I Think So
A blog about what inspires me, what I think about the world we live in, or what ticks me off at the moment.
There is something so empowering about getting old. Maybe it is because I have been through so much, accepted too much or am just getting cranky. I have no tolerance of poor service from big companies who really don’t care if they deliver what they promise or if you are a satisfied consumer. You may threaten to never darken their door again, but they don’t care, there will be others. No, losing your business doesn’t faze them–you need to take it to the social networks.
Yesterday I had a complaint about a product I received that was not produced as I had ordered. The representative was very nice and well trained in her dialogue. I politely told her the problem and her response was that since the product was still functional, they would send me a $5 coupon toward my next order. It was functional, but only partially what I wanted and paid for. This was a moment when my blood did not boil, my thinking stayed sharp, and I politely told her to keep the coupon because I wouldn’t be placing any future orders, but I do have two blogs, a Facebook account and a twitter account and I would have to get busy. She then agreed to send the order, properly executed, for no charge and it would arrive within five business days. (I will not divulge the name of the company because they did agree to make it good.) They didn’t care about me, but they sure cared about losing the rest of you.
A friend of mine had a similar situation on her recent honeymoon. She and her husband checked into their hotel room then went out for dinner. When they came back they turned on the television and sat on the bed (young people–go figure!). Within minutes there was someone pounding on their door. Hotel security had come up to address a charge that they had been smoking pot in their room. “No,” she said, “We don’t smoke anything. Besides, we just got back from dinner.” He would not let up, ranting on and on that he knew they were guilty. She invited him to come into the room and prove that they had been smoking pot in the room, but he refused. Angry, she called down to the front desk and demanded that someone come up immediately to prove the accusation. They said they would send someone, but half an hour later when she called down again they said they were too short staffed to accommodate her. Not too short to send someone to pound on the door and make false accusations, but too short staffed to clear them.
She got onto Facebook (I know, on her honeymoon? what’s wrong with kids), posted what had happened and mentioned the name of the hotel chain. It was shared by many friends, shared again and again, until twenty minutes later when they received a call from the front desk, apologizing and agreeing to comp the room. It didn’t quite make up for the aggravation, but then again this pair evidently doesn’t know how to honeymoon anyway. It used to be that the pen was mightier than the sword. Now it’s the laptop.
At her age I would have gotten angry and cried, not uncommon for a sixty-something woman who was raised that women should be polite and tolerant. It does my heart good to know that young people no longer feel the need to tolerate years of poor treatment before they stand up and demand proper service. Had she yelled at them and checked out they would have cleaned the room and waited for the next patron. The threat of swift and far-reaching exposure was the game changer.
These days I try to stick mostly with local shops and restaurants, but that can’t always be the case. Smaller businesses want you to come back, you are very important to them, so they usually resolve complaints to your favor. For those times when we have to deal with the detached big businesses, we need to stand up for ourselves. Speak softly and carry a social media device. They will hear you.
Happy Holidays everyone! Did you find that offensive? Well, if you did you aren’t alone. Evidently a lot of people do. Today is the first full day of Chanukah, one of those holidays included in the generalized greeting of happy holidays. Others include Thanksgiving, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanza, St. Stephen’s Day, Epiphany and New Year’s Day, as well as holidays of other religions unfamiliar to most Americans until recent years. It is the seasonal equivalent to have a nice day. No one is wishing you harm, they aren’t trying to deny Christmas to those who celebrate it, and there is certainly no intent to cause a war. It is a friendly greeting. And being offended by it seems pretty un-Christian to me.
In wishing others a happy holiday, the word holiday originating from the words for holy day, is an encompassing term for any or all of the days that are special in the weeks from mid-November through mid-January. I’m a Christian, but if someone were to wish me a happy Chanukah this week, I’d be thrilled. I’m just not easily offended by someone trying to wish me well. And even if I was wished a merry Christmas, it would still not be clear whether they meant that I should be grateful for the gift of the season or that I get a lot of gifts this season. Merry Christmas can still be very secular.
I have heard the term, Happy Holiday, all of my life, but it has only been in the last decade or two that it makes people angry. When I was young, and the in area which I lived, it was naturally assumed that you were a Christian. That was the prevalent religion in our area, so I assumed that being wished a happy holiday was on par with with being wished a merry Christmas. Oddly enough, although I grew up in a neighborhood with many ethnic groups, all through my schooling I had only one Jewish friend, and never met another one through her. I met her when I was nine and she was the one who first taught me that other religions existed. She would wish me Merry Christmas and I would wish her Happy Chanukah–Chanukah with a C!
I don’t know when so many people started getting sensitive about the “War On Christmas”, which frankly I think is only in the minds of a few, but I have just about had it with the Facebook posts from those offended by being wished a Happy Holiday. “It’s Christmas,” they complain, “Not holiday!” Except, of course, when it isn’t. I don’t care what you celebrate, or whether you celebrate anything at all, I hope you are happy and well. There are plenty of obvious Christmas decorations around, so when a business puts up a sign to wish you a Happy Holiday, they aren’t ignoring Christmas. They want your money for every reason you want to spend it! They really don’t care what you are celebrating. It isn’t personal, it’s business. They may even wish you merry Christmas, but what they really mean is please spend your money here. IT ISN’T PERSONAL–IT’S BUSINESS! And when someone wishes you happy holidays, it isn’t an affront, they are wishing you well!
The celebration of Christmas, with the giving of gifts, feasting and decorating, is a relatively recent event since the birth of Jesus. For many years I have heard the objections to shortening Christmas to Xmas, although the X represents the first letter in the Greek word for Christ. Here again, I’m not offended by Xmas, and use it myself when I’m writing out something quickly and want to save time. I may even abbreviate it to XM if I’m jotting a note. I doubt that God is offended. I have read that some people have taken to wearing pins that tell others, “It is okay to wish me Merry Christmas.” Do it if it makes you happy, although I find it a bit smug. I will wish you Merry Christmas and keep my opinion to myself. Personally, I think objecting to being wished a happy holiday or seeing Xmas on a sign is not only nit-picky, but promotes intolerance. Essentially what you are saying is that if others don’t view the season your way, then they are not as good or as right as you. Did they wish you ill? If they use X instead of Christ because they celebrate in a secular fashion, does that mean they wish you harm?
As a Christian, I view Christmas as a time to celebrate the ultimate gift of love, and to do so I must extend that love to all of mankind. Being easily offended, assuming an intent to slight your having a Christian holiday, is not an extension of God’s love. Wish me a happy holiday. Tell me to have a good day. I would rather assume you have extended a kind greeting, than to think you are trying to offend. Happy Chanukah to my Jewish friends. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, Happy Holiday to all.
The northern east coast of our country, already devastated by Hurricane Sandy, now brace for a “significant nor’easter” expected to hit later this week. Along with plunging temperatures, it is likely to bring strong winds, high surf, and snowfall into affected areas. While utility companies scurry to restore power to those areas still without, there is a severe shortage of heating oil for those dependent on it. Much still needs to be done, and the new storm may very well set back what has been accomplished. With family in New York my concern grows, but even from those without loved ones in the area, donations and effort to help continue. These are the times when my faith and pride in my country swells, when differences are put aside and we show how united our states can be.
There is a story coming from New York about a group of runners, donning orange clothing and backpacks filled with items to help those in need, going to hard hit Staten Island in lieu of running the marathon. They are taking batteries, prepaid cell phones, medicine, warm gloves and hats, hygiene items and whatever they think can ease the lives of people who are struggling through these trying times. Many people with electricity are allowing those without to charge their cell phones, providing warm meals and extending hospitality to strangers. We have become more community-centered than self-centered. It is a good reminder of who we are at our core.
Most people caught in terrible circumstances are trying their best to hang onto the hope of receiving aid, although weariness and fear may take over. Many who have lost all material possessions express gratitude for their safety and the safety of their loved ones. Some of these people ignored orders to evacuate, but for now they are humans in need of assistance. Americans can be stubborn, defiant toward government telling them what to do, even if it is in their best interest. It is a part of our heritage to question authority, which isn’t always a bad thing, but needs to be done prudently. Personally if I’m told to leave because my home may be flooded, I’m leaving. But now is not the time to chastise or blame, especially since we don’t always know the circumstances of those involved. Today we work to help our fellow man, even if all we can do is say prayers or send checks. Sometimes all we can do does not seem like much, but all we can do is always sufficient.
I think by now the three or four people in our country who honestly believed that a woman’s body fights off pregnancy if she is “legitimately raped”, have been informed that their belief is incorrect. I could cite statistics about the number of rape-related pregnancies that occur each year in America, but my goal isn’t to discuss rape in such a detached way, but to bring it down to human eye level. I will give you one statistic only: it is estimated that only 16% of rapes are reported to the police. That statistic comes from Rape Trauma Services, which assists rape victims whether the individual wants to press charges or not.
I know eleven women who have aborted pregnancies. Only one of those pregnancies was the result of rape. Another woman I know whose rape resulted in pregnancy elected to keep her child. That child was a blessing to her and she never regretted her decision. She married later and went on to raise a family and have a happy life. She was stronger than she thought she was, more capable of love than she thought she was, and more blessed than she ever imagined she could be after that night. She was able to separate the act from the child, but she will be pro-choice as long as there is breath in her.
The woman who chose to abort the child, conceived by a man who abducted her and threatened her life and the life of another if she did not give in to his demands. She was kept by him for several hours and assaulted many times. I suppose in some minds this would not be a “forcible rape”, and therefore not legitimate. Why he took her back into town and set her free she will never know; she fully expected to die but hoped that it would spare the life of the other individual he threatened. She did report the attack, but the rapist was never caught. She learned of the pregnancy weeks later, while the trauma was still sharp, and aborted as quickly as she could. In working through her rape trauma she found that she was stronger than she thought, more capable of love than she thought, and more blessed than she thought she could be. Like the other woman, she has no regrets for her decision.
So what prompted the other women, who conceived without the trauma of rape, to make the decision to abort? In one case the mother’s health was at risk, for two it was simply an inconvenient time, the others were conservative Christian women who did not want anyone to know they were having sex while unmarried. Most of those with equally conservative Christian boyfriends that they never did marry. All but two of them are now pro-lifers who would deny the choice they made for a safe and legal abortion to others, including those who were raped. The guilt they feel is something they want to spare others. Life isn’t that easy, we all get opportunities for guilt and regret, most stemming from human rather than carnal nature.
The truth of the matter is, humans are really good at making poor choices. You can read that as a poor choice of having an abortion or having sex while unmarried, but we are good at making a mess of things in all matters of life. We can wallow in guilt or wallow in grace, the choice is up to us. If we allow women a safe abortion only for the circumstance of legitimate rape, we are allowing this out of compassion. Why can’t that compassion be extended to all women who have made the hard decision to terminate a pregnancy? Why should we require that they “prove” the legitimacy of their rape? Why should they be expected to offer any explanation for their decision at all?
If only 16% of rapes are reported, that means 84% are not. The reasons for that are varied. Some are afraid for their life, some are afraid of the police. The reason doesn’t matter. They have elected not to report, so it is none of our business. Neither is it our business to know the reason why any woman decides to end a pregnancy. If you believe it to be wrong, don’t do it. If you do it anyway then regret it, I’m sorry for your pain, but please forgive yourself and move on. Living in grace is good.
The good thing that came from this ridiculous news soundbite is that we do need to have a real discussion about legal abortions. The true myth isn’t that pregnancy does not result from a legitimate rape, the real myth is that we have the right to force anyone to make a decision based on what we believe. Abortion is legal. The majority of Americans, though not wanting the decision to terminate a pregnancy to be made lightly, agree that women should have access to safe abortions. If that means some women can easily decide to abort without guilt or consequence, that is their right. God-given, I might add, since freewill is a gift from our creator. If freewill is okay with him, it is okay with me. No explanations needed.
Another mass shooting has occurred, horrifying the nation and changing our dialogue, temporarily at least. Quick on the heels of the initial wave of shock and sorrow, begins a second wave, swelling quickly, then crashing down in a bubbling mess of rhetoric and finger pointing. The pro-gun groups claiming the event is proof that we need to arm ourselves, the anti-gun groups claiming the need for further restrictions. Some pro-Christian groups citing the need to “reclaim the religion of our founding fathers”, angering groups of others. An act that we don’t understand, giving birth to feelings of anger and intolerance.
When a senseless act of violence occurs, our minds assume that the guilty party is either evil and/or insane. There is no doubt that an evil act occurred, but whether the perpetrator is insane has yet to be determined. In our desire for immediate understanding, and the media’s desire for ratings, we attempt to ferret out every detail of their life. The opinions of their neighbors, who may not have had any real contact with them, insights from coworkers, fellow students, and childhood friends are used to weave scenarios of what may have led to this latest tragedy. Some people of faith speak out that if only we all adopted their beliefs and values, these violent episodes would cease. Pacifists, like myself, would like the world to join hands and sing Kumbaya. We want a solution that will end every senseless act of violence, a solution that will never come.
A sane person may be evil. A sane person may commit acts most think are crazy. A sane person may commit a crazy, evil act, but that does not necessarily sum up the whole of who they are. We don’t want to believe that, it is much easier to paint them with a broad brush. Human nature is not so cut and dry. We can arm everyone over the age of ten and we will still have senseless violence. We can remove every weapon from every home and we will still have senseless violence. Religious beliefs will not prevent it, as memory of the still mind-numbing slaughter in Norway a year ago shows. There is no panacea to give us hope and comfort. The only positive reaction to this horror never seems to materialize. We need to calm ourselves down and talk about this.
The aftermath of such tragedy should help us come together and attempt to cobble together ideas that may help prevent the extent of carnage the next time someone decides to take the lives of a group of people, no matter what their reason or state of mind. It should cause us to reflect on what we can do as human beings to contribute to the well being of our families and communities. It should lead us to a decision to act a little more kindly, communicate a little more effectively, listen to others a little more attentively. It should.
I like winning, a feeling that I think is universal. When we compete for something, we like to win. I’m not a super competitive person, however, and when I lose I can easily put it behind me. No big deal, what’s next? Not everyone is like that, though, especially in the world of sports. It is one of the things that makes an athlete an athlete, and a person like me–I don’t know, a whimp? Athletically challenged? Or simply just not a competitive person. When I took part in school sports, I was not a person to have on your team if winning was important to you. For me the question was less likely to be “will we win?” and more likely to be “did I have fun?”.
That said, I am wondering if the new guidelines for high school football in Washington state will likely have any impact on the frequency of concussion, which they are trying to effect. I commend the attempt to protect our children, but human nature–and competitive nature–being what it is, I’m a little skeptical.
High schools are encouraged to reduce the number of practice days to twenty, nearly half the usual number. There is also talk of changing the rules for kick-offs, in hope of reducing the possibility of high impact collisions. Right now the changes are not mandatory, but high school coaches and parents are taking seriously the possible problems arising from too many concussions, and are looking for ways to avoid injury.
I may not be competitive, but others take their sports very seriously, so I don’t know that there will be that much change in the number of concussions occurring to high school aged athletes. Committed athletes give their all during a game. I hope that over time we find ways of better protecting athletes, high school or professional, but reining a competitor from playing to their full ability won’t be an easy task. It is part of their personal make up and draws them to the game in the first place.
I have an adult niece who has played soccer and softball for years, and started playing full contact football with the Seattle Majestics this year. She has always played any game as though it was the most important thing in her life at that moment. Sometimes injuries have put her out for a season, but nothing kept her from going back once she healed. Needless to say, she is a highly competitive athlete.
I will sit in the stands at French Field, cheering for the Majestics and sending up prayers for the protection of all players on the field. I am certain that once my niece is on the field, the only thing in her mind will be to give her all and help the team win their game.
The Seattle Majestics, an IWFL team, are currently undefeated. Their last remaining home game will be on June 16th, at French Field at Kent-Meridian High School. The game begins at 6:00pm. Come and cheer this talented group of women and enjoy a great game. Tickets are $12.
I decided to take a shortcut home. The light was slipping away and I didn’t like the idea of being out after dark. I usually take a walk after dinner when weather permits, and the night was so lovely I walked a little longer than planned. I headed across a neighborhood park, knowing that there was a little path that would shave a few minutes off of my usual route. I was half-way across the park when I heard someone running behind me. I turned to see a large man running toward me, his head covered in a hoodie. My heart started pounding, I reached into my pocket and put my hand around the small gun I always carry when I’m on my walks. I started to run down the path that would bring me a block and a half from home. I could not run as fast as him, however, and could feel him closing in. I pulled the gun slowly from my pocket, and as I turned to face him, he moved past me and continued on his run. Whew! That was close.
Of course this is a pretend scenario. I don’t chose to own a gun, and probably never will. But what if this story was true and I lived in Florida, or any of the states with a “stand your ground” law, a law loosely defined as feeling threatened with death or severe bodily harm. In my described walk through the park, I may have felt nervous, even unsafe, but any threat was in my mind. Still, it would have been easy for me to kill my “attacker”, justify it to the police and myself, and have no legal consequence. His family would suffer the loss and have little recourse. It’s appalling.
The tragedy in Florida could have been avoided had Zimmerman done as instructed by the dispatcher and quit following the young man. How a self defense excuse can be considered in this event, even in a state with such a feckless law, I just don’t understand. If the shooter hadn’t pursued the young man, he could have never “felt threatened”. The 17 year old man did not put himself in harm’s way, but had every reason to feel threatened by the crime-watch guard who stalked him.
Nor did the young man’s attire contribute to the encounter. Such an accusation suggests the mindset of those who think a rape victim’s miniskirt made her culpable. There is no article of clothing in the civilian world that should excite one to fear. There is no style or color of clothing worn only by people of criminal intent. Wearing a hoodie would make 50 percent of those who live in the northwest suspicious looking, if that assumption were true.
I know very little about the shooter. I have heard some who know him describe him to be “a very caring person”. I hope that’s true, I’d prefer to think of him as a good, though over zealous person, who lost his perspective and regrets his action. As he doesn’t seem to think he acted inappropriately, though, it brings doubt. In reality, his character doesn’t seem to matter here. As I understand this law, even as loosely as it is written, the shooter was not put into a fearful situation by the young man. He entered into it willingly, then acted on a fear that could have been avoided. He could have stayed in his vehicle and waited for the police to appear, just as he had been instructed.
We seem to live in a culture that increasingly encourages fear and reckless behavior. Perhaps this senseless death will bring a change to these laws, although I’m not too hopeful about that happening. I pray that I am wrong. If it does, Trayvon Martin’s parents may find comfort in knowing that they fought for a righteous outcome to their son’s wrongful death. But as they live with this loss for the rest of their lives, it will be a cold comfort.
Driving home I pass a yard with a huge clump of purple heather planted in a corner of the yard. The shrub has been hinting of its lovely blooms for weeks, and now it is fully engaged in spreading the contagion of spring fever, which infects me on this beautiful (almost) spring day. It forces me to drive to a nearby store to purchase several small pots of pansies, tulips and lemon thyme. Yes, it is a bit early, but filling just one pot will do no harm. I can control this.
It’s been hard to stay inside, sifting through paperwork, with my eyes continually drawn to the window. A sunny 60 degree day in March seems like a mid-summer day coming six weeks or so after the ice storm we endured. I walk past patio furniture and barbecues in the store, past garden gnomes and wind chimes, and all thoughts of heavy coats and woolen gloves vanish. My heart is filled with sunshine and flowers of every hue; there is no room for winter’s chill. For most people in the northwest, spring fever hits hard and there is no effective cure.
The blueberry bushes in my yard are leafing out and forming buds, and my little kumquat tree, which was not more than a stick in the dirt last fall, has grown nearly double in size, and is leafing out and growing new branches. I read that kumquats can be grown here, and remembering how we could pluck the sweet-tart fruits as we walked in my southern California neighborhood as children, I had to try. It will be many years before my tree will bear fruit, assuming I’m successful, but I am willing to wait.
More people seem to enjoy growing edibles these days, whether for economic or health reasons, I don’t know. Some of my friends grow large vegetable gardens every year, and fortunately for me, are willing to share. Others, like me, are content with herb pots, tomatoes, or a few fruit trees or strawberry plants. There is much satisfaction in plucking food from your garden, no matter how small the harvest. Last year’s short summer and limited growing season is forgotten, as plans for this year swirl in my brain.
It is still two weeks until spring officially begins, but where we live the date has little bearing on when spring weather graces us. Still spring fever takes hold, we forget the past, and nurture the hope of a new season. Spring hopes eternal.
Our current political discourse has veered to an unexpected path. For a long time legal abortion rights have been part of election year dialogue, but the right to use birth control has not been something so heavily debated. Some states have been trying to push through legislation to make the use of birth control virtually illegal, others would like to limit the requirement of insurance companies to cover birth control. Virginia is trying to pass a law to require a woman to have a transvaginal ultrasound, without medical necessity or her consent, before she is allowed a legal abortion. Often there is very little female input allowed in the discussion of these matters, but believe me, there is plenty of female discussion in the country at large.
There are many differing opinions as to when life begins: at birth, at conception or at some point in between. I was able to view the ultrasound of my unborn grandson recently, and for me he is very much alive and as individual as those of us who live outside the womb. However, I will never strive to take away the choice of any woman to determine when or if she should conceive or deliver a child. There are too many factors that may play in a woman’s decision, and it is not my place to make that decision for her. I have known women who have raised a child conceived in rape and been blessed by the child in spite of the horror of the event. I also know women who have aborted simply because the pregnancy was unplanned. I will support each woman in their decision, whether I agree with it or not. I do not want some else making my decisions, and I won’t make them for anyone else.
The discussions surrounding these attempts at legislating women’s health is based upon the religious faith of those wanting to change the law. There has been much talk about religious freedom, or the lack thereof, in modern America. We attempt to discern the hearts and minds of our founding fathers, but the truth is, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if they wanted religious freedom only to be Christian religious freedom. It doesn’t matter if their intention was to include or not include people of different races, women and the LGBT community when they spoke of freedom and inalienable rights. The current majority of Americans want these rights for all people. If our forefathers didn’t intend it, oh well, they aren’t here now. We are. We’re the deciders.
One of the current candidates for presidential nomination spoke at a university several years ago saying that one problem of our country was that the Judeo-Christian founding values was based on Protestant Christianity, then said that his brand of Christianity was superior, in his opinion. And there is the problem–it is his opinion. But his opinion doesn’t get to decide what is best for everyone else. His opinion can determine the decisions he makes for his life, but I will not allow it to make the decisions for mine. God has given us free will, the freedom to make choices. As we live our lives we may make choices that we regret, but that helps us to grow in wisdom and understanding. Some choices we don’t want to make, but we weigh the issues and make the best decision we can. Other choices we may be happy with, but it may not be the choice someone else would make in the same circumstance. Most of us don’t want to be unfeeling or unkind, but we need to make a decision that is best for us. This isn’t about religion, this is about personal choice. In my opinion, choice is a God-given right.
You are up in the attic, going through boxes that have been stored for years, wondering what you want to keep and what you want to throw away. Hmm? What is this little box back here? You blow off the layers of dust, remove the lid, and find that it is filled with unfamiliar letters. You open the top one and discover a love letter that reveals your spouse has been unfaithful. You are shocked, angry, devastated. As you read further you come to realize that the affair happened many years ago. Does that change how you feel? Now imagine you are 99 years old and your spouse of 77 years was unfaithful sixty years ago. Does that change anything? Do you just toss the box and not mention it to your spouse? Do you confront him/her, then learn to live with it? Or, as the man in Italy who has experienced this, do you file for a divorce?
When I first heard about this, and knowing less facts than the few I just mentioned, I assumed that she had confessed. I wondered why she would have done such a thing, and whether or not confessing to an affair is ever a good idea, especially if you wanted to stay married. The more my friends and I discussed it, the more we realized that the right choice could be different for every relationship. Knowing now that it was discovered by accident (although why she kept the letters I’ll never know), the discussion has been more toward the question of throwing away a 77 year old marriage over an affair that was six decades ago.
Of course there is so much we don’t know about the couple’s relationship, personalities, or what was going on in their lives at that time. It is always easy to condemn one and sympathize with the other, or speculate on what we would do in such a situation, but our opinions are just that and have no real value. It has been an interesting topic of discourse, but in truth we don’t really know how we would react, it is all speculation. Would I be able to continue in a marriage that now felt like a sixty year lie? Would I shrug my shoulders and console myself by remembering that my spouse is merely human and, when given the choice, I was the one chosen. I can’t imagine this man’s pain, or the pain of his wife, children and grandchildren. I only know it is one more example of how one poor choice can affect the people we love, if not immediately then sometime down the line. Our choices matter, and they matter for a very long time.