Are You Ready?

 

 

I sat around a living room discussing politics with a group of mostly democrats.  Each of us was asked about our position on guns and gun control.  Most of the discussion group participants said we should better regulate guns.  When they got to me I said that we should go the way of Australia and get rid of guns.  I was ready to say it out loud.  Not long before sitting around that living room a man had opened fire in our small towns community college and killed nine innocent people, several of of them were classmates of my two sons.  

 

Our town was not ready to say it even then, and they may never be.  We are a hunting town, a town steeped in the the culture of guns and there is no way WE would even consider limiting our access to our guns.  The idea that a good guy with a gun could have made a difference in that shooting, and in any shooting, is part of the argument for keeping our guns.

They said it was too soon after Sandyhook, too soon after UCC, too soon after San Bernadino, and too soon after Pulse… when will we be ready?

To even have that discussion evokes such anger and hatred on the part of those who defend their gun rights. It is a discussion about liberals taking away rights and the ability to defend their own.  Last nights events are on the two year anniversary of our towns shooting.  There are so many shootings in our country’s history that they will now have to share the same day.  We have explained away shooters and our ability to solve this problem because they were mentally disturbed or ideological terrorists, foreigners who came to do us harm… the mass shootings are horrid… in this, America is indeed number one.

 

You have to have registration to obtain the type of firearm this shooter used in his attack.  Super.  Registration.  We need to be willing to do whatever it takes to end this type of mass murder… and it is not ‘building a wall’ that will help…

 

What are you willing to do? It is time to take a stand and change how we think about the second amendment.  Are you ready to give up your guns? It is time.

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Where You Stand

Facebook is full of opinions. The angriest right now are against those football players and teams who are making a political statement and exercising their first amendment rights by kneeling during the national anthem.  They are unpatriotic, anti American,  against the military and veterans.  Facebook is filled with loving couples posting sweet pictures of themselves with the slogan like: ‘I stand for the anthem and kneel for the cross.’… sweet.  They are proving that THEY are not only real patriots but real Christians.

Showing respect for the flag and our anthem is the way we show we are patriotic.  If you don’t stand you are sending a message… but wait… I think you should have your hand on your heart… take off your hat… know and sing all the words… maybe even have a small flag tattooed on your body somewhere… oh, and donate a small percentage of their earnings to a local VA.  When the anthem is played on t.v. are you standing at home? Are you pulling over and removing your hat if you hear the anthem in the car? THAT would show you are a REAL American.

And those people kneeling for the cross… they should actually be prostrating themselves, kneelers are not really devoting themselves… they should be saying the Lords Prayer… going to church every Sunday and a bible study on Wednesdays…. they should have a cross in their front window… and maybe donate a percentage of their earnings to their local church… and that tattoo… hmmmm…

Maybe we should publish in the paper the names of people who donate their time and money to that VA and local church… then we could really see who is patriotic and Christian.

Is that going too far?

Once we begin to decide who is patriotic and what people need to do to show that patriotism we are taking away their freedom to speak out against injustice in our country.

I don’t care if the men on the field are making 100 times more than I make, many of them probably are… they are also 100 times more likely than I am to be pulled over for driving in the wrong neighborhood… they have to talk to their sons and daughters about how to behave when the police stop them on the street… they have to endure people locking their car doors with their elbows when they are seen walking by with friends on the sidewalk …

Protesting systemic injustice to black Americans was where this protest began BUT people are upset that this protest is against the lashing out of our current president against those who protested last season.  Our current president thinks that the NFL is a government run program that he can influence… take that in… OUR PRESIDENT WANTS TO DECIDE HOW AN INDIVIDUAL CAN PEACEFULLY PROTEST

Really? He is deciding what is respectful and patriotic? He who name-calls with the best of any 10 year old, he who grabs women, he who rates women on a numerical scale, he who tweets at 3am, he who says he likes people who don’t get captured… he is your moral compass?

I am only bringing up the religious aspect of this because of those pictures on Facebook… their message is clear… ‘Good people are standing for the anthem and kneeling for the cross… good people are patriotic and religious.’ They tell me that you must prove to others what is in your heart by making a public display that they recognize and agree with.

If you ask many Veterans, who actually fought, they may say they did it for our country, but they didn’t fight for our flag, or for our anthem… they fought for our freedom.  And Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that you could kneel… he died so that you could live, giving YOU the choice… FREE WILL, people!

For me, I stand with the people who are kneeling… it is not about being unpatriotic, or disrespecting our flag and anthem, it is about exercising our freedom to disagree with how our country is being led, it is about the first amendment, it is about injustice, AND it is about those pictures on Facebook of loving couples who think that by standing for the flag and kneeling for the cross they are proving something… they are… they are proving that they don’t really understand what our country and those protests are all about.

 

 

 

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.

The Gift of Mother Nature

Harvey and Irma are wreaking havoc on millions of Americans. They are losing property, pets, piece of mind and family…  humanity is being tested and celebrated in the media, and EVERY news station is poised to witness the devastation caused by the strongest storm to hit our country in recorded history.

America is consuming the coverage of this tragedy unfolding in our own living rooms.  And, Trump is the sole beneficiary of this new news focus.  No longer are his tweets a source of commentary, no longer are his Russian dealings part of the news desk banter, and no longer are we obsessed with his odd commentary and decisions that seems so uninformed.  He is benefiting because, for once, he is the president of a UNITED America looking to governmental support led by HIM.

In the next days,  months and years to come I hope that the people in areas that are affected by these storms are able to recover… and a big part of that recovery will be how well they are supported by our government. Let’s hope they get what they need!

Trump’s test will come in the aftermath of these tragedies (fire in the west and floods in the south-east)… we already know that he likes to be the center of attention, will he be able to harness the storms’ power to propel him into the good graces of America and erase some of his hateful decisions?  I don’t think so… all I know is that, for Trump, Mother Nature has given him a couple of weeks of good press – a gift really.  Maybe he’ll return the favor and make some decisions that protect her, and the storm victims, as a thank you…maybe not.

 

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…

 

 

What Next…

Every day, EVERY DAY, it is something else.  A new affront to the moral sensibilities I hold dear… they are said, left unsaid, tweeted, or alluded to by our ‘leader’.  Although he has continuously proven himself as anything but a leader, once again today he showed his complete lack of leadership ability.  After two days of being called out by fellow republicans and democrats for his unwillingness to name white supremacist, Nazi, neo-Nazi, and alt-right groups, terrorist groups, he begrudgingly spoke the words that were lost to him two days ago… of course, those words were tucked into a speech that began with a commentary on how well our economy and stock market were doing, obviously written by someone with a far superior vocabulary than himself… hence his use of the word repugnant.  I am sure his base was confused by the omission of  the highly sophisticated term ‘very, very bad’, which he often uses when speaking of ideas he dislikes.  He admonished those groups by name because he was forced to do so… his admonishment is as hollow as is his ability to lead this country.  Our country is caught in the tornado that is his twitter storm of self-serving, ego-centered, and volatile statements on whatever catches his attention.

Who are those speaking out against his madness? Now there are many, perhaps more people will begin to listen.  Today they were there at a very small rally in a highly conservative town… they were the educators, social workers, doctors, medical professionals… they were people chanting for love, for peace, for tolerance, for justice, for equality…

What next?  Fight and stand for what is right… do not sit silently by just shaking your head… join a group, speak out, mail a postcard, call your elected officials, show up…