Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"It's Not My Fault!"

Well, I'm in a mood today, so were warned.

First of all, let me state for the the record that I love my country and I have a lot of respect for our elected officials and am grateful for the job that they do in representing us and governing our land. There are times, however, when the whole thing seems a little campy and insincere and I don't like that part. Last night was our country's annual 'applauding politicians on display doing choreographed knee bends in unison' accompanied by a 'say a lot of stuff while saying nothing much' speech from our current Commander-in-Chief, followed by hours of mindless interpretation and scrutinizing by countless talking heads on every media outlet known to man. This event is commonly referred to as the 'State of the Union Address.' These annual spectacles are almost always the same no matter which president is at the podium. I was hoping for a little more this year, though I don't know why. I guess I felt that given our challenges at the moment...our president might step up to the plate and knock one out of the park, giving me a feeling that he finally gets it. As per usual this particular speech was full of earnest, ideological, and hopeful speechifying but was lacking the ONE thing I was hoping to hear from our president, and that is: ACCOUNTABILITY. Not. One. Word. He never said "I could have done better" or "my only regret is..." or "I'm the leader of this country and the buck stops with me." I know, I'm a dreamer, right?

What did he do? He just pretended that we are all without brains and would blissfully ignore the big white elephant (no insult to Republicans intended) in the room which is that the state of our union is shaky at best. I mean...let's just be honest. There is a lot to be accountable for. Big mistakes have been made. We all know that. Everyone here should agree at least on the issue of the Affordable Care Act. It has been a big mess and the administration royally screwed up the implementation and the facts were misrepresented (I'm being nice, here...) and a lot of people are stranded right now without insurance and have no idea what to do. (This is true...look it up). That is unacceptable. They were not ready to implement the law but they did it anyway. That was a mistake. I know that everyone messes up and that's why I wanted to hear accountability. I would have really been impressed if he had taken personal responsibility and been a real leader and simply said: "We were wrong and we intend to do better. Here's how we are going to fix it." That would have gotten my attention. His approval rating right now is around 37%. He knows that many people have lost confidence in his policies and leadership ability. He knows he has lost some credibility even among his own supporters. And yet, he never once mentioned that and glossed over it all as though everything was peachy keen and our country is not all but a hot mess. His message was clear. "Blame Congress! These guys won't let me do what I want. They're being total boneheads (this is also true, you can look that up, too) and they are in my way. I give up! I can't work with these guys anymore. I'm going to have to bypass the rule of law and do my own thing. It's not my fault." That did not resonate with me, personally. Alas, it is an election year, so honesty and accountability are not possible in Washington, DC from either party at this time. Sad but true.

Let's forget about politics for a minute. Too depressing and I'm going somewhere with this, so stay with me.
I came across an article on Facebook this morning that really blew my mind but totally illustrates the point I'm trying to make. We are seeing this kind of thing far too often.

There was this 16 year old girl, you see, who wanted to go sky diving. It is not legal for a minor to jump out of a perfectly good airplane for no particular reason other than the 'fun' of it, so the parents were required to give their consent. And they willingly did so. The dad even decided to join in the fun. He went up with her in the plane and for some reason that my parental brain cannot begin to grasp whatsoever (but who am I to judge) he jumped out FIRST. Go figure. Maybe it was so he would be there when she landed. Maybe it was to 'show her how it is done.' All I know is that there is no way in H.E. double hockey sticks that I'm gonna leave one of my kids in an airplane with a parachute strapped on his/her back to go it alone. My eyes would not be leaving my child. Maybe that's just me, but what do I know? I wouldn't take my kid skydiving, anyway and like I said...who am I to judge? Ha!

Anywho...the 16 year old girl jumped out on a static line which automatically deployed her parachute but something apparently went wrong and she plummeted 3,000 feet to the ground. I know. Yikes! Although she suffered serious injuries, she miraculously survived. Yet another example of the old saying "If it's not your's not your time," I guess. But that's when I read what the father had to say and it astounded me. Check this is an excerpt of his comments:

"I don't think she should have been allowed at 16 to go up there and perform that type of jump, no matter what I say or she says, she shouldn't have been allowed," Joe Wethington said at the news conference. "I find it very hard to believe that the rules and regulations in Oklahoma are that lax. I think there is a flaw there somewhere, and I don't think it's through the state of Oklahoma. I think it's the company. I'm not sure."

I'm not even making this up, y'all! You can read the whole article here...

Huh? What the wha??? Somebody sounds awfully confused. There is a flaw somewhere, dude and I can see it clearly. And yeah...I smell it, too. A lawsuit. This guy is likely going to try to sue the company for allowing his daughter to skydive, even though he signed the consent form to let her. He's playing the "It's not my fault" card. Talk about a lack of accountability. This is her dad. The buck stops with him. And he jumped first. He knew what 'type of jump' she would be doing because they both trained for it beforehand. He was made aware of the dangers but signed on the dotted line anyway. Are you kidding me? That is his statement? How about..."Thank God she's alive!!! All that matters to us now is that our child is safe and we need to focus on her recovery and getting her well. We are going to quietly celebrate our miracle now." Sheesh! Sure, he's probably feeling really guilty and remorseful about the part he played in what could have been the catastrophic loss of his child. He knows it was his decision. I understand that. Still, this is exactly the kind of nonsense I'm talking about. And in my opinion, which is worth what you paid for it, it is entirely too pervasive and it needs to stop. It is sending our kids the wrong message and I'm so tired of the excuses and the blame game and the 'get my attorney on the phone' mentality.

So here's my message for the day. You can take it or leave it just like you do all of the other stuff I say on here. I'm sure you are all responsible adults and already are aware of this but it will feel better if I just get this off my chest, if you will indulge me.

Please realize that life is all about choices. As adults, we all do the best we can (I'm assuming) and we win some and we lose some. As a result of the choices we intentionally make on a daily basis, there will be consequences, sometimes good and sometimes bad and we all need to take personal responsibility for the choices and decisions that we make. No matter what the outcome is. That's life. If you are at fault, own up to it. Stuff happens. Other people make mistakes that can sometimes accidentally affect our lives adversely. If you can, try to give grace to others as you would like it measured out to you. We are all here at the same time doing life together. It should be our goal to try to leave the world a little better off when we are gone. If we don't take responsibility for the stuff we do, we will not grow. We will not flourish and we will pass along the same stunted mentality on to the next generation. I'm not willing to do that so I will be paying attention to my own words and deeds to be sure I am practicing what I am (yes it totally sounds like) preaching. I am teaching this to my kids and enforcing it to the best of my ability. I hope we are all striving to do the same. We must lead by example, drop the excuses we make for ourselves and for our children and simply own our own stuff. Am I right or am I right? ;o)

I bring up this subject and say what I do out of frustration but also with love. I know that God is in control as always and that nothing that we say or do is a surprise to Him. He alone is worthy of all praise. Having said that, we are called to remind and gently nudge one another in the right direction now and then so I decided to go ahead and publish this post and pray the message goes where it may be best received.

If I have offended anyone, then that's on you. You shouldn't have kept reading until the end. It's not my fault! (Hahaha...gotcha. I'm only kidding!)
Hopefully, I haven't offended anyone but I sincerely regret it if I have. My intention is to share my thoughts with transparency and with honesty so that some day, when they're older, my kids will know what their mom was thinking about during their childhood. Hopefully it somehow blesses everyone who is along for the ride! Thank you for reading and supporting my little blog. All my love to all of you.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. ~ Proverbs 28:13

Okay...I'm done here.



Friday, January 3, 2014

I am a Person of Color. White (or kinda Peachy) is a Color we go. I'm taking a risk with this one, I know. But as they say...nothing ventured, nothing gained. I'm going to venture out there for a second and see if anything can be gained. Please read with an open mind and with the intent to understand. I am writing this in love and with respect. Please leave your knee jerk judgments at the door before you walk into this one. I dedicate this blog to the future of all of our children. I pray they will sow love and peace and real equality into the generations to come. I hope you will join me in that sentiment.

I've been spending my down time during the holidays doing quite a bit of reading. Some has been for fun, some for researching my book and some just to catch up on current events. I love reading, period. Something I was reading recently got me thinking. It was an excerpt from the blog of Dr. Alveda King (Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr's niece.

She posted this quote of her uncle's from a 1967 Christmas sermon:

“The next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. …Man is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such….And when we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won’t exploit people, we won’t trample over people with the iron feet of oppression, we won’t kill anybody.”

I enjoy reading her blog. And I love the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was an incredible visionary and devoted man of God. He was courageous and remarkable in his willingness to speak out about his faith, views and beliefs whether or not they were politically correct or acceptable in the minds of the masses. He believed in racial equality. Really, human equality. He believed in a sovereign God. He was a follower of Jesus' teachings. He believed in the sacredness of ALL human life. That can't be stressed enough. How I wish he had been able to follow through with the movement he started. Where would we be now? As a nation? As a global community? I can only wonder.

All across the nation, there are memorial highways and boulevards and buildings dedicated to his memory. To his life's work. We even take a day off to memorialize him as a nation. We should. We should all just STOP on MLK day to reflect on the man and his mission and his ministry. His was a deep message. A mature and meaningful one. I feel, at times, that we are too selfish and too immature as a country to fully understand, grasp or more emulate the spirit and commitment to human equality that MLK wanted us all to embrace. If you search your own heart, do you come to the same conclusion? Look around you. Read the millions of opinionated and often ignorant comments by your fellow Americans on the issue of race. It will curl your hair. It does mine. It makes me sad and mad and impotently frustrated to see how divided we still are on some fronts. Sadly, I feel the current administration of our government and the main stream media, just add fuel to a long burning fire that will only be extinguished when the people we have allowed into positions of power and leadership stop setting a poor example of division, derision and confusion among the very people they serve. Of course, this is just how I see it. Your outlook may be different. I respect that.

If you know me, you will agree that I'm a real (please pardon the cliche) 'people person.' I look at people and see first into their eyes. I'm looking for a spirit connection. I pay attention to their smiles and their faces. I just love people. We are all an example of God's limitless and beautiful creation. I'll talk to anyone. I love getting to know other people and I revel in our differences and uniqueness. I'm naturally curious and friendly when it comes to people of all races, religions and ethnic groups. This can be perceived as good and bad. I am at times naively unaware that people don't regard me in the same way. I have been wounded at times when people of other races have openly chastised me for crossing a boundary or breaking a rule that I wasn't even aware existed. There are apparently a lot of rules, you see. But as far as I can tell, there is no rule book, as it were, to consult to be certain that I do not unwittingly offend someone. This distresses me because I would never, ever set out to do anything hurtful or offensive to anyone. But unfortunately I have. More than once and it seems unfair to want so much to embrace my fellow humans while being keenly aware that they may not be too keen on embracing me back. I have been eyed with suspicion. I've been talked about behind my back. I've been made fun of and called names. I am sometimes judged simply by my appearance without the benefit of being allowed to present myself as an individual. It hurts when people do that. Sound familiar? I'll just bet it does. And in whichever direction this judgmental, prejudicial behavior is being projected it is DEAD WRONG. And that's all there is to it. I know Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. definitely would agree with me on that one. Google it if you don't believe me.

~And before I go any further, no matter what indignities or abuses or hard times I have seen in my lifetime, I will never, ever identify myself as a victim. Never. I am an overcomer through Jesus Christ. That is my identity. I was saved by grace. I am victorious.~

Aaaand...cue indignant responses. Let me save you the trouble. "Oh, reeeeaally? Miss white and privileged and high and mighty? You don't understand the struggle! You've never known real discrimination." (Yes, I have). "You don't know lack or poverty." (I've been homeless). "You don't understand what it's like to be under a generational curse of a lack of education and substance abuse." (Yes, actually, I do). You don't know what oppression feels like." (I totally do, unfortunately). You don't know what it's like to be on the wrong side of the social wall that separates the haves from the have-nots!" (Umm...not a lot of my contemporaries know more about that experience than I do. If you don't believe me, go back into the archives of this blog and read my story). "Well, wait just a've NEVER been a person of color now, have you?" Yeah, okay. You've got me there. Well, actually...I'm classified as white. White is a color. So, I can only speak from my own experiences as a white female living in America. So what? That is all any of us can do. Speak from our own, individual life experience. I'm certain that there are quite a few who can tell a sadder story than mine. There are also many who have been raised in strong, loving family environments that were far more enjoyable and advantageous than my growing up experience. White, Black, Asian, Indian, Hispanic, Jewish, or whatever. All different but with individual life experiences. Once again, I will what?

Your ancestors may have been slaves. Or kings or criminals or servants or ranchers or architects or political leaders. Members of the KKK or cattle barons, tenant farmers or in my case, poor Irish immigrants. Read up a little on how Irish immigrants fared when they stepped off the boat onto American soil. Not necessarily ideal. Everyone has a back story. We all came from someplace but they way I see it, it's not where or who you came from but where you are going that really matters most!

Please don't take what I'm saying as insensitivity to the struggles of certain groups of people. I've read the horrifying history and seen the ugliness of bigotry first hand. And I've always hated it. But here's the thing...There are good and bad folks in all walks of life. My point is that the more we purposefully segregate ourselves and compete for the right to be the biggest victims or the most oppressed or wronged people, the further away from MLK's dream we are slipping away. Are we judging each other by the color of our skin or by the content of each individual person's character? If we are to truly grow and move forward, we have to start holding each other accountable for the content of our own character and not be protecting each other merely because those who transgress against others may belong to our own group or race. Right and wrong know no particular ethnicity. We need to stop making excuses for our fellow Americans and start expecting personal responsibility and accountability from every citizen in equal measure. Will there be injustices? Yes. But if we remove the scales from our eyes and truly see things as they are...injustices exist everywhere. Are we willing to fight against them all? Will we speak up for our brother or sister from another race even when one of  'our own' is the one at fault? Will we stand up for what is right and denounce what is wrong? Will we be color blind in our commitment to see those wrongs righted? I pray that we will. I'm committed to do my part and to teach my children to do the same.

Let's strive not to be easily offended when someone makes a mistake that breaks a cultural 'rule' that they may not even be aware of. Let us embrace one another with the same grace and mercy our heavenly Father does. Let us walk in forgiveness and move forward without dragging the baggage of the past along for the ride. We won't always see eye to eye. but let that be okay. Let others be who they are without judgment or ridicule. Let us love our neighbor as ourselves. Do I sound naive? I don't care. Like Reverend King, I have a dream, too. I am dreaming big on this one!

The following is an excerpt from an article that really lines up with what I'm trying to say. You can read the full story here:

There is only one race—the human race. Caucasians, Africans, Asians, Indians, Arabs, and Jews are not different races. Rather, they are different ethnicities of the human race. All human beings have the same physical characteristics (with minor variations, of course). More importantly, all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to lay down His life for us (John 3:16). The “world” obviously includes all ethnic groups.

 God does not show partiality or favoritism (Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9), and neither should we. James 2:4 describes those who discriminate as “judges with evil thoughts.” Instead, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (James 2:8). In the Old Testament, God divided humanity into two “racial” groups: Jews and Gentiles. God’s intent was for the Jews to be a kingdom of priests, ministering to the Gentile nations. Instead, for the most part, the Jews became proud of their status and despised the Gentiles. Jesus Christ put an end to this, destroying the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14). All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are affronts to the work of Christ on the cross. 

Jesus commands us to love one another as He loves us (John 13:34). If God is impartial and loves us with impartiality, then we need to love others with that same high standard. Jesus teaches in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of His brothers, we do to Him. If we treat a person with contempt, we are mistreating a person created in God’s image; we are hurting somebody whom God loves and for whom Jesus died.

 Racism, in varying forms and to various degrees, has been a plague on humanity for thousands of years. Brothers and sisters of every ethnicity, this should NOT be. Victims of racism, prejudice, and discrimination need to forgive. Ephesians 4:32 declares, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Racists may not deserve your forgiveness, but we deserved God’s forgiveness far less. Those who practice racism, prejudice, and discrimination need to repent. “Present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13).May Galatians 3:28 be completely realized, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”


Whoever you are and wherever you come from, I send you blessings and love for the coming year. May your every happiness be realized and may you find peace and contentment wherever you go.