Category Archives: Commentary

Rants, Political, Social Issues, Opinion

How We View The World Around Us.

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see the rest of this thought provoking post here:

             This just changed the way we see Beauty and the Beast. Mind blown.

I read this today and have to comment on it.

We are currently focused on bullying in social media and discussion about what is being done, what can be done, is typical of many of our approaches to our problems – we are talking band-aids – what kind and when to apply.  It isn’t easy to have to stop and take time to figure out actual causes – because knowing the cause requires much harder, long term work, than simply applying an effective, temporary band-aid.

Lots of discussion on loneliness lately as well.  We are now realizing the damage that prolonged loneliness can cause a human being.  At least we are waking up to the fact life is not just about the physical, immediate, identifiable, measurable situations that impact us.

Businesses spend a small fortune sending their employee’s to all kinds of courses meant to amplify their self esteem and pump them full of bravado about who they are and what they are capable of.  Yet, when they return from these courses, full of ideas and attempting to change and grow, the reaction of the office is usually one of “who the hell does he think he is?”

We don’t like people who are different, who think differently, look different, act different . . . and we especially do not like those people who are different and who feel good about themselves.

Those are the people most often targeted.

And they are attacked not with their own insecurities, but the insecurities of the people doing the attacking.  Weight may not be a remote concern for someone – not for them in terms of appearance, or for their doctor in terms of health – and yet the bullies will accuse that person of being “fat.”  People called “ugly” seldom are.  People called “sluts” or “stupid” seldom could be found guilty of either charge.

These marginalized people who are attacked by others have to be beyond strong to be able to carry on with their lives and believe in themselves when the whole world appears to conspire against them.  But they don’t have super powers and even the strongest person can be pushed to the point of wanting to just give up.

Giving up is not only about those who may choose to end their lives, although some do.  It is also about checking out of reality with drugs and alcohol and other addictions.  It is about surrendering and conforming to what is acceptable to the masses.  It is about bleeding out through your entire life, every last ounce of your own unique life force until you are a hollow empty shell that is lonelier than anyone will ever know . . . but at least you are no longer attracting the anger of the mob who wants to destroy you.

All around us are people in various stages of giving up.

So we go back to the real solution. I look around me.  My children are grown but there are still ways I can encourage them to be themselves.  I can do that by letting go of my expectations of who they should be and what they should be doing with their lives.  I can let go of my need to tell them the better way to do things and be more supportive of their own efforts.  I can let go of ever labeling them “right” or “wrong” or “good” or “bad.”  I can make the fact I have told them for their entire lives that my love is “unconditional,” actually mean something.

I have grandchildren that I can have a bigger influence on, and encourage their parents not to be so quick to insist they be like every other child.  To that end I say to hell with all the charts and books that tell us what “normal” is.  Your child.   Here and now.  Work with them.  Work with who they are and help them find a way to hold on to that and negotiate the things they need to learn.  Parents need to trust their instincts and to teach their children to develop and trust theirs.

I have people around me that I interact with all the time.  How do I contribute to their lives and support their efforts to interpret life in their own unique way?  How do I unwittingly contribute to any sense of judging or diminishing them?  Stop it.

I can speak up.  I can work to not be so closed minded about how I think things should look like or be.  My experience may hold clues that, contributed to a conversations, can aid the process of finding answers, but I can be more open to other ideas that are from the experiences of others.

I can find the courage to be me, even though it is painfully difficult.  No more compromises.  Perhaps it is too late for me to reap any of the rewards, but if it makes the way for the next person even a tiny bit easier, then it will be worth it.

WE are society.  And it is our thinking that is at fault.  Because we begin from a faulty thought process, our actions are off.

Our thinking is at fault because we have bought into beliefs and ideas that are not ours by choice, but those given to us by our parents and our upbringing.  We accept them without question and we transition from childhood to adulthood with all those things neatly wired into our beings.  Our perceptions.  We are part of a “way of thinking” that is reflected in how we then interpret the world and what we engage in and produce.  The world reflects back to us what we think.

We can change that reflection by changing our thinking.

What people have forgotten is who they are.  Who they were before the world told them who they should be.  Letting go of what we think we know is not as scary as it may seem because rediscovering our own hearts and giving permission to ourselves to be who we really are brings both joy and peace.

The more of us who have the courage to do that, the more others will feel encouraged to do the same and perhaps one day we will talk in terms, not of “blaming” society for the mess we are in, but “thanking” society for saving us.

Either way, we will be responsible.

A Marriage.

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Who am I to talk about marriage?

I have been blessed with two wonderful marriages, with two men that put other men to shame, with two men who committed 100% of their lives to our life.

My first husband passed away after a hard fought war with a horrific blood disorder.  If I had lived the rest of my life never to marry again, I still would have considered myself blessed.  To find another man of the same quality, I know I am defying the odds.

When marriages struggle do you go to the person who appears to have the perfect marriage and probably has no idea how difficult things can be?  Or, do you go to the one who absolutely knows how difficult marriage is and what you are going through because their own marriage failed?   My answer would be, neither, no-one can truly understand what your marriage is or isn’t about, and nor can they offer advice.  In fact, other people just make the situation worse.  The two people in the marriage have to work it out, whether that means continuing or walking away.

I do think we have to stop looking at marriage as some sort of badge of honor that tells the world whether we are worthy human beings or not.  Relationships succeed and fail all the time.  The world is changing and people are doing the best they can.  Who are we to question whether two people took things seriously enough, or whether they tried hard enough?   There is no blame to be placed.  There is no need for hate and fighting.  There are simply two adults who are making a decision about their life, that was/is probably the hardest decision they have made in some time.

Marriages only work when you have two people who are equally committed to the idea.  They work when you have two people who are right for one another.  Being right for one another means that you share similar ideas of what fun is, what work is, what things mean and what the future holds.  It doesn’t mean you have to be identical but you have to be able to want to share in the things that are important to the other person.  Sometimes that just involves allowing them their own opinion on who to vote for.  Sometimes it involves being willing to go camping or go to the ballet when you hate those things but the other person is passionate about them. Sometimes it involves really difficult, tough, life decisions.

Is there more credit to be given to the couple who struggle, look at their marriage, and stay together for religious reasons, for appearances, for the kids, because it is easier?  Why don’t we respect the couple that realize they are simply no longer compatible or that they have grown apart and are wanting different things?  Is it noble to live a life of misery and unhappiness?  Do our children and the people who judge us actually show up at our death bed and thank us for throwing our lives away and being miserable, for them?

I think it is only ourselves we cheat.

The chance to find real happiness, to have a real connection with someone, to live a life of purpose . . . isn’t that a worthy pursuit?  Is it so awful to have tried and failed, to recognize that, and to try again?

It seems to me the only awful thing about it is the reaction of others to the experience that causes us to need to place blame and punish someone.  If we were to allow people their own lives, without that judgement, could a husband and wife dissolve their marriage BEFORE it came to cheating on one another or the other cruelties that surface on the way to forced destruction?  Could they separate more amicably, sharing the kids, and wishing each other well?

I don’t know, but what we are doing currently seems to have only left a huge ugly oozing wound in the fabric of all our lives.

I read the article below today – a beautiful comment on a marriage.  For me the message is not about beating yourself up because your marriage doesn’t even come close to this.  The message is this is what a marriage can be.  This is what you should want for yourself and your spouse.  This is the life that comes when you have it right.  So maybe you learn to love each other in a way that doesn’t insist you both stay and suffer so you get a certificate on your 50th wedding anniversary.  Maybe you learn to love one another enough to realize you missed the mark, and to love each other, wish each other well, and let each other go – as a married couple.  Friends is always on the table.  Who said we have to get it right first time?   It doesn’t mean anything except that people and life are not predictable.  We live in the moment.  We deal with what we have and as long as we proceed with love and compassion, wanting a good outcome for everyone involved, it cannot mean we are failures, or bad, or evil.

This is what I wish for all marriages.  When you have these kinds of successes, the difficulties are doable.  There is balance.  But when marriage is nothing more than pain and sorrow and unhappiness, your soul dies a little each day.  YOU deserve happiness and joy, and so does your partner.  Think about it.

The Best Kind of Love

By Annette Paxman Bowen

I have a friend who is falling in love. She honestly claims the sky is bluer. Mozart moves her to tears. She has lost 15 pounds and looks like a cover girl. 

 

“I’m young again!” she shouts exuberantly. 

 

As my friend raves on about her new love, I’ve taken a good look at my old one. My husband of almost 20 years, Scott, has gained 15 pounds. Once a marathon runner, he now runs only down hospital halls. His hairline is receding and his body shows the signs of long working hours and too many candy bars. Yet he can still give me a certain look across a restaurant table and I want to ask for the check and head home. 

 

When my friend asked me “What will make this love last?” I ran through all the obvious reasons: commitment, shared interests, unselfishness, physical attraction, communication. Yet there’s

more. We still have fun. Spontaneous good times. Yesterday, after slipping the rubber band off the rolled up newspaper, Scott flipped it playfully at me: this led to an all-out war. Last Saturday at

the grocery, we split the list and raced each other to see who could make it to the checkout first. Even washing dishes can be a blast. We enjoy simply being together. 

 

And there are surprises. One time I came home to find a note on the front door that led me to another note, then another, until I reached the walk-in closet. I opened the door to find Scott holding a “pot of gold” (my cooking kettle) and the “treasure” of a gift package. Sometimes I leave him notes on the mirror and little presents under his pillow. 

 

There is understanding. I understand why he must play basketball with the guys. And he understands why, once a year, I must get away from the house, the kids – and even him – to meet my sisters

for a few days of nonstop talking and laughing. 

 

There is sharing. Not only do we share household worries and parental burdens – we also share ideas. Scott came home from a convention last month and presented me with a thick historical novel. Though he prefers thrillers and science fiction, he had read the novel on the plane. He touched my heart when he explained it was because he wanted to be able to exchange ideas about the book after I’d read it. 

 

There is forgiveness. When I’m embarrassingly loud and crazy at parties, Scott forgives me. When he confessed losing some of our savings in the stock market, I gave him a hug and said, “It’s okay. It’s only money.” 

 

There is sensitivity. Last week he walked through the door with that look that tells me it’s been a tough day. After he spent some time with the kids, I asked him what happened. He told me about a

60-year-old woman who’d had a stroke. He wept as he recalled the woman’s husband standing beside her bed, caressing her hand. How was he going to tell this husband of 40 years that his wife would

probably never recover? I shed a few tears myself. Because of the medical crisis. Because there were still people who have been married 40 years. Because my husband is still moved and concerned after

years of hospital rooms and dying patients. 

 

There is faith. Last Tuesday a friend came over and confessed her fear that her husband is losing his courageous battle with cancer. On Wednesday I went to lunch with a friend who is struggling to reshape her life after divorce. On Thursday a neighbor called to talk about the frightening effects of Alzheimer’s disease on her father-in-law’s personality. On Friday a childhood friend called long-distance to tell me her father had died. I hung up the phone and thought, This is too much heartache for one week. Through my tears, as I went out to run some errands, I noticed the boisterous orange blossoms of the gladiolus outside my window. I heard the delighted laughter of my son and his friend as they played. I caught sight of a wedding party emerging from a neighbor’s house. The bride, dressed in satin and lace,

tossed her bouquet to her cheering friends. That night, I told my husband about these events. We helped each other acknowledge the cycles of life and that the joys counter the sorrows. It was enough to keep us going. 

 

Finally, there is knowing. I know Scott will throw his laundry just shy of the hamper every night; he’ll be late to most appointments and eat the last chocolate in the box. He knows that I sleep with a pillow over my head. I’ll lock us out of the house at a regular basis, and I will also eat the last chocolate. 

 

I guess our love lasts because it is comfortable. No, the sky is not bluer: it’s just a familiar hue. We don’t feel particularly young: we’ve experienced too much that has contributed to our growth and wisdom, taking its toll on our bodies, and created our memories.  I hope we’ve got what it takes to make our love last. As a bride, I had Scott’s wedding band engraved with Robert Browning’s line “Grow old along with me!” We’re following those instructions. 

 

“If anything is real, the heart will make it plain.”

 

A Different Attitude Towards Work.

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I recently read the story of a man who drew an amazing maze some 30 years ago.  It has everyone talking.  It is really complex and impossible to solve.

Everyone is astonished to find out this man is not some mathematician or scientist, “just” a janitor.

I am irritated by stories like this.

Why do we cling to absolutes that tell us that if someone is a “doctor” they have to be smarter than the rest of us?  Why do we believe that if someone is a “janitor” they must not be as intelligent?  Why do we value people according to the work they do?  Why do we value some jobs over others?  I said this just recently, but it bears repeating, “How pleasant would it be to work as a doctor if there were no janitors?” Continue reading A Different Attitude Towards Work.

Who’s To Blame?

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Is it “suicide” when you take even one person with you?  Or, do we call that “murder? Murder comes in degrees, the worst degree being the one where you plotted and planned it. Compassion for illness that may have caused the incident, is up against compassion for the 150 people who had no choice, some of them children.   I think of all of their hopes and dreams, and their only crime being in the wrong place at the wrong time with a man who “wanted to show the world.”  I have compassion for their families. There was a poster I shared from a friend on here the other day about wanting to remember the name of the pilot who tried to stop it, not the one who caused it.  Maybe we need to ask ourselves about fame and what it has done to us . . . that 15 minutes of fame is a worthy ransom for thousands of lives around the globe.

So many questions.

I have been watching, listening and reading about the Germanwings airplane crash.  Like so many of the situations currently facing us in today’s world, there are no quick and easy answers.  We pull apart the reasons we can find, arguing with one another about their validity and in the end, we all go home dissatisfied with the outcome.  Because, the outcome will never be the undoing of what happened.

And the truth is, we all have headaches from trying to understand and make sense of it all.

We want sympathy for the co-pilot who suffered with mental illness.  We make the plane crash about mental illness and argue that too many people suffer silently, afraid to let anyone know, and when someone has to live their life in that kind of pain, they are going to snap.  This one is easy, while pursuing awareness for mental health we neatly place the pilot in another group . . . the one labelled, “not me.”  We can let go some of the responsibility when what happened is about “other people.”  We can be less vigilant in our own lives.

There are people who blame the co-pilot completely, without any compassion for him or his mental illness.  They refuse to be sidetracked.  They need someone to blame and he is the most identifiable target.

Cue the people who then point to the last group and say they are part of the problem that marginalizes people with mental health issues.  They suggest that THIS is the real problem we need to address. Continue reading Who’s To Blame?

Tony Abbott has Gifts

Tony Abbott said that the less said about the Bali Nine, the better.  Of course, he is saying that AFTER he has already opened his own mouth, inserted both his feet and a few of his other political winner friends.  He has already offended everyone in this case and made it worse with his comments.  I suppose we should thank him for that, in that, we don’t need to say a thing more, no need for us to toy with perfection.  Oh and in other news, he can eat an onion, skin and all, without shedding a tear.  No Tony, unique talents get you into the circus, not people’s hearts.  But thanks for coming out.

Perspective is a Good Thing When Someone Lets The Radicals Out of the Barn.

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An Australian group just went too far.

We have been consumed with the fate of the “Bali Nine,” which is the name given to a group of Australians who  attempted to smuggle drugs into Indonesia.  They were caught with 8.3 kg (18 lb) of heroine with a street value of 4 million.

That happened in 2005.  What followed was a merry-go-round of sentencing, all in keeping with Indonesian law, and then tons of appeals, back and forth, and the final outcome where today two of the men are expected to be executed (shot) any day now.

The families of the two young men are devastated and outraged.  Both of the men are indeed sorry for their actions and have, according to many witnesses, transformed their lives and had become assets in the jails where they were housed.

Australians want their lives spared. Continue reading Perspective is a Good Thing When Someone Lets The Radicals Out of the Barn.

Be Kind. Guide for Step Parents to Avoid Parental Alienation Syndrome.

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Step parents are in an unenviable position.  Those who are doing an awesome job are often abused by an insecure parent who undermines them at every turn and those who are abusing a child with Parental Alienation Syndrome are destroying live, none more at risk, than the child entrusted in their care.

Adding children into a home, especially when they are not your own, is a difficult thing to do.  Well, it can be done, but achieving the goal that everyone gets out alive is a big undertake. Continue reading Be Kind. Guide for Step Parents to Avoid Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Government Assistance and The War We Wage Against Each Other.

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According to the Courier Mail, the Australian Government has another proposal to cut welfare payments. (see article here) I applaud the government’s efforts to look at everything and see where we can cut costs.  I applaud their seeming commitment to the idea that the solution has to help people, not just dump them and leave them off worse than before.  I admire that about the Australians, they seem to think a bit more before they jump, or at least make an effort to see the whole picture. Continue reading Government Assistance and The War We Wage Against Each Other.

Screaming About Life After It Is Too Late To Fix Things Is Called A Tantrum.

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Today I read about a situation that resulted in a large outcry from “the people” in angry protest.  Although a seemingly daily story with just differing situations, this one was of particular interest.

It caught my eye because the law behind the events was one that I was intimately familiar with.  Over 30 years ago when it was about to be enacted I spoke up about the possible outcomes of such a law.  The reactions of many “good” people was that I was being ridiculous, making much about nothing, did not know what I was talking about, etc.  People were not interested.  It did not impact them that day and they had other things to do.  They were in agreement on that one point and the law passed because no-one felt they needed to worry about it. Continue reading Screaming About Life After It Is Too Late To Fix Things Is Called A Tantrum.

An Endless Ripple.

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Too often we get caught up in the enormity of the need around us. We see so much work to do, with limited or unknown resources. We don’t know how to begin, where to begin, when to begin. We doubt ourselves. We doubt the value of what we might do and so we do not do anything.

We get overwhelmed with the macro and fail to ever see the micro. Continue reading An Endless Ripple.