bigoted about bigots

The cycle of bigotry, so well explained. From an excellent blogger, barelypoppins, who I have come to enjoy reading immensely!

barelypoppins

It’s true, I can’t stand bigots.
I’m narrow-minded about narrow-mindedness.
I’m intolerant of prejudice.
I’m opinionated about the obstinate.
I’m small-minded about the unfair.
I’m bigoted about bigots.

Oliver Wendell Holmes described bigots with the quote: “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract.”

My mind contacts and my ears shrivel up when I hear a bigot speaking about their intolerance. Somehow I’ve become a bigot to bigots.

Félix Julien Jean Bigot de Préameneu who, despite his name, was probably not a bigot due to his involvement in developing the Napoleonic Code, which forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified.

If only the bigoted were all bigots for rights, freedoms and justice. But, I have found, sadly, they are not. And so…

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Is there an expiration date on apologies?

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in th...

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in the film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I was faced with the reality that my actions in high school hurt someone. More accurately, that my inaction hurt.

I was alerted to a blog post written by someone I attended school with who was bullied mercilessly.  It was written with such honesty and pain that it brought me to my knees.  While I don’t remember seeing any of the bullying happening to him personally, I saw and heard plenty in those days that I turned away from, pretending that nothing was happening.  After reading his post, I expressed my apologies and regret at not being a better person so many years ago.

Yesterday I read an article about a brave young women who posted a poem about her experience being bullied on a class reunion website. Her classmates were moved by her words and have since rallied with apologies and a fundraiser to get her back to the reunion.

It makes me wonder, do apologies go stale after so much time has passed? I was not the victim of bullying in my youth. Cruelly teased at times, yes, but not bullied.  If I had been, what would those apologies mean to me today?  Would it give me any solace knowing that my tormentors had grown up to be decent people that regret the actions of their youth?  Would it make my younger me feel any better about what happened?

I know in 12-step programs one of the steps is to make amends with the people that we have hurt.  Making amends is referred to as restoring justice and it does not always mean  apologizing directly to the people we have hurt. Often it is making changes in our life and in our behaviors to make it better, safer, for the people around us.   Amends seems a far greater gesture than an apology.

Most of us will not have the opportunity to apologize to the people we hurt directly.  In the case of bullying, either by torment or apathy, we are called to recognize our part in the cruelty that some people dismiss as a “”rite of passage.”  We have a chance and an opportunity to make amends to the children of our past by teaching OUR children that taunts, jeers, exclusion and violence are NEVER acceptable towards another human being. We can be an example of how to stand up for others that are being treated unjustly, and not walk away from another person in pain.

While I was offered an opportunity to apologize to someone directly, and would do it again, I think it’s much more important that I make amends for my part in history.  I am teaching my children that everyone has a purpose, a value, and a gift to share. I do not permit mean comments about other children, whether it is about their clothes, hair, or any other attribute that may seem different.  I do not force friendships, but I expect tolerance.  I work every day at modeling acceptance, and it’s not always easy, but I know that my little charges are watching, listening, and taking their cues from me.

I would hope that my amends will make a difference, even if my apologies don’t.

Getting slapped by the Universe…

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease (Photo credit: AJC1)

Hurts. I’m not going to lie.

May 5th would have been my dad’s 71st birthday.  Instead, he’s been physically gone over 2 years.  Mentally, it was many years before, having succumbed to early-onset Alzheimer’s.  He didn’t really  know who I was in the end, but I was there with him when he passed.  That was a good thing, which the universe seemed to know.

For the past two years I have been at peace with my dad’s passing, but recently I have been wondering, “Do I remember my dad’s laugh? Or what made him laugh? How was his smile?”.  The farther the anniversary, the more I fear I am forgetting. Which in context, is a very scary thing.  And when I get scared, I get busy. Luckily, I have two young children so time to think is a luxury.  I have put austerity measures into place.

Earlier this week, I got a call from the Alzheimer’s Association asking if I would volunteer for the 2012 Memory Walk.  I had done the walk for the past 2 years, so it was not out of the blue, but I hadn’t even thought about the walk yet.  Things that happen in October are lucky if they make my radar by September these days.  Ultimately, it was fine. It was busy work, not thoughtful work necessarily. I assembled my team page, sent my emails, and posted my plea for support on Facebook.  I can now ignore it for a bit (maybe till September?).  The universe was winding me up a bit, throwing me the walk just after my dad’s birthday.  Well played, Universe, but a soft blow.

Then the news today. A WAR on Alzheimer’s! New clinical trials that show some real potential.  A commitment from our country to recognize this epidemic that will triple over the next few decades.  Why was this news so important to me? My father had early-onset Alzheimer’s. My aunt is suffering the disease now. Alzheimer’s is in my genes. Literally. If what the research says is true, I may be carrying genes that would give me a 50% chance of having Alzheimer’s. Crap odds.  Even if I don’t need the cure, my brother, sister, cousin, or my children might.  Scary and hopeful at the same time, Universe is winding up for the punch here.

Then the punch.

A fellow blogger announces her new website: www.DeadDadsClub.com. It’s a beautiful site, a place to share stories about your dad, reading the stories of other members.  It’s club with an initiation that makes hazing look like sandbox play.  It’s a reminder to remember. If you can.

TKO.

Winner: Universe

Let me tell you about my dad. His smile was the same as my son’s.  He laughed at silly stuff, unimportant things, and mostly himself.  His laugh made other people laugh because of its genuine tenor and kind intention.   It sounded young, like good days. The early days, the days before Alzheimer’s.

You can run, but you can’t hide from what you know in your heart you must do.  I needed to think about my dad so that I would know that I do remember the important stuff, if not the details.  While initially a little painful, it was ultimately a good match, one that I am glad I lost.

Well done, TIME magazine.

I was just thinking to myself, “There just isn’t enough controversy surrounding being a mom.”  I have been anxiously awaiting a new fight to erupt, pitting moms across the world against one another.  Let’s face it, the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom controversy just isn’t exciting anymore.  The camps are established, colors are flown, and there is enough evidence to support both sides to keep things in a rather boring even keel.

Even the excitement of red-shirting your kid has gotten blasé. For those of you not in the know, it’s the practice of holding your kid back a year starting in kindergarten so that they have every advantage academically, and more importantly, physically, than all the other kids at school by being anywhere from a year to a year and half older than their classmates.

Imagine my excitement when I saw the cover of TIME this week, showing me a bold, sexy mama breastfeeding her humungous three-year-old standing on a chair.  I’m 5’2”, so logistically I can’t even compete, but it still beckons me to pull out my gloves, demanding me to pick a side and fight.

I’ll let you in on a little secret – the Mommy Mafia exists.  Old Italian men with bushy eyebrows have nothing on us.  Moms will backstab and costume slash with the best of them, utilizing subtle techniques of exclusion and gossip to bring opposing families to their knees.  Moms can be secretive and subversive in their dealings, making you wonder, “Is she a Tiger Mom, or a Ferberizer? I just can’t tell! She refuses to let pacifiers in the house, but uses the 5 S’s with reckless abandon.  Is she one of us, or one of THEM?”

Just when I thought the balance of mom and let mom was beginning to overtake us, TIME brought us a new fight.  I have a new choice in Familia, or rather a new oath of allegiance I am required to make.  Do I lay on my sword for the boob or the bottle?  I must choose wisely, for surely the lives of all innocent children are at stake.

My Married Life

My married life is not all roses and butterflies. Sure it has its moments, but it also has its “moments”. Let’s just say that I am glad there isn’t video proof.

Some nights are lovely, things move smoothly. Kids are attended to, bathed, put to bed lovingly. Dinner is eaten, TV is watched. Compromise and teamwork are in abundance and the day ends in blissful sleep knowing that I chose well in my husband.

Some nights are disasters, fights simmer below the surface. Backhanded comments are lobbed over the heads of our little charges, frustration fills the silence in between. Sleep comes after tortured thoughts of all the little things that went wrong.

Each day brings a new challenge, a new adventure. Some days are triumphant, others deflating. But at the end of every day, I am married.

My husband was there to hold my hand in the hospital when I woke up, and will do it again if ever I needed. His work will allow him the time off to care for me, protecting his job and my peace of mind.

When I fill out paperwork for my child’s school, I will check that box that says “Married.” My children will be recognized as having an “unbroken” home because of it.

I will be there for my husband in his sickness and old age and will grieve his passing as his adoring wife. His social security benefits and pension will provide for me for the rest of my life while I struggle to live without him.

Marriage is work. It’s a commitment to work every day for the rest of your life to make the relationship stronger and better than the day before. To work through trials, enjoy the triumphs, and share in memories.

Marriage is family. A family that starts as two, but can grow to any number as the universe see fit. A family that is recognized by neighbors, teachers, employers, and the government.

Marriage is sacred. A sacred bond between two people that find themselves signing up for this journey.

Marriage is important. It’s important for our communities, our children, and ourselves. It’s important in the way we view ourselves in the framework of our society.

Most importantly, marriage is for anyone that wants to make this commitment to another human being. It shouldn’t matter if the person you choose is your same sex, just as it doesn’t matter if they are your same race.

I have a “traditional” marriage. I am a woman married to a man. My marriage will not change if my gay neighbors get married tomorrow. My marriage will still have its moments, and its “moments”. Their marriage would too. My marriage will still offer me the peace of mind that when all of life’s crazy happens, I will have built a life that is protected by laws. Their marriage would give them the same.

Marriage does not happen in a church, it happens in a court. Today a court in North Carolina has changed the state’s constitution to ban marriages between same-sex couples. It seems cruel to take away the right of any human being to be happy, recognized and protected by their government. I wonder how this is even possible? I wonder how our society has become so cruel?

Do I have to be a believer?

I honestly just don’t have a lot of time to ponder the question of god.  I am not for, or against, any religion, and have a firm belief in live and let live.  I went to a Catholic university, send my kid to a Jewish preschool – I am not here to judge, just to learn.

And speaking of learn… my point of this blog.

Intelligent Design

Intelligent design is the newest name for creationism and has been excluded from public school teaching since the religious theory was found not to meet the tenets of science as scientists use the term.  In other words, not proven scientifically. Not my words, that was the conclusion of the U.S. Federal Court ruling in Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District in 2005.

Intelligent design, not a new topic, why bring it up now?

“Researchers found that only 28 percent of biology teachers consistently follow the recommendations of the National Research Council to describe straightforwardly the evidence for evolution and explain the ways in which it is a unifying theme in all of biology. At the other extreme, 13 percent explicitly advocate creationism, and spend at least an hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.

That leaves what the authors call “the cautious 60 percent,” who avoid controversy by endorsing neither evolution nor its unscientific alternatives. In various ways, they compromise.”

via On Evolution, Biology Teachers Stray From Lesson Plan – NYTimes.com.

I feel like this report should have gotten a little more press!

I find it interesting that this report came out and it fell on deaf ears.  Regardless of your belief in, or disbelief in, intelligent design, it should have raised alarm bells. This report is telling me that over 70% of biology teachers do not teach evolution as science, and bring in theory, such as Intelligent Design, as an alternative.

Since this can be a very polarizing topic, let me propose another theory that could be taught in sciences class: The Paleolithic Diet. It basically says that we are genetically adapted to the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors, and eating the way of our ancestors is optimal for health.

While there are many supporters of this theory, I’m not sure I want my teenager to start eating only grass-fed meat and  vegetables, and excluding all grains, dairy, and beans based on a theory his science teacher told him about nutrition and the human body.

I don’t think I’ll get a lot of resistance when I say that Paleolithic Diet Theory should not be part of a public school biology class curriculum.  And if a teacher was found to be including it, I would have to think there would be a reprimand, warning, or even a termination.

Many people will have single biology class in their entire lifetime.  Everything they learn about science, they will learn in 10th grade.  Based on this report, your children in public school have a high likelihood of learning about evolution as only a theory and encountering alternate theories, predominantly Intelligent Design, as viable alternatives.

Is this OK?

Foolproof New Year’s Resolution?

It’s the end of another year.

Did you stay true to your promises of 2011?  Did you lose steam in January, March or May?

I find New Year’s Resolutions to be daunting and difficult to dream up, and infinitely harder to follow through on.  What is at the root of all these resolutions? The common denominator of the inspiration that compels millions of people to post sticky notes on their mirrors, announce commitments on Facebook, and develop internal mantras to begin on January 1?

I think I have my answer:

We want to feel better next year than we did the last.

Whether it’s a commitment to ourselves, our families, or our communities around us, we want to make a meaningful change in our lives or lifestyles that will make us feel better about what we do each and every day.

Personally, without a reminder, I lose sight of my goals by February 1.  Worse, by this time next year, I will be chastising myself for not having the tenacity or will power to make even the slightest gain on the goal so hopefully set 12 months ago.

This year I am going to lock in my commitment, and put it on auto-deduct.

My New Year’s Resolution: Get inspired creatively and professionally, and make a meaningful change in my work.

My Reminder: A monthly $10.00 donation to Art & Creativity for Healing, Inc. An organization that uses creativity as a way to open up new lines of communication that leads to incredible healing for thousands of people every year.

The Payoffs:

  • I get a monthly reminder of $10.00 on my statement to keep me thinking about my larger goal.
  • I am supporting an organization I believe in.
  • Regardless of my personal progress, I know I am supporting a cause that uses creativity to make the lives of others better.

How you can incorporate this into your own resolution:

Once you have your resolution – find a cause.

  • Weight Loss Goal? Support a food bank.
  • Professional Improvement? Support an organization like Dress for Success that helps people find gainful employment.
  • Debt Reduction? Support a homeless shelter or an organization providing the basic life necessities for those without.
  • Already supporting an organization? It doesn’t matter as long you make a monthly payment.
  • Already making a monthly donation? Increase it by $5, make the increase your reminder.

Set up an automatic donation either through the organization themselves, or through your online bill pay service as an auto pay.

Most importantly, commit for the year.

At the end of the year, reflect on how your $10.00 monthly donation made an impact on someone’s life.  I can’t imagine you will be disappointed in yourself this time next year. 

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” ­­ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Will you put your New Year’s Resolution on auto pay? Let me know!

Happy New Year!

Please feel free to share this post with friends, family, Facebook & Twitter.  Imagine the impact we could make? 

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