Ordinarily, even with what appears to be ADD, I can read several books at a time. My curiosity pushes me through. Following a recent injury and long recovery process, however, I found myself unable to get into reading and leaving so many books unfinished.
Then the anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death came up—an unnecessarily cruel tragedy that affected so many of us. For whatever reason, I realized I wanted to know more about Matthew. Surely, he was more than this gay poster child that people murdered because he was different.
All my life, I’d heard people claim that those who were on a “different” path from what they interpreted as the “right” path are the evil ones. But when you see where hate for those who are different can lead, it’s hard to fathom that there is any worse evil than these self-righteous individuals who are so lacking in empathy.
We don’t need any more evidence, do we? And, yet, if we keep reading, keep watching, keep listening, we witness how unbelievably depraved “humanity” can get.
Still, I wanted to know this story, and, as a mom, I wanted to learn it from his mother—a person who truly knew and loved him.
Judy Shepard said so much in this book without making it, in the least, about herself. She seemed determined that Matthew was the focus, beginning to end, who he was besides that poor baby boy you keep hearing about every October. You think how awful, how sad, but we know so little about him.
Well, throughout this reading experience, Judy Shepard’s honesty floored me. Among other things, she divulged that Matthew wasn’t the saint the media portrayed. With whatever flaws he had, he was also lovable and sweet with a very kind heart. She had loved him wholeheartedly knowing exactly who he was, and this—this is the kind of love we all deserve. Not the type where loved ones put us on a pedestal we can’t possibly live up to, secretly detesting us when we fall short or blindly worshiping us for all the world to see. She knew her child. She knew that different kids had different needs, and, that, even with the heartbreak of specific hopes you have to put aside for this precious being you cherish with all of your heart, acceptance is critical.
Mrs. Shepard wrote this book so intelligently, so lovingly. I read it in just a couple of days, and I couldn’t put it down.
Fortunately, in this storytelling, we also see how beautiful humans can be. During this unspeakable tragedy, many gave their unconditional support to the Shepard family without hesitation and were capable of such unconditional love.
You know, I’ve often heard people say that it’s arrogant for a writer to think he or she can teach anyone by sharing a story. They are so wrong! This book was another reminder to me of how another person’s words, thoughts, regrets, and perspectives can make one stop and think. To feel something like, “I can relate to this or that,” or “Wow, that gave me new insight into something or another.” That is the beauty of reading.
We learn from anyone and everyone, and we are always teaching whether we mean to or not.
So, hopefully, after reading this heartrendingly excellent work of non-fiction, I have opened the mental corridors of my mind that allow for the processing of fantasy realms and old classics that can transport me instantly to the past.
If you are defending the rights of others who
are denied whatever privilege you enjoy, does that mean you have a savior
It’s one of many questions I ask myself, given the fact that I’ve been doing this since I was twelve. It was instinctive then, and it’s instinctive now because I don’t want to live in a world where bigotry seems to be the norm. Whether people were happy or unhappy about this stance I’d taken has never made a difference to me.
I have also questioned my own motives at
It’s not about being politically correct. As far as I’m concerned, it is simply right, and I’m so confident of that that I’ll stick to it no matter who or what I stand to lose in the process.
Is it about tolerance? Nope. I would not even list that trait among my qualities, since there is much I can’t and won’t tolerate, including things that may seem unreasonable to the culprits, and yep, one of those things is the cruelty generated by prejudice. So, in choosing friends and partners, there are plenty of deal breakers, sure, but their origins will have nothing to do with it.
Who am I to merely tolerate people anyway because they weren’t born with my skin color, ethnicity, sexuality or socioeconomic status, or happened to be taught some other religious philosophy? There is simply no part of me that believes whatever I was born as makes me superior to another. Nor is there any part of me that wants to deny people justice or the rights and equality they deserve.
That’s my two cents’ worth, and I’m not claiming to be the bigger or better person than anyone who opposes because I’m simply hardwired this way. Besides that, I have plenty of faults. Barbarity just isn’t one of them.
I’ve accepted, too, that impartiality doesn’t help you win popularity contests. Gaining acceptance and fitting in are often about forming alliances based on race, gender, religion, orientation, ethnicity, political beliefs, and so on. There are those who consider me naïve for stubbornly hanging on to this neutrality like a Pitbull with a pork chop. Others may chalk it up to me having this willful, rebellious, antagonistic nature. Either way, some individuals feel I am wrong and are perplexed by my fierce defense of the “other side.”
I can honestly live without such flimsy alliances. Most of those alliance-forming factors are not a basis for forming an opinion. And when people come back at me with, “Stereotypes exist for a reason,” I say, “That is still what they are, stereotypes. You don’t know someone until you do.”
Anyway, here’s my story.
My father was born in Campochiaro, Italy. He came to the U.S. with his family when he was fifteen years old. They lived in Woodside, Queens, which was a predominantly Irish neighborhood. Italians were not welcome. They were called everything from dagos to greasy meatballs. Italians had initially been greeted in some places by “No Italians Allowed” signs and had to change their surnames before anybody would hire them. My dad always worked, rarely taking sick and vacation days. He married a woman of Spanish descent, born in Havana, Cuba. She also came to the U.S. as a teenager, and they met in a class where they were both learning to speak English. Like him, she made sure she remained employed and dependable. While they were still newlyweds, he fought for our country, on the front line, making the rank of Sergeant, and he received a Purple Heart.
By the time I came along, there were plenty of Italian families in Woodside. Italians had made the acceptance cut. Spanish people were the new threat, committing the crime of paving the way for other Hispanics. Because of my mother, my siblings and I were told to “go back to Cuba,” a place I’d only visited once when I was three. They called us spics. And the main culprits of this bullying were, surprisingly, Italian.
My mother lied about being Spanish to strangers, saying she was Italian. She thought she’d be perceived as another one of those wetbacks coming over to the U.S. for a handout when she, in fact, came here legally. She also refused to speak Spanish at work to avoid being judged.
Some people will tell you it’s all about paying your dues, earning your place. Irish people experienced oppression and persecution before the Italians did, and once everyone got over the Spanish neighbors, they were directing their venom at the Indians, Pakistanis, and so on.
Regarding black people, I’ve often heard the argument, “Well, we did what we had to do to earn respect.” My answer to that was, “But you weren’t brought here in chains and forced into slavery. You’re not being discriminated against anymore. They are.”
Understandably, people of cultures that have been oppressed feel a kinship with their own, especially when the oppression continues. Who could blame them for supporting and defending one another?
If you go through life as a member of any oppressed group, which includes women, you see the global and systematic imbalance, the unfairness, and the cruelty. One example is women believing other women when they share experiences about rape and abuse. Some men hate these women for making their gender sound like monsters and feel they’re being blamed because they are also a man. The thing is, we should all want the truth and due process, but some must adamantly defend their “group.”
What I’ll never understand is people being okay with anyone facing the type of scorn, ridicule, and discrimination that tore their own hearts out. I don’t understand anyone being okay with it period.
My extended family on both sides had their own prejudices, to say the least. Meanwhile, my curiosity in wanting to get to know all these non-white people was insatiable. I kept seeing that I had beautiful experiences and encounters with them. When I was twelve, my favorite bands were The Temptations—five black soul music vocalists and dancers— and Santana, featuring a hot Mexican-American guitarist. (Santana’s music is defined as Latin-infused rock with salsa, blues, and African rhythms.) On The Temptations’ Puzzle People album, there was a song called “Message from a Black Man,” and God knows what my parents were thinking when I amped it up and sang along with the lyrics. But I really wanted to hear that message. I felt compelled to.
During my high school days and later on in other community-like settings—even recovery circles—it was apparent to me that some people showed a preference for making friends with people who shared their background. I certainly got the impression that they felt superior to anyone who was not “one of them.” And to this day, when I go to the doctor, and I’m sitting in the waiting room, white people look delighted when I sit beside them. Maybe if they knew all the details of my ancestry, they’d scoot away. Who knows? 🤷
It’s all part of the world’s obsession with
sameness—feeling safe, secure, and comfortable primarily with people they
believe are exactly like them. The common assumption seems to be that whatever
a person was born as, whatever belief system he or she inherited, that is the
right one and the best, and the only one that matters.
It’s right up there with other concepts I
don’t understand—like the enjoyment of shaming people or delighting in
someone’s suffering because revenge is supposed to be sweet.
And the idea that we’re supposed to feel more
outraged or upset when something happens to someone who was born in the same
country we were born in or who shares our ethnicity, race, etc. As if bad
things happening to people in Syria or some other place has nothing to do with
Suffering is unbearable, no matter who
suffers. I hate to see it.
Hey, I’m all for the celebration of culture, but people who share my origins don’t have an immediate edge with me. Heritage is fascinating, including my own. I enjoy listening to people talk about it. Accents are intriguing. I love seeing all these fantastic places and trying out different cuisines. But I identify with being a global citizen and human being more than being an American or anything else. That’s crazy and even awful to some people, I know, but I can’t help that, and I’m not sorry about it. I’m glad.
People go to war over bias and entitlement.
They discriminate and violently target others based on the very same.
I will admit that as a white female, or a female perceived to be white anyway, I’ve had experiences where black teen girls started fights with me for no apparent reason. But so have white women! I’ve also met some nasty-ass gay people, but I’ve met even nastier straight people. And while I was raised as an Italian/Spanish Catholic white girl, the worst incidents of sexual trauma, harassment and assault throughout my life were at the hands of white, Italian Catholic males. It’s never meant that every white, Catholic Italian guy was going to be like that. As far as I’m concerned—no matter what group you’re talking about—it takes all kinds. There are good and bad people on the right and the left, good and bad men and women. What I see with a lot of people though is, when someone not like them hurts, appalls, or devastates them, it is a reflection on that group culture. They won’t stop to think of the people of their own kind who have done the same thing or worse.
People caught up in the opposing mindset don’t like to hear that there are good and bad eggs in every bunch. They have this blind loyalty to their kind. When it comes to others, they often know only the stereotypes or what they’ve read in the news or saw on TV. Without having any real relationships with the people from whatever culture they shun, their impression is based on limited experience.
Not having shunned people who weren’t like me gave me an advantage in life. I always had that frame of reference. Even the people I agree with politically are not necessarily people I like. People I don’t agree with aren’t always people I can’t love.
To be honest, though, whenever there is a reunion, high school or whatever, I know by now not to go because nothing changes with most people. For me, there is no joy in seeing people hold on to this ignorance, these old ideas, and this hate for certain cultures. The end result is, people you love with all your heart say the most appalling things without batting an eye and think there’s not a thing in the world wrong with it. It’s their normal, and it’s heartbreaking.
Bigots, for one thing, are people with inferiority complexes who flipped the coin and developed superiority complexes instead. It’s an unconscious or subconscious survival strategy. At every turn, they have to prove their superiority and so refuse to be perceived in a less than flattering light. If you represent them or are a part of their group, you have to measure up to their standards which means looking, acting, and thinking like them because they need to believe that everything about them is right—better than anyone else, even perfect. If you are their child, sibling, niece, nephew, whatever, your job is to fulfill expectations or be mocked, rejected, and shamed. They resent you for causing them shame.
So they’ll make fun of the kid with the lazy eye. They’ll tell someone he or she is retarded because they don’t understand the kid’s behavior. They’ll shun someone for not being pretty or call somebody fat because they think it’s the worst thing anyone can be. Since they are so into their own standards of beauty and perfection, they quickly find what they perceive as imperfection in others. Yet, they don’t notice their own shortcomings.
I once heard a child ask this about one of my
adult relatives. “Why is (so and so) always making fun of people?”
Some will defend the behavior, saying we’ve become weak as a society. Those individuals believe being mocked toughens you up. It doesn’t. It makes kindhearted people forever sensitive, insecure, and self-loathing. The ones who did get “toughened up,” so to speak, are merely bullies of the present day, bullying their own kids and the other adults in their lives.
Their values were handed off to them by their parents, and there’s an ingrained belief that their parents could never be wrong. They’ll say, “Well, they raised me, and I didn’t turn out so bad.” (In many cases, they didn’t turn out so good either.) But the evil they know is less frightening than uncertainty. It’s the perfect justification for passing this crap onto their own kids. It’s worse, too, when the parents are deceased because then they feel they can’t say anything unflattering about the dead. (Maybe the fear is the ghosts might hear you, but don’t quote me on that.) Whatever the deal is, you have to pretend these people were not only good—they were perfect. And the stuff they did wrong, which had been previously acknowledged, will now be denied.
In these families, you either get on board, or you take your broken heart someplace else.
I’ve talked about all of this with my own child, who attributed the lockstep mentality to a fear of not belonging, not fitting in—most importantly, not having that total acceptance from their loved ones. I can’t answer for why my own convictions became more critical than that acceptance, but they did. I can say I chose my soul over their acceptance, rejecting their mentality no matter the cost.
Getting back to those people who say they
turned out just fine, well I did, too—after clawing my way back, inch by inch,
step by step. After fighting to learn and grow and heal for many, many years.
That doesn’t mean that my parents or someone else’s parents wholly screwed up. No one is perfect, but if each generation learns from the one before, we can not only do better, we should.
Here’s the thing. We can all be wrong. At a
certain point in my life. I had to question whether everything I knew was
wrong—everything I was taught. Because
ultimately, only the truth serves me. Denial has cost me, and many others, I’m
sure, way too much already. It’s self-destructive to allow it to continue.
We can never take things at face value or
count on what other people teach. Children must be allowed to think for
themselves and form their own opinions. They need to know they will be
unconditionally loved and accepted without buying into your total mindset,
without having to live the life you have envisioned for them.
So, to wrap this up, I believe that every culture should be celebrated. Certain people get tired of hearing it, I know, but we are one, big, beautiful, and colorful family, and, no matter whose heritage we are celebrating, I’m in.
Some photos of Woodside Queens, New York
“We all have a divine mission on earth. Let that mission be to inspire love and embrace the light within. Let that mission be to have peace in our hearts as we create heaven on earth. Let that mission be to seek empowerment through transformation and to breathe joy into everything we do. If we allow these things to be our mission the golden light of the sun will shine on our souls and change our world forever.”~ Michael Teal
When you try to look at something from all angles, you make no friends, but I’m compelled to do it anyway. That said, I hesitated to write this because as others have wisely pointed out, horrible things are happening all around us every minute of every day, and here we are battling over a comedienne and the “right” to see a TV show.
Many seem to think this controversy is about one person insulting another. They’ve brought up Joy Behar, Jimmy Kimmel and other liberals who have “gotten away with it.” I don’t watch The View or Jimmy Kimmel, but I do agree that anyone who has made bigoted statements or who does so in the future, should be called out the same way and, if necessary, face appropriate consequences.
I didn’t defend Michelle Wolf for roasting Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Kathy Griffin and her decapitated Trump photo. I did notice, however, that the same people who were appalled by those two incidents are okay with Roseanne’s crap and Ted Nugent’s crap. So, it’s kind of like pot/kettle. There’s a lot of, “but he said, but she said, and hey, he started it.” It all seems rather childish, except the anger we feel toward each other knows no depths, and the venom feels poisonous.
As far as comediennes go, I have always liked the ones who target institutions, government, and politicians. All of that to me is fair game. I’ll admit, too, there are people I don’t mind them poking fun of, but those people are usually guilty of offending us and putting themselves out there in such a way that you kind of feel they deserve what they get. They are comedy gold, and I understand that.
But this issue is not about insulting someone. It’s about destructive and divisive hate speech, i.e., racism. There’s a big difference.
Some people claim that what Roseanne said is not racism. Let’s see, there was the “Roseanne didn’t know Valerie Jarret was black because she’s light-skinned” argument. Except she knows damn well who Valerie Jarret is, enough to still be talking about the woman when Obama is not even in office anymore. Roseanne follows politics obsessively and knows all the players. She has made a run for President. At the very least, she didn’t know Ms. Jarret wasn’t black, but the ‘ape’ reference was not a coincidence. And it wasn’t the first time Roseanne tweeted something racist.
Then there was, “Why are they offended if they believe humans evolved from apes?” “They” includes all liberals, I presume, because, of course, they must all believe the same thing when it comes to creation, right? Wrong.
People who make this argument don’t seem to understand what it means to evolve. Per Merriam-Webster, it means to undergo an evolutionary change. It is “a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state.” So, you don’t evolve from something and still appear to be that something.
But the people who make that reference know this. They know full well that the ape reference is used to dehumanize and to subjugate. They did it to Michelle Obama. In fact, they were downright merciless in describing Mrs. Obama.
Those who make this reference believe they can pass it off as an innocent joke, or harmless insult, and that the rest of the world will be stupid enough to believe it. Sorry, but no.
Alas, there is the freedom of speech cry! That is a good one when all else fails. People don’t seem to understand the First Amendment either. They think it means there should be zero consequences regardless of what we say, that no one should react unfavorably or reject it or use his or her power to handle the situation. These same people feel differently, however, when someone is saying something that they don’t like. Yes, double standards, indeed, but we’ll get to that.
Let’s get to that right now, in fact, because double standards exist everywhere between genders, parties, religions, races, and more.
And, of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but when some celebrity gets caught with his or her pants down, as many have, I don’t care about their politics. It is not about left or right, and it shouldn’t be. It’s about right or wrong.
Yes, sometimes Democrats get away with things. Sometimes Republicans do. Just look at the “C” word argument. Both Roseanne and Ted Nugent have used the word against Hillary Clinton. That was way before Roseanne got a TV show and before Ted Nugent got invited to the White House.
The president gets away with saying despicable things all the time.
Similarly, people call out the predators and pedophiles in Hollywood, as they should, but then turn a blind eye to predators and pedophiles in the Catholic Church. They think because there are predators and pedophiles in Hollywood, all Hollywood celebrities are predators and pedophiles. No, wait—all liberals, according to some. Imagine if anyone said that because of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, all Catholics, or all Republicans must be pedophiles? Yes, it is absurd.
FFS, must everything be a competition?
Now, I am not here to defend ABC. Roseanne was the same person when they hired her. They knew who she was. Apparently, she also knows who she is, as she had serious reservations about doing the reboot in the first place.
It would have been one thing if she’d come on playing the character she played in the 90s, and the show didn’t have plans to explore and possibly heal the divisiveness with a real-life Trump supporter as the star pretty much playing herself, and liberal producers and writers. On the one hand, they were trying too hard to appease both sides. On the other hand, they were encouraging the series star in her belligerence and paving the way for her downfall.
Yeah, it was a bad idea.
And many won’t like this, but I do feel empathy for Roseanne. I can’t help that. I do believe that this fallout has been hell for her and that she is not doing well. Besides that, something is clearly wrong with her.
Conservatives who watched her screech the national Anthem hated her then, and they hated her for many years after that, as she wasn’t their physical ideal or very ladylike, and they probably figured, on top of all that, she was a liberal. They pretend to support her now, but if they genuinely cared about her, they would not encourage her bad behavior.
The smartest tweet I’d read about this whole thing came from White House correspondent April Ryan when she tweeted Roseanne, saying, “Just stop.” Ms. Ryan told Roseanne to go on a retreat or something, stay off Twitter, off the phone, and stop listening to the enablers who are defending her mess. It’s easy to see that people are exploiting her in a way that will only make things worse.
She needs to fix this not dig a deeper grave.
And, okay, I couldn’t help laughing at the Twitter backlash she got from the Ambien excuse. She walked right into that, but I still feel bad.
Her “supporters” say she should not even have apologized. I say she should have stopped with the apology, no drama like, “I’m leaving Twitter,” only to come back and begin defending herself, justifying what she did with excuses.
It’s not a good feeling, watching someone self-destruct. It gives me no pleasure to see another human being crushed, humiliated, and used this way. There is that part of many of us, where we can’t look away from a train wreck, but it is no less awful.
And personally, I couldn’t keep quiet about any of it. I’ve hated racism and all forms of bigotry from the moment I was old enough to see it for what it was. I was a child then, but I’d seen no evidence that any one group of people were superior to another and I’ve firmly believed that we are all entitled to dignity, justice, and respect.
Still, I don’t claim to be righteous and tolerant. I can’t because I am genuinely happy to coexist with people. I don’t claim to be tolerant because I am not a nice person who is just being politically correct. What I do or say along those lines is not for the sake of pleasing anyone. When I speak out against racism, I am not defending the people targeted because they are more than capable of defending themselves. I’ve seen it. I am defending myself and what I believe. I’m fighting for the world I want to live in. Lastly, I don’t claim to be tolerant because there are things I can’t and won’t tolerate. And, yes, racism happens to be one of them. It is crucial that we call it out when we see it, and it’s about time.
It’s easy to get pulled into a state of terror these days. There is deliberate fear mongering and propaganda, so it’s often hard for people to know what to believe.
They want accountability and honesty from their leaders, and they deserve that. It is understandable that people are tired of oppression by corrupt and manipulative bullies who don’t care about the people they serve (and yet many turn to other deceitful and manipulative bullies to fix it.) But I don’t blame hardworking people for saying they’ve had enough of their tax dollars spent on benefits for others that they don’t even get for themselves. I’ve worked in law firms, too, where attorneys boast about getting disability benefits for clients who are not disabled. So yes, many of the systems we have in place do not work, and we need leaders who will reassess them—whether it be border control, gun rights, our welfare system, or disability eligibility.
What I can’t relate to, however, is all the tribalism, elitism, and hate. None of that is necessary or important in achieving our goals, and it’s just devastating. This behavior has sickened me to my core since childhood.
People say things like, well how can you not get defensive when you hear that there is white privilege, or “they” accuse white people of doing things you don’t do and never did? They also argue that white people also find themselves in difficult circumstances.
Okay, well, here is why I don’t get defensive.
1. It is obvious that I don’t do those things.
2. I have seen other people do this stuff, and it breaks my heart. The injustice is my primary concern in addressing the matter, not my defense. So I feel that speaking out against it is the very least I can do and, believe me, it’s not much and not enough.
3. As a person perceived as white, I have experienced white privilege. It’s something we take for granted, and it’s not simply about socioeconomic status, but about justice and human dignity denied. As only one example, people see me and assume they are safe, whether it’s a cab driver, an employer, a coworker, and so on. Overall, they treat me better, and I can make the comparison because I have always had relationships and friendships with black people. If we look at it as women, we should be able to understand it on some level, since women are often not treated the same way men are in the workplace, walking down the street, or in social situations.
The white privilege defensiveness is similar to men’s defensiveness when women talk about rape culture. Many men know that they are not guilty and feel no need to defend themselves but feel compelled instead to stand up for the people who do have to deal with the trauma, the abuse, and the injustice.
I do get defensive when I’m talking about rape culture, and someone has to point out something like women can be mean and aggressive, too. Um? It’s not that I don’t know that, but what does it have to do with anything? Don’t take attention away from the issue at hand. It would never justify anything anyway.
With white privilege defensiveness, the rationale seems to be that we keep people as victims by validating them, empathizing with them, and fighting alongside them for equality and the dignity they deserve. I don’t think people are kept down by that. I believe what keeps people down is the constant dismissal of their pain, the degradation, the humiliation, the fear of injustice, and the continuous crushing of their will, their faith, and their hope. This type of oppression kills the self-esteem people need to empower themselves, and it’s flat-out terrorism.
And please don’t tell me that those of us who want to help in this ongoing crisis support laziness and everyone getting free stuff. As someone who worked in the corporate environment for nearly a quarter of a century, almost half of that time with chronic illness and disabilities, I can attest to the fact that so many out there are doing their utmost to cope. We don’t know their stories, their circumstances, or what challenges they face, and it’s not always the narrative we hear over and over.
Enough with the stereotypes already. Just like all the gun violence—a white man is evidently the good guy with a gun, while the black man with any type of weapon is a threat. Honestly, I don’t mind any mentally stable, rational person owning a gun. The problem is everyone thinks they are stable and responsible until they’re not, and so many apparently are not. How do we even address that?
But for so many, it is all or nothing.
I see a lot of middle ground, which is an impossible place to be in these days. You cannot form alliances like that, and yes, people want allies. We are the same color. We have the same ethnicity. We agree about who God is and what he wants from everyone. We have the same political view. We hate the same person, so we know who the enemy is.
Here is my question, though, all or nothing people, where is the balance? Because life has taught me, it is always about balance, and the truth is often somewhere in the middle. Extremes are inflexible and maybe even a little insane.
And it’s the apathy that kills me.
Even today, as the nation mourns the deaths of brave police officers and two more young African-American males, we have people out there trying to divide and spread hatred—blaming Obama, Hillary, liberals, etc. I may be a little more of a Centrist, but I highly identify with liberals and their concerns, especially these concerns, so if you are blaming liberals, you are blaming me, and I am not okay with that.
Hey, I’m sorry that some people who are feeling terrorized now think “Kumbaya” is for hippies on drugs, and that it’s not popular anymore to ask that we love one another. Fear has everyone in a panic.
I guess somebody turned the tables when we weren’t looking. Those of us advocating compassion, kindness, and acceptance are the enemies. We have a far religious right believing there is an eternal reward for elitists who lack empathy because it’s part of their “religion” to do so and because they want all the power and control.
“The devil made me do it” defense applies only to priests.
And I don’t care what they say. When people shame and scorn you for speaking out against pedophile priests, that’s part of the problem. When the Hollywood community conveniently ignores the child abuse, sexist culture to avoid discrimination, that’s part of the problem. Anytime we close our eyes to horrific things happening because it interferes with our agenda or someone else’s agenda, that’s part of the problem.
Some people go so far as to say that empathy is Satan’s new agenda.
Well if that’s true, Satan has an army of candy-ass peace seekers who feel the pain of humanity and speak out for dignity and justice for all. Kind of like Superman. Except we are no more superior than the next guy. We just care about other people, and when they suffer, we suffer, too.
So let me tell you; Satan’s bad-ass, powerful army includes honest, law-abiding citizens who cry for this world—not the proud, greedy, gluttonous, and covetous bunch of bullies, or those merely in bondage to cognitive ease.
And I’m just going to say this one more time. Love and acceptance are what feels healthy and right to me. I want that for everyone, along with plenty of peace, happiness, and success to go around. Is that too much to ask? If so, what is the point of this life really?
“The world is getting too small for both an Us and a Them. Us and Them have become codependent, intertwined, fixed to one another. We have no separate fates, but are bound together in one. And our fear of one another is the only thing capable of our undoing.” ― Sam Killermann
Here is something else I’d like to share.
The police officer in this video talks about much needed change, and it’s worth watching.
Obviously, there is a stigma when it comes to narcotic addiction. So when a drug addict gets sick or overdoses, it’s easy for some to distance themselves or conclude that it happens to specific groups comprised of losers. I’ve often heard the line that it’s a lifestyle choice, or God punishes the “bad” people. Those who believe that tell an entirely different story when they are the victims of some tragic fate.
What a holier-than-thou world it’s become.
As far as I’m concerned, the only bad people are those who deliberately and repeatedly harm and destroy others.
Seriously, I wish people without any addictions and those who claim “other” addictions would stop acting so smug and being so callous. How about gratitude when we’re not afflicted with something or another?
Everyone has weaknesses.
Some who readily toss others in the “loser” category tend to forget the long list of known addictions. They may be familiar with the most obvious ones—alcohol, over the counter medications, gambling, work, food, smoking, caffeine, internet, etc. I remember the sanctimonious politicians who never thought much about their sex, fetishes, and porn addictions until caught with their pants down. Many people readily accept codependency and its’ related addictions to ego, attention, approval, people pleasing, perfection, and drama. Then there are the adrenaline junkies, the exercise fanatics. People become obsessed with plastic surgery, crime, sugar, television, video games, greed, lying, even isolation. The list goes on and on, which means most of us are addicted to something or another at some point in time. It is all about the obsessions that cause dysfunction in our lives because obsessions impair judgment and distort perception.
One might say, well I don’t hurt anyone doing what I do, and drug addicts hurt “innocent” people. First, you may not even realize that your addiction has hurt others. And yes, there are drug addicts who endanger lives. There are also non-drug addicts who do that, and there are drug addicts who don’t intentionally seek to harm anyone.
For the most part, people with addictions are innocent, too.
Why look down on anyone who is suffering?
And, yes, they are suffering. Those of us who have fought to save a loved one or have lost a loved one know this heartrending struggle too well. Whether it is physical or emotional, they are in pain—quite often agonizing pain.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a “primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.” Many people still reject this theory while others see it as more of a personality disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is not only a complex disease but also a mental illness.
I believe it is all of these things.
But even if someone can dismiss the facts and theories, there is one thing that’s difficult to dispute if you’ve had any involvement with addicts or addiction. They have a common denominator. They’re often trauma survivors.
I’m sure the whole mental illness aspect makes some people uncomfortable, too, even though it is a broad spectrum with different degrees of functioning levels. It’s easy to shun and deny, and that only creates more problems.
The Kim Foundation cites that “an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older or about one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.”
I’ve heard someone say, God’s perfect love casts out fear and almost in the next breath go on to condemn another person out of fear.
Well, I say this. Whatever is behind addiction, people die intentionally, accidentally, and from related diseases, and they are often denied in death the acceptance, understanding, and unconditional love they may have also been denied in life.
Among that group of individuals, we’ve lost some of the kindest people who ever lived. I know I have.
These candidates running for President make me want to embrace anarchy. I am a peace-loving gun control advocate who won’t harm a fly, but all the shenanigans have me wondering if I need to arm myself, train for battle and join a revolution.
I’m tired of these oppressors who crap their pants over the possibility that they may have to share power with another race or the other gender. I’m tired of tribalism—the complete and utter bigotry that leaves no room for other cultures and orientations. I’m tired of the mass cultural hallucination that says my god is bigger than your god, and you will do as my god says or suffer the consequences. I’m tired of the media hype that adds horse manure to both sides of the fence, facilitating the fearmongering and causing the fear and hatred to escalate with a pathetic lack of understanding.
I am always hearing that people who advocate for the world’s minorities are Anti-American. What’s Anti-American to me is xenophobia, rallying against the separation of church and state and trying to deny freedom, dignity and justice for all.
Yes, there are certain ideologies and behaviors we can’t embrace, but for the most part, I don’t mind sorting through information with people who see it from a different perspective. I have learned so much from people I respect who fall into that category. What does it say if I like and welcome only people that look like me, people who share my culture, my ethnicity, my religion? People who agree with me and think as I do? How narcissistic have people become really?
There is nothing wrong with wanting to secure our borders, nothing wrong with wanting to improve our immigration policies. Why must this go hand in hand with racism, misogyny and every kind of phobia that exists? This medieval logic would make America the enemy to the rest of the world, and rightfully so.
Arguments have surfaced that we should care for the homeless vets first. While it’s not an “either or” situation and doesn’t have to be, the reason for homeless veterans must be considered.
Our vets face complicated issues like PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and addiction. They need help. Yes, let’s get them help. We have a failing mental health system, absurd drug policies, crazy laws, and a judicial system that needs an overhaul. But helping everyone always seems to interfere with someone’s greedy agenda.
What I want to know is this. Why are political platforms one extreme or the other? What’s happened to balance and compromise? Why is it so difficult for people to work together?
It’s not black and white to me. There’s a lot of gray.
It’s hard for me to understand the childish mentality that says I will not help you because of what you represent, because you are the enemy, because my need to be right and in charge is more important than what’s good for the people we serve, for the greater good.
These politicians seem to have forgotten that they serve the people not themselves, not their personal or religious agendas.
They are talking about hair, fingers, and penises, for fuck’s sake. Yes, they are children. And they want to lead us.
I’m sure the latest tragic terrorist attack in Brussels reinforces to some, that we should have Trump in power, though he has not been able to do anything but escalate all this fear and hatred. Ask him, please, what do the black people have to do with this, since he needs the support of racists? What do women have to do with it, since he needs them objectified and disrespected? And gay people? Why do anti-gay people need to be consulted for supreme court justice nominations? Because he’s determined to oppress all of these people, too. That’s why.
But for that matter, what do innocent Muslims even have to do with those attacks? The same thing white Christians have to do with mass school and movie theater shootings, I suppose, but they are in no danger of being banned anytime soon.
It’s easier for candidates to scare people into thinking Muslims will destroy us all, even though there are over a billion Muslims in the world who would have banded together to destroy us already if they had been so inclined. Since they don’t seem to be, I suppose the fear-mongers are going to make those people feel unwelcome enough and oppressed enough to consider it.
It’s become all about the immigrants, when plenty of ISIS members have Western passports or can easily acquire them. It’s become all about the immigrants when our very own citizens commit plenty of horrific crimes on their own.
Conservatives insist that political correctness is destroying our country. Because not being able to insult women and minorities and discriminate against them is somehow a threat to their very survival.
And when these people say they are just expressing how all of us feel, they seem oblivious to the fact that at least half of us (and hopefully most of us) don’t feel that way. Perhaps they believe that because of the company they keep, but political correctness is not destroying our country. Hate is, and I’m sure selfish, narcissistic greed is right there alongside it.
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”―Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
“You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”―Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary
“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.” ― John Steinbeck
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”―Isaac Asimov
“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”― John F. Kennedy
“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”―Karl Marx
“I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. These two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.”―George Carlin
It’s easy to judge the impaired, to walk away, make fun. It’s easy to take advantage of their vulnerabilities. What’s not easy is acceptance, and that’s unfortunate because acceptance paves the way to learning and understanding. Without it, there can be no solution or resolution. What’s not easy either is helping to heal those wounds.
Unfortunately, the afflicted/addicted are often in a cycle of narcissistic abuse. Caught up in that dynamic since childhood, they remain surrounded by narcissists who lack the healthy self-esteem and empathy to love them through their imperfections. Narcissists are too busy burying their shame and inadequacy, so instead of accepting, they punish and reject. They never put themselves in another’s place. Instead, they feel short-changed, embarrassed and inconvenienced.
I’ve heard arguments like, well we all have anxiety now and then, or nobody likes to do that, but we saddle up. I understand this logic. Maybe some refuse to test their limits. I don’t know. What I do know is we don’t have any idea how hard something is for someone else, or how hard he or she tries.
That doesn’t mean you don’t set boundaries or that you should tolerate anyone crossing the line.
At a time when I couldn’t understand an irrational source of anxiety, a therapist told me, “Think of anxiety as a hat. You can hang it anywhere, put it on anyone’s head, and wear it for anything.” It’s transference of deeper fears, and you can find a number of ways to throw them out into the universe.
I adopted the mantra, “Life is an adventure” to help me through the toughest moments. I’d picture myself as this tiny being inside a vast, fascinating universe… a being no better than any other, given opportunity after opportunity for experience and adventure. I knew I wanted to hang in for the ride rather than give up. For whatever reason, that grounded me.
So acceptance has been the key to learning and understanding for me, too, and essential to managing the afflictions on a day-to-day basis. Everyone I have met who struggles along these lines is fighting every day to manage, to test their limits, and to survive. My feeling is, if it doesn’t require as much effort for you, then whatever is going on with them is not going on with you, so this comparison is pointless. Sorry for your inconvenience, your expectations, your disappointments, and that you can’t get what you want when you want it, but I guarantee a little acceptance will go a long way.
I saw a quote once, something to the effect that, people who don’t have their stuff together are judging us all. Yes they are.
Stevie Nicks once spoke about her addiction and use of benzodiazepines to treat her anxiety. She said, in an interview, “People don’t forgive you.” It’s true. Some people will never forgive or forget the past transgressions of the afflicted or the addicted no matter the circumstances, and no matter how far you’ve come. It’s another hindrance, but we go on.
Someone I love dearly has almost all the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. Aside from having some of these symptoms myself, I care about this person more than I do anyone who would judge. I can see the world of difference it makes when you accept, love unconditionally, and play even a small part in helping a person in these circumstances to not only survive but to thrive.
If everyone could resolve their personal bias and issues, they would see individuals who are just as lovable and beautiful as they are, every bit as worthy, and strong enough to have survived the most oppressive and unrelenting pain.
Here is another thing I learned. Everybody is trying to feel good about himself or herself, from those with afflictions and disorders to the people who love and cherish them—and yes even the people who seem to have it all together. I just don’t want to make that harder for anyone.
Awhile back, I read comedian Steve Harvey’s rant about atheists and their lack of a moral barometer.
Then there was this rant by that Duck Dynasty dude:
“I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude? Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’
Let me ask then. Is fear of punishment the only reason he doesn’t do these things? Does he think belief in a deity is the only thing stopping everyone else? What kind of mind even comes up with this stuff? Most of us want to help others not harm them. I can’t speak for all, but my conscience is my moral barometer. It is not fear of punishment from a deity.
This kind of prejudice, however, is what concerns me about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
So a young Indiana couple, Crystal and Kevin O’Connor, found themselves in the center of that controversy. They claim reporters tricked them into boasting that they supported the law and would not serve gay people in their pizza place. They later backpedaled, saying they never said such a thing. They said it was only the gay weddings they didn’t want to service with their pizza. Yeah, okay, whatever.
I would not have threatened these people. I wouldn’t have gone to Yelp and written a scathing review about their pizza. I wouldn’t have trolled them in any way. If I were in Indiana, I probably would skip their pizza, but that’s about it.
Hordes of angry people did react, though, with a vengeance. The O’Connors were “forced to close their doors.” Then supporters rallied to collect $300k for them. (It may be more by now.)
That is some incredible luck in a day where unpopular things go viral, and the backlash is instant and brutal. Go ask my author friends about internet trolls, O’Connor couple. It’s not pretty. Freedom of speech is a precious and beautiful thing, but there can be consequences because other people have freedom of speech, too, you see. They react.
Let’s talk about religious freedom, though—honor killings, public beheadings, terrorizing infidels. In Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal, you can get a seven-year prison term for anything “seen” as promoting homosexuality. They tried to pass legislation requiring their citizens to report homosexuals and their activity or face punishment themselves.
So where is the moral compass of these people who kill and terrorize in God’s name?
People may say, come on, those are extremists or now see all we’re doing is not serving people. We’re not burning or stoning people or putting them in jail. I think they have to realize that every step backward brings us closer to that. So why wouldn’t people be angry and resort to extreme measures to prevent this? Why would we accept going backward in any of the areas where we have made progress?
Another comment allegedly made by Crystal O’Connor is that you can believe anything you want. Well, yes, Crystal, but your beliefs don’t trump the law. That’s a great thing because rapists, serial killers, and child molesters may feel they have some justification for their behavior. (Oh right, the law…I think Duck Dynasty dude forgot about that, too.)