This is Where We Are and What We Have

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Photo by John Baker on Unsplash

This post consists of some observations that swirled about in my head last night as I sought sleep. It is not meant to be too political or controversial or in any other way annoying.

It is brought about by a real life events in my “neck of the woods” and the resulting thoughts that accompanied it.

First…last night on our neighborhood social media page we were alerted to the fact that a sheriff’s department chase involving the pursuit of criminals resulted in an accident.  The two suspects escaped on foot in very close proximity to our home.

A lot of information, but not a lot of information at the same time.  What were they suspected of doing?  How dangerous were they?  What direction were they going? 

It was recommended that we secure our homes and arm ourselves. 

Depending on where you live you may have a different viewpoint on this recommendation.  We live on a county line out in the country.  This occurred in the county next to us.  Our county is quite large and depending on where the deputies are an any given time and their call load, can have a response time to a 911 call of 20 minutes to 40 minutes or more (give or take, just an estimate)  That’s a lot of time in an emergency. 

We’ve got a gun.  I’m okay with it.  I’m also okay with using it if the circumstances warrant it. 

Again, your circumstances may be different as may be your choices.

Hence, these ramblings…

Observation # 1:  Life is not fair.

While growing up, my kids were not allowed to say “it’s not fair”.

I wanted them to become grown-ups who understood that sometimes, despite your best efforts, shit happens…

  • Sometimes you work really hard for something and do your best and you don’t get what you want or deserve.  Work hard anyway.
  • Sometimes good people die in a senseless way before their time and you won’t understand why.  Grieve and live in a way that honors the memory of those lost.
  • Sometimes even when you do the right thing, you get in trouble…in this world there is a difference between legal and moral. Choose to live with honor.
  • Sometimes no matter how much you believe that what you believe is absolutely right, it isn’t.  You are one person in millions.  Discern the facts and seek truth.
  • Sometimes people are impossible to deal with and love is hard.  Loneliness is harder.  Love others anyway, but first of all manage to love yourself.
  • Sometimes the people in charge appear to be incompetent because they aren’t doing the task at hand the way you would do it.  Always remember, that until you have walked in their shoes, you can’t fully understand their decisions.
  • Sometimes people will mock you or ridicule you for your beliefs. Stand up for and uphold those beliefs, but don’t denigrate theirs in the process.
  • Sometimes violence happens.  There are bullies in the world and they come in all sizes and different guises.  Don’t start the fight, but once it is unavoidable, fight to win.

Observation # 2

There are 3 kinds of people in this world.

  1. People who generally share the same opinions and beliefs that I do.
  2. People with whom I appear to have nothing in common with.
  3. People who don’t appear to have any opinions about anything and don’t really seem to believe in much either.

I try to remember this saying that is written on the wall at Holy Cross Primary School in North Belfast:

“If we had been born where they were born

and taught what they were taught,

we would believe what they believe.”

That doesn’t mean that I have to agree with them.  Or like them.  Or hang out with them.  Or argue with them to try convince them that they are wrong and I am right.

It just means that there are people different than me.

And that is a good thing.

Even if I don’t always like it or if it tends to make me uncomfortable or just really makes me angry sometimes.

Observation # 3

In my opinion, the world was a better place before instant and continuous coverage of events. I’m not going to use the word “news” here because I don’t even know what that means anymore.

Instant information.

Selective coverage.

Opinions printed as facts.

Stories before the facts are even known.

Speculation and exploitation.

Words.

So many words.

Sent out to a massive faceless audience overwhelmed by the vast unfairness of it all.

Life is not fair.

We will never all agree.

Some of it cannot be fixed.

And yelling more and yelling louder at each other isn’t helping.

In conclusion, what’s the point of these words.

I would like to live in a world where there were not guns and violence and criminals, and mental illness.

I do not.

I would like to live in a world where we could all peacefully come to a mutually agreeable solution to the above mentioned problems.

I do not.

I am here.

And you are here.

We live in this world.  The one we have in all it’s imperfect glory.

I will continue to seek out joy to the best of my ability.

I will seek truth.

I will listen with respect.

I will try to patiently understand our differences or learn to be tolerant of them.

Please join me.

 

 

 

 

 

On the Fence

I staged my first organized protest against “injustice” when I was 16.  It had significant ramifications  that I have carried with me and used as guide when I feel righteous anger against anything, anywhere.

I was a leader in our church youth group and a member of our congregation invited us to their neighborhood pool for a swim party.  This was in the Rio Grande Valley in the late 1970’s.  There was another pool in our town…a city pool.  It was in a part of town that my father refused to let me go into to.  “That” part of town.  My father is a story unto himself.  We won’t get into that right now.  Getting invited to go to that pool was a big deal.

Then I found out that this pool was for only certain people.  People who were white. Remember this was the 1970’s  And the Rio Grande Valley.  Be outraged if you like, but please finish reading this.  Understand that I was outraged too.

Our pastor and his wife at the time had adopted a little girl from Bolivia.  In my mind, because she was not “white” she would be excluded from this swim party.  Unacceptable!

I started talking…loudly.  I demanded justice.  I canceled the pool party.    I interrupted a church service to stand up for her rights and the rights of everyone else who were being denied the right to swim in that pool.  I felt pretty good about myself.  I was working for social justice.  That’s what my church taught.

Only it turned out that nobody had any intention of keeping that little girl out of that pool. And if I had initiated a conversation about my concerns, it could all have been worked out peacefully…and I would not have made a complete jackass of myself.

That pool was not actually a neighborhood pool.  It had been built by a few residents in the neighborhood with their own money and they shared it with others who owned house in the neighborhood.  Because they were neighbors.  So it was a private pool.  It was “their” pool and they could do with it as they wished.

Was it “right”?  That’s a really big question.  Was it legal?  Yes.

Was I wrong to be on the lookout for injustice and all things unfair?  Nope.

Did I handle it incorrectly with extremism and a total lack of concern for everyone around me?  Absolutely.

I was forgiven by most.  There was a lot of head-shaking by quite a few.  After all, I was young and “didn’t really understand how the world worked”.  At the church’s senior luncheon, I was voted as the most likely to end up in jail as a result of a demonstration or protest of some kind.

I don’t regret this incident.  It’s contributed greatly to who I am.  I believe in fairness and equality.  I also believe in peaceful protest.  I believe in honoring the law.  I believe in making a decision about a person by the character he exhibits and I understand that we are all flawed and make mistakes…sometimes big mistakes…in our efforts to make things better.

I condemn violence and hate speech and the harassment of anyone who disagrees with you.  I can also understand some of it.  That doesn’t mean I endorse it.

I tend to sit on the fence and watch.  There’s a good view from there.  I’m not so far on one side of the pasture or the other that I can’t see far enough.  Sitting on the fence doesn’t mean I don’t ever get off of it.  I’ve gone left and I’ve gone right. I just try to sit on the fence and get a good lay of the land before I go running off in any direction.

When I was 16, I learned that I didn’t know everything.  I learned that listening and asking questions and initiating rational discussion is important.  I learned it the hard way.

I am 55 now.  I still don’t know everything.  I still believe in trying to make things right.

I do know that I’m as sick of the fear-mongering by some who are fighting for social justice as I am of the hateful speech and violence being promoted by some on the other side.

The view from the fence right now is unpleasant no matter which way I turn.  And the fence is getting pretty damn crowded as an increasing number of folks are speaking up and saying the extremists are not speaking for them. Being the loudest is not always the best.

I learned that when I was 16.