Category Archives: Uncategorized

Just Make It Stop

Brief health note: I have an appointment with an endocrinologist on November 15.  Hopefully, we can get to the cause of the flushing and labile blood pressure.  And since I have changed my diet, I haven’t felt nauseated and have managed to stay out of the hospital for 3 weeks.

Today I was going to write about how silly/weird/dangerous Trump is making America look to the rest of the world, then I was going to write about the polls in various states regarding the presidential election.  Serious stuff.

But my heart just wasn’t in any of it.

I am sick of hearing and reading about politics.  I am ready for the election to just.be.over.

I mentioned possibly not watching the third and final debate when I last blogged – and I didn’t.  I did try to watch the Alfred E. Smith dinner, but I didn’t watch for long…it was painful.

This dinner, which is televised every time it is on, has always been a funny and light break from the political debates of the day.  I usually watch it and laugh.  It is a non-partisan dinner held by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to raise money for their charities.

But this year, Donald Trump, ever the out-of-step doofus, either didn’t understand the point of the speeches, or just decided he was going to use the dinner as a platform for his vitriol against Hillary Clinton (I tend to think the latter), and he got booed for it.

Booed.  I think that’s a first for the event.

It wasn’t that his jokes were bad – though they were – it’s that he had so few of them.  He did throw his wife Melania under the bus, making a joke about how she copied the First Lady’s speech.  But self-deprecating humor?  Nowhere to be seen.

At one point he compared himself to Jesus, stating he (Trump) also worked for his dad as a carpenter.  For 3 weeks.  Charming.

I couldn’t watch any more of it.  I am just so sick of the sound of Trump’s voice, and of the poisonous lies that come out of his mouth.  He has no sense of humor unless you count his making fun of people who are other-abled and his insulting “pet names” he has for anyone he doesn’t like as “humor”.

Trump brings down every venue he’s in.  Unless, of course, you are a hate-filled misogynist who enjoys laughing at other peoples’ expense, and thinks name-calling is funny.

One person I do like listening to is Elizabeth Warren.  She has such high energy, and such an obvious affection for Hillary and women in this country in general, that it’s always a treat for me to watch her.

She took Trump’s remark about Hillary being a “nasty woman” and embraced it for all of us. Specifically, she stated

“Get this, Donald.  Nasty women are tough.  Nasty women are smart.  And nasty women vote.  And, on November 8, we nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.”  (“Elizabeth Warren Rallies ‘Nasty Women’ to Vote for Clinton”, Asma Khalid, NPR website, 10/24/16)

Yeah!  And all over the country, women are referring to themselves as “nasty women”.  That did pick me up for awhile.

But I am ready for the election to be over, and clearly I think that Hillary is going to win.  The latest AP poll has her leading nationally by 14 points.  I wish I could say I am surprised her lead isn’t larger, but one thing this election period has taught me is that there are far more reactionaries in this country than I had previously thought.

It’s still quite astounding to me that the GOP is running a candidate like Trump, and I wonder if there isn’t a split coming after the election between traditional conservatives and the alt right, resulting in a 3rd party.

That would obviously be a big advantage to the progressives in this country.

But for now, I wish the right would just all shut up.  They don’t have anything interesting to say, they have been insulting women and minorities for years, and if they want to fracture into a hundred different political parties it would suit me just fine.

November 8 can’t come fast enough for me.

Recommendations for this week….the new season of Longmire is on Netflix.  Great series, and worth a look.

Be good.  Be kind.   Happy Samhain!

 

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

domesticviolence1…and also breast cancer awareness month.  I lost a sister to breast cancer, years ago, and I would encourage all my female readers to get regular mammograms.

My focus on domestic violence is mainly because my life was almost lost to it 6 1/2 years ago, so I have first-hand knowledge of the effects it can have on someone.

The night I left my abuser, he had fallen asleep holding a tire iron.  I had no doubt that, once he woke up, he would have beaten me to death with it.  And so I tip-toed out of the house and out to my car, where I had stashed a packed bag in the trunk.

If I had not had a car, I don’t know what I would have done.  I had actually asked 2 people for help leaving (in the form of “come get me”) but both of them let me down.  They ignored my pleas and I was on my own.  Now the car is gone, due to a catastrophic engine failure, and I find myself in a different kind of dire situation due to lack of one – being able to move closer to one of my kids so they can help me in an emergency.

Very soon after, I found the apartment I still live in today, and I was able to get the 2 kittens away from my abuser by “trading” them for the computer I had left behind (the kitties have been living with me happily ever since).

The nightmares have stopped.  I feel safe in my home.  I am ok.  Kitties are happy and healthy.

But I have always thought about other people who have gone – or are going through – the same kind of abuse I did, and how there are still not many services around for them.  I think about how I would run a shelter – one that included pets and also adult children with disabilities – that could really address this problem of domestic abuse.

To have someone endure abuse, and then have to decide if he/she can leave pets behind is an additional burden placed on an already stressed-out survivor.  As far as his or her adult children go, most survivors choose to stay and not leave their child behind.  Most shelters – and this includes the one I fled to – will not allow adult children to stay in the shelter with the survivor.

This is unacceptable.  This policy prevents people from getting the help they need.

In an ideal shelter – in a shelter I envision – there wouldn’t be one house with bunk beds in each room.  It would be more like a compound, with individual units (like motel rooms) where each family and their pet(s) could stay while transitioning to permanent housing.

Counselors would be assigned to the units (maybe 1 counselor to 4 units, for example), and they would help the survivor obtain whatever was needed to help him or her start a new life – whether it be permanent housing, a job, further education, medical assistance, or other resources.

That is my vision.  Unfortunately, I am unable to move on this due to my recurring transportation and illness issues, but maybe this will spark some action from someone who is able to help.

This vision is one of the things that motivates me to continue to push to get well.  Clearly, a shelter that operated as I think it should would cost more than how they are run today, but that’s where grant writing and fundraising come into play.  It also would help to have a paying job on the side.

That’s where the motivation is for me to go back to school and either get my PhD, or find some way to get a license (licensed professional counselor).

So much to do, so little time.  But I have to get well first.  And I may have to travel out of state (or at least to Pittsburgh or Hershey) to get the medical care I need.

On Friday I will see one of my primary care physicians and see how quickly I can get an appointment with an endocrinologist.  Medicare being what it is, I can’t even try for an appointment without a referral from my pcp.  Fingers crossed that I can get an appointment soon, and that it’s in Blair County where I live.

I am a dreamer.  I am a survivor.  And right now, I can use all the help I can get.

Today’s recommendation, if you can stomach it, would be the 3rd and final presidential debate tonight at 9 PM EST.  I watched the other 2 but am not sure how much of this final one I will watch – my blood pressure is high enough, thanks.

The Saturday Night Live parody this Saturday should be quite funny, however, and no doubt we will have every channel doing post-debate analysis anyway, so if you don’t watch it live I don’t think you will miss anything.

In the meantime, here is a short clip of our president that illustrates, for me, how much I will miss him when he leaves office:

I will miss First Lady Michelle Obama, too:

Be good.  Be kind.  Take care of one another.

Not Secular, Not Elvis, Not Even Close

I need an iPod or something.  That way, I don’t have to put my fingers in my ears and sing “la la la la la I can’t hear you”, which I literally did on Wednesday.

Yes, I really did that.  And, though it was done humorously, I did it so I wouldn’t have to hear what I knew was going to be a bunch of pro-Trump drivel from…

…yeah, one of those entitled seniors I wrote about last week.  He’s also the guy who shouts into the microphone at every monthly meeting of the volunteer organization I belong to, when he “leads us all in prayer” before lunch.  He can hear fine, he just shouts a lot, because he’s one of those people who seems to think that “louder” means “important”.

I am going to back up here a bit.

Those who read my Facebook posts were subjected to the shorter version of what happened in my life on Wednesday (feel free to skip).  I had to attend an awards lunch – yes, it was mandatory and yes, I paid the van service $6 for transportation to/from the lunch – which, like all meetings of this volunteer organization, is held in a church.

The senior organization that administers this volunteer program (which is federal) actually owns and runs the van service – but they won’t transport anyone under 65 for free for their mandatory meetings.  It’s ridiculous, and they won’t give any explanation, they just say “no”.  They reimburse gas mileage to people who drive, but do not pay for or reimburse van costs or bus fare.  It doesn’t make any sense to me.

So I walked into the church common room, or whatever they call it, and the first thing I saw was this:

Trump Sign

This is a picture of the “snack table”, where the volunteer organization leaves breakfast bars for us, since the damn meetings start at 8:30 or 9 am.  In case you can’t read this sign, it says “please 1 per person Thank you “Donald Trump” (sic)”.

I suspect it was the pastor of the church who wrote this, because he is present for every meeting (even though he isn’t a member of the program) and he fancies himself a funny guy who occasionally makes jokes about President Obama and “liberals”.

He’s a Methodist minister.  I used to attend a Methodist church, years ago when I was married (long story for another time), and the minister of that church wasn’t anything like this man.  In fact, the Methodist churches in Memphis tend to be fairly liberal.

I don’t know why he should care if anyone takes more than one bar, because as far as I know he doesn’t buy them.  But…seniors are really like children, you see, and it’s up to him to make sure we obey all the rules. *Rolls eyes*

I thought, “Uh oh, this doesn’t bode well.”  Any reference to Trump doesn’t bode well with me.

The program started out with door prizes.  Oddly, in the middle of this, the pastor walked up to the front, took the mic from the volunteer coordinator (who is a member of his church, by the way) and announced…

“There’s been a bus accident.”

Everyone gasped.  As you do, if you think “oh I know people who ride the bus” and so on.

He continued, “It was Hillary Clinton’s campaign bus.”

It dawned on me that this was a joke.  Ha…ha…ha.

He then said, “Three boys pulled Hillary out of the bus.  She says to them, ‘Since you saved my life, I’ll reward you with anything you like.’  He describes what the first two boys want (a car and something else) and said, “The third boy asked for a tombstone.”

His punchline?  “Hillary asked, ‘why a tombstone?’  Because, the boy said, when my father finds out I saved you, he’s going to kill me.”

Everyone laughed heartily, except for the two African-Americans in the room, and me.

The pastor walked back to where he usually stands at the back of the room, a smug smile on his face.

He had to pass me on the way.  I asked him, “Why did you say that?  Not everyone here is a Republican, you know.”

He looked at me as if I had two heads, and kept right on walking.

The other people at my table looked horrified, because I had spoken to the pastor that way. Two of them were my friends (or so I thought) with whom I went through training.

I explained, “There are Democrats in this room, I bet, and Hillary supporters too.  Plus, this was inappropriate, this isn’t the place for partisan politics.  I found it offensive.”

Again, I got the “she’s got two heads” look.  And no response.

Yes, my day was off to a bright start.

The rest of the morning was fairly uneventful.  I won a gift card to a local gas station.

I don’t own a car.

I guess I will give it to Nancy Downstairs.

The volunteer coordinator and her minions assistants, in their usual bumbling way, had not prepared enough door prizes for everyone.  Now, that caused an uproar with the people who didn’t win anything.   They were threatening to write letters (to whom, I have no idea), draw up petitions, and call their local politicians.

I’m serious.  They really did say these things.

Violate church and state?  Who cares?

Don’t get a door prize?  Up in arms!!

Lunch time rolled around – yay, it’s not Meals on Wheels this time – and the volunteer coordinator announced on the mic, “Come lead us all in prayer, Jack.” (Not his real name, by the way)

Jack obliged and shouted into the microphone, ending (of course) with “in Jesus’ name”.

I was so glad he didn’t ask his god to bless Trump or make any political references.  So glad.

Of course, everyone bowed their heads except for me.  I keep hoping one day I will find another person who doesn’t do this, so I can befriend him or her.

While standing in line for lunch, my “friends” and I passed Jack, who was on the verge of telling the “friend” behind me why he voted for Trump.  That’s when I did the finger in ears la la la thing.  That got a few laughs but it really helped me, because I truly could not hear Jack.

“What a blessing”, as they say in Memphis.

After lunch, we were subjected “treated” to the musical stylings of an Elvis impersonator.  Who, for some odd reason, didn’t impersonate Elvis, he just sang some of his songs.  He played guitar and warbled (pretty badly, I might add) accompanied by recorded music.

It was awful.

And there was Jack, in the back, shouting out “Play (insert title of Elvis song here)!” after every song.  Thankfully, he was ignored.

But then it got worse.

Mr. Elvis Impersonator Who Isn’t Really then began to play gospel songs.  And, of course, the majority of the brainwashed seniors sang along, off-key, or just shouted the lyrics.

One of my “friends” turned to me and said…

“Come on, sing!!”

“I’m not Christian,” I replied.

She laughed.

“I’m not kidding,” I said.

She laughed again, and then turned away.

I was dismissed.

More Bitching, Celtic Witching…and Ellen DeGeneres

In that order.  Skip down to the next page if you only want to read the “witching” and “Ellen” parts.

I was recently in Memphis, visiting my son and daughter-in-law, and the subject of social media and Facebook came up in conversation.  Despite the fact that both of them are tech-savvy (his job is doing computer administration stuff), they do not “do Facebook”.

The reason is simple: what you put online never, ever goes away.  They are private people and they don’t like the thought of their personal lives being on the internet for all to see.

Even programs where the developers state you can “erase” things – “Snapchat” comes to mind, for example – it’s never really erased.  It can be buried in your device, perhaps, but if someone really wants it they can get it.

No program makes it impossible, too, for someone to just copy what you write and post, meaning it can be out there in cyberspace, in perpetuity.

Ok, so I understand and respect their position.  Which is why my Facebook page has NO pictures of either of them, or their dogs, nor will it have, ever.

We also discussed the more vacuous things that are found on Facebook – pictures of peoples’ meals, of everything they bought that day, of every party they attended and of everyone they ever knew.

Then there are the one or two-line homilies about the nature of life and so on.  Most of those are banal.

My posts often come under fire for “being negative”, as discussed in the last blog post.  So I decided that, on my way back from Memphis, I would only post trivial and positive things.

The first post was when I was in the Memphis airport at 5 AM, waiting for my flight to board.  I commented on how nice the airport is, with its redesign and blues music on the loudspeaker.

Then I posted from Pittsburgh, stating I was waiting for the final leg of my flight to board, drinking a latte and playing “Words with Friends” with a friend (who was also on Facebook).

Finally, I posted when I got home, stating my cats were upset (I should have included a cute picture, my bad) but that the flight – in a 6-seater, one-prop plane – was terrific.

Ugh.  Who in hell cares??

To me, it was all inconsequential stuff that happens in my life, and in everyone else’s life, too.

I rarely even think about stuff like that, or if I do it’s only for a minute or so.

My head is filled with “what can I do to make the world better?” and “how can this experience/thing I saw illustrate the point that people need to be kind” and “how do I frame this struggle with illness/disability so that it can educate others?”

I don’t care – and I suspect you probably don’t, either – what flavor my latte is, aside from what to order at the coffeehouse counter.  Unless I work for the coffeehouse, what possible reason could I have to take a picture of it and post it on Facebook?

The Memphis airport plays blues music.  Big deal.  Unless it plays music recorded by one of my friends, and I can use Facebook to promote that, why post about it?

Who cares who I play “Words with Friends” with?  Or that I had a nice flight?  Why should I waste my time, and yours, writing about things like that?

Yet this seems to be what the majority of people on Facebook do, every day all day.

Not everyone has to post earth-shattering news/opinions and so on, that’s not my point.  But it’s like there is no filter on what they post, or even priorities.

A picture of someone’s lunch has the same weight for them as their snippet about their deity or their philosophy of life.

There’s something really disturbing about that.  Disturbingly shallow.

Aside #1: I do have friends who post pics of meals for other reasons, such as they created something for their elderly mother – and I like posts like that.  Because they carry meaning about life, and relationships.  Same goes for posts about their new cars, and new houses, and other good things that come their way – I like to know my friends are doing well.

But I cannot post meaningless trivia about my life – it seems so self-indulgent, and it assumes people want to know every dumb little thing I do all day.  And, hey, unless someone is a stalker, I cannot imagine why they would want to know all that.

I suppose I could just give up posting on Facebook entirely, and I actually have considered that. Still might.  I find it rude when people write me to advise me to “stop being negative”, or go so far as to post those banners or whatever-you-call-them with sayings about how messed-up negative people are…on my timeline, really?

I could just “unfriend” those people.  I haven’t decided what I want to do yet.  But, again, this feels exclusionary to me.  After all the “cliques” I’ve been tossed out of, from high school onwards, all the jobs I have lost due to my opinions, now I’m being pushed out of Facebook for not conforming?

Really?  Not even by the actual Facebook admins, but by people I know socially?

Ok, rant over.

Relativism and Bestowing Kindness

I posted a rant on Facebook today.  It was a bit different from other angry posts I have written in the space that asks, “What’s on your mind?”

Because this one was directed very specifically at a few people I had, at one time, considered friends.

Oh, not just Facebook friends – nearly all of them are/were friends “in real life”.  From high school, and from former workplaces, these are people that I may have had what I would have considered “minor ideological disagreements” with, but whom I generally considered to be kind and decent people.

But, in keeping with this particularly “grinchy” holiday season, some decided to repost some pretty vitriolic and/or holier-than-thou passive-aggressive treatises this week.

The essays are formulaic in that they usually have a big picture on top of the text that spouts some directive such as “like and pass this on if you agree!”  Then the text that follows is often what apparently the writer thinks is a brilliant and original set of thoughts strung together but which is actually a mishmash of right-wing platitudes.

The tone of the treatise is always smug, a kind of “oh we poor, beleaguered, hard-working property owners who are being oppressed at every turn by filthy ignorants wanting equal rights and basic essentials like food and housing” textual equivalent of wailing and tearing their hair out.

Sometimes they throw veterans in the mix, as if public assistance agencies deliberately cross-check with the VA in order to steal benefits from one to give to the other.  It goes something like this: “People who have NEVER worked a DAY in their LIVES get housing and food and free utilities and free Obamaphones and free healthcare while OUR VETERANS who RISKED THEIR LIVES to KEEP YOU FREE are homeless, starving, cold, phone-less, and waiting MONTHS for a doctor’s appointment…”

I don’t know what kind of mind thinks these things up, but it takes a special kind of craftiness to twist “facts” like this.  The “fact” is, although both types of agencies are funded by public money, they have their own budgets, and their own advocates in Congress and elsewhere who lobby for funding.

“Welfare” and the VA are entities that endeavor to assist people with all kinds of issues – and that’s where the similarity ends.  They have nothing else in common, and do not share resources or funding.

But it’s important for extremely conservative people (and I use that word “people” in the broadest sense) to set up false equivalents like this because they can’t gain much support by saying:

We don’t like poor people because sometimes they smell, are often mentally ill, sometimes are disabled in ways that make us uncomfortable, don’t dress nice/appropriately, don’t fit in the middle-class life script of stable family-college-steady job-retirement, aren’t the same culturally as we are, don’t go to our church or any church for that matter, and generally make us not want to be around them or even think about them.

So it must be their fault, because WE did everything right in our lives and we’re just fine.  Why should WE pay to support people who messed up their lives?  Oh, except veterans, because…imperialism/oil/we-hate-Muslims.  And “I support the troops” is the mandatory addition to any statement criticizing US foreign policy, especially if it involves killing.  Have to make that clear – after all, we don’t want to be seen as traitors for questioning our military!

It’s quite apparent to anyone with basic intelligence that right-wing people in all classes hate the poor.  Even some right-wing poor people hate the poor!  If they had their way, which thankfully they do not (yet), everyone would be made to conform to their way of living or be locked up or given no help at all so they could just starve/freeze to death.

And, despite the zillions of times people point out the statistics that state our most vulnerable populations are children, the elderly, and the disabled, right-wingers persistently try to assert that most people getting public assistance are able-bodied young people who can work but won’t.

The “disabled” are all faking, are mentally ill (which to right-wingers means “not ill at all, just morally bankrupt/not saved/weak”), or have substance abuse issues (which, again, to right-wingers means they “just need to stop, the weaklings”).

If people happen to be born disabled, they ought to be put in institutions where we don’t have to see them or interact with them.

To someone like these mean-spirited, rather dim-witted individuals, state institutions for special-needs people are a good use of their tax money.  Because hey, it’s all about them and their comfort level, because they are so physically, morally, and mentally perfect – kind of like Aryans or something.

And Jesus loves them, don’t you know.  The Bible tells them so!  Some Bible that I guess I never studied, because in the ones I read, Jesus hung out with lepers and other “undesirables”, the same kinds of people right-wing Christians want to kill/imprison/hide away in institutions.  He even touched them and stuff!

So, the relativism the title of this post refers to?  I’m getting to that now.

I have read several things on the internet (comments and articles), and have had people state to my face that the people who speak about the poor in the disgusting and cruel manner they do “are unhappy people who aren’t aware of how hateful they’re being.”

Those people, it is asserted, deserve my kindness too.

No, they don’t.

First of all, I think they are fully aware of what they’re saying, because they say it loud and they say it often.  They can quote Faux News fake statistics to back-up their boneheaded opinions.

I do not have a poker face.  Never did, never will. So unless I am, for some reason, wearing a Halloween mask when people say these horrid things to me, they are more than aware of the reaction they have elicited.

Additionally, they often whisper or speak in low tones when they say hateful things.  That indicates they are aware that other people, in general,  would disapprove of their ideas.

Since this is hardly Seattle, and they are unlikely to be confronted about their ideas by anyone except me or perhaps Nancy Downstairs (who doesn’t suffer mean fools either), this tells me they know their ideas are unacceptable by social norms.

Know = awareness.

Next reason?  Oh yeah, they’re unhappy souls.

So?

I don’t care if they’re unhappy that their mortgage rate is too high, or that they have to pay $400/month in Medicare because they make over $200,000/year (look it up, that’s the rate), or that they hate having to choose between buying an $800 iPhone and buying a new purse – when “poor people” can get free Obamaphones!!!

“Obamaphone”: a basic cell phone (Kyocera Jax is an example of one – I know because I had one) that does nothing but call and text.  You get 350 minutes of call-time free, which isn’t a lot if you are disabled and have a lot of doctor’s appointments, or are looking for a job, etc.  You get unlimited text messages.  

It’s not an expensive smartphone.  That’s a flat-out lie.  Here is the site for it: Safelink.  They have income guidelines – you can’t just get one because you want one.

The point is, I don’t care if they’re unhappy.  They need to shut up.

To these unhappy folks I say:

Either deal with your “terrible” situation, or don’t.  But it’s not poor peoples’ faults your car payment is too high.

Yes, I guess you could reason that it is poor peoples’ faults because you have to pay taxes, and some of that money goes to social services.  And so you put down less money on your car, so consequently have higher car payments than you’d like.

Heck it can’t be the car manufacturer’s fault for the high car prices, right? (“It’s the unions,” I hear you muttering)

Or the banks, for high interest rates?

Hey, Mr and Mrs Fox News, guess what?  Many people who get food stamps or other assistance do so because their jobs don’t pay them a decent wage – the kind of wage you get.

You go look up the minimum wage and tell me how you would be able to have a house or even just a car on that amount of money.

Go on, I’ll wait.  *whistles tunelessly*

Yeah, you either didn’t do it, or you did and now you know that you cannot afford those luxurious groceries on minimum wage.   Why, produce alone will run you $50 just buying apples, onions, potatoes, basic stuff.

So maybe you don’t care – you earn a decent living, screw all those losers who work at McDonald’s and Walmart…

Ok, so let’s cut out taxes for social services.  You’ll need to pay more for police, prisons, and military because we po’ folk aren’t just going to quietly starve to death or die from health problems in our shabby apartments, we’ll be hobbling out in the streets long before it gets to that point.

We’re uppity that way.  And some of us, you just can’t kick us enough to keep us down.

Hey, when you become disabled, we’ll help you, too.  Even though you’re an asshole who probably doesn’t deserve it.  Because we think things like food, shelter, and healthcare are things everyone ought to have.

We’re not mean and nasty like you.

No, I am not going to be kind and understanding to people who have many things to be thankful for in their lives – comparatively speaking – but who are hateful in word and deed to the poor and disabled.

They don’t need kindness and understanding – they need a good dose of reality.

They need to – just once – imagine themselves in another person’s situation.  How would it feel to push a shopping cart in the streets in the middle of winter, that contained every possession you own?

Why would someone do that?  What would they be thinking and feeling?  Would they be cold? Hungry?  Depressed?  Ashamed and hurt when people give them dirty looks?

No, don’t anyone dare lecture me that I am being unkind to people who look down on people less fortunate.  My priorities are straight, thanks very much.

I am thoroughly disappointed in these so-called “friends” and their hateful posts.  Besides the disgustingly callous aspect, it’s disappointing in that they are in “monkey-see-monkey-do” mode.

Donald Trump and other Republicans can trash the poor, the disabled, the “other”, so it must be ok for them to do so too, right?

So in addition to these “friends” being morally bankrupt hypocrites, they also haven’t a brain between them that they can use to think original thoughts.

They just have unhappy lives/marriages/not enough material possessions so they’re going to take that out on the first downtrodden person they encounter – but probably not to their face.

No, they repost it on Facebook where no one can confront them or, if they do confront them, they can rally their other cowardly right-wing, pseudoChristian, xenophobic, racist, sexist, entitled, smug, holier-than-thou jingoistic Facebook warrior friends to come to their defense.

There.  I feel oh so much better!

Weirdness of the week comes from last night’s Republican debate.  Ben Carson, narcissist extraordinaire, when asked about how he felt about carpet-bombing that resulted in the deaths of children and other innocents, first replied, “Yes”, then said this, referring to children he has had to operate on (this maniac is a surgeon):

“I say to them, ‘we’re going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor’, they’re not happy about it, believe me. And they don’t like me very much at that point, but later on, they love me.” (“Watch Ben Carson Debate Weirdness: I Told Kids ‘We’re Going to Have to Open Your Head Up’ [VIDEO]”, Oliver Willis, Addicting Info Website, 12/16/2015)

Yeah, populations we bomb and kill eventually learn to love us for doing that.  And this man wants to be president??

Recommendation for the week: Go out and look at holiday lights in your neighborhood or elsewhere.  They can have a soothing effect, especially when you’re driving around.  I would love to do an experiment sometime on the physical effects of lights like that, and how that influences mood.  Hmmm, a dissertation idea!

Be good.  Be kind – but not to petty-minded, mean people.  It does no good and will only sadden you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, I Wasn’t Blaming Christians…

Sigh.  I should have known better.

I got some heat yesterday for my post about the San Bernardino shootings, from Christians.

So now I feel as if I have to explain my comments, because it wasn’t my intent to upset people who have a belief system that is different from mine.

I made the comment that it pissed me off to see pictures of the survivors of the shootings standing outside the building where it happened, holding hands and praying.

YES, they have every right to do that, public building notwithstanding.  Though, technically…

Perhaps my complaint ought to rest with the press, who took the picture.  I really don’t know.

It could have ended badly for those people if Christians – or non-Muslims – were the targets. I’m pretty sure they didn’t consider that, as at that time not much was known about what happened or why.

My reaction to it was based on the continuing, nearly constant public displays of people asserting their right to pray everywhere – at least in Central PA (and they do that in Memphis, too, where I moved here from).

Also, there are the constant comments online and in the media from Muslims asserting their rights to believe as they wish, always with the caveat that terrorists “aren’t them, it’s the other guys”.   CAIR comes to mind, for example.  They can always be counted upon to deny that anyone “bad” is connected in any way to Islamic extremism.

I am not commenting on CAIR’s funding or anything else the right-wing crazies accuse them of – I am basing my comments strictly on what CAIR says publicly, in press conferences.

Basically, my message was this:  I am tired of extremists of any kind.  I am tired of people stomping around and screaming about their religious views.  ANY religious views.

And lately, it’s everywhere – this “war on Christmas” silliness that gets bandied about on public transportation and the senior van (what happened to all the progressives when they got older?), on the radio, on TV, in the gift shop I volunteer in, and so on.

On the internet, it’s Islamic extremists and their anti-Semitic rhetoric on Facebook, their insistence on using the comments section of the “Times of Israel” to troll their hatred for Jews (and Christians), and their CAIR press conferences that no one seems to ever comment on unless they are batshit, Pam Geller-like crazy.

I AM SICK OF ALL OF IT.

NO, I do not blame Christians for the attack in San Bernardino.  I made my comments, just wondering, if the constant drum-beating by conservatives and fundamentalist Christians might, JUST MIGHT, have triggered something horrible in an already unstable fundamentalist of another kind.

What those two people did is on them.  Period.

Why people cannot just be who they are, without pushing it on everyone within earshot, and deal with each other as fellow human beings, is beyond me.

I realize it is in the nature of fundamentalists to convert everyone they see, or that non-believer faces some dire consequence either by some evil spirit on earth or in the afterlife.

I think I speak for most when I say this: WE ALL KNOW THERE IS A BIBLE, AND A KORAN.  WE KNOW WE CAN READ THESE BOOKS IN THE LIBRARY OR BUY THEM AT BOOKSTORES.  IF WE DO NOT BELIEVE AS YOU DO, IT’S NOT BECAUSE WE’VE NEVER HEARD OF YOUR RELIGION.

Shut up already.  That was my only message.  To everyone.  Quit trying to proselytize everyone you meet, quit making a show of your conversations with your deity (Matthew 6:5), and don’t assume everyone believes as you do.

Don’t assume that if you threaten people on Facebook, spew Islamist extremist hate anywhere on the internet, or post videos on YouTube instructing people on how to kill Jews, that people will just turn a blind eye now.  The ‘youth group’ (as I like to think of them) Anonymous has already put you on notice.

And after the San Bernardino shootings, most Americans are probably going to be a little more watchful, and a little more willing to report the potential for terrorist attacks or hate crimes now.

And, for the sake of everything sane and moral, don’t shoot/blow up/vandalize people or places where people gather who disagree with you – this includes Planned Parenthood, mosques, synagogues, and New Age stores unluckily named Isis (you know, after the goddess).

I think that just about covers everyone.  Ok?

 

 

Shooting in San Bernardino, California

I was going to write about Syrian refugees and the difficult – if not impossible – position they find themselves in, just trying to get out of Syria.  I’ll probably publish that next week, depending on the news.

Yesterday as I left the gift shop where I volunteer, I saw a “breaking news” story on one of the televisions there.  Three Two people had entered a facility that assists developmentally-delayed people and started shooting.

14 people are dead.

There isn’t a lot of information at this point, though the shooting happened yesterday.

The latest report is that police chased an SUV into Redlands, stopped the vehicle and there was a shootout.  The man and a woman – the shooters – are dead.  A third suspect is in police custody, and not much is known about who that person is.

At least one shooter is a U.S. citizen.

The dead male shooter has been identified as Syed Reswan Farook. The dead female shooter has been identified as Tashfeen Malik.  No one is sure what her relationship to the man is, perhaps the dead man’s wife.

No one is commenting on a motive.  Initial reports indicate that one of the shooters had an argument with someone at the site of the shooting, and came back with one other person, or two other people, depending on the report, armed with AK-47s and dressed all in black.

Of course, there are the usual murmurs that it’s a terrorist attack.  NBC reports that “David Bowdich, the FBI’s assistant director in Los Angeles, said the incident was being regarded as ‘possibly terrorism’ ” (“At Least 14 Dead in California Shooting, Two Suspects Killed”, NBC website, M. Alex Johnson, Corky Seimaszko, Pete Williams, and Tom Winter, 12/2/2015, 9:49PM).

Police also found suspicious items in the building – “rudimentary explosive devices” connected to a remote control (which was found in their vehicle).  The shooters were also wearing body armor.  This apparently was a planned attack.

Some things struck me about this incident.  The first thing was, there were reports that the male shooter became angry during some kind of company function (either training or party, it’s not clear which).

I wonder if it had anything to do with the hateful, ignorant comments I hear on a daily basis about Muslims.  That doesn’t excuse the shooting, but it does kind of go a ways towards explaining it.

The second thing was, people were texting others during the attack – who does that?? – and asking for prayer.  People were seen outside, after the attack, holding hands and praying.

That pissed me off.  Sorry, but it did.  These kinds of things just serve to make whatever happened some kind of religious conflict between people and their gods.  It reduces a complicated set of circumstances to “our god will save us” and “their god is evil”.

If the Christian god was so involved in peoples’ lives, don’t you think he/she would have prevented the shooting in the first place?

When Muslims pray, do these Christians really think the prayer is re-routed to some other deity than the one they think is “all-knowing, all-present”?

What about the rest of us?  Why do we have to be stuck in the middle between fanatical Muslims and fanatical Christians?  Both groups incite and feed off one another.

Many Christians think they are entitled to force their religion on everyone, no matter where they are.  Any attempts to curb this are met with screams that they are being persecuted.

Many Muslims think they are entitled, also, to force their religion on everyone, but when they are determined to do that it is usually by violence.   Attempts to weed out the violent factions from the lesser, more mainstream followers are met with screams that they are being discriminated against.

I am sick of both groups.  Shut up already.

The rest of us don’t bother anyone.  We don’t hassle Christians for praying everywhere, and we don’t hassle Muslims for wearing hijabs.  We don’t hassle the Amish for dressing old-timey and traveling in buggies, and we don’t hassle Hassidic Jews for wearing beards and having different haircuts.

If any person does, they are usually arrested and punished in some way.  That’s as it should be.

What is the difference between, say, the Amish and fundamentalist Christians?  They both have what the rest of us might call “strict beliefs”.

The difference is, the Amish never make any attempt to convert or push their ideas on “the English” (what they call the rest of us).  They have their communities, and they follow U.S. laws and so on.  They don’t run for office or make political statements.

What on earth is the matter with these 2 religious sects – Muslims and Christians – that they cause so much destruction and heartache wherever they are?  Why is it these 2 particular religions feel that they have to get involved in politics and try to legislate their beliefs on the rest of us?

Yes, the people in these religions who do this are the fundamentalist sects.  But there seems to be no attempt made by others of their religion to tell them to knock it off, to explain to them that our country is not dictated by religious principles, and that it never will be unless they want to kill or jail sizable portions of the population.

Some people will brush this off as some kind of aberrant behavior that has nothing to do with religion.  A “workplace dispute”.  Yeah ok, but…

…we do this at our peril.  It depends on what the “workplace dispute” was about.

Was it a situation where the person had taken all he could take, hearing cracks about his culture and/or religion day in and day out?  Because, you know, anyone saying that this doesn’t happen is either very stupid or very foolish or just doesn’t want to see what’s going on.

Was it a personal situation where he just got angry about some job-related thing that happened one day?

I really doubt it, as most people do not have body armor, automatic weapons, and home-made bombs just sitting around their house for them to retrieve after some random argument.

This was planned.  So whatever “dispute” this guy had with others, it must have been pretty serious in order for him to not only do this, but to enlist the help of his wife/girlfriend to do it, too.

And they left behind a 6 month old baby.  That doesn’t sound like some random workplace dispute to me.

If we dismiss this, as we dismissed the shooting at Fort Hood in 2009 (psychiatrist enters base and starts shooting; he had contacted Al Quaeda and had become radicalized months before the shooting), as a “workplace dispute”, we’re not looking into a cause that might be preventable.

I am not sure why this seems to be such a taboo subject.  If the authorities are afraid it will increase anti-Islamic sentiment in this country by examining how this person thought and why, they’re too late.

This country is already experiencing a major anti-Islamic sentiment across the board.

I don’t think examining things is ever a bad thing.  I think it’s the only way we can understand the world.

But, of course, we just killed the two attackers, so it’s not likely we will ever know now.

And we will continue to kill attackers, because there just isn’t a decent policy in place to handle situations like these – not one that works, anyway.

This is not a good thing.  This reduces our police to combatants in a war they do not understand, battling people who may or may not have a political or religious agenda.

It will not decrease the inflammatory and disgusting language used by fundamentalist Christians, right-wing loudmouths, and now some mainstream “concerned citizens”.  And so, perhaps, the cycle continues.

If I, as a peaceful Pagan, get angry and feel intimidated by the things said on the bus by ignorant Fox News watchers, I can only imagine how someone whose beliefs are entrenched would react to people like that.  After all, they don’t even discuss Pagans.  They discuss Muslims.

And if that kind of language and pontificating upsets me to the point where I want to throw something at them, I cannot even begin to understand how upsetting it would be to a Muslim of any stripe.

I can, however, imagine how a fundamentalist Muslim who is fed up might react to it.

So, my opinion is, we ignore fundamentalists of any religion at our own risk.  Because they are not harmless.  Even if they never physically hurt anyone, they still do a great deal of damage…

…to the rest of us.

I see a big ol’ game of “let’s pretend” going on.  Let’s just ignore that there is any religious aspect to any of this, and maybe it will just go away.  Because we really do not want to offend any religious people, except for maybe Pagans and Rastas and other “weirdos” (who are usually the first ones rounded up and jailed/killed during a fascist regime).

We need to have a serious conversation in this country about what constitutes “religious freedom”, and what is just pushingpushingpushing beliefs on the community at large.

Christians are going to have to take a hard look at some of their brothers and sisters and examine how their religious views mask a more serious and hateful agenda. Or even just look at their flawed thinking where “religious freedom” is concerned.

I honestly think that a lot of Christians – or at least the ones I know – don’t realize how their constant assertion of their religion comes off to others who don’t believe as they do.  In other words, “smug”, and “self-righteous”.

A brief example would be of a woman I volunteer with.  Someone she didn’t know died in her apt building last week.  Yet this woman approached the man’s relatives as they were cleaning out the man’s apartment to ask if he had “known Jesus”.

She didn’t even know these people!  But she told me she just had to ask because she was so afraid the man had gone to hell “for not knowing our Lord”.

She didn’t see a thing wrong with that.  And therein lies the problem.

I have a friend who posts a lot on Facebook, who often makes the point that religions are the basis of conflict in the world.

I still believe the primary conflict in the world is class-based.

But he has a good point.  Religion can serve to justify some pretty horrific behavior, including wars.   And I think we as a society really need to have a few conversations about this.

Gone are the days of WWII, for example, when we could just declare that a god was on one side or another (America’s), and everyone seemed to just accept that and repeat it often.

But certainly not everyone felt or thought like that.  I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t.  Yes, they went to church but I never heard them express the idea that their god supported one side or another in war.

They kept quiet, though.  A lot of people kept quiet – they had to have done – because the popular culture at the time was in this “praise god and pass the ammunition” mode.

We keep quiet now at our peril.

We cannot reduce what happened to gun laws (or lack of), mental health issues, workplace disputes, Muslim terrorists, or lack of “values” (translation: Christian values).  We need to look at all aspects of what happened, with an objective eye, so we can figure out maybe how to prevent something like this happening again.

Knee-jerk reactions are not helpful.  We need people to analyze this with a dispassionate sensibility.

I wish, more than ever, that my dad was still alive.  He would have had an objective perspective on all this.  I really can’t think of anyone else who could even rise to the challenge.

Someone with “no dog in this fight”.

It’s a sad and scary holiday season this year.  I hope this is the last of the violence, but I won’t hold my breath.

Weirdness for this week: Sorry, even conducting a search that included Ripley’s Believe It or Not website, I got nothing.  Either I am just not in the mood, or my tolerance for “strange” has increased.

Recommendation for the week is a series on Netflix called “Miss Fisher’s Mysteries.”  It’s a continuing story about a female amateur detective in Australia, circa 1920.   Nearly everyone in it has English accents, not Australian – which, for me, is a good thing because I find Australian accents nearly as grating as Arkansas ones.  Anyway, it’s good for a look, even just for the costumes, sets, and vintage vehicles.

Be good.  Be kind.  Speak up and challenge people when they say ignorant, hateful things – no matter what their religion/political point of view is.