I’ve watched Blackkklansman several times now. Parts of it make me sick, particularly the parts where “Christians” believe white is right and the only color. Harry Belafonte’s part where he recounts several atrocities is particularly strong. One hopes we’ve made progress. Right?
Then a church going white man drives into a crowd to kill people for their assumed religion based on how they look. In Sunnyvale, California. In 2019.
We can do better, America. We need to stand up for each other. Own the past. Change the future.
I still have hope change can happen. May I do my part.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When I got into my car on Thursday, I heard these words on CNN, “school shooting,” and “10 dead.” I thought, my God, not again. Not again. I drove home with tears in my eyes. It’s so difficult for me to believe that in the 14 years since the Columbine shootings shocked the nation that we are still dealing with school shootings at all.
In 2006, the Nickel Mines Amish school shooting shocked the nation because an unstable man decided to take out his insanity on a group of pacifist children in a one-room schoolhouse. The Amish community stunned the nation with their outpouring of forgiveness and support of the shooter’s widow.
Newtown brought me to my knees. Victims were so little. I was horrified. The US was horrified. The world was horrified.
That is just the list of school shootings. Gun violence in America is as old as our right to bear arms. We are the only modernized, civilized, advanced country in the world who has a problem with gun violence.
I don’t pretend to have any answers for this issue. I know there will never be a ban on weapons in this country, and I’m not sure I’d ever want one. Still, gun control is essential. I truly believe that.
I posted this to Twitter and Facebook when I got home Thursday. Some people were supportive, others not so much. I see both sides. At this point, however, I would give up my right to bear arms if it meant gun violence would decrease. Sure, criminals will always be able to gain access to things we as the general population are prohibited to have. Still, maybe if law enforcement had only to go after criminals and not worry about the general population’s armaments, maybe the amount of guns in the hands of criminals would also decrease.
The argument that the criminals would have guns and you and I wouldn’t does not apply in the case of these school shootings. These mentally ill people are not criminals until they carry out their plans. If a school shooter walks in with a knife instead of a gun, would the carnage be as bad? Perhaps not. It’s something to think about anyway.
I grew up shooting all sorts of guns, shotguns, even a musket gun. I have shot targets, birds, and bats. I know how to use a gun safely. My dad always kept the bullets in a separate place from the guns, but we always knew where they were. I never thought about using a gun to defend myself from someone else with a gun, or anyone else for that matter. Guns were for hunting. Shooting targets. Shooting bats. Not people.
I remember a neighbor of ours had a teenage son who killed his cousin when he accidentally discharged a gun. I remember the grief he went through, that his family went through, because of this accident. I see news stories all the time of toddlers shooting a parent or sibling by accidentally discharging a gun they could readily access. Guns are too plentiful and handled carelessly.
About 8 years ago, I was hosting a Bible study in my apartment and a guy walked in with a gun tucked in the back of his pants. When I confronted him about it, he said it was his right to defend himself and carry a gun. I told him to put it in the car, or leave my apartment – which was a loaded gun free zone. Yes, recently, people have been shot during a Bible study in a church in Charleston. Still, the odds of someone knocking on my door and taking us all out with a gun are so remote I decided I’d take my chances. He did not understand why I asked him to put the gun away, but he honored my request.
As for defending myself against a person with a gun – if I had a gun, I doubt I could shoot another human being, even to save my own life. I have a knife, a taser, and a pepper-spray gun. I also have something that most people don’t think of when it comes to self defense – I have my wits and my mouth. I know I can shoot off my mouth when I need to do so. I know I can convince people to do just about anything. Maybe, just maybe, I can convince a person not to shoot me. If I can’t, then it’s my time to go.
I find it ironic that many of the people who want open carry laws and the right to own and use as many guns as possible are offended and outraged that I would even hint that I’d give up my right to bear arms to decrease gun violence, because the right to bear arms is their right, their choice. They are outraged the government may take away their rights or choices, but many of these people believe it is their right to tell a woman what to do with her body and reproductive system. They believe the LGBT community has no rights. Just don’t try to take any of their rights away.
Somewhere in that big, tangled mess of rights, privileges, and choices is the answer. I just don’t know what it is. I always try to honor other people’s opinions, I stay civil in discourse, yet people jump all over me and very enthusiastically tell me I’m going to hell or worse, misinformed, but we all have opinions.
What we don’t have right now in the middle of this hot mess are answers, solutions.
I encourage everyone to put down their “rights” and “choices” and take a step back to become part of the solution. Who knows, maybe there will be a solution where everyone gets what they want. We won’t know until we try.
In April, I had another mammogram, another “clear” mammogram, which declared me cancer free for the fourth year in a row. I do not, and will never, take negative results from a mammogram for granted.
I find it difficult to balance my gratefulness to still be a living, breathing member of the human race, and the sadness, and if I’m honest, guilt, that I feel for still being a living, breathing member of the human race when so many cancer warriors don’t get the opportunity. Even before I had cancer myself, I lost family and friends to cancer, and even now, through every diagnosis someone receives, and some losses and funerals of people way too young to not be living, breathing members of the human race.
The renewed life I’ve been granted is not without its challenges. I still loathe Tamoxifen and all the things it does to my body while preventing cancer’s return. I’m disappointed in all the doctors that refuse to acknowledge the side effects I’m having and trying to deal with outside of the medical world – their only concern is that I’m alive, not with the quality of my life. That does not mean I am not allowing Tamoxifen to rule my life, it only means that I’m living with Tamoxifen and dealing with the side effects on my own.
The biggest problem I’ve had is joint pain and the need to detox my body constantly. I’ve also stopped losing weight and have gained 10 pounds back from the original 50 I lost – something that my weight loss doctor would like to crucify me for. I wholeheartedly disagree with him on all points because I am doing everything I’m supposed to be doing within my ability right now. He refuses to acknowledge any part of my life or the things I am doing outside of his office. He also tries to act as if he’s an expert on cancer survivors and all the meds I’m on that clearly state weight gain is an issue. I’d like to slap him because he is overweight, but he can be happy about it, yet I cannot be happy that I’ve kept off 40 pounds for two years. His reverse psycho-sorcery doesn’t work on me and I know it frustrates him. I’m frustrated enough for the both of us.
Since I’ve been detoxing more often, I’m sleeping better, but still not that nourishing sleep I crave. That doesn’t help with the weight loss either. I’m caught in this cause and effect loop that I can’t seem to break, but mark my words, even if it takes YEARS, I will break it.
The one thing I’d like to remind people who haven’t had to deal with chronic illness, pain, fatigue or cancer, is that a cancer survivor’s life never really goes back to “normal” or back to the way their life was before cancer. Life cannot exist as it was before – either physically, mentally, or emotionally. All of our experiences are different – but our common bond is, that though life has been altered forever, we are still living it in our own way, on our new timetable, with our life’s new boundaries.
The best way to honor a cancer survivor is to understand, as much as you can, their new reality and allow them to live it as best they know how. Support them as they try to figure out what works for them so they can live their lives as fully as possible. Acknowledge to yourself that they can no longer live life on your terms or the terms you were comfortable with. It’s not about you.
Hug your cancer survivor today. Remind them that you are so glad they are still with you. Allow them to celebrate however they choose – solemnly, excitedly, prayerfully, boisterously, or with a nap.
I was thinking about my brother Scott today, much as I always do in January. I can hardly believe it’s been a dozen years since he left us. For the first time though, I have made it through the first part of Suckuary without too many emotional outbursts. These outbursts sneak up on me and those who don’t know the history of Suckuary don’t know or understand. They just think I’m crazy or too emotional. Maybe I am, but at least I am, because going through life as a zombie who doesn’t crave brains is no way to live.
I try not to dwell on the pain. I’ve tried instead to dwell on the happy. Still, the subconscious can be a battlefield sometimes. I’m doing better, but I know it will always be a struggle. People who’ve never lost a sibling or a parent won’t understand, and I hope they don’t for a long, long time. It’s an inexplicable loss regardless of the relationship you’ve head with either.
At least I’m busy this year. I’ve got a boatload of changes ahead of me. The first quarter of this year will be a challenge for sure. I find out Tuesday when I will be having my RNY Gastric Bypass. In the midst of all that, I have started new job duties which includes an entirely new, complicated software system, worked a lot of overtime (which means inadequate rest), and I’m still seeing my very patient trainer at LA Fitness. I’m literally weeks away from hitting a reset button of sorts and while I’m excited and ready to get started, part of me wonders a little if I can handle all this change at once.
Change comes, for sure. Always. Every day is different. Something in life changes every new morning. People call or they don’t, it rains, or it doesn’t, the sun comes out or it hides behind clouds. The car is clean, the tank is full, the windows are dirty, the commute is full of red or green lights. The coffee is too hot or just right. No day, no hour, no minute is ever the same.
Yet we fight change like it’s this menace that will destroy us. I’ve found that, with change, it’s the fight that destroys us more than the actual change does. If we just lift our feet and embrace the change, we tend to come out with a lot less scratches and bruises because we were open and flexible instead of scared and rigid.
As these rolling waves of changes come, may I roll with them, gracefully.