Some Things Are Not Easy to Say

Putting yourself out there isn’t easy.  Challenging people who you respect or consider friends can be stressful. Keeping the discussions civil and being willing to listen and respond with respect is critical to moving forward and making the changes needed in our society.

Saying that I wish all guns were taken out of homes and off our streets is a bold statement, especially when I live in a small town filled with hunters.  Saying that I challenge religious zealots of all kinds and believe that many of the world’s problems fall on the shoulders of those who believe they are doing ‘God’s will’ is met by anger.  Saying that I am a liberal democrat who wishes Obama were still president and that Americans had universal healthcare is met by name calling and hateful words.

It isn’t easy, but it is necessary.  I am not looking to change the minds of those people who oppose me vehemently, I am looking at changing the minds of people on the fence and move those who are already on my side but shy to speak up towards action rather than silent agreement, I am looking to send a message of hope to those who feel that they are alone in their thoughts because they are afraid to share their true thoughts…

I am not brave, I am scared, but I am hopeful that together we CAN make a difference, even in our small town.

It is not easy to say, but I will say it… open your mind, open your heart and question the way things are… just because you were raised one way does not mean that it is right, be willing to question yourself, I do every day.

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Now We Know…

It does matter, now we know.  For years, decades even, I recall hearing the idea that it really didn’t matter who the president was.  Things remained mostly the same, relatively.  But that idea, almost lament, was shattered drastically when Trump took office.  When he took the American people hostage.  We now know that one very disturbed narcissist CAN change the lives of so very many people.

Those ‘Make America Great’ people have not seen the change affect them, yet.  They were hoping for something big… and when that change hits them, they will see it.  Sadly, it will not be the change they were hoping for. Our country will be united because we will all finally be suffering together.

The people who have already felt that change? The LGBTQ community where haters have been emboldened to strike out against an entire group of Americans, Jews, Muslims, immigrants, women who need health care, the free press, South Koreans, liberals, the Lokota people, Puerto Ricans, NFL players who take a stand or a knee, and many more have been affected by his hostility that lashes out in early morning tweets and in executive orders.

In the past, it might have been possible to just muddle through a four year term, muttering your displeasure as our illustrious leader makes policy that may or may not improve your life and the lives of your neighbors.  But THIS president, THIS president is holding America hostage, so many are dangling dangerously over an open cauldron of boiling oil, just waiting for his next ‘decision’.  By decision I mean a fleeting thought that pops into his head.

This time it really did matter… and because enough of us thought our country, our government, was too big for one man to make a difference, we are being ‘led’ by someone who is focused on himself and his close friends and family.  Never again can we stay home or throw up our hands at election time because we don’t like our choices…. the lesser of two evils? Well, that didn’t happen… I don’t like to use the word evil… but in this case, evil won.  Resist and hang on. It matters

It’s Not About Him…

Tweet, tweet, tweet… day after day we read absurdly offensive statements from our president.  We asked ourselves why he took so long to tweet about Charlottesville  or any other event… there is only one answer… Charlottesville was not about him, and when things are not about him he doesn’t really care until someone makes him see that those events require a presidential response … what he really cares about is what he tweets about: crowd size, news that makes him look bad, SNL, people who disagree with his handling of an increasing number of incidents at home and around the world. He does not really care to tweet about incidents- just the people who disagree with or criticize him or things that will make him look good to his base.

As we go through these next 3 + years remember that everything that comes out of the white house is meant to make him look good, feel good or fire up his base. His perception of events are not ever objective.  For example, there may have been a commotion when he was tossing paper towels, what he said he heard were cheers, cheers for him.  It was probably shock, confusion, and a bit of outrage, but that is just my spin.

No tweets (that I have seen) about the California fires… he doesn’t really care much for Californians who didn’t vote for him, and sending his thoughts and prayers to that liberal state may upset his base.

If someone makes it about him… we will see some commentary and perhaps action… otherwise he has better things to focus on like his executive order reversing health care subsidies for the most needy Americans.  So glad he is showing America he can keep his promises. I can’t wait for America to be great again.

Quick To Anger

Many of us are jumping up and shouting that ‘those people’ are what is wrong with America.  I would argue that it is not ‘those people’ it is their attitudes.  Our town is very conservative, very Republican, and very Christian.  Our town is making changes, improvements as it were, to roads, bridges, streetlights and our downtown. Our local leaders are trying to revive and improve our little corner of Oregon. We have several Facebook pages where new ideas are shared with the community.  

 

If you have taken a look at any of these public forums you have seen the barrage of ugly comments left by our neighbors. They are comments that are filled with such anger, hatred and vile language that seems so out of proportion to the idea or statement that spurred them on.  If someone said even the more mild of these hate comments out loud, to my face, I would be fearful for my safety.

 

Somewhere along the way we have lost our respect for one another, a filter of decency, and the ability to control what we say and do.  It seems that we are looking for things to be outraged over, reasons to swear at hard working people, and ways we are being wronged by anyone who crosses our path or looks to change the status quo.

 

Our local government has been implementing road improvements for the past couple of years, and the roads and bridge to our downtown have been under construction for that long. Perhaps it has taken 5 minutes to get through that area rather than the one or two it usually takes… on a really busy day it took ten.  There were road workers helping with traffic during this time. I usually smile and wave because…why not? Those road workers received so much verbal abuse from members of our community. It was sad and they couldn’t wait to get out of our town.

 

The improvements are not perfect, they make it more dangerous rather than less dangerous if you are riding a bike across the bridge and into downtown…but I don’t need to yell or get angry about it. I don’t need to call names or send hateful messages to our city planners. I can write an intelligent, helpful letter offering ways to fix the problem and offer suggestions.

 

We need to step back and think before we jump to anger. Our town is a microcosm of what is happening in our country.  We need to seek to understand what is happening and why it is happening. We need to respect each other before we join the conversation. That is what will make America great again… lack of respect ~ that is what is wrong with America. If you don’t have respect for others, you don’t need to get out, you need to open your mind and better understand the situation.

Stop Looking Up and Start Looking In

Many of us have heaps of criticism about the daily (often hourly) assaults on our moral sensibilities by the president.  Yes, he is horrid, racist, misogynistic… and at least five more labels that go against all that I hold dear… But, many are picking apart, not just what he says, tweets and does, they are picking apart the efforts and commentary of those who oppose him.

Tina Fay did a comedic piece on SNL with a sheet cake… It was great. I loved it.  And yet, here come the haters who didn’t get it. They are critics who suggest that her piece was serious and that it encouraged us to join a ‘sheet cake-eating movement’… Really? They obviously missed the point, the frustration, and the anger of the segment.  If you missed the piece on one of the platforms you follow, here it is again: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tina-fey-sheet-caking_us_599675d0e4b0e8cc855cce85

Instead of looking to criticize people who are putting their opinions out there, we should look at what we are doing ourselves to push back against Trump.  Send postcards, write e-mails, have those difficult conversations where you listen as much as you speak, march, boycott, make a statement, help solve this crisis, resist…. criticizing people who are trying to do something is counter productive… YOU do something.

I am tired of hearing that ‘This is not who we are’ from all sides… sorry folks, it is.  We elected him and WE need to sort this out.  WE need to grow, to listen, to make it right.  I know that this is who we are because we are a country where an angry few can terrorize the many, where one bad apple CAN spoil the whole bunch… 20 cars can give me plenty of room when I am out riding my bike ~ it only takes one jerk to buzz by me honking and yelling for me to get off the road to do harm.  Our town is working on improvement but over and over people hatefully complain about what is being done… Our town and our country is being terrorized by hate ~ that is what racism, anti-semitism, homophobia and misogyny are really about… we could say it is fear but that just makes you feel sorry for the haters… we need to combat hate, we have elected hate to our highest office and hate has been given a license to flourish with the protection of the first amendment.  Hate is on the rise and we must rally against it.

So, when you turn on your ‘feed’ make sure you are not contributing to hate… make sure you are being constructive and helpful… and to all of the teachers out there beginning your school year, make sure that you are teaching the most important lessons of our time… teach kindness, understanding, love and peace… let’s raise a generation where hate dies a quick death because it is drowned out by US… let’s become what we wish our country was now… sadly, what’s happening in our country IS who we are, but it doesn’t have to be…

 

 

SEX is Not a Bad Word

“Sex is NOT a bad word”… I shouted this… in my classroom… to 6, 7 and 8 year old students…. everyone froze, but only for a flash.  So, I had to shout it again, with just a bit more volume and conviction.

Moments earlier a concerned child told me that a classmate found a bad word in one of our library corner books. ‘Oh, my!’, I said… and I went to take a look.  Being unable to find the word myself (or the book), I instead, found the finder.  They were not going to talk and would not utter the word found, but they did point to a book that was a class favorite.  It was one of our heaviest hardback books, about 12″ x 18” and over an inch thick… a child’s encyclopedia of animals.  It really is a beautiful book, full of colorful, realistic drawings and photographs of all animals from amoebas to humans… it has tons of interesting facts and quite a few scientific words. My students pour over its pages, showing interesting pictures to friends.  It would not be uncommon for three or four students to be gathered around this book oooooing and aaahing for a whole reading period.  I grabbed the offending book.

A buzz was in the classroom, because everyone knew that our class favorite had a bad word in it, most of them had been shown the word, and the book may be put away behind the teacher’s desk (a veritable black hole of confiscated crap and stacks of books and papers) never to be seen again.

Here is how this went:

“What was the bad word”

“I don’t remember”

“You do, what was it?”

“I am not going to say it.”

“You can tell me, what was it?”

“It is a bad word, I am not allowed to say it.”

“It is okay to tell the teacher, you can tell me the word. You are not in trouble.”

“My mom said I am not allowed.”

“Okay, let’s find it in the book and you can show me.”

At this point he turns to an easily found page towards the beginning of the book (he had obviously become an expert at finding it from showing the rest of Room One the offending word).  It was the page on protozoans, sponges, or maybe some other basic sea creature and had a beautiful diagram of one such animal, labeled with all of it’s parts… Right there at the bottom of the page was the word, with a line connecting it to a blob inside the organism… SEX cell… There it was.

Okay… here’s what happened next…

“Ah, I see. That is not a bad word. You CAN read me that word.”

“No, I can’t.  My mom said it is a bad word and I am never allowed to say it.”

“But you can show it to everyone in class? Hmmmmm. I think you can read that word to me, because this is a science book in our classroom and I am asking you to read it. You can do that.”

…. we sat in silence for a long time… My student was set on not reading the word, I read it, I explained what that word meant in the book, and finally, in frustration, I shouted out “Sex is not a bad word” – twice… And then “Everybody stop what you are doing and meet me on the rug! Now!”

Quick as a wink, there they all were, staring at me as I held up the offending book.  We had a big discussion about what that word meant in that context… That humans are born to be either the male sex or the female sex, we all have a sex, and also sex is the word we use for how animals reproduce… then we talked more broadly about words and how many words can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on how you use them and who you are speaking to. Words like stupid, hate, ugly, pig, rat and more can be used in a good way or a bad way… It was a deep lesson for young children, but our favorite book was back on the shelf and we have not had a ‘bad word’ incident in a while… No shit. 😉

No Intelligence – Give Me A Break

No intelligence… I heard CNN newscaster, Don Lemon utter these words.   As he was interviewing a Trump spokesperson about the claim that our former president ordered a wire-tap on Trump’s phone at Trump Tower, he simply asked the spokesperson if President Trump had any ‘intelligence’… and then “So, what your saying is that he has ‘No intelligence’.”  I laughed out loud and I am sure that once he said it he knew what it really meant.

Of course our president has no intelligence.  Conspiracy theories, die-hard supporters, poor judgement, and a quick finger when it comes to Twitter – he has those in spades… but intelligence he is lacking.  He is surprised at the complexity of our healthcare issues, shocked that people are concerned about his connection to Russia, and has mentioned our former president more times in the past six weeks than Obama mentioned Bush in his entire presidency.  He is becoming more unhinged as the days pass.

We have weathered more White House scandal than we have seen in decades… and he is just getting started.  Wait until he gets on a roll!

Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills, the ability to deal with new or trying situations.  Intelligence is what is required to process and synthesize information, to sift through a problem and come up with reasonable solutions.  It is the ability to rise to the occasion, use clear language and speak to a topic.  It is what we need as a nation.

A man who leads without intelligence is a danger to us all! We are being led by someone with no intelligence… and those who surround him are continuing to make excuses for him and cover it up…  Those who surround him need to take his phone at night… give us all a break!