Archive for the ‘spirituality’ Category


Dear Kathy Griffin,

I hope today finds you, well, I hope it finds you well. I’m assuming that today, likely now to be known as Two Days After That Execution Video & Photo Shoot, you’re having some internal dialogue as you and your publicist continue with damage control. I’m not going to assume too much about your state of mind prior to that stunt; I’m not going to assume too much about your current state of mind either.  

I’m not interested in being part of your character assassination. I’m not going to flame you or try to hurt your feelings. My intent here is to try to bring you back down to Earth where the little people are. I’ve peripherally noticed your career, since I’m not a fan of your brand of comedy.  I do appreciate your activism and find your serious acting roles interesting.

So when Wednesday I only peripherally noticed your name in one or two vague Facebook statuses late in the evening, I assumed that you had simply pushed a sensitive political button for Republicans. I went to bed blissfully unaware. I had a nice balance of polite dislike-sometimes-like and respect.

Thursday morning (yesterday), the morning news and radio were kind enough to share all of the gory details of the “Execution Video” showing you holding the decapitated head of Donald Trump. They shared your interview about the video you made with Tyler Shields behind the camera. I saw the video with the blurred out “head.” Thanks to the internet, later on, I saw the more graphic images ie. no blurring. It drove the point home that the intended “joke” and the edginess, provocativeness of the juxtaposition between yourself and Trump and an ISIS terrorist and a hostage. They talked about your apologies, and mentioned how they’re not being accepted by organizations such a the VFW. They talked about CNN canceling your future job engagements with them.

It took a me a whole day to process what I had seen and heard. I’m appalled and disappointed. I’m sure you wish you had thought things through and considered that the only approving audience might actually be ISIS. I’m writing this because I’m not entirely sure that you understand why your apologies haven’t been accepted, and why many people won’t forgive you for a long time, if ever. Just think about the Dixie Chicks.

You’ve owned that what happened was wrong, yes. You say that you know it was wrong and won’t do it again. The tricky part here is that people aren’t convinced that you know why it wrong. I don’t think people are convinced that you know why people of all political persuasions and regardless of their opinions on Mr. Trump are as equally appalled. 

We’re already in a very precarious political situation. I know that I’m not saying anything new. It’s not a secret or anything even profound. It’s well known as a fact that it’s been a nonstop fiasco since this dumpster fire of a president announced his intent to campaign. I share the embarrassment over the fact that this man is sitting in the Oval Office. I share in the feeling of moral disgust and automatically-triggered rage and anxiety by simply looking at that man’s face.

We all want to have the balance of power restored. We all want to feel empowered in our lives, and to help others find that which makes them feel empowered.

This video didn’t come from a place of power or empowerment, and it doesn’t evoke those feelings in most Americans. There’s a shared shock, mortification, disgust, and genuine outrage across all party lines, and it’s one of the few things uniting those who support Trump and those who vehemently oppose him .

It doesn’t matter that he’s the most hated president in our history; that he’s made history by having the lowest approval ratings not only in his first 100 days, but of any president; He may be the biggest embarrassment in the international stage of leaders; He may be the most corrupt not-politician that ever politicked and the most corrupt individual to ever sit in that chair in the Oval Office; but none of that matters.

The problem is that what you decapitated wasn’t really Donald Trump. You didn’t figuratively cut off the head of the snake and speak out against his policies, ethics, morals, authority, or even his goings on in his personal life. Take Trump out of it. The decapitated head you held was not viewed as a symbol of removing Trump and his power and control. Those of us who are appalled could look at that head and blur out the features, and in our minds imagine any President in its face. We can imagine every President, past and future, in its place.

Because it’s not the current president whose head you decapitated.

It was the very notion of The President of the United States that you decapitated. You decapitated the very rich, full history, the respect, and honor of the Office of the President, and every other office. You decapitated the American People in a manner that was visually and morally repugnant; in a manner that was hateful, chilling, threatening, and violent. You decapitated the privilege, power, influence, giving the incredible potential and opportunity to do GOOD in that office, which is our right as The People under the Constitution.

We have problems in our nation, no doubt. That’s not news. Our country shares many of the same social issues and political issues as other countries. There’s corruption, racism, classism, ableism, and every anti-something you can think of. We have people that are anarchists and hate the government and authority. We have things to be embarrassed about and to apologize over.

But we are also a nation of advocates, allies, lobbyists, writers, artists, journalists, actors, parents, self-advocates, people that care and can make noise when our elected officials do and say things we dislike. We can speak out with our votes; writing letters; attending peaceful, non-violent protests; making phone calls; and anything else that’s protected by the Constitution regarding free speech. We want our messages to come from a true place of power, empowerment, peace, dedication, passion, advocacy, activism, patriotism, and non-violence as is our Constitutional right. This is what we take pride in, and what retains and maintains our Freedoms and our Civil Rights.

This is what Americans do.. we advocate, not decapitate.

I know it’s unlikely that you’ll stumble upon this entry, but if you do read it Ms. Griffin, I hope you read it with an open mind.

Sincerely,

Jessica

 

After The Press  Conference

EDITED TO ADD because I listened to that disaster of a news conference:

Back up the truck.

Kathy Griffin, you made a horrible mistake holding this press conference today. Justifying your actions and going on the attack and listing all of the horrible, disgusting things Trump has said and done as your excuse simply proves that you don’t understand why what you did was wrong. I’m no fan of Trump. I’m no supporter of the suppression of women’s rights. That doesn’t mean I can’t be appalled at that press conference.

It’s not appropriate to tell people to stop being angry because your feelings are hurt that no one “got” your joke and no one appreciated the art.

It’s not appropriate to accuse people of trying to suppress your right to free speech or violate your 1st Amendment Rights. You took offensive photos, and people are reacting. The nation is reacting. You say you don’t have a network behind you, you’re losing jobs. That’s not silencing you. It’s a business decision for them. It’s a consequence for you. People, men and women, have been fired for far, far less than what you did.

You have the right to free speech as long as it’s not hate speech; incites violence; can be considered a death threat or threat of violence upon someone else especially the president. You forget that people have a right to react to your free speech and what you believe is art.

I’m disappointed that you turned this into an equal rights issue for women. It would have been just as horrifying coming from a male comedian. It would have been considered just as inappropriate. This is what rich old white men say when they accuse us of “playing the woman card.” Turning on the tears and pointing out how you’re such a small frail woman doesn’t do any favors for you or for women. Your behavior in that news conference perpetuated every negative female stereotype, and as much as you want to claim Girl Power and pretend that this is about you being a woman, and there are some big bad good ole’ boy men silencing you poor little tiny female, you stomped feminism under your precious little feet.

There’s this thing where you tell a joke, and people laugh, and you know it’s funny. There’s this other thing where you tell a joke and no one laughs and you know it’s not funny. Then there’s this final thing when you tell what you think is a joke and literally everyone is angry and appropriately outraged, and you have to accept that maybe the problem isn’t everyone else.

Chastising others wasn’t the way to go. Humility was. Laying low and refraining from having a press conference where you said all of these things that you should have kept to yourself until you gained more perspective was the way to go.

You’ve only made it worse.

People don’t tolerate sorry-not-sorry nonpologies.

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I have a request. If your opinions and feelings are different from those of your friends, family, and neighbors please remember that they’re people just like you. I don’t care if they have a different political viewpoint; a different religion; different ethnic cultural background; a different parenting philosophy. Chances are that you still have something in common with those people.

People are not disposable. It’s so easy for us to click a button online and stop seeing them in our newsfeed; block someone; or “unfriend” them if we dislike them enough. It’s a lot harder in real life where you have to face consequences for your own contributions to the negativity in the relationship.

Treat people the way you’d like to be treated. It’s not a difficult concept. It costs NOTHING to be kind to other people. It costs nothing to cast a smile to someone who may be having a difficult day. It costs nothing to give an initial benefit of the doubt before turning your back.

I don’t really care if anyone has a differing opinion than I have. That’s great. Have it. It doesn’t hurt my feelings that there are ideas, thoughts, emotions, opinions, ideations, needs, wants, wonts, etc. that are different. Other points of view are important. There can even be valid points on both sides of the same argument. Not everything is a competition. Choosing sides doesn’t mean one side is good and one is evil. I believe that most people are inherently good, and that only a rare few are actually literally evil.

There ARE times when we have to take a stand and do what’s right, but destroying relationships isn’t the way to do it. Becoming the very thing you claim to hate the most isn’t the way to do it. There are ways to stand up for yourself and your causes that aren’t harmful to others and make a good example to those others and to your children. Be kind and respectful in how you express your difference in opinion to others, and show respect for others’ differences. You don’t have to feel it, but you still need to show it. You live in society, and you therefore agree to live by the rules of society.

Free speech? It doesn’t mean what you think it does. Just as you may be able to speak your mind, so do others… and when you speak your mind, how you speak your mind matters and that means that other people have the right to respond to you. You have the right to speak, but you also have an obligation to receive whatever consequence comes from it from friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, and others in society even if what you say or do isn’t illegal. There are still some things that are socially wrong, morally and ethically wrong… and sometimes that might actually mean that you should consider that your side isn’t the just, right, good side. I know that I’m not always right. Hey, I can accept that. We do all make mistakes. Not all sides are always valid, even in my world view. Some points of view shouldn’t be tolerated and yet… and yet there’s still a way for those points of view to be rebuffed.

If you want to change the world you live in, then you must enact change in a way that is meaningful. Violence, whether physical or verbal, is never an appropriate way to enact positive change, and it’s never a path to peace. What leads to peace is a change in conversation and a willingness to change attitudes and behaviors. Social change leads to peace. That starts within each and every one of us. For me, that’s maintaining a conversation and connection with God.

You may still believe anything you choose, but be peaceful. Respectful. Use meaningful conversation. Behave in a way socially so that others trust you. These things are so important.

So, you don’t have to be “with” me on several issues. That’s okay. I’ll still love you. We’ll likely agree on many, many other things.

 

Mahatma Ghandi quote

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I woke up with a feeling this morning, attached to a phrase:

Purple Rose Inside Dew Drop; found on Google images, no original credit was found

Purple Rose Inside Dew Drop; found on Google images, no original credit was found

A single dew drop can affect the entire blossom. Such is the effect of Fibromyalgia.

I wish I could remember where I first read that; all I remember is that when I did, I cried. I’ve never forgotten it. For some reason it’s been on my  mind today. I wish I could give that quote proper credit.

While thinking about that single dew drop, it made me think of this poem by Issa, also known as Kobayashi Issa, a Japanese poet known for some beautiful Haiku.

 

 

 

 

 

A world of dew,
and within every dewdrop
a world of struggle
Issa 

 

In the cherry blossom’s shade
there’s no such thing
as a stranger.
Issa

 

I found this one below on a site called HaikuGuy.com where he’s compiled 10,000 out of 21,000 of Issa’s poems. This one makes me think of Leo, my dog:

1806

.草の露先うれしさよ涼しさよ
kusa no tsuyu mazu ureshisa yo suzushisa yo

dewdrops on the grass
at first so happy!
so cool!
Issa

Since I’m sharing quotes I enjoy here’s another one:

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”
–  Lady Bird Johnson

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I really need to write an entry about managing my spoons per day, because at the moment I’m having trouble leaving myself enough to even get through until 4:00 p.m. during the school week.

I know that I need to recenter myself, refocus, and remember to simplify. I need to use the tools at my disposal.

I need to remind myself of how to do those things and what those tools are.

Before I can even write that blog… I need to take a big breath. In through the nose to the count of five, with the eyes closed. Pause. Out through the mouth until all of the air is gone. Pause. Breathe in through the nose to the count of five. Pause. Breathe out through the mouth until all of the air is gone. When you do this breathing exercise, think of nothing except the breathing. Focus and direct all efforts on your breathing. Do this five times without rushing the process. Keep your eyes closed, and don’t allow outside distractions, such as children or spouses but most especially your phone to interrupt.

This exercise takes as long as it takes. Do it twice if you need, but this exercise will force your brain, body, and anxiety to relax. Bringing in oxygen and forcing out thoughts does wonders.

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I saw this on the news on Tuesday in a brief world news update. I’m going to give the trigger warning that this is about disability and harm, injury, and murder of disabled individuals. If that is too much for you to handle, please don’t continue reading. It’s taken me a couple of days to write this because A.) it’s emotionally traumatizing and draining and B.) I’ve been sick for the better part of three days and sleeping, but am feeling better today.

All they initially said was that a man stabbed over a dozen people in a home for disabled people.

When I heard this, I immediately went online to see what had happened. A man who was a former employee at a home for disabled people and aging people intentionally went in there to kill as many people as he could. This horrifying event happened in Japan.

It was initially reported that he was fired, but he actually resigned. More on that later.

He tied up the employees after he broke in during pre-dawn hours. All of the residents were sleeping. His intention was to kill as many disabled residents as possible, and so while they were sleeping, he murdered 19 people. He seriously injured 26 more people, some very severely. Oh… but not the non-disabled workers.

What’s outrageous is that he wrote a letter several months prior to the incident expressing his intent. He essentially wanted all disabled people with severe difficulties socializing and physical disabilities to be euthanized.

He was even committed to an institution earlier in this year, 2016, to prevent him from harming others after that letter. He resigned when he was committed. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he was discharged from the the hospital in March and the hospital never informed the care center for the disabled people even though it was requested that they do so.

So. In a country where there are hardly ever any mass murders (thanks to not being allowed to own guns), and where this is the worst mass murder since WWII… that’s what, 70 years? and this is only a blip on the U.S. radar? It’s only being kept up with updates on CNN? Really?

Do we only have compassion for people who are mass murdered now if there are bombs and guns involved? If they’re in a European country? If they’re non-disabled?

Why aren’t we outraged?

This could easily have been in the U.S. considering the attitudes people still have regarding disabled people. Anyone who is Other isn’t worthy of notice, services, or the rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Anyone in a marginalized group is Other. This has been made especially clear in Connecticut lately, if you’ve read my recent post on our Governor Malloy. There’s more to come on that ridiculousness if I remember to post about it, since that jackass spoke at the DNC, and he decided to use his disability to promote his political career. Oh hell, why not now. Governor Malloy, the governor of Connecticut, ranked tied for the worst governor in the entire United States, has mismanaged funds in the state so badly that we’re in a major deficit. Yes, he mismanaged the money. He’s ignoring that fact and telling us that it’s the “new economic reality.” He’s cutting funds everywhere he can for disabled people and aging people. For the Centers for Independent Living, the disability centers? He just cut our funding by 45%. Last year he cut us by approximately 35%. Five centers were running on only almost $500K between them in order to serve a growing disabled population due to a growing aging population. Just one center alone saves the state millions… MILLIONS of dollars a year. But he cuts the budget annually, and we have to justify why we should be allowed funding.

He gives lip service to disability rights and services. He talks about caring for us, tries to pretend he’s one of us. Except he doesn’t become OUTRAGED over the crisis of lack of services, and he doesn’t make damned sure that we stay in place to provide services in the agencies or social services or human services.

And no one is OUTRAGED when disabled people are murdered or harmed. No one is outraged. No.

Think about the sheer audacity it took to murder as many disabled people as possible at that Japanese facility, with the belief that their lives aren’t worth as much as non-disabled lives. That man believed he was performing a kind act… Euthanasia. What a nice, polite, kind-sounding word. Euthanasia. What a kind word to use in place of what he really did.

What he performed was an act of mass murder, there’s no doubt of that. Those people simply had neurological differences, emotional differences, physical differences, differences due to being aged. They weren’t animals that couldn’t be rehabilitated and needed to be put down. They were HUMAN BEINGS. They were murdered for being different and having needs that were different, accommodations that were different. This was Eugenics at work, people. Eugenics.

Euthanasia is a tool of Eugenics. Because is most instances, euthanasia isn’t carried out on a willing party. It’s carried out by someone who presumes that they’re doing a kindness to someone based on their own judgment of what someone else’s quality of life is. They assume that someone’s quality of life and value of life is worth less… worthless… if it’s not the same as someone who isn’t disabled. And somehow that gave him the power and the right to decide who lives and who dies. And there are doctors and family members who try to make this decision for other people every day based solely on the disabilities people have.

And who is outraged? Who is speaking out about this? Why isn’t this being condemned for the horror that it is? Mothers, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, sons, friends were murdered in cold blood. For no logical reason.

Oh… do I seem upset? It’s because I am. It could have been people you know living in any disability facility. It could be you when you’re infirm and disabled as an elderly person or after a car accident when you’re convalescing.

But the story hasn’t been about them. The story has been about the man who used several knives rather than guns to commit this crime, a crime so severe that it’s been 70 years since anyone did something so heinous in that country. Not the human lives that were actually lost. Not the fact that he callously chose disabled people and chose the time of day when they would all be sleeping.

Sleeping. Please let that sink in.

The murder of 19 disabled people and the severe injury of 26 more disabled people occurred during the pre-dawn hours when they were sleeping by a man who broke into a facility where they were supposed to be safe and protected. Because they were disabled. They were targeted because this man felt their lives weren’t worth living.

Be outraged.

Do you know what happens instead of outrage at the marginalization and murder of disabled people? Do you know why no one is outraged when rights and accessibility is taken away unwillingly? When services are defunded and ignored?

Because society still believes that disabled people don’t belong in society sharing housing and services. That disabled children don’t belong in their childrens classrooms, sharing space and air and teachers attention. Because society doesn’t believe disabled people are competent to make their own decisions just because they may need some extra physical help, medication, mental health service. People who don’t have disabilities tend to believe they “know better” than disabled people; that what they believe is for the benefit of the disabled, it’s for their own good, even when, especially when the disabled person is completely competent.

People tend to believe that any disability means someone is less intelligent, less competent, less capable of making decisions for themselves. Why? Why is that? Because they’re biased about their own disability? Of course we are! We know ourselves best.

I have chronic pain disabilities, and so do you know the first thing people say to me when I reveal that to them? They assume I’m addicted to pain pills and that narcotics were my first go-to treatment, and that I MUST BE addicted to something that I MUST GET OFF OF with their advice. Because nothing is worse than addiction. Nothing is worse than relying on medication to feel better, because THAT is apparently a step towards addiction. And of course chronic pain = doctor shopping for narcotics because I’m a pillhead looking for a fix because hey, chronic pain isn’t real y’all! And y’all know better even though I’m the one with the disabilities.

Nope.

I’m an educated woman, and I’m educated about my illnesses. I keep my brain active and remain educated. I work as homeopathically as possible to relieve as much pain as possible. I work with a respected specialist who monitors my pain management. I’m not on narcotics. I have a team of doctors I see regularly for check ups, just as everyone ought to do. I know my own mind. I know my body.

But no one believes any of that because I’m disabled.

No one presumes competency. No one presumes someone with disabilities has a good life.

That means that no one presumes to know that it’s insulting to feel sorry for people who have disabilities.

No one realizes that disabled individuals aren’t sitting around feeling feeling sorry for themselves.

No one realizes that disabled individuals are productive members of society; valued members of families and friendships.

No one presumes to understand that disabled people aren’t living in spite of disabilities, or to prove something to non-disabled people.

No one thinks about how ridiculous it is to believe that disabled people’s lives are less valuable than any other life, no matter how disabled they are.

No one realizes that it’s horrific to believe that life isn’t worth living if one has disabilities.

No one realizes how absolutely soulless and outrageous it is to believe someone is better off dead than alive if they have disabilities.

 

 

 

 

Former employee of Japanese facility for disabled people turns himself in after killing 19 people in a stabbing spree at Tsukui Yamayurien facility in Sagamihara, officials say.

Source: Japan knife attack: At least 19 dead – CNN.com

 

 The suspect in a stabbing spree in a facility west of Tokyo that left 19 people dead wrote of his “ability to kill” disabled people.

Source: Japan knife attack: Suspect wrote of wanting to kill disabled people – CNN.com

 

 

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I forget where I got it, other than Google

Candlelight Vigil

In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre, a three hour nightmare, I’ve realized that the moment it occurred and was made public was a moment that changed America forever.

I hope that none of us loses sight of what’s really important in this tragedy. These people matter. The 49 who were massacred. They’re important.

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 | Stanley Almodovar III, 23 | Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 | Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 | Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 | Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 | Luis S. Vielma, 22 |Kimberly Morris, 37 |Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 | Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 | Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 |Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 | Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 | Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 | Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 | Martin Benitez Torres, 33 | Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 | Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 | Amanda Alvear, 25 | Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 | Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 | Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 | Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 | Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 | Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 | Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 | Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 | Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 | Cory James Connell, 21 | Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 | Luis Daniel Conde, 39 | Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 | Juan Chavez Martinez, 25 | Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 | Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 |Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 | Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 | Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez, 27 | Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 | Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 | Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 | Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 | Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 | Frank Hernandez Escalante, 27 | Paul Terrell Henry, 41 |Antonio Davon Brown, 29 | Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 | Akyra Monet Murray, 18 | Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25

The 53+ people who were injured, maimed, and hurt matter and are important. Their families and friends are important. The first responders, the police, and the nurses and doctors at the hospital who interacted with them, tried to save them, watched them die, are important. The people outside the club who watched it happen are important. The 9-1-1 operators who answered those calls are important. The off duty officer who was outside and realized something was happening and was the first to engage is important.

As a Christian, as a Catholic, I believe that above all else, we need to remind each other to make it a priority to choose love, compassion, empathy, generosity, loyalty, humanity, kindness, open mindedness, duty to our family and communities. This is my call to Faith. This is my call to Action. The only way we can make sense of things: remembering those who have died. Praying. Giving blood. Giving hugs. Communicating with Equality Florida (click here). Letting our LGBTQI+ family and friends and coworkers know that we support them, love them, need them… ESPECIALLY when we’re Christian… ESPECIALLY when we’re Catholic.

We all have such a capacity for love that most of us are still learning to tap into the potential of it. Well, it’s time to put down the chisel and grab the wrecking ball. We need to break open the dam and forget about the flood gates; we need to forget about holding it all in.

We’re a nation that is filled with diversity, and therefore intersectionality. We all experience the same emotions and have the same needs.

Everyone has an opinion, and they’re clamoring for their voices to be heard about what they believe is the most important thing. I have some opinions. I’m not so sure they’re lining up with what other people are talking about. I don’t really care. It’s my blog. I can talk about what I believe is important, especially based on what I’m experiencing in my home with my children.

I’m trying to imagine how hard it must be for the people who were actually involved. But I imagine the people I love who are in the LGBTQI+ community. I imagine my daughter’s friends that in that community, and how she feels when they tell her about their fears and grief. I imagine them going on vacation to Orlando, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I imagine it happening here, in a place that’s supposed to be a safe zone for them when “out there, somewhere outside” isn’t so safe. Fear and grief clutch at my heart, and again, I try to imagine that feeling in someone with more ties to the community.  Those are the people who deserve the empathy and connection and consideration. Those are the people who need protection, love, generosity, caring, and a sense of safety equal to that of what anyone else feels.

I have a difficult time with the people who choose to identify with the murderers, to the point that they become apologists and empathize with them. In this instance, there are vile people out there cheering him on believing he should have been hailed as a hero.

I don’t want to empathize with the shooters or those assholes who do.

Most people in the world agree to live by the codes, laws, mores, and social systems established in the societies they live in. Most people who don’t enjoy the society and have the will to change it go about changing the system legally and without violence. Most people live in a world where they care about their community as well as their core family.

We need to accept that we belong to more than our simple family units; we belong to our towns and cities, our states, our nation and yes, we belong to the Global Community. We all need each other. We have more similarities than we do differences. No single one of us deserves more than another, or is worth more than another. We form closer bonds with our parents, spouses, children, siblings, and friends, and that makes them important… but our value as human beings is all the same. Our needs are all the same. We’re all equal in God’s eyes, and so we should all be equal in each other’s eyes. We must be. God loves us all. Maybe he loves all of us enough for himself, but I believe that we were all put here to love and be loved. To respect and be respected. To learn. To build relationships. To see God in each other. To see ourselves reflected in others. To appreciate where we are, and the wonders of the Earth and the Universe and each other. To learn as much as we can before we look forward to the big pearly gates. Doing all of this while still honoring a relationship with Jesus, with God, while accepting everyone BECAUSE OF their differences can only fill our lives with more love.

I’m certainly not perfect. I have a hard time with this. I try my best to at least “not hate.” I may not love murderers or Donald Trump but as my daughters point out, “It’s not Christian to hate them. Jesus would say don’t hate anyone.”

So trust me, it’ll be hard for me to follow certain aspects of my own Call to Faith and Call to Action, but I beg you to try with me. Please. Let’s pay it forward with a kind act each day. It shouldn’t be a token act, but it doesn’t have to be a grande gesture all the time either. It SHOULD come from the heart and be genuine.

I’ve written far more than I intended to write. I had hoped to be much more succinct. My brain is just so full up. So sad. I don’t know what to do with it all.

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Navel Gazing, found on zuco.org

Navel Gazing, found on zuco.org

How does one go about simplifying their Faith? Gazing into their bellybutton, of course. 🙂

All of my life, in every variation of almost every religion there is, there are experts and elders and theologians who are there to explain what it all means to us… and rather than laying it out it’s often served up in riddles, rules, regulations, politics, and literalist evangelistic extremist shite.

I’ve been on this spiritual journey with a lot of, mmmm, reeducation. That meant that for a while, even as I remained faithful, I moved away from particular teachings and beliefs from my childhood household (bigoted, racist, homophobic, abusive, etc. directly against what Jesus spoke) and from the Catholic Church’s political stances. If I said anything questioning things with my many questions, I was shut down in Catechism classes. I couldn’t say a word at home because, well, it wasn’t safe. I knew that my answers weren’t going to come from individuals who came from my childhood or they would shut down my intellectual curiosity. As a girl, I was allowed to be intelligent and intellectual as long as it was book smarts and I toed whatever line was being cast that week.

I had to wait until high school and then college when I had the ability to do my own research with more resources at the ready. I had to learn to keep my thoughts and additional questions to myself. If I didn’t I was being disrespectful or blasphemous. Questions were a weakness of faith rather than a desire to learn of my faith and its history. Facts didn’t matter.

I committed to learning more about my faith and my Jesus, historically and factually, but I had to do it all on my own most of the time. It was a determined choice. At first I felt guilty and as if I were disobeying my father. I felt like maybe God would be disappointed and think I was being unfaithful. Imagine how delighted I was when I learned that Jesus commanded us to question everything and become learned and educated, like… about EVERYTHING!!! It is our duty to be educated in the laws of the land, politics, nature, society, as well as religion.

We’re not to be mindless sheep. We are, instead, to be part of his flock by choice so that he can be a proper shepherd to us, and we can still retain our intellect and curiosity.

Jesus knew that these things (politics, nature, society, religion, law of the land you live in) are mutually exclusive even though they are intertwined… and at that time when Jesus walked the Earth with us, religious law was their societal law. There were reasons for that, actually… practical ones. I won’t go into it here, as I’ve discussed it before. Likely will again.

And yet Jesus challenged their societal laws and religious laws. He challenged the self-proclaimed leaders of the faith he was born into. He challenged the politics of his society and of the Romans. He encouraged us to be rabble-rousers and to think for ourselves in all things from the perspective of an intellectual (imagine that, a religious man who was an intellectual and educated). He appreciated the Earth and what it provided, while teaching us to look forward to the Grace of God.

Even when he laid out the pathway to God and Heaven, simplified and with Grace, he felt it incredibly important that we know we are to question anyone who claims religious authority of any kind. I know I’m harping on this but here he was, with the Word, spelling it out straight for those with education and then softened for those not as learned as he was, using parables just as Abraham did in the OT. He straight out stated that the Old Laws with the only exception being the Ten Commandments were to be done away with. Only his teachings mattered now.

Jesus simplified. He directed us to challenge. He directed us to educate ourselves. He directed us to simplify. He directed us, therefore, to be Conscientious in our Faith and Belief.

I wonder if I can summarize?

  1. I believe in the Apostle’s Creed
  2. I believe in the Ten Commandments
  3. I believe in Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit
  4. I believe God is there for me and every single one of us in every single moment of my life
  5. I believe in Heaven, but I’m working out my concept of Hell based on biblical parables, discounting all other writings
  6. I believe God loves every single one of us as we are, as we feel, as we think, in our efforts to live good and balanced lives

 

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