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.

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)

Throwing a Flag on Domestic Violence and the NFL

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Here’s a piece I wrote for The Well Written Woman concerning the neglect of a huge sports organization when its players decide to hurt other human beings. Is this just a witch hunt against the NFL as some have said, or has breeding violent men become a cottage industry? Give me your thoughts.

Scars and Shame: The Aftermath of Domestic Violence

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Sometimes, these great ladies over at #thewellwrittenwoman publish stuff I write. This week, I write about my personal experience with domestic violence. Later this week I’ll take on the #rayrice #nfl issue. In the meantime check out my most recent piece concerning domestic violence.

Raising Nonviolent Sons

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Almost always, what I see of society leaves me with more questions than answers. Not unlike most other experiences, I was left with questions after observing an exchange between parents and a son whilst doing some shopping. It was a simple conversation between the three that made me think about why our society might be so violent. It went something like this:

Son: I can’t believe that boy thought he could hit me like that.

Father: You hit him back, right?

Mother: I hope you don’t get in trouble at school because…..

Father: That damn school better not say a word to him for hitting that kid. He had it coming when he acted like he was going to hit my son. It’s not like I raised some pussy. My boy defends himself.

Son: Yeah. I’m tougher than that kid.

Mother: Did he actually hit you?

Son: Nope. I never gave him the chance.

Father: That’s my boy.

I’m not sure I can unpack everything about this conversation that bothers me—there’s just so much wrong. The most disturbing to me was that even though the child had not been assaulted, he found it necessary to strike with violence anyway. According to the words of his father, he’d apparently been taught that the only way to be a man is to be the toughest, the most willing to raise your hands to another, the first to strike, and the one who will use violence in all circumstances.

Neither parent asked him why the other child was upset, or about their own child’s role in the altercation. The mother does begin to question, but the father is too busy applauding his son to really get to the root of the issue. Dad doesn’t care about conflict resolution. He only cares that his son wasn’t a “pussy” (another bothersome thing for another article).

This is how we teach boys to behave, and if they don’t we call them names and make fun of them. Then, we expect them to be nonviolent in school? It’s counterintuitive to tell our sons to raise their fists whilst expecting them to know how to peacefully resolve conflict. We tell them to never lose, to never let someone have the upper hand, yet we expect them to respect other humans. We teach our sons to be supreme narcissists who only care that they are the top dog, yet expect them to treat others with respect. It’s the real paradox of raising sons in American culture. Be strong. Be a winner. Fight. Don’t be a “girl”. But don’t hit women, don’t fight in school, and respect other people. It’s no wonder our sons are so torn and confused.

I think the one thing we need to tell our sons is that more often than not, the true measure of a man is not who is quick to raise his fists for fear of being made fun of, but he who knows it is most often best to walk away no matter who might laugh. If we keep teaching our sons to be violent, folks, we can expect to continue living in a violent society.