Various Rants


Last night my Internet news page showed a picture of an American family trapped in Lebanon holding up signs and passports. It was a very moving picture and I feel for the family. Their ordeal must be terrible and frightening. But as I looked, I couldn’t help but think, what about all of the innocent Lebanese civilians who are not able to leave? Are they not trapped, too? Trapped with no embassy to appeal to, no government that can intervene and whisk them away. Are the Lebanese people surely not as innocent and deserving as all of those non-Lebanese nationals holding up their passorts showing the world that they deserve to leave because they are not from that country? Get me out, they seem to be saying. Take me away. I don’t deserve this. This isn’t my war. Well, plenty of Lebanese are feeling those same feelings. And we may not be able to do much from far away, but there is one small and easy thing anyone who is reading this right now can and absolutely should do: sign an Internet petition asking–demanding–that the world recognize that hundreds of innocents–innocents who cannot escape the bombing–are being killed and...

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I think I must be reaching some sort of inner peace in my dreamlife. Last night I had stress dreams–I’ve had them all my life at various, busy times–but for the first time ever, they weren’t stressful. Let me explain. In my younger years, my stress dreams corresponded (loosely) to the stresses in my life at the time: 1)In my thirties, I had car crash dreams in which I died, but my children didn’t. I was glad they had survived, but devastated that I wouldn’t be there to raise them, that they were all alone. For the first time, I feared my mortality–not for myself, but for those small innocents who depended on me. 2) In my twenties, I was most often chased by an angry, hairy, knife-wielding madman when I was wearing the equivalent of big lead boots. To make matters worse, the dream often ended when I had just about completely wriggled under the fence (i.e. reached safety) and he caught my ankle and yanked me back. Brrr! 3) In my teens, I remember a recurring stress dream that tore me up. I was being followed by a three-legged dog who needed help. I desperately wanted to help him, but I couldn’t, so I tried to run away, instead. I would run for a mile, swim a river, scale a mountain, and push through a thick forest only to turn around and there that dog still was, quietly wanting help. It’s humorous in the retelling, but the dream was awful. 4) In my even younger years I was usually in school, missing some sort of essential thing…like pants. Miraculously, I had left home, gotten on the bus, walked the halls, and made it to my desk without anyone noticing, but suddenly I knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the minute I stood up, all eyes would be on my naked arse. It was mortifying and maddening. Should I stay seated after the bell and draw attention to myself? Stand, be cool, and hope people continued not to notice? Attempt to strategically place my books? Oh, what to do? Okay, so my stress dreams have clearly evolved. And last night? I was juggling eggs. Okay, not juggling exactly…rather, carrying eggs. But there were way too many to carry easily, so in effect I was juggling them. And dropping them. (Whoops. Splat! Damn.) But the funniest part of this, and why I feel so calm today, is that in my dream I was coaching myself. I was saying things like, “They’re just eggs, Mare. Don’t worry about it. They cost, what, ten cents a piece? You could drop...

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It is not invading a country and killing a hundred thousand of its citizens for something that turns out not to exist. It is not insisting on the sanctity of a blastula of cells when millions of already born children are starving and dying all over the world. It is not charging two loving people who happen to be the same sex and want to make a life together with a crime. It is not hiding behind the flag and never admitting you’ve made a mistake. It is not giving tax breaks to the wealthy while you brainwash those who are struggling to make ends meet that it is in their best interests. It is not controlling the media to spew your particular brand of patriotic religiosity and clogging the airways with hate-mongering extremist views. It is not calling dissenters unpatriotic for simply wondering if there might not be a better way to do things. It is not rolling back environmental standards and polluting the earth for the benefit of large corporations. It is not seeing everything in black and white, regardless of the circumstances. It is not calling yourself moral when you are anything...

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Privately, I consider myself a Christian, but I am embarrassed to admit it publicly. I am embarrassed because the modern face of Christianity has changed. Today, the most frequently seen Christians are the religious zealots who wave angry signs in the streets, who cry over burning candles at vigils for people they have never met while television cameras roll, who flock in droves to interfere in the very private, difficult, life-and-death decisions of individuals and who generally clamor for publicity and attention at every turn. I consider myself a reasoned, thinking individual, and those Christians–with their angry certainty, with their lack of logic, with their holier-than-thou attitudes–alienate me from my faith. I imagine this is somewhat like the feeling a moderate Muslim must have for the men who flew planes into the Twin Towers in New York City. When I read about Christians who lie in wait for a doctor who performs abortions, with the scope of a rifle pointed toward the door of his family home, or who threaten the judge in the Terry Schaivo case with death for simply doing his job—upholding the law of the land—I feel as if I must not be a Christian, because I could not kill to advance the cause of my religion, my religion, whose highest tenet is “Thou shalt not kill.” God gave us minds. He intended us to use them. Just why are so many Americans adopting issues with a black-and-white mentality that would shame the reasoned, thinking men who founded this great country of ours—founded it with religious freedom as one of its main goals? More importantly, why are we moderates not speaking out and telling those extreme Christians that they do not follow the teachings of our God? Why are we letting them speak for us, letting them be the mutated faces of modern Christianity? We’ve decried the moderate Muslims who failed to publicly condemn the terrorists, yet we are doing the very same thing in our own country every time we say nothing when an abortion provider dies at the hands of a Christian extremist. These fundamentalist, extremist Christians are stealing my religion. They are taking it and twisting it to their purposes in exactly the same way the Muslim terrorists have twisted the gentle, peace-loving religion of Islam. And it is wrong. Any time religion turns into war, it is...

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I fear for the future of my country. And I mean this in a sincere, patriotic sense. I may be a die-hard liberal, but I can still love my country, even as I disagree with many of its policies. I can be grateful to the many men and women who have given their lives in service of our country. I, too, have served my country on the home front, as the spouse of a military member. I have seen and lived sacrifice. I believe in democracy. In order for a true democracy to thrive, it cannot be static. It cannot afford to rest on its laurels, smug in the knowledge that all issues have been debated and solved. The very founding fathers we idolize were themselves questioning men. They were riddled with doubt and concern and knew full well that any document they created would need to be flexible and adaptable if it were to remain relevant. The sense I get from the current administration, though, is that questioning and soul-searching are signs of weakness. Personally? I believe the opposite: that he who continually questions and seeks answers is strong. It is only the ill-informed, insecure bully who takes a position and then unwaveringly pushes it down the throats of others. My current fear for my country comes mostly from living under leaders who insist–without question, or even room for discussion–that they are right. Leaders who believe that God has told them what the country needs. Yes, the founding fathers believed in God, but I do not believe that the founding fathers held the radical fundamental view that they could speak directly to God and receive a definitive answer. That requires a level of arrogance that I don’t believe they possessed. For our current leadership to refer back to the founding fathers as an example of why God should be in government is faulty logic. It’s not apples and apples. George Bush’s God–from whom he openly professes to seek guidance–is not an example of the same God:worshiper relationship that the founding fathers enjoyed. The “personal relationship with God” is a modern Christian construct, and one that I submit would not have gone over well with our Anglican/Episcopal forefathers. Can you imagine George Washington announcing, “I’ve spoken with God, and I believe I know what He wants me to do”? That is not the language of a statesman. That’s the language of a demagogue. That comes from someone who has co-opted the notion of God for his own purposes. Who invokes an all-powerful entity to rationalize decisions that might otherwise prompt questions. It is a way to close discussion: God–via...

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What are we entitled to in this world? Well, if American, our constitution entitles us to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and a few additional things added over the years, such as a fair trial (ostensibly), the right to vote (again, suspect after this past election), but I digress… A recent event, broadcast in the local news has been eating at me for weeks. Here is a brief summary: A bus driver taking a busload of kids home from school, finds that he has a pair of exceptionally rowdy students on board. (Habitual offenders, as it turns out.) When he attempts to stop their fistfight, they turn on him, cursing and hitting, and creating extreme havoc. In response, the harried bus driver kicks them off the bus, leaving them to walk home through the snow, roughly half a mile. The children are aged 11 and 12. As you may have guessed, the parents of the two children were incensed. They called the school. The principal then officially reprimanded the bus driver. (So far, so good.) The parents then called the television news. After the story aired, the bus driver was fired. Within a week, the firing was not enough, and the parents brought criminal charges of child endangerment against the bus driver. He now faces time in court and up to a year in jail if convicted. Have you guessed where my loyalties lie by now? Bear in mind, I’m no card-carrying member of the Elmer Fudd Party–no Wight Wing Wadical tendencies here–I’m about as bleeding-heart as they come. And I have children of my own. But child endangerment?? Come on. Yes, he should have been reprimanded, but he didn’t strip them naked and make them walk home through a blizzard. They had coats. Plenty of kids in my neighborhood walk a mile to school and back every day. And these kids were being wretched little shits–fighting, using extremely foul language, and threatening the bus driver. Where is their accountability? Oh, right. I forgot. “Children are our future, Mary.” Well, duh! My point exactly! Who do you want taking care of your country’s affairs in your old age? Foul-mouthed kids that think they rule the world and can do no wrong? Kids whose parents overreact and rise to their defense, bailing them out of trouble and crying “unfair!” even when the kids are clearly in the wrong? Have you ever driven a bus full of kids? Been in charge of all those kids, of getting them home safely every single day, being hyper alert at all times? Have you even ridden on such a bus? Well, I...

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