Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Cowardly Lion

Our Senate and Congress are all elected by We the People. We vote for the candidate we feel will best represent us and our needs in our respective states. We found out this past week that this is a fairy tale and we better start paying attention to what is happening in the District of Columbia.

I have no problem with all the elected officials here in Liberal Land, also known as the State of Connecticut. They know what we want and we need. They have been overwhelmed, along with the residents of our little state, by the horrendous mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. This is not the first mass shooting here in Connecticut. We had the Lottery Headquarters shooting which happened because of an employee that just snapped. The reasoning for this was because the employee had just returned to work after being out on medical leave for mental health issues. A few years ago, at a company named Hartford Distributors, an employee who was about to be fired pulled out a gun and shot everyone he could before turning the gun on himself. The grief and sorrow for the families who lost a loved one in these two shootings was mirrored by the outpouring of grief and horror of the residents of Connecticut. As time moves forward, these shootings get tucked away in our brains and we move on.

Not this time.

The glaring disregard by members of Congress and members of the Senate to pass some form of legislation about gun control is shameful. What is equally shameful is no one seems to have the backbone to stand up to the NRA and their fear mongering pointed at everyone, members and non-members. We do not have to fear our government and the NRA, they need to fear We the People. After Newtown, everyone was on board to "do something," and both Congress and the Senate vowed to do whatever they could to help stop this senseless massacre of children and adults that happens in every state of our country. The NRA asked them to wait until "the Connecticut affect died down."  It might not be on the news anymore, but the Connecticut affect has not died down. It is staring at every member of the Senate who did not vote for an assault weapon ban and a limit of ammunition.

To those members who would not vote in favor of the bill in the Senate, this next part is you:

Do not assume We the People will forget this come election day. You can throw around a few good things you have done in the Senate, but they pale next to your cowardly behavior for not voting "yes" when polls show  93% of Americans support changes in gun laws. How can you hold your head up high? How do you sleep at night? How can you ignore that a fellow member of Congress was gunned down in front of a supermarket? A child died that day. Does she not count? On Friday, a mother taking her daughter out for a walk in Brunswick,Georgia was "robbed at gunpoint", and because she no money on her, her daughter was shot right in front of her eyes. Does that child not count?

Stand up for your constituents, not the NRA. Be brave. Don't be the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz, be the Tin Man who finally finds his heart. Be courageous. You don't owe the NRA anything. It doesn't matter if they don't throw money your way because they don't speak for you (or do they?) When you are campaigning  again, you have a unique opportunity to say "I did not take one bloody cent from the NRA."

Just remember this: We the People don't forget, even through, others may think we do. We the People have no problem with citizens who hunt and secure their guns with same regard as the Hope Diamond. They are the people you should be having a conversation with, not the fruit loops in the NRA..

In the meantime, we will be watching you. We will keep a scorecard on you. And, if you fail to vote on behalf of all the people that gave you your job, you just might find yourself in the unemployment line.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Alzheimer's Disease

Losing a parent is hard, but when you lose a parent to Alzheimer's Disease, the ground under your feet moves. Not only do you grieve for that parent, but you also grieve for all the years that Alzheimer's Disease stole from you and your parent. You look at your siblings in a whole new light and though you don't say anything, you wonder if you or one of your siblings will have this heart wrenching disease too. My mother was only 69 years old when she died from Alzheimer's Disease. She had it for eight years before she died. My father was her caregiver up until it just became too much for him to handle alone. He did an outstanding job. It has been twelve years since my mother died and everyday I think about her and wonder what would my life be like if she didn't have it. My granddaughter teases me when I forget something. She is only eight years old so I doubt she could understand how I feel when I forget something. A red light goes off in my head and then it's gone, because I am middle aged and it's normal for me to forget things. Every time I see my doctor I mention my fear of Alzheimer's. He tells me I am fine. My kids watch over me and sometimes I think they have a scorecard  with all my mistakes or how long it takes me to find something. There is another reason I seem forgetful, and that is all on me. I have a way of tuning them out when some drama erupts in their life, mainly because no asks what I think. Instead I sit there and think about what I would do if I won the lottery, while throwing in a few "mms". And then I reassure myself that I am fine, my brain still works right, and the only time I should be alarmed is if I put the car keys in the freezer. Still, it's a tricky disease and like cancer, it does not care what color you are, what your age is, and it certainly does it's best to destroy the person who has it as well as the family who loves the patient. I have told my kids if I am a victim of Alzheimer's they are to stick me in a nursing home and don't come back until I am dead.This is the time for me to write this. If you are dealing with an Alzheimer's patient, you are not alone. It may seem that way, but there are tens of thousand people who understand how difficult this is. It's called The Long Goodbye because that is exactly what it is. In the meantime, give yourself a long talk, a hard cry, and forget about the things you forget about. You never know when you might get struck by lightening.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Needed: Action, Not Reaction

I love my country. There have been many times I have wondered what life would like had I been born to parents in another country. When those questions pop into my head I am truly thankful that I was born in America.

One disturbing thought that is a reasonable and articulate is how we have gone from a country that often carrys the flashlight to other nations to guide them to democracy and freedom, to a country that is an a constant state of reaction. It has not just been in the past four years, it began decades ago in the streets of Birmingham, on a bridge in Selma, and in a motorcade in Dallas. Every reaction has a price. Four young girls killed in a bombing of a church, in a place that one would think our children were safe. Young Civil Rights activists murdered because they wanted one simple thing: the right to vote for all people. JFK's assignation led to our Presidents being shuffled around in dark limousines that allow them to see out but prevents us from seeing in.

The first school shooting, in Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky in 1997 where three students were killed has been relatively ignored compared to the carnage that happened in Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Virginia Tech, an Amish school in Pennsylvania and now Newtown Connecticut. After each tragedy the public made noise about tougher gun laws, but after time had passed and communities moved on, nothing of any significance changed.

More recently we have seen a member of Congress shot and innocent bystanders murdered in Arizona. We watched in amazement as Gabby Giffords worked at being a survivor rather than a victim. A shooting rampage in a movie theater in Aurora Colorado saw our voices rise and fall once again. This time, we have twenty small bodies of six and seven year olds and six adults who tried and died while trying to  keep children safe. The reaction from the country is still raw. More people than ever want stricter gun control laws. Some are even making the asinine statement that teachers should have guns in the classroom.

In 2009, when a psychiatrist at Fort Hood in Texas opened fire on a military base he managed to kill thirteen people during a mass shooting.  It wasn't the military, who had all the guns needed to fight in war that took the shooter down, it was a local policewoman. If a shooting at the most populous military base in this country could not stop a shooter, then why would anyone think a teacher could do it? How many teachers would feel the need to arm their classroom when all they really want is just a safe environment in which to teach? The fact are clear - if have a gun for protection, you better be damn ready to use it or it will be used on you.

You cannot fix everybody. Some people are just broken. They live an invisible life to most people. We collectively look away when we should be looking at them. Dangerous people live in Everywhere, USA. There are some things that cannot be stopped. Once a psychopath decides to go on a killing spree, only then do we cry out for our Government to do something, anything, to stop this from happening again. The sad reality is that you cannot stop them, you can't read their minds, and you can't point them out in a crowd.

The Sandy Hook Elementary school did everything right that they could do to protect their children. Teachers knew what to do and so did students. The school doors were locked. There is no blame game to be played here. You can blame the shooter, but he is dead and he took the answer as to why he did it when he shot himself. His mother, with whom he resided, was his first victim. She cannot answer why.

Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. You cannot walk into a gun store and come out with one. You have to take a certified gun safety course as part of your gun permit processing. You have to have a background check done. It costs money to get a permit. That in itself is often a deterrent to people wanting a gun permit. But there is no place that can decide if you are a psychopath determined to kill as many people possible in the shortest amount of time. In a free society, you cannot have a gun dealer being the person deciding you are too mentally ill to own a gun. They are no more capable of that than you or me. While criminal records are easily available, medical records are not, nor should they be. Too much of ourselves is already planted somewhere on the internet.

This is the time to take a look at gun control laws and see what can be fixed or outlawed. I don't like guns and choose not to own them, but if the guy across the street is a deer hunter who takes responsibility for his weapons, there is no blame game there either. On the other hand, a true hunter will tell you that the type of gun used in Newtown is not a hunting weapon. It is a weapon used for one purpose only, to kill the maximum amount of people in the amount of shortest time. There is no logical reason to own a firearm like this unless you are employed by law enforcement or the military.

Don't let the conversation on gun control wane. We lose so many children every year because they are innocent victims in the wrong place at the wrong time. These children are not the casualties in Newtown, they are the casualties in our cities. It doesn't matter if it is a mass shooting or not, their lives are gone before they ever get going. We must be the voices that do not stop. We must be the voices that are louder than the opposition.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

War on Christmas? Did Congress Approve It?

There is no War on Christmas.

There never was a War on Christmas. This is something Fox News invented to rally up the low informed viewers that seem to love all the bullshit that comes out Fox News anchors everyday. Just because you read something on the internet doesn't make it true. Just because it comes out of Bill O'Reilly's mouth doesn't make it true either.

Let me tell you how Bill O'Reilly became the laughing stock of Connecticut about twenty years ago. He used to work for a local station, the same station that helped launch Mika Brzezinski's career when she was just a young, local correspondent. Most people didn't even know she was Zbigniew Brzezinski's daughter. Everyone knew who Bill O'Reilly was. He was as narcissistic then as he is now. I don't remember how a private tape recording of a very, very drunk Bill O'Reilly got into the public arena, but it did, and it was played over and over again on a local rock station. He was lamenting about a prostitute and how no one loved him. I'll go out on a limb here and say the nuts haven't fallen very far from that tree.

So, according to Bill O'Reilly, his show, the "No Spin Zone" (ha!) is the most watched news show on television. I don't watch it so I can't comment on that point. One fact I do know is Bill O'Reilly lies and makes up "stuff". The "War on Christmas" is a perfect example. Where did this so-called war start? On Bill O'Reilly's show. He tried bullying Governor Lincoln Chafee (I-RI) the other night about the State's 'Holiday tree'. I'm not sure if O'Reilly really understands that Governor Lincoln Chafee is the son of former Rhode Island Governor and Senator John Chafee, who also happened to be a decorated Korean War Veteran. This berating of Governor Chafee came one day after O'Reilly argued with an atheist that Christianity was a philosophy, not a Religion. So, following his logic I guess Judaism, Islamism, Muslimism, Mormonism, Catholicism, and I'll throw in Orgasms, are all just philosophies. So, if Christianity is a philosophy, what difference does it make if you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Why don't we celebrate Plato's birthday too?

If the people who invented "Black Friday" are any indication that 'Merry' and 'Christmas' do not belong together, that just reinforces the point there is no War on Christmas. If corporations would allow their employees to enjoy the entire National Day of Thanksgiving until at least 12:01 am the next day when the Greed of Christmas takes over, perhaps sense and sensitivity would return to shoppers who will do anything to be first in line.  This year "Black Friday" started on Thanksgiving Thursday and the people approved. Some ate their Thanksgiving turkey at 6:00 am Thanksgiving day just to get out and shop.They did not act like there was a 'War on Christmas"; they acted like they were the War. All the while, Bill O'Reilly and the crew of blonds and nitwits from Fox News sit on the sidelines fanning the fire with pictures of Barack Obama, because everyone knows, everything is his fault.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Why can't we just along with each other?  If an Jewish man, a Muslim man, and a Christian man all stood with their toes in the shallow part of a lake, took their clothes off, and stood there, all they would be is three naked men. No more, no less. If a naked atheist was in the deep water drowning, they would do their best to save him. When you are naked among the naked, you are just a naked person.

America is divided on a whole slew of issues but we are far better off than some of our collective human beings. We don't have bombs dropping on our head and let's face it, our wars are never on our front lawn. Our wars are in other places, not here. The next time any right winged fanatic claim there is a war on religion in this country I am going to throw up. The word "war" should not be thrown around so easily. I am also saying this as it relates to women. It is the discrimination of women that this country needs to fix, but it is not a war. There is no "war" on religion in this country, unless you count the people who believe the world is only 6,000 years old. They are the ones shouting the loudest. Saying it doesn't make it true.

You want to see a war? Take your pick from about a dozen countries currently in the state of war. Too dangerous you say? Tell that to the Americans currently fighting in Afghanistan. Since quite a few of the soldier's there were little kids when 9/11 happened they must wonder just why the fuck we are still there. Former President Bush sent our military in to hunt down the people responsible for the terrorist attack on 9/11. I think we can safely say we got them. Some are in prison (somewhere, because we all know other counties take our political prisoners because they can torture them and we keep our hands clean), and the others are dead. If we stayed in Afghanistan another twenty years, it wouldn't matter. We can't change the world. We can't change another country's culture. We cannot mold another country to be an image of our country. The only thing we can do is act with kindness towards each other and teach each other tolerance.The rest is up to them.

I can't help but wonder what would happen if every warring country put their guns down for one day. One twenty four hour period where no one shoots at each other, no one sticks a bomb under a car, no planes fly overhead and drops bomb. What if we cross that invisible line and shake hands instead of firing bullets? What if we looked at each other and found one thing in common with our enemies? It could be the color of our eyes, the weary lines of fatigue on our faces, or the shoes on our feet.

If we cannot find one thing in common, then we take our clothes off and become naked. That's the way we all came into this world. We were born humble and needy. Our needs were met by our mothers and our humility was eroded as we grew. But it's a good start.

Put your toes in the water. Stop being so scared. Scrape up an extra ounce of courage, be brave and look at your enemy and see that he wants the same as you. Peace.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The New War in America: The War Against Stupidity

I have delved into the darker side of our country right from my dining room table. It is a shocking view of extremest beliefs, lies and conspiracy theories. It is a Facebook page.

Perhaps I was lulled into thinking the extreme right wing were just a bunch people with tea bags hanging from  their hats and often misspelled signs and flags wrapped around themselves. Fox News is tame compared to these people. Forget about all the noise of states who want to secede from our country. That's just something silly and useless. The enemy is not our government. The enemy is us.

I cannot comprehend the hate towards Muslims. They truly believe that President Obama is a Muslim and is ready to undermine the US Constitution. One person claims there are FEMA camps all over the United States and they are getting ready to come for you. Another person claims to have seen Muslims raping the late Christopher Stevens with a knife. Another claim's President Obama's wedding has secret Muslim code inscribed in it. Because I am a rational person, I have a very hard time understanding irrational people.

To be able to comment on this page I had to join. I think I upped their membership to forty six people. I don't know where the other forty people are because the conversations were basically between me and four people. I suspect one person is either their for the entertainment or he's fighting an uphill battle by stating the truth. It doesn't really matter, they are blind to the truth.

I am treated like a first grader. Every time I point out the obvious, someone comes back and says "no, that's not how it is." One person stated that if something happens to President Obama and Vice President Biden, then we will have "Killery" as President. I explained that is not what happens and went into the historical facts that led to Gerald Ford becoming President. No response. Maybe it was too difficult to understand. I have noticed many, many misspelled words.

The reason for hating all Muslims is because they are Islamic jihads. Yet, if one looks the word "Jihad" up in a thesaurus, a synonym is "evangelism". Wait a minute, isn't that supposed to be a Christian term? I mentioned that everybody does business with Muslims. I like the guys who run the 7-11 down the street. I like their family members who work there on weekends. I was told it's a ruse. They have to be polite in order to win you over. These guys won me over a long time ago because they are kind, funny and just plain nice. Many mornings when I used to stop in for a coffee on my way to work, there was an elderly man wiping up the coffee counters, making coffee and making sure the merchandise was lined up correctly. I jokingly asked one day if I could have his job when he quits. The owner told me he didn't get paid, he does it because he has nothing else to do. He did however, get all the food he needed for free. That's the American way. That's called looking out for each other. It's also called kindness. The guys at 7-11 don't want to kill me. They want me to come back more often.

About Obama's ring. Let's face it, you cannot believe everything on the internet. I was directed to an article explaining in great detail what is on Obama's ring. It was all very interesting but it was just one article on a right wing blog. I looked at it a little closer again. It was written by a Islamic Muslim. That's what he called himself. Right there on the blog. So I asked the question: Why do you site this source as credible when you obviously think every Muslim is an Islamic Muslim, the ones you hate so much? You can't have it both ways.

I guess that was the icing on the cake. I have heard nothing from this group since I asked that question. I don't need to find out if they kicked me out. I'm sure they did. I'm just sorry that I did not have the opportunity to tell them they are what's wrong in this country, not what's right. They are neanderthals who think we should go back to good old days but instead of going after African Americans, they can just insert the word "Muslim". Hate is not on the menu, but if you ask the chef, I'm sure he can cook it for you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Love and Longing

I am an orphan. My parents are dead. It doesn't matter if I was forty-seven when my mother died and I was fifty-three when my father died. I'm still an orphan. At least it feels that way.

My head is filled with memories. What scares me most is that I will forget them. I never told my parents thank you, you did a good job, and even though I said I would never raise my kids like they raised my brother and I, I did. My parents deserve all the credit because they created me and they instilled a moral compass even before anyone knew what a moral compass was. They let me fail, but when I started to fall down, they held me up. When I was stupid they told me I was stupid. And they always said "someday you will understand." It took me a long time to figure that out, but one day I looked at myself in the mirror, my eyes puffy and red from crying about one of my kids. The face in the mirror said "do you understand now?" and I nodded yes.

I have always told my kids that the hardest thing in the world to do is be a parent. It is harder than marriage, harder than losing a job, harder than almost anything I can think of. I have passed on the secret message of "someday you will understand" to the mothers of my grandchildren.

It's almost Thanksgiving time. I spent last Thanksgiving with my father. He won't be here this year. It will be hard. It was difficult in the years after my mother died, but I always had Dad. He didn't give me any secret message before he died. There were no words of wisdom, no words of how outstanding his life had been, but the last time we spoke before he died he said "I love you." Those were the last words he ever said to me.
There was no secret message because that was the message. It's nice to hear people say "I love you." That's all anybody really wants to hear. But when you become an orphan, like me, you treasure those words. They are yours and you do not share them. Not in the same way.

Maybe next year I'll let go of feeling like an orphan. Maybe it will take me longer. Love and Longing are strange companions. They pop up when you least expect them. I am a pretty private person. I share with only a few people. But Love and Longing I hide. If I start crying in the grocery store, I don't care. If I start crying reading greeting cards in CVS, I don't care. No one knows me. No one cares. The best place in the world to let Love and Longing out is in the car. I make believe I have a wireless devise and someone somewhere is talking to me. No one is. I can cry. I can sob. I can throw things around and hurt no one. And when I'm done, I put Love and Longing back inside and become 'normal'.

If I happen to lose one of my unsuitable companions somewhere else, then I'll know I am doing better. You see, it doesn't matter how old you are, when you lose someone close, it hurts. It hurts for a long time. The world goes on but you see it differently. You become aware of your own mortality. You get angry and sad and hurt, all at the same time. You may have a meltdown, but that's ok. Your head tells you one thing but your heart says something else. Love and Longing are born in these hearts. The best you can do is adjust. The second best thing is to keep Love safe and get rid of Longing. Love lifts you up, Longing holds you down. You don't have to let go of anything, no matter what other people say. It's your loss, your grief, your heart. And remember this: someday you will understand.