Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Difference of Being the Same

Just a quick follow-up to my last blog entry:

Kevin and I did end up seeing "District 9" this last weekend, and I can safely say that I was not at all disappointed. I was quite blown away, in fact. This movie, while being very creative and entertaining, was incredibly poignant and has so much to say to us -- a world of misguided people, suffering from a lack of self-awareness. There were so many moments that touched me in this movie, many moments that made me shake with rage, tremble with great disturbance, ache with sadness, and some that made me weep with hope.

There is one moment in particular that stood out for me as the true message. (If you have not seen this movie yet and do not want anything spoiled please skip the section in orange.) When the main character, Wikus, has begun his transformation into the alien species (a species that he abhores and believes to be inferior), he finds himself becoming that which he hates. Forced to be a fugitive and look to the alien species for help, he befriends Christopher, one of the more peaceful aliens. Christopher and Wikus develop a plan to both return Christopher and his son to the mother ship so that they can return to their home planet, as well as get Wikus aboard so that Christopher can reverse his transformation. While the two of them discuss how to best accomplish this plan Christopher's son stands next to Wikus, looking at his left arm, which has fully transformed. The son lifts his own arm, parallel to the arm of Wikus and says, "We are the same."

That moment took my breath away for a split second. No matter that this is just a movie; no matter that this was said by an alien, or that the objects that unified them were things that we would see as gross or disgusting in appearance. None of this matters because it was a moment of pure honesty. It showed the power of innocence and open-mindedness. Leave it to a child to see through the outward appearance. They so often see deep within us, to the people we are at the core . . . our hearts, our spirits, our souls. They have not all been corrupted yet with the destructiveness of prejudice. They are more likely to see past the differences and find the ways in which we are the same -- connected.

This is so beautiful to me! If only we all tried harder to define ourselves and others with the things that unite us, rather than the things that divide us. True compassion is loving and understanding in the face of what makes us different. It's easy to have love for those that are just like us, but how difficult it can be to have the same love for the people that we don't understand, the people that we don't agree with, and the people that we don't even like.

I have the most difficult time with this in regards to people that I feel are being judgmental, self-righteous, or intolerant to others. I sometimes don't have the compassion for them that I should. I often focus on those differences. What those people are doing may not be right, but it is also not right that I should abstain from giving them compassion as well. Perhaps if I focus on common ground, then maybe they will too. Maybe it will inspire them to not become engulfed in our differences.

I was reminded today, when I read the latest blog entry of my sister-in-law's sister, of the beauty of the variations that make us all truly unique. Our niece was born with Treacher-Collins Syndrome, which affects her outward appearance. She looks different than "normal" people and is constantly reminded of the ways in which she is different. Though anyone with a disability or that deals with malformities of their appearance most assuredly has a harder life than the rest of us, there is something that I find to be incredibly beautiful about their differences. They are somehow freer of the mold-like restrictions and demands of our society, because they have to be. They have no choice in the matter. But because of that they are probably more of their genuine selves than any of the rest of us. And they have a strong awareness of that which makes us all human.

I believe that we should all not just ignore the differences, but instead embrace them in one another. We don't have to be the same to get along. Nor do we have to only recognize the common denominators in order to be "okay" with each other. None of us were created to be exacly the same. We are all meant to be an individual. That is the beauty of this world -- that we have the ability to maintain our differences, while loving, respecting, and accepting each other. We have the ability to peacefully, and joyfully coexist.

Of course, this is easier said than done, like most everything else in this world that brings about positivity. But I still hold to the ideal that it can and should be fought for. I know that I don't always succeed at this myself, but I am trying. I don't want the world to grow more and more polarized, settling all too easily into extremes. This is not productive nor healthy. I want there to be openness and tolerance, no matter the cause, no matter the person, no matter our own paradigms. I want each of us to be loved, not in spite of our differences, but instead loved, in part, because of them. I think then, we will have truly accomplished something great.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Land of Some Free . . .

I was thinking this evening about a movie that Kevin and I are going to go see this weekend, titled "District 9." It is a sci-fi movie about how a sick and dying group of aliens that came into the earth's atmosphere are forced to live in a government camp, subject to cruelty and tyranny. The writer and director, Neill Blomkamp, whom I have heard has lived in South Africa, crafted this piece to act as a bit of a representation on what he had witnessed with apartheid. When Kevin and I first heard about this film we got very excited. It looks to be quite a new and interesting take on your usual sci-fi, alien flick. This one seems to not only be very original and creative, but also strikingly poignant. Wow, an alien movie that could be a piece of social commentary? Now that intrigues me!

Aside from my typical movie-going giddiness, I'm also having a difficult time shoving away the thoughts of how honest of a portrait this movie really is, according to the actions of society throughout the course of history. Why is it that some group of people must always be oppressed in our country or in others? What is it about human nature that causes such disgust for those that are different? Oppression has been present since the beginning of time. Its filthy, hateful, unforgiving fists have pounded down the rights of so many factions that were merely looking for their equal space amidst the chaos. Jews, African-Americans, Native Americans, Latin Americans . . . the list goes on and on. At some point in history I believe every group has been oppressed in some form or another. These oppressions have been built on different scales, using different means, but the purpose is still the same -- to stamp out what we don't understand, to destroy what we fear.

Fear is a very powerful weapon. I say weapon because it is just that: "
1 : something (as a club, knife, or gun) used to injure, defeat, or destroy." (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). All of the most evil atrocities in our past and present can be traced to fear. Fear of war, fear of famine, fear of loss of power, fear of religion, fear of progression. And in that fear people have wept, mourned, hurt, angered, suppressed, offended, tossed aside, and scorned. All in the name of "misunderstanding."

How many people must be hurt or killed or stripped of their rights as a human being, as a child of God, all for the fear that our little, few-streets-sized world will be changed? How many freedoms and inherent human values will be crushed with vile bigotry, all for the fear that we may have to broaden our minds past the small world we've always known?

My spirit mourns for the darkness that so many people have no choice but to survive under. I have no idea what it is like to try to overcome obstacles that have always and will always be there to assure that your life and worth in this world are limited. I have only dealt with discrimination on a very small scale. I am one of the luckier ones. But there are so many that are not.

It is not only racial groups that have been oppressed, but also groups of people with a differing ideology, theology, or simply a different lifestyle. Christians, Muslims, atheists, the disabled, hippies, homosexuals.
There is no one oppression that is more contemptible than the other. To restrict the intrinsic rights of a human being is to rape a person of their dignity and worth, declaring yourself as the bearer of godly powers and vision.

Like me, when you think of oppressors you probably think of various world leaders or figures, such as Hitler, Stalin, or Castro. People such as this are most definitely the most attainable symbols of how power corrupts. But it is not only the well-known that do the oppressing. It is in us all. That warped part of us, that quietly prowls in the deepest, darkest parts of our souls, dribbles out in our prejudices, our stereotypes, and our put-downs. We are all born with the ability to create hatred toward ourself or others. But it is our choice what validity we heed to these emotions. Most of us try to be good people -- to treat others with kindness and respect. But sometimes we don't see that what we are doing is hurting others and impeding their rights to live and choose freely.

There is so much in the news right now regarding an individual's freedoms. One side feels that their's are being taken away, while the other side feels that they are trying to instead give rights to those without. It all depends upon your perspective, where you're coming from, and where you're trying to go. And sometimes while on the path to retrieve your own rights, you may take away someone else's.

We cannot force our views upon others or the world at large. We cannot expect all to live and believe as we do. And we cannot use fear to dismantle the beautifully tolerant principle of equality. All are equal in the eyes of God. All deserve to be loved, respected, and accepted. Each person deserves to be happy, whether or not we agree with them. Whether or not we understand them. It is not relevant nor necessary for us to "get them" in order for them to be treated with the same allowances that we have.

Let us always be mindful of those that are viewed as lesser than, or guilty, or "unnatural." It is precisely those that we may be most at-fault for ignoring or castigating. It is precisely those that may need us the most.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Girl's Best Friend

Lately my mind has wandered into fervent thoughts of our dog that we had to put to sleep in February of this year. A friend recently had to commit the same heart-wrenching act. And just yesterday my mom and dad were telling me that they watched "Marley and Me." I have not seen this movie but I already know what happens. And let me tell you, I'm not sure that I can handle another "Old Yeller" type moment. When my husband and I saw "I Am Legend" in the theater we were a complete and utter mess! If you haven't seen it, I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just leave it at that. Both difficult movies for dog-lovers . . . or anyone with a soul.

I've always been a dog person. I am the last child of three (two older brothers) and my family already had a dog when I was born. Her name was Fluffy, a peekapoo (such a stinkin' cute name for a mixed breed), who was about three years old at the time of my birth. So my attachment to dogs began quite early.

Fluffy was my best friend (they're not just a man's best friend) and really, a soulmate. I spent most of my time with her growing up, whether we were snuggling in the soft, yellow armchair in the living room, or whether I was proudly parading her around in my old stroller. That dog would let me do anything to her. Seriously, I mean ANYthing! I used to put my old barrette bows in her fur and put my disturbingly ugly glasses on her. It was a tad creepy, but highly amusing, especially as an eleven year old. My personally favorite look, however, was when I'd adorn her with an orange and blue striped Nike cap, with sunglasses that had the diet pepsi logo on each lens. Talk about heavy product placement . . .

She had such a wonderful disposition -- loving, affectionate, playful, mellow. She sort of reminded me of my mom -- quiet, ever-present, just happy to be around those she loves. Fluffy was incredibly easy to depend upon. And easy to love. Some of my most cozy memories are of taking her and her one puppy, Tubs, outside in the crispness of Autumn, sitting against our impressively enormous tulip tree and holding them against my chest, wrapping my thin, navy blue jacket around us all, like three lost and weary wanderers, clinging to each other for survival. I craved that feeling of protecting them, of keeping them safe, of nurturing them.

I remember that same feeling when Fluffy began to age . . . when the black parts of her fur gradually softened to gray, and the deeply reddish-brown eyes turned milky. I would hold her in my lap in the evenings and stroke her aching muscles. I had never lost a family pet yet, other than some fish, and so I don't think I really grasped what that would mean for me soon. I found out one March night in 1994 when I let her outside to do her business. I didn't stay at the back door to keep an eye on her, which I often didn't. About a half hour later I awoke out of the tv coma that I had put myself in and realized that I'd forgotten about her. I ran outside to find her and found nothing but the quietness of a late winter evening. She was gone.

She had tried running away several times in those last few months. We were lucky enough to find her each time, until this one. Mom and I drove around our small town, in the dark, and came home empty-handed. Every day after school, for about a week, I walked around town, looking in every nook and crevice I could think of. I was afraid this time, unlike the other times when she had run away. The other times I felt confident that we would find her or that she'd come back home on her own. But this time I had another stirring in my gut. I think I knew deep down that I would never see her again. And I didn't. We still don't know what happened to her. We assume that she ran away to die -- to prevent us from having to deal with it. How do dogs know to do that? What makes them have that sort of forethought and compassion? Fluffy was seventeen years old.

* * * * * * * * * *

It was about a year and a half before we got a new dog. Miko came to us right after Thanksgiving of 1995, just under a month before we moved to a new small town. Miko was a pure-bred lhasa apso and certainly had a personality and mind of her own. Where Fluffy was complacent, Miko was strong-willed. She was also very loving and affectionate and playful, but needed her space. She would NOT let you do just whatever you wanted to her. She was spunky. She was a lot like my dad. She may have been more stubborn, but when she loved, she loved fiercely. And she was exactly what I needed at that time of my life. I was fifteen, moving to a new town, starting a new school, getting used to a new church full of strangers. It was a very difficult time of my life, one that I wouldn't have gotten through without her.

When I felt most alone I always had her. She was also my best friend and soulmate (I have this pattern with my dogs). She was a quiet comfort for me in some of the darkest moments. She was there to sit beside me as I sighed and cried. She was there to bring laughter as she ran around the house in circles, practically dragging her butt as she ran. We called this The Psycho. And it never failed to make me forget about whatever troubled my spirit at the time.

I spent a lot of time as a teenager, sitting in my room listening to music and writing poetry. Miko stayed beside me as I did this, looking at me almost as if she knew, as if she understood what I felt. Miko was with me through all of the biggest transitions of my life: first boyfriend, first break-up, graduating high school, starting college, becoming an aunt for the first time, first job, getting married, moving. She was really a part of everything. And she became just as important to my husband, Kevin. He had lived with animal allergies his whole life and somehow was able to overcome that (at least with dogs) by being with Miko. He never thought that he'd be able to have a dog, so Miko was incredibly significant to him.

She came with us when we got married in October of 2005. She was our only "child." I remember how she would sleep under our chairs as we played video games in our office, and how she showed that dogs can have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by rubbing her head countless times on the floor by her food dish, right before she began eating. She was a permanent fixture of our home, and our relationship. Except . . . nothing is permanent.

The last couple of years she started showing the signs of old age, which I remembered all too well. Her beige, wavy fur became speckled with a few random strands of gray, and her deeply black eyes clouded over. She, like Fluffy, was a fighter. She hung on as long as she could. When her back legs began to limp and cave in, she kept walking, dragging them, as if she were lugging two logs behind her. Even though it would take her nearly four times as long to reach her destinations, and she would have to take frequent pauses, she kept going. She was determined to not let it stop her. Kevin and I would often pick her up and take her from one point to another. We would lay on the couch with her resting her weary body on our chests, covering us both with a quilt.

It was not long after that she began yelping in the night with bouts of diarrhea. It only took us a couple days after that to know what had to be done. One Wednesday in February of this year we were both getting ready for work as she began yelping again into the empty air. I looked at her and no longer saw anything behind her eyes. They were as empty as the air. We knew. That morning we brought her to the vet, me cupping her body into mine in the backseat. I whispered to her, "It's almost over." And in another hour, it was.

We took her to be buried at my oldest brother's home, right beneath a tree. It rained that day, and I was glad. It comforted me that it was cold, wet, dark, and solemn. And the next day it snowed. She was covered beneath a peaceful blanket of white. Miko was fourteen.

I miss them both still. I miss them both every day. I'm sure I always will. Without them everything seemed empty and lonely. Something always felt like it was missing. Did either of them ever know how much I loved them? Did I show them enough attention and affection? I hope they were both happy. I have had much guilt over each of them. With Fluffy, I was the one who had let her outside and forgotten about her. It was my fault. Did she feel abandoned? With Miko, I was busy and stressed with work and didn't spend as much time with her in her last few months. Did she feel neglected? I still have a hard time wondering if I failed either of them in any way. They meant and mean more to me than I can ever express, but did they know that?

* * * * * * * * * * *

In May of this year Kevin and I adopted a new dog -- a Maltese Shih Tzu mix, white. We named him Desmond, after one of our favorite characters on "Lost." He is much like the other two, in his loving and playful disposition. But he is a lot more excitable. He also doesn't have an angry or crabby bone in his body. He has been very healing for us both. Although I spent his first week with us feeling tremendously guilty and depressed. The reality of the loss of Miko finally came to full fruition. There was another dog around, and it wasn't her.

I am thankful for the time I have had with each of our dogs. I would not be the same without any of them. I would not more fully understand the unconditional and limitless love that God has for us all. And God has shown and is showing me a lot of love through these three dogs. I'm not convinced that I deserve it, but still . . . I am so very grateful.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Where the Childhoods Are

Just recently saw a new trailer for the upcoming movie "Where the Wild Things Are." I can't express just how insanely happy I am that this book is being made into a movie, and how much I can't wait for it to be released (just in time for Kevin and my 4th anniversary!). Each time I've watched this or the first trailer I find myself pushing back a very prominent lump in my throat, and have a few tears that come poking their way around my lashes. It must seem so silly, to get this emotional over a movie I haven't even seen. But for some reason this one just hits me. I feel like a kid again . . . and for me, that's both a very easy and a very comfortable state in which for me to reside. I talk about my childhood very frequently. I was fortunate to have a very good childhood, until about 11 or so, when puberty hit and so did a very bad self-esteem. But before then, it was, simply put, delightful.

Anything that is from my childhood (movies, books, music, toys, etc. ) gives me feelings of such comfort and happiness. They still hold a very powerful and deep emotional sway over me. I cried in the theater when the original Star Wars movies were re-released in 1997. I was seventeen years old. Didn't matter . . . when those beautifully glowing blue words came on the screen: "A long time ago . . ." and I heard that instantaneously recognizable music I just crumbled. It felt like I was truly reliving my childhood, not just reminiscing about days gone by.

I tend to hold tremendously strong attachments to things from my childhood. And I'm still bemoaning the fact that I never did get a Popple, Glo-Worm, or Mouse Trap (the latter which I recently remedied in Target). :) I'm just a kid at heart, through and through. I've always felt like I'm simultaneously a seven year old and a seventy year old. Strange, I know. Just one of the many paradoxical aspects of my life.

Well, I may not quite feel as much on the seventy side when I get to see this movie. I have a hunch that the spunky, quirky, wildly imaginative seven year old will hold the throne on this such occasion. Luckily my husband is just as excited as I am, and is just as much of a child-adult as me. This is why we get along so well, and why we truly "get" one another, like no one else could.

I'm not sure either of us quite realized, until recently just how much this book meant to us growing up, or still means to us. I suppose we identified with it enough because we both felt like outsiders sometimes. We both wanted to run away into lovely lands filled with strange creatures. And, at the end of the day, we both wanted to come back home.

No matter how good or bad our childhoods were I think there is something, at least theoretically comforting and soothing about feeling like a kid again. We grow up and every little fact, worry, responsibility, and limitation crowds our minds. It takes over, because it has to. And we push aside all of those parts of ourselves that make us believe in the impossible -- the parts that trust without pause, the parts that love a little chaos, dirt, and randomness. I think God gave us these things, not to discard as an old rag, but to blend into who we become as adults. I think we're supposed to let ourselves pretend sometimes still -- let ourselves romp around in a mental sandbox . . . or real sandbox, I'm certainly not opposed to that!

It's difficult to allow ourselves that freedom. But what's more beautiful than the wise and knowledgable awareness that we gain from adulthood, coupled with the innocent and imaginative joy of a child? It's the perfect balance.

I am confident that this movie will capture all that and more -- all that we felt while reading this book, in our cozy, warm beds. And the fact that the trailers use one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite groups ("Wake Up" by Arcade Fire) doesn't hurt. I only hope that I do my best to bring back some of that seven year old sensibility, and not just leave it at the theater.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grayness . . . Seriously Underestimated, Seriously Under-present

Since so much of my thoughts have been focused lately on the world of politics I feel compelled to expound a bit on my observations of this very tumultous and polarized state of our society. I do not claim to have all the answers, nor be correct in all of my views or assumptions. That is the beauty of living in a gray world, which I thoroughly enjoy. I used to be more black and white as I was growing up. We all must start out that way; a child's mind cannot process the "grayness" until they are a little older. But you know, one thing that I've learned in all my years, especially with growing up in a minister's family, is that many adults are still at least somewhat stuck in this black and white mentality. They haven't evolved past a more immature state of development, mentally, spiritually (that'll be another discussion), or philosophically. This is one of my greatest frustrations in life.

I was lucky enough to be raised by parents that not only gave me a foundation of faith for my life, but also allowed me to be an individual -- to explore and decide upon my own beliefs. This is also just in my nature as well, but the fact that I was allowed to be myself made it possible for me to take the scary but satisfying leap into the world of gray sooner than I may have without this. I know that this is frightening for many people that either did not have the same allowances growing up, or simply refute the possibility of other ways of looking at things, but I must say that living in "grayness" is amazingly liberating. This does not mean that I don't operate through a faith, or through a moral compass. It is quite the opposite. Living in "grayness," I believe, allows one to operate on a higher level of morality. It allows openness, honesty, compassion, and vulnerability to thrive and flourish. For me, this is a more "faithful" way to live in the world.

I know many would have a problem with this statement: I believe everything is relative. I know, I know, that's one of those red flags for many Christians. Not for me. When I said that I live in a gray world, I wasn't joking. Even those things that I would at first tend to say are the absolutes . . . murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, etc. Well, sorry, but I think that there is always some sort of situation that may change the "rightness" and "wrongness" of these assumptions. Consider, a pregnant mother in the hospital . . . if they continue with the labor they know most likely that the mother will die. Is an abortion still wrong then? Consider, a family that is homeless, without money, without a job (not because of their own mistakes), a child may die if they do not receive food shortly. Is stealing still wrong then if there are no options for food banks or shelters? You may still hold to the absolute that it is. You may be right. But it gets a little trickier when thinking of some these other situations. I know these are more extreme circumstances and will not apply to probably most instances, but how can we say that something is ALWAYS right or wrong? Can we at least consider that there could be an instance where the same judgment is not fair nor just?

This brings me to my original topic . . . politics. As I have witnessed the black and white mentality so often from people in the spiritual and religious realm, I have been inundated with it in politics in the last several months. Well, let's face it, it's actually been the last several years. What in the world happened? When did everyone become so polarized?! I don't remember it being quite so extreme many years ago. It seems like it started happening while I was in late high school. Clinton seemed to bring out the rage in enough people, mainly conservative Christians. And then Bush enraged the other side. This level of polarization frightens me. This is when we begin with mob-mentality, group-think, and irrational rantings. To me, these are all very dangerous occurrences. These kinds of events stifle and repress tolerance, compassion, respect, and openness. They push back the progression of so many of our values that make us truly human and truly good.

Now, I am not a Democrat or Republican. I do not align myself with any one party. If anything, I guess I'm an independent. My values and views are sort of a mixture of the Green Party, Independent Party, and Libertarian Party. I can see meritous aspects of each party in our country. No group has the monopoly on what is right for our nation. This is why it is healthy for the political power to be switched up and turned around fairly frequently, so that hopefully each group of people is being represented at some point in time. If only we could get some power shifted to a third party for once . . . ahh, but I digress. If one group is in power too long, they start to believe that this is how it should always be. They begin to think that if anyone but them has control the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

This is something I find to be quite disturbing of late. Some Republicans have been putting out there that everything the current Democratic administration is doing and will do, will put our country on a fast track to socialistic, freedom-crushing, Hitlerism. Where do they come up with this stuff? (I should clarify one thing: when I speak of those with a black and white mentality, conservatives, or Republicans, I do not mean to lump them all together as being part of the ones that come across as hateful and crazy. They are certainly NOT all like that. I am only speaking of the more extreme people in these groups.) You know, I once believed that the Democratic and Republican parties were equally at fault. Well, while I certainly don't think the Democrats are right about everything and have plenty of faults, I feel that the current Republican party has become more harmful and suppressive to us than the other side. I have not witnessed the same hatred, mean-spiritedness, half-truth-telling, self-righteousness, or fear-mongering from the left as I have from the extreme people on the right. Sure the left has their cooks, nutbags, jerks, and inciters, but really, can you say that it is balanced with the right?

I listen sometimes to Glen Beck, Bill O'Reilley, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, etc. . . and I find myself mesmerized by their lack of compassion, open-mindedness, and humility. How do people get this way? When most of them assert to hold Christian values, how is it okay for them to degrade others that don't agree with them? How is it okay for them to spew the hateful and poisonous toxins that do nothing but incite anger, fear, hatred, and arrogance? I won't say that they are all wrong all the time. That is not either a fair nor accurate statement. But the majority of the ideas and values that they are putting out there in the world are not of a "Christ-like" nature, in my opinion. The foundations of the Christian faith are love, compassion, respect, and tolerance. These are to be unconditional.

But many on the right do not see what they are doing as going against these values. They see themselves, I think, as living out their faith, pointing out the wrongs of others in Jesus's name, so that the world can be a more perfect place. Many have good intentions . . . many do not. But either way, is it okay to depict a politician with Satan horns, Obama as equal to Hitler, and burning effegies of state congressmen as long as it brings the country to a supposed more "righteous" state? Do the ends always justify the means? I think not.

I've recently been "arguing" with people on Facebook about these such things. My dad and I are the only ones in these conversations that are not on the right. And I admit, with being surrounded by people much, much more conservative in their views than me, my whole life, I have allowed myself to sometimes get polarized as well. I'm not proud of that. I always strive to be a very balanced person. But hey, I fail miserably at it sometimes. I end up defending the left, when really, I'm not on either side. I have this innate urge to balance out things when I feel that group-think is present. It just so happens that I've usually been surrounded by conservative Republicans more often than liberal Democrats, or even just plain, old Independents. This polarization becomes cyclical. We are engulfed in an unhealthy, perpetual state of extremes. Ahhh, if only we could all just chill out a bit! Instead of turning everything into an overdramatized, battle-against-the-world, state of madness. Someone should really tell us that hysteria is not very attractive. :)

There are so many sensitive and important issues on the table right now. I honestly don't know what the right decision is for health-care, the economy, etc. I don't know enough to have a truly, truly informed decision on what is the best way to fix it all. I'm not sure too many do, certainly not as many as purport that they do. But I do feel that the administration is at least trying to address what needs to be and are doing the best that they can. The last administration went off on tangents and allowed built up problems to simply become worse.

I do agree that there should be a public option for health-care. I understand the argument of socialism vs. capitalism. I had an incredibly wonderful Econ. professor, who gave me a good understanding of how the economy truly works, beyond just supply and demand. Yes, a public option would be a mixture of socialism and capitalism . . . but since when have we ever had true capitalism?! If there are regulations, then it is not a true laissez-faire market. I don't think Republicans are against ALL regulations. So, logically speaking, they are okay with at least a dash of socialism. Besides, I really don't think Jesus was a capitalist. He was an altruist.

We can argue for days about how to best accomplish health-care reform, and that is one of the delightful rights we all have . . . to freely discuss differing viewpoints and disagree. Everyone has a right to express how they feel and what they believe. I am not against freedom of speech; I am vehemently FOR it. I believe in practicing that freedom of speech to the government. But what I am against, is exercising that right while degrading, defaming, or supressing other viewpoints that do not jive with your own. I am an idealist. And while I realize that realistically speaking, this is a lot to ask, why can't we ask it anyway? It can be done. And we should all try. We must ALL strive to live as we choose to live, while allowing others to do the same, without making them out to be less of a person.

When one lives in a black and white world they often cannot handle someone viewing things differently. It becomes a personal affront to their very nature. If someone doesn't fit into their little box their entire foundation becomes shaken and disrupted. If you ask me, this is a very weak faith. This is the reason that they cannot concede to the opposing side that they may be correct on one or two things. No, it's the "I am always right, you are always wrong" way of looking at the world. A person living in "grayness" may not be easily rocked. They do not require anyone to be any certain way. And they are able to stop and consider that perhaps they are not correct and maybe the other side might have something worthwhile from which to learn. I accept that there are many with different beliefs and that is okay. I can respect our differences. All I ask is that you do the same for me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My First Random Act

Well, I suppose my first random act, in relation to this blog, is the mere fact that I started this blog. I honestly did not think I was destined to become any form of a blogger. I've been writing for my own amusement since I was nine years old. This was the magically-delicious year that I discovered my greatest passion in life . . . writing, especially poetry. I sat in Mrs. Landis' third grade class as she announced that it was time for the Young Author's Contest, and we were all obliged to participate. We could choose to write non-fiction, fiction, or poetry, as well as illustrate. Poetry . . . hmm, now that was something I had never really thought of trying. The idea intrigued me so greatly that I could hardly wait to get home and start my new project. My first poem was titled "Mothers" -- a tribute to my mom.

With that first poem I felt new emotions surging inside of me, feelings that were exciting, cathartic, and liberating. It was as if a new infusion of life had permeated into my soul. I had found my niche. If one can feel purpose at nine years old, then I suppose I found it.
From then on I wanted to be a poet and an artist. I not-so-secretly still have this dream.

I graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2004, with a B.A. degree in writing, and a minor in psychology (a later-developed passion). I haven't really tried pursuing this as a career until very recently. You could say I got just a tad burnt out in college. I didn't write or read anything for fun for an embarrassingly long time after.
Now that I have finally put that stage behind me I have realized just how deeply I've missed my quiet jaunts through my mind while I write or read. I realize just how much of myself I had neglected, and how much of my spirit was undernourished. When I read, and most especially when I write I feel a connection to the universe, in a sense. I feel more connected to God. So why I deprived myself of this for so long, I don't know . . . Oh, wait, yes I do know. It's called second-guessing . . . self-hate, doubt, anxiety, fear . . . I got so beaten down (not just physically) during college, that I completely lost my passion. It was beaten out of me by professors, fellow classmates, but most of all, my own lack of self-esteem. I allowed everyone's negative opinion to derail my love for literature. And any positive feedback that I received was simply marked up to, "Well, they must be crazy . . ." Every time I would put pen to paper to create, I was filtering every syllable. "Is this right?" "Is this good enough?" So once I no longer had to write anything, I disconnected myself from that world because it was too painful to be absorbed in it. It only brought back all of those stinging emotions.

I still have to work at this . . . I haven't completely shaken off the burdens of feeling not good enough. But I am happy to say that I at least now will, once I start to doubt, tell myself to shut up. It doesn't always work, buuuuttt, I'm working on that.
I feel that love of words again . . . I hear that inner rumbling to create again. It's been so very long. Just call me the Prodigal Poet.