An Old Concept: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

After posting the following in a comment on Facebook,  I feel motivated to repeat it here..

“If the “pro-life” people are really serious, if they really believe all life is precious (human lives, that is) why do they not build communities where single mothers-to-be can birth and rear their children. Providing them with medical care, nutrition, education, all the needs of the growing child. The world could be a different, and better, place.”

I hope the thought will appeal to others who are conflicted by the desire to save unborn babies and yet, at the same time, realize the disadvantages most of those unfortunate babies are born into.  Talk is cheap, as the old saying goes, so let’s put our money where our mouth is.  Truly save the children instead of just talking about it long enough to get them born and then deserting them.  Why do their lives cease to be precious after birth?

A Ghost Story

Have you noticed all those ghosts walking around? They used to be mothers, full of life, full of warm, nurturing love. Babies snuggled up in the curve of their necks, their soft sweet skin smelling of Johnson’s baby powder. The babies grew and grew and learned to walk and talk and make their mommas proud when they said her name. As they began to explore, they outgrew their infant needs, becoming self-propelled. They began to learn grownup things. Like who to love and who to hate and some even learnt who to blame when things go wrong. Be it their teachers, the government or their mothers.

They used to be ordinary people like you and me before the miracle of motherhood changed them into bright shooting stars that lit the heavens with happiness for an all-too-brief moment that continues to warm their memory as they grow old.

Have you noticed all those ghosts walking around? The ones with their failing eyesight and tender smiles who fade into the background, soft-spoken and undemanding? They had their moment in the Sun and are content to watch the seasons change and the years fly by.

I hate to say it but they are not me.

Oh, how I loved my time of shooting stars, yet I refuse to be a ghost.

Find Your Own Truth

To be a person of truth, be swayed neither by approval nor disapproval. Work at not needing approval from anyone and you will be free to be who you really are. — Rebbe Nachman

It sounds simple. To be a person of truth, be who you really are. But what if, one day, you realize what you’re reflecting is other people’s truth, not your own?. First it was your parents truth; you were thrilled by the light of approval in their eyes. Well, of course! What are parents for, after all, but to teach us their own truth. We have to start somewhere.

But deep inside us is our own truth. Which may conflict with our parents truth. You are not your parents; you are growing into your own person. Only you can know the truth of who you are. And the only way you can know your truth is by examining your beliefs. Where did they come from? Do they have the ring of authenticity or are they things you were told and accepted without question?

If you find some shreds of old beliefs that don’t have the “ring of truth” do you dare to explore the possibility they are wrong? Are you willing to modify them into what does ring as true to you? And then are you willing to resist being influenced by other opinions?

Rebbe Nachman says “Work at not needing approval from anyone and you will be free to be who you really are.” The key word is “work” because finding our truth is not easy for most of us. We have to dig for it, defend it, even suffer for it.

But in the end, to know your truth is to know pure happiness.

How do I Offend Thee? Think on What I Say

(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I offend thee? Let me count the ways.
I offend thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach when I say good riddance to your
Shackles of propriety. You say I’m not allowed
To have beliefs that differ from your own. Even though such
Beliefs come from my heart and mind only to guide my own life,
Not to inhibit yours. I offend thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. That America
Is the land of freedom to believe as one’s conscience allows,
Not as others say. I offend thee with the breath, smiles, tears,
Of all my life! And, if God chooses, I shall offend thee until death.

WHO Are YOU?

“And WHO are YOU?” the older man in the black tux and argyle socks said as he shook my hand. I was being greeted by the father of the groom after the wedding ceremony.
“My name is….” I said, not feeling quite as ridiculous as I might’ve if he hadn’t been wearing the purple and pink socks.

He raised his eyebrows at me, Groucho Marx style, and I moved on. I figured he wanted to disconcert people with the socks because he was a psychiatrist, and liked to do unexpected things to see how people would react, but I was disconcerted because I had no ready answer to his unexpected question.

The thing was I was nobody. I’d been invited to the wedding through a friend of the bride, whom I didn’t even know. My friend had arranged the invitation for me, including my pre-school daughters, believing they should get their first look at a true-to-life fairy-tale bride. I’d set aside my discomfort to appease her but had felt completely foreign in such exalted company. My friend had been disappointed when Terry and Tammy, instead of being excited, watched the elaborate ceremony with a detached air.

So – who was I? Should I have said “I’m a friend of a friend of the bride?” or “I have an invitation but actually I’m a party crasher because I don’t even know your son or new daughter-in-law?” It’s bewildering to be asked “WHO are YOU?” and trying to think of an answer.

Perhaps, I thought later, I should make an appointment with him. Tell him he got me to thinking “WHO am I” as if I’d never thought to ask it before, and that I’d been searching for an answer ever since. I was lost. I didn’t know who I was. Wasn’t that what psychiatrists were for, to help us discover who we are? But psychiatrists cost money, and besides I kept seeing those wild argyle socks with the expensive black tux. How could I trust him?

So I decided to find myself, myself. Still looking.

Well Blow Me Down and Call Me Flossie

When I was fifteen I worked one summer in Don’s Restaurant in Hazard, Kentucky. My name was Flossie. Don had such a turnover in waitresses he couldn’t remember our names so he used a few favorites remembered from ages past. Assuming there’d been a Flossie, that is. So I said “Blow me down and call me Flossie!” After all, he was paying me fifty cents an hour.

We had a tip box to put our gratuities in (I’m more sophisticated now) to be divided up weekly. Like a good little Flossie I put all my tips, excuse me, gratuities, in the box during the first week but when it came time to receive my cut, I only received four dollars.

I complained to the other girls that my tips, excuse me, gratuities, had been more than that for half-a-day. They laughed at me. “We don’t put it all in,” they said, “just a dollar here and there.” In other words I had shared all my own tips, excuse me, gratuities, with them, but they had shared only a smidgeon of theirs with me. The scale had been weighted to their side. I wondered why they hadn’t told me ahead of time. That’s how green I was. I’m more sophisticated now.

Okay, I said, and the next week I only put in a couple of dollars. But I felt dishonest. “Oh, he knows,” one girl said, “he don’t care.” And, since we were all in cahoots, I figured it was okay. But my conscience still bothered me, just a smidgeon. I’d been taught that rules were rules and were meant to be followed.

Although I never became a corrupt politician, nor even an honest one for that matter, I wonder if that’s how it begins? If we all do it, then it’s okay. Let’s vote ourselves some special benefits, set up different rules, just for us.

Of course none of this is actually vocalized. Most likely they just breathe in that rarefied stink in the air that wafts off the old farts who’ve been corrupting Washington for years, and they know without vocalizing that this is how things are done in Washington, DC.

A Boil on the Presidency?

If you’ve ever suffered from boils you know how painful they are. They have to be lanced and drained in order to heal.

Although I don’t remember the following family story as I was only a toddler, an older brother told me about the days when we lived in poverty due to the early death of our father.

The trouble began with an outbreak of boils. To bring the boils to a head and give relief from the pain our mother applied hot compresses, probably from a solution of Epsom salts, and/or soda and boric acid powder in boiling water.

But more boils continued to break out. Finally, Mom sought the advice of a wise old hill woman who told her we were all suffering from an evil in the blood. She said to have the older boys gather burdock, a weed that was plentiful in the hills, and make a tea from it. Everyone in the family should drink the tea and it would soon remove the evil that was tainting our blood. At last we found relief.

I researched and found that burdock has been used since the Middle Ages as a blood purifier and treatment for boils. As well as a host of other ailments. Interestingly, the article’s advice was: “Do not gather burdock in the wild.”

Evidently because “The roots of burdock closely resembles those of belladonna or deadly nightshade”. Now was that a narrow escape or what? One mistake and the solution to our problem might’ve killed us. Not unlike, I think, some treatments for cancer today that kill the good cells as well as the bad.

What a mixed-up world we live in! Everything appears to come down to trial and error. Pure luck appears to determine the outcome.

I can’t help but wonder what evil force has infected the blood of our country. Rising like a boil to the surface with hate messages running amok.

I can’t help but wonder if there is a boil on the presidency.