Monday, November 14, 2016

Standing Up To the Bully

*Please note that many of us have been guilty this year of following or believing some biased and unqualified media sources that perpetuated dangerous lies. Much of this is to blame (both our laziness in where we get our news and the sources' propensity to feed the lies) for where we stand right now. That said, all links in this blog post have come from credible sources. The writing and thoughts are all mine. Enjoy.

The day that Trump announced his candidacy for POTUS I laughed. Right along with a majority of Americans who were thinking 'Surely this is a big joke, right?' And we spent the next couple of months fluctuating between guffaws and horrified shock. Surely someone who opened his campaign by calling an entire nation rapists and drug dealers wouldn't get support from enough people to be elected. Someone with no qualifications whatsoever, no public service record, no military record, no higher education.

Oh how wrong we were.

And the ugliness just kept on rolling in. Women, refugees, immigrants, Muslims, Blacks, the disabled, you name it, pretty much every minority group was at the receiving end of his ugly remarks and violent rhetoric.

And we waited to hear about his policies. Sound bytes surfaced that suggested that he was actually fairly liberal—he was pro-choice (yay!) until the day he ran for POTUS (what?!); he used to want to legalize drugs (yeah!); he wanted universal healthcare and an assault weapons ban. You can find the long list of his liberal leanings in this great article. So really, this guys has no values, no real convictions. Sure, people can change, but it's pretty clear that he changed his stances just to get the votes of an apparently gullible base.

So are we right to be scared?

Misogyny reigned in Trump's presidential campaign. Acting like a petty child, he took to Twitter to make inappropriate accusations and deplorable comments about women who dared to stand up to and speak out about him. As if there weren't enough examples of his despicably wretched treatment of women, we were treated to his hot mic recording where he told the whole world that he could sexually abuse women because he was famous. Yup. And the guy who giggled at this was fired from his job immediately. Trump? Not so much. We made him our next President.

Minorities feel they have no place in this country now. If being endorsed by the KKK isn't enough to tell us that his view of Blacks isn't atrocious enough, we can look to his description of Black America—implying that all Blacks live in the inner city, are poor, are violent, pretty much every negative stereotype of an entire group. And well, we all know how he thinks about Hispanic people—with his plans to have Mexico pay for his wall to keep out all of those rapists and drug dealers. Muslims didn't dodge his attacks either. He wants to ban all Muslims from entering the country. Men, women, children—people fleeing dangerous situations, hoping for a better life, just like all of our ancestors (unless you are Native American). Oh, and LGBTQ people? Yeah, their terrified. Trump might pretend to be a friend to their community (even if he doesn't know which direction the rainbow goes), but his VP has one of the worst records for treatment of LGBTQ people with his Religious Freedom Bill in Indiana. For more about Trump's treatment of minorities read this article in the Atlantic.

Then we've got the Supreme Court. Oh yeah, that. I actually saw people saying they'd forget all of Trump's evils in favor of getting a right-leaning judge appointed in Scalia's spot. Never mind that the Republicans in congress have refused (violating the Constitution) to hold hearings on Obama's pick—Merrick Garland, a highly qualified and very moderate upholder of the Constitution, which is what SCOTUS judges are expected to be. They aren't there to uphold one party or the other, but to uphold the Constitution. Even right-leaning media are suggesting that a Trump nominee will be dangerous—pointing to Trump's obvious lack of understanding of the Constitution and disregard for it (he's said he would force the military to commit war crimes, jail journalists who voice negative opinions of him, etc.). Here's a piece of journalistic gold:

"Nonetheless, those who cite the Supreme Court as a compelling reason to vote for Trump are of the befuddling opinion that the same man who has demonstrated willful ignorance of the Constitution, who has promised to subvert the Constitution, and whose dealings with the judiciary demonstrate contempt for the Constitution, is the man who will save it." (

There are recommendations that we should revert to a six-justice Supreme Court like it was originally, therefore eliminating the political angling of the court. If Trump were to nominate a justice, we could see the overturning of Roe v. Wade (a huge hit to Women's rights) along with other devastating setbacks.

Best and most ironic of all?  He used to be a big fan of Hillary Clinton (woot!). Oh, but when he was trying to fire up the Republican base he flip flopped again and went low, attacking her health (she had pneumonia), her marriage, deeply personal attacks that went well beyond what we normally see in politics. And his followers loved it.

What can we learn from all this? It's hard to say. He is a lose cannon for sure. No one knows what direction he will go in. He's already started changing positions on some of his campaign promises—sure, all candidates say things they don't follow through on, but the thing with him is that no one knows what he even believes about many of the major issues. So all we can discern for now is that he will be changing his positions and he will likely be influenced by the people he's surrounded himself with. And that's isn't looking too good for us either.

What it all boils down to is that Trump is the bully on the bus, the guy yelling expletives in the face of the handicapped, the poor, the Black person, the Hispanic person, the woman, the child, telling them they aren't worthy, they don't get a seat on his bus—and those who voted for him are either sitting quietly ignoring what's going on, paying no attention to the pain and suffering, the hurt of their fellow human; or worse, they're cheering him on, patting him on the back and joining him in his taunts. The rest of us have to speak up for the bullied ones. We cannot sit by and allow it to happen on our watch.

We can wear safety pins to indicate our safeness to those feeling fearful. We can post signs to our classrooms to let kids know that all are welcome, we can work through various service agencies to help those who are feeling anxious about whether they have a place in Trump's America. We can peacefully protest to let the world know that we are not down with the bullying. We can live by the Methodist motto so loved by Hillary:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” (John Wesley)

Here's a great list of ways we can do good, offered in this article from Slate. And we can get involved politically. Volunteer, attend meetings, join groups like Pantsuit Nation, any way you can get involved to help elect good people into office at the midterms in two years and in four years, when hopefully more people have realized that hindsight really is 20/20. 

It's time to tell the bully to sit down, he doesn't get to treat people that way on our watch.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Contentedness and Busyness

Judging from the date stamp on my last post on my blog, I guess I can admit to being overly busy for a while. I have to chuckle at myself every few days when I briefly scan and then promptly delete the emails I receive from bloggers touting the importance of simplifying our lives. I don't have time to read that. Perhaps I should. 
A friend recently posted something about a challenge - going 200 days without buying stuff. It sparked something in me. Lately I have become frustrated with our living of the 'American Dream'. Our peaceful, picture-perfect suburban life, free of real worry or true problems. Yes, I'd love to have another bathroom, a bigger house, an attached garage that our cars would fit in. But that is nothing compared to what most people on our planet worry about. And when I sit down and think about it, I am nothing but content with this life. But it is that contentedness that has been plaguing me lately. There is more to life than finding contentedness, isn't there? I worry that my children will become too sheltered, too entitled, too content in their lives that they will not go on to be the change-makers the world so desperately needs. So how do we balance the strong desire to protect our kids, to give them a 'better life', all while showing them how deeply unfair this world is? I guess we try. We take them on mission trips, we volunteer at FMSC, but is it enough? They always come back to their clean, comfy beds and full tummies at night, with few cares. Will it be enough?
And now back to the busy-ness. How does one strike a balance between the desire to always be helpful, to say yes, to make things better, and the need to cut back to a point where there is time for what is important, for life and kids and adventures?
Does anyone else find that difficult?
A great example of this is the butterfly garden I helped plant with Hannah's girl scout troop when she was in first grade. It is still there, in front of City Hall, and it is terribly overgrown. I now help lead Evie's Brownie troop and while we go there every spring to clean it up and plant the annuals, it is a frequent reminder of how the busy-ness has me spread too thin. I'd love to have that garden in tip-top shape, to keep the Girl Scouts on top of caring for it regularly (to even recall once more which plants are supposed to be where), but it is just one of a bajillion things that I keep saying yes to and time runs out. So it sits. And I feel badly. I suppose I should look into handing that over to someone else. Someone who might have a need for some project to fill their time and desires to be a helper. And maybe that is what needs to happen with a lot of things. 
Sometimes people ask incredulously, "how do you do all that?!" in response to my numerous jobs and volunteer activities. It's not that I am better at anything, in fact maybe it is the opposite. I'm just not good at recognizing the reality of the limits of time. I always think I can add just one more thing and it won't be too bad. But then I am caught up, trying to figure out how to get five people to three different places and in the panic-stricken moments, I lose something precious. I lose the ability to focus on the present (to be content?).

So here is my pact with myself: 
I will intentionally cut down on the busyness, saying no when I can; I will continue to work toward attaining a career that might allow my family to seek out opportunities to live and adventure in this world, not just be consumers of it; 
I will cut back on our buying of 'stuff', while I may not join the 200 days of not buying anything, I will at least force myself to live with more awareness of our consumerism.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The ‘C’ Word


There, I said it. One of the great struggles of parenthood. What’s right? How do we approach it? What’s the magic trick to getting the kids to clean up their messes? When will I ever get a break form picking up hair elastics and socks and stepping on legos? Okay, admittedly, I think I have only stepped on a lego once or twice, but you know what I mean, right? How do we win this eternal struggle?

We used the chore chart when the older two were little, sticking the little smiley faced on the board for each job completed. They loved it. They did their jobs. For maybe a week. It was fun and everyone was happy and then it all just fell apart. We got to bed a little late and put off adding the smiley faces or someone pitched a fit at bedtime and it wasn’t worth tackling one more ‘to do’, or maybe they figured out that they didn’t really HAVE to do those jobs, that smiley faces and prizes are just tricks we use to make them do what WE want. I can’t remember why that attempt failed exactly, but I’m pretty sure you can relate.

I’ve explained to them the whole idea of ‘putting it away when you’re done with it’ and how that actually makes your life easier. But they are kids and that just doesn’t resonate. They don’t care. And the thing is, neither did I when I was their age. Did anything my mom did actually work? Has anyone ever found that magic touch that fixed this problem? Positive reinforcement only gets you so far. “Hey, I love how you put those markers away when you were done with them!!”… two days later there are plastic animals strewn around, puzzles decorating the floor, school work and coloring pages scattered, and a mess of discarded articles of clothing all over the house. Nope. They did not get the message that when you put things away mommy is happy. But should they care? Is our happiness a reason to play psychological games with our kids to coerce them into doing something that almost everyone universally hates doing?

We’ve tried the weekly house-cleaning routine. Saturday morning ‘no cartoons on the computer until your rooms are clean’ doesn’t work so well when they decide that they’d rather play or make breakfast than watch anything anyway. Assigning jobs works well enough, but it’s never pretty. Especially with a particularly fierce 5 year old in this house. There are some jobs she will do happily - helping empty the dishwasher or matching socks. But she shares a room with her big sister and there is never a moment of peace when room cleaning is required; “I cleaned up all of MY stuff, the rest if HERS. NO YOU DIDN’T!!! THAT’S NOT MINE!! MOMMY!!! SHE’S NOT HELPING ME!!! Mom, I cleaned up all of her stuff (big sigh).” If you have kids sharing a room, you can picture that, I’m sure.

It gets to a point where I sometimes would rather that everyone else just leave the house and let me do the job myself.

But then my kids would grow up to be irresponsible and reckless and lazy and all kinds of bad stuff, right?

So what do we do?

I am opposed to paying kids for chores because I believe that taking care of the house is just part of being a family member. Yet, I will admit that recently I have been giving more thought to the idea. I stop myself when I realize that it is just one more grasp at getting things to work the way I want them to and it might last a good month or so before no one cares about making money anymore, especially if they realize that they don’t really have to do the chores because Christmas is coming and they’ll get spoiled anyway. Or something like that. (alternate rewards are just another version of money, it’s all currency and it only lasts so long until they are done with that one too)

Is it unrealistic to think that kids will ever take responsibility for cleaning up after themselves and around themselves? Is that just a part of childhood that we as parents need to accept and deal with by trying over and over again all the repeatedly failed attempts at making them clean up? Do we have to resign ourselves to the notion that we brought them into this world, we have to clean up after them for a certain amount of time until they are ready to take over?

The idea of scaffolding comes to mind here. In teaching it is talked about a lot - you give a child just the right amount of support to help them learn something and ultimately become independent in completing the task at hand. Doing a chore together so that you can talk them through how to do it can be time well spent and eventually they will learn to do things like run a load of laundry, but that never seems to apply to ‘just cleaning up your stuff’.

I have tried leaving everything where it is and waiting to see when the other members of my house will notice what a mrs things are and by about 8 days I get twitchy and just have to start cleaning up. And none of them EVER noticed. Which makes me think that it is really just me who cares about cleanliness and order in the house. So why am I fighting a losing battle that is apparently more about me and my needs than it is about them and their shortcomings?

A good friend shared a story about his son, who had been a life-long slob and when they went to visit him at college, he asked his parents to please take off their shoes because he had just cleaned!

So maybe it does all sink in eventually. It just takes 18 years of madness to get there. Keep on keeping on, parents. It is all worth it in the end.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why, Mommy?

My daughter saw the teachers starting to gather yesterday evening and begged to go over and stand with them. She had her jacket and shoes on and was out the door before I could even answer her. That is how I came to stand with all three kids, the older ones holding the ‘I Love Geneva Teachers’ sign and the youngest begging me to help her jump up and down as she cheered and made silly faces for the teachers.
Have we politicized our kids? Maybe. Hopefully we have taught them to think for themselves (I think this may have worked since Hannah recently told me that if a Republican were a better person, we should vote for them). Ask Evie who we are going to vote for and she screams, “OBAMA!!!!”. Eli recently impressed a high school kid because he knows who our vice president is. They ask a lot of questions and it keeps us thinking and checking and learning all the time. It helps me to always be clear on why it is I vote the way I do and support the causes I support.
If I could remember all the questions they have asked to challenge my political leanings I would write them all down and answer them. Here are the biggies:
They want to know why we support the teachers. Well, my first thought was, how do parents answer this question of their children if they do not support the teachers? For me it was easy. We support the teachers because they are professionals who work hard and deserve to be compensated fairly in a manner competitive with their peers in the local area. We support the teachers because we want our kids to have high quality teachers throughout their school years. We support the teachers because I have yet to hear anyone give a good reason not to. The district has not said that they are in such a tight financial position that they will have to lay off teachers or cut programs if the teachers do not accept the board’s offer. People point to other districts that took one year pay freezes a few years back. They did that because they had just asked for and received significant raises and their districts WERE going to have to cut positions if they did not take a freeze.
They want to know why we are Democrats. I was an independent voter when I was in college and was still figuring out where I stood on the issues, and the more I learned, the more I read, the more Jeremy and I talked together about politics, the more I saw that the Democratic party stands for and believes in the things that I hold to be important in life. Freedom, equality, human rights, being our brother’s keeper. But more than that, it was the people I knew who I respected greatly, the people who were hard working and honest people who inspired me to want to vote as a Democrat. I’m not saying that the people I know and love who are Republican voters are not worthy of respect, but I’ve never been able to understand that party’s reasoning. When I hear Democrats speaking up about why they support their party, they talk about all the things their party can do and will do for people. When I hear Republicans talk about why they support their party, I hear anger and distrust of the Democrats, but not anything inspiring to make one want to lean to the right. And I have seen how things go under both sides, when the country is doing great and when things tank, and quite honestly, I think that the Democrats and their interest in the day to day lives of everyday Americans have the right idea. I like that Obama does not believe that ‘corporations are people, my friends’. I admire his courage in standing up for the rights, basic human rights of gays and lesbians. I appreciate that Democrats understand that women are still not treated as fairly as they deserve to be treated and that they work to improve that. I am glad that they value education and respect teachers, knowing that there is always room for improvement but that it needs to be done in a cooperative way, not a bullying way. I am relieved that the Democratic party trusts science and scientific evidence, you don’t hear many of them (any?) claiming that global warming is not real. It is much easier to have faith in a party who believes in science because doing so makes no political gain for them whereas we know exactly what political gain there is to be had form a party that continually sides with big oil. Big money. Sure, Democrats make mistakes, and as Hannah pointed out, if the Republican on the ticket were the better person to vote for, we should. But the way the party’s are standing right now, I am proud to stand by the Democrats.
There is another thing that bothers me and no one has been able to answer this - it is about the anger on the right. Our car was egged last night. On Halloween our yard signs were ripped up and kicked over, our jack-o-lanterns were taken and smashed a block away. A week or so before that, our yard signs were mysteriously removed from our yard but found placed on our front steps. I am assuming this was done by kids. But clearly not by kids whose parents support the teachers or Obama or Martha Hanna or Dennis Anderson or Corrine Pierog. My kids are enthusiastic Obama supporters and know that we support the teachers, but they also know (and don’t give me the, ‘well, you’re just a good mom' lines) that we are respectful to all people, no matter who they support. So why is it ok for people on the right to say things like ‘let’s put the white back in the white house’ and even worse things that have been said? Why is that tolerated? Because I watch and read a LOT of things that support Obama and the worst that I have heard are jokes about Romney’s lies and flip-flopping. I know that both sides have not played ‘nicely’, it is politics after all. But I care about niceness and decency. That does not make me naive. It is something that matters, it is something that people around the world want to see in our country, NEED to see in our country that can often come across as rude and conceited. So how do I explain to my kids why people who disagree with us vandalize our property? After having this happen so many times, I think that they too have come to the realization that I have, it’s good to be on the good, the decent, the honest side of history.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wear Blue

While sharing my frustration with the current goings-on with our school district this morning, a friend leveled with me and suggested that maybe I need to move. She is worried that I am too unhappy here. And while I would certainly agree that living in a different climate, maybe a more affordable community, maybe just a change would be nice. Golly, getting on a plane about now and going on a real vacation would be fantastic! It won’t solve anything or take care of the fire that is left burning in my gut.
You see, the teachers in our district have been asked to take a hard freeze for a year, followed by two more years of incremental adjustments of various types that lower their salaries. [I stand corrected. I had previously stated that teachers were in the third year of a three year contract. This is not true. I misunderstood what was presented. Their contract ended in August. They were and are negotiating for a new contract. The new contract the board is offering involves paying teachers the rate that was agreed on for the third year of the previous contract (last year).] But the school board is hearing from other folks that the tax base wants the teachers to take a pay freeze and cut back even more on their benefits, etc. Despite lots of money being available for other large projects, all of a sudden, there is no money to honor the teachers’ contract.
That is the really brief version.
Geneva has really good schools and really good teachers. People move to Geneva for the schools. And then they don’t want to pay the teachers? I get it, none of us likes to pay much or more, we like to get things for cheap, get a great deal, a sale even. And yes, some people are still feeling the effects of the poor economy and think that teachers ought to as well. The problem with this thinking when applied to teachers is that you will not attract quality teachers if you are not offering a competitive salary. My husband’s district is highly competitive and even they have many good teachers who leave for better paying districts. He has seen a large number of his fellow teachers move away for better pay. Who wouldn’t? In any profession, people want to improve. We should want our schools to strive for the top, not become a district who ceases the hiring of highly qualified teachers simply because they cost more.
It has been pointed out that some teachers in Geneva make really good money. I won’t argue with that. If you look at a teacher who has a masters degree plus 30 more continuing education credits or a doctorate degree AND they have been teaching for 20+ years, they are going to be paid quite a bit of money. They have earned that. Just like in any other profession where you further your education and constantly work to improve your skill set. (Here is an interesting link to compare teacher contact time and pay around the world) I would hope that anyone arguing with this realizes that in most other professions, the ability to move up the ladder is much greater in the private sector, but having something similar in the teaching profession is of benefit to us as a society - saying that we value those people who invest their lives in the teaching of our kids.
And yes, I’d agree that the system is in need of adjustments and maintenance. The revamping or cutting of teacher tenure is on the tables all over the country and will no doubt be here soon. Basing teacher retention and pay on student performance is also becoming popular. Both of these ideas have their merits but need to be proceeded with cautiously, so as not to disrupt collaboration and camaraderie. But none of this is being discussed right now. I’m sure it will be here in the future; and as a teacher myself, I’m pretty much okay with these ideas.
The concern now is that of whether the contract that was agreed upon two years ago is honored for its final year, or that there is only money for the things and not for the people. (Here is a good source for answers to some common concerns about teacher compensation)
I respect the board (I even really like some of them!). I know their job is hard. I also (now) realize that they are basing their decisions on those voices that they hear the most. So unless they hear from those of us who support the quality teachers our kids have (October 22 at Coultrap - wear blue!), the assumption is made by our absence.
Please don’t assume that I don’t like Geneva because I speak up about these things. I care deeply (maybe too much?). I owe it to my kids to care about their future. While I would absolutely love to move to Oregon or New Zealand or Massachusetts someday, it just isn’t practical for us now. Traveling would be nice.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Colors! Trying to make our old house ‘new’.

Maybe it is hard to see these colors on the pictures I posted earlier today. The 'Paper Bag’ (Ace) color that we ended up with last week really looks purple when you are in the room. Our lighting is odd, so some corners are darker than others but it is generally well-lit. Most are preferring the Kingsport Grey color. Meditation has a green cast to it that might look ok, but is not jumping out as a favorite for anyone. On these color samples Thunder does look like a shade lighter than the Kingsport Grey, but in the room it looks much more silvery grey, almost too silver to go well with our oak floors. Of course, you know how it is in an old house. Now I am looking at the floors, thinking, “it is probably about time to have them refinished so maybe if we have a darker stain on the floors, the Thunder would look great!” But, back in reality-land, that just is not happening soon. Neither is buying all new furniture, which is also on my mental list for that room (having the large sofa, while lovely for snuggling on for a movie, means that the large floor register is beginning to sag where one of the sofa’s corners is resting on it somewhat precariously). The entertainment cupboard is admittedly too large for the space and the color is a bit reddish/orangish, so I don’t think it will go well with a true grey. So now I am scoping craigslist for an actual corner entertainment unit. Something a little smaller? I’d love to make this room feel new.
Is it because we have lived here for over 6 years? The longest I’ve ever been in one place in my life? Rejuvenation is a must at this point (which reminds me, I have not been on that site in a while… hmm..)! So there is a patch of new color in the downstairs bathroom (shhhh.., Jer has not found that one yet! I’ll just paint it while he is at work, haha!). I have a new color picked out for the kitchen, and in my dreams I have the kitchen remodeled as well (seriously folks, the undulating floor with beat up linoleum and formica countertops is getting to me). Of course, that all means that I need a job. Which I have begun applying for. I applied for a few part time gigs in the Geneva schools but apparently they have about a thousand applicants for each position and I don’t have any strings to pull, so I am not hopeful. There is a maternity leave posted that would start in January - how sweet that would be. If only.
Back to the house. I’ve also gone through and counted switch plates and outlet covers (most of them cracked, all of the cheapest white plastic variety) to tally up what that would cost (you’d be surprised!). I even found a place that sells replacement registers for the old-school vents we have - at $60-70 a piece. Yow! Oh, and then there is the issue of all the broken and missing screens. I am not even sure I want to know what they run.
I’m thinking I’ll keep my focus on the downstairs for a while because if I even think about the upstairs, well there is the issue of our room being so small that we have to stack our dressers and I don’t get a ‘my side of the bed’, just a wall (Jer loves it when I stay awake longer than him to read and he still has to roll over to put my book away and turn out the light - NOT!). And the fact that with five people in our home, including an almost ten year old, having just one shower is not a joy most days.
We did successfully replace the front door handle and lock last weekend - that was a major challenge! The old lock was one of those ancient things that involves a 5”x8”x1” piece that fit INTO the door, plus about three more holes than what the new piece needed - can we say ‘patch job’? Of course, it now looks fabulous and now our old door knocker (wedding gift 13 years ago) is corroded and looks less-than-lovely next to the new door bling.
It sure does feel good to pick up a paint roller and make our space look new, even if we know the truth. So I am leaning strongly in the direction of the Kingsport Grey right now. I will wait to see what the different lighting throughout the day does to the colors before buying another $70+ worth of paint this time, though!
After all that whining, I have to say, I do love our home, I am thankful every day that we live in such a beautiful town with wonderful neighbors who make it fun. For now I don’t mind that the kids sometimes shower together to make it faster (Eli and Evie like to gargle in the shower together, it is pretty funny), or that I have to stand on the end of my bed to see into my sock and underwear drawer. Home IS where your heart is and someday I will find a teaching job that will work for our family and will make all my dreams come true for our humble home.
**Hint: if anyone is thinking of Christmas gifts, might I suggest home-store/hardware store gift cards? LOL

Monday, August 13, 2012

Heaven on Earth

Heaven on earth. It was referenced in the sermon we heard this past weekend and I just could not get it out of my mind. As we enter the over-heated political season, where religion plays a key role (go ahead, try denying that), I have to wonder: how often do we really think about God’s vision for his creation? Call me naive, but I’m pretty sure that the best signal we have as to God’s plan for this creation of his was his Son. You know, the peace-loving, sinner befriending, “if you have two, give one away”, hippie dude. The one with the long hair (in the pictures we saw in Sunday school anyway). That guy. He was our model. So when I see fellow Christians standing up for gun ownership and discrimination against fellow humans for any reason, I have to wonder: what Jesus stories did you hear in Sunday school? Clearly we heard different stories. It pains me to see Christianity held up and represented by those who would have us all armed and ready to kill, those who would have us deny the rights and privileges of others just because they do something that we think is icky (go ahead, check your Bible, Jesus never spoke about homosexuality), who would have us let the wealthiest keep the two (million) coats they have and not make an attempt to spread wealth more equitably. As a liberal Christian is hurts my soul every time I see obvious slander, blatant lies being leveled at leaders who are doing things that display at the very least a sense of equality and justice. I cringe when I see and hear stories of “religious” leaders condemning government actions that seek to make life easier for those who have a much harder time than most of us. The new healthcare laws have made a significant difference that I have already witnessed for some of my students who will now have a better chance of breastfeeding their babies longer because they can get the supplies and help they need. Sure, nothing is perfect, but I sometimes feel like people who identify themselves as being conservatives slam things like this just for the mere satisfaction of putting down the liberals, not because they actually know the costs and benefits of these laws.
Oh yes, I’m going to go there with guns too. I know that this is a heated one. “But it is our constitutional right!”. Sure, whatever. Back then when there were no automatic/semiautomatic weapons and it was a militia being armed to protect the union, not individuals going on ignorant killing sprees. You’ve got to be kidding me. These guns are made to kill people. Have your hunting rifles, I’m fine with that. I would never choose to use one, but that is my personal choice. The facts are there, in countries like England where firearms are banned, yes, some crazy people still get ahold of them and they had a total of 43 deaths in a year. Compared with our tens of thousands. This one is a no-brainer. And am I wrong here, how many ‘crazy left-wing liberals’ have been responsible for mass-murders? Just sayin’. I know, that sounds like I’m saying that conservative people are violent. No, not all, but there is something in that conservative hype that breeds violence. All it takes is a lack of knowledge and you end up with someone killing the most innocent and peace-loving people in their own place of worship.
I do not think that politicians or people who call themselves conservative are bad/evil/mean/etc. I tend to agree with Anne Frank - that all people are good at heart. It is the actions, the words that are spoken, the choices made that reflect the idea of what a person’s priorities are, who or what is important to them and how decisions will be made that give an idea as to whether they are working toward something that resembles heaven on earth.
So my quandary then is this - how is it that the right, the conservatives, get to ‘claim’ God for their side?
And why do we have to come to this? The lies, the meanness of it all. If we are Christ-followers, shouldn’t we be loving our brothers and sisters* and doing what we can to provide for their safety and their needs? Isn’t there a beautiful logic in that?
Yes, politics is an ugly business and there is nothing worse than mixing politics and family or friends when people disagree. I both love and hate the political season. I love that we get a choice and we get to be involved. I like being involved. So I will post political stuff. I try to discriminate and be tasteful. I know that I have many family and friends who stand on the other side. I will never stop trying to persuade people to join me on the liberal side. Sometimes I feel like the zebra in Madagascar, trying to bring people to my side, the fun side, the side where we have cute little umbrellas in our drinks. It is a challenge, a competition, a game, but in the end, it affects our lives and the lives of all Americans, so we should really look deep within, and if ours is a life modeled after Christ, we should ask ourselves, "what would Jesus do?” What would heaven on earth look like?

*and by loving, I don’t mean paying lip service and turning around and working to make sure they don’t share the same rights, privileges and quality of life as the rest of us.