Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Helpless, Not Hopeless?

With all that is going on in the world that seems unfair to me, it is difficult for me to feel HOPEful when I feel HELPless. I feel very limited in my options to do anything in response to the wrongs I see happening. I talk to the TV, which is pointless. I express my opinions to those who are willing to hear, yet the ones who I wish would hear are not listening.

Last night at Bible study, John was explaining to us about struggling with scripture. He said something like, "When we start to struggle with scripture, that's when we begin to grow." Someone said, "Yes, but it seems like there's never resolution... you never find the answers." He replied with, "It's not the answer that grows you; it's the struggle." (conversation paraphrased)

Since that conversation, I've been mulling over the "struggle." It's a struggle to understand the perspective of others who don't agree with you. It's a struggle to remain hopeful when the world seems to be falling into chaos around you.

In her blog today, Cindy Ryan said, "If we look too long or too hard on what is happening and what people are saying, we will be lost in anger, paralyzed by fear." I'm trying to find a way to avoid getting stymied by anger. Perhaps settling into the struggle is the answer.

For the past year, I've repeated the words, "I'm holding loosely." What I mean by that is that I'm holding loosely to things that, if I hold onto tightly, will create anxiety. I'm holding loosely to "the way we've always done things." I'm holding loosely to my own self-image (who I am, who I think I am, who I want to be, how I want to be perceived, whether it matters). When people ask how things are going at work, I'm holding loosely (things aren't the same, but that doesn't mean they're bad).

So maybe the answer for me moving forward is to hold loosely. Struggle through the anger and the chaos and the misunderstanding and the unfairness... and hold loosely to whatever perspective or thought I perceive to be the "answer." Hold loosely. Struggle. And maybe... find hope.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

On Walls

I'm not sure whether to thank The One Who Shall Remain Nameless for getting me to blog again... or to be indignant that TOWSRN has given me so many reasons to rant. I really don't like to be annoyed. But boy am I.

Today's topic: walls. I was watching Cristela Alonzo's latest Netflix comedy special last night and she addressed the topic of the wall along the Mexican border in such a great way. Bottom line: what makes you think your wall is going to keep people who want to get here out? They climb over fences, swim oceans, dig tunnels... all your wall will do is give them a new workout routine. Determined. That's what they are.

I can't help but remember the famous speech by President Reagan at the wall in Berlin... "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" I was just a kid, but I still remember it. And I also remember the day the wall in Berlin actually did come down, and I was so proud of humanity that day. About as proud as I am disgusted with TOWSRN.

Beyond all the negative symbolism of building walls, barriers, separation, etc. there's also the terrible cost. Billions of dollars. I'm reminded of Cindy Ryan's article encouraging people to think about how many kids they could feed with the $200 or so that they were spending on homecoming mums. What uproar! Don't mess with our mums! Okay. Don't mess with homecoming mums. But really? BILLIONS of dollars? There's not another thing in the entire world that would be BETTER to spend that money on? Really?

I just. can't. even.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

What I Fear

Another social media post has me mulling today. First thing this windy, sunny Sunday morning, I read the following:
I keep seeing people post on how they are terrified, or scared? Well.. what are you scared of exactly? War? Because that's happening. School shootings? Because that's happening. Pipeline? That's been happening. Terrorism? Definitely alive and well. Going broke due to health insurance? Mm yes. Corruption throughout the system? Already there. Police officers being murdered? Yep, that's happening. Bullying? Check. Loss of jobs? We've got that on lock. A tanking economy? Yep. Being discriminated against for your religion, political views, , race? That's been going on. Rape, murder, violence, riots.. all going on and has been.
So tell me, what are you scared of that is not already happening basically everywhere? This isn't a Trump problem, this is a people problem. Y'all need to reevaluate your own selves..
Maybe America is a little too scared and a little too easily offended.
Quit being scared, crying around, offended by everything.. step up and do your part as an American, no, as a human being. Treat others with respect, help and encourage one another, raise your kids right, be a contributing member of society. Make sure your hands are clean, that's your job. Burning the American flag? Get out of here with that crap, how about you do your job to make it a better place.
But right now, all I see is hate. It's disturbing, and the ones with the most hate are being exactly what they claim to be against.
So, I don't know whether the person who posted this is a Trump supporter. I'm not going to address the underlying bias of the post. But, the basic premise is that all the possible things you could be afraid of are already happening, so you shouldn't be expressing fear. It then goes on to reduce it all to personal responsibility.

First, I don't think the presence of fear is a reason not to fear. The fact that any number of scary things are already happening doesn't mean that we shouldn't be concerned. The question that this post started with is this: "What are you afraid of?" And so I'll answer that in the paragraphs to come.

Second, we live in a communal society, where one person affects another. Like it or not. So refraining from comment or being unconcerned about these corporate issues seems shortsighted to me. It does start with individuals, but as soon as it goes beyond the ONE it is indeed a societal issue.

I want to temper the word "fear." I'm not afraid for my personal safety (although I do have that fear on behalf of others). I would probably use the term "worry" rather than "fear." Or "bothered" or "concerned." So... what am I afraid of with the current trajectory of our country?
  • I am concerned that the leaders in our government will repeal some of the solutions that were put in place to fix systematic, institutionalized discrimination.  For example: The rights of the LGBTQ individual to marry the person they love and have a family together. Compassion for immigrant families who want to stay together in a safe place, rather than be split apart by deportation and denied asylum from the violence and poverty in their country of origin. The rights of a person with a pre-existing condition to get medical coverage (full disclosure: I have mixed feelings about the ACA because my weight is considered a "pre-existing condition" - so it gave me more options but it also made the options so expensive that I couldn't afford coverage at all). 
  • I am concerned that Trump will actually do what he's said he might, and deny the people of the Baltics (i.e. my friends in Latvia) the protection of the United States if they are faced with a new occupation by Russia.
  • I am concerned that by placing such a person in a position of power, we as a country are endorsing his brand, his opinions, his agenda, and his ideals (or lack thereof). I worry that people will judge us all by his actions. And I don't want to be associated with that.
  • I am concerned that those placed in leadership over various departments in our government are more concerned with self-promotion and positions of power than they are with the actual function and purpose of said departments than what they might do to make improvements. Power grabs are not a new thing. Yet I'm still concerned. Specifically, I'm concerned for my friends who are educators. I can't imagine what calamity is to come.
  • I am concerned about a general trend of valuing money and prosperity over people and humanity and compassion.

War? Terrorism? Unemployment? Shootings? Do I fear those things? I am sad that these things happen in our world. My concern is that they seem to be so commonplace now that we are expected to accept them and not be concerned about them. Accept and not try to alleviate.

I believe that the division in our country today is born out of a difference of opinion that we have yet to learn how to handle in a positive way. I can only imagine that tensions were at least this high when our country was trying to pull itself out of the bonds of slavery (there was an actual, physical civil war over that, if you recall) or when we were trying to end the injustice of segregation. People hated then. People were fearful then. People were unemployed and shot at and terrorized then, for sure. Today's issues are different, yet the same. They are sometimes religious in nature (for example, what you believe God thinks about homosexuality). They are sometimes self-serving (for example, if you have job A that means I can't have job A so I'm mad at you). They are sometimes born out of personal bias (I have been taught that certain people are undeserving or deserving of benefit x, y, z... and I believe that teaching with my whole heart).

The social media post I quoted above ended with a judgment of those who are expressing concern by calling it "hate." What I believe we must not do is equate speaking out with hate. I have seen many people refer to "hate speech" that they have seen online. Let me be clear: having a difference of opinion and expressing it in public does not equal hate. I am greatly concerned with the election of Donald Trump as our President. That is not a statement of hate. That is a statement of my reality, born out of my opinion and based on my beliefs and values.

Bottom line: none of us know what the future will bring. We all face it with some level of trepidation; it's a part of our DNA to worry, I think. Our perspective on the future is also inherently connected to our beliefs and values. So what I fear or worry over will be different than what you do. And that's okay. Yet somehow we have made it not okay. I'm right and you're wrong or vice versa. I have a feeling that very few of us have a monopoly on being right. And none of us seem to have all the answers. So why can't we stop condemning each other for being together in this same boat of uncertainty?

P. S. I also fear spiders. And heights.

Friday, January 13, 2017

How I Really Feel

It's been over a year since I've blogged. It's been years since I've been faithful at blogging or journaling either one. I do, however, still have a desire. It just gets lost in the nothingness sometimes. I very often have a thought or an opinion I want to share, yet I very often decide to let it pass without sharing it. This week, though, a little interaction on social media has crept back into my mind a few times. So I want to address it. It concerns "how I really feel."

I wrote a post on Facebook the other day that said:
How do you set your tv to automatically mute every time someone starts to quote a certain type of tweet? Or even better switch to your favorite Pandora station when the political talk starts and then go back to regular programming when the coast is clear?
One of my friends, God bless him, replied:
Sweetie, I think you'll be listening predominantly to Pandora for the next few years if this is how you really feel. P.S. You're not alone; I'll be doing the same thing! 
What really got me was the phrase, "...if this is how you really feel." Which made me question if that was, indeed, how I really felt. I really do cringe every single time someone quotes a tweet from Donald Trump. I actually cringe just writing his name. I cringe when I see him, or hear him, or see or hear his spokespeople. I cringe when someone refers to him or reports what crazy thing he said or did today. I cringe when people talk nicely about him, or when they talk about him at all.

How I really feel is: I wish I could watch the news like a normal, concerned, involved citizen, without having to hear or see one single thing that involves that man. And since he is the new center of the political world, that means I can't watch or hear one single thing about politics that won't eventually involve him.

So, no, I really don't want Pandora to automatically switch on as soon as political talk starts. I just wish political talk didn't have to involve the-one-who-shall-not-be-named. It gives me an icky, ashamed-to-be-an-American feeling. Not ashamed so much as embarrassed. I'm embarrassed on behalf of us. Many of us can honestly show you are palms and say, "It wasn't me!" But we're guilty by association. So, there. That's how I really feel.