Politics Screw With Love

Almost everything that pokes at me and sends me out of my comfort zone these days originates from Facebook.  I think this window we’ve created for ourselves into the lives of people we know, but don’t really know forces us pull our heads out of the sand and admit that there are all kinds of other viewpoints out there.  If we can’t embrace each others’ differences, we at least have to learn to accept them because they exist and denying the existence doesn’t change that fact.

For me the button that is most often pressed is the one in charge of my politics.  I know that I am not the only one that could admit this.  Today a friend posted something that was so very true, yet left me feeling a mixture of angry, sad, and fearful.  I’ll try to paraphrase what she said:

Do you ever notice how when you find out someone’s political beliefs your opinion of them instantly changes and you no longer feel the same about them? It’s interesting that that happens.

Reading that made me sad because, after two years of being her Facebook friend, I know her political views and they are not the same as mine.  It was a reminder that the instant I am open about being liberal there are people who will think less of me and perhaps even write me off.  The comment made me angry because it means that all the respect and love that brings us to a relationship in the first place can be torn apart in one moment of categorizing ourselves.  Finally it made me fearful because, like I said before, it was a very true (for probably most people) statement.

I’ve been in both situations before.  I’ve been in the place where you’re hanging out with a new friend, you like them and see the potential for a great relationship and then the subject of politics come up.  They say something that lets you know their on your team and suddenly you feel those warm fuzzies.  In your mind you’re running through a field of daisies with some sweet song playing.  In one instant an alliance has been made, and yes, you like this person more than you did the moment before.  I’ve also been in the moment where the new friend expresses a political opinion opposite yours and the sound of a record scratch resonates in your head.  How could this be?  She/He can’t possibly be one of them!  And just like that, you’re not so sure you could ever find common ground with this right-wing/left-wing crazy (gotta love how our ego exaggerates)!

If there is something I want to transform about myself it is this reaction.  I want to see myself have these snap judgments and be able to take a time-out to pray for God to heal my thoughts and help me see what’s real.  In reality we all just want the same basic things.  We want to feel safe and loved.  It doesn’t matter what your political party affiliation is.  The negative reactions about our differences come from fear and that fear is used so well in politics to divide us, even from those we respect and love.

More and more these days I am finding friends on the other side of the fence whom I have so much in common with.  I am better for having them in my life and hope that in the future my political allegiances never keep me from connecting with people like these smart and loving ones I already know!

*A note to my FB friend if she is reading*

I hope I didn’t offend you by paraphrasing you here.  Thank you for inspiring me to look within at my own reactions.

Incomplete Thoughts

I have three different blog posts floating through my head today.  I can’t seem to completely pull any of them together for a 500-1000 word post so I thought I’d just say a little about each.

The first thought is about privacy.  Facebook is such a freaky thing.  I’ll admit there was a time when I was really into celebrity blogs.  I visited Perez Hilton and Celebrity Baby Blog numerous times during the day.  Since I joined Facebook I rarely visit those sites.   Reading about people I know, knew, or hope to know seems to scratch that itch for me.  This week I’ve noticed a couple of cryptic status updates from folks.  They give away just enough information to make you go WAIT, WHAT?  They stir up a reaction.  Visiting the individual’s pages you see a line of people asking how they are and what’s going on.  I find myself wondering if it is better or worse that we have this public spotlight for our private matters.  On one hand you get lots of support, but is it real support?

Another issue on my mind is parent/child relationships.  In the novel I am currently writing the main character is 15 and very close with her father.  She talks to him and he listens, they respect each other, and sometimes they even act as if they are friends.    When I look around me at my husband, my friends, and the men in my church these are the kinds of fathers I see, ones who are generally interested in relating to their children.  But in response to my writing someone called the relationship weird.  So I’m wondering if I am just delusional.   Have we moved away from the “kids are to be seen and not heard” idea or not?  Is it possible for a girl to be friends with her dad or do I have some re-writing to do?

The last thought is how I’ve been a bit swallowed up.  I finally started writing this novel and it is all I can think about.  It sits in the back of my mind no matter what I am doing.  The Ray’s and White’s are demanding my attention.  I have a lot of mixed feelings on this.  On one hand it is fabulous because after a year of only writing blog posts and essays I am writing fiction again.  But it is also distracting me and I find myself losing track of my schedule, forgetting things, and neglecting healthy habits because my mind is elsewhere.  My vision of this project is exciting though.  I wonder if I can see it through.  Once it is complete I wonder what will become of it.  At writing group last night I was reminded of the work still left to do and the writing time I need but don’t have.  I have to admit, it’s frustrating and scary to think I may be traveling a path leading to a dead end, just one more book collecting cyber-dust on a shelf in my hard drive.

So that’s what’s on my mind today.  Just a few incomplete thoughts….

Dominion

I “like” the Vegetarian page on Facebook and today there was an interesting post that started a discussion.  It stated that humans weren’t created to eat animals.  Of course one of the responses was that the “Good Book” says differently.  This was in reference to the idea that God gave humans dominion over the earth and creatures.  This is an idea that bugs me because I think that it is abused.

As human beings we have abilities that most animals do not.  We can think, reason, and make rationale decisions.  We have intelligence that allows us to adapt and invent in order to make life easier.  The fact that we can use our abilities to create makes us like God or “in his image,” and with that comes a degree of power.  But with this power or dominion also should come other qualities of God like respect and love.  Most of what is done and defended by “The Good Book” is lacking both of those.

Calves are taken away from their mothers and fed formula while their mothers are pumped full of hormones to provide milk for human consumption.  Cows are fed corn which they are not intended to eat and cannot digest so that we can eat Big Macs.  And because they are not built to eat corn they get sick and are pumped full of antibiotics so that we do not become sick.  What happens instead is we ingest these levels of antibiotics in the meat we eat and then become immune to them so that when we actually need antibiotics they don’t work.  Chickens are overfed and pumped full of hormones so that they will grow bigger, so big that they can’t even stand up.  Basically animals are tortured so that we can eat unhealthy levels of meat.  I looked at the passages in Genesis and from what I read it sounds like the Vegetarian FB people are right.  Genesis 1:29-

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”

In my interpretation I’d say that if we are to eat animals it should only be as a last resort.

Dominion or not if we believe that it is God’s creation and we claim to be Godly people we should have respect.  For years we have been raping and pillaging the earth using the bible as our defense.  We hunt and kill animals for fun or to feel powerful.  We clear land and cut down trees to build new houses and shops while older houses and shops are left abandoned.  There is a balance in nature and we have a role in the circle of life.  We have been upsetting the balance for a long time and it is time to live more consciously and stop using The Bible to excuse ignorant behavior.

Happy Song

This week @lesleehorner has been very low key.  It’s actually an interesting story.  For a long time now my intuition has been telling me to spend less time online.  I think you guys know this about me by now.  I’ve written about it before.  When I try to do it on my own, I can’t seem to resist the urge to just “check” my email and pages.  The checking usually turns into chatting, replying, tweeting, and updating.  By the time I am finished my 5 minute check turns into an hour or more of playing.  On Sunday, I had popped onto the blog and thought my Sunday Quote had not published.  I was frantically trying to post a new quote when suddenly the internet just stopped working.  Mark went to troubleshoot and realized the router had just died.  What a coincidence?  I still have internet access but not on my own computer and the set up is complicated.  So my goal for the week has been to spend no more than 30 minutes online per day.  Luckily I had scheduled the entire week’s worth of posts except for today’s before our problem occurred.

So with that in mind, I’m keeping it short.  I went to the gym on Monday and listened to my Ipod while on the elliptical.  It’s when I am working out that I realize just how much music touches me.  I don’t have extremely sophisticated taste in music.  I mostly enjoy what’s popular.  I like a catchy tune and sweet lyrics.  I recently added a few new songs to my collection and one of them is currently my favorite.  It’s odd to say it, but as I listened to it during my work out Monday, I experienced pure bliss.  It was like my entire body was smiling.  I allowed myself to forget about everything else, including where I was and what I was doing, and just get lost in the song.  So for today, in honor of simplicity, I decided to just share my current happy song.  Catchy tune, cheesy lyrics, enjoy!  (And if this is not your happy song, I suggest finding one and letting yourself escape in it for a few minutes!)

Ramblings

I have had no burst of inspiration today.  There’s no words of wisdom or deep questions I have for myself or you.  I’m writing this on Sunday, April 25.  The 25th of each month is no longer just another day.  The 25th will forever be the date that signifies one more month without Amy in my life.  Someone wrote the other day on Facebook that they think of her everyday.  I paused for a moment realizing that I don’t think of her as much anymore.  Everyday seems like a lot, but compared to every minute it is not.  For so many weeks, maybe even months, a minute could not pass without a memory or thought of Amy coming to mind.  But yes, like the friend on Facebook, I do still think of her everyday.  Yesterday I was on the couch reading and I stopped for a moment to think of her.  I looked up from my book and on PBS was a commercial for a documentary about frogs.  Today the girls brought me yet another mysterious toy frog that they found in their room.  She’s still sending me signs.  I hope she never stops.

I used a gift certificate and bought two books yesterday:  Love Without Conditions by Paul Ferrini and The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel. I started reading them both yesterday.  Apparently The Master Key System is a 24 week program.  You are supposed to read each chapter over a week period and apply what you are learning.  I’m excited about it, but hope that I can stick with it.  I’ve bought and read several books like this one and never treated them like a class, but instead just devoured them and placed them back on the bookshelf.  Intellectually I understand a lot of what (I think) is going to be presented in this book, but it is really time to take it to the next level.  The best way to get to that next level is to use the book as suggested.

The other book, Love Without Conditions, is just wonderful.  Seeing as I had my belief in Jesus shaken a bit a week or so ago, this book is just what I needed.  It is not a channeled book specifically, but the text comes through the author from Jesus.  Ferrini says in the introduction that we all have access to Jesus and can commune with him and get the same information from within our consciousness directly from him.  I believe that because I have experienced it!  I have realized through some of the comments I received on that post, some answers I received within, and from what I read in this book that I really don’t need absolute proof of Jesus’ human existence on this earth for me to know that he is a spiritual teacher for me.  His words and lessons will not change.

Happy Monday everyone!  Have a great work/school week and for those of you who might be wondering…I did sign up to give a talk at church this summer.

Virtual Education…

A couple of days ago I saw this status update on my Facebook feed:  Just overheard a student say: “I can’t wait until all the classes at FSU are virtual.”

It got the wheels turning and me thinking about all sorts of things.  I could go in various directions with this post.  I could write about how we seem to be drifting out of our real lives and into cyber ones (and I am most definitely included in this as I spend a great deal of time connecting with others through my computer).  I could write about how helpful it would be for us to take time during our days to turn off our phones, close our laptops and just BE Present.  I could also talk about how important I think it is that Universities stick with business as usual as well as offering more options for those who need them.  But what (or who) I’ve decided to write about is Dr. John Hancock.

Dr. Hancock, or John as he insisted we call him, was one of my history professors in college.  In fact, I loved him so much that I took 3 classes with him and would have taken more if they were offered.  He was incredibly passionate about history and politics.  When I sat in his classes, I could feel his energy.  I soaked it up, listened intently, and always left wanting more.  It was because of him that I decided on a concentration in History.  He was larger than life, yet he was one of us.  He wore jeans to class and would often be found indulging in a pre or post-class cigarette.  But when he stood before us talking about slavery or the Vietnam War, he was brilliant.  He put his heart and soul into his work.  I’m not sure if his passion would have been as apparent if I’d taken his class in my own living room, virtually.  I would have missed the way he moved around the room or the way his eyes lit up.

He influenced my life tremendously.  My passion for Civil Rights was ignited in his classroom.  He gave me the words and background for what was in my heart.  He taught me not only history, but compassion for my fellow man.  In essence, he gave me the facts and the figures to explain my bleeding heart.  And it happened because I was THERE with him, because I spent two semesters and a summer session in his presence.

I am grateful that I had the ability and the means to go to college.  There is nothing like the feeling of sitting in the classroom with someone that is on fire about a particular topic.  Sure there were lots of times I was lazy, tired, and barely awake.  If I have any regrets, that is one of them, that I didn’t take advantage of those great minds that graced my presence for my 4+ years in college.  Online degrees are a good option for those with busy lives and no superpowers, but to think that a regular full-time student might wish that all their classes were virtual makes me a little bit sad.

What about you?  Care to tell us about a teacher that influenced your life or share your thoughts on virtual universities….

Paths

Now that I am a parent, I often think about the role I play in my children’s lives.  There is the obvious of course, that I will feed them, clothe them, keep them healthy, make sure they get an education and give them lots of love.  But when it comes down to my desires and vision for their lives, how much will reality match the fantasy?  What really decides our paths?

Facebook has been an amazing look into people’s paths and how they often go in strange and unexpected directions.  When we step out from the consciousness of our families, we attract to our lives the situations and challenges that test us and bring us into our own.   When I was in high school I became fascinated with all things “unique.”  I would take weekly trips to vintage shops and artsy/New Agey stores and just walk around, mostly looking at clothes I loved but didn’t have the nerve to wear.  I was attracted to guys with long hair and piercings (too young yet to be into tattoos).  When I met a perspective boyfriend, I’d often ask “What do you do?” with the hopes of an answer like write poetry, paint, or play guitar.  All of my serious boyfriends did one of those three things.  The sirens of creativity called to me, even if vicariously through other people and places.  These days the vision I hold for my life is a marriage of creativity and spirituality.  My path, with its odd detours and speed bumps, seems to have brought me to me.

I have a friend named Toby.  You will meet her tomorrow in the first in a series of four click stories.  For a short period, Toby and I walked our path together.  We spent weekends hanging out with boys with long hair and piercings.  I tasted artichoke for the first time in Toby’s kitchen standing between her and her mother.  We played soccer and rode in Heather’s convertible Firebird singing Hotel California together.  I took my very first college road trip to visit her at NC State our freshmen year of college.  We were both poets and loved to write.  She was a lot more outgoing than me, but other than that we were very similar.

The last time I was with Amy we sat on her bed (she was on bed rest) and looked at each other’s Facebook pages.  Amy was so excited to share that she had found Toby.  I honestly don’t remember the exact connection but Amy and Toby were also pretty close friends.  Amy was the first to tell me that Toby had been a heroin addict.  When Toby and I finally connected on Facebook she was quick to share with me what she had overcome.  I also learned that she was a proud new mama who was finding her way back to writing.  Despite how drastically different the past fifteen years had been for us, we were now on similar paths…maybe even inching our way onto the same path.

Toby has now sent me four of her stories and has started her own blog.  As she put it on Facebook the other day, she is “writing furiously.”  I read her stories and am greatly aware at how simply and easily our lives can be changed…but also how we at some level create these challenges.  In one of her posts, Toby shares how she was always fascinated with heroin.  She read books and watched movies about addicts and fantasized about her own relationship with the drug.  And just like she always knew, the drug found her, was even presented to her as a birthday gift.  She made a choice that day and it was the only choice she could have made in the moment.  It brought her to where she is now.

What I think is that we are here to choose our on paths and make our own destinies.  Our parents will raise us, teach us, and love us but in the end who we really are will find it’s way through.  Sometimes we are just like our parents and families, sometimes we are not.  There are many crossroads.  Sometimes we make choices that could be described as selfish, careless, or just plain fucked up.  And sometimes it is those very choices that ultimately bring us salvation, even if that salvation comes after a long and hellacious battle.