Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Saturday, September 22, 2012

C: Getting Political and Politically Incorrect

riot 4 Okay, I got special permission from V to veer from our usual path…

I tend to avoid commenting on politics or world affairs too much.  This is partly because I have a lot in my own little world to contend with, and this absorbs most of my energies.  It’s been a while since I have had the luxury of being impassioned about politics or world affairs. It must be added that the cynicism that pervades my philosophies in general applies here, too.  I have a suspicion of politicians of all stripes and I doubt very much that my thoughts, one way or the other, will change the world.

But lately the riots against the US in the Middle East riot 2and throughout Muslim communities worldwide  have captured some of my attention.  The images scattered throughout this post are from those events.

I have listened with growing chagrin about the murder of one of our ambassadors and the disrespect being shown to us by the riots outside our embassies throughout the world. 

It was not pleasant for me to see our embassy invaded, our flag taken down and replaced with some kind of flag bearing muslim flag an Islamic message. 

While I think that the Benghazi, Libya attack has now been shown to be an organized act of terrorism coming in under the cloak of mass uprising, it seems that much of the rioting (such as in Cairo) is, indeed, populist expression.

The impetus, it is said, is a film that people of the Islamic faith find offensive.

Really?

Rioting because someone makes a film insulting your religion?

Who acts this way?

I happen to be a Christian.  When folks make fun of or insult my religion or those important to its tenets, such as Jesus, it really does not matter much to me.

Water off a duck’s back.

I don’t understand why an insulting film would make thousands riot and, generally, act like animals. 

When comedienne Kathy Griffin said some pretty insulting things about Jesus in her stand-up routine, making headlines, my back was a watershed.  It did not make me want to picket her home or her performances.  It did not riot 3 make me hate her or think she is destined for Hell (not my business—that would God’s business).  I may choose to avoid her or not listen to her drivel, but it had no effect, whatsoever, on me.   What she says about my religion just does not matter much to me.

I don’t get offended much by the beliefs of others (or their non-belief).  And I think I am following in Jesus’ steps by being that way—He seemed to me to be the least offendable person who has walked the earth.

And, no, I do not feel it is my duty to defend God, Jesus or my faith by rioting or force of any kind.  We tried that in the Crusades and, as I recall, the process did not bring out the best of Christian virtue.  Let’s never go back to that. 

I read one article that said that the Islamists involved are upset because we (America) don’t force the film off the internet.  First of all, how do you do that?  I think that once on the internet, it’s pretty much a genie out of the bottle that can’t be put back in.  (Just ask those who,whoops, had a sex tape published that they wish had not seen the light of day).  But, then, I err in applying any logic to this situation.

bill of rights The larger issue is that we Americans have the First Amendment.  If some dough-headed Christian group wants to say something nasty about another religion, well, they get to do that….we don’t “take down” those expressions—that would be the style of those oppressive countries who are involved in these riots.

And, by the way, the riots began on September 11, the anniversary of an event that most Americans consider a cause for deep hurt and sadness.  Did we riot because they rioted against us on that particular day?  Not that I noticed…

Now, here’s where I get really politically incorrect:  When our former President George W. Bush would say of our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, “We’re bringing democracy to the Middle East,” I used to shake my head. 

Democracy?

Really? 

In an area where they want to stifle free speech, where they oppress women crushingly, where torture chambers are standard? 

The riots prove my point. Democracy has worked well for us.  We need to understand, however, that not everyone wants democracy, and not every society can sustain it.

Especially societies who riot over expression of opinion; or

Whose usual style to effect change is mass rioting.

I know that we are supposed to feel (and say) that all cultures are equal in value and yadayadayada.  Perhaps, however, those societies involved in this mess are societies which we should leave to stew in their own non-democratic juices.  Not all societies want or can sustain democracy, and we need to accept that. Not all societies are on equal footing…

Thanks for giving me my politically-incorrect moment.  C.

PS – please understand that I am NOT saying that we should not voice our beliefs, vote our consciences, etc.  (quite the opposite—we should relish and exercise our freedoms)

What I AM saying, however, is that we should be respectful and civil about doing so…to-wit: don’t riot and pillage over ideas…

Thursday, September 20, 2012

C: My Childhood Reading Favorites

Did any of you see this heart-stopping YouTube video?  I first saw it on a news broadcast and only made it through the entire thing because the anchor said at the outset: “Don’t worry—it all ends well.”

I loved seeing this—how the little ducklings would scurry back to the guidance of their mother after their little group was scattered by the wind of passing traffic.  How she would wait on them to regroup before continuing her perilous path.make way for ducklings

It made me think back to one of my favorite childhood books: Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey (1942 Caldecott Award.)  For those of you who don’t know this book, it is  about a family of ducks crossing a city street (with the help of the friendly traffic policeman) to get to the lake at the Boston Public  Gardens. 

The book is famous enough to merit sculpture at the gardens to commemorate it.make way for ducklings scuplpture

Another of my favorites was about Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Marianne (by Virginia Burton, 1939.)  I also loved The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward (1953 Caldecott Award.)  I shared all these with my son.

mike mulligan BiggestBearJPG

As I grew older, my reading interests became more focused.  I was a horse lover from the get-go.  C. W. Anderson’s series on Billy and his pony Blaze were some of my early favorites, not the least because of Anderson’s ubilly and blazenbelievably beautiful and realistic illustrations.  Billy and Blaze had many, many  adventures together, including forest fires and mountain lions.  I so identified with Billy because from age 6 I had my own horses on whom I rode hours at a time on adventures in the miles and miles of wooded trails that surrounded our house.

You may be more familiar with the movie based on these, but Walter Farley wrote a series of books that I devoured.  The black stallion Black Stallion was the first, but there were many, many after: The Black Stallion Returns, the Son of the Black Stallion, the Black Stallion Races, and on and on.  He also added a few books called “The Island Stallion,” about Flame, a beautiful red chestnut who lived—where else?—on an island!

And I cannot leave out Marguerite Henry.  She wrote a whole bunch of books on horses, the most famous of which may be the series on Misty of Chincoteague about the Assateague Island wild ponies and the festival each year where the herd king of the wind must swim to Chincoteague for the auction of some of the herd to keep it thinned.  My personal favorite of Henry’s books was King of the Wind (1949 Newberry Award.)

There were many other books that cultivated my imagination as I was growing up –too many to catalog here!  It is safe to say that I read all the time—now a lifelong habit.  Going back over these in my mind after watching the duckling video gave me a great deal of pleasure.

I can only hope that this video-game age of kids will continue to read, as I did, so that they may have this kind of memory to enjoy in their waning years! 

Let me hear about some of your favorite childhood books!  --C

Saturday, September 15, 2012

C: Eating Healthy (Gross Factor Warning)

family devotions Someone close to me once gathered her two precious children around for a morning devotional and Bible study. 

Such a beautiful perfect-family picture.  Her seven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter were interested, earnest, and in good humor as they started.

The lesson was about turning to God for assistance in cleaning up our lives.  Mom spoke to the kids about bad habits and how prayer can enlist the help of God and focus us on our efforts to break them. 

Think about something you’d like help with this morning.  If you want to share it, fine.  If you are not comfortable with sharing, that’s fine, too.  We all have things in our lives we’d like to change and we need help to do it.  I’ll start.”

Mom shared with her kids that she had gained a little weight and that she knew the reason was poor eating habits.  “I need help from you and from God so I can remember to make good choices in my diet.  I need to learn to eat healthy.”

She waited, respectful of her children.  After a minute, Boy spoke up, noticeably shaky and ashamed.  “Mom, I need help to stop eating boogers.”yuk

Mom was stunned.  She froze, her eyes locked on her son’s face.  How could this be?  Her polite, nearly-perfect little son with such a disgusting habit?  It was all she could do to keep from jumping up and exclaiming something surely judgmental and emotionally-damaging as she retched. She fought to remain poker-faced, knowing that judgment was not the thing to display right now.

In the stillness of the moment, she collected herself.  Her eyes slid to her firstborn, her dainty, quiet daughter whose eyes were fixed on her mother’s face.  As if on cue that it was her turn once Mom’s eyes met hers, without prompting Girl started her own confession.  “Me, too, Mom.  I think I need to stop eating boogers.”

Stunned silence. 

The internal struggle was intense.  Where had she gone wrong as a yuckmother? 

She considered options: Should she jerk their revolting little bodies up and wash their nasty booger-ridden mouths out with soap? 

Should she give them extra housework to make sure they never forgot their struggle to crush this habit?  

Should she tell their father what abhorrent, foul children they had raised? 

Emotion and nausea flooded her. 

She struggled with balancing the need to be emotionally-supportive of their confessions against her need to expel the disgust she felt building inside her.  healthy

Control regained, she bowed her head and simply said: “Lord, please help us to be healthy in our eating habits…”

The kids grew out of it, apparently. The story is now told by them all,  They love the shock and disgust that goes across people’s faces.

And, in case you wonder, she is a great mother. 

We can be good parents and teach our children all the right things to do. Still, our kids just veer from the paths we think we have set them on—all of them.  This disgusting little story is just a reminder. 

When I hear clients bemoaning their wayward adult children and saying, “Where did I go wrong?” I remind them that we cannot blame adult bad choices on parenting.  To try to force them into seeing this, I ask:  “Which parent failed Adam and Eve?”

It just happens – to the best parents.  -C

Monday, September 3, 2012

C: But It Was Different With Us…

pickup line I’ve written about this before. 

It’s worth mentioning again because we are all prey to the idea that our circumstances are special, different.  The rules and statistics don’t really apply, so we think.  This can cloud judgment.

Mattie was married to a well-known personal injury lawyer, “Jim.“  I had heard of him; don’t know of him except by his reputation.  I expected to find lots of assets.  I was right.

She’d been married to him 34 years.  She was 52.  He was 18 years older than her and at a well-preserved 70, rich and thanks to Viagra,  going strong in all respects.

Frankly, it seemed to me that Mattie ought to wait it out…he was content to be married while he continued to sow his elderly oats.  Apparently when one is rich one can find plenty of fertile ground in which to do so, no matter your age.  Divorce was going to be emotionally hard and, surely, he’d either die or stroke out soon.

But I always tell my clients, “Only you know what’s worth what emotionally.”  Apparently, life with him was something she just could not take any more.  She told me me of decades of putting up with his infidelities, his promises to get better, which invariably evolved into suspicious activities and new discoveries of betrayal by her.  A never-ending cycle, it seemed.  This latest was more than she could bear.

She had recently discovered him in flagrante delicto—literally.  She’d walked in on hubby and his cute little thirty-year old paralegal deep kissing in his office.  It was bossclear to her this wasn’t the first such kiss they had shared: blouse was partially off and husband’s hands were…er, not visible.   Classic, isn’t it?

Now she wanted a divorce.  Okay, we can do that.  And she will be okay financially, although when you deal with egos like her husband’s you can expect to be put to through the wringer in a divorce.  His arrogant pride will assure that, and I warned her of this.

So, how long have you known he is a cheat?” I asked, always curious about the development of relationships.

He’s always cheated on me,” she said.  “I first caught him our third year of marriage, right after the birth of our first.  I just can’t do it any longer.  I deserve a few years of quiet contentment, don’t you think?”

I nodded.  “How did you meet?”

I was a receptionist in his firm.  I went to work there when I was 23.  He was the most handsome man I’d ever seen and so confident.  He swept me off my feet.  I should have known how it would be, because he was married at the time.”

My ears pricked up.  I sat still, sensing she would continue.  She did.

He told me how unhappy he was in his marriage.  When we discovered each other he said it gave him the push he needed to end the misery for both him and his wife.”

Did he have children?” I asked.

Oh, yes—three of them.  All still in grade school except for the youngest who had not yet started school.  They adopted her from China.  You would not believe what a little snot she grew into.”

So you aren’t close to them?”

Well, no.  I eventually had my own two girls to take care of, but every other weekend and every vacation trip and holiday, we had his three by his first marriage.  The trouble was that my husband was always a workaholic, so most of this time was done under my watch.  It was not easy duty, I’ll tell you.  The kids never really liked me.  I’m sure their mother bad-mouthed me at home.  Now that all the kids are grown, I never see them, and he rarely does.”

I bet.  I pried again: “So, did you ever worry at the first that he might cheat on you like he did his first wife?”

I sensed a little bristle at this.  “I know what you’re thinking.  No one else can understand how ‘right’ our love was—I mean we were soul mates.  I really don’t think it is something most people experience; it was special.  He said so, too.  It was different.  I didn’t break up their marriage.  He would have divorced her eventually.

Here is my thought bubble at this:

Really?  Maybe. Maybe not.  Maybe wife no. 1 just did not tolerate humiliation as well as you did this last 34 years…truthfully, lady, you don’t know whether it was the wife who got sick of him rather than him leaving her for your perfect love…

No, I did not say that, but I thought it. 

Why do wsnow whiteomen think that a cheater will cease to be a cheater---ever?  Because we buy into the fairy tale definition  of love…the Disney-princess-love-at-first-sight-forever-and-ever-conquers-all-through-thick-and-thin kind of love.

I’m a cynic.  I no longer buy this.   Rather I buy into Maya Angelou’s wise saying:

The first time someone shows you who he is, listen…

And then there’s another:

Karma’s a b*%*h.

karma

-C (for “cynic”)

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