Tag Archives: society

Free Speech?

It is already January 12th and this is my first post of the year.  I had hoped to be writing much more than this by now!  Of course, I did not expect to get that nasty, nasty flu that hit mightily this year. Knocked me down for a solid two weeks.  The good news is that I am regaining strength and on the road to recovery and her we go into the New Year, albeit a bit later than planned!

Suffice it to say I have watched A LOT of TV while I was ill.  And I am a news junkie.  And there have been a few tragedies.  Another plane with 162 people crashed into the ocean; at least they will find this one.  Little comfort to the families, but they will be able to bury their loved ones.

And then the terrorist attacks in Paris.  Attacks against cartoonists drawing pictures.  Attacks against free speech. ATTACKS AGAINST WHAT EACH OF US DO HERE EVERYDAY.

I personally don’t agree with poking fun at someone’s religion, someone’s skin color, someone’s ethnicity, someone’s sexual orientation, but I do agree that we all have the right to do it.

There really hasn’t been any kind of free speech in the United States for a very long time.  Anyone who makes a comment about that is racist or bigoted is immediately chastised, and if a public figure, may not be for long.  While, again, I do not like racist or bigoted statements either, does “free speech” mean that there is a right to say whatever, without any ramifications?  Or does it mean that you can say whatever you want, but be prepared to deal with the consequences of your words?

What is free speech really?

 

Class Reunion–35 years and counting

So I broke down and went to my first class reunion last weekend…okay it was my third-fifth class reunion, just the first one I’ve ever really attended. I went to the fifth, but stayed twenty minutes and left. It felt like high school and I didn’t need that again.  It is so interesting to see that little microcosm of society! For the most part, everyone has stopped worrying about “who is better than” and “who has more,” yet there were those “select” few.  You know, the “ones” who still talk to the only the other “ones.”  And they look around the room making eye contact with rest of us lowly minions, thinking that we are pining for their attention.  I noticed them about a half an hour before I left…and I was there five hours.  Someone I was talking to pointed it out to me, so I paid attention.  I realized that there was this “group of four,” not including their very uncomfortable spouses, who were having a very difficult time getting the rest of the mingling crowd to pay attention to them.  They tried a lot of things: they laughed very loudly, then looked around to see who noticed; they all walked to the bar together giggling at whatever, pretending not to look around; and they did the same on their social visit to the restroom.  Their extreme disappointment when no one cared what they did was evident…everyone else had moved on…had grown up…had seemingly left them behind.

It really was good to see people again.  I wish that  more people attended, but who am I to talk, it took thirty-five years for me to attend!  I realized when I got there that I miss the friends I made in high school.  I haven’t seen most of them for thirty-five years.  It isn’t anyone’s fault, life just happens.  I never felt like I fit in then; after this weekend, I know it doesn’t matter anymore.  That is a refreshing feeling.  It is sad that it took thirty-five years for me to feel that way, yet it is great that it happened at all!  I also realized how truly blessed I am to have reconnected with the friends I have since moving back to my hometown.  They have made this transition so much better.  I would be lost without them.  It is good to have this time in my life to reflect on what is important and what is valuable; what is lasting and what is true; what is golden and what is treasured.

 

 

Israelis, Palestinians and HAMAS, The Current War, 2014

I have been a news junkie for a long time and I don’t know that it is good for me anymore.  The world, or should I say the news, is depressing.  And the 24-hour news stations are worse.  The repeat the same things over and over and over, usually not even bothering to change the words or the videos.  I have decided this means that I watch it way too much.  I don’t even watch the same station, but go back and forth.  It still doesn’t change.  This post is not really about the media, however, nor is it about my watching too much news.  Nor is it about how in addition to this; I read not one, but two political printed materials.  This is about all the comments I am reading about the current war between Israel and Hamas.

The conservatives are mostly on the Israeli side, while the liberals are mostly on the Palestinian side.  No one is on the Hamas side.  At least no one that I have heard about in the media, and as I have established I pay attention.

I do believe that every country has a right to defend itself.  I mean could you imagine if a country was digging tunnels into the US?  Oh yeah, they are.  And the US went to war with a country who really didn’t do anything to us, no one got upset about that for a long time.  And when we did go to war with the country that MAY have been responsible for attacking us, we haven’t done such a great job.  I don’t have totals, however, I wonder just how many civilians have been killed in these wars. Of course they were, doesn’t anyone remember “Shock and Awe?”

The thing that is causing my anger to rise is that no one is talking about HAMAS, which “everyone” agrees is a terrorist organization that wants to destroy Israel.  People in the US are protesting the death of civilian Palestinians being killed by Israel; and , I agree, I do not like the death toll either.  And it infuriates me that these people cannot get out of this piece of land.  How can this be?  There should always be a way to flee the country.  Not just in times of war, but also for natural disaster or spread of disease.  After all, the supposed “decision makers” of Hamas are not even in Gaza, they are safely in Qatar; again according to the media.  So who is getting killed, the poor Palestinians who are trapped in a no win situation.  And they are trapped with tunnels and bombs that are part of their homes, schools, hospitals and places of worship.  Even if they are not complicit with this, they still may not have a choice with it.  I am not there, I am not Israeli nor Palestinian, however if I was a Palestinian living in Gaza I would have done everything I could to leave there after the first, second, third one of these wars.  If I could have; I have no idea if it is possible.

I am all about homeland and sentimental belonging, however, I am also about life and preserving a “way of life” and not a “place of life.”  That has been a lesson hard learned for me in the past three years.  I am also all about free speech and believe strongly that everyone has the right to say whatever they want, hence this post.  I also think that with free speech comes responsibility for one’s words.  And that one’s words does not give someone the freedom to do things that are irresponsible.  Inflaming situations without giving thought to the ramifications of the escalation, is not helping to raise awareness or even to get out one’s point of view.  It is simply to sensationalize so that they can get their fifteen minutes of fame.  Protesting is wonderful, it has accomplished a lot in this country and in others; violence is not.  It is sometimes difficult to see this however, when countries frequently use violence to settle their disputes and call it war to make it ok.

Is there an answer to all of this?  I don’t have one.  I am not there.  I live on the other side of the world.  And I don’t believe it is the United States fight.  Does the US have a stake in the outcome? Doesn’t every country.  I hear in the media that, “The US has to get involved because it is the only country to have major influence any more.”  So what, just because the US has major influence, does it have to use it?  It seems so, it seems that the US has to use it everywhere, which is why so many countries are “unhappy” with the US.  I understand that everything is global now, there is no way that any country can operate without being engaged with other countries.  I just do not know if that includes telling them how to live.

Now, there is the issue of Russia and Putin, but not today.  I do feel horrible for the 298 people who perished and all the people who love them.   No, not a topic for today; after all, I am missing the Sunday morning news shows…

To Be (Political) or Not to Be

It has been another week.  This time I have spent it struggling to breathe, dealing with pneumonia.  Another “issue” of having an autoimmune disease is that I catch everything and then can’t get rid of it.  I did avoid the hospital, through begging and refusal at first, and then not calling back for follow-up when I did not recover like “they” said I should.  I got this crap at the hospital, why would I go back there???? That just seems like a no-brainer to me!!  Needless to say, I have had lots of time, in between naps, to watch the TV.  Last weekend an American soldier was brought out of Afghanistan.  I watch a lot of news shows.  I probably need to stop, because I think too much.  I am a thinker.  I process things.  I can chew on a thought until it is reformulated to look nothing like its original concept.  And I listen.  And I rephrase.  And I chew.  And did I mention I’ve been in bed unable to move for about a week now????

I don’t necessarily see these things as political, although they are all happening in politics today (in the USA, anyway).  I think the reason I cannot see them this way is because I worked in Mental Health for 25+ years.  Everyone says we have a mental health problem in this country and I do agree.  Usually, this is mentioned in the area of gun violence.  And we have had that this week, too.   However, I don’t think we will be debating that, as there were not “enough” killed to make it a “mass” shooting “event.”  Once again, I digress.  Back to the point. One  group I worked with in my career was Special Education.  At the time, (dino. ages) it was a separate school for all the kids who could get along with other kids.  They sent them somewhere so that they could all be together and work out their problems.  We had three classrooms.   Ours were divided by age but I think you could divide them any way you want.  We taught them regular education stuff, like other kids…when we could get them to behave.  When we could get them to respect each other.  When we could get them to listen to each other. When we could get them to take responsibility for their words/actions.  When we could get them to get along with each other.  They did not have to like each other, but they did have to co-exist in a humane manner.  At first, we only had them with their own class, as it was too much to expect them to get along with everyone at one time.  Before they left and went back to their home school, however, they had to get along with a lot more children, so they had to learn to interact with everyone.

This was the hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had.  I cannot remember having to breakup so many fights; repair so many broken desks, chairs, walls and people;  call so many parents about behaviors; figure out new and innovate ways to discipline/reward behaviors; and ways to fix myself so I could face another day.  It was a challenge.

A disclaimer:  this blog was not in any way meant to be political.  Sometimes, however, human nature takes over and I cannot help myself.  You, the reader, must judge whether this posts political in nature or just about human nature.  I can not tell anymore.

So I’m chewing folks…

Now, the USA decides to bring one of its own home.  Good thing, right.  The USA trades five bad guys. Bad thing, right.  This was gonna happen at the end of the war anyway, if we follow the Rules.  Anyway, not really my point.  But I’ll state for the record I’m glad he is “home” and I’m glad I’m not paying for the five bad guys anymore.  Knowing this country we will just figure out a way to use a drone on day 366 anyway, since we never could prosecute them for anything.

Ok, back to my point, I think…

~ Why, with all the “traceable” electronics in the world today would someone say/write something and then say/write the opposite, while denying that they ever said/wrote the first thing?

~ Why, are so many people denouncing one man for something he MIGHT have done, when there were a RECORDED 20,000 men who did the same thing in WWII?

~ Why, are the “leaders” of the USA allowing the Taliban to create the divisions in this country that it wants to see?

~ Why are there so many people concerned with making sure they do the opposite of what the other guy wants, even if it is the same thing they wanted the day before?

I’m still chewing….

I’m seeing some parallels here: 3 classrooms=senate, house, white house;  I want to do that until you are doing it, then I think it is a horrible thing to do;   I did not do that, somebody else wrote that on there, that wasn’t me; I will never do what he wants, I hate him (even if I wanted to do it 2 minutes ago).

You get the picture.  There are adult men and women acting like Behavior Disordered children.  I know that is not PC, but neither are they.  And I don’t have to be PC cause this is not about politics.  Did I mention the school was for 5-10 year olds????  Hmmm…..  No one stayed there more than year or two….   Hmmm…..

The only negative is that we can’t put adults in “time out,” we can’t “restrain” them, we can’t “de-redirect” them.   We can, however, “discharge” them, which is what the last resort was at the school.  When there was no hope left for any chance of change.

Okay, this is feeling a little political now….

 

Have you ever seen a 98-year-old’s eyes light up?

Have you ever seen a 98-year-old’s eyes light up when you ask them a question? It is an amazing thing!  I know it has never happened to me before, mostly because I’ve never had the immense pleasure of being around anyone who is 98!  My Aunt turned 98 on Monday and although she has 6 living children, none of them live close, so I was able to take her out for her birthday!  She picked the restaurant and the activity in the afternoon and was very happy when I replied, “whatever you want, it’s your day!”  She smiled more and seemed more relaxed than I have seen her in months.  When we arrived at the restaurant, I told her about a book I am reading.  It is about four murders that happened in a town near where her father and in-laws lived, and it happened in 1912.  That is when her eyes lit up!  She said, “you mean the Pflanschmidts!  Yes, I heard about that a lot. My mother-in-law used to visit with Mrs. Pflanschmidt on Thursday afternoon, which was visiting day in those times.”  She continued to talk with animation that I have not heard for a long time.  She told me what she heard had happened, what everyone thought about the guilt of the son and why and how it affected the community and her mother-in-law.  I was thrilled to know the information, of course, but more importantly, I was so very happy to see her face light up with excitement and enthusiasm! She suggested that we go out and “see where all that happened,”  so she could show me how close her mother-in-law lived and how close her grandparents and father lived, also.  She then said her grandmother talked about it too, but she wasn’t as close to Mrs. Pflanschmidt.

After lunch, she chose to go for a ride in the “country.”  Now we live in a relatively small town, so there isn’t far to go to get to the “country,” but she always wanted to live on a farm and raise her family on a farm.  Due to her husband’s health, she was unable to do so, but she still talks about that having been her plan.  I let her choose the route and off we went, with my aunt pointing out who “used to” live there and who built that barn or that house.  My only regret is that I can’t write and drive at the same time! Well, I can and I have, but not with her as “precious cargo.”  I drove over 100 miles that day, which when I lived in a large city was very typical, but for this small town, that takes some doing!  I only wish it would have been 200!  It was such a beautiful, wonderful, enlightening day!

She talked about a lot of things that she has had on her mind and she said she just wanted to make sure I knew “how things should be.”  It got a little sad, as of course she was talking about her funeral and her estate.  And yet, it was hopeful, in that she believes and knows she is going to a better place.  She talked about her husband who died 34 years ago and her son who died 19 years ago, how hard that was and how she dealt with both. She also talked about how much she missed them both and how much she thinks about them. She said,”you know when you get old and can’t do as much, you have a lot of time to sit and think about things.” I agreed with her, as I do this a lot also.  It surprised me that she talked about all of this, as we are from a strong German heritage, and we just don’t talk about feelings!  Although now that I think about it, she does. She always tells me how she feels…about her anxiety, her worries and her fears.

As I write this, I realize how truly honored I am that I close to my aunt.  And I am also very fortunate that none of her children live in town, as that has allowed the two of us to become closer.  Of course it has its scary moments, like when she calls me and tells me she’s “in trouble,” and when I get to her house, she is having a heart attack. (No, she wouldn’t let me call an ambulance!)  Or when I get a call at 9pm that no one can get ahold of her by phone and would I go check and make sure she is alright.  Those times, however are heavily outweighed by days like Monday.  The days that we get to spend together when her eyes light up and she is relaxed and happy.

She is truly an amazing woman!  Happy 98th year Aunty…can’t wait for 99!!!

Self-Worth Doesn’t Have to be Proven

As I turned over the Thought for the Day calendar page this morning it read “I am neither too little or too much.  I do not have to prove myself to anyone.”  Wow, I thought, isn’t that the damn truth!  No I really didn’t think that.  What I really thought was, No I really don’t have to prove myself to anyone. Not anymore.  I am just me and that is all I want to be.  Sure I have aspirations and I will achieve them, not all of them because I can’t physically do all of them anymore, however, I can achieve most!  My bucket list? I don’t know that I have one; maybe that is something I should create too.

It struck me though how much time I have spent trying to prove myself to someone else.  Whether it be my parents, a sibling, a lover, a colleague, or a friend; I have spent an enormous amount of my life proving my worth to someone!  I don’t really think I am alone in this.  We all do it everyday.  We have to; it is the way our society works.  It is not always a negative.  We have to be able to show that we have the ability to perform our jobs well.  We have to show that we are capable of handling finances in order to get a house mortgage.  We always have to demonstrate that we can handle responsibility in any situation before we are given more.  That’s just the way it works, and that’s not a bad thing.

What I am really talking about is proving our self-worth.  No one should have to prove self-worth.  Everyone is worthy!  Just by nature of being born.  It doesn’t matter on what side of the tracks you were born or raised.  It doesn’t matter what career you chose.  It doesn’t matter if your liberal or conservative; christian or pagan; black, white or purple; straight or gay.  What does matter, at least to me, is that you do the best YOU can.  Not the best I can, or the best John Doe can, just the best YOU can. And since no one can tell what that is, there is no one who can really judge you!  So proving someone else’s self-worth, really is not a possibility!

I have really struggled with my self-worth in the past two and a half years.  That is when I lost my job, my career, because of my health issues. I was told by three doctors I could not work anymore.  I had based a lot of who I was on what I did.  I was raised with a strong work ethic. Without a job, a career, I was totally lost.  I felt like I was falling into a deep, dark, black pit.  I had to move from the four acre place I was living, which is where I grew up; and into a small house with a postcard sized yard.  I’ve sold about all I can that has value to pay the bills.  And I kept sinking deeper and deeper.  I stopped laughing; people no longer interested me; I could not reach out; the mask would not work anymore; and,  my eyes could not hide the pain.  Some people gave up trying to help and went away, they just didn’t know what to do or didn’t have the energy to keep trying.  I get that and I get them.  And then there are the ones who stayed.  The ones who supported me: gave me the emotional lifelines to keep me going; the financial help to pay the bills; helped me figure out how to survive; spent time with me when I was not very fun to be around.  And my “kids.” Three furry kids: Rudy, whose 12 and has diabetes; Willie, whose 5 and is the Princess of the house; and Alli, whose 8, and, god love her, drives me insane!  Without the three of them, I’m not sure I would have made it through all of this.  I know there are a lot of people who have thought, and some have said, that I could not “afford” to keep them, and financially they are correct.  They just didn’t get that I could not “afford” to give them up and still stay alive.  Of course, I filed for Social Security Disability in August of 2011, when it became clear that I could not return to work. (Even though I still planned to try to.)  I was denied twice and then had to wait for a hearing.  Anyone familiar with this process knows that it takes a very long time!  Well, my time finally came last week, I had my hearing, and I believe it went well.  Now I wait, yes more waiting, for the official outcome and hopefully some income.

Since the hearing, and the positive feeling that my lawyer and I have about it, it feels that I am rapidly climbing out of the deep, dark, black pit.  It is still there and I am not totally free of it, however I can see light again.  And I wonder, how did a man (the judge) affect my self-worth in 10 minutes? How did he, whom I had never met before, allow me to come up out of the pit, when all the people who really care about me, were unable to do that?  Was it validation by an outside source?  Was it that he held my future in his hands?  Or did it have nothing to do with him personally.  Was it that the “system” had finally come through for me?  I am not sure.  I haven’t figured all that out, and I am not sure that it even matters.  (Except that I am an analyzer, so I will chew on it.) It just is what it is.  And my self-worth has increased.  I do feel validated.  I still wish I could work.  I still wish I was able to work.  But I have accepted that I can’t.  I think I am done with that battle.  At least for today.

So my self-worth?  It gets defined by me.  It’s not about what I can do or what I can’t do.  It’s about who I am.  It’s about what I believe.  It’s about what I value.  It’s about how I spend my time, because that reflects what I believe and what I value.  It’s about how I treat other people, because that reflects how I believe I deserve to be treated.  And it is ultimately about love…because who and what I love, and the way I love, is reflection of my soul.

How do you define your self-worth?

 

Judgment Day

I am reflecting on the experience I had this week of being judged before I entered the room.  The judgment: I am too smart and too educated.  In this case, that is deemed to be a negative.  Based on the “lectures” I was given, a grave negative!  I am used to being judged on a variety of factors; I am sure that we all are.  Despite my voiced desire not to judge anyone, I still find myself doing so. Maybe it is the human condition, I am not sure, but I do know that I am at least conscious now of when and how I judge so that I can change those responses.  That is progress!  But I digress.  I am used to being judged and I am great at picking up on it, but I don’t believe that I have ever been told I am too smart or that I am too educated.  It was an interesting experience and my reaction to it caused me to take great pause.  I was angry.  To be judged BEFORE I entered the room? About something that most would take great pride in?

I wonder, is this what it feels like to be truly passionate about who you are and to then be told you are nothing?  To be passionate about a cause, only to be told that you will never win?  Or to see freedoms being taken away and fighting against it, only to be beaten down and repressed even more?  For doesn’t all of this start with someone’s judgment against another human being?