43 Angry Faces

I recently had a letter to the editor published in our local paper…  so far 43 angry faces have weighed in on my letter… I wrote about not giving your child a gun as a gift.  It was interesting to me to read the comments in opposition to my opinion… those people who are clutching their guns, touting ‘gun safety’ as a way to ensure the well-being of their own gun-owning children and stating that this will not stop mass shootings have no clue what my piece was about.  My piece was about caring about children who do not belong to me… their children.

If you teach your child gun safety are you ensuring that your child’s friends will take similar classes, that the neighbor kids can’t get into your home, or know that when your child is desperately unsure of their place in life and a handful of years older, that they won’t look at that gift differently?  We protect our children in so many ways, safety belts, bicycle helmets, knee pads, shin-guards, and football pads, we tell them to not talk to strangers and if they find a gun they shouldn’t touch it, they should leave the area, and tell an adult…. unless it is theirs…

What part of this is trying to take away your rights? What part of this is suggesting that you need to give up guns? What part of this idea will hurt your children in any way?

The best way to keep kids safe in terms of gun safety is to not have guns near children. Guns kill about 1,300 children each year according to a CNN… this has nothing to do with a child becoming a mass shooter… it is about children having access to a gun.

Those 43 angry faces… are they angry because I care about their children?

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God’s Plan

God has a plan.  If you are a believer in prayer, in things happening as they are meant to happen, and in God looking out for His children, then you are complicit in all that is going on in our country.  You are willing to vote for a self proclaimed p**** grabber and a man who has preyed on 14 year old children because they are believers and their faith and politics are all that matter.  Trump supporters, and now supporters for this Alabama politician say that God’s instruments are not always perfect… they are flawed human beings.  They are willing to vote for these lesser people to keep the democrats out of office.  It sickens me.

But let’s take this a step further… if you are a believer that things happen as they are meant to happen, that God has his reasons for bringing back to heaven young children and amazing people whose families and communities love them, then you are saying that their killers are part of God’s plan.  The man who sat up in the hotel room in Las Vegas? He was carrying out God’s plan.  The man who drove his truck down the bike path in New York? He was doing the same.  The man who walked into that Baptist church as people prayed? He must have been answering to the same God.  The 16 year old boy who shot and killed his family down the street from my house? He too was an instrument of God.

This thought process, that God is looking out for us, that he has a plan, that all things are as they are meant to be, is the same thought process that Trump voters used when they voted for a man who has the morals to lie and cheat his way though life.  They are the people who will look away as a candidate grabs at a 14 year old girl as long as he is thumping the bible with his other hand.  They think that having a gun in everyone’s hand is the solution to the gun problem.  And they must think that mass murderers are only following a plan that God has orchestrated.

Let’s pray…

 

A Wall Won’t Help

Terrible, terrible, terrible… day after day, tragedy after tragedy, conversation after conversation, we search for answers.  How do we stop this from happening? No one is willing to talk gun control, we are willing to talk immigration reform, control, and suspension.  Our problems in this country have NOTHING to do with immigration, either legal or illegal.  NOTHING.  They really have nothing to do with terrorism.  They have to do with people who are unhappy for whatever reason, feel powerless or fearful, feel like they want to make a difference, AND who are at the very edge of being tipped over the edge of valuing humanity… they are lost and looking for purpose, they are not operating under the norms of society AND they are being radicalized.

Being radicalized does not necessarily mean that a terrorist organization has converted them… it means that they are thinking violently and searching out violent answers.  They are looking to end their pain and blame others for their suffering.  They are not thinking rationally.  They are lost.

Yes, we can say they are evil.  They are probably also sociopaths.  But once, they too were children.  What were the lessons they learned as they grew up?

Building a wall won’t help… you would have to build a wall around every house, school, church, stadium, pedestrian path… the list goes on and on.  Most tragedies are being committed by American citizens, born and raised by other Americans… those who are not citizens may have been fine for many years but were tipped over that edge of sanity long after being here.

What can we do?  Teach and preach KINDNESS… stop arguing about whose ideology is correct and learn to be kind… stop posting horrid comments on-line that are filled with anger and hatred… go back to the idea that if you don’t have something nice to say then keep your mouth shut.  We are living in a time when everyone feels that it is their right to say whatever hateful thing that pops into their head… just look at our president.

Time to dig deep…  make it a part of your daily interactions… be kind, teach kindness, ask yourself if your comment is kind… to yourself, your children, your neighbors… When people’s lives are going well, when they are happy, when kindness touches them we will see fewer of these problems…   oh, and let’s get rid of guns

Death And Taxes

I live in a state that has no sales tax.  Lucky me!  I can go to a store or restaurant and the state government does not get to add anything to my bill and keep it.  But, I also work for a public school, drive on public roads, and rely on public services like the police and fire departments.  Our town has lost it’s library.  Lucky me? Every bond that gets floated past our citizens is voted down… people don’t want to, or ‘can’t’ pay.

But, we got our tax bill this week.  We live in a modest home in an okay neighborhood… nothing fancy… really. Our tax bill, however, is on par with a house in Los Angeles worth three or four times what our house is worth!  So, those roads? I pay for them.  Those schools? I pay for them.  Those public services? I pay for them.  My neighbors, who are renters, get the benefit of all of those things.  My local library? Sorry folks, there wasn’t enough money…

We are not the most taxed people in the world.  Perhaps if we were taxed more, we would be a better country.  We could afford healthcare for all, beautiful roads, small classroom sizes, mental health facilities that kept the homeless off the streets, food on every table, after school programs free to the public and free college.  If you were not paying for health care and child care, if you were not having to save for your child’s college, if you were not fixing your car because you hit that pothole that never gets fixed, perhaps you could live on a little less money.

The tax reform coming from Washington is a joke.  In no way will it make my life or your life better… this is a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul… and in this scenario most of us are Peter… and Paul? He is already making plenty of money… Robbing Peter means that HUD is cutting 2-3 billion dollars out of their budget, it means that money spent helping people pay for health care is cut, it means that the majority of the people who need help in our country will be on the chopping block and lose the benefits they depend on.

If our state needs more money to run the government and help our citizens they will try to balance their budget by increasing our property tax and cutting public education… both will slam our family… Lucky me

Day One

For the past 17 years fall has been all about our boys. Soccer, cross-country, refereeing, and marching band have taken up Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and some other days.  We used to joke, some evenings, when we were trying to tell each other about our prospective days, that we would talk in 10 years… today was DAY ONE.

We are officially empty nesters. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself today… but I (we) ended up cleaning the kitchen, throwing out and setting aside a give-away pile of the multitudes of crap we have held onto forEVER, and went on a 26 mile bike ride.  I know that people suffer this syndrome when their last child leaves home, this empty feeling… for us, we breathed a sigh of relief.  WE DID IT!  They both survived their upbringing.  Of course they both have their battle scars that will some day send them into therapy, but if we are being honest, we did a pretty okay job.  We are not yet grandparents, no one has gone to jail, they are relatively drug-free, they both can make breakfast, lunch and dinner,  they both subscribe to the beliefs we raised them with, and they say thank you.  We should be opening a bottle of champagne!

This has been the goal of the past 21 plus years, the culmination of sleepless nights, making beds on the bathroom floor, screaming fights, trips to urgent care or the ER, watching soccer in the pouring rain, kvelling at parent conferences, and anguishing over the injustices of coaches and friendships… To be honest there have been some very difficult times, times where we thought the world had gone mad (we still actually think that). But through it all we knew we were heading in the right direction, that someday we would be sitting here, just the two of us, thinking… ‘Well, that went pretty well….what’s next?’

We are here, this is what is next, just us, DAY ONE… starting a new adventure together…  🙂

White Lines and Getting Buzzed

Getting Buzzed… it happens almost every time I go on a ride around Douglas County.  Most people give me three to six feet of space, even on a narrow road… but there are always one or two people who feel compelled to get dangerously close. Sometimes they yell to get off the road or lay on their horn in anger.  It is as if I am riding my bike to ruin their day… I am actually riding my bike as recreation and exercise, and I try my best to be as close to the side of the road as is safe.  Often from your car you can not really see what the shoulder looks like.  Knowing the roads around Roseburg, as only a cyclist can, I know where the shoulder is covered with gravel, glass, large cracks, or is eroded away.  To me it is better to maintain a fairly straight line then jolt out abruptly when these obstacles appear.

That white line has nothing to do with where I should be riding.  The road belongs to me as well as any motor vehicle.  The white line is just the edge of the road, it is not a bike path. I pay my taxes and should be allowed to use the roads without fear of angry motorists.  I am less likely to need medical care as a result of weight, blood pressure, or heart issues. My rides benefit my health, my family, my students and my community because when we take care of ourselves we are taking care of all those who depend on us.   If I can safely ride to the right of it, I will… but if not, I am not doing you, as a motorist, any favors by being unsafe.

When I rode yesterday not one person buzzed me!  People gave me so much space, smiled and waved… maybe they knew that, like them,  I had been waiting for some smoke free air.  I was able to enjoy a ride, and maybe seeing me out there made them appreciate the clean air from a different perspective. Perhaps they even considered celebrating the smoke free air that same way.  If we all grabbed our bikes and went for a ride our community would be healthier and happier…

Give it a try and maybe we won’t be getting buzzed so often.

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…