Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cherry Picking

There have been many instances lately of “cherry picking” in an attempt to spin a narrative in one direction or another. To use an image to lend credence to a particular argument either for or against a situation, event, or person. To my way of thinking, we, as thinking humans must be vigilant in our efforts not to be victims of “cherry pickers.”

I guess the first time I was aware of “cherry picking” outside of the agricultural aspect was when I found the desire of some to “cherry pick” the Bible to either pound me over the head with one phrase plucked out of the millions between the cover of that holy book or use one to legitimize someone’s own behavior. It taught me to take a phrase, read it in context, and then cross reference it with other phrases that might be related to it and then determine for myself how I felt about it.

I’ve now been on this earth 67 years and in my time, I’ve been some places and I’ve done some things. I have a pretty vast array of knowledge and little of it has been experienced in an educational forum. Most of my knowledge has come from living, working, and doing ordinary life and quite often I find I actually DO know a thing or two about a thing or two.

When the Apostle Paul wrote his letters to the various churches, he had much to say about how they should conduct themselves and how they should structure worship. My whole life I had a BIG problem with the “let your women keep silent in churches…” statement. Then I took about 5 years of Disciple classes and found that phrase had been much “cherry picked” to enforce a doctrine of some more recently developed religions. If you read Paul’s letters you find that he wrote letters to those churches in much the way I would write letters to my children. I would frame my words and instructions to them based on 1) my relationship with them as individuals and 2) what I viewed their individual problems to be. In other words, I wouldn’t tell a child that had 2 jobs and carried a full load of college courses that they needed to stop being unmotivated and get busy. As I understand it, the women Paul referred to were recent converts to Christianity and therefore quite excited and enthusiastic. They were previously pagan and therefore had not yet been “civilized.” They were disrupting the proceedings, making it impossible for anyone to receive the blessings of being taught.

And, now we are in the instant gratification real time world where we know what is happening every single second every where in the world. Television, radio, iPads…pods, cell phones and computer streaming afford us the opportunity to see and hear for ourselves what is transpiring around us. Therefore, we have to be even more careful about not falling prey to a random, “cherry picked” quote, phrase, or image.

When there are 50 photographers rapid firing cameras the chance of them recording an awkward, uncomfortable or unfortunate image is enormous. People are human beings and you can’t be human and not have an off moment. Try it sometime. Let someone sit in your home with you and just document every second and see what the images say about YOU. And then imagine if that person documenting your day liked you….or worse….didn’t like you. And they needed to enforce their feelings about you using images to lend a reality to the words they were going to write. If they didn’t like you, they would write their piece and use the most unflattering image at their disposal.

We see this every day and this is the reason I try to see, hear and watch as much as I can about the events of the day for myself. I like to draw my own conclusions and here they are.

1) Interchanges between husbands and wives are not always touchy feelie. Sometimes, they hold hands, sometimes they walk side by side without touching, sometimes they greet each other with a show of affection and sometimes they barely interact at all. You can’t read their relationship from any single event.

2) Meetings between world leaders have many tense moments, they also have moments of levity as well as respectful dignity. When there is a language barrier, the awkward factor is going to amp up quite a lot due to the lag time in translation being delivered and heard. Don’t speculate on what you think is being disrespectful until you know personally what it is like to have to listen to someone speak a language you don’t understand and wait for that to be translated and delivered to your ear and then processed by your brain.

3) People thrust into new situations are often very uncomfortable until they get their legs under them enough to understand the ins and outs of where they find themselves. Picture yourself in a new job….how comfortable were you on your first day as opposed to a year down the road. I am a pretty good “secretary” but just having a grasp of what that term defines does not mean that I don’t spend more than a few days feeling overwhelmed in a new job, a new building, around new people, and trying to fit into a new protocol that is inherent to that business and the work environment they have put in place. Being a secretary for the governor of a state would be much different than being the secretary of the pastor of a church.

4) Maybe we all need to be less concerned with the actions, body language, and images being tossed around ad nauseam and take a few beats to judge. Watch what they show you, but watch it in connection to the event as a whole and maybe go out there in the vast super highway of internet exposure and look for some things that don’t support that viewpoint and weigh them for yourself.
Unfortunately, most of us just stick to the team of “cherry pickers” we agree with and we discount the “cherry pickers” in the other field. Maybe we need to remember that all the cherries need to be harvested and it takes all the pickers to get it done.

Monday, January 30, 2017

As I See It



This has been pricking the back of my brain for quite a while now.  It has taken me a minute to work out how to reconcile my conflicting feelings on this issue.
In the wake of a tempest tossed sea of campaigning, elections, outrage, elation,  emotional breakdowns, snowflake meltdowns, celebrity cuckoo birds, and downright insanity - I've often found myself off balance.  Wondering.....how do I feel about this, or that, or this again.
But lately, with all the back and forth regarding immigrants I've had to seriously concentrate on trying to get a handle on my own personal position.

Yes, we are a nation of immigrants, a huge melting pot of humanity who fled their countries of origin for a whole host of reasons.  But, one of those reasons was NOT  to pretend to  assimilate into life here with the express purpose of bringing down the country we came to for comfort.  We maintained our individual heritages and yet managed to come together under a single identity - that of Americans.
And let us remember, it was a different time...there were no airplanes, no automatic weapons, no cell phones, or pressure cookers to be blown up.  If you had a problem with someone, and let's face it, we did - you took up the weapon of the day and fought it out.  Someone always won, someone always lost.  Sometimes we were better for the struggle, sometimes not, but when the bag was shaken up and spilled out again, we all spilled out as Americans and sometimes we had things happen to us that polarized us in that identity, horrible tragedies that broke our hearts, but not our backbones.

In our beginning days of nation building, there were ideological differences which often led to  dastardly cowardly acts of sedition or assassination for which many were summarily hung, even women.  We had no problem taking care of our own knitting.

So, this was a long trip to get to my point....and there are several.
     Immigrants - yes, we are.  Except for indigenous American Indians, we all came here from somewhere else.  But, we came escaping a myriad of problems, ideological differences, civil war, famine, and oppression to find something better.  We didn't come here to reconstruct America into that which we had fled from.  And, by and large we did not come here to kill the other people we found here.  Yes, yes, I know we have a bad history with the Indians and that is regrettable at best, they were doing the only thing they knew how to do which was wage war on encroachers and we responded in kind and what we allowed to happen to them was horrific and to me is one of the greatest embarrassments our nation has to bear.
     The Statue of Liberty - lately there has been much said about the message on the statue of Liberty as our government's duty toward the world.  While the message is lofty, soaring and full of hope and promise it was a gift to the United States from France.  Gifted to a nation of immigrants who had successfully assimilated themselves into a great nation.  This message was not part of our Constitution.  Our government has an explicit duty to protect and defend our citizens from all enemies both foreign and domestic.  I have absolutely NO issue with anyone who desires to live here and share in the beauty of our country, but they have to become our countrymen.  They cannot come here with the desire burning in their hearts and minds that we are a part of some holy war they are weaponized against.
     The President - like them or hate them, no matter who sits in the chair in the oval office IS the President of everyone who calls themselves an American.  If you cannot respect the office of President as a citizen then you should move elsewhere.  Does this mean I believe you should rubber stamp their behavior?  Absolutely not, we should hold our leaders accountable.  ALL.OF.THEM.    And to purposely introduce incendiary language into our country where the President is concerned should be actionable.  Do you have any idea the amount of chaos and danger we would all be in if someone assassinated our President?  Some of us remember the assassination of Kennedy which ushered in LBJ who was unapologetic in his grand scheme to re-enslave the black voters by making them dependent on the government which would in turn bring about the control of the Democratic party for the next century.  Don't take my word for it.....look it up for yourself.   Our current Democratic party is not the party of our great grandparents.  And those people who pretend to be Republicans (RHINOs) are the lowest form of a political entity I can imagine.  Republicans In Name Only accomplish nothing for the party they supposedly represent and are in fact little more than the sneaky little pea shooters for the opposition.
     Walls/Fences - We, as a thinking people, know that borders, walls, fences, enclosures, or whatever type of non-encroachment word you like to use.......are freaking necessary.  If they weren't we would all be living in tents with no possessions.  We fence in our school children.  Why?  To protect them, both from them wandering off or someone else wandering in.  We fence in our criminals.  Why?  To protect the citizenry from further acts of the violence they've proven themselves capable of.  We fence in our livestock.  Why?  Because they are an asset and mostly not bright and they can't be trusted to remain where they should.  We fence our yards.  Why?  To protect our pets, our children, and our assets.  The borders of a country....any country....should be such that we can be watchful of the influx of people who do not wish us well. 
     Love everybody - well this is a great and lofty thought founded in Christianity which seems to now be used as both an uplifting message and a means of punishment as well.  Don't speak to me of "we are better than this" when some of us are worried about RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS  (yes, I said the words) are pouring into our country when we ignore the thousands of our own children in foster care, refusing to even do something as simple as help to support those over burdened foster parents with meals, or diapers, or anything else.  And God forbid we shake up our easy little home life by fostering or adopting!  I truly believe there are people in this country who would take in a Syrian refugee before they would open their home to a hurting child.  I am as compassionate a person as you could hope to find, but I believe in fixing "US" before we presume to fix anyone else.  Let us place as high a value on our elderly, our babies, our veterans, our people with disabilities, and our students as we say we value everyone else.  Each person who comes into this country who does not assimilate by becoming a citizen, learning the language, and becoming gainfully employed is a dead drain on the battery of life for every other person here.  Our infrastructure simply cannot withstand any more people who simply want to move to  American but not contribute to the American way of life.  And those people are a potential threat to us all.  And the hypocrisy of Liberal Christians who have fallen silent about the thousands of Christians being slaughtered overseas is mind boggling.
And, there are millions of fine vocal Americans who believe that they have the right to sit on their widening backsides and allow someone else to take care of them.  Many of them have had difficulty finding jobs and have given up....but they should be the first of us standing and applauding the effort to create more jobs in America rather than complaining about how we are alienating other nations.  Haven't you figured it out yet?  Other nations, with the exception of a few (Israel comes to mind) don't give a flying fig about America and are waiting for us to fall so they can pick clean the bones of what was once a mighty nation. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

An Open Letter to You, and You....and You



What's it been now....two years....give or take a week or two?  At least two years when we all started considering who might be the next President, and anguishing over the lack of really inspiring candidates.  After all, most of those really GOOD men and women with great inspirational characters would rather take a bayonet to the eyeball than put themselves into the political lion's den.  Many were called, fewer were chosen, some ran like rabbits and in the end only two remained.

I feel like a talent agent who discovered a Marilyn Monroe in a coffee shop on the corner of BFE....I SAW Trump from the beginning.  I saw him, I heard him, I laughed at him, I wondered about him and more than a few times, I cringed over him.  But, he made me feel things.  Each encounter I had with him via TV made me engage with him.  Sometimes, it was a visceral not nice engagement.  Other times it was an "I wonder what this guy was like in junior high school" engagement.  And, sometimes, it was "this guy must be an amazing businessman."

I have said for a long time that America is a business...the biggest business in the world and it needs a business man to hold the reins.  We spend too much, we don't account for things correctly, we don't protect our investments, and we don't recognize that when the takers in a society outnumber the makers in our society, we are doomed to fail.  My husband didn't agree with me....AT ALL.  He was a late arrival on the Trump Train, but he kept inching closer to getting a seat as more and more of those career legacy politicians left unsavory flavors in his mouth that he couldn't ignore.

So, whether or not you like it, or like me, on the dawn of this momentous moment in our American history, you are going to receive my opinion.  You are forewarned....if you don't want it, click off now.  I am going to use my right as an American citizen - old, white, not privileged, under educated, female, to speak my mind.

First I will address the Jackass in the room (I wanted to say elephant, but that is my party's symbol so I had to go in a different direction.)  My great grandparents were yellow dog Democrats.  I actually remember hearing my Great Grandfather (whom I adored) tell his granddaughters, "If I ever find out you have voted Republican I will personally beat you bloody."  He felt that way because the Democratic party began as a party for the people (unfortunately, they also have quite a history in being anti-black, pro-slavery, anti-feminist, pro KKK, and a great many other platforms on which they stand with righteous indignation today.)  In fairness, so do those who grace the "other" side of the aisle.  Pawpaw had such an impact on his granddaughters that one of them voted Democratic until she died because she thought it was the right thing to do regardless of how she felt herself.  Such was the respect she had for that man.

I did not vote for Hillary Clinton.  I have never voted for anyone because they were black, brown, yellow, white, male or female.  I vote because I feel things and I trust my instincts.  I AM a woman and I know women far better than I would like to and as a woman she made me uncomfortable.  Had she been the woman my heart believed was right for America I would have marched, burned my bra (happily), donned unattractive pant suits and stood right there with her..........but I couldn't.

The reason I couldn't is because I am tired.  I am tired of the same old business as usual, legacy entitled political machine that believes they are the only people with ideas, the only people with social conscience, and the only ones who manage to put one foot in front of the other and walk through the world.  We don't need our leaders to tell us how to live....we're doing it every day.  For the most part we don't need a moral compass - we need someone to be strong.

The thing that has pushed me to the limit is the fact that unless you are a certain color, sexual orientation or lack of one, or live in California or New York....you simply do not exist....you do not matter....you aren't smart....you need guidance....you need to be taken care of or protected from yourself.

And then...along came Trump.  With his funny hair, his erratic movements, his outrageous personality, and his complete inability to back down when he felt he had been wronged.  He didn't whine about the fact that he was talked about because he was a man, or had funny hair, or that he had failed at a lot of things, or had no political experience....he simply fired back and more often than not hit his target.  If news organizations are telling overt lies about you, are you supposed to shrivel up and die?  Or, should you whip out the worn out race or gender card?  Or, should you state your case, and let the chips fall.

I found myself, often, over the past 8 years hypnotized.  That even, dead calm delivery left me wondering at the end....what was said?  Maybe it is because I myself, am blunt, direct, to the point, and often speak without forming complete sentences because my ideas are coming so quickly I seem erratic - but I find the brisker, pointed, and get down to business language easier to understand.  I don't like 10 minute answers to a "what time is it?" question.  Tell me what time it is don't tell me how to build a clock or the history behind clocks.  Answers that are filled with many big words strung together resonate with me as an effort to sacrifice quality for quantity and lull me to sleep where I'm not paying close enough attention.

I am a different person - I know that.  I don't respond often as a "typical" woman and I am not easily offended unless you make the mistake of discounting my intelligence or ability to understand issues and platforms for myself.  And, I don't appreciate someone else being discounted because they don't speak as eloquently as some or swagger through life like a seasoned politician.  I don't need my information filtered through the hearts, minds, and mouths of people who view themselves as much smarter - I kind of like hearing from the person themselves and deciding for myself how I feel about it.

Eight years ago, I watched with a prayerful heart and tears in my eyes.  Not because I was angry about the outcome of the election but because I genuinely felt it was an amazing moment in history.  I prayed and hoped it would finally close the door on a division in our country.  President Obama was not my candidate, but he was my President and I prayed for him and his entire administration every day.  To wish him ill would have been wishing ill on my country, my countrymen and myself.  In my mind, this is the definition of an American - God, family, country.

Today, I again stand with a prayerful heart and tears in my eyes, hopeful that we can regain our country because I truly believe this is our last chance.  And I know that God rarely calls the qualified.  He instead chooses to qualify those He calls.  And today, once again, I get to witness a great moment in our nation's history that confirms for me what I was taught to believe as a child.  The greatness of our nation that assures anyone that they can grow up and one day become President of the United States of America.

I am finished with political posts and commentary, I instead choose to spend my energy on helping our new President accomplish what we need.  I did it 8 years ago and maintained until I just couldn't see the reason to continue to support someone who did not respect or represent my core values.  I assure you that should our 45th President prove to be a disappointment I will be reflecting my displeasure at the polls where contrary to what I once believed, votes really do matter.

I thank you all for taking this journey with me whether you've ever agreed with me or not.  I respect you all and wish you well and I urge you to give this guy a chance.   Don't enter into tomorrow automatically discounting his ability or desire to accomplish great things.  We all have greatness within us and with God's help that greatness can come forth in a mighty way.  Don't label yourself as anything other than an American.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Unfriending of America

While I personally have seen a lot of good stem from social media and increased abilities to instantaneously communicate and connect with other people, there is a disturbing undercurrent raging these days.

Never before have we had such a climate of contentious happenings and over powering opinions. Well…..opinions are like that bodily orifice which shall remain nameless…we all have one. Some of us are better at expressing ours, some of us buy what we are spoon fed by others, some of us believe anything and everything we read and hear, others refuse to believe what they see with their own eyes, some of us ignore the rattling skeletons in our own closets while dragging others through the sludge, and fewer of us take the time to be well informed and truly knowledgeable about what we believe. We are all different…we are diverse…we are each unique…and we are each important.

Many years ago I was told there were two things you should absolutely NOT discuss….religion and politics. I used to wonder why because both of those subjects were interesting to me personally because I wanted to know why people thought and felt the way they did about those two issues in particular.

After the past few years, I no longer wonder why those things should be taboo. Those two things can cause more misunderstandings, divisiveness, and actual pain than anything else on earth.
We are a better informed people….some of us are at least, but all of us want to think we have the answers and it usually fits our own agenda and how we will personally be affected by that viewpoint. Does it make any of us wrong? Therein lies the question of the ages…..if you base your opinions on your own experience and your own need and your own information….are you wrong? And, if someone respectfully disagrees with you based on their own beliefs and tries to bring another tier of discussion to the table, how should you handle that? I believe a respectful and free thinking people are enriched by good and honest debate.

About 5 years ago I started to see a trend in my own social media experience. Suddenly….there were some folks who had dropped me like a hot rock because I didn’t think or feel the same way they did. I am grateful, I think, that they didn’t make grand pronouncements….they just sort of slipped away. It made me sad….some of them I had known since I was very very little….but because I had differing opinions, they chose to “break fellowship” with me. And, I missed them.

The first instance of this happening made me vow that I would never be someone who cut ties with anyone because I did not agree with them in a social media forum. And….I have remained true to that vow. I’m not going to say that I have failed to express myself both on my own postings and the postings of others because I most certainly have utilized my right to defend my position when I felt I should but I will say I have tried very very hard to be respectful, kind, humorous and tolerant in doing so. I hope I’ve been successful. If I haven’t, I have no doubt someone will make sure to point it out to me.

One of the things that has been most disturbing to me is the willingness of people to allow their “like minded” so called friends to verbally eviscerate someone who disagrees with them….even if that person is someone they have a very close connection with. Does this mean we are willing to lose very real people in our lives in order to have the stamp of approval of those we will probably never have to physically interact with in life ever again? Allowing anyone to call someone else vile, disgusting and a traitor to their race or gender on one of your posts is simply unacceptable to me. And….I don’t care who you are….or how thick your skin is….things like that are hurtful.

One of the things that might fix our divisions in some small way is if we could manage to communicate without resorting to hateful name calling or labeling those of us who feel differently than we do. And we are all responsible for how we allow people to be treated in our commentary….you cannot plead for tolerance for all people while allowing someone to be shouted down and maligned without your own intervention.

It seems that the ability to hide behind a keyboard and a monitor while sipping coffee in our pajamas is not making us a kinder group of people. We are retreating into our own little comfy bubbles of our own opinions while forgetting some of the people who might disagree with us actually really love us and are the ones who are listening when we have problems and are the ones who will “step up” in spite of a ridiculous difference of opinion.

And so, in closing, if I liked you last year…..I still do. If I loved you last year….I still do, more in fact. If I’ve allowed anyone to disrespect your opinion by labeling you or trying to make you feel less than you are….I am horribly sorry. If you’ve allowed that to happen to me….I forgive you. I’m hurt, but I forgive you and am waiting to resurrect that which has been lost between us. But, if you are content with a separation I release you and wish you peace!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Brushes




This was my childhood paintbrush.  When all I saw were the colors black and white.  There was good....there was bad, hot and cold, up and down.  I had not yet learned the different shades of black or the infinite boredom of only white.  I believed what I was told by everyone because I had not yet learned that there were things such as lies, betrayal....lukewarm feelings.  The revelation of those things caused me to learn to paint sometimes with gray....neutral...non-threatening....easy because it blended with everything and offended nothing.

As a grew a little older my paintbrush was heavy with the colors of the rainbow and all the shades in between.  I learned to look for nuances in shade and tonality and I began to see people as colors.  Some people were vivid....vibrant.  Others were plain and pale and uninteresting.  I wanted to be all the colors....but more than any I wanted to be a bright, happy, and sunshiny yellow.  While my childhood was often turbulent, it was full of events that sometimes made me have to step out from the comfortable places and face things.  Sometimes I faced them with my rainbow paint brush, making things seem better than they were.  And, sometimes, I reverted to unassuming, non-confrontational gray.

As time passed I found myself defined by other colors....like maroon and white which represented my school, my friends, and my safe haven in times of trouble because more than occasionally I found areas of my life were very black.  During these times....I found myself longing for the grey days when I could simply blend with little expected of me.  But, for me, gray was cowardly, so, I threw myself into maroon and white with like minded people and spent several years hiding out in the colors of my cheer uniform.

I became older....terribly old at 18....and I married.  Often my paint brush during this time was bright red....blood red....angry, angry red.





  But my babies came along and the purity of the love I had for them turned my paint brush a soft pink.  This became my favorite brush and I tried to make it last as long as I could, but sometimes the other colors leaked in and I found that each time they did, my pretty soft pink brush just didn't paint quite as nicely as before.



I've often had a passing romance with a blue brush when tears fell like rain and mixed with every other color making a confusion of patterns.  





 I've even painted with a green brush from time to time....envious of other people and other things....things that seemed easier and more pleasant than what my own reality had become.  I've dabbled in dirty brown paint that was hard to clean off and I've often been a ridiculous shade of purple - so angry I boiled.  


I've come to know that each color I've painted with for a season represented what kind of person I was at the time.  Even when I revisited certain colors their vibrance was a little different, sometimes softer....sometimes bordering on a disturbing neon version.

I'm different today.  I paint a lot in red....not because I'm angry anymore, but because I like it....it is strong and can stand up to other colors.  I also paint in yellow now more than ever...because I've found I can be happy with myself even when others are not.  I am the only one who knows my heart.  I still have moments when blue and green come calling but I'm happy to say that brown and black are nearly a thing of the past.  I don't have time for them....my life left is short and I don't want dirty or hurtful things to color any of my days.  I learned to use  gray again,  because it is in my gray areas that I find my tolerance for others who may not think as I do or agree with me.  The tolerance for differences and the tolerance that helps me understand that someone may be having their season with a particular paint brush and they just need to paint it out till it is finished.

I am so very different than I was at 14, 18, 25, 40....50.  In fact, probably my biggest transformation has come in the last 5 or 6 years.  Life dealt me an exhausting and heart wrenching blow that changed me forever.  I struggled to find anything that remotely could represent that time frame for me and all I can think of was that I was painting for a while in transparency.   
 
My feelings were out there, raw like an open wound but most of the time I felt almost invisible.  With the exception of a very few people, I don't think anyone was aware of the magnitude of my isolation.  Losing your mother as an only child of hers with no one to share that pain....that ripping hurt and then having to nearly single handedly spend years putting her life and her things away was demoralizing and sometimes dehumanizing.

I was a living ghost going through the motions of life, trying to hold together my own fragile person.  On the day I shredded the final piece of paper of all the records mom had kept for decades was the day I begin to feel a lightening in my spirit.  As the last tax return (from 1962) slid through the shredder with staple intact it seemed to pull my anger, pain and disappointment with it.

It didn't happen quickly or easily but finally, all the things that seemed so important and all the issues I felt so strongly about sort of faded into softer shades of themselves and I gathered them in to my colorful life and tried to make sure they remained part of my palette but that none of them would ever dominate the picture again.

I have strong feelings....even stronger opinions but I have learned a tolerance for things I never thought I would.  It is not that I agree with them, but I have realized that I can only paint my picture with the colors God has provided me with and allow others to do the same.

More than anything else, I've realized that I am strong and if I were not me I think I would like the person I am today.  The bristles on my brush are more than a little worn and there is evidence of all the past colors used and cleaned and used again, but more and more I find myself picking up the happy colors.  I have days.  Days when I go black, dark and dirty.....I hope that is natural.  I think what is important is to learn to not live in the dark and dismal side of life. To always be seeking the light and happy moments that make things better for ourselves and maybe eventually for others...particularly those who might have gotten splashed with some of our more unattractive colors when we weren't being very careful with our life...our words.

Peace my friends....pray for each other....those you know and those you don't.  Pray for our county and the people in authority over us.  Pray for me that I will one day lose all my brushes but the happy ones.