconventional beauty'.  She had a smile that would light up the internet.  She wore her spirit with pride - you got what you saw and what you saw was someone intelligent, compassionate, loving and kind.  She was so darn beautiful.

We became friends through football.  She started as a Niner Sister and became so much more than that to me.  She was someone who would talk with me about so much, about the problems we were both seeing in this country and the weird reactions people had to someone who thinks in a different way then they do.  We did not always agree politically but we never ended a conversation without thanking the other for listening and sharing.  She was my touchstone to so much I have lost - a friend who did not label me for my color or religion as someone bad.  She was so willing to talk, to give her perspective on life and never once shamed me for asking a question.

We shared a lot - football and Niners being our foundation - in terms of our values; family, the law, respect for those who have served, the demand for justice and the refusal to give any quarter when it came to the standards of behavior we shared.  We did not see that being a conservative or a liberal meant the end to good manners.  Woe be to any man or woman who tried to talk down to us, especially if we were on the same thread.  We could back each other up with grace and dignity, even if we were on opposite ends of an opinion.

That type of friendship is so rare.  To have found it on Facebook is even rarer and I cannot quite fathom never again seeing her post a Funky Friday dance video or going through the upcoming football season without her.

To say I will miss her is an understatement.  I am glad she is no longer sick and that I see her now as a powerful prayer warrior is true, but I am going to miss her so much.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and May Perpetual Light shine upon her.

Antoinette, please.....

Don't forget to pray for me before the throne of the Most High.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

American Solidarity Party - Trying to build a better USA

Recently I explained why I joined a third party political movement here in the United States.  I was attracted by the attempt to be a bridge between what has become (to me) a rancid and ugly two party system in the United States.  I was repelled by the duopoly that has done its best to push people like me out of the public square.  Neither the left nor the right has my interests at heart, so I had to find a political home where a Faithful Catholic and a Proud American could vote her conscience with, well, a clear conscience.

One of the aspects of the ASP Party Platform that caught my eye can be found at:

The main economic platform of the party is:
  • Economic policies that expand opportunities for the poor, and rebuilding and supporting a vibrant middle class, the erosion of which is a fundamental threat to our democracy.
  • The right of workers to be compensated for the wealth they create and to participate in economic decision-making.
  • A fair and progressive tax system that ends subsidies and exemptions which disproportionately benefit the wealthy and favor speculation over work.
  • Labor and consumer protection laws to offset disproportionate market power.
  • The widest range of opportunities to own productive property, including family-owned businesses and worker-owned cooperatives.
  • The free market approach over the command market approach, recognizing the benefits of free and fair markets for the voluntary exchange of goods and services.
  • A review of existing regulations and taxes, to assess their impact on small businesses.
  • Strong antitrust enforcement to preserve a free market and the elimination of regulations designed to unfairly inhibit competition by smaller firms.
  • The repeal of subsidies that encourage urban sprawl and discourage local farming and production.
    Laws that discourage corporate farm ownership and help sustain family farms and rural communities.
  • Exploring state and local land value taxes as an alternative to traditional property taxes.
  • Reform of intellectual property laws that allow corporations to control seed life, and thus control a disproportionate amount of our food sources.
  • Investigating possible alternatives to stigmatized welfare programs and regressive entitlements such as the use of Universal Basic Income to supplement wages and share the benefits of nature and technology.

I grew up in the United States, and so I have been influenced by what would have once been considered basic American principles:  Everyone has the opportunity to be better off, financially, than the previous generation.  It requires hard word, sacrifice and a willingness to (as my Italian born grandmother put it) 'put your fortune in your head so no one can steal it".  Certainly, there are no shortages of stories of self-made billionaires over the past 270 something-years.  From Sarah Breedlove to J.D. Rockefeller, we have many examples of people who started with next to nothing and became extremely wealthy.  

In recent times we can point to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as people who not only changed the world but made an amazing amount of money doing it.

The American Dream - anyone willing to push hard and sacrifice can be King or Queen of the World.

There are smaller dreams, of course, that were particular to America, which were handed on to me by my family.  Being able to own a plot of land or a home, get a good education, practice one's religion without interference from the government--all this was infused into me as I grew up.

So, what happened?

I have come to see how the manipulation of the market, badly written laws, greed run wild and a design to eradicate the dignity of the human person has corrupted the American Dream.  This is not something that happened overnight; rather, it has been done bit by bit over the years. 

Let me explain:

The idea of someone working two or three jobs is nothing new.  At the turn of the last century that was common for the newcomer to our country.   They lived in tenements.  They died of diseases that flourished in the conditions of those tenements.  They struggled in poverty and violence.  Often it was the various aide societies of the Faith Communities that helped people 'keep body and soul together'.  Life was hard and anyone who wants to romanticize that era does so at the risk of sounding really ignorant.

However, as pointed out by author Reihan Salam,  the actual gap between those who were in poverty and the working middle class was not nearly as wide then as it is now.  While conditions were horrific in some areas of the United States for the struggling newcomer, the possibility of getting OUT of that situation was a REAL possibility.  The streets were not paved with gold, but it was possible to work really hard and realize a dream.

We also have to remember that the same time in history gave rise to changes in government because of the horrible conditions in places like New York and San Francisco.  Labor movements began because the workers were horrifically exploited.  My mother, at 97, can remember the violence of the dock strikes and how horrified they all were about the communist influence upon the labor movement - and yet she also will tell you that as the wages for workers began to rise as a result of union organizing. The wages SHE received working in areas that are NOT represented by unions rose as well.  She recognizes the debt she owed to the unions demanding that workers get paid enough to pay the rent and feed their kids.

As with all economic policies, those put forward by the American Solidarity Party are written in general terms.  The real proof in the pudding comes from how we, as Americans, will pressure our elected officials to make it possible for all people to have a reasonable life.  No, not all of us will own homes or live in gated communities.  Not all of us will have the latest gadgets or own Coach purses.  That is not the goal.  The goal is to be able to say to each generation that working hard and sacrificing can mean something - it can result in something that allows them to live without holding their breath in fear all the time.

I think it is possible to do this and so do the members of the American Solidarity Party.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Once Again - It is NOT all about ME

Man, you would think I would get tired of finding out that another person's problems relating to the world has nothing to do with me.   Truth be told, however, that discovery continues to bolster me because my default position is always, "What did I do to make them mad?' followed closely by "How can I make them love me again?".    While some may not see the character defect of pride and self-will in this, I do and so I am always glad to (first) recognize that I do not do this as often as I used to and (second) to quickly recognize when my interpretation of another person's behavior has been incorrect.   I love it when I find out I am not alone and that it is NOT all about me.

When a person struggles with selfishness it can take all kinds of forms.  The assumption that someone is acting like a goofball because they don't like me or because they want to hurt me is simply one of those puzzling aspects of selfishness.  To immediately process another person's bad behavior as either being caused by or targeting ME is being selfish.  Like that old joke (but enough about me, what else do you want to know about me) a selfish and self-centered person just automatically sees the world as one giant game board with themselves as the central piece.  Everything revolves around me, right?

The stages of my development into being a grown up can be looked at as steps towards walking away from this type of thinking until that thinking began to actually change.  Stress brings it back - usually acute stress - but most of the time, now, I can watch quietly as someone I know or love makes bad social choices and not just leap to the 'what did I do to upset them' default.  Learning to say "Not my circus, not my monkeys" over an over has helped.

It seems to me the danger is to not ignore my mistakes: if I do something wrong and cause another person to act out in a way that causes me and others hurt or harm, then I better be willing to step up and take responsibility.

The biggest mistake I make today is venting to someone inappropriate - not necessarily that they cannot be trusted; rather, someone who because of their own issues tries to correct a situation and shares what I vented to them in a moment of frustration with the wrong person.

SO....when someone asks me what my New Year's Resolution for 2019 is I am going to honestly say this:  I resolve to be more circumspect in my personal venting.  I am going to be very cognoscente of who needs to hear my frustration and who doesn't and I am going to take advantage of those people in my life who can be trusted to listen without sharing it with anyone else.

Did you note I did not write "listen without judgment"?

Well, guess what...I hope for feedback from these trusted individuals.  I want them to tell me when they are afraid I am off the beam or when they think I handled a situation right.   I need the help.  I trust them for a reason.

Besides, being judgmental towards me is fine.  I like it best when you judge that I am fabulous but I understand that it could go either way.