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Posts Tagged ‘social responsibility’

Those were the words that followed me home last Thursday.

I haven’t posted here in quite some time.  I just really haven’t felt like I had anything important to say, and that my blog had become some kind of me, me, me drivel.  Not what I wanted.  So I’ve pulled back.

Recently, though, a few things have brought me back to a place of feeling like I have something important to say.  So quick catch up.  By now, if you’ve read much of my blog, you know that the main focus I have is about fearless living, and not letting anxiety or uncertainty stop me from doing the things I know are my path.  I’ve zeroed in on intentional, deliberate, “create your own best world” behaviors, and bless the Goddess, it works!  Over the past couple of years, I have found a womon who I wake up every morning feeling more grateful for than the last; I have and am making friends who are interested in real intimacy.  I have ditched my house and moved to a pedestrian-friendly, super active, unique kind of town that also has a deliberate vision for itself, and I’ve committed to being that pedestrian who uses mass transit to get her places.  My work rejuvenates me.  I travel, with or without companions.  And I make time for the activities I love and the ones that are good for me.  I forgive myself for mistakes.  My life is so unbelievable!  And every big thing has come by baby steps.  Even the scary ones.  I am living the life I designed – but then you are too! (That’s something to think about, eh?)

So, what does this have to do with hearing those startling words?  Well, I’ll tell you.  I have always felt that I had firm moral convictions, liberal political opinions, and a sort of  covenant with my community to help uphold common values.  Most days, that means picking up some litter, or offering the homeless guy a breakfast.  It means greeting strangers with a smile, direct look in the eye, and a pleasant, “Hello.”  It’s a commitment that is very important to me.

So, Thursday, I get off the train coming back from work.  It’s about 4:00.  Across the street from the station is a park that I usually cut through to get home.  I’m walking beside this older guy in his late fifties.

As we walk, I notice that there is a group of about fifty highschool students standing in a large circle in the park.  I say to the guy beside me, “Is that a fight going on there?”  He doesn’t acknowledge me, but veers down the hill toward the group.  When he realizes that, yes, indeed, it is a fight, he turns and walks the other way.

Oh, but not me!  I storm right up through the crowd saying in a loud and firm voice, “What is going on here?” (You know that voice your mother used with you when she caught you doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing.)  The scene in front of me was the saddest thing I have ever personally witnessed.  One young man had another in a headlock and was punching him repeatedly with upper cuts to the face.  You could see blood fly and hear the wet smack every time he landed a punch.  The other boy was trying so hard to get away.  The kids were cheering and laughing watching him being beaten down.   I totally went into playground teacher mode and  marched right up to them demanding, “What are you thinking?!” 

Now let me give you a little visual.  Here I am, a 48-year-old womon of size, in a screaming orange dress that may be a little too small (and has a rip in the skirt), wearing a bright green backpack, and Chacos.  I didn’t have time to wash my hair that morning, so it’s a little flat, and as usual, I have no make-up on.  Not really the look of authority.  But unbelievably, these boys stop.  And I am grateful, because the boy who was being pounded was so covered in blood.  His nose looked sideways on his face, and I watched him spit out a tooth.  He looked scared.

Everything was quiet for a second or two.  There were three of us standing there in the middle of that gang of kids.  Each boy I made eye contact with looked a little abashed.  And then my golden moment was broken.  A girl, a girl, screamed, “Bitch!  Go away and let us get back to our fight!” and threw something that hit me in the shoulder.  I didn’t look at  her.  I didn’t look to see what was thrown.  But I was suddenly afraid.  I could tell by the “oooohs” that gang mentality was emboldening these kids.  A few more girls started screaming at me.  My cell phone was in the back pocket of my backpack and I couldn’t reach it without taking the backpack off.  All of the wise, “this is not the way” words that were forming in my head suddenly ducked for cover, and all I could come up with was, “You know what?  FINE!”  and I walked away.  I didn’t run, and I didn’t look back, and I was terrified.  But when I got about fifty paces away, I did stop.  I did get out my cell, and I did call 911.  The kids had been watching me walk away, yelling and screaming, and when they saw me on the phone, they scattered.  By the time the police said they would drive by, not a child was around. 

The absolute worst part of this, the part that is so horrific to me, is that almost every one of the teenagers witnessing this fight had their cell phones out and were recording it.  Not one of them was calling 911.  They were more concerned with the potential YouTube value.

What will become of us if the almost womyn of our society cheer for violence, as if it is a spectacle put on for their pleasure, instead of working for peace?  This is what keeps me up at night.  The ringing, high-pitched voices of angry teen girls shouting, “Bitch!” at me because I stopped the violence.  Guess I’ll be walking with cell phone in hand from now on.

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Okay, what I’m about to write seems like it’s not going to be so popular, given what my friends are all posting on FB.  Or maybe I just haven’t reached a high enough level of non-judgement yet.  Michael Jackson is dead.  And the death of a person is a sad thing.  Yes, he was very talented and his music was the soundtrack of my generation.

But, the man was a pedophile.  He was cruel to animals and the things he has done to his children – they may never recover from.  I vowed a long time ago that no money of mine would be spent supporting this man.  I did not want to financially support someone who seemed to live above the law.  Many of my friends, when downloading his music, would give excuses – “But it’s just such a good song!”   “He did this one BEFORE he molested that kid.”  “It’s only a dime to download.” 

I’ve never understood the lack of moral outrage at what this man got away with.  The excuses for his behavior – from an abusive father – to childhood stardom made him lose touch with reality, are just that – excuses.  Pedophiles are mentally ill.  Michael Jackson was the poster boy for mental illness, but he should have also been held accountable.

As an abuse survivor whose molester was a high up muckety-muck in his company, I know the helpless outrage of others working to protect his reputation instead of saving me.  How must Jackson’s victims feel? 

The man died.  It’s a sad thing.  But I won’t use his passing to celebrate his life.  For me, his music is the soundtrack of abuse and I can never celebrate the man who harmed so many.

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I just couldn’t sit back and not claim my proud space as one of the anonymous pathetic bloggers who have garnered the dislike and active hatred of Sarah Palin. 

Yep, the election is over.  Nope, she doesn’t really matter any more.  And yet…  I think she has a political savvy.  Or at least takes instruction well.  She’s (or her keepers are) trying to keep herself in the spotlight for the future and at the same time, trying to cast herself as a victim, a pawn who was used for her political inexperience.  A woman who is trying to convince us that now she has experience and should have spoken out sooner with her homespun, this is how a household budget works, wisdom.

What I don’t want to forget is why I disliked her so much when she was running for vice-president.  She is disingenuous.  She makes rash decisions. (Like flying home to a small hospital after her water broke during a high risk pregnancy.)  She puts her own political future ahead of her family.  (Like forcing/allowing her 16 year old to marry when she became pregnant.)  She turns on a dime according to the political winds.  (Like the Alaskan oil fields.)  Oh, and she talks funny.

I know this is a stupid rant and not timely at all.  It certainly is not born of any of the qualities that I aspire to always live.  I want to be a womon of strength who maintains her inner peace and non-judgemental aura at all times.  Sadly, I feel this woman threatens that. And I allow it.   Well, actually, the idea of her ever having real power threatens that.  Which means I have a piece of fear that I need to examine.  Is it this woman?  No, not really.  I think it has to do with the dawning of real hope that I am having for my country.

At last, after a period of time that is as long as my students can remember, our country is on the cusp of being truly powerful.  Powerful in the sense of truth, integrity, and compassion.  People like Sarah Palin threaten that.  Small-minded, power-hungry, self-aggrandizing and cheap. 

I can see that I need to pray.  For Sarah, for those who live in fear, and for myself, to let go, allow the Goddess to do her work, and to simply trust.  It always works for me.

So, there’s the end of my rant.  The next post will be back to regular programming, I promise!

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I realize that many of my friends don’t blog and this would preclude them from participating.  Most, however, do Facebook or MySpace.  So for the purposes of the following, consider any thing that you contribute to (like Facebook or MySpace) and that people can comment on, a blog.  Oh, btw, I make incredible handmade things!  Just sayin’!

The idea of the exchange is I will send a handmade gift to the first three people who leave a comment on this blog post requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet, and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog – this means you must have a blog, sorry blogless readers.

I saw this on another blogger’s blog almost a full year ago.  I left a comment and posted the above on a blog I don’t use anymore and forgot about it.  My other blog was not that well known and only got two responses.  I fulfilled my end of the deal with them.  Now, I’ve received an email from the original woman who I commented to.  She’s ready to send me her PIF.  I am so excited!  As a matter of fact, I’m so excited that I am reposting here.

Only I will send something to the first six who leave a comment and promise to play.

Love to you all!

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I remember the very first time I ever had an awareness of politics and any feeling about a political candidate.  I was in probably fifth grade and I was riding the bus home from school.  I grew up on the edge of Appalachia, and the bus ride was a long one.  After all, school was in town and we weren’t.  Anyway, someone on the bus started talking about the upcoming election.  Everyone on the bus seemed to be aware of it but me.  Suddenly, from the back  – low but rhythmic, came the chant, “Nix-on, Nix-on, Nix-on!”  It built up speed and volume as the bus sped down the highway.  Students were screaming, kids were ripping paper out of their notebooks and making impromptu signs that they held up to the windows.  It was cacophonous and exhilarating and it. just. seemed. so. important.  We were chanting as if the very fate of the election rested on our backs and we were not about to let Nixon down!  In hindsight, perhaps we should have.

What strikes me about this whole episode is that I got off the bus that day just as ignorant as I had gotten on.  I felt like I was a part of a real community, but I had no idea what that community wanted or stood for.

Now I teach fifth graders.  Today we sat and watched Barack Obama being sworn in as our President.  I have made real effort this year to present both McCain and Obama to my students.   I watched them talk semi-intelligently about the candidates and I secretly thrilled when Obama won our mock election 56 to 6.  When I had to console my McCain supporting students after the real election, I knew they were paying attention.  We’ve spent the past month talking a little every day about the history that was made today.  It’s not my curriculum – I’m supposed to be teaching about the first thirteen colonies right now if I’m going to get to Westward expansion by May.  But this year, I let that go.  The here and now are much too important.  So we may not get those top scores on the Social Studies portion of the State Standardized test, but we’ll know why we watched this inauguration.  We’ll understand the atmosphere of rejoicing and hope that have surrounded us, and we will know what our community wants and what it stands for, and we will know what  it means to say, “Yes we can!”

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The Good – My house is clean. I am caught up on my correspondence. I received my traveling scarf back after its seven month journey and OH MY GODDESS, it is the most beautiful, wearable scarf I have seen in all of the hundreds of traveling scarves I have seen. As soon as my computer stops telling me that it “can’t see” my camera, I’ll post a pic.

The Best – Last night I watched The Piano again for the umpteenth time. Every time I watch it, I am struck by something new. Last night it was the reverence with which Keitel’s and Hunter’s characters made love to each other. Other times I have been struck by the integrity of the characters, the non-judgmentalness, the deep understanding of passion, oh there is so much! I believe this could be my favorite movie of all time. I especially love Hunter who comes off beautifully as a stone Femme, but Keitel (or rather the character he plays) could give me attacks of heterosexuality.

The way these characters make love is the way I prefer to touch others – even when it’s non-sexual. It is really about being present and experiencing the moment with each other. One of the best scenes is where Keitel strokes Hunter’s arms while she is playing the piano. He totally gets her, and wants to be there with her. I love the thought and the action of making what is important to the person I am with important as an experience to me, too, simply to honor them. It fills me.

The Frustrating – I’m a little pissed about the law lately. It seems there are gaps that tie our hands. It’s happening in Illinois right now with the governor trying to sell Obama’s senate seat. Even though he was arrested, he retains the power to appoint the next senator. Just wrong.

It’s happening in my school right now, too. One of my students has had a really, really hard life. His mother died when he was quite young. There have been lots of custody issues and he also has PTSD. It’s been quite traumatic on the little guy. Long story a little shorter… he had been in the custody of a relative who didn’t believe in counseling or medication – not surprising since we just found out he was being abused by them. Custody has been signed over to another relative, but has not been enacted by the court. He is out of control, harming himself and others. Until the court approves the custody change, the new guardian can’t help with medication or counseling and it is up to the old guardian to request expedition of the change, since they released him. Needless to say, they aren’t particularly motivated. Meantime, he’s in crisis and all I can do is get recertified in safe restraint tactics. There’s something wrong with this picture.

The Bad I think the frustrating pretty much covers that.

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Vote

I woke up this morning at 4:30.  The weather was gorgeous and I was filled with excitement about going to cast my ballot.  I had been reading about projected long lines and was filled with anxiety.  Now, understand, I live in the suburbs.  The lines aren’t ever going to be tremendously long.  But I was worried.  So worried about having to stand in line, and maybe broken machines and all number of weird things that would prevent me from voting that I actually got in my car and drove the four blocks to my polling place an hour before they opened.  (Because I might get hit by a car or have to wait for a thousand people in line ahead of me if I walked.)  I sat in my car and read a book for forty minutes because I might not get a parking space if I left.  At 7:00, the polls opened.  By 7:08, I was back in my car, having cast my vote.  There actually were about 100 people in line behind me when I left.  All day, I have managed to ignore the news, writing my novel (I got over 3,400 words written today) and doing general housework.  I’ve been feeling good that, having cast my vote, my candidate will win.  Because that’s the way it’s supposed to go, isn’t it?  So now, it’s time for bed.  I’m feeling confident, I feel the change in the air.  It’s a catharsis.  But I check the election results and with a whopping 5% of the vote in, my candidate, Obama, is behind in the popular vote by .7%  He’s totally ahead in the electoral vote, but this does not satisfy me.  I want him to be leading by all standards every time I check in.  Childish? Yes.  Silly? Yes.  But what I want just the same.  I feel so strongly about this election and the mandate I feel it carries, that I find myself unable to understand why others would lean toward McCain. 

I talked to my mother today.  She voted for Obama, as did her husband.  My sister, who lives in Georgia, is choosing not to vote.  She’s a very intelligent woman, working on her doctoral dissertation.  I can’t fathom her decision.  She doesn’t like either candidate, and that I can understand, but to walk away from local and state decisions, too?  It seems so irresponsible.  I hope that I never become so apathetic that I fail to have a desire to impact my world in a positive, kind, loving and socially responsible way.

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