On when to draw the line

Facebook has become a place of nightmares.  I rarely enjoy what I see, yet I feel compelled to scroll through and see what horrors have befallen our world in the fifteen seconds since I last refreshed.  Okay, it’s not quite that extreme, but it’s close.  The questions that keep running through my head are like “Is there anything that Donald Trump could do that his supporters would consider not okay?” and  “How much lying and backpedaling are people willing to put up with?”

There seems to be a segment of the population that will support or excuse anything that Donald Trump does.  It started during the election.  His admitted tendency to sexually assault women was excused.  His association with and later appointment of a known white supremacist and anti-semite was not challenged.  His refusal to sever ties with his very expansive business interest is apparently okay. And now his complete ban on travel for “immigrants and non-immigrants” holding passports from seven middle eastern countries and the suspension of  the 42 year old refugee program including indefinitely suspending entry of refugees from Syria (you know, the place where terrorist blow up children’s hospitals) is the new American way.

As a Christian, what has hurt the most is that people are saying all of this is ordained by God because God has anointed the lady part grabbing narcissists as he did Saul and David. Donald Trump is the new Cyrus; the unholy savior of God’s people (to be clear, this only includes Americans).  I detest the way this represents Christians because a group is only judged by its worst; i.e. Muslim=Terrorist.  In truth, all of the hate being spewed (just look on a conservative facebook page or website) is based on fear.  Pure, unadulterated fear.  There are dozens if not hundreds of official petitions to ban Sharia Law.  Guess what! We already have that; it’s called the Constitution of the United States of America. The reason the US Constitution protects us is because of the Establishment Clause; it reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It was later interpreted by Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black as meaning, ” Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.”

Sharia Law is religious law.  Do you want to know what would open up America to Sharia Law in the future?  Supreme Court decisions that favor Christianity.  Yep, if there is a Supreme Court decision that is based strictly on the Christian Bible, then it sets a precedent for future laws based on the Quran.  This is why the separation of Church and State is so freaking important. Continually pushing for a “Christian America” is advocating a Theocracy.  A theocracy is not defined as a “form of government in which a deity is the source from which all authority derives.” Notice that it says a deity, not the Christian God.  Once a Theocracy is established, a new deity could come with each new leader.  I’m not saying that this will happen, just that it could.

Many of the Trump supporters I know are also some of the best, most loving people I know.  I’m experiencing what psychologists call ambivalence.  Ambivalence is defined as “the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.” What they are saying and posting does not match what I know to be true about them and it’s emotionally disturbing. I cannot reconcile the amount of love they show with the amount of hate they are exhibiting. It’s not what I understand as being a Christian.

Thankfully, not all Christians are in agreement.  More than 3,500 religious leaders have signed a letter denouncing the immigration ban as immoral saying that “we are called by our sacred texts and faith traditions to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner.” This letter to Donald Trump and the members of Congress was signed by many of the major Christian denominations including The United Methodist Church, of which I am a member.  I am proud to align myself with a religious organization that stands up for those in need and truly follows the example of Christ.   Some others to speak out are the Episcopal Church, the alliance of Baptists, the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Lutheran Church, and leaders from many other faiths. I am encouraged by the massive call to end the ban and the call to keep the United States open to all faiths.

I celebrate our diversity and hope that we can continue to be a country for all people who seek the same freedoms that our country was truly founded on.

 

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On the overwhelming need to commiserate

Gosh guys, what’s happening out there.  This is just how I’m feeling today.  I don’t have anything specific to say or any statistics to back it up; I just feel the need to talk.  To commiserate.  To be honest, I’m scared.  I know. I know. You’re thinking, “Waa waa precious little snowflake is worried about losing her health insurance again.”  Well that’s not it today.  Okay, I’m still terrified of that too, but today, I guess scared isn’t the right word.  I don’t know that I have a word. I have lots of things going on in my very busy brain.

I keep compulsively opening Facebook. (really, I should stop; it’s making it worse.) Anyway, I keep opening facebook and seeing the news.  I have unfollowed about 90% of my friends it seems (I still love you, but I just can’t take the Trump love anymore) so all I have left are a few new friends I’ve met through groups and the news.  Well friends, the news is depressing and terrifying and all sorts of unpleasant things and it is making me just want to retreat to the farm, turn off all of the media producing devices, and watch the lambs hop around.

Unfortunately,  I can’t. I can’t because ignorance about everything happening will not make it go away.  This is not the cat in the box or a tree in the woods; this is life.  My life. Your life. America’s life. It feels like a week ago, everything still felt like a joke.  I could watch that guy on SNL imitating the president elect and it was funny.  It was a “haha are we living in an alternate universe” funny. It was an “is this real life” funny. It was a meme. America was a meme.

On Friday, shit got real.  Shit got real real.  Everyday, shit gets more and more real and it feels like there’s no stopping point. It has only been 5 days, but it feels like months have gone by.  So much has been signed or has been promised to be signed that does nothing but hurt the American people.  Keystone has been signed, DAPL has been signed, an immigration order has been signed, a promise to repeal the ACA has been signed, grants have been striped from vital resources like the Office of Violence Against Women. The public’s access to the government has been restricted. The media’s access to the government has been restricted.  The government’s access to the media has been restricted. See, I can’t even tell if I’m getting it all; I don’t even know everything because it is too much.  It is too hard to keep up with all of the damage to America that is taking place.  It is too hard to count all of the people that these actions are going to hurt.

I see people already saying that Trump has done more in 5 days than President Obama did in 8 years.  The way they are meaning it is pure bullshit, but in a way they are right.  Donald Trump has hurt the American people more in 5 days on purpose than the others presidents did by mistake.  Maybe I’m wrong; my presidential history is sketchy at best. (for some reason I know that the 11th president is James K. Polk).

Anyway, I digress.  I think what is bothering me the most is that people are celebrating their own destruction.  I get it. You hate abortion.  I don’t particularly love it, but  to me, it represents the freedom of choice. Being forced to carry a baby is one step from being forced to abort one.  There I said it.  I am not against abortion.  Condemn me to hell.  Hate me.  Pray for my soul.  Do whatever it is you feel the need to do.  I’m secure in my faith and in my opinion because force is force and if your government can force you to do one thing with your body, they can force you to do another; it is a slippery slope.  Don’t tell me it can’t happen, because there is NOTHING that can’t happen.  Do you think people thought it was possible for someone to kill 6 million people without the world batting an eye?  I bet no one thought that was possible, but Hitler managed to do it.  Given the power, governments can force anything.  I won’t sit back and let it happen without a fight.  I won’t give my government that much power over my body.  I make decisions for my body.

If you haven’t already stopped reading, remember this: there is never just one side to an argument.  You may absolutely think that abortion is wrong and you may be right, but it’s not just about the act of abortion; it’s about telling another person what they can and can’t do with their bodies. It’s about telling a woman with three children and a husband at home that the fetus she is carrying will kill her, but she has no choice but to carry it to term because of an absolute, no exception ban. Does God want her to die?  Is that his plan? Maybe you have the emotional strength to carry a baby for 40 weeks that will live for only a few minutes or even a few hours. Maybe you can survive the crushing disappointment that you feel when God doesn’t answer the most sincere prayer you’ve ever had.  Maybe you can, but just maybe she can’t.  Maybe something like that will break up their marriage; maybe carrying that baby, who has no chance at life,  will get to be too much in month 8 and she takes her life because she thinks it’s the only way.  Was trying to carry a dying baby the right decision for her? Was it worth her life?

I’m not trying to get you to accept that something is okay; you don’t have to change your beliefs.  But neither does she.  Maybe a baby that is aborted has a bright future.  Maybe it has a purpose.  But you know what, it doesn’t know that.  You know who has a definite purpose and a definite future and the cognitive function to know? The woman carrying that baby.  Maybe it is a sin, but is it up to you to pass absolute judgment?  How does it affect you?  Is your life on the line?  Is your future on the line? Will your life change one bit?

You are willing to sit back and not only accept, but celebrate, all of the horrible things that are happening in our government to get a ruling that can’t be enforced.  To get a piece of paper signed that will change nothing in your life.  It may hurt your soul to know that abortions are happening.  It may break your heart.  It may make you sad for humanity, but it won’t kill you.  Someone else’s abortion won’t send you to hell.  Pray about it.  Maybe God won’t make anymore babies that are destined to die before they are even born.  Pray about it.  Maybe God will stop that man before he rapes and impregnates that woman.  Pray about it.  Maybe God will change biology and make only intended pregnancies happen.  Pray away the need for abortion, but don’t tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies and maybe no one will ever tell you what you can or can’t do with yours.

On why I marched

Yesterday, on January 21st, less than 24 hours after the Inauguration of Donald Trump, an apparently uncountable number of women marched on every continent (yes, even Antarctica) around the globe.  While my farm duties kept me from attending a march (it’s lambing time!), I was there in spirit with my sisters around the world.  All day I have seen Facebook posts from other women speaking out against the march, which of course is completely within their rights just as in was within the rights of the women who did march to do so.  Every woman there marched for her own reason and it isn’t up to anyone else to decide those reasons.

I can only tell you why I *marched*

*****Foul language ahead*****

“You know and I moved on her actually.
You know she was down on Palm Beach.
She used to be great.  She’s still very beautiful.
I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her.
She was married.
I moved on her very heavily in fact. I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture. I took her out furniture. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there, and she was married.
Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big, phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.
Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.
And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.
Grab them by the pussy.
You can do anything.”
– President of the United States of  America, Donald J. Trump

No matter how many people try and deny it, sexual assault is a problem in the United States.

-1 out of 6 women in America have been a victim of attempted or completed rape.

-9% of reported rapes are committed by the victim’s husband.

-1 in 3 women have been a victim of sexual violence.

-1 in 9 girls are assaulted before the age of 18.

What’s worse is that the criminal justice system has failed every single one of these women. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

Out of every 1000 rapes:

-310 are reported to the police

-57 lead to arrest

-11 cases get referred to the prosecutor

-6 rapist go to jail.

6 out of 1000. 6. SIX out of ONE THOUSAND!

In 13 states, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia, marital rape isn’t against the law.

IN 13 STATES A HUSBAND CAN FORCIBLY RAPE HIS WIFE WHENEVER HE PLEASES AND SHE HAS NO ABILITY TO PRESS CHARGES.

I will never support Donald Trump because of the words that came out of his own mouth.  It doesn’t matter if it was 20 years ago, 10 years ago, or yesterday.  A rapist doesn’t change.  A man who unapologetically thinks women’s bodies are up for grabs will never, ever be my president.

I knew a rapist once, I didn’t know when I met him what was off about him, but I eventually learned that almost fifty years ago he was convicted of “the most sadistic example of forcible rape” the prosecutor had ever seen and served a whopping 8 years. I knew he was bad, I knew it from the beginning, and I could see it because you can’t rehabilitate a power assertive rapist.  It’s not about sex, it’s about power.  Donald Trump loves power; it excites him. He ran for president because it’s the ultimate position of power.

With his power, he plans on cutting 25 grant programs having to do with violence against women.  Why?
Because he thinks women are worthless.
Because he thinks they were asking for it.
Because he thinks rape is a woman’s problem.
Because he thinks women are property.

If only 1 million women marched (the estimates are much higher), 110,000 of them have been raped.  I stand with them because only 66 of their rapist went to jail, most of them for less than a year.  I support their right to have access to planned parenthood to get tested for STDs and seek counseling.  I support their right to take back control of their bodies.  I support women and I will not apologize for it.

protest-2                           protest

 

Statistics provided by RAAIN, the CDC, and the Department of Justice

 

 

On using my words

On November 8th, enough people in the United States voted for Donald Trump to make him our new president. Since the election I have been very vocal about my displeasure regarding the outcome of the election. Despite giving sound, reasonable arguments for said displeasure, I have been accused of whining because my candidate lost, being blind to the world around me,  and my personal favorite, of just not being the Christian they thought I was because of my political alliances.

I will never support Donald Trump.  He is a man who is only out for himself. He refuses to fully take the job of President by keeping his business connections.  He mocks the office by throwing fits on Twitter and by appointing family members to high positions in his Administration. He has no respect for people and he has shown that by mocking real American heroes like John McCain for becoming a POW, parents who lost a son fighting for our country, and most recently John Lewis, a renowned Civil Rights advocate who sacrificed his own comfort and safety to fight for what he believed in. Donald Trump is not a good person and he was most certainly not “anointed by God for such a time as this.”  He did not win because he was chosen by God. He won because he was able to convince desperate people that he would help them to become less desperate. He won because he was able to convince neo-nazis and other racist and hateful people that he would give them a voice. He won because he was able to convince religious conservatives that he would appoint cabinet members and Supreme Court Justices that thought like them.  Notice that I did not lump all Trump supporters together. He was able to convince all of these separate groups that he was just the man they needed. That is why he won. He sold himself as a savior and people believed him. I did not and that makes me an outsider in my circles.

Being vocal about all of this has led to the loss of some decades long friendships, alienation by family members, and a general anxiety about social ramifications to come. I have every reason in the world to stop being vocal about the atrocities that are happening in our government.  Maybe if I stopped sharing articles on Facebook that support my views or just stopped having an opinion altogether, I could regain some of what I have lost.  It would benefit me to do those things, but I won’t – I can’t. I can’t because the stakes are too high and if my words have the potential to convince others to see what is at stake and to contact their representatives and congressmen, then all of my personal losses would be worth it.

While there are many problems with the soon to be POTUS, the real problem lies with  the Republican controlled House and Senate.  After the election, I voiced my concerns about the fact that our newly elected congress had one goal – to repeal the Affordable Care Act. People tried to convince me that I was blowing it out of proportion and my fears were completely unfounded – that everything would be okay.  Well, on January 9th the US Senate proved me right. They started the process of pulling the rug out from under millions of Americans who depend on the ACA to live. They rejected any agreement to save the life saving provisions that I and many others like me depend on.  They made the first step toward my physical destruction and on the 13th, the House of Representatives backed them up.

As many of you know, I am sick.  I am not sick because of poor life choices or risky behavior.  I have Lupus.  My immune system confuses healthy cells for sick ones and will one day cause my kidneys, liver, and heart to fail.  I am 32 years old and I know with some certainty how I am going to die. My access to health care will determine when.  Every cold, seasonal allergy attack, virus, and infection can cause my immune system to go into hyperdrive and damage my organs.  I go to the doctor at the first sniffle or as soon as my temperature hits 99 degrees because I need medication to shut down my immune system so that damage doesn’t occur.  In 2016, my insurance paid out $750,000 in claims. In one year, my medical cost exceeded what all but the wealthiest people could afford for a lifetime of medical care. This is not hyperbole or a tactic to garner pity and attention. It is simply the truth.  I am just one person out of millions who are facing the situation. We are terrified at what is happening in Washington. We are scared for our lives.

Please have some empathy and stop calling me and others like me snowflakes, libtards, or communists.  We just want the same right to live as everyone else and we can’t do that without the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. If voters don’t appeal to their congress people, sick people like me will die.  It won’t happen tomorrow, but it will happen eventually and our blood will be on the hands of those who refused to see that healthcare is not a privilege only reserved for the wealthy or the healthy; it is a basic human right.  I will not stop speaking out, no matter the social ramifications.  I don’t care who stops talking to me or who thinks less of me.  I am not going to stand by and let my life be taken without a fight because it’s not just about me; it’s about the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans – healthy or sick, rich or poor.

On the infinity of choices

Via: Daily Prompt – Infinite

I think about event strings quite often and how they affect our lives.  I see life as one big “choose your adventure” book; in other words, the significant decisions I face have their own unique outcomes.  I don’t believe that we have one set thing that we are predestined to do; instead, there are countless possibilities that depend on previous decisions and many elements of our lives, such as careers, relationships, etc., exist because of these past decisions.

Think about it for a second.  If you have a significant other, where did you meet? What decisions did you make that led to that meeting? What else has grown out of that meeting? I think that we like to believe that eventually, we’d end up where we are now, but in reality, so many little things, both within  and outside of your control, had to line up to make today what it is.

When I think of this, I think of the scene in the Jurassic Park movie when Ellie and Ian are sitting in the car and he is trying to explain Chaos Theory.  He takes a drop of water and shows how it rolls down her hand in different ways each time a new drop is added.  We expect certain actions to have specific results, but since everything is connected, there is no way to fully predict what will come next.  The water drop changed its path because of everything that was influencing it, from the movement of the car to the path left by previous water drops.

Life is a lot like the drop of water; between birth and death, we are influenced by so many factors that there is no way to tell what is going to happen in between.  It’s only after that we can see what led to each milestone on the journey.  I find it really interesting to trace my life and see what led to what.

One of the book series I read over the holidays was based on fairytales.  There was a large crisis and the protagonists went to the council of mirrors (based on the magic mirror in Snow White) to find ways to solve the crisis.  The mirrors told the characters the catalyst that would lead to their desired outcome.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a council of mirrors in the closet to help us get to the outcome we want?  How great would it be to know the starting point? What would that prevent?

Sometimes though, even if we can see the potential disasters, we still do the wrong thing. Years ago, I made a bad decision. I knew it was a bad decision and yet I did it anyway. I didn’t break any laws or wind up in jail and it had very little effect on anyone else; in fact, only a few people know anything about it, but I am still seeing the effects.  I once said that, if given the ability to go back and change the past, I wouldn’t change anything about my life because then everything from then on would be different. In this case, it might be worth the risk; however, I still haven’t mastered time travel, so I have to learn to live within the rules of nature and accept that what will be will be.

While the effects of what happened were and continue to be mostly bad, I did at least learn a few important lessons. The most important is that I learned to listen to my gut. I will probably not make the same mistake again, or at least I hope I won’t because  I know what the outcome will be. See, we all do have our own little “council of mirrors”.  It’s not in a closet though, it’s in our head. While this council can’t tell us the end result, it can help us see how things are connected and what might happen. The knowledge of this council isn’t  infinite; it is fed by circumstances in our life. It’s the things that we do and see that should guide our decisions. If we take advantage of the things we learn, life would be easier to navigate. Let us all use the wisdom from both our successes and failures to give us our best chances at a happy future.

On Finding Magic

I’ve never had much of an imagination. Even as a kid pretending was hard. I wasn’t a kid who pretended to be an animal or a princess; it wasn’t fun and I didn’t get the draw. My toys reflected this. I played with blocks and I loved to color. I had baby dolls and I was their mommy, but all they did was sleep because in my unimaginative mind, that was all they could do.  The truth is though that kids need to be imaginative and though it didn’t come naturally, I eventually found my way to worlds beyond reality.  I found it through books.

As I’ve mentioned here, the first book I remember reading was Jurassic Park.  I’m sure there were others that led up to that one, but it was the catalyst. Over the years, I’ve probably read thousands of books.  I would read at any opportunity. Seriously, I would take a book into the grocery store so I could read while I was waiting in line. One year I kept an excel spreadsheet and I finished book number 380 on December 30th.  I read every genre and truly loved them all, but it wasn’t until I read a little series by C.S. Lewis that I truly learned to read.

It was my first year in college and I was working in the children’s library. I was shelving books and came across this:

narnia-chronicleshard

It seemed magical and wonderful and I wanted to be a part of whatever it was. So I dove in. For the first time, I wasn’t just reading a book, I was transported into a new world. I saw the creation of Narnia, went through the wardrobe and had tea with Tumnus, rode through the desert on a talking horse, defended Aslan’s How, sailed to the Lone Islands, went through the marshes with a marshwiggle, and went “further up and further in” with all of the friends of Narnia. I couldn’t get enough. I finally understood what it was like to daydream and imagine; to be outside of the possible – outside of reality.

Still today, my favorite books to read are middle-grade (ages 8-12) children’s fantasy.  No other genre has the ability to pull me out of reality into a place where my imagination can run wild. Now, you may scoff at my literary choices, but it’s not my fault that “adult” fiction authors don’t seem to capture the magic the way that children’s authors do.  It seems that the older we get, the less we think we need magic, but that’s not true; it’s when we’re older that we need magic so much more.  We need magic more because as adults because we see all the ugliness in the world that we can’t do anything about.  We need the worlds full of heros and heroins. Worlds where a 12 year-old girl, her 7 year-old sister, and a 4,000 year-old teenaged fairy named Puck can slay a giant and free the big bad wolf from his curse. We need places where lions talk and mistreated orphans find their power. We will always need a place where magic exists and that place is within the pages of books written for small people who haven’t yet forgotten that stars are for wishing and that dreams do come true.

If you want some magic back in your life, here is what I’ve been reading over Christmas break:

The Sister’s Grimm by Michael Buckley
The Keeper’s Trilogy by Lian Tanner
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Enjoy!!

 

On Conundrums

via – Daily Prompt: Conundrum

To speak or not to speak – that is the question; whether ’tis nobler to suffer in silence the wrongs that happen around me or take arms against a world of injustice, and by speaking, end it.  To be silent, to hide – no more- and by hide to say it doesn’t exist.  The pain, and the legacy it leaves for those to come. A thing to be despised for sure.  To speak, to expose – to expose — perhaps to end; that’s the thing.  For in the ending of injustice what dreams may come when we have broken the wall that separates us should give us hope.  That’s the thing we need to make a world worth inhabiting. For who should bear the sticks and stones of mouths that shout.  Those who speak such hate, fear what they do not understand – fear that the oppressor will one day be oppressed.  Must there always be an oppressor? Must there always be people who are seen as less than worthy? The poor, the marginalized, they suffer for perceived sins; the people of color, they die for perceived guilt. Reality does not matter, for it’s more important to remain superior; to speak of “those” people like their suffering and death is deserved. For if not them, then who?  To speak or not to speak – that is the question; that is the conundrum. To kneel with those who kneel; to march with those who march.  To speak, to expose – that is the answer; for though I am one, we are many, and in the many there is power enough to oppose injustice, to stop hate, and to show that the world is good.