Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Come, Follow Me

I'm stunned that the so-called Westboro Baptist "church", professing to be Christian,  has issued official 'hate' statements through its founder regarding the deadly massacre last weekend in Tucson.

They plan to picket the funerals of the 9-year old innocent girl who was killed, "because the family is Catholic".

The church founder posted a video in which he said, "Thank God for the violent shooter, one of your soldier heroes in Tucson. However many are dead, Westboro Baptist church will picket their funerals. We remind the living you can still repent and obey."

I'm stunned. Literally was in tears when I read this. It gave me creepy chills. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, what a cruel thing to do, what a hateful, superior attitude. How non-Christian can you be? Not much more than this group.

When Jesus said, "Come, follow me...", the Westboro path of hatred was not on the map. And it never will be.

Come, follow me. Such a simple request. Humble, simple, pure, quiet, embracing, inclusive, loving.

Everything the Westboro group is not.

I don't hate these misguided people.

But my heart aches because of their hate.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Target Practice

"The world will end soon, because Heavenly Father won't put up with the evil abuse to his innocent children much longer." These were the words of my friend, Carolyn Fenn, probably two decades ago. And we're still here, and children are still being hurt.

She's right, our days are numbered, but we could have one or thousands of years ahead of us, and free agency is still around, bringing with it pain and sorrow for the choices made by those who don't care about anything or anyone but themselves.

I am thinking of yesterday's massacre in Tucson, AZ, at an event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (shot and in critical condition, and the assumed primary target of the gunman)which took the lives of many, including a 9-year old girl. An innocent 9-year old girl, a student body officer recently elected at her elementary school. A daughter. A sister. A granddaughter. A friend. A little girl. An innocent.

Born on 9-11, Christina Taylor Green "came in on a tragedy and now she's gone out on a tragedy," said her father, John Green.

And there were others, 20 or so hurt or killed in this tragic incident. My heart goes out to all of the families who were hurt or have lost someone, but today I am focusing on an innocent 9-year old girl.

I love to shoot a revolver. One of my favorite things is to head to the shooting range for target practice. I have a gun. It's in a safe place in my home. I don't carry it with me, although I'm beginning to think I should.

But this is not about guns.

Yes, political targets were illustrated on US maps in last year's elections with gun sights and bull's eyes to identify their locations.

But this is not about Sarah Palin or the tea party.

To label either as responsible for this horrendous incident is like labeling all Muslims as terrorists. Or all Mormons as polygamists.  Or all liberals as abortionists. Or all conservatives as war hawks or millionaires.

This is about an innocent 9-year old girl. Shot and killed in the open public spaces of Tucson, Arizona.

It's not about maps. Or guns. Or political parties.

It's easy to point fingers, but that's child's play. It's time to be adults.

We need to stop the madness. Our madness.

This country will not fall at the hands of another, if it falls it will be of our own doing. Neighbor against neighbor. Brother against brother.

We can no longer place blame elsewhere. The ugly, damaging fighting within our country, between parties, is not something we can afford to ignore any longer.

It's time to get back to common sense, even when no sense can be made of this terrible tragedy. We need to remember that we are all on the same team, even if we look at things from different points of view.

We need to elevate the position of every individual, every person, every human being, in the minds of our youth, and in our own minds. We need to value life and teach that same value to the younger generations.

We need to respect the opinions of others, even when they don't align with ours. That's what the United States of America is all about. 

We need to teach our youth to value themselves, teach them that they are important. And we need to treat them as persons of great worth.

We need to teach and remind our children how to manage their anger, how to treat others. We need to teach them how to walk away. We need to teach them how to succeed in this life, but just as important, we need to let them fail when they are little and then teach them how to jump up and try again.

We need to set better examples, not just in our own families, but to those around us. We need more humility.

We need to pay closer attention to those who seem "different".We need to be aware,  and act on promptings or hunches, not pretend they do not exist.  We need to watch for warning signals.

And we need to care about others and be aware of their lives. We need to pay attention.

We need to be careful about the imagery we invoke through our creative marketing efforts.

We need to choose our words carefully.

Maybe we do need to pack. Maybe not.

We need to think about gun safety and availability. We have rights, but we also need common sense.

But in this terrible incident, there will be no sense. There can't be.

It's about a 9-year old girl. And her family. And all of the families affected by this tragedy.

Families who will never have dinner together again, because someone is missing. As Christina's father said, "We were four people and, now we're three."

We need to have dinner as families.

We have to stop the killing of innocent people. Of innocent children.

Soon our children will not feel safe outside of their homes. And this is our own doing. We can't blame the Muslims for this one.

This tragedy is about a 9-year old girl, and about our nation and whether we will divide amongst ourselves or unite for truth and freedom.

Yes, this tragedy was a random act of violence, a crazed man with a gun, but somewhere, sometime, maybe there was a moment when someone looked the other way, or didn't care, or lost interest. Somewhere, sometime, maybe something was missed that could have prevented this loss of lives. Maybe not. But I would rather err on the side of doing more, than doing less.

Maybe the world is going to end soon, maybe not. If my friend's observation of so long ago is based in truth, I don't know how He's held out this long. I know I couldn't. Too many innocent children are being hurt through abuse, war, slavery, and incidents like the Tucson massacre.

Innocent children. Probably with more common sense then many adults have.

We need to listen more. We need to love more. We need to be more childlike, not childish. Teachable. Eager to contribute. Happy, like Christina Taylor Green, who often would say to her mother, Roxanne Green, "We are so blessed. We have the best life." And we need to get past the sorrow and anger of today, and work for a more unified tomorrow.

We need to use common sense. And keep target practice on the range.

May they rest in peace. And may their families find peace.

And may we all find peace in this chaotic world.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Country Strong

As sad as Country Strong was, there is something about country music that lifts my spirits - broken trucks, cheating lovers, drunken nights and missing dogs excepted.

When I hear country music, I smile. My toes tap. I want to dance. To laugh. To be with friends.

John Denver said it long ago, "Country roads, take me home, to the place, I belong.....", maybe not to West Virginia, but to home. Wherever that is.

I recently had a revelation. I realized something: on Facebook I cannot list a hometown. It has dawned on me that I don't have one.

If home is where the heart is, I suppose I'm "home" whenever I'm with my kids. But those are their homes, not mine.

I suppose I could list Lake Arrowhead. Or I could list Roslyn. Or Utah.  I could list Albuquerque. I could list DC or Virginia. But none of them are really home. Not yet. Not any more. So I'm leaving FB blank, for now.

I have no place I call home. Or maybe I have many homes.

I think there's a country song here somewhere.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Last November, I Purchased Gas for My Car

This is a true statement. The last time I purchased gas for my little Honda Accord was in November 2010. Today I filled the tank (to the tune of $45). Today. January 6, 2011. Wooohooo.

Now, granted, I was out of the country for 20 days of the seven weeks, but that leaves a month of driving on one tank of gas. I may hate traffic, I may not be wild about DC, but my commute is not something I can really whine about. I have the best of both worlds. DC and a three-mile commute. With rare exception, I can be in my office chair in 20 minutes, door-to-door. This includes parking in the parking garage and walking to my office 2 blocks away.

But today was a rare exception. It took a little over 45 minutes to drive a little less than three miles this morning, beginning with a crazy situation in my parking lot and ending with a nearly full parking garage by my office.

As my son-in-law has pointed out on Facebook, I don't waste even a minute of travel time. I make more phone calls on the road than anywhere else. In fact, that's pretty much the only place I talk on the phone. (It's not something I've ever really enjoyed).  It drives me nuts to sit down and talk on the phone when I'm at home. But driving, bring it on. I'm hands-free. I'm legal. And I'm happy to talk on the phone.

So, from gas to phone calls, my commute is a positive part of my life. I avoid the traffic, I work from home to balance the time I'm not in the office, and I listen to country western radio. Not a bad start to the day. Certainly better for me than riding the metro with a crowd of somewhat miserable-looking commuters (I can't say that they are really miserable, or not; they just look it).  Some people prefer the metro, kudos to them! It's just not for me.

I'm still getting used to DC, but that's the point. I'm getting used to it. Doubt me? Gimme a call.

And as long as I have gas and my cell phone, we can talk.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Love, Life, Liberty

Today was a day of reflection. After 21 days in South America, more than half spent working (but always having fun, cuz that's my style), it's time for me to regroup.

As always, the topics that come to mind are Faith, Friends, Family, Finances, Fysical Health :), and Fun, or maybe it's easier to just say Love, Life, Liberty. You may think I'm simplifying with the L's, over the F's, but I'm really not.

Love. It's all about relationships. And honor. Relationships with god, with friends, with family, with colleagues, with yourself. It has to be reciprocal, it has to be respectful, it has to be honest. Relationships can't be forced or pretend. And they must be honored.

Life. It's everything. Simply everything. Choices that make life better, or worse, involve everything and everyone: people, things, places, actions, thoughts. Laughter is truly the best medicine when life gets you down. Life is not a rehearsal. It's a one-time shot. So live, take chances. Learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.

Liberty. It's about freedom. From guilt, from debt, from disloyalty, from dishonesty, from poor health, from boredom. A safe haven for life. A way of living. The only way to live, actually. Free. Aware of your limitations and respectful of them, but free to live and love. Free, that is,  to live with respect for others. Free to live with honor in your deeds. Liberty. Freedom. A cause worth fighting for. A way of life worth living.

I know who I am. It's taken more than 3 decades to figure it out. I suppose I could continue to be hard on myself for taking so long to "grow up" (I've certainly beat myself up over and over during the past twenty years), but I am choosing to celebrate the fact that I've arrived.

And I have. I'm here. I'm wide awake and smiling. No hiding, no pretending, no false hopes, no selective awareness. I've arrived. I'm here. I'm aware. I'm alive.

Life hasn't been terrible, but it certainly hasn't been what I expected. And at times it's felt like a really long haul, but I made it. I'm here and hopeful, because when one door closes, another opens. Maybe more than one.

Today I am choosing. And I've chosen love, life and liberty. And not just for me.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chile, ciao!

My last day in Santiago. My last day in South America. I'm going to miss it.

We spent Christmas in Buenos Aires and New Year's Eve in Santiago. Every day has been fun and new!

Today we are going to the Galvez home in Las Condes for lunch. Cata's family would like to meet Kurt's family, and vice versa. A few weeks ago I had dinner in their home. What wonderful friends I made in this lovely country.

I'm thinking of returning to South America for a few weeks every year - to Argentina to take some cooking classes, and to Chile for the perfect weather, and maybe to offer some cooking classes. :)

Until I'm back in DC, ciao!