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 Words

There is a popular country song on the radio right now by Eric Church called “Kill a Word”. I have to be honest.  The first few times I heard the song, I thought it was about fishing. No lie; my brain interpreted the lyric as “kill a worm”.  Let’s face it, I’m not too observant and I expect country songs to be about fishing – not the power of words.

The truth is that words are the most powerful tool we have.  I haven’t always understood this.  I was one of those people who thought the world was becoming too politically correct.  I was of the opinion that it was the meaning behind what was said that mattered and not the word itself.  I was wrong.  This didn’t make me a bad person; it just made me ignorant.  I was ignorant because words had never been used against me.  Maybe they have, but like I said, I’m not too observant.  I also have the blessed ability to not really be affected by much.  I guess you could say I have a “thick skin” or selective deafness, either way the school yard chant about words and rubber and glue kind of resonated with me.  This isn’t to say that I went around hurling hurtful words at people; I’m much too polite for that. These opinions, about words, not people, only came out in private thoughts and conversations.

I can almost point to the day on a calendar when my attitude changed.  I was stranded in an airport reading a book while waiting for my plane to board  when a nicely dressed woman breeze by in a huff.  As she walked away, I heard her say “Those damn #$#$%@ are ruining this country.” This wasn’t something she said under her breath either; the entire terminal collectively gasped at the disparaging remark.  She meant for everyone to hear what she was thinking – not just her target.  We fellow travelers exchanged nervous glances and we mumbled to our companions about how horrid of a woman she was, but not one person called her out or sought out the target of her rage.  Within minutes the normal din of the airport terminal returned and the moment was quickly forgotten.

I was reminded of this incident the other day when I read a comment about President-elect Trump along the lines of “I’d rather have someone I know is a racist than someone who I don’t know what they are hiding.”  This comment sent a chill down my spine.  Suddenly, I was back in that airport terminal witnessing what it was like when a woman thought the world needed to know exactly what kind of person she was.  She too was proud of her hatred; the difference was that the people in that terminal were shocked.

People are no longer shocked by hatred.  In fact, I think it’s become celebrated.  Not caring if your words hurt has become a point of pride.  The attitude that kindness and consideration is nothing more than “PC bullshit” is now the norm.  I use to make excuses for older people because it’s “all they’ve ever known.”  Well that’s only true if they’ve been living under a rock for the past 50 years.  Everyone knows what words are harmful, what words cut so deep that they may as well have been carried in on an arrow.  It’s not okay folks.  I’ve heard people say that our President-elect isn’t a racist or homophobic or any of the other things “the liberals” claim he is.  He may not be, but this week, he just placed the de facto leader of the alt-right movement into a position of influence into the white house.  These are people who carry signs proclaiming that diversity is white genocide.

How many times have you heard the phrase “If you lie down with dogs you get fleas”? This is a phrase that is told to teenagers who are hanging out with the “wrong crowd.”  Well, even if our President-elect had never once said an off-color thing (which he has multiple times) he still didn’t stand against those who did.  While he has had plenty to say about the people protesting him this week, he has yet to speak against the hateful words that many of his supporters have proudly displayed throughout his campaign.  If you are a white, Christian American, please imagine for a second that you are not.  Imagine you’re an African-American mother trying to explain to your children that the men holding the sign saying “make American white again” doesn’t really mean it or that their new president doesn’t really hate them.  Imagine you are a Muslim American family sending your daughter to school everyday scared that she will be assaulted because she’s wearing a hijab.  Imagine you’re a Mexican-American third grader who has only ever known the United States as his home worried that his parents, who have also been here since they were children, are going to be deported because they have never been able to afford to become citizens.  Put yourselves in their shoes for one minute and tell me this is all okay. Tell me these words aren’t harmful – that they’re just words.

So, how do we “kill a word” like the song says?  We kill them first by not using them.  We kill them by reminding people that they are not okay when you hear someone say them. We kill them by replacing them with kind words.  We kill them by realizing that words can hurt.  We kill them by purposefully removing them from our collective vocabulary.  Let’s kill these words once and for all.  Let’s kill the hateful words and replace them with words of love, acceptance, and kindness.  Get up and shake off the fleas. Be kind. Be respectful. Love your neighbor.

 

 

On change

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”  I have heard this phrase many, many times.  I have no idea who said it (Gandhi maybe??) – I know I could find out with a ridiculously fast google search, but I don’t really want to – or need to for that matter.  All that matters are the words and I know what each of the words in that sentence mean.

Be – To exist; to live.  Be is the very essence of who we are.  Be is an action.  It means you are doing something.  I am, I was, I have been, I am being.  It’s also not something you have to do alone.  We can all be.  We can all exist in so many ways.

Change – To make different; to transform.  Do you know how difficult this little word is?  A caterpillar has to fight and struggle to become a butterfly – it doesn’t  just happen overnight.  This is monumental stuff.  That six letter word is one of the hardest tasks in the history of tasks.  Think about some of the ways you can change: you can change your heart, your mind, your attitude; these can be wonderful things, but none are  easy – there’s a level of sacrifice involved.

Want – to desire; to yearn.  Want is probably a word you hear all the time.  You want a drink, your child wants a cookie, or your dog wants a treat.    Want can become mundane, but desire – desire is special.  Something you  desire is something you want from the very depths of your soul.

See – To perceive, or more deeply, to discern.  Think about this word as  more than what you do with your eyes.  When we discern, our eyes are  only a part of it.  To discern is to understand – to know.

World – the earth, and all the people, animals, plants and things in it.    Now this is a big one.  Think about how much space you occupy in your house at  any given moment and about how much space your house occupies in  your town, your town in your state, your state in your country, and now your country in the world.  The space a single person occupies is so insignificant that it is immeasurable – the world is just that huge.

 

With a little word play, “Be the change you want to see in the world” becomes “Exist to be the transformation you desire to know in this giant place we call Earth.”

As I sit here thinking about everything that has changed in the last week, it gets to be somewhat overwhelming.  I decided to start writing this blog on a whim because Facebook posts were not enough to contain all the words I had, and now there are over 300 people a day reading those words.  I’ve always had a lot of words, but now, I have a cause.  I have something worth fighting for – worth changing for.

This change has not been easy.  If a caterpillar can’t break through its cocoon, he dies.  It’s not the transformation that kills him, it’s the inability to leave the safety of the familiar and comfortable world he created.   Like the caterpillar, I’ve had to break out of my cocoon.  My cocoon wasn’t made of silk though; it was made of fear, complacency, and social blindness.  My emergence has had a mostly positive reaction.  I’ve been getting a dozen or so Facebook friend requests and messages everyday from strangers who identify with my words; that’s the good part – the easy part.  I imagine it’s how the butterfly feels after his emergence as he shows off his new wings and bright colors to the world for the first time.  This is where the caterpillar analogy starts to break down because his is a change that all of his little insect friends expected – mine was not.

When I get new messages, either here on WordPress or on Facebook, my phone makes a noise.  That noise has started causing a bit of anxiety.  So much so that I’ve started giving my phone to friends to pre-screen the message, or just delete it if I know it’s going to be antagonizing.  I’m not afraid of confrontation, but I don’t want this to make me have bad feelings toward people.  People challenging my views isn’t what bothers me. What bothers me are the people who send me messages damning me to hell or telling me that I’m not a real Christian anymore because of my transformation.  Not one of these messages have come from a stranger; they are coming from people I know – multiple people from different stages and places in my life.  I know this has been shocking to some and I have lost some people who were at one time very important to me, but that is a sacrifice I have to make.

As I said earlier, change comes with sacrifice.  I am willing to make this sacrifice to stand up for what is right.  If my words can make even one person see that there are people being hurt by others in our country – it’s worth it.  If my words can encourage others to speak up when they see hate toward another person – it’s worth it.  It’s worth it because in order for this to become a better world, I have to be a better human and part of that is not being silent.  What we have now is a country full of hate and distrust and the only way that is going to change is by each person making a decision to fight that hate with every word and every action.  I am being the difference I want to see in this world and I’m not going to stop.

My call to action is simply this: stand with me.  Stand with me to fight racism.  Stand with me to fight sexism and misogyny.  Stand with me for our LGBT friends, our Hispanic friends, our Muslim friends.  Stand with me for all the people who are, rightfully so, too afraid to stand for themselves.  Stand with me against hate of all kinds.  Let’s stand together in love, inclusion, and peace because that’s the only way that we are going to stop all the bad things that are happening all around us.