Category Archives: The World at Large

The Immigrant Situation

I am by no means an expert in this area, but we have to raise our voices against the horrible conditions illegal immigrants are facing in this country.  I hardly recognize the United States anymore.  It is no longer the place of hope and dreams.  It is becoming a military state, and those in government are not working to improve conditions.  They are letting this President become a despot and semi-dictator without stepping in to stop him.

Donald Trump is a man even his wife doesn’t want to be near.  He throws away people as much as he throws away the last vestiges of the greatness that made this country the best in the world.  The laws and rules of society, the manners of decency and goodness, don’t seem part of his constitutional make-up. Our representative leadership is not doing their jobs and not acting in their constituents best interests.  Sadly, we can no longer lay claim to being the greatest country in the world, and each day seems to bring us further down into the trenches.

One of the greatest issues facing this administration and the peoples of this country is that of immigration.  Illegal Immigrants face hardship and trauma.  My own grandmother was an illegal alien.  She lived under the fist of an abusive man who threatened to turn her in and take away her children if she didn’t behave as he dictated.  She lost her life because of him. She didn’t have a legal leg to stand on. She lived in fear.

Illegal aliens always live under a blanket of fear.  People who have been working, productive members of society, who have given of their lives to this country are being herded up like cattle and shoved back to the countries they no longer know and probably not safe to return to.  They are separated from their spouses, children, friends – often with no notice. They have become members of this society, and have earned the right to stay.  They are bound by not getting their green card, for whatever reason, many times valid.

But just as bad is what is going on at our borders.  Children are being separated from their parents, decimating families, held in concentration camp style settings.  They are isolated from those they love, and even if they are allowed to return to their countries, they run the risk of not finding their parents.  I’m not sure why this is even happening.  It looks like they are being kidnapped.  What is the purpose of holding these children?  We have a large military, we aren’t trying to turn them into soldiers or child brides. It is mean-spirited and malicious. And pointless.

I understand the need to tighten our borders even if I don’t agree with all the reasons why.  There is a problem with illegal aliens entering the U.S. But these are largely people who are escaping terrible circumstances in their lives.  They need understanding and to be given to opportunity to be led through the process of legality.  They have value.  They are not animals.  And their children are not commodities.

This is indicative of the broadening trampling of American values and the lack of rational leadership.  One man, Donald Trump, is dictating egregious atrocities in many areas of government.  We need to hold him accountable and retract the harmful, short-term or long-term, acts he has done.  And we need to hold him accountable for the lawbreaking he has done himself.   Our country’s future depends on it, as do the lives of these children.

Conference Findings

This past weekend I went to the United Methodist New York Annual Conference in Garden City, NY. Why they can’t call it the New York and Connecticut Conference I am questioning, but that’s another whole topic.  This writing is about the issue of gays and transsexuals in the church.

This is my first conference.  A lot of legislative activities go on during the course of the weekend.  I was shocked to find out there is a profound division in the Church.  It is hanging precariously on a thread regarding the LGBQ issue.  The Biblical conservatives in the Church are demanding that LGBQ and other sexually different people, should not be allowed in the Church – whether it be marriage, ministers, or even in congregations.  The Church might divide into two seperate denominations because of these matters.

The other, more Liberal persuasion believe we are all God’s children and everyone has the right to live their lives as they are meant to.  Even the issue of whether Women should be pastors has been a loaded one in many denominations.  The Catholics are also struggling to find their Center.  Everything goes back to Leviticus and the apostle Paul.  Two plus centuries ago.

This issue has come up in my own family, with my children believing conservatively and I believing a more liberal, inclusive approach to Christianity.  This may rattle many cages, but I believe the LGBQ group brings more openness and diversity, obviously.  But they also can bring fresh interpretations and vital ideas to congregations.

This may prevent me from getting into Heaven but I believe all have the right to worship openly.  Jesus had all kinds of people, most being the underappreciated, displaced, rejected members of society, in his circle of influence and accomodation. Not once did I read in the Bible where someone was rejected.  And Jesus had one whom he loved more than all of the rest….what does That even mean?

At the Conference, I saw quite a few gay and lesbian people.  A couple were Pastors.  Depending on the status of the vote in St. Louis in the Fall, what could that potentially mean for them.  “Hey sorry, but you no longer are a minister, don’t have a job, and aren’t welcome to attend Church. ”  What is that?  How can you take people who are actively sharing their Faith and leading their congregations toward a more open, accepting view of the World, and throw them out like yesterday’s garbage?

My children do not consider me to be a true Christian.  I’m not going to Heaven unless I radically change my belief system and values.  I believe God is more accepting…that love is more important than orientation…that the most important thing you can do is Believe in Jesus Christ and the Trinity.  I might not get to Heaven because I question sometimes whether Jesus was the son of God but I wouldn’t really want to be in a Heaven that draws lines, makes distinctions, rejects people because of who they are from the moment they are born.

I pray the Church remains whole in its entirety and those believing diversely get the opportunity to believe in diversity and inclusiveness, no matter the sex or orientation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

School shootings

“There have been at least 288 school shootings in the US since 1/1/09, 57 times more than the other six G7 countries combined.”   –CNN

These numbers are, unfortunately, no surprise to me. Our culture has been steadily shifting to one of violence and our young people are caught in the crosshairs.  The rhetoric perpetuates, spinning round and round as the NRA spins the mental health issue and our politicians take their sides without paying much attention to what their constituents feel. And here I am, spinning my own rhetoric.

What I can’t wrap my head around is how this perpetuates in such a vacuum.  Parents don’t know what is going on in the minds of their children, don’t check their internet pages, don’t look at those others their sons hang out with, or whether they have friends at all, don’t know if they have guns and don’t secure guns in locked safes.

I don’t mean to be ragging on the parents.  Sometimes their sons externalize very differently than what they internalize, but certainly, parents can determine if their children are depressed or angry or manifesting signs of mental illness.  Perhaps one problem is they don’t know what to look for.  Mental illness isn’t covered in most parenting books, that is if they read those books.

Schools are also part of the problem as are the communities.  The “not in our town”, mentality is a pervasive glitch in our psyche.  There aren’t enough instructors to demonstrate what to look for and how to prepare for it.  Police departments are also not involved enough, although in many towns there just aren’t enough police officers and perhaps not enough budgeted funds to train them adequately, particularly in small towns.

But, I think the greatest problem is that there is a lack of Hope in these young people, and in those who perpetrate mass shootings at concerts and movie theaters, or wherever crowds merge. They lack the foresight to see there are better ways to handle their feelings, that going out in a blaze of rage is not the answer. They are, too often, left to their own devices.  Nobody is wondering why a person is acting strangely or if it’s their responsibility to do something about the warning signs they see.  And young people who see what is emerging in another classmate keep that tight-lipped stalemate of not acting in protection of one of their own, even one who no one wants to be near.

I had a dear friend who had an arsenal of over 200 weapons, including cannons he had built himself.  Everyone looked on it as a quirky obsession and hobby.  He grew depressed and was so hateful to his family that they avoided dealings with him – left him to his devices.  I can’t blame them, dealing with his rage and depression filled them with despair. I talked with his wife about the possibility of therapy but he wouldn’t hear of it.  In the end, he blew his brains out. In front of a son. The guns are his sons’ legacy.  It makes me crazy thinking about it.  They should be sold and the money’s used to start their adult lives with.  I mentioned it to my friend, but that is where my advice ended.  Guns are just part of her reality even though she doesn’t touch them.

Hope is strangely lacking in so many of our lives.  We huddle in masses of despair.  Those who have church may find comfort there; therapy is a God-send to many. But to those who have no real support in their lives, whose lifestyle and decisions seem to have no awareness in those around them hope is just 4 letters strung together.  And they are already strung too tight.  And we stand by, hands dangling at our sides, vacant expressions on our faces, saving “Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa.”

 

 

 

Sticks and Stones

A child lies screaming in an improvised tent in a refugee compound. Her arms and legs are sticks, the femur and tibia bones on display for any to see.  The skin on her head is etched to her skull, no cheeks or even flesh on the lips, dysentery, and measles having stolen away her health.  She cries for food, her mother attempts to feed her from shrunken breasts.  The child was healthy once, flesh full.  Her mother says she thinks the worst is over.  The girl has stopped loosing weight. Perhaps there is hope, but it seems unlikely.

In Gaza, Palestinians look like makeshift Davids, slingshotting stones at the Goliath Israeli troops with powerful weapons.  Hurling their bodies at the border wall, thinking themselves as heroes trying to take back land they haven’t owned since 1948.  Even in mass, they haven’t a chance to overwhelm such well armed and trained enemies. The Israelis’ tenaciously holding on to land bequeathed them after the Holocaust.

In Syria, the White Hats cast rubble aside looking for survivors and bodies in the remains of what was once homes and shops.  Their heroism speaks for itself.  They sacrifice for the sake of others, bright spots of hope in the ruins of war.

The Middle East is by no means isolated in their violence.  It spreads throughout the World, sometimes insidiously, sometimes with brutal force. Our own country is filled with terrorist activities – our school children bearing the brunt of wounded souls’ rage.  I know God gave us free will but what type of World is this when the mightiest beings are intent on destroying both their own races and what others might call lesser beings.

The child’s screams echo in my ears, warning me that war and horror can be lurking close by.

Nadia Murad

In our Me2# time, it seems particularly important to examine the women who have gone before us or are with us now for the great achievements they have made and the cost it took to get there.  One woman who has made a quick leap from obscurity to fame is Nadia Murad.

A quiet, country girl in Iraq, she is of the Yazidi faith and lived in Kocho, a small village in the northwestern province.  The Yazidi are a people who have been practicing their religion since before Christianity or Islam.  They are not vocal about it; they tend to keep to themselves.  On May 4, 2016, ISIS attacked the Yazidi, forcing many to flee up their sacred mountain, Sinjar.  However, estimates of 10,000 were killed.  Being somewhat out of the way, Kocho’s attack didn’t start until the 16th.

The village’s residents watched as the town was blockaded and large trenches were dug on its outskirts.  They were scared, the men continually calling people of prominence elsewhere to try to get support.  The images on television made them panic.

At 19, Nadia was the youngest of nine children.  Her father also had a number of children through his second wife.  On the day ISIS made their move on the village, all residents were instructed to go to the high school. There the men were sorted out from the women and taken away.  They were lined up in the trenches and shot.  Two of her wounded brothers managed to escape.  A younger one was forced to become a soldier. Six died.

The women were then sorted out, older women separated from their daughters.  It was many months until they found out the women had also been shot to death, including Nadia’s beloved mother.  Younger women and girls, some even with young children, were herded upstairs at the school until they were corralled onto buses.  From there they were driven to Mosul where they were placed in a large room with many other Yazidi women.

They were to become sexual slaves, or “sabia”, to ranking ISIS officials and men who had proven their worth to the cause.  The women were traded like baseball cards, sometimes staying with a  man for a week, sometimes only a day or hour.   They were brutally treated by the men, but also by the wives if they saw them at all.

Nadia was held captive for two months until her “owner” forgot to lock the front door and Nadia made good her escape.  She found a family willing to help her, eventually getting her to the border at great risk to their own lives.  While Arab, they could not, in good conscience, reject Nadia.

She made her way to a refugee camp where she found some relatives still alive.  After a time, she was accepted into a program where 1,000 women and children migrated to Germany.  A group called Yazida encouraged her to speak to the UN Advisory Committee.   From there she has spoken in the Americas, Europe,  and other countries about the plight of the Yazidi. Amal Clooney has become her lawyer to support her and give more authority to the condition of her people.

Nadia is eloquent and doesn’t pull any punches.  Rarely does she smile but her words speak volumes.  She has a message to bring to the world and she is doing it one word at a time.  To date, she has spoken in America, the United Kingdom, Germany and Europe along with other countries. She speaks of her own people but also of Genocide in general.

There are many places in the world where genocide is taking place…South Sudan and Myanmar are just two more.  Even though it has been happening since time immemorial, it is a vital issue which must be halted if we are ever to become a civilized world.  And Nadia’s voice is bringing the world to greater attention to both her people and those who also need a voice crying out of the wilderness of violence.

#Me Too

Yesterday I was at work, watching a talk show with my boss.  The subject was the New York Attorney General of New York and his peccadilloes.   Later in the day, the new shift worker came and the topic was brought up.  My boss was of the persuasion that the women now declaring the brutality during sex with the Attorney General had to be willing participants to have 1) gone so long without reporting it, and 2) must have enjoyed it to have stayed in the relationship with this barbarous man.

The two of us, both women, tried to explain the concepts of fear and shame to him.  As it was not going to happen we diverged into talking about how passive and jaded our society has gotten to continue to hear one instance after another and numb our brains to them.  It is overwhelming and heinous, these acts perpetrated by men (or in some cases, women) again and again.  We can’t stand to hear about it so jokes are made to neutralize hearing about the cases and knowing it is not just the power brokers but the garbage man and the local pastor, the insurance man and that nice man who just fixed your plumbing, inside the sanctity of your home. Jokes raw and harmful in that they serve to anesthetize us to the horrors of what humans perpetrate on each other, and in so many cases, get away with.

I want to rise up and do something but lack the funds for donations to the cause and the wherewithal and physical ability to attend rallies.  My voice is drowned in a sea of angry people – those coming from one point of view or another. And, furthermore, I don’t have anything new to add to the subject.  Why even write?  I’ve wondered whether I should for weeks now because of the redundancy and that there are many far more eloquent than I.  Coupled with the fact that I offer no new solutions.

But, in the end, I choose to write because I am one more voice begging for solutions, for restitution and acknowledgment of terrible wrongs.  Of feeling betrayed by all those power figures who I looked up to and admired their integrity, and who committed acts of lewdness and violence against innocent women.  How can I forgive Bill Cosby for acting as a bastion of goodwill and integrity, knowing he probably won’t serve a day in jail.  Or Matt Lauer, a man who interviewed other men accused of sexual misconduct knowing he was still in the land of innocence and getting away with it.

If the government is really watching all of us.  And it is positive they are. Then perhaps my one little voice will be registered on some server somewhere, stored for posterity, but possibly amounting to nothing.  Still, I must write, #Me Too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volatility

Storm surges –
not knowing from moment to moment,
whirlwind tempests
stirring waters into choppy, cut-up waves,
slicing bodies into fragments,
buffeted by forces beyond control.
Death and despair,
pulling up roots,
pushed over by greater forces.
one by one the fortresses’ buttresses
fall, stone by stone
smashing on heads
bruising damaged minds,
praying for resurrection
in the wake of thunder’s heartbeat,
lightening’s spear thrusts –
how are we to bear up
to life’s dark furies?

The Other Woman

Every night I pray for her.
In my mind’s eye
I so clearly see her.
My platitudes ill advised,
meaningless . . .

How can I justify our God’s plan?
Why should I be free of need
and she have anything but?

I know it’s stereotyping
but her swollen belly children
deserve an accounting.

Soon she will be gone –
disease stealing her strength away.
They will be orphans -alone –
under a tattered canopy,
thrust into begging to survive.

Just one more parent gone,
one more family destroyed
one more ten year old
parenting a large brood
under the blazing sun.

Why she – why me –
I who have nothing to give,
intimately knows every wrinkle
worn of care . . .

But I am here
babbling words to our Father
as she dies bit by bit
under the African sun
in a refugee camp
alone . . .

Working Within the System

Why is it so hard to fight for our rights? As Disabled persons we have a greater need for services than many but either by our own inabilities to disseminate the proper information to the proper authorities, coupled with, the inflexibility of a system that has fewer and fewer resources and people who are not properly trained to handle our population . . . nor necessarily have the attitudes and empathy to know that, for most of us, our mistakes are not our fault.

I am on disability and lost my benefits January 1st, not because I was trying to beat the system but because I couldn’t understand and follow the system. There is a chance my benefits will be reinstated, of which I will be eternally grateful if they are but there is still a huge, dark cloud floating above me. I need to appeal to nullify the 16+K they have been sitting there watching for several years as it accrued without my understanding of the system and my repeated thinking “Surely this will be okay, am I doing anything wrong?, if they haven’t contacted me, I must be okay.”

It took every bit of my courage and preliminary preparations to handle the 2+ hour interview but I did it. As I was sitting there, my legs were cramping continually and I had to stand as I was talking to her, my neck and back were in pain, and my skin was itching all over. This as I was telling her the diseases and conditions which brought me there in the first place.

I still have to go to an Accountant for the first time, at a cost I can ill afford. And the Appeals process still needs review. Finally, I am locked into a set amount of money. If I go over it by even a dollar, I lose my benefits . . . for good. So, this case I am working on, I can’t earn more than that amount and I often have to work extra hours so those hours will be for free.

There was a time, years ago, when my mind wasn’t as impacted as it is now, that I had to have the school districts I was working in to pay me $2 less an hour than was contracted just so I could work the hours needed.

Yes, I am Disabled, but I need to be a productive, contributing member of society. I need to be of service. I need to help people, and I know there is a purpose to my work that God has in mind for me. So I struggle through the morass of the system, hoping they see I am worthy. And pray – a lot.