Posted in Activism, commentary, community, holidays, Human Rights, Humanity, politics

MLK Day

Until 1988, I didn’t know much about Martin Luther King, Jr. Nothing was taught about him in history class (of course, no history class I was in got much further than WW2), and so it passed under my radar.

In college, I had a friend named Dee Dee who suggested, since we were near Atlanta on Spring Break, that we go see the MLK Center opened by Dr. King’s widow.

We went on our journey that day and I didn’t know what to expect from our visit, but I left the MLK Center very reflective and sad that someone who fought so hard for equality was persecuted for it. He was not perfect, but he was important. For all of us.

My life is richer because of the diversity in it. May we all work together so we are all on equal footing to reach our dreams.

Happy birthday to the King of all Dreamers.

Posted in Activism, badassery, GLBT, LGBT, politics, safe, Uncategorized

SAFE SPACES

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Whether you agree with the safety pin movement, I ask you to think about all the marginalized people groups you know of, and friends you know who are labeled into those groups.  While a safety pin is a small gesture, a gesture some mock or ridicule or label too small, it’s a step in the right direction.  The hearts are in the right place. We shall soon see if their hands, feet, mouths and ears are in the right place as well.

I’ve always thought of myself as a safe space for people. In hindsight, I know that was not always true.  I was often judgemental and closed minded.  While I know that I’ve come quite a long way (a canyon’s divide) from where I once was, I’m only beginning to understand how to be a safe space, and I hope to become a proactive safe space.

One step at a time. First I must ensure I am a safe space for those who need it. I must seek to understand a pain or fear I perhaps have not experienced myself.

Second, I must listen more. I do a lot of talking. I seek to heal, empower, and encourage people with words. Sometimes, safety is found in my silence.  Sometimes, it’s found in the words I’m afraid to say aloud. No more fear.

I’m still trying to find words for all I’m feeling right now.  Still digging through. The main point of this post is to say I’m a safe space for those in fear, those who feel unheard, threatened, or pushed to the margins. As a single, middle-aged woman, I am in some of those margins myself.

For now, I hope this is a good first step. If you need a safe space, I’m here for you.

Posted in GLBT, LGBT, politics, Uncategorized

AFTERMATH

Spent a lot of time listening, counseling, and reassuring people today. I hope I made a difference for some of you.

This election was so polarizing, but what I have seen is that most people on either side wanted the same thing – change. I also feel like either candidate would have led to some buyer’s remorse at some point for people on both sides. Most politicians don’t keep their promises. The Founding Fathers set up our government so that one person can’t control everything.Some of you might not understand how this election affected many women, people of color, gays, Muslims, immigrants and children/family of immigrants, those who have been sexually assaulted, those who have gone to bed hungry, those who had medical issues and can’t keep up with the bills, single moms, and so many more hurting, marginalized people in your community.

Some of you might not understand how this election affected many women, people of color, gays, Muslims, immigrants and children/family of immigrants, those who have been sexually assaulted, those who have gone to bed hungry, those who had medical issues and can’t keep up with the bills, single moms, and so many more hurting, marginalized people in your community.

For many, this election was about inclusivity, equal rights, the right to be heard, and the right to have their humanity acknowledged. This morning, so many of these marginalized people woke up in fear. Pure, anxiety-filled fear.
My hope is that our take away as fellow humans on this planet is that we are all in this together and that we seek to understand and soothe these fears. No one in America should have to fear being who they truly, genuinely are.

I’m not going to give up on anyone who needs something from this world. You are loved. Just as you are. I mean that with all of my heart.

Posted in fearless, Human Rights, politics, Uncategorized, World

LET’S DISCUSS, BUT FIRST, PLEASE INFORM YOURSELF

I’ve tried to stay neutral most of my life – I am a middle child, after all. Lately, however, I find myself neck-deep in discussions about everything from politics to refugees to my views on Human/Equal Rights.

I don’t particularly care what a person’s opinions are, as long as the opinions are informed by more than TV soundbites or sermons.  Recently, I’ve had people argue points about information from documents they haven’t read.

That frustrates me.

I remember years ago someone attacking Harry Potter, insisting that it was an evil story and would lead children to dabble in dark magic.  When I asked this person if they had read Harry Potter, the blank stare told me all I needed to know.  Their opinion had been formed by someone else, from behind a pulpit in fact, and they were merely spouting misinformed rhetoric from someone else who had also not read the series.

Frustration overload.

Fast-forward to 2015 and the current election cycle. Rhetoric abounds. People are re-spouting what their candidate says, blindly following a person down a road without checking the map themselves.

After Donald Trump said we should keep all Muslims out of the US, period, I was shocked at how many seemingly intelligent people parroted this sentiment. I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked.  I’ve been surrounded by people who spout what they’ve been told and taught without challenging the content all my life.  I’ve even been that person myself.

I enjoy our world and its varied viewpoints and ideas.  I enjoy the discourse and the exchange of opinions – from people who can back up their opinions with facts and who have formed their opinion with knowledge and allow room for other opinions at their table.

Sheeple really bother me, I admit it.  When I am discussing a topic – be it controversial, religious, political or otherwise – when a person merely quotes popular rhetoric and has no true opinion of their own, they are like sheep following a shepherd.  I can’t have conversations with people when they can’t back up their rhetoric with anything they themselves could bring to the table.

Recently, a person was saying it’s too easy to get into the US for someone seeking political refuge. When I asked them if they had read the vetting process a person or family goes through to get asylum in the US, they said no. When I said that I had, this person immediately went into a defensive position because deep down they knew they couldn’t win their argument. I was armed with facts, they were armed with rhetoric that may or may not be true.

I spent enough time as a Sheeple that I try to have compassion for those still in the blind-following flock. I know many people who follow a doctrine or idea, but they made that choice with knowledge as well as their heart.  I do not include those people in the Sheeple category.

Sheeple can be controlled by fear tactics and they believe what they are told and they are encouraged not to think for themselves.   I went to a pastor once and asked him about something he said in a sermon.  I couldn’t find what he said in the Bible and that concerned me because he had said that’s where he got his information from.

He said:

It’s not your job to think for yourself. How dare you challenge me? It’s my job to tell you what this Book says.  It’s your job to believe what I interpret from this Book!  Why do you even carry that Book with you? I am the pastor – I interpret what it says and you follow it!

That is a true story. It happened to me. I left that church not long after. Sadly, many people did exactly as he said. They didn’t open their Bibles and read it for themselves. They followed his leadership 100% without question.  When I questioned him, word spread quickly and I was old-school shunned. I was dangerous.

I had a difficult time fitting into ministry positions because I was a woman and because I questioned what I was being told nearly 100% of the time. I finally had to leave the institution behind so I could do actual ministry without having to defend and excuse my gender or my brain.

I am in charge of changing my mind. I fact-gather. I ponder. I examine all sides of an idea. I make up my own mind. I will reiterate what I’ve said many times – I don’t care what you believe as long as it’s your belief.  If you have gathered facts, wrestled with what your belief really means, and your belief is truly yours and not someone else’s you and I could likely have a civil conversation – if your goal isn’t  to change my mind or win.

Changing this woman’s mind… that’s another discussion.

 

 

Posted in advocate, badassery, commentary, community, fearless, politics, Uncategorized

I WANT TO KNOW WHAT, OR RATHER, THAT YOU THINK

Politics, tragedy, religion, guns, nationality and so many more subjects are polarizing, especially in America. I’ve seen families, friends, and communities torn apart because of deeply held beliefs.  Rarely, but thankfully, I have found a few people in my life who can hold deeply held beliefs and still have conversations about the aforementioned subjects and still remain civil and friendly afterward.

I know I’ve been unfollowed, unfriended, branded, and abandoned because of my deeply held beliefs, and I know I’ve unfollowed, unfriended, branded and abandoned others for the same reasons.

Lately, I’ve even been branded as dangerous.  Dangerous? For having different beliefs?  For challenging long-held, deeply-entrenched beliefs and opinions?  Yes.

If I am being labeled dangerous for challenging the status quo of beliefs and thoughts and a lifetime of opinion, know that I relish it. I’d rather be known as someone who examines, inspects, interrogates, and thinks her way through life rather than accepting everything I’m told, skimming over issues to promote an opinion that’s only mine because I carry it forward for someone else.  I’ve lived a lifetime of promoting other agendas because of a sense of duty to what I’ve been told and indoctrinated to believe. I’m finished with that part of my life.

The extraordinary state of thinking for myself was a hard-fought battle. I’d go so far as calling the battle for my own beliefs and opinions a war.  Not only did I have to figure out what I truly believed, I had to fight for my right to express that belief and opinion freely. That’s a war I’m still fighting, because I’m dangerous, you see.

Throughout history, the people in the masses who think for themselves have been labeled as dangerous, especially women.  The awakening of owning a thought or idea that is truly mine is intoxicating, I’ll admit.  The further I pursue my own thoughts and beliefs, the further away from blind obedience to an idea I get, the freer I feel.

I don’t care, really, what a person thinks or believes if I know that they truly have thought, examined, challenged and formed their own thoughts and opinions. All I really care to challenge in a person is that they think for themselves and not follow the masses just because it’s easier and more comfortable to follow the crowd.

A staggering number of people will follow a man in a pulpit, a person on a political soapbox, a person with a certain philosophy – anyone with a message or agenda – without challenging, investigating, examining what the person in charge is saying. If, after study and query, a person agrees with a different ideology than mine, I can respect that.

I have huge issues with people just accepting what another person says without thinking it all through for themselves.  That, to me, is a truly dangerous way to live. It’s why certain pastors and politicians have power – they tap into those minds who will follow without question.

People want to belong to something greater than themselves so much, they turn off their mind’s alarm systems: that doesn’t sound/feel right. I don’t think I agree with that, but if I challenge it, I won’t belong anymore. I believe that’s dangerous.

I wanted to belong to something so badly it turned me into a mindless sheep, and I became so judgmental and hurtful as I followed other people’s agenda.  I stopped thinking for myself at the cost of losing myself.  I put what I wanted/thought/believed over relationships and I believed it was what I should do and because I wanted to belong.

When I started sorting through what I believed and wanted for my life, I know I lost friends.  I lost certain membership in communities that don’t like dangerous thinkers in their midst.  I’ve actually been old-school shunned for challenging the status quo and asking questions.

Ironically, thinking for myself has opened up my mind enough to allow others to think for themselves. I gladly accept differences in opinions and sometimes challenge people with what they believe to be a differing opinion so I can see their resolve and commitment to their belief. Some would call that devil’s advocate, but I call it investigation.

Personally, I don’t care what a person believes, as long as it is truly a belief that is theirs, forged in thought and investigation and fire.  I care more that people think than what they think.  I wish that notion went both ways, but it often doesn’t.  It’s easier to label me a danger than a free-thinker.

I value the discussions I have with people. I enjoy hearing what other people think, and challenging them to own those beliefs and thoughts. If that labels me as dangerous, know that I don’t mind.

 

Posted in politics

ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU…DON’T TREAD ON ME?

I saw this Tweet this morning from @pourmecoffee. “New political reality: Ask not what country can do for you. Seriously, don’t ask. It’s not going to happen.”

I’ve seen quite a few sarcastic and Tweets and posts full of outrage this week as the United States government came minutes from a budget fiasco shutdown. I’ve posted quite a few of them myself.  As the skies grew dark and the thunder peeled in the sky as the clouds of doom gathered over DC, I realized it wasn’t thunder. It was Ronald Reagan, FDR, JFK, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and all the signers of the Declaration of Independence turning over in their graves.

This is what the United States government has become – a bunch of bickering toddlers fighting over how to divide their graham crackers and milk. They are calling each other names and screaming, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” Forget that Johnny has more graham crackers than Teddy and will drop them all if he tries to pick up one more, but Johnny is looking out for Johnny, so he tries to take Teddy’s crackers and everything he’s holding tumbles to the floor. Then Teddy sees an opportunity to get more for himself and tries to pick up all of Johnny’s crackers. Then the tantrums begin.

When it’s all said and done, all that’s left are a bunch of soggy, broken, inedible graham crackers and two hungry, exhausted kids. Nothing was solved because they are still learning to share.

The biggest losers in this situation are the American people.  Shame on you, United States government. You’re older and better than that. Previous generations have proven it.  Abraham Lincoln said, “Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.”  The government has forgotten that, and shame on us, the people who voted for them, have let them.

After watching all the ridiculous posturing this week, using the plight of the 800,000 workers who would have been furloughed because of the infantile government tantrums explode all over the press coverage, I was very disturbed about how our government’s inability to govern and come to a mutual conclusion was going to affect our military.

Congress would still get paid. The men and women who serve our country for an embarrassingly low amount of pay were not going to get paid. Don’t get me wrong, we have to keep a working government and I get that, but our government isn’t working.  It’s broken, so why pay them?  It has to be broken if they are going to insist our people serving in the military, some in very dangerous combat zones, go without pay.  I don’t think it’s a good or intelligent plan to distract our men and women serving to protect our freedoms by creating a situation where they are stuck half a world away wondering if their kids are getting enough to eat, or if they are going to lose their house.

We can’t throw too many stones at the White House, because we, the American people, elected these spoiled, self-serving officials.  Don’t get me wrong. I’ve met a few government officials in my time – good people trying to operate within a system riddled with problems and power struggles.  Trouble is, we elect inept, pompous, agenda-thumping, close-minded people around them, thus placing obstacles in their way.  Washington chews up these good people and spits them out and we enable that every election day.

I wish more good men and women, particularly those who haven’t forgotten that governing is about the people they serve and not serving themselves, would run for office. I also wish more American people would enter a voting booth and not just vote their party or the most popular candidate, but would vote informed, making wiser choices.

What good is a government that accomplishes nothing, especially a government more concerned with their party’s agenda than the good of the people?

We have an opportunity to make changes in Washington. We can encourage those who would govern well to run for office and support them. At the very least, we have the right to vote – a freedom protected by all those people who weren’t going to get paid because of our inept government.

John F. Kennedy died years before I was born, but he left us a great thought to ponder, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”  I agree that we can do one thing for our country – get involved and elect a government for the people – and it is time to ask what our country can do for us.  After all, it is their job to do for us.  It is their job to budget, make laws, enforce laws, and WORK TOGETHER for the good of the people. If the officials currently in office cannot do that job, it is time for America to speak with their votes.

Posted in commentary, politics

PRESIDENT OBAMA

I don’t think I will ever forget this day.

As I sat and watched our 44th president being sworn in this morning, I couldn’t hold back the tears. The day was laced with historical moments, including being sworn in with the same Bible as Abraham Lincoln.

I watched as Obama took the oath of office and the country (most of it) rejoiced. I don’t know what will happen in the next four years, but my hope is that this new direction will be a good, productive one.

One thing I did hear broadcast today resonated with me. A woman who was attending the inauguration with her daughters said that she talked to her daughters about why today was so important, why the election of someone who represents a different ethnicity than the previous 43 presidents was historical and significant. Her hope is that when her daughters have daughters of their own and they recall their memories of this day and explain why this day was laden with historical significance, that her granddaughters will wonder why having an African-American president is a big deal.

My heart echoes that hope and I look forward to the day when we’re all just Americans no matter what our skin color or heritage is. May that day come sooner than later.

Posted in commentary, politics, pop culture

A HISTORICAL DAY, INDEED


When I was 19, I stood at the crypt of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and wondered if his dream would ever come true. Growing up in the midwest in a county that is still, as of the last census, 98% white, I was, up until that moment, unaware of the importance of Dr. King’s dream.

Walking the halls of The King Center, I saw the images and heard the speeches of a man who gave his life to the cause, the dream, that people someday would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin… which is a big leap for someone who grew up where nearly every person I knew or met was the same shade of white. I was overwhelmed, to put it mildly, to think I was part of Dr. King’s dream and spent the next few years endeavoring to understand why the dream was important to me.

I remember thinking, all those years ago, that I would never see a non-white President in my lifetime. Never. I’d seen too much injustice, heard people use racial epithets about people they didn’t know, just because their skin was a different color. I could never understand why people would choose to act that way, but they did… many because they learned to act that way at home or in their group of friends, and the hate and ignorance was passed down as easily and earnestly at times as someone passes on their faith.

I’ve been guilty of prejudice and it happens from both sides of the fence. Maybe my prejudices aren’t color-coded, but I still struggle with seeing everybody from every walk of life on the same playing field, let alone wearing the same uniform. At least I have come to the point in my life where I am willing to acknowledge my weaknesses and seek knowledge so I can be informed and make changes inside myself so I am part of the solution and not the problem.

When I heard Barack Obama announced as the President-Elect of the United States, I was so overwhelmed with emotion, I cried. I watched as a crowd of thousands of people of all shades, shapes, and sizes cheered and wept together.

Regardless of political affiliations, I hope people can look back one day and see the significance of Tuesday night. I can pinpoint moments in my life where I remember where I was in crisp detail when history was made. The Challenger Explosion. The fall of the Berlin Wall. So many more.

Now I can add Tuesday night to the list, the night a giant leap was taken toward making the dream of unity come true.

Posted in politics, pop culture

A HISTORICAL DAY

I don’t care who you voted for, I just care that you voted.

Either way, no matter who wins, history will have been made. The first female vice president will be elected, or the first African-American president will take office. Either way, the result is encouraging in that this country is taking steps to break out of the mold it’s held for over two hundred years.

Minds are opening. Change is in the air. Though I early voted, I went out this morning and people everywhere were talking about the election, asking others if they voted. People early voted in record numbers and lines were long this morning as people waited to exercise their right to choose.

I will try not to watch so much election coverage, but I can’t help myself. I’m excited and hopeful for the first time since I have been old enough to vote. I am excited that the election has people’s attention and that people are talking and engaged and listening and thinking. This is one of the reasons I love my country and the privileges I have, but most of all, I have the privilege to choose.

I don’t care who you voted for. I just care that you voted…and if you didn’t vote, I don’t want to hear you gripe.