Tag Archives: peace

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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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 Only Have Today – Thoughts On Columbus & Apologizing For History

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When I was a little girl in school we celebrated Christopher Columbus.  We held classroom pageants and wore goofy paper hats, badly colored to look like sailing ships and, at some point in the play, old Chris would shake hands with the “Indian Chief” and he would be welcomed warmly to the new world and everyone lived happily ever after.

Some time in the past 30 years the story took a distinctly more historically accurate turn.  Children are now taught that Columbus didn’t land in America on his first voyage, but in the Bahamas.  He didn’t discover an unexplored world. There were already people here.   He wasn’t even the first European to discover America. A Norse expedition sailed to America hundreds of years before Columbus was born.  He wasn’t welcomed with a warm handshake but, instead, brought upon the residents of “the new world” disease and war unlike anything they had previously known.

I’m strongly in favor of historical accuracy.  I think it is good and right that we teach our children both the pleasant and brutal parts of history.  How else can we, as a society, learn and grow from our mistakes?

On the other hand, I’m annoyed by all the things I read that seem to imply (or state outright) that we, of European descent, ought to feel guilty for what our ancestors did.  Some people would have us issuing formal apologies to the Native Americans for the invasion of their lands. Further, we should formally apologize to the African Americans for having enslaved their ancestors and for the injustices faced by them for generations and to every other racial group who has been treated badly at one time or another.

In general, “white” people should be hanging their heads in shame for everything that’s happened since the time of the crusades and maybe a little earlier.

I have thought about this for a while and here’s the thing…

I just don’t think I can apologize for any of that.

You see, I didn’t do any of those things.

I don’t have a strong enough knowledge of my family’s ancestry to know if they had a hand in any of it but I can’t see how that really matters. My ancestors are dead, as are all of the people who ever saw Columbus’s shiny black boots step upon the shoreline.

We don’t get to change the past.  All of our hand wringing and our lovely words won’t accomplish a thing.

We are given today.

So the question isn’t, “should we apologize for what Columbus did?”

The questions we should be asking ourselves are, “What can we learn from those who preceded us? What did they do right? What did they do wrong? How can we do better?”

Instead of having committees that debate the wording of a formal apology for something that happened before we were born we should be finding ways to extend meaningful help to our neighbors, today.

Is there someone being pushed out of their home, today, in the name of greed?  Do you know a person, right now, whose full einstein-quote-those-how-watch-and-do-nothingpotential is being denied because of their skin color?  Have you witnessed, in your daily activities, the mistreatment of one who is “different?”

Speak up! Take action! Do something!

Stand up, for goodness sake, and stop the insanity!

Since the dawn of humanity people have fought and killed, invaded and plundered, waged war and enslaved one another.

Here we are, in the 21st century, with the technology to sit in our living rooms and reach the entire world and we’re still beating one another down with clubs (both literal and metaphorical).  It’s time to do better!

It is time to stop taking by force that which is not ours.  It is time to stop pushing one another around like naughty children in a school yard.  It is time for the human race to grow up!

Columbus showed great courage in taking his voyages.  He dreamed a dream and pressed forward with exceptional fortitude and confidence.

Let us, too, dream of a new world.

Let us lay down our weapons, temper our greed, harness our aggression and begin to show genuine respect for one another. Let us teach our children that every person has immeasurable value, that every human being has something to contribute, that every life has worth and potential.

mother-teresa-2010Let us begin, today, this very moment, to “act with justice, love mercy and walk in humility.”

How do you do such a thing?

You start by doing what is right, in your own life, even when it’s hard.

Stop turning a blind eye to the poverty that exists in the world.  Ask yourself, “how much do I really need and how much of my excess could be used by someone else?”

Start becoming aware of the consequences of your actions. Who is going to clean up the damage you are doing to the planet?

Take the time to become educated and educate others.  It is easy to fear and hate when ignorance has a foothold.

Use your voice. Often the only thing that’s needed is for someone to say, “Stop it! What you’re doing is not right.”

Be slow to judge and quick to lend a helping hand.

“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

Do not do as others have done.  Look where that has gotten us!  Do as you would have others do.

Give people a second chance, because we all screw up.  Help those who need it.  Praise those who have succeeded.  Mentor those who look up to you. Honor those who have walked ahead of you.

Changing the world doesn’t have to involve a monumental voyage.

We can’t fix what was done in the past, but we can certainly choose to avoid doing it again.

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

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

Symbols of Love that Show True Love

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It’s all well and good to talk about peace and love.

I’m as happy to use my peace-sign notebook made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper as the next hippie.

But is it possible that one popular symbol of lasting love is used to fund war and destroy the environment?

Not long ago I was contacted by Brilliant Earth and asked to help raise awareness about “conflict free” diamonds.

It’s not a subject that I have been well-informed about.  I started reading and was startled to learn that diamonds – the traditional symbol of lasting love – are often mined by children as young as 7 years old and adults who earn less in a year than my family earns in few days (and we are considered right at poverty level by US government standards!).  There are people in the world forced to mine at gunpoint. Mining companies wreak havoc on the land, leveling forests and destroying fertile farm land.  Profits from the diamond trade often go to fund horrible, bloody conflict and the miners (again, many of them children) become victims of horrific violence.

Miners may toil for unbelievably long hours in an attempt to earn a wage high enough to lift themselves out of poverty but the reality is they are destroying their bodies and their land. Children as young as American first-graders are sent to work, which takes away any chance they may have at a life-improving education.

Image: Souce

Image: Souce

An international diamond certification process, known as the Kimberly Process, was put into place in response to these issues. This process is an attempt to limit the trading, between nations, of diamonds being mined specifically for the purpose of funding military rebellion against standing governments.  However it has proven to be fairly limited, if not entirely ineffectual in helping the issue of diamond conflict and it does not address the human rights or environmental issues in any real way what-so-ever.

Brilliant Earth is a company that is striving to create a system in which diamonds are mined by well-paid workers, in safe conditions, with minimal effect on the surrounding eco-systems. The stones are then cut and polished by skilled tradesmen who are treated well and paid fairly. Revenues are being used to educate the children of the communities where the mines exist, provide medical care and generally create an improved quality of life.

If you are in the market for jewelry, I urge you to consider this: As in all things in this modern world, your money speaks volumes!

With your purchase you can support an environmentally sustainable system that promotes human welfare and a peaceful lifestyle, or you can support the continued bloodshed and destruction that has surrounded this industry for far too long.  With your purchase you can show true love, not only toward the recipient of the diamond, but toward your fellow-man.

If you would like to know more, Brilliant Earth has published this eye-opening infographic sharing the motivating reasons behind their business:
Blood Diamond Infographic

Reasons to Care Where Your Diamond Comes From provided by Brilliant Earth.

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

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

My Kid Is More American Than Miss America

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My kid (AKA: Toddler-saurus Rex) is more American than Miss America.  He’s the very picture of what an American should look like! I mean… just check him out! He’s got blonde hair, blue eyes and he’s driving a gas-guzzler*.  You just can’t be more American than him!

*no toddlers were actually allowed to operate motor vehicles for the purposes of this post

Blonde hair, blue eyes and driving a gas-guzzler. What's more American than that?

I hesitated to write about this.

When there is a hot topic among bloggers (as I assume this will be) I tend to avoid it. Someone else will write what I feel and probably do so with more eloquence than me.  However, as I hashed over my “should I or shouldn’t I” feelings with Handsome Hippie Hubby I realized something.

It doesn’t matter if someone else has already said this. When the topic is important my voice needs to be added to the crowd.

Why?

Consider this:  Martin Luther King Jr. spoke powerfully and with great wisdom but he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything without the scores of people echoing his thoughts.

Maybe my voice will be lost in the crowd, but the fact that I am in the crowd and we all have something to say is vitally important.

If you haven’t been online (except to read this awesome blog), watched TV, listened to the radio or picked up a newspaper today, let me sum up the situation for you.

The Miss America pageant was held last night.  53 young women competed for a $50,000 scholarship.

These women are all smart and talented.  How do I know that? They are in the Miss America pageant.  In order to get there they had to win local and state competitions that are brutal in testing their intelligence, poise and talent.  This is not Miss USA, which is a beauty pageant. This is a competition between brilliant women vying to win the opportunity to further their education. Yes, they are pretty, but they don’t get all the way to the big stage in Atlantic City on looks alone.

These clever young women were judged and narrowed down to a field of 12 finalists.

The popular favorite was Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail.  She is a soldier in the US National Guard with tattoos and a knowledge of various kinds of weaponry.  She is a talented opera singer and a college senior, majoring in chemistry and Chinese.  She is smart and talented. She is also very pretty.

However, in the end, it was Miss New York, Nina Davuluri who took home the crown.  Miss Davuluri graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive sciences and plans to attend medical school.  She is an accomplished dancer.  She is smart and talented. She is also very pretty.  She has brown skin.

*gasp*

Imagine that!

Miss America has brown skin!

Her ancestors were from India and (the audacity!) she performed a traditional Indian dance as her talent.

The moment she was crowned the internet exploded with comments such as these (shared from  I am Not the Babysitter. Click here to read more):

“Our “Miss America” is ugly. Thanks Obama.”

“Great! Miss America is a terrorist. This is wonderful.”

“9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets Miss America?”

and this one:

“OKAY. Not for anything. This is a Miss America pageant not Miss India. Do an American dance.”

This last one made me wonder. Does the tweeter know that Miss California did a French dance? Should she, too find a more American style of dancing? What would that be, anyway? Twerking? I’ll take Bollywood over that crap any day!

I guess I’m naive.

I found the tweets shocking.

I thought that we, as a society had grown past all this nonsense.

I thought that it was obvious that a statement as ridiculous as the one with which I opened this blog is sarcasm because surely no one could actually think that way in 2013!

Perhaps it was only the few… the proud… the ignorant and noisy who feel that way because even here where I live in Farmerville, USA, Americans look like….

my cousin’s ridiculously attractive children (their combined ancestry includes Mexican, Cherokee Indian, Irish, Choctaw Indian and German blood):

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These gorgeous kids, whose dad went to school with my sister and me (their combined heritage is English, Irish, German, Polish, Native American, Italian, Spanish of Spain and Spanish of Latin America (Mexican) :

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And these sweet heart breakers (who happen to have ancestors of Scottish, Irish, African, German and Native American origin) who are two of Sweet Hippie Daughter’s favorite friends:

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And the unbelievably cute son of the one of the leaders of our local Girl Scout troop (his ancestors are Mexican ,Native American and Armenian.) :

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And my friend/neighbor/pastor’s wife and her son (who is of Puerto Rican, German, French Canadian, Norwegian, Scottish, and Native American decent):

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And, yes, sometimes, Americans may even look like my family:

421794_580537485301425_1948999721_nMy children’s combined ancestry is a regular ol’ melting pot of German, Polish, Irish, Slovokian and who-knows-what-else.

All of the children pictured and all of their parents were born and raised right here on American soil (and, if you were paying attention, it wasn’t MY children but the lovely brown-skinned people who are NATIVE Americans. The rest of us all came from somewhere else).  These are hard-working, tax-paying families who vote and attend PTA meetings and cheer at Little League games.  These are families who are made up of people whose interests range from art and music to movies and science to guns and hunting.  We have different religious beliefs and different political views and that’s OK.

Do you know why it’s OK?

It’s OK because we are American.

Each of these people, in all their wild diversity, make up a part of this country that is beautiful and great.

America is not beautiful and great in spite of how different we all are, but because of how different we all are.  We get to bring the very best parts of our heritage… our crazy, unique, blended heritage… and combine them together to create something wonderful and new and different from anything that’s existed in the world before.

Americans bring pieces of culture from every other part of the globe and turn it into something greater than the sum of its parts.

And so I will stand in the crowd and cheer for Miss America, Nina Davuluri, because she, in all her beautiful brown-skinned glory, represents everything that I love about this great country.

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

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

Remembering The Fallen Soldiers And Believing In A Better Future

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My Dad: a brave soldier who inspires me to imagine a world of peace.

My Dad: a brave soldier who inspires me to imagine a world of peace.

Throughout history men and women have stood strong and fought valiantly against tyranny.  I give thanks for these brave souls who were unwavering, even unto death, in their principles!

I am thankful beyond any words I know to live in a time and place where I can explore and share my ideas about religion, politics, business, and anything else that comes to mind.

I am thankful to live in a land that is blessed with wild prosperity and health.  Yes, even in these times we are wildly prosperous compared to the vast majority of people who have ever lived on earth.

I pray for special blessings on those men and women who have fought for our freedoms.  I pray for every parent who has lost a child to war, for every spouse who has lost their partner, for every sibling who has lost their closest childhood playmate, for every child who has lost a parent.  May God draw them close to Him and shower them with special mercies in their grief.

I pray for the men and women who have gone to do battle as their patriotic duty and come home bearing scars on their bodies and on their hearts.  Some of those heal, but many do not.  May they be surrounded by light and love the rest of their days.

Most of all, though, I pray for an end to war.

Since the dawn of man we have shed our brothers’ blood.  We have killed one another over land, over resources, over power, over religion, over nothing at all outside of sheer hatred.  Our earth is soaked in the blood of war.

When Jesus answered the question, "who is my neighbor?" he used an example of the Samaritan, even though there was no nation more despised by his audience than Samaria.

When Jesus answered the question, “who is my neighbor?” he used an example of the Samaritan, even though there was no nation more despised by his audience than Samaria.

I pray that my children may see the day the killing ends.

I pray that we learn to defeat violence with love.

I pray that we learn to overcome hatred with respect.

I pray that we learn to give thanks for what we have and share our abundance so that our neighbor has no need to steal from us.

I pray for the day when memorial day is a remembrance only of ancient history because the children of God no longer kill one another but, instead, love as Jesus loved.

May that day come quickly and may we embrace and celebrate the gift of peace.

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Jesus Never Had a Christmas Tree

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My family lives on a screwy schedule.

Handsome Hippie Hubby works in the kind of fancy-pants restaurant you would love to take your family to for the holidays, presuming you had $1,000 to spend on Thanksgiving Dinner for 5 people.  That means that he has to work most every holiday.

I work for a church.  That means I get every holiday off, but am usually insanely busy the week preceding the event itself.

Over the course of the years we’ve just sort of adapted and started picking our own days to celebrate various occasions.  This year, Thanksgiving is today, Tuesday, November 20.

Oddly, as the aroma of turkey begins to fill the house and the pumpkin pies call to me from the other room, “Eat me!” I find myself with a rare moment of silence.

Handsome Hippie Hubby and Sweet Hippie Daughter are off on an errand for a few minutes and Little Hippie Baby is taking a nap before the festivities begin.

Ah…. I am thankful for moments of silence!

I love my family with all my heart, but sometimes my ears need a rest.

Since I had this time, I thought I would write a short bit, totally uninterrupted.

Ah… I am really thankful for moments of silence!  (Did I mention that already?)

I hear that people are all up in arms about “holiday trees.”

THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE CALLED CHRISTMAS TREES!!!

Last year at our house this is one of the symbols we used to celebrate our faith. Isn’t it pretty? You can call it whatever you like. I know exactly what it means to me.

I understand.

Really, I do.

Christmas is a Christian holiday, after all.  I am a Christian and this is the most festive time of year for me because it is the time of year when we remember that the God who created the entire universe, in all its glorious complexity, loved ME enough to come to earth as a man, experience life as my fellow humans and I experience it, face death… and conquer it.

That is a VERY big deal!

It is worth celebrating!

I understand that my brothers and sisters in Christ can find it  irksome that people of all faiths (and no faith at all) have hijacked such a sacred event and turned it into an excuse for gluttony and greed and excess.

But here’s the thing….

There are no Christmas trees in the Bible.

Maybe the Druids should be having a fit that we stole their idea.

There are no Christmas lights in the Bible, either.

Perhaps those who celebrate the Birth of The Invincible Sun God right after the winter solstice should be upset that we stole their idea.

I could go on and on and on.  Yule logs, mistletoe, fruit cake, wreaths…. all of these things can be traced back to traditions far older than Christianity.

Does that make them inherently evil?

Not in my opinion, though some would disagree.

For me, my gorgeous decorations, roaring fire and all of the yummy treats are a reminder of the extraordinary gifts of Life and Love and, above all, Saving Grace from the One True God who loves me.  ME! Can you believe it?!

If someone else just wants a meaningless “holiday tree” in their home, or a yule tree, or a Hanukkah tree, or a “big messy pine tree that smells good,” then so be it.

Instead of getting angry about such nonsense, I’d rather direct my energy toward loving God with all my heart and loving others as myself.

After all, isn’t that the single most important thing Christ taught us?

Christianity is all about LOVING… not getting offended at every little thing that doesn’t suit our worldview.

And now that I got that off my chest… I hear the pitter-patter of little feet telling me that the moment of silence is over.

It was nice, but I am thankful for the moments of chatter, too.  My life would be so empty without it!

Enjoy your day.  Eat some pumpkin pie.  It’s OK, because now you know that it’s Thanksgiving Day somewhere!

Theological Thursday – No More Bible Thumping!

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I have a problem with “Bible thumpers.”

You know… those folks who will beat you over the head with the Word of God in order that you might “get saved.”

This is why:

If you are a Christian, living as Christ instructed, you will never need to “thump” anyone to get their attention.

Your life… your every thought and action and reaction in life should radiate like a bright shining light in the world.

In fact, we are told that, as Christians, we are like a bright light on a hill.  Everyone for miles around can’t help but notice it.

I wonder, sometimes, if my life looks any different to the world than the lives of all those around me.  Is it obvious that I’m a Christian?

Consider this bit of a letter written by Paul and Timothy to the church at Phillipi (emphasis, mine):

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

Or these words, from Jesus:

A new command I give you.  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 13:34-35

Do you show that kind of trust?  Do you have that kind of peace? Are you NEVER anxious about ANYTHING?  Do you love your brothers and sisters with the kind of love that Christ showed… the kind of love that was endlessly patient, endlessly forgiving and completely without self-interest?

If you do… if you even come close… then you will never have a need to shove your beliefs in the face of anybody.  People will clamor to know what gives you the “peace that passes all understanding.”

“How can you be so calm in this storm?”

“How can you forgive him after he did THAT?”

“How can you get out of bed in the morning knowing that?”

“How can you give something to that person, not knowing what they will do with it?”

“How…..?”

When these questions are asked, THEN you have the perfect opportunity to share, gently and kindly and with love, The Good News of Jesus.  Share the Bible! Tell its wonderful stories! Explain the extraordinary message of Hope contained in those beautiful, sacred pages!

When they ask, be ready to tell!

If no one has ever asked you a question like that, maybe you should check to see if you are “hiding your light under a basket.”

And, we must never forget that the Bible tells us that it is through the Grace of God that people are given “ears to hear” the message.

Perhaps that person you are bludgeoning with your Good Book hasn’t yet reached the place where they are ready to accept what you know.  That’s OK.  It’s not your place or your business to make them ready.  It’s not my place. It’s not the place of the pastor or the priest or the bishop or the pope.  It’s God’s business to prepare their hearts and bring them close to Him (or Her, if you prefer).

Don’t worry about someone else’s faith.

“Be anxious about NOTHING.” Remember?  That includes being anxious about your neighbor’s beliefs.

Leave it to God to bring those people to you (or to whomever they need to be close to) when the time is right.

Be a shining light.  Always.

In all things, show love.

God is love. (1 John 4:8)

What does that look like?

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast.  It is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Please, stop thumping people with your Bible.

I’m afraid that society, as a whole, is getting a headache from it!

Just love.  Have faith.  Allow the peace that transcends all rationality wash over you.  And know that God is in control.

And guess what?  If you do that, you may find that the Joy of the Kingdom of God isn’t so very far away at all.

Theological Thursday – Being a Submissive Woman

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Politics, unorthodox methods of education… I figured I was on a roll this week with the controversial topics.  May as well keep it up.

So the Bible clearly says that women are to be submissive to men.

Right?

Well…

Sort of.

The verse that most often comes up when people (almost always men) are talking about the importance of submission (of women, to them) comes from 1 Peter, chapter 3.

“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.”

This verse has, at times, been taken so wildly out of context it’s just crazy.  A week or so ago, I read a blog which referenced a man explaining that books like “50 Shades of Grey” come from a woman’s desire to be put in her proper place, under the total domination of a man.  Women are, according to him, designed to be conquered, invaded, and dominated.

Uh… yeah.  I have to respectfully (or not) disagree.  Strongly!

The verse above is written in the middle of a fascinating and very encouraging letter.  Peter was writing to 1st century Christians who had not grown up in the Jewish faith, as had Jesus and his disciples.

He speaks of how extraordinary it is to him that these people, who had never seen Jesus, believed with as much, or more, faith as the people who’d walked with him.

He goes on to encourage them to live in such a way that others will notice that there is something that sets them apart.  He tells them to “be self-controlled… do not conform to the evil desires… be holy.”  By living in such a way, they will be sharing the Good News of Jesus without ever needing to speak.

That’s a whole blog post in itself!  How many Christians do you know who’s lives are so much different, so purely and honestly lived that, just by watching them, people are led to God?  Sadly, I bet not many.

Anyway…

Peter then tells them that they should “Submit… for the Lord’s sake, to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors… for it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.  Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil…. Show proper respect to everyone.”

Just because you don’t like the ruler of the land, you are not given permission by God to be disrespectful.  Hmmm….  Are all Christians currently showing the proper respect to the current ruler, whether they agree with all of his decisions or not?  Again… a whole other can of worms.

So the context is that we all have our place in life.

Everyone has someone “over” them.

The slave has a master, the worker has his employer, the governor is sent by the king and the king must answer to God.

“In the same way…”

wives are to be submissive to their husbands.

This does NOT say that women are to be submissive to men.

Wives are to be submissive to their husbands.

Just as the employer and his worker have entered into a partnership, so have the wife and her husband.

Someone has to be the head.

Here in the USA, we live in a republic… no taxation without representation and all that, right?

But there are still ranking government officials, police officers, employers, teachers and others that we must submit to.

Why?

Well, because someone has to be in charge.  If no one is in charge, there are times when nothing will get done.  Someone has to make “the final call” sometimes.  And sometimes, there just isn’t agreement.  When that happens, those of us who are in the submissive position have to deal with the decisions made by those in charge.

Example?

What if everyone who didn’t like the tax laws just stopped submitting to them?

We’d have no roads, no schools, no fire fighters, no clean water…. It would be chaos.  Someone “at the top” has to decide what’s truly important and make it happen and the rest of us need to deal with it.  Is it OK to respectfully disagree?  To ask for change?  To voice our opinions?  Absolutely.  But, in the end, we must submit to the final decisions of our leaders.

But wait!  There’s more!

After Peter tells the wives to be submissive he gives the husbands an extraordinary mission.

“Husbands in the same way (there’s that statement again) be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

Husbands are not told to “rule and dominate, conquer and invade” their wives!  Quite the opposite!

Husbands should be considerate.

Husbands should treat their wives with respect.

An interesting note, the word, “weaker” is a pretty literal translation.  And I think that’s valid.  There are exceptions, I know.  But, as a rule, women are physically smaller, slower and weaker than men.

The word, “respect” could also be translated, “with great honor.”  “Value.”  “Nobility.”  “An item of great cost.”

Have you ever seen a professional in a museum handle a piece of art? It is delicate, fragile, and priceless and it is ONLY handled with the greatest of love and care.

THAT is how husbands are told to treat their wives.

FURTHER, husbands and wives are made equals in receiving the gifts of God.

God loves them both.  God has given them BOTH showers of blessings.  Including the blessing of a life together.

What happens if a husband doesn’t do this?

Well, the indication is that if the husband turns a deaf ear to his wife, likewise God will turn a deaf ear to him.

Can you guess what Peter says next?

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another.  Be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”

This is not an instruction for women to lie down and act as door mats.  This is a guideline for harmony.

Wives, submit to your husband as the head of your household.

Husbands, be a respectful and considerate head of the house.

God desires only for us to live in peace and love.

Why would any of us NOT want that?

We should, each of us, in our place (husband, wife, mother, child, ruler, employer, servant), be ALWAYS an example of God’s love and peace.

We should shine, in our places, and be content.

In that way, those around us will come to do the same and can you imagine how beautiful the world will be then?

If Thou Indeed Derive Thy Light From Heaven

by William Wordsworth

If thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven,
Then, to the measure of that heaven-born light,
Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content: —
The stars pre-eminent in magnitude,
And they that from the zenith dart their beams,
(Visible though they be to half the earth,
Though half a sphere be conscious of their brightness)
Are yet of no diviner origin,
No purer essence, than the one that burns,
Like an untended watch-fire on the ridge
Of some dark mountain; or than those which seem
Humbly to hang, like twinkling winter lamps,
Among the branches of the leafless trees.
All are the undying offspring of one Sire:
Then, to the measure of the light vouchsafed,
Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content.