Tag Archives: United States

About a Boy

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

I’ve been rather mute the last few days because I’ve been glued to the television staring in shock and horror as this whole Boston bombing thing unfolds. I finally managed to unplug from it a little, but not completely. The same way I did when 9/11 happened. Sitting here weeping and wringing my hands is not solving anything and it just gets me worked up into froth of rage, confusion and sorrow.

This morning I was reading comments on the CNN blog page and one caught my attention. One poster said “…Freedom of Religion does NOT give religious institutions the right to preach hatred & intolerance.” I think I have to agree with this person.  It’s similar to the conundrum of – does freedom of speech give one the right to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater, causing people to get trampled to death in the ensuing panic?

I keep staring at the picture of this young boy, the surviving brother. He looks so innocent that it brings tears to my eyes. I know you can’t tell just by looking at someone what they are capable of doing, but I can’t help but wonder – what happened? He could easily have been any young boy I know and love, a son, a nephew, a grandson, the child of a friend. Young men and boys are so incredibly gullible. Ask anyone who knows one and they know this is true.  Who or what turned this boy into a killing machine?

I am not in any way defending him, or forgiving or condoning his actions. He will have to stand and face the consequences of his actions no matter how misguided they were – before country and his God, whoever that may be. But I am still bereft of understanding. What brought this boy to these unspeakable actions? I can’t or perhaps do not want to logically believe that uninfluenced he would have committed these heinous acts.

Another thing that totally flummoxes me is why, if America is such a horrible, heathen, decadent country, do millions of people risk everything including their lives to come here? We shelter everyone here and many of us do not even have a say in that. This boy’s family came here for political asylum. Unfortunately, they did not come here for religious asylum. We take our freedom seriously here in the U.S. and based on that we inadvertently harbor, succor and educate some of the very people who hate us and want us dead.

So about this boy and his legacy; it makes me stop and think, what are we teaching our children? I think our overzealous quest for religious freedom in the U.S.  has put blinders on teaching our children the basics. Many schools do not have anything in the curriculum that addresses morality or ethics – right vs. wrong. The only place our children may hear this at all is on their parent’s knee.

We’ve dropped the ball here. I don’t think teaching children to respect the rights of others, to exercise tolerance, to do onto others as you would have them do unto you, to not be the first one to throw the stone, is a religious issue at all. It’s a human issue. We have never needed this more than we need it right now. We need to step up to the plate and seriously teach our children our beliefs in our schools, churches, and at the dinner table. If we do not we create a vacuum and get left in the dust by those who do pass on their own “religious” beliefs of hatred and intolerance.

If Atlas Did Shrug- I’m Not Sure That I Blame Him

I would while away the hours
Conversing with the flowers and talking to the trees
Oh the thoughts I’d be thinking I would be another Lincoln
If I only had a brain

Oh I would wonder why the ocean touched the shore
I would think of things I’ve never thought before
And then I’d sit….and think some more.
Strawman – Wizard of Oz

Well folks I’ve been using my newly regained powers of reason to think. It turned out to be rather time-consuming. I decided to read Atlas Shrugged. It’s been on my reading list for about 50 years or the first time I heard Mom proclaiming that it was the worst collection of evil, selfish, thoughtless drivel ever committed to print.

So I read it and now I’m even more confused than ever. Ok confused is the wrong word. White hot furiously outraged may be a better description. It seems that Rand’s main point is that we are responsible not only for our own actions but the lack thereof. Furthermore, penalizing the people who do work and achieve is not a benefit for those who chose not to. And I agree with that! Being I child of the 50’s I believed in the “American Dream” that you can do whatever you want and reach whatever height you wanted if you put your mind, and your back to it.

What’s been bothering me in the back of my mind is that when I do achieve what I want I am supposed to feel guilty about my achievement. Because, after all, I only got there on the backs of others…right? None of my fruits of my achievement belongs to me and are for my own enjoyment, unless I’m selfish and greedy.

Now wait just a cotton picking minute! I never asked anyone for a free lunch, a free ride or anything else I didn’t earn and now I’m supposed to feel guilty and selfish and give it all away. I just don’t see it that way.

Parts of the book made my hair stand on end. It’s way scarier than any Steven King or H.P. Lovecraft story. Some of the characters in the novel said lines that word for word matched encounters in my life with my own family. I’ve heard “you’re just cold-hearted, you never think of anyone but yourself” in response to requests to borrow my car. Never mind that the last few times they did, they either wrecked it or parked it in a no parking zone so it got towed away and impounded, leaving me to pay for the fines, repairs, etc.

Incidents like this I’ve confronted my entire life. I used to refer to myself as the white sheep of my family. I was called a “stick in the mud” for doing boring things like having a job for more than a month at a time or having insurance, an unexpired driver’s license, an apartment and so on. I have a few siblings and descendants who think that the coincidence that we were born of the same mother or that I gave birth to them means that I am supposed to fund their entire life including drug and alcohol abuse related expenses.

Now I’m retired and it brings a whole new set of weirdness. My “friends” from work say “it must be nice” when I talk about my life now. The trouble is they say it in a sarcastic manner. People automatically assume that I should now fill my days running around volunteering and slaving away for some cause or other, even if I don’t believe in and it doesn’t matter what cause it is. The point is I should not be wasting my time doing “nothing.” Reading and writing has become nothing, evidently.

Well if it is nothing, I’m going to revel in my nothingness. Pass the bon bons, please.

10 Years Later

camper bike

Just DO it

Times flies by, there’s no escaping it. I read a post this morning by Brian on the Everywhere Once Blog called “7 Lessons From a Year On the Road”. Lesson number one made my hair stand on end.

1)      How easy it is to not follow your dreams. Inertia is an incredibly powerful force. It’s far easier to follow a routine, even a hated one, than it is to do something risky, unfamiliar, and meaningfully different.

Yikes! Self-examination gives me indigestion. It occurs to me that I’ve turned go with the flow into an art form and an EXCUSE. When I talk to Mr. Husband about something I want to do or a dream, his standard answer is “we can’t afford that now, or well someday…maybe….” So I let it ride. I stuff it back in my head and think of it no more, cause I’m a right now kind of gal.  Maybe that’s why I have so many headaches. Too many unrealized wishes stuffed in there. My head is going to explode. He says he wants to travel and we will, at some point. Well, it’s been 10 years now and I’m still waiting. ***taps foot, with hand on hip***

camper limo

Now we’re talking

Perhaps I have not made myself clear, to myself or him. When I say travel, I don’t mean some huge herculean effort and a whirlwind exhausting effort to cram eleventy seven activities into a week at an outrageously expensive resort that takes 2 weeks to recuperate from and a year and a half to pay for. I mean hit the road and live on the road at a leisurely pace. This might include mundane things like drinking beer at a laundry mat while waiting for your clothes to dry. Or spending a whole day reading a book in the shade with not a thing on the agenda but relaxing. You can’t do that on a “vacation.”

I want to spend a good part of a summer somewhere in the great northern half of the United States or Canada. Mr. Husband still does not have a passport, just for the record. (10 years later) Why spend an entire summer in Texas where it gets so hot that it melts the cornea off your eyeballs on brief trip from the front door and the mailbox? There is absolutely not one damn thing we need to do that requires us to be here all summer. Everything single thing that Mr. Husband does for his business can be done elsewhere. He could run his entire show from a coffee shop in Shri Lanka if he so chooses.

camper car

hmmm….Maybe not.

But, nOOOooooaOOo, we must remain…in…this…house…because that is what respectable conservative people do…in his reality. Sometimes I feel like a hostage. We have plenty of money right this minute. But almost every last penny of it is committed to the purchase and upkeep of things we don’t need, have no place to store, and services we don’t use.

We have the most expensive Direct TV package that it is possible to have. All the sports add ons. Every movie channel. Do we need that? Hell no. Do we even use it? Again, NO. Any movie worth watching we already saw at the movie theatre and probably have on Blu-ray. The sports channel? Ahem, that’s touchy territory for Mr. Sports fan. But let me tell what really goes on in this house. Hubman turns on the game on the big screen. Then he goes in his office – shuts the door – and listens to the game on the radio while playing on the computer.

Getting rid of the TV package alone would make a payment on an RV. I know, I checked! Then there is the 80 zillion dollar utility bill for the air-con. Granted that is important if you stay in the house for 3 months. What I can’t seem to get through to Mr. Hub is that if you keep the air-con turned down to zizz, it just seems that much hotter when you go outside. 73 degrees inside and 95 degrees outside, that’s a 22 degree change in temperature and it’s a shock to your system. Couple that with his habit of waiting until the last possible millisecond to take a shower so he’s already hot and sweaty before we walk out the door. It’s no wonder we don’t want to go anywhere. He’s hot and nasty and I am hot and have to listen to him complain on top of being hot. Bleh!

Last Christmas and for my birthday he asked “what do you want for your present?” My answer: “an RV.”  He laughs and I get another item of jewelry or a coach purse. I’m not complaining, ok maybe I am, but I’d much rather put that money in savings account to save for what I really want. I WANT AN RV – I WANT IT NOW, or as soon as is humanly possible. No I don’t want a hot tub in the back yard. I want a parking space for my RV. OK, I’ll park it on the hot tub deck if I have to. Hopefully it won’t come to that. I don’t want or need more stuff. I don’t have any place to put it as it stands now.

What to do, what to do. Stay off of amazon.com, start a plan, work on the plan. Take action. Everything I own is going to be put to the test from this point of view. Do I like this enough to cram in the camper and haul it around the country? If the answer is no, out it goes.

I Share the Dream

Martin Luther King

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. – Martin Luther King

I still share this dream today. And I think as a nation we still fall down when judging people not by the content of their character but the color of their skin. Or the shape of their eyes, or which God they believe in, or if they believe in God, or which gender they prefer, or the contents of their wallet, or their political leanings. The list goes on.

I grew up in a chaotic home, but my free spirited mother did not teach us the usual prejudice at her knee. She was is a feminist so we heard our share of man bashing. I suffer for my fear and mistrust of men to this very day as a result. She did her best.

My temporary fear of black people in my city did not come until I went to the high school and experienced forced busing. It was a brutal and failed experiment.

I have always thought it rather odd and abusive that the adults at the time did not force adults together to learn to like each other in their office, church, or congress. They experimented with their children instead. Forcing people together doesn’t make them like each other. In fact the only place I can think of where adults of different ethnic backgrounds are forced to cohabit ate is in jail. Not exactly conducive to a love thy brother atmosphere. Not teaching hatred and fear of differences to begin with works much better.

This is the very same school where I learned that political protests are “evil” too. My girlfriends and I wore black arm bands to school in protest of friends and brothers killed in Viet Nam. We spend weeks in detention after school as punishment for our unpatriotic behavior. It took decades for me to figure out what exactly I did wrong. Hadn’t we just read in history class that very morning that our country we was so great because we were allowed to speak up about what bothered us?

I remember where I was when the news broke that Martin Luther King was killed. My boyfriend and I were in West Dallas. At the time it was an all black neighborhood. We were eeking out a living selling peep holes door to door. We walked up to a door and if they were willing and had 10 dollars, we drilled a hole in their door and installed a shiny brass peep hole. They were happy we were happy. Free enterprise at work.

One late afternoon I noticed that people were coming out of their houses and milling around, leaning on cars, talking in low voices. Women were crying. I asked what was going and heard the news. I was just as shocked and grieved as anyone else. I felt no fear, only sadness. We were hugging and crying together. Boyfriend and I decided to call it a day and went home.

Later telling this story people were appalled. “You could have been killed!” What? “There were riots, you are lucky you weren’t lynched.” Little ole skinny no account me would be lynched? I was 16 years old and vaguely aware of what a riot was. But that day I felt no fear only sadness. Perhaps it was because at the time there were only shock and grief at the murder. It had not turned to anger yet. I like to think it was because these people listened to the words of Martin Luther King and believed that violence is rarely the answer.

The text of Martin Luther King’s  I Have a Dream Speech is available at USConstitution.net Please take a few minutes to read it. It will make your day.

They Don’t Like Us…So? What is Your Point?

Was talking to Mister Husband last night. The topic, suggested by me was “let’s do something different, let’s go somewhere we have never gone before.” As opposed to going through the motions, taking the same trip to the same place, doing the same thing, day in and day out…zzzzzz

My first salvo was “let’s go to Berlin!” I just threw it out on the table. It landed on top of my salad and laid there like limp lettuce. Why do I take these huge risks in this dangerous dream sharing business with the hub-man? He is an expert shot. If it sounds even remotely kooky or liberal he’ll shoot it out of the sky like he was the champion at a skeet shooting contest. This is a man who thinks doing anything besides sitting in one’s house listening to FOX news drone on about the end of the world is kooky and liberal.

As expected I got the traditional response. “We can’t afford it.” He’ll say that to any suggestion that is outside his comfort zone. It always makes me want to rip my hair out in chunks and throw it around the room. And I end up asking through gritted teeth “how do you know we can’t afford it? Do you even have an earthly idea how much it might cost?” Would you go even if it were free?

EEK - They don't like us

Anyway I kept going. I picked a random far away country out of my hat and said “OK, let’s go to Venezuela.” His response – “they don’t like us.” HUH? Guess what Bubba, read my lips, “I…don’t…care…!!!!” And furthermore, who is the “they” and who is the “us” in this scenario? Have you ever in your entire life met a single human soul from Venezuela?”

“Well their government doesn’t like our government” he replies triumphantly, as if he successfully made his case in court. If we were in the Husband vs Wife discussion court, all that would get him is a salvo of rotten tomatoes. Didn’t impress me much. I don’t like great huge chunks of our government, but that doesn’t mean I hate us Americanos. Phooey, I wouldn’t even be able to talk to myself the mirror anymore. How boring is that?

When I met Mr. Husband he was living in a prison of his own making. Silly me thought that maybe my free-spirited influence would inspire him to make a jail break. What really happened? Over the years I have shut myself in his prison, brick by brick. We have a perfectly comfortable life in our air-conditioned gilded cage. We probably live a lot better than a huge percentage of the population. But we “can’t afford” to break out.


I wanna hit the road

If we travel we must stay in an expensive hotel with the most comfortable bed, and eat only expensive food in the finest restaurants/tourist traps so we can stay fat and happy. What this essentially does is isolate us from everyone except the few who travel the same way. They go somewhere else so they can have the exact same comfort level and cocoon they had at home. Why even travel? It’s better than nothing I guess. But I better not even think about it, because we can’t afford it.

I want to go somewhere so bad that if someone pulled up in front of the house in an old flatbed truck and said “hey I’m going all over, not exactly sure where. We’re gonna sleep under bridges and cook our food on a fire built of wood salvaged from dumpsters, wanna go with?” I’d be out the door in a hot second. I wouldn’t even change out of my pajamas. And probably have the adventure of a lifetime.

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