Thursday, June 28, 2018

Peace



"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding."  - Albert Einstein

As I mentioned in a previous post, a couple of years ago I started attending an Episcopal church. The Episcopal service is liturgical and follows a fairly regimented order.  There are words from the priest and responses from the congregation.  There are readings from the Old Testament and the New Testament and also a reading from one of the gospels and from the psalms.  There is music and there is communion.

There is also the 'passing of the peace.'  This was not something that I grew up with. But, having attended Catholic mass with my best friend for 35 years it was certainly not unfamiliar.  The words that are said are simple: "The peace of the Lord," "Peace be with you," "Peace to you, " or, simply, "Peace." They are accompanied by a handshake or, during cold and flu season, a nod or a wave or an elbow bump.  The Catholic masses that I have attended practice a "points of the compass" passing of the peace.  The person in front of you, the person behind you, the person to the right, the person to the left.  30 seconds to a minute. Done.

During my first service at St. Lukes I was expecting this same process.  And I was wrong.  No points
of the compass at this place.  People were out of their pews and up and down the aisles, passing the peace with anyone they could get their hands on.  It was, momentarily, a little intimidating, but I met more than a dozen people during that first visit specifically during this part of the service.  They asked my name, told me theirs, welcomed me to their church and introduced me to the next person.  It took me a few weeks to get the hang of it, but now I am across the aisle and greeting and welcoming newcomers as well. The 'passing of the peace' is generally a 5 minute process.

One of the outcomes of this practice is that it puts you into contact with people whom you might not otherwise meet.  After the service ends, many people will go across the hall to the library and stay for the coffee time and that allows you to chat and get to know people a little better in a more social setting. But there are many people who don't stay - they are out the door at the end of the service.  The passing of the peace allows you to connect with those people as well - to look them in the eye and recognize them as a person, with a name, and not just as the 'woman in the pink sweater' or the 'guy with the bald spot.'

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the passing of the peace.  I've been thinking of it in terms of our current cultural 'moment.'  A few days ago Donald Trump said in a tweet that "Democrats are the problem.  They don't care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they  may be, to pour into and infest our country..."

Now, I can disagree with the premise of this tweet on any number of fronts.  I'm a Democrat and I care about crime and I don't want illegal immigrants pouring into our country.  I believe in common sense immigration policies and I think we can all see from recent events in Europe that a huge influx of people into any country without a certain amount of planning can create significant social issues in terms of housing, resources and jobs. It can create a scenario where immigrants are trading one set of problems for the same set of problems in a new place.

But the real problem I have with this tweet is his language.  "Infest."  As though they are termites, cockroaches, or vermin of some sort and, as such, must be eliminated.  These immigrants, legal or not, are human beings.  They are people - people just like the people who already live here.  Some are good. Some are probably bad.  They are people - humans created in the image of God.

How is it that we can look at other humans as an 'infestation?'  How can we de-humanize others in such a way?  We can do it when we separate ourselves - when we surround ourselves with people who look just like us and talk just like us and think just like us.  We create an echo chamber in which to live which allows us to see anyone who isn't just like us as -- an infestation.  But when we speak about them as though they are less than human, we allow ourselves to commit atrocities in the ways we treat them.  We keep them in cages. We separate them from their children.

In the years leading up to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda the government referred to the Tutsis as 'cockraoches'.  This is how Rwandan local radio incited the Hutus to violence:
"You have to kill the Tutsis, they're cockroaches."
"All those who are listening, rise so we can fight for our Rwanda.  Fight with the weeapons you have at your disposal: those who have arrows, with arrows, those who have spears, with spears. We must all fight."
"We must all fight the Tutsis.  We must finish with them, exterminate them, sweep them from the whole country.  There must be no refuge for them."
"They must be exterminated.  There is no other way."
"We will squash the infestation."
This strategy by the Rwandan government was quite successful.  The UN estimates that around 800,000 were killed in a 100 day period.

Singer and songwriter Jimi Hendrix once said, "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace."  The first step down the path of hatred and all that follows from it is the de-humanizing of the 'other'.  The passing of the peace is a practice that reminds us that though we may be strangers we are still connected to one another.  Though we may be different we are all still human.  Peace be with you.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Adventure

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page."  - Augustine of Hippo

I think I've mentioned in a previous post that I grew up poor.  We didn't have much money and there was very rarely any 'extra' to be had.  When I was a teen I remember having 1 present at Christmas while other friends recounted the numbers of gifts received from their parents alone.  I'm not saying this for sympathy - believe me we didn't starve or go homeless - but for context.

One of the consequences of our family income level was travel - or, specifically, the lack of it.  "Vacation" consisted of two weeks every Fall when we would drive across southern South Dakota on I-90 to Sioux Falls and turn south.  We spent those two weeks in a small town, Lennox, where one of my dad's brothers lived and my dad went pheasant hunting with brothers, brothers-in-law, nephews, cousins, and whoever else had a shotgun and a free afternoon.

I was 16 before I ever traveled outside of South Dakota. The thought of going abroad to study for a year in high school was never even on my radar.  I didn't even know if there was such a program at my high school.  It didn't occur to me in college either.  I was 36 before I finally made it out of the country and I've been making up for lost time since then visiting country #32 last summer.

I'll be honest and say that if I have a regret in life that would be it - that I didn't start traveling much sooner.  The adventure of traveling has been one of the greatest gifts I've experienced.  Exploring a new place, experiencing a new culture, meeting new people, is one of the most intense learning experiences you can have and has been one of the great joys of my life.

Yesterday, we said good-bye to my niece at the airport.  She's spending a year in Auckland, New Zealand
as an au pair.  She had to whittle down her clothing and other necessities into 2 suitcases and a carryon.     She has 'met' the family via Skype.  She has talked to the family's former au pair.  But she doesn't really know anybody at her destination. She had to muster the courage to do something that most of us won't ever do - live in a new culture on her own.  She's moving away from her family and friends and all she knows to live in an entirely new environment.

Even though New Zealand is considered a western culture and the majority of people living there (90%) do speak English, it is still 'foreign' for an American. Any culture that you weren't raised in is a 'foreign' culture and visiting or beginning to live in a foreign culture is exhausting.  All the things we take for granted in our home culture are now in question and you must be continually on the alert to avoid giving offense or, in the case of driving on the left, getting yourself or someone else killed.

So, I tip my hat to my amazing niece.  She is doing what I didn't - she's starting her traveling career young.  She's going to have at least a dozen years more than I for exploring the world, meeting new people, and racking up those experiences that shape you in ways that non-travelers will never know.  She's shaping her sense of self, growing her self-confidence, and creating her life. I admire her spirit, her courage, her incredible sense of adventure. Bon voyage! Or, in Maori, Bon rerenga!


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Mystery

Those who know me, even a little, know that I love a good mystery.  I learned to read young and quickly moved from Dr. Seuss to Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie.  As I got older my reading interests branched out quite a bit and grew to include biography, history, philosophy, literary fiction and also a variety of non-fiction.  But a rainy or snowy day - give me a cup of something hot, a comfy sofa with a blankie, and a mystery.

I'm certainly not a literary critic and I have no credentials which make me qualified to classify fiction writing as good or bad.  But I know what I like so I can describe what makes fiction "good" for me.  First, and foremost, it's characters.  A good plot is necessary, yes.  In a mystery, writing that keeps me guessing is good.  But the biggest thing for me is the characters.  I look for characters that I can connect with.  They don't have to be like me, but there has to be some quality about them that I can relate to whether that be their thinking process, their attitudes or values, their background, their struggles, the things they think or wonder about. 

My favorite current mystery writer is an author named Jane Haddam.  She has written a couple of different series but the one that I have loved over the years stars a character named Gregor Demarkian.  I read my first Gregor Demarkian book "Not a Creature was Stirring" shortly after it was published.  It was Christmas break in 1990 and it seemed like a good choice for the snow and sofa business that is Minnesota in December.  It was the title that caught me, of course, but it was the characters that kept me coming back book after book.  For the next 28 books. That's right - 29 books in the series. 

The recurring characters in the series have come to feel a little like friends.  They live in a world that is far from my midwestern upbringing - East coast, close-knit ethnic (Armenian) neighborhood.  They  have careers (FBI, best-selling fantasy novelist, Armenian Orthodox priest) that are far away from my career in teaching human communication at the college level.  Many of the characters have money or rub elbows with those who do.  They really are nothing like me or my experience but the main characters think about and wonder about many of the things that I think and wonder about, particularly in regards to human nature. 

A few years ago I stumbled across a blog written by the author of these books.  I read it because of the name of the blog - Hildegarde.  I had just finished reading a book about Hildegarde of Bingen who was a Benedictine abbess in Germany in the 12th century and I was looking for a bit more information.  Somehow this blog came up in a google search?? I really can't remember.  But I loved this blog and have been a pretty faithful reader over the years.  The author teaches at a college and occasionally rants about student writing which I could appreciate.  Many of the topics of her posts seemed to wander their way into her books - although I suppose it is the other way around as the books, most of them, had already been written by the time the blog started.  She writes the blog as though she's sitting across the table talking with you.  She writes her books that way too which is probably one of the reasons I like them so much.  When I read one it feels like a friend telling you the story of these people she knows - and then you get to know them too - at least vicariously. 

The blog had been on a bit of a hiatus but started up again this year.  This week a blog post showed up entitled "The beginning of the end."  The "Oh no!" came out of my mouth because I immediately jumped to the conclusion that she was announcing there would be only one more book in my beloved series and that it was about to be published. I felt disappointment and sadness and was starting to mentally write my objections so I could post a comment on the blog.  Instead, Jane shared that she's been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer and that the prognosis is not good.

You know that moment when you realize you've been utterly and completely self-involved?  I had that moment this week.  My immediate thought when I read the blog title was about how something would impact me - in this case I felt that I would be losing a group of friends and had a "how can you do this to us?" (imagine that comment in a wail) response.  Then when I got to the part where she told us what was really happening, well.

So how do you respond to something like this?  This woman is not my friend or family member.  I don't know her and probably woudn't recognize her if I bumped into her on the street. (Don't you always assume that author photographs on jacket covers are really someone else - a model who "looks like" what a mystery writer should look like?)  She doesn't know I exist.  I wouldn't have any idea of what to say to someone who has just received news like this.  I don't believe any of those platitudes that people throw around in circumstances like this - 'God has a plan' 'everything happens for a reason' 'God needed another angel' - blah, blah, and bullshit.  Having watched both my mother and my brothers walk through terminal cancer I don't believe that's God's plan for anyone and I don't believe that there's any reason for it either. 

So why am I writing this?  Because I want to say, outloud, that people have an impact on us - even if they don't know it or know us.  And this woman has had an impact on me.  I will miss my friends on Cavanaugh Street.  I will miss the perspective she's shared through her blog.  I will miss her contribution to the world of ideas.  I will miss her.


Monday, April 23, 2018

Bodies

These past few months I've fallen into somewhat of a routine - at least as it relates to mornings.  I wake up early, make coffee, and read awhile. I have my second cup of coffee while watching the first 20 minutes of the CBS Morning news.  At that point I get my walking shoes on and Josie and I head out for our first walk of the day.  When we return, she gets her hair brushed and gets a morning  biscuit as a reward.  I then grab my bag and head to the gym.

The gym is a fascinating place in so many ways.  It is where the entire focus is on bodies and making them better.  I start out on the recumbent bike first working on extension and then on flexion.  The bikes are in a giant room filled with cardio equipment and weight training machines.  Every age group and ethnic group is represented. Certainly every body type is represented - young, old, fat, thin, toned, lumpy.  Some people are intense - focused on their workout and pumping out a gallon of sweat.  Others come with a book to prop up in front of them while they walk or bike at a more leisurely pace.  All, though, are there to improve their bodies - make them stronger, healthier, more flexible.

After half an hour on the bike I head to the pool where I swim 15 to 20 laps (I'm working my way back up to my previous 40) and then I sit in the hot tub. I love sitting in a hot tub outdoors in the middle of winter.  I don't like the hot tub at the gym - it's indoors and, therefore, too hot to stay in very long without getting a little nauseated and light-headed.  But I stay in for the jets. 

The jets in this hot tub are powerful.  I sit and allow them to pummel the i t band on my left leg.  I had a total knee replacement in November of 2017 (thus the bike work on extension and flexion.)  While my recovery has been spectacularly easy and incredibly successful I still have a little muscle stiffness and soreness that I am working through.  The jets are miraculous! Pummeling may be painful but the results are definitely worth it.


The pool area at my gym has giant windows that are directly next to the entrance and front desk. It also has a giant bank of windows that look out on the parking lot.  Directly in front of those windows is a row of handicap parking spaces.  From my vantage point in the hot tub I can observe everyone who comes in and goes out and everyone that uses these spaces.  It is...confusing.  These spaces are always filled - ALWAYS.  I have yet to see one open for more than a few minutes at a time.  And so far, in my observation, not a single person parking in those slots has been in any way 'handicapped.' 


Most of the people I've seen park in these spots are younger than I.  All of them are completely mobile and show no evidence of physical incapacity.  There was the 20-something woman who hopped out of an enormous SUV.  She stopped at the curb, leaned over and tied her shoe, and then jogged over to the entrance.  Literally - jogged.  There was a very large man, very buff, who was clearly into body-building.  He sauntered out of the gym with a massive duffel bag slung over his shoulder and climbed into a pickup truck sitting in one of the spots.  Just this morning as I was leaving I watched an elderly couple - in their 70s at least - slowly making their way across the parking lot to their car while at the same time a young man hurried down the sidewalk to climb into a car in a handicap spot.

I don't get it.  Isn't the point of going to the gym to get exercise?  Why park next to the building in a spot reserved for those with real mobility issues as opposed to parking another 20 feet away in the lot?  Wouldn't it enhance your workout if you could include the steps you'd make to and from your car by parking a little farther away? 

Now I realize that it's possible to have a physical disability that isn't readily seen.  But the implication for these spots truly is about mobility. It's why there's a picture of a wheelchair on the sign.  Mobility issues are observable.  After my knee surgery I had a temporary handicap parking permit.  Actually, I still have it - it doesn't expire until the end of June.  You are given one after a knee surgery because they don't want you falling on the ice.  Also, some people aren't as lucky as I was and their recovery takes a little longer and the walking can be quite painful.

I used my parking permit exactly 3 times - all within the first 2 weeks post-surgery and all because of icy parking lots which did necessitate a bit of hobbling. Otherwise I chose to avoid those spots and leave them open for someone who truly needed them.  Not that I wasn't tempted - those times when you're in a hurry and there are 2 or 3 open slots it's easy to think "what's the harm" and pull right in.  But having had a mobility issue, having had to walk great distances in pain and with a crutch, I see my newly regained mobility as incredible good fortune.  I've been hobbling and limping for years - now that I can walk again without pain I want to do as much of it as I can - even in parking lots.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Church

When I was a child I attended a Wesleyan church.  I attended this church because my older sister wanted to go to Sunday school. My mother, a very practical woman, decided that the best way to handle this was to walk us to the church that was one block away from our house. It happened to be a Wesleyan church.

For those of you unfamiliar with Protestant churches, the Wesleyans became a church when
they broke away from the Methodist church.  They decided that the Methodists were WAY too liberal so they separated to start their own, more conservative church - an 'evangelical' church in today's parlance.  When I was growing up the Wesleyans didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't play cards, didn't go to movies...didn't do a LOT of things that we did do in my house. We played cards, saw a movie here or there, my dad smoked for a while when I was young and had a drink every evening when he got home from work while watching the news. An occasional swear word could be heard. I didn't grow up in - what many church people referred to as - a 'church home'. 

Once I got out on my own and became an 'adult' I went through various phases of church attendance - attending for a while, abstaining for a while when I couldn't find a place that felt like a good fit - but generally I ended up at churches that were somewhat similar to the church of my childhood.  We go with what we know.  😉  So once I landed in Minneapolis I ended up at another church that could reasonably be described as 'evangelical.'

I chose this church for all sorts of reasons.  I had friends that attended and invited me. I thought the music was good. I thought the teaching was good. And, the church was BIG.  I could be invisible if I chose and, for a while, I did choose. There were some things I didn't like and wasn't particularly comfortable with but I stayed. Why?  Inertia. It was easy.  It was fairly comfortable. Why change?

But as time passed the discomfort I felt regarding some of the church's positions and attitudes regarding certain social issues and certain people groups became more and more difficult to ignore.  So I went into one of my periods of abstaining. 

The problem with that, though, is that I like going to church.  I like gathering in the same place with others to acknowledge corporately that there is something greater than myself.   I know that many people don't understand that 'urge'.  And, given the way that Christianity has been practiced by some groups I understand their hesitancy.  We've seen right and left how some people will behave in the worst possible ways and yet wave the flag of their 'Christianity' and their 'family values' as a defense.  But I like going to church in spite of that.  So the search was on to find a church that more closely aligned with my understanding of the answers to the infamous question - WWJD? 

I started with my trusty friend - Google.  I knew that the Catholic church was not right for me and I also knew that the evangeical churches were not the right fit either.  But I knew that I needed to try something different.  So my Google search was:  "open and affirming Episcopal churches near me."  The first one that popped up was St. Luke's in South Minneapolis. I went that Sunday and have been going back ever since.

It's a different expereience than the one that I grew up with and I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  There's liturgy - real liturgy.  (My best friend says that Episcopalians are JV Catholics. 😏 I see where she gets that.) Threre's a priest and a deacon - they wear robes.  There's a choir - they wear robes.  There are acolytes - they wear robes.  There's a piano. There's an organ. There's not a guitar or a drum set or a 'worship team' in sight.  We use a hymnal - no giant screen with words to praise choruses hanging from the ceiling. It's celebratory. It's reverent. It's moving. And it's open. Every week prior to starting communion we hear the priest say "ALL are welcome to receive at this table."  ALL.

This is a church that is filled with ordinary people. Young and old. Gay and straight. Immigrants. Refugees. All colors, all economic backgrounds, all varieties of family.  Nothing is perfect. No one is perfect.  But ALL are welcome.  For me, that is the answer to the question - WWJD? He would say ALL are welcome.  Amen.




Sunday, October 6, 2013

Discretion

Nothing is more dangerous than a friend without discretion; even a prudent enemy is preferable.                                                                                          Jean de La Fontaine, French poet 

This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me but at various times in my life, and in various circumstances, I have been known to have a big mouth.  I have said things that I probably should have held back on.  I have given my opinion when it wasn't necessary and, I'm sure, not particularly welcome.   I have commented when a comment wasn't required and I have, I am sorry and embarrassed to say, engaged in conversation that could only be referred to as gossip.

I have been guilty of a lack of discretion.

I am not the only one guilty of this.  We see that lack of discretion everywhere - 'reality' television programs, the news of public figures and politicians and their sexual indiscretions, 'fashion' choices of teenagers as well as posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all other forms of social media.  The fact that I am not alone in this poor behavior is little comfort.


As I have spent more time in self-evaluation, I have become more and more conscious of the impact of my words.  I have also become more thoughtful and cautious about what I think I need to say in any given circumstance.  I'm sure that this habit can be annoying at times.  When someone is always carefully choosing their words, it can be taken as self-absorption, self-aggrandizement, or even as an attempt at deception.  I have been known to say, and people have said it to me, "Just spit it out!"  Always measuring your words can put a barrier between people.

In relationships where there is trust and deep knowing, that practice of "just spit it out" can become a habit - in many cases a welcome one.  However, even the most solid relationships need care and nurturing.   We can become so certain of our own interpretation of 'the truth' that we convince ourselves that our lack of discretion is
justified.  Henri Frederic Amiel, a Swiss philosopher put it this way:  "Mutual respect implies discretion and reserve, even in love itself; it means preserving as much liberty as possible to those whose life we share.  We must distrust our instinct of intervention, for the desire to make one's own will prevail is often disguised under the mask of solicitude."  Just because people choose to share their lives with us that doesn't give us carte blanche to speak aloud to others things that can be hurtful, even if we deem it to be true or in someone's best interests.

Recently I have been witness to the fallout of another's lack of discretion.  It has been painful to watch.  Hurt, betrayal, confusion, grief, anger -- all of those things have been the result of this lack of discretion - this violation of confidence.  Self-confidence has been battered, reputations have been harmed, and relationships have been damaged - perhaps irrevocably.


I can certainly understand the mistake.  As I say, I have made that mistake myself.  At times the desire to share what you believe to be truth can feel overwhelming.  If the circumstance is that you believe you have been wronged, 'setting the record straight' can make a lack of discretion seem justifiable.  In the end, though, I can't help but believe that such a 'victory' is a hollow one.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Politics, Part 2

I hate to be one of those people who takes the "when I was young" approach to dealing with the world. As tempting as it is, the fact is that the world isn't the way it was and whining about that generally does little good. Better to deal with reality, I've always thought, then waste time in 'if only' land. However, recently I find myself looking more and more at the way things used to be - particularly in the realm of politics.

I seem to remember that political elections took place and were hard fought. However, after the election, people seemed to 'get on with it' and work with what they had. It seems that when we made the transition from Republican to Democratic leadership (or in the other direction), elected officials (after the obligatory period of mourning and 'what- iffing') picked up where the 'other' had left off and built on what was there.

One of the most disturbing things for me coming out of the 2008 election was Rep. Mitch McConnell's public assertion that "The Republican goal will be to make Barack Obama a one-term president." The following 4 years of what appeared to be obstructionism for the sake of obstructionism were disturbing to me. The stated goal was not to move the country forward, solve problems, deal with issues and get on with the business of governing. I heard more than one Republican politician (and voter for that matter) expressing the opinion that the first order of business after Romney won this election would be to repeal the current health care law. Ultimately, that message was very clear. Our goal is to tear down. Our goal is to destroy. Our position is to assert that we are SO right and the others are SO wrong that the only answer is to destroy all the work that has been done so that we can implement our view of 'right'.

I was raised in South Dakota - a Republican stronghold. South Dakota has only gone the way of the Democrats in 4 elections since it became a state, the most recent in 1964 when I was 4 years old. Even so I came out a Democratic, due to any number of factors not the least of which was a strong parental influence. It should come as no surprise to my family or friends that I voted yesterday to re-elect President Obama. It probably shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has read this blog for any length of time either.

I am, I think, a representative Democrat - a Democrat like the majority of others. I don't believe that all Republicans are evil. I don't believe that all Republican positions are evil. (My mind is not so certain when it comes to the Tea Party, I admit.) I don't believe in free rides. I do believe that people should work hard to support themselves and that, on occasion, they may need help and that providing a safety net for those circumstances is what a civilized society does. I don't resent paying my fair share of taxes and I expect others to do the same. (Yesterday I voted 'yes' on 2 local referenda that will increase my property taxes for the next 10 years - even though I have no children I believe that educating the children in my community is a public good.) I don't want to live in a 'nanny state' where the government dictates to me how I should behave in my personal life. And I believe that there are automatically some restrictions on individual freedoms that must come when living in concert with others.

I have worked very hard this political season to keep my comments and opinions to myself. I haven't plastered my Facebook page with cartoons or placards declaring my disgust with the 'other' or why my chosen positions have the moral high ground (which, I will admit, has been extremely difficult at times.) :-) I have been extremely reticent about 'liking' too many of my friends' posts either - no matter how on target I felt they were or how much I agreed with them.

However, in this venue I am going to take the time to say how pleased I am with the outcome of yesterday's elections - both nationally and locally. Any number of my friends who do not live in Minnesota often ask me (during the winter, of course) why I still live in this place. Yesterday, provides the answer. I live in a place where people still hold the civil rights of individuals in high esteem. While the races were close, both the voter ID amendment and the marriage amendment were defeated. Historically, Minnesotans have amended their state constitution to protect the rights of individuals and to expand or limit the rights of government. More Minnesotans decided yesterday that amending the state constitution to impose limits on the rights of individuals was not the type of state they do live in nor the type of state they wanted to live in. I'm happy to live in that state - even if there's 3 feet of snow on the ground 5 months out of the year.

So here I would take a moment to appeal to my friends and family members who are disappointed in the outcomes of yesterday's local and national elections - on both sides of the political divide. Please do not take on the Mitch McConnell approach to the next 4 years. Please do not dig your heels in and refuse to move forward in any way - "oh I'm just going to check out and wait until 2014 or 2016 when we can take it all back." Do not take the automatic position that if the proposal is coming from the 'other' party that it must be evil and must be defeated and if it passes our society is coming to a fiery end. Recognize that just because you believe it to be true - doesn't mean that it is the only answer or the only way for the world to be. Recognize that we have been moving back and forth on this political pendulum since the beginning of our country and we have survived.

I'm not asking you to change your positions or to stop supporting what you believe is right. I'm not asking you to change your political affiliation. I am asking you to put your energy into working with what we have. Support your legislators who are trying to engage in bipartisan work. Support local and national efforts to solve problems - even if the solutions are not perfectly in line with your sentiments. Support your government and spend your time working to make this world we live in better for ALL of us - not just those who share your positions.

I did the patriotic thing and lifted today's image from:
rocketxl.com