The Good Guy

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He’s going to be the greatest guy…until he isn’t.

Your friends will love the way he makes you laugh…until he won’t allow you to be their friend anymore.

They’ll think it’s just you being in love. So, they don’t think much of it.

Your family will adore the way he holds you close…until they see the look on your face.

They’ll believe the lie you tell them… again. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I’m really happy. So, they don’t think much of it.

Your neighbors will think he’s the greatest guy, always working on things around the house… until they hear the shouts and cries late one night.

They’ll believe it was just a lover’s quarrel, and no one really wants to get involved anyway. So, they don’t think much of it.

On first glance, no one would believe the guy who carries the conversation like him, always offers a helping hand, talks about protecting you, and generally looks like a normal, clean cut guy would be who he is.

But when the shadows fall and you’re all alone,

You’ll believe the words he says when he tells you if you could just be trusted he’d give your debit card.

You’ll just know he’s right when he says it’s your fault he can’t trust you.

You’ll absolutely believe he just gets so angry because he loves you.

As you dry your tears, he’ll comfort you with a quiet

I’m sorry I had to yell like that

You just make me crazy when other men look at you

I love you too much to not make sure you love me too.

I wish you’d remember when I tell you not to say certain things.

I wish you’d just put dinner on when it’s time.

I wish you’d not hide things from me.

Then, while you’re driving to work careful not to make an extra turn, in your mind you hope,

Today is finally the time he’ll believe you

Today is the last time you have to send him pictures of where you are, show him receipts, and let him check your phone

Today will be the last time he writes down the mileage on your car.

And it could be

Because today could be the day he finally snaps.

Today could be the day his “love” makes him tighten the grip around your neck a little too much, a little too long.

Today could be the day he finally pulls the trigger.

But you don’t leave because no one will ever believe a guy like him in the daylight, a guy who wears a suit and washes his car twice a week, could be the monster he becomes in the dark when no one is looking.

Who would you tell anyway?

Emotional abuse isn’t a crime

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, there is help. Please call -1-800-799-7233. Please know computers and cell phones can be easily monitored and never wiped completely clean. Call the number. Get help now. If you witness abuse, don’t dismiss it. Victims will often make excuses for their abusers, especially when confronted in front of them. EMOTIONAL ABUSE IS ABUSE, TOO! Just because there are no bruises or police reports doesn’t mean there is no abuse. Get Help Before It’s Too Late. Over 10 million people are the victims of domestic violence each year in the US alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

A Quick Religious Comparison: We’re Not So Different

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Remember when we were all kids who fought over whose mom made the best cookies, whose uncle belched the loudest, or whose dad was actually a super man? As we grew, we learned those petty points of contention were never going to be solved; everyone’s own mom, dad, or uncle were the best, at least by their own perception. It’s also likely they were probably all quite similar, just as many of the things we fight about as adults. Unfortunately, we no longer work out our angst with do-overs on the ballfield to prove who’s the best. Instead, we wage literal war against one another not only with words, but also real military weapons, fighting over whose god is best, or who is the most righteous.

While these deadly battles play out in villages and towns torn to shreds while children look on, the looming question is: what does any of this matter? Just like everyone’s dad was a superhero in his own right, each religion has their own important figure who is probably wonderful. Moreover, just like all the dads were similar in that they held similar positions: worker, father, provider, protector, each religion is strikingly similar.

Admittedly, this comparison leaves out a great many religions. It will not cover eastern or pagan religions. It completely excludes atheists and agnostics. The focus here is on the big three: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Why? The answer is pretty simple. We don’t see many wars fought over Buddha, nor do many Wiccans commit terrorists attacks in the name of a sacred crystal. That statement is only recognizing fact. It’s not meant to say any religion is superior.

Having an attitude of moral and spiritual superiority is what causes us to fight in the first place, so let’s put that aside to investigate how three religions are similar rather than constantly pointing out why one is right or wrong.

I’ve included a nifty Venn diagram I found on the net to help compare some of the bigger components. It’s not my own, but I think it’s fairly accurate. I also think we can add to it.

religion

As we can see, great parts of the beliefs are the same. Only a very few are different. There are some other similarities we can add:

Head coverings—
All three religions include some component of females covering their heads. Catholic nuns wear the habit, which includes a white coif. Married Orthodox Jewish women wear the tichel, or mitpachat. Lastly, Muslim women wear hijabs.
We tend to micro-focus on Islamic religions requiring head coverings for women, but as we can see, they are not the only ones. Furthermore, none of them feel oppressed when they wear them. It’s simply a part of their religious tradition.
We should also recognize it is not only women who cover their heads. Although the traditions vary and may not necessarily be religiously required, Muslim men may wear a prayer cap called the taqiyahs. Jewish men wear the kippah. Although men in Christian religions do not normally cover their heads, Roman Catholic cardinals regularly wear head coverings called the zucchetto and the biretta.

Beards—
Another common denominator betwixt the three is beards. No matter Jewish, Islamic, or Christian, beards can be required. Because of the media, we are more familiar with the Muslim beard, but the Old Order Amish also require beards, as do Orthodox Jews.

Modest Dress For Women-
While it seems Muslim women are the focus of many discussion concerning their modest form of dress, all three religions may require women to be covered and dressed in a modest fashion. This may include sleeves to cover elbows and dresses long enough to cover knees in the Orthodox Jewish and many Christian religions. It could also be a complete covering from shoulders to ankles in the Muslim and other religions. Regardless, the Islamic religion is not the only one to require women to cover themselves, especially if they are married.

• Raising Devout Children
Although we often hear words like “brainwashing” used to describe the way children are raised in the Muslim community, all three religions begin teaching children from birth, specifically when they are old enough to attend school, in the ways of their respective churches. The Catholic Church, in fact, provided all the education and educational materials for most of Europe until secularism gained popularity during the late 19th and early 20th century. While secular teaching was used as early as the late 17th century and was the subject of many philosophers like Locke and Voltaire, church-led education was still the standard until well past the Enlightenment. Yet today, if one so chooses, they might send their child to a Christian or Hebrew school. Muslims do not own the market on educating children in religion.

• Conflict—
There has been no shortage of conflict between the three religions. From the earliest crusades to now, the three have had obstacles between them. The Jewish and Christian communities do not have the long-lasting war we see between the Muslim and Jewish communities, but we cannot overlook the fact Hitler used religion against the Jewish community during the genocide he and others committed in WWII.

To say we have all been peaceful in our religious practice would be what we might now call an “alternative fact.” However, I’ve only listed a short amount of similarities here, omitting the similarities between these and other religions not listed. Why we continue this battle between whose religion is best astounds me. We’re all great in our own ways. We all have downsides. Most importantly, we’re all humans trying to attain the same thing.

It shouldn’t matter what word we assign for “God”. It shouldn’t matter on what day we worship. It shouldn’t matter what book we read the message from. All that should matter is if we would all stop killing each other, we might actually be living the way all three texts expect us to. If we all quit fearing one another, maybe we can see we’re more alike than we ever imagined.

( Since this is not meant as a scholarly paper for publication, I did not cite the information in this piece. All the data and facts are easily searchable, and most is basic common knowledge, anyway. The source of the diagram is watermarked inside the graphic.Thank you for reading. I’ll include a couple links in case you’d like to fact check me.
The history of secular education: http://science.jrank.org/pages/11240/Secularization-Secularism-History-Nature-Secularization-Secularism-1914.html
Islamic Male headcovering:https://www.reference.com/world-view/muslim-men-wear-heads-1cdc44449fd15f2f
Traditional clothing for Orthodox Jewish women:http://www.orthodox-jews.com/jewish-clothing-for-women.html#axzz4XS3f9gRB
)

A Cycle of Abuse:Understanding Why Women Might Vote for Trump

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If there’s one thing I know, it’s the mindset of the abused woman: how we get there, why we stay there. I was an abused woman; it’s not just observation that gives me this insight. So, when I read this New York Times article about why women chose to vote for President elect Donald Trump, I heard the voices of so many women, myself included, who have excused an abuser’s bad behavior. Many of the reasons some of these women cite could come straight from an abused girlfriend’s or wife’s memoir.

One woman, Kasia Riddle, used the “good earner” excuse, stating the PEOTUS has “good business sense”. Pam Cornett said the words many abused women say when confronted by loved ones about their abusive significant other, telling others they shouldn’t categorize him: You “can’t put him in a box.” There were other varying reasons, but two were particularly bothersome and telling. Guzin Karide says she believes Trump is “a voice for women,” while Sandy Pearson is quoted as saying Trump is a “good man, deep down.” Pearson, from whom the headline of the article is taken, suggests her choice was easy when she would overlook the bad and “focus on the good.”

Women have been conditioned to “focus on the good” for centuries. We are taught from infancy to speak only kind words and to never mention someone’s negative attributes, no matter how bad they might be. Ladylike decorum trumps being truthful, pun not intended, but fitting. We’re even told to smile through pain and difficult situations; our menfolk don’t like to be uncomfortable due to our disapproving facial expressions. We’ve also been taught we don’t have a valid voice in the world. As Karide’s statement suggests, we need someone to be our voice—someone besides a female, someone who the world takes seriously: a man.

Despite our struggle to escape this unfortunate truth, the word of a man, even an abusive man, is worth far more to the world than the supposedly overly emotional, indecisive, misguided, shiftless voice of a woman, regardless of her level of experience or expertise. Thus the reason women for centuries have married men who mistreated them, stayed with their abusers, and focused on men’s “good” qualities instead of giving them the boot. After all, both men and women describe females who choose to be single as “damaged” and “faulty,” or even as “rabid feminists” not to be taken seriously. We don’t even trust other women, let alone expect men to see us in a different light.

Understanding the fact women still rely on men who leave them battered and broken emotionally, financially, and physically makes understanding why some women can look to Trump, and his plethora of male-centric supporters, as the “voice of women,” the man who will “Make American Great Again,” the “good man, deep down” who, regardless of his repulsive rhetoric and actions, will lead us into a financially and socially secure place as a nation. Men have inculcated women to not only ignore, but deny abusive actions and words in order to protect the patriarchy and its power. Escaping this harsh truth is difficult at best.

American women who speak out about their decision to vote for Trump are reminiscent of the hundreds of women I’ve spoken with who try to excuse their abusers.

He only wants what’s best for me. It’s my fault he has to be so harsh.”
“He’s not that bad once you get to know him.”
“He really loves me. He just sounds mean.”
“He didn’t really lie. He just didn’t tell me the whole truth because he knew I’d overreact. ”
“He’s better than someone else who might abuse me worse.”

I’ve heard the stories over and again—different voices, same plot. Women who’ve decided to vote for Trump are largely the same. Just as we shouldn’t judge a woman whose significant other punches them in the face, we shouldn’t judge the women who choose to support Trump. Instead, this should open a new dialogue. Maybe if we changed the way we taught women to respect men and excuse their abuse, these supporters would have viewed our President Elect through different eyes. Maybe if we taught women not to accept misogyny,they wouldn’t accept it from the man who will be in a position of power strong enough to diminish all we’ve fought to achieve.

Addiction Culture: Private Prisons & Creating the Addict

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Today I read a disappointing clip in the local paper’s list of arrests reporting a person I remember from school being arrested for heroin. In another section was a huge write up about a local drug bust. Most everyone denounces the former person while applauding the latter, and I suppose there’s some reason, but before we clap too loudly about the sweeping drug arrests, let’s get real.

Living in reality, we must realize the fact that we can arrest a million drug dealers, but it solves nothing. We can lock them away, throwing away the key along with their freedoms, but it doesn’t matter. So long as there is demand you can just know for certain there will be a supply. The war on drugs is, and always was, a façade. It is impossible to implement and win simply because we aren’t addressing the real issue of addiction.

Our country has a drug problem, don’t get me wrong, but it’s more of a people problem. We need to figure out how to help addicts fix their lives so there is no more demand—and jail isn’t the answer. All jailing addicts does is feed an ever growing privatized jail and prison system with an insatiable greed that will only be whetted with more inmates.  Making our system of incarceration profitable made justice in its truest sense impossible. These people rarely get a fair shake, and nearly never have the opportunity to address their addiction issues that are generally wrapped up in comorbidity. They’re these huge multifaceted problems so interlaced only dealing with one cures nothing. Meanwhile, suppliers look at addicts as the customers who keep their pseudo-pharmacies alive. This doesn’t even address the addiction culture we create by medicating young children. Yet, here we are locking people away, creating felons who have difficulties securing employment and housing post incarceration, and will probably reoffend because they can’t deal with their addictions.

No. This country doesn’t need more jails and prisons—especially not private, for-profit institutions. We don’t need to hate and blame addicts for our ills. Our country needs to decide why we hate each other and our own lives so much. We need to realize that of the 355 mass shootings this year, only 4 were committed by those who had a blood feud against Americans. The rest were by Americans who hated other Americans—domestic terrorism. What we need to address is a need to understand why we hate each other so much. We need to know why we hate life so much we’d rather self-medicate than enjoy each day. Maybe it’s the disease of capitalistic greed creeping into our brains. Maybe it’s the fact we’re overworked and underpaid. Maybe it’s income disparity. Or, just maybe, it’s the fact we never deal with problems as they come, but instead blame everyone but ourselves. No matter, criminalizing addiction is like blaming the smoker for his cancer. Yes, in part, it was a choice, but it’s still a disease in need of a cure nonetheless.

 

(Image Source: http://www.freeenterprisewarriors.com/free-warrior-blog/jims-blog/dealingwithaddiction/)

4th of July: Independence for All, Not Only Some

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As the 4th of July nears, here is a thought to ponder:

If you do not support equal rights and opportunities for everyone—even those who are vastly different from yourself, you’ve completely missed the point about what it really means to be American.

The United States is not homogenous, albeit some hate mongers would have it that way.  The US is made up of many ethnicities and cultures—so many I can’t list them all here. We are one country made up of every nationality, culture, and ethnicity under the sun, yet we are not a “melting pot’. That term was never correct.

Cultures did not necessarily melt together to become one here. Instead, we live side by side, complementing each other. That’s something special. It’s something to be proud of, really, that so many different people can live peacefully together to form a nation, not just a country. Unfortunately, some would like to keep us from having this wonderful community of people.

There are those who would block equal rights and opportunity, promote hate with archaic, unnecessary symbols, and deny religious freedoms. There are those who only protect the rights of those who fit their own molds. That, folks, isn’t “American”.  It can’t be. Because while the colonies were originally formed to break away from England, specifically the Church of England, and to form a Puritan society, that endeavor was short lived. New people came to the colonies. We expanded and moved beyond Puritanical life. We are not those people who came here, appropriated land, and massacred millions of innocent people in order to have a “pure” society. That is not us, or at least I hope not.

I would like to think we have evolved into people who can recognize the value of people different from ourselves. In 2015, we should be able to see that our own beliefs do not trump those convictions of others; they’re certainly different at times, but not “better”. We should recognize by now that there are many paths in life, not just one, and we can celebrate the cultural practices of all who live here. We can also support people who look different, have different lifestyles from ourselves, who carry different religious convictions, or who identify sexually in a way we do not. We should be able to do these things, but we don’t.

We don’t because we’re still too preoccupied with creating enemies—“the others”. We still believe it is our job to “save souls” in some invented theocracy we have never been.  We still haven’t let go of the past enough to move forward.

If we don’t want to keep repeating the past—a past filled with hatred and atrocity, then we have to recognize our need to progress. We must not remain those people set out to make our society “pure”. No society is pure. Ours, made up from so many different people, surely is not. When we admit our faults, confess the atrocities of the past, celebrate our diversity, and give everyone the independence–the autonomy and freedom— we claim to represent,  then and only then will we be what we often mistakenly call ourselves: a Nation.

Graphic Racism: Why We Say BLACK LIVES MATTER

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I guess one might say I’m a little tired of having this circular argument with people who will not accept that racism plays an integral part in what has happened to Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner. Paired with police brutality, we have major problems in our system that have been brought to light. I don’t want to debate innocence or guilt of those victims, because that is not clear. In fact, it’s not only not clear, but barely relevant given the fact none of their alleged crimes carry a death penalty sentence.  What I do want to point out is this:

During the 1960s, Charles Manson led a group of people know as the Manson Family on a crime spree, culminating with the brutal murders of several innocent people in order to spark a race war so that Manson could, effectively, take over the world. When he was captured by police, he was not only kept alive, but protected so he could stand trial for his heinous crimes that shook not only California, but the entire United States.

Ted Bundy kidnapped, raped, tortured, and murdered at least 30 women across the US, and participated in mutilation and necrophilia during the 1970s. Even after his escape and murder of a young girl in Florida, Bundy was taken back to prison and kept in protective custody. He received a fair trial, and was allowed to gain publicity by helping solve the Green River Murders. This man, who committed atrocities against more women than we may ever know, was more often described as “charismatic” than monstrous.

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK. It was an act of domestic terrorism against the US Government. 168 people died, and countless more were injured. McVeigh was held in custody, received a fair trial, and was not assaulted in any way by law enforcement officers.

I can continue to list names and cases of white individuals who killed, maimed, and committed crimes far more heinous than petty theft, carrying a toy gun, or selling bootleg tobacco. Jeffery Dahmer lured young men into his apartment, drugged, murdered, and ate them. I repeat-ATE THEM, yet police let him live to face trial. We must question then, why men like Michael Brown are described as “demons” and murdered in the street, while men like Dahmer are treated with respect?

And I know, sometimes police pull guns on white people. It’s happened to myself and my son at a sobriety checkpoint when the officers thought a piece of a cellophane wrapper from a CD in my back floorboard was drugs. Point is, no one thought my 6’2” son looked like a “demon”. We were not shot, roughed up, or even talked to impolitely. They were new, green, and overzealous, but we lived to tell the tale. The three men in the bottom portion of the graphic above were not. They were not treated with the same dignity afforded to serial killers and terrorists. That speaks legions.

So, deny racial bias all you want—looking straight at you white folks! It’s your white privilege that allows you to do so. If you thought you or your child could essentially be lynched in the streets, you might think differently.  And that is why we are standing in the streets screaming BLACK LIVES MATTER. All lives matter, but as you can see, some lives are given more importance than others, and that needs to end.

For all of you fixated on “riots” and “looting,” you need to remember that is what the media allows you to see. They are worried about sensationalism and big ratings, not truth. Those aren’t all Black faces out there. Most of the protests are peaceful. If all you believe is what you see on your television–if you believe the only truth is what the media is feeding you, then you need to wake up and smell the bullshit. You’re being lied to. Search for what’s real. Stand up for justice. End the atrocity.
#ICantBreathe #BlackLivesMatter #EqualityandJusticeForAll

Ferguson Decision: White Privilege and Injustice

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Most of the day, I gritted my teeth. My jaws were clenched from the moment I heard there was a verdict. Somehow, I just knew this wouldn’t end well. Not that it should be a surprise. I mean, I never expected justice. Hoped for it, yes, but I was never optimistic.

Why the pessimism? I owe that strictly to my awareness of my glaring white privilege.

Privilege never leaves my side. Every time one of my sons walks out my door, I am aware of how lucky I am to be born lacking a great deal of melanin. That’s not a choice I made. It certainly doesn’t make me superior. It’s just dumb luck. Regardless, I can say goodbye to my sons without worrying that some cop will harass them needlessly. I don’t worry they’ll be shot in the street, their bodies left for the world to ogle. For even if harm comes to one of my sons, I can be assured that justice will be served. You see, they’re white, too. Mind you, I don’t feel guilt for the color of my skin, but I know, as do my sons, that random science ensured them a life sans racial prejudice.

Of course, I’ve been aware of my white privilege ever since I read Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This speech, as well as who Dr. King is, was never taught to me in school. We never celebrated MLK Day. My teachers never so much as whispered the name of this glorious gift to humanity. Imagine my surprise when I was older and found out what went on during the Civil Rights Movement.

When I read King’s speech, I cried. His words were so powerful, so touching. The hope he carried for humanity was so great, so fair, and so inclusive. Dr. King excluded no one from his Dream. He wished for us all to be “brothers and sisters”. This is something the small-minded, patriarchal, white men who led my parochial school wished I would never know, I’m sure. I was just a simple girl who, without doubt, they expected would marry another white patriarchal male, and carry out my wifely duties, letting my husband retain power. Never did they think someone like me would break the cycle, and call their system of white privilege and power into question. Now, I’m no more than a threat to them. I am a “sorry excuse for a white woman,” as I was told today.

That’s fine. If standing up for justice and equality throws me outside the realm of what they consider “good,” I’ll take it. I’ll stand right over here doing what I know in my heart is right. I’ll let the tears flow as I empathize with the pain of so many who have had to fight for every ounce of freedom they have. I will walk beside them hand in hand, just as Dr. King would have wanted. In fact, thinking back on his speech today, I’m saddened. This peaceful man wanted for us to sit at the table together as equals. He never asked to be lifted into superiority. Just equal.

Remembering back to the first time I read the “Dream” speech, no one had to tell me I was privileged. The language of Dr. King spelled that out for me.

You see, the words flooded my mind with visions of suffering and hope for a better tomorrow. I knew this was not something I had ever experienced. I never had to march to be able to sit in a restaurant along with people of other ethnicities. No one forced me into the back of a bus. My relatives were never lynched. Without being told, I knew there was a system built to protect me, even as a woman, that didn’t include people of color. This bothers me. It bothers me because not just a farm, or a city, or even a state was built on the backs of people of color—our entire country was built on the backs of slaves, and expanded from lands stolen from Native people. Nothing in this country belongs to the WASPs who continue to hold the most positions of power, and who continue to perpetuate hate. There was no seat at the table for people of color. Dr. King asked us to build a new table to include everyone, but yet in 2014, his Dream is still not realized.

We continue to live in a society where one white man can be the judge, jury, and executioner for a young man whose only crime was stealing a cigar. It may as well be 1814.

All I can do tonight is hang my head in shame at the hatred and injustice. I, too, wish for the day when I can rejoice with people I consider my brothers and sisters—who biologically are my brothers and sisters. In case you didn’t know, we all come from one shared ancestor. We are all one people by design. The only thing separating us is greed and hatred.

Tonight, I pray for peace. The family of Michael Brown has asked us all to help them rally to legislate that all police officers wear body cameras so tragedies like this might be avoided. The ACLU and SPLC are calling for peace. Let’s do our part. Join hands. March On. Overcome.

(Image source: http://www.koco.com/national/at-ferguson-church-faith-calms-fears/29894368)