What Controls Us: Legitimate Fear or Paranoia?

The Man walked His talk. However, although He admonished followers to “Consider the lilies of the field,” He did not suggest that we stride stupidly into a lion’s snare. Lilies represent peace; the opposite of dread and anguish.

So, what worries do we harbor? Which fears should be honored as legitimate and which can be discarded? This morning, I read, “There is a level in every human soul which knows no conflict, competition, or contempt.” Life lived at that level frees us from miserable nightmares. Although I admit to being a practiced worrier, I now seek peace. Below, I list issues that no longer frighten me.

  1. I do not fear someone simply because that person’s skin tone differs from mine. We share similar body parts, thinking processes, and feelings.
  1. Those who refer to God by a name, which sounds foreign, do not concern me. God, by any name remains God.
  1. Sexual preferences of other consenting adults do not worry me. What other people do sexually does not have any impact on my life.

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Marching Into the Gates of Hell

Stockpiling weapons for the purpose of defending home and family may sound like a solid plan. But, is it? In an effort to consider a new perspective on personal protection, please join me on an imaginary time-travel journey to contemplate the following question:

Can the words of Jesus apply in today’s world?

Imagine for a moment that just outside the walls of Jerusalem, we mingle with devout followers of Jesus. The Last Supper has been eaten, Judas departed, and Jesus has withdrawn to pray. Although most disciples sleep, a few of us crouch around a small fire to discuss possible actions to take. All of us realize that danger lurks. Our Master’s life hangs in jeopardy.

As we linger, we hear “Jesus will be arrested. He will be tried and found guilty of blasphemy. We have to do something.” Following a hushed moment, a disciple mutters, “We must arm ourselves. In order to protect our Master and our cause, we must resist. Let every man take up arms and be ready for defense. When the soldiers arrive, we will be ready.”

How might history have unfolded if the disciples had physically fought the soldiers – soldiers, who, in fact came and arrested Jesus? Would fighting have been a “courageous” action or a futile massacre? How would recorded history be different? These questions suggest some interesting considerations about whether the teachings of Jesus can actually apply today.

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Not So Smart After All!

In a recent conversation with my husband, I jokingly declared, “I’ve lived so long and made so darn many mistakes, that in the process, I have become very smart. In fact, I might be the smartest person I know — even though no one cares what I think or wants to hear what I have to say.” With that, I self-righteously flounced off to bed.

The following morning, I began reading Eric Butterworth’s book, “The Flow Within”. Haltingly, I realized that I seemed to be missing the profound meaning from the text. I had to admit that I did not “get” the message. “Perchance I’m not as smart as I thought,” I reflected.

Almost immediately, I recalled the face of a young Black woman describing her childhood. She painfully shared attending a predominantly white school in which classmates made fun of her full lips, her wide nose, her kinky hair, and her dark skin. No, as hard as I tried, I did not relate to her experiences of life. Once again, I had to admit to what I did not know. “Not so smart, after all,” I mused.

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Deceiving and Destroying: Vouchers Versus Public Schools

I wonder how many of us realize that a handful of very wealthy families actively spend time and money toward destroying public education? Dick DeVos, husband of Betsy DeVos, once said, “When given a clear choice, voters across the U.S. have consistently opposed school vouchers.” DeVos continued by asserting that the grassroots movement must be kept quiet. He suggested using the term “school choice” and spreading the idea one person at a time. Think tanks funded by Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Olin and other mega-donors claimed, “Because we know how the government schools perpetuate themselves, we can design a plan to dismantle them.” Dick and Betsy DeVos plan to execute this plan. Please understand this effort for what it is: a movement focused on total destruction of public education. Continue reading

Keeping America Sane As Well As Safe

The current plan to keep America safe anticipates deporting undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes. It seems like a good plan, doesn’t it? We all want our cities safe. What could possible be objectionable about a plan to protect the United States?

Sometimes, the finest plans do not work out quite as we envisioned. Please allow me to share a few unintended consequences associated with 278(g), which became law in September 1996. This law called upon local, county, and state law enforcement officers to assist ICE with identifying, processing and detaining immigrants. Although the idea sounded reasonable, consider the outcomes listed below:

  1. Instead of developing trust between police and communities, 287(g) promoted fear and suspicion. Police officers became enemies of the people.
  2. When communities perceived police as enemies, the lives of officers became endangered.
  3. Once community members became distrustful, they stopped asking for help. For example, a woman whose husband sexually molested their eight-year-old daughter became too anxious about deportation to ask for help. Had she been deported, the documented father would have stayed and kept the child with him.
  4. Deporting workers often removed key witnesses. After identifying a human traffic operation in an Arkansas restaurant, ICE deported all busboys, wait persons, and dishwashers. No witnesses remained to testify against the guilty owners who went free.

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Promoting Terror From Within

During a CNN interview, Jake Tapper stated, “Our worst threats come from home-grown terrorists.” Journalist Peter Bergen added “Every lethal terrorist attack in the United States in the past fifteen years has been carried out by American citizens or legal permanent residents, operating either as lone wolves or in pairs, who have no formal connections or training from terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda or ISIS.”

If the United States needs a preventive network to avoid producing those who would harm us, perhaps, no better place exists than our own public schools. Possibly homegrown terror begins with angry, disenfranchised, vengeful young people who believe life in the US has short-changed them. Vulnerable young people can easily become targets of outside propaganda.

What might cause young adults to become so engorged with venom that they turn against their own country? Continue reading

Finding Brilliance in Learning Differences

This week, I got an up close and personal reminder of why I remain interested in children with dyslexia. One of our grandsons, a quirky third grader, came home with a diagnosis of mild dyslexia in reading and mild dysgraphia in handwriting. I did not feel surprised or dismayed. Through the years, some of the most fascinating children I have met faced similar labels.

His mother sent the school report to me earlier in the week. Sunday evening, walking out of a restaurant, Elliott looked up and said, “Grandma, do you know I have dyslexia?” “Yes, Elliott. Do you know that to even get that label means you have a smart brain?” He nodded. I have great faith in this tall, lanky kid. His brain works in wonderful ways. From the time Elliott was tiny, he amazed me with his interest in most things science. Today, he glibly whizzes through technology, and, with the exception of word problems, he handles numbers well.

Elliott has an older cousin who received a similar diagnosis in grade four. At that time, one of our older grandsons called after school and said, “Grandma, I cried all the way home from school. The teacher said my writing looks like the work of a first grader.” Stories and ideas explode in the brains of both of these grandsons. They have questions exploding and numerous thoughts to express. Creative, insightful, and funny, both boys struggle to put pen to paper. Elliott also works hard to read orally. As a former educator and a forever grandmother, I relish the thinking patterns of these young men.

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Research Needed: Hair Styles and Sexual Behavior

For some individuals, hairstyles make a major contribution to how they perceive themselves and how they respond to their partners. In fact, I suggest a new research study needs to be done by those interested in investigating ways external conditions impact sexual conduct.

My husband and I have now been together for over two decades. Twenty years ago, I wore my brown hair in layered curls. Getting permanents on a regular basis provided the waves that nature failed to endow. Continue reading

Whom Does God Love Best?

Who the heck do we think we are to assume that God belongs to “our side”? Isn’t the team on the opposing side praying to the exact same God in hopes of achieving game advantage? Can it ever be right to pray that our competition will play badly? And, if both sides ask to win, doesn’t that put God in a bit of a bind?

History becomes riddled with questions such as these. Let’s examine a few situations.

  1. Most likely, the early Pilgrims prayed to defeat the inhabitants of what we now know as North America. Surely, the Native Americans ultimately realized what a mistake they had made being kind to the Europeans and prayed to beat the heck out of those white guys. Did God like the Europeans better than the Native Americans? If so, we have a good reason to doubt God’s ultimate wisdom.

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Why Did I Participate in a Women’s March?

When asked if she would join a protest movement against the Viet Nam War, Mother Teresa replied that although she would not demonstrate against the war, she would march for peace.

In that spirit, Chris and I joined 50,000 others in Austin, Texas for the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. Instead of considering this a walk against the new president, I walked in support of values, which I consider basic human rights. My kind husband spent about 90 minutes helping people climb over the fence to get on Congress Avenue.

Chris Helping

Racial Minorities— I walked to demonstrate support for racial equity. Racial discrimination may appear healed to many, but bigotry emerges alive and well. Those who believe we all get a fair shot at success believe in a myth. Allowing all citizens an equal playing field begins, but does not end with fair voting opportunities.

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