Category Archives: The Hippie Peace Rally

Please Stop Telling Muslims to “Go Home”

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I confess: I spend far too much time on social media. I’ve cut back but, even so, it’s not hard to find me sitting in the passenger seat of the car, scrolling through my newsfeed.

A worse confession: I read the comments. Sometimes I only read the comments. I rarely comment, myself. I’m a stalker.

I like reading the comments, especially when I know people are going to oppose my set opinions because, how else can we learn and grow? How else can we understand those who are different? If we never listen to those who are passionately opposed to us, how we can we love our neighbor? As a Christian, that’s a big deal to me.

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So I stalk. I read. I hopefully learn something.

But when it comes to the subject of Muslim Americans I notice those who stand opposite my view point are getting louder and more extreme (ironic, really). I want to say so many things, but there are only so many hours in a day and  my blood pressure can only withstand so much irritation, so I refrain.

Then, today, I slipped a little.

I read an article (not just the comments) on the youngcons.com facebook page entitled “SICK: Female Muslim-American Olympian Slams USA Because She…”

A few quick notes. First, yes, I know it was total click bait. It worked. You got me. So be it.

Second, as far as I can tell the article has been taken down. I can’t find it again and the link from Facebook will no longer open to my computer (see the original FB feed, here).

Third, I’ve never looked at the “Young Conservatives” website before. They had a lot of articles that seemed unbiased and well researched, though every article that mentioned a Muslim from any nation painted them in a poor light. Apparently, hating Muslims is part of being conservative, in the opinion of that particular group of people.

Since I can’t open the article, I’ll give you the gist.

Ibtihaj Muhammad competed in the Olympics. She was the first American athlete to compete in a hijab. She has publicly discussed her feeling that it is difficult to be a black, Muslim woman in America. She feels she has been frequently discriminated against. For example, one day after practice a man followed her, telling her she looked suspicious and asking if she was going to blow something up.

The writer took a stance along the lines of, “This is America. Quit complaining. Suck it up or get out.”

My first reaction was to re-read the article. Maybe I missed something?

A week or so ago I read another article (I think it was on NPR) that discussed the incident of the man following her. As a woman, I felt that weird, frightened, annoyed, creeping sensation that comes when men harass us. It’s not pleasant. Add in the weight of basically being accused of being a terrorist… well… I thought she handled the whole thing with a great deal of grace.

But, according the author, the fact that this encounter was upsetting to her is SICK. (His caps, not mine.)

She’s downright un-American because she didn’t like a stranger accusing her of being a mass murderer.

Uhm…

What?!

I clicked on the comments.

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I really need to stop doing that.

There is no way I could have the time or motivation to change the world one Facebook comment at a time (sarcasm intended), but I’d like to use this space to address a few of those I read. Because it’s my blog and I can rant if I want to.

It’s not so much that THIS guy’s post pushed me to write something. It’s because the sentiments I read in his post and in the comments have been expressed in connection to other news related to Muslim Americans. I’ve even heard a few people say these kinds of things in person and I would be in the wrong to sit in silence.

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A few comments, of the many:

“when someone comes to America…. they must become American. Not force us to become muslum! She needs to take off the head gear… wear skinny jeans and use her middle finger like a New Yorker! That is the American way!” – Timothy

First: If being American means wearing skinny jeans and using your middle finger, most of the people in my circle of acquaintance are thoroughly un-American.

Second: No one seems to have an issue with “Greektown,” or “Little Italy,” or “Germanfest.” A guy down the road has an Irish flag on his porch. Nobody is freaking out about that. Why do we hold one particular group of people to a different standard? We are ALL from somewhere else (unless you are one of the very few indigenous people left in this nation). We all celebrate our cultural past. My father-in-law is as Irish as Darby O’Gill and is a die-hard patriotic decorated war veteran. No one accuses him of being un-American. Not that that applies in this case anyway since Ibtihaj Muhammad’s family has been in this country since just about as long as any of us.

Third: Muslim is not a nationality. It’s a religion. Like Christianity, or Judaism, or Wiccan. Would you tell an Amish woman to “take off that stupid bonnet and act like an American!” Would you rip the yarmulka from a Jewish man’s head? Her modesty, including the hijab that covers her hair, is part of her worship.

You want to restrict her worship? OK. Then I hope you are the LAST person to complain when someone comes after YOUR faith. 

If you are reading this, and you’re all upset and ready to do battle with me at this point, I’m guessing you’re a big gun-rights supporter. (Yup. I’m psychic.)

You know how you get REALLY ANGRY when the government tries to create gun control in any form? That violates the second amendment, right?

Well… when we discriminate against ANY religion, we are violating the first amendment. The first amendment doesn’t protect Christianity, exclusively. It protects freedom of religion, in all it’s many varied forms. If you take away a little bit of rights from a certain group of people, you have created a slippery slope on which no person of faith is safe. Same reasoning as the second amendment stuff, right?

Except, Islam existed when the constitution was written, and fully automatic weapons did not. So there’s some differences. But, for this example, we’ll say it’s the same and move on to another comment.

“If all those who hate American please leave. But leave behind what you got from America your freedom, the money you gained from working here, your homes, and etc. Tired of all the complaining. If America is so bad please leave! Let people who love America live in peace.” -Diane

I’m assuming that this commenter believes the athlete in question “hates American” because she complained about being discriminated against.  Let’s use that logic and make a list of people who clearly hated America over the years: Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Jackie Robinson, John F. Kennedy, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King…

Nonsense, obviously.

Those who love their nation, the true patriots, will constantly and consistently work to call out injustice and correct it to the betterment of their country.

And really? Peace? With that attitude? Good luck with that.

“Send this pathetic excuse back to where she came from and see how safe she feels. How dare you come to our country and complain about this great country and that you feel unsafe when you have the privilege of all the benefits that Obama is giving you on the taxpayers expense.” -Abby

Uhm… She came from New Jersey. Her father was a police officer in New Jersey. Her family has been in the United States for several generations.

She IS unsafe, because of mindsets like this, and she’d be foolish not to try to address the issues that create that mindset.

Her early fencing career was sponsored by former Olympian, Peter Westbrook. She attended an ivy league university on a full academic scholarship. She is currently sponsored by Nike, among others. No tax payer money was involved in her success.

“Maybe if she didn’t dress like a terrorist people wouldn’t be so quick to judge her!!!” -Jim

Well, Jim, I bet you dress just like every single serial killer who has ever lived in the USA. Perhaps we should take a double look at how you spend YOUR free time, eh?

“I am so sick of hearing that’s it’s ok for Islam faith to say what ever the hell feel , but God forbitt for a Chrisitain to do the same .” – Carmen

This one was a little hard to read. Literally. (Please work on your spelling and grammar, Carmen.) I’ll do my best to explain…

wait…

*sigh*

You know what I’m realizing?

The other day my children had a conversation that went something like this:

5 YO: “I don’t like potatoes.”

11 YO: “Why not? Potatoes are delicious!”

5 YO: “They’re too salty.”

11 YO: “Well, don’t put salt on them.”

5 YO: “Food without salt is gross!”

11 YO: “Can’t argue with logic like that!”

I want to offer a bit of logic and solve all these disputes but the fact of the matter is, there’s nothing logical about hatred. People aren’t being logical. People are being hateful and there’s no counter for hatred outside of love.

So I will stop trying to reason with those who have no desire to see beyond themselves and I will stand in love.

Well done, Ibtihaj Muhammad. America loves you. You held your head high in the face of discrimination, and you competed at a level most of us dare not even dream of. Most of America is incredibly proud of you. The rest… well… they’re a little confused. Since you, as a Muslim, and I, as a Christian, pray to the same God who created us all, perhaps we can pray together that peace and reason will prevail in our lifetime. I wish you the best of luck in the team events later this week. Thank you for being an example to my daughters of what a strong, determined woman of faith should look like.

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CREDIT:  VALERIE MACON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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The End Of Slavery Is A Good Thing

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On this week, in 2016, the United States of America outlawed slavery.

That’s right. This week.

And a lot of people are really angry about it.

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Before I get in to all of this, if you’re new to this blog, please let me say that I honestly try not to preach or rant very often. I love sharing tips about homeschooling and gardening, fun stories about neighbors taking care of each other, questions and thoughts about theology, or life in general and so on. But every now and then I feel the need to dust off my soapbox and say something.

Here’s it goes:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) presented a bill last year that has been signed, sealed, and delivered, and it will go into effect in about two weeks. The law makes it illegal to import items produced by forced or slave labor, including convict labor and indentured labor.

For nearly a century, Americans have been operating on a loophole that allowed high-demand goods that are in short supply in the US to be imported, even if they were produced by slaves. So, while it’s been illegal to own a slave in these parts for quite some time, pretty much every American has been financially supporting the ownership of slaves, whether they realized it or not.

I’ll save the rant about how no one can convince me that they honestly didn’t realize they were supporting slavery. You should have known.

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Anyway…

When the new law goes into effect, 136 goods from 74 countries will no longer be imported. According to one article, those goods include “garments that children and other slaves produced in Argentina: cotton and gold from Burkina Faso; electronics, toys, and bricks from China; coffee from the Ivory Coast and textiles from Ethiopia.

The Department of Labor says that this law “Is not intended to be punitive, but rather to serve as a catalyst for more strategic and focused coordination and collaboration among those working to address these problems.”

Closing the loophole that has allowed this abominable practice to continue for so long is not seen as the be-all-and-end-all solution to an astonishingly huge problem. It is a dramatic step TOWARD a solution.

This is a massively complicated situation that involves everything from international politics, to cultural traditions, to religious beliefs. One law is not going to change it overnight.

But it’s a start.

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Not surprisingly, comments on the news reports regarding this law include a phenomenal number of ones similar to this:

“In some cases, working is what is best for these children.”

“If these children weren’t working they would be starving to death as would their families.”

“I am in no means in favor of child slave labor, but if it is between making soccer balls or human sex trafficking, I’d rather they make soccer balls.”

“How is this going to effect the prices of items we need for survival, but are already struggling to pay for in this terrible economy?”

“This is just another example of Imperialist America asserting their morals on the rest of the world.”

Really, America?

Really?

First Donald Trump. Now slavery?

*sigh*

Slavery is wrong.

All the time.

Every. Single. Time.

Always.

I don’t have a specific quote, but I would bet everything I own that some people freaked out about how the freeing of the slaves after the civil war was going to devastate the American economy. What would people do if the price of tobacco and cotton went up?

I bet some shook their heads over the newspaper articles and said, “Those darn Yankees don’t get it. The slaves are better off on the plantation where they have work and housing. Now how are they going to take care of themselves?”

Stop. Just… stop.

America is not forcing new laws on anyone (in this instance). Congress, working bi-partisanly (if that isn’t a sign of Divine Intervention, nothing is), with the approval of the president, has made a statement:

In THIS country, we don’t approve of slavery.

*slow clap*

Well done.

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We’re not forcing anyone else to say the same thing. But, just like I don’t vote for the financial success of Wal-Mart with my spending dollars because I think they’re a corporation with horrendous business practices, America will no longer economically support those nations which are allowing slavery.

Want our money?

Change your practices.

Don’t want to change?

Ok. We’ll shop elsewhere, or maybe even do without.

*gasp*

Crazy. I know. But it’s the right thing to do.

Will the slaves suffer for lack of American business?

Sadly, maybe so.

For a while.

But, guess what’s NOT illegal?

Donating generously of your time and resources to organizations like Red Cross International, or The Malala Foundation, or Heifer International, and countless others, who are busting butt to make sure that people in those situations are provided with the opportunity to have a good education, gainful employment, secure housing, decent medical care and so on. In short, they are working to help ALL people truly have a chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

You can help ease the burden of those living in extreme poverty if you are worried about them.

Is the law perfect?

Nope. Humans wrote that law. Worse… politicians. But it’s a whole lot better than what existed before.

Are there issues of enforcement?

Yes. But with no law, there will DEFINITELY be zero enforcement. At least there is a framework in place to work from now.

Does the law address every concern of human rights that exists in the world?

Of course not. You could argue that it’s ridiculous that this law makes it illegal to import goods from nations that use convict labor, while the American for-profit prison system is making a handsome sum from convict labor. You could argue that the whole “living wage” thing needs to be addressed more deeply when we have people who are working 60+ hours a week in our own nation, and yet they can’t afford to put food on their own dinner table. You could argue a lot of valid points and I won’t contradict you. We have significant room for improvement. Growth always has to start somewhere.

Will the cost of our coffee, chocolate, and cotton undies go up?

Maybe.

Probably.

Deal with it.

Guess what? According to my statistics, if you’re reading this, there is a 99%+ chance that you live in a free capitalist (more or less) nation. If your boss abuses you, you can sue him.  If you hate your job, you can get a different one. If you can’t find a job, you can start a business. If your business fails, your nation will give you food stamps and free medical care until you can get back on your feet. Is it easy to get back on your feet? Nope. It’s freaking exhausting – I know. I’m still rebuilding from my own stupid mistakes of the past (thank you to God and the American people for providing for me when I was too short-sighted to provide for myself. I swear I will pay it forward). You might fail. But you have the FREEDOM to try again. And again. And again.

So pay an extra $3 for your can of coffee, or maybe just switch to water. No one’s life should be at risk so that you can have your morning Joe. (And this is coming from someone whose family understands that their lives may be at risk if Mama doesn’t get her morning Joe.)

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Our great-great-grandparents decided (rightly so) that slavery was wrong. It’s long past time for us to say the same thing and, more importantly, to put those almighty American dollars where our mouths are.

For more info:

QZ.com

Huffington Post

US News And World Report

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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A Prayer on September, 11 – May We Never Forget

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Father God,

For the people in this nation, life changed fourteen years ago. Peace that we took for granted was stripped from us. People we loved and respected were suddenly gone. Where we had always perceived ourselves as strong, we suddenly felt weak and vulnerable and uncertain.

On that day we rallied. We showed the best of ourselves. So many of us fell before you and prayed. We prayed for the victims, for the rescuers, for those who lost loved ones and for the future. We checked on our neighbors and hugged our family a little tighter.

But then we let fear take over, though you have told us time and again to “fear not.”

We sought out vengeance, though you told us that such business was yours and not ours.

We decided that we could stop this from happening by stamping out a certain mindset. But how can we wage war against the thoughts of a man’s heart when only you know what those thoughts truly are?

In our thirst for justice without mercy we have hurt and killed the innocent.

Forgive us for our pride, our arrogance, and our failure to stand strong in faith, instead of being manipulated by the demons of fear.

Unite us again. Help us to, once again, comfort those who mourn, aid those who are hurting, and care for those who have suffered loss.

Help us to focus on loving our neighbor.

And our enemy.

Especially our enemy.

May we never forget that it was hatred and fear that provoked these attacks.

May we never forget how good it felt to join together in love.

May we never forget to pray every single day the way we prayed that day.

May we never forget to rejoice in the salvation of a single person the way we rejoiced when we saw just one person pulled from the rubble.

May we never forget that millions of people live in that kind of fear every day of their lives and it is our privilege and responsibility to help them through sharing our time, treasures, and talents, and surrounding them in prayer.

May we never forget that, even when things seem confusing and overwhelming, you are infinitely bigger than our biggest problem and your hand is always on us.

May we never forget that every human kingdom is temporary but the Kingdom Of God is eternal.

Let it be.

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Stop Calling Me An Idiot! (And Other Things Regarding the Vaccination Debate)

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When it comes to the vaccination debate I don’t usually “go there” because I feel like the reality is, we are ALL trying to be informed and make the best decisions for our families in a world full of mis-information brought to us by people more interested in power and money than the health of the general public.

That said, this morning a friend posted this article that struck a chord with me.

There has been A LOT of back and forth over the whole vaccine thing lately. It always catches my eye and I’ve spent far more time than I probably should have reading the thoughts and opinions of everyone and their brother who cares to share. Maybe I just couldn’t resist the urge to throw my two cents in. Welcome to my corner of the blogosphere.

My child is not “officially” allergic to immunizations. He just doesn’t handle them well. As in, he stops breathing. So… yeah. We don’t do that anymore.

My son after being vaccinated.

My son after being vaccinated.

For this choice we’ve been called “idiots” and worse by the strongly pro-vaccine folks and been viewed with suspicion by everyone from school administrators to ER doctors. It has been said that we are “blindly following the advice of celebrities,” or, “trying to be hip.” Not the case. We actually stopped immunizing on a doctor’s advice after a year of dealing with very serious respiratory issues. Magically, when we stopped the shots our child’s life-threatening “asthma” went away. He hasn’t had a single whistle in his chest in the 2 1/2 years since then.

My son without any shots.

My son without any shots.

The article I’m referring to made a lot of claims. It said things like, “measles is just a rash,” and, “only people in 3rd world countries die from measles and it’s because of the dehydration.” It also made claims about the rates of autism, as it is linked to brain encephalitis and more.

I couldn’t take those claims at surface value from some random internet guy so I did two things:

First I read an article entitled, “This Is What Measles Really Looks Like.” Turns out it looks like a rash. A nasty rash, to be sure but, yeah. It’s a rash, just like the first guy said. This article also listed statistics and numbers. For instance, it explained that the measles vaccine has been around, basically eradicating measles,  since 1963. So, during the big outbreak in the late 1980s/early 1990s they found that…

wait…

what?

I thought it was entirely the fault of Jenny McCarthy and the idiot celebrity followers of the past 10 years that people are getting measles in 2015?

Hmmm…

OK, well, I don’t have any further information on that so I’ll just leave it be for now and move on.

When numbers were collected in the 1990s, (not sure why we’re working with generation-old numbers) statistics showed that about 8% of measles patients got diarrhea which COULD lead to dehydration. 7% got ear infections which COULD lead to deafness.

Uh huh.

OK.

Let’s think about that. There are about 73 million children in America.

During the last BIG measles outbreak approximately 55,000 children got measles. I’m not great at math, so I could be wrong, but I’m calculating that to be well under 1% of the kids in the nation.

Of that overwhelming number of children, 8 out of every 100 got diarrhea. 7 out of every 100 got an ear infection. That percentage did not die from dehydration or go deaf. They got diarrhea and/or ear infections.

My children and I have all had multiple bouts of diarrhea and ear infections over the years. It’s not fun but, so far, we are neither dead nor deaf because, like the author of the original article said, we live in the “first world.”

Do you know who DOESN’T live in the first world? The children in some of the saddest pictures in the article, “What Does Measles Really Look Like.” Look closely at the captions.

While we’re putting numbers in perspective, the recent, horrible, scary, big, overwhelming outbreak of measles involved about 45 people. This is approximately the same number of kids in my daughter’s band class. So, out of all the people in America, your odds of being affected by this outbreak of measles are about the same as your odds of ending up playing trombone in a grange building in farmland, MI. Yes, I realize there are holes in the comparison. Just making a point about the numbers. This is not something that is raging like wildfire through the countryside.

I needed to see something written by a source generally considered credible. (For those who would argue, I beg of you: let’s save that can of worms for another day. I’ve already got my hip-waders on, here.) I went to the CDC website and looked up the risks of the MMR vaccine.

Do you know what they are?

They are pretty much the same as the risks from getting measles. In some cases, the numbers are slightly different but… really… if you’re going on differences that slight… well… maybe you should bet this week’s whole paycheck on the Powerball jackpot. There’s a CHANCE you could win, you know.

As a little side note: While reading the CDC info I noticed that, among those who should NOT get the MMR shot, is anyone who has recently received any other vaccine. Yet, the vaccination schedule lists SEVEN other shots, many of them for multiple viruses, that should be given at about the same age as the MMR. That’s a bit confusing!

What does all this mean?

I can tell you what it means for me and my family.

It means that with or without shots it is VERY unlikely that the average healthy child would DIE from measles (or most of the other diseases that we immunize against). Of course, like any good mom, I don’t want my kids to suffer. I think anyone who takes even a moment to look at the world around us can see that vaccines have been, as a whole, a good thing. I don’t know a single child in an iron lung and I’m immensely glad for that. As the mother of a child who really can’t get vaccinated I am thankful that vaccines have lowered the chances of his exposure to serious disease.

I get it. I am not against all vaccinations.

BUT… when it is said that those who choose not to vaccinate are being selfish or that they are uninformed, following celebrities, or reading de-bunked data… well, that’s simply not true. In fact, most parents I know who choose not to vaccinate have done FAR more research than those who just blindly go along with the schedule. Those who don’t vaccinate generally understand that vaccines do not provide life-long immunity, nor are they 100% effective or 100% safe. They know that some of these viruses are beginning to mutate and that there are legitimate, well-respected researchers who are expressing genuine concern about that issue. They understand that EVERY drug has side effects and we should always weigh the risk of the side effect against the benefit of the drug.

As for calling anyone an “idiot” (or worse): it is not OK in your child’s classroom and it’s not OK in this discussion. For goodness sake! You want to present yourself as a well-informed, critically-thinking adult and the best you can come up with is name calling? Do better. BE better. There is no place for name calling in honest discussion and there is no chance for growth and learning unless we are able to honestly discuss the facts.

The facts:

Fact: Disease sucks. All disease. We all want all disease to be eradicated.

Fact: Modern medicine is helpful and science continues to improve. That’s why doctors no longer bleed their patients to cure them of anemia and most of us are happy when EMTs show up with a truckload of fancy equipment if our hearts begin to fail.

Fact: Modern medicine does not have all the answers and continues to evolve. That’s why my grandparents were urged to eat trans-fats to lower their chance of heart disease, yet my doctor now gives different advice.

Fact: Screaming, shouting, angry, inflamed confrontation rarely (if ever) accomplishes anything positive.

Fact: The next time you meet someone who feels differently than you on a topic you are passionate about, it would be wise to listen to WHY they feel differently. Maybe it won’t change your stance one teeny iota of a bit, but there’s a good chance that your kindness and respect will help make the world a better place.

Stop Calling Me An Idiot! (And Other Things Regarding the Vaccination Debate)

Here are the links I looked at and referred to throughout this article if you’d like to check any of them out for yourself:

https://leviquackenboss.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/dear-mom-who-thinks-i-need-to-vaccinate-my-kids-against-measles/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/virginiahughes/what-measles-outbreak-actually-looks-like#.nb24nRyln

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/should-not-vacc.htm#mmr

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccines/MMR/

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf

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Just A little Bit… (Nablopomo Day 10)

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*This post is Day Ten of the January Nablopomo 30-day blogging challenge hosted by BlogHer.

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The hubs and I all dressed up for the dinner and presentation we attended. So much fun to go out on the arm of this guy!

Told you he’s handsome! I just love going out on this guy’s arm! 

I went to a business event with my Handsome Hippie Hubby this week and one of the speakers said this, “You don’t have to do much to get noticed. Just do a little bit more than others. Be a little bit kinder, a little bit more positive, a little bit healthier, willing to work just a little bit harder. People will notice. It’s inevitable.”

I didn’t think much, at the time about the statement but it stuck with me and the more I consider it the more powerful it gets to me.

I look at my life and I see what a HUGE difference it would make if I was just a little bit more organized, a little more generous to my neighbor, a little more patient with my children, a little more thoughtful about how I spend my money and a little more conscious of what I eat…

You don’t have to do much. Just a little bit could make a huge, huge difference.

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Stolen Woman – A Book Review

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Stolen Woman by Kimberly RaeWhat would you risk? That’s the question posed on the cover of Kimberly Rae’s book, Lost Woman.

If you met a 16 year old girl who was being sold by human traffickers and she was begging for your help, what would you be willing to do to save her?

Ms. Rae sent me a copy of her book for review and I am so happy for the opportunity to share it with you. You should read this! If you are part of a women’s book club they should read it, too – and discuss it at great length. If you have a teenage daughter she really needs to read it.

In many ways I very strongly related to the main character, Asha. She is a young woman who has lived in America for as long as she can remember. One year over summer break from college she has the opportunity to travel to India as a short-term missionary. It is there that she learns a horrifying reality that too much of the world remains silent about. Millions of people, primarily women and children, are stolen from their lives and sold as slaves every year.

When Asha gets to know one of these women she learns some of the horror of what the girls face as well as how difficult and dangerous it is to try to help them escape from the life they’ve been forced in to.

This issue is one that is dear to my heart and one I’ve written about on this blog before (here) so, of course I was thrilled to learn that a talented author had written such a captivating story that helps to raise awareness. This extraordinarily serious problem will never be solved if no one is willing to talk about it!

In addition, though, I found Asha so very relatable! Like her, I grew up in a Christian home, surrounded by Christian people and attended a Christian college. As a young person I had not had a great deal of exposure to cultures or belief systems beyond my own and when I first went into the wider world and saw what was outside my previous little bubble of existence I, like Asha, had something of a crisis of faith. Why would God allow something like this to happen? How can people who call themselves Christian turn a blind eye? What can one young woman do to make things right?

I so hope that you will find time to read this book and buy a second copy to share! It would make a great Christmas present for an avid reader. I’m certain that you will enjoy it and be challenged by it as much as I was!

Stolen Woman is available on Amazon. This is not an affiliate link, I just wanted to give you an easy way to get a copy for yourself. Happy reading!

Kimberly-Rae-Stolen-Woman-Info

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I Don’t Understand

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I Don't Understand | LazyHippieMama.comI recently overheard a conversation that went something like this:

Elderly, white middle class guy from the Midwest #1, “I don’t understand those people in Ferguson. What does rioting have to do with justice?”

Elderly, white middle class guy from the Midwest #2, “Maybe they think the tax payers will build them all new houses and increase their food stamps now so they can keep on being unemployed and having babies with no daddies.”

Here’s what I thought at first:

How could they even think that way?! I don’t understand!

But as I pondered it I thought, you know… that’s a powerful statement.

I don’t understand.

You see, there are a great many things I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how two well educated, reasonably well traveled men could speak that way about another ethnic group in the year 2014.  I don’t understand because I didn’t grow up in their generation. I didn’t witness the chaos in Detroit in the 1960’s or the changing of the local economies during the time of “white flight.”  I wasn’t raised in a time when black children and white children were not even permitted to use the same restrooms.  I don’t understand.

Furthermore, I don’t know the answer to the man’s question.  I don’t understand what drives a population to riot. I suspect that, in a city of nearly half a million people there are probably only a tiny fraction taking part in such dangerous and criminal behaviors. But the underlying tension, the desperation and frustration, the panic and anger and distrust… it seems clear that those powerful feelings that are the driving forces behind extreme actions are very wide-spread. I don’t understand what it is to be that powerfully frustrated or frightened by the society around me because, whether I knew it or not, I grew up and have lived most of my life under the relative safety and security of “white privilege.”

The trail had been blazed and my thoughts ran wild.

I don’t understand how any woman could ever abort her baby. I don’t understand because, even though they weren’t both planned, my pregnancies were both wanted and I had a kind, loving, gentle man by my side who would go to the ends of the earth to make sure that my children and I have a safe place to live and food on the table. I had medical care and I was finished with school and I wasn’t being abused and… I could go on. But it all comes to the same thing. I don’t understand.

I don’t understand why anyone would choose to drink or abuse drugs every day when the substance in question leaves them feeling sick and miserable and, in time, strips from them everything from financial peace to the love of family. I don’t understand because I’ve been lucky enough to escape the black chains of addiction. My own personal battles lie elsewhere, and so I don’t understand.

I don’t understand why someone would risk their lives and the lives of their children to cross a desert and live illegally in another country. My own country provides unlimited access to emergency medical care, free education for every child, food stamps and community food pantries for those who can’t buy their own food and so much more. So, truly, I don’t understand what drives a person to such a choice.

I don’t understand why someone would ever take part in a plan to fly an airplane into a building killing themselves and thousands of innocent people. I’ve grown up in a land where I was free to practice whichever religion I chose, pursue as much education as I desire, work in whatever field I like and achieve any financial status I set my mind to. I have lived my life free of the fear of one faction or another setting off a bomb in my neighborhood or bursting into my home to drag one member or another off to Heaven-only-knows what kind of torture. I was raised in a time and place where I never really had a real concern that another nation would come in and tell me that my property was no longer my own or that my nationality had suddenly been redetermined. My world is so far removed from the world of the people who commit such acts as to be nearly unrecognizable and so I don’t understand.

There are so many things that I don’t understand. As I get older I realize more and more how very many things in the world I don’t understand. I can strive toward understanding. I can read and research. I can engage in dialogue and ask questions. I can watch and see… truly see… my fellow humans and learn from them.

I can learn to sympathize and I can strive toward justice. But sympathy is not empathy.  I cannot know, with 100% certainty, what I would do in your shoes because I’ve spent my entire life in my own shoes and, while they might have similarities, they are not the same.

One of the beautiful women of advanced experience in my life, who is kind and gentle and extraordinarily loving once told me, “A few years ago I had a moment that changed me forever. It was the moment I realized that there is nothing… nothing… of which I would not be capable given the right set of circumstances. I can never look at another person and say, ‘I would NEVER do what they did.’ I don’t know what I would do. I haven’t ever lived their life.”

This woman has a clear sense of right and wrong. She doesn’t say that every choice that every person makes is a good choice. She has never, in any way, implied that she thinks morality is subjective. She simply acknowledges that the humanitarian, the successful business person, the loving mother, the terrorist, the drug dealer, the murderer, the thief… they are all humans. And, but by the Grace of God go I.

We all need love.

We all need forgiveness.

We are all broken creatures and we all need to acknowledge that, sometimes, we don’t understand and sometimes we aren’t understood.  Maybe, in some way, acknowledging that  will help us be open to knowing one another better and working more meaningfully toward finding solutions to the problems that lie beneath the desperate choices that others make that we just can’t understand.

I Don't Understand | LazyHippieMama.com

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Let There Be Peace On Earth, And Let It Begin With Me

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The news is overwhelming these days. I can’t remember a time in my own life when so many stories of war and unrest were pouring in from so many parts of the world, simultaneously. It saddens and sickens me to hear the reports. Hundreds have died here. Thousands over there. This country is aligning with that one to defeat the one over there. Killing and more killing. Bloodshed and more bloodshed. An eye for an eye and the world is going blind.

I watched an interview last week in which a question was answered with a forceful and repeated, “The peaceful majority is irrelevant.”  Her point was that, throughout history, it has always been a few extremists among a larger population who drove the machine of war.  Therefore, it is the radical extremists who demand attention. Everyone else are just sheep – living their lives in the background.

I have been thinking about that for days. I disagreed at first, but maybe she’s right. Certainly our human race has shown that we, as a species, tend to produce more followers than leaders. So I would like to propose a new idea.  Let us be radically peaceful.

When you boil it down, war is grown ups acting like toddlers.

image souce: theguardian.com

image souce: theguardian.com

Two children in a nursery will see a pretty new toy. They both want it. They will bite and kick and scream, cause injury to themselves and others and, intentionally or otherwise, destroy the toy before they let someone else have it.

A new classmate will show up at a preschool and be mocked, ridiculed, pushed aside or even physically attacked because he looks or acts differently – or just because he’s new.

One child will strike another for what seems to be no reason at all. The child who has been struck retaliates with even greater force.

Tell me how war is any different.

Let There Be Peace On Earth, And Let It Begin With Me | LazyHippieMama.com

“It’s more complicated than that!”

Perhaps. Certainly when you look at a situation like the Middle East there is a tangled web of politics, religion, economics and injustice that reaches back into antiquity.  It is complicated.

But…

Strip that conflict, or any other, down to its very essence and you’ll find that it’s not so different from what is happening on the neighborhood playground.

“I want what you have.”

“That’s mine!”

“You can’t be in our club.”

“She hit me first!”

When my children act like this, I’ve been known to step into the room and loudly exclaim, “ENOUGH! It ends right now!”

Let There Be Peace On Earth, And Let It Begin With Me | LazyHippieMama.com

I suggest it is time for the peaceful majority to stop being irrelevant.

It is time for us to rise to our feet and loudly exclaim, “ENOUGH! It ends right now!”  We must say something now, before one more life is lost to the madness.  And we must back our words with acts of radical peacefulness.

What does that mean?

It means that each of us must care MORE about our neighbor’s needs than our own.

It means that we put the desires of others first.

It means that we listen… truly listen… to what those who believe differently than us are saying.

It means that we respect the right of those folks to make choices different from our own.

It means consistently, actively, consciously choosing to humble ourselves in the “little” ways as well as the “big.”

A person living in radical peacefulness won’t tailgate in order to prevent someone else from squeaking into traffic at the place where the lanes merge. They won’t debate with hurtful words and name calling. They won’t mock the failure of another. They won’t worry about accumulating their own wealth while their neighbor struggles to feed their family. They won’t ever, ever, EVER use the phrase, “That’s not fair,” in reference to their own situation. What is “fair” is not always what is right.

Let There Be Peace On Earth, And Let It Begin With Me | LazyHippieMama.com

Will my being a considerate driver stop Russia from invading the Ukraine?

No. Obviously not. But what if that one little act leads to another. And another and another…. ripples spreading across a pond. What if my kindness causes someone else’s mood to lift. They become more kind. What if their kindness infects another and kindness begins to spread like a virus.

Let There Be Peace On Earth, And Let It Begin With Me | LazyHippieMama.com

What if we really TRULY plant our feet and stand strong and turn the other cheek to those who have struck us?

What if our “small actions” as individuals begin to affect the actions and attitudes of the society in which we live?  After all, how can we expect the world around us to be kind and loving if we are not willing to be part of shaping it as such?

I suggest such an act takes FAR more courage than going to war. I imagine radical peacefulness will take a force of will and strength that is enormous.  But I believe it can be done. And that kind of strength is NOT irrelevant. That kind of kindness is NOT irrelevant. That kind of love is NOT irrelevant.

Let There Be Peace On Earth, And Let It Begin With Me | LazyHippieMama.com

When we stop existing in a bland, self-absorbed, self-centered, day-to-day drudgery and start actively LIVING as members of an extraordinarily diverse and beautiful global community, the peaceful majority will no longer be irrelevant, but a force to be reckoned with. The power of war will pale by comparison.

Let There Be Peace On Earth, And Let It Begin With Me | LazyHippieMama.com

Will you stand with me? Join the #RadicallyPeaceful revolution!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

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I Struggle With Memorial Day

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I Struggle With Memorial Day | LazyHippieMama.comI give thanks for the men and women who fought for my freedom and who continue to fight and protect this country. I’m a woman. I’m a Christian. I’m a writer who frequently publishes her thoughts on all sorts of topics and, generally speaking, I live free from the fear that I will face terrible trials, jail time, persecution or death for any of those reasons.

I have soldiers to thank for that. I swear I will not forget them or what they have done for me.

And still…

I see the Memorial Day parade in our town and watch as they throw a wreath into the water and salute the fallen sailors. I listen as they play Taps at the cemetery and I weep with the senselessness of it all.

My father is a veteran. He fought in Vietnam, not because he felt it was a worthy cause but because the leaders of this “free” nation forced him to. Still, he fought to the best of his ability. He came home after years abroad, sick and wounded. His body healed, more or less, but his heart still hurts. He still cries when he talks about it. He still jumps at loud noises. He is still angry at the politicians who played with his life and the lives of those he loved for reasons they didn’t understand then or now.

I look at the conflicts we are involved in now and I can’t help but compare them to the crusades of nearly 1,000 years ago. Two opposing forces, both convinced they are right, convinced they hold the moral high ground, convinced God is on their side… killing and wounding and destroying…

We fight over land, power, ideals, money and resources. We just keep fighting.

One side wins. They set up a “new system.” It isn’t long before someone is oppressed in some way. Someone is offended. Someone is attacking. Something goes wrong and we find ourselves fighting again.

More blood is spilled. More hearts are broken. More children are orphaned. And still we keep fighting.

George Orwell had it right. “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

And still we keep fighting.

I have heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again, expecting a different result. If that is the case, then it seems obvious our species went insane a very, very, very long time ago.

But what do you do when you see injustice? When genocide is occurring? When people are being persecuted?

Do we lay down our weapons, let the tyrants rule and simply trust that God or Karma will work it all out? Or does the God who taught us to turn the other cheek and go the second mile, when forced to walk one by an oppressive regime, sometimes call us to arms?

What’s the answer?

I don’t know.

So I struggle with Memorial Day. I weep for the lives that have been lost and because I know that we, as a species have not yet grown up enough to solve our problems peacefully. We are still children, fighting for reasons big and small on the playground of planet earth.  I shudder to imagine how many more lives will be destroyed by war.

On Memorial Day I give thanks for those who fought so that I can be free to wonder and I pray that the fighting will, someday, come to an end.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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Thoughts About Love on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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mlk1If you think that Martin Luther King Jr.’s message was about racial equality I think, perhaps, you missed the point.  Don’t get me wrong. He was certainly a warrior for racial equality! Ensuring equality was central to his life’s work.  But his dream was so much bigger than that.

He dared to dream of a day when we would truly love all of our fellow humans.

One of the most powerful sermons I ever heard was preached by Rev. Mark Spaw.  He shared a simple story about buying groceries. He said, “I was at the store not long ago and I put all of my items on the belt so I could pay.  The cashier asked, ‘do you prefer paper or plastic?’

‘Put everything in plastic bags, please.’ I responded.

The cashier began scanning the items and bagging them and then she came to the laundry soap and asked, ‘do you want this in a bag?’

‘Yes. Please put all of the items in plastic bags,’ I told her again.

She put the soap in a bag and continued until she came to the milk.  ‘Do you want your milk in a bag?’

‘Yes, please,’ I told her and I held out my hands to show the belt and everything that was on it.  ‘Please put all of the items in plastic bags.'”

He went on to talk about how we have a very hard time wrapping our minds around the concept of, “all.”

When Dr. King talked about us loving all of the people that share this planet with us I think he meant ALL of them.

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Every. Single. One.

You may think, “But what about that one guy who….”

That guy, especially.

Dr. King showed love toward those who worked with him and befriended him and helped him but he went beyond that.  What made him extraordinary… what was inspiring about him… the reason we have set aside a day to remember his remarkable life was that he loved those who hated him.  He loved his jailors. He loved the ones who mocked him. He loved the people who worked against him. He loved them all.

mlk5One of his famous quotes referenced The Parable of The Good Samaritan.

If you don’t know the story, it comes from the Bible – Luke chapter 10, verses 25-37.

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Loving our neighbor isn’t a reference to a warm fuzzy feeling that we get when we see the person who lives next door.  Loving our neighbor means being willing to take action to make a better world for every single person on the planet.

ALL of them.

I truly believe that every person is responsible for the well-being of every other person.

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My greed and selfishness hurt you.  My carelessness and lack of responsiblity put a burden on the shoulders of others.

But when I can show true love and kindness, when I can cast aside my own desires for a moment and put the needs of another in front of my own then I have the power to transform the world into something beautiful… something like the dream envisioned by Martin Luther King Jr.

Love is not a feeling.  Love is an action.

Love is feeding the hungry, and empowering them to feed themselves.

Love is nursing the sick and rooting out the causes of sickness.

Love is comforting the mourning and seeking ways to prevent senseless tragedy.

Love is caring for our planet and finding ways to ensure its bounty for future generations.

Love is taking the time to teach a child and making the effort to overcome our own ignorance.

Love is having the respect to listen with an open mind to the thoughts of others.

Love is asking yourself, every morning, “what can I do today to help someone else?” before you ask yourself, “how can I make my own life better today?”

On this day of remembrance, don’t just think of a man who helped a nation see that people of various ethnicities deserve equality.  Instead, learn from the example of a man who believed that the greatest hope for our human race was for us all to learn to truly love one another.

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***WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!***

In preparing this post I must have read a hundred quotes and speeches and bits of writing from Dr. King.  I found myself especially struck by his views on education and creative expression.  I wanted to share them, but they didn’t fit very well with the theme of this post and so this is a rare two-post day.

I invite you to click here and read 8 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes Every Educator Needs To Know

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