Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why Are We All So Power Hungry?

We like to categorize ourselves, don’t we? I’m a Christian. I’m a Muslim. I’m a Democrat. I’m a Republican.

But we don’t stop there, do we? We have to assign a quality to our categories. Of course, we designate the category in which we belong as being the best place possible for anyone to be; therefore we give it a positive label.

But we assign a negative connotation to what we believe is the opposing category. Then we look for proof that our category is supreme. We read hateful blogs that demean our enemies and we use those – often erroneous – assumptions as proof that our category reigns above all others.

If a category that differs from ours wins in some way, we feel defeated. Those damn gays got away with a marriage victory, gay bashers say. 

But while we bask in the glory of our power hungry minds, we often categorize people incorrectly. Muslim haters, for instance, believe that all Muslims are extremists, willing to commit suicide by bombing innocent bystanders. They don’t want to believe that suicide bombers and extremists are in the minority. Nothing you say to them will convince them that their beliefs are based on inaccurate assumptions.

So I have to ask, WHY are so many of us so stupid?

WHY do so many of us believe nonsense and then use that nonsense as proof that we are right and they, whoever they are, are wrong?

Remember when the entire country was fixated on the birth certificate of President Obama? Even when proof finally established that Obama was born in the United States, Obama haters continued their rampage until the birth certificate fiasco died a natural death. 

But the hate continued, so haters placed their hateful energy into other reasons – again, often incorrect – for hating Obama. They didn’t hear both sides of any argument being presented. They didn’t want to. They had already decided that they never wanted a black president in the first place (never mind that half his genes came from a white woman). They needed to hang on to the hatred, so they came up with their own conclusions based on what they wanted to believe to be true.

So many of us are followers, incapable of making our own decisions and coming up with our own philosophies. We become so imbedded into our own belief systems – without researching the truth – that soon we believe our lies, and our lies become our truths. Because we believe that we alone hold all the correct beliefs, we no longer seek or need proof. We just want somebody to back us up, even if we’re wrong.

Why? Because to feel right is to feel powerful! And the more powerful we become, the more in control we feel. We can be another Hitler! All we have to do is find just one other person who believes as we do, preferably somebody vulnerable who won’t fight us, gather more followers, design our own manifestos, require our followers to obey our commands, and we can decimate an entire culture to help us feel even more powerful!

WHY do we feel the need to be more powerful than the people we perceive to be our enemies, and why do we place people who are merely different from us or just have different beliefs than we do in opposing camps? Gay is not the opposite of straight, People! Democrat is not the opposite of Republican! Christian is not the opposite of Muslim!

Our VIEWS may oppose each other and our PERCEPTIONS may differ from those of others, but we don’t need to pigeonhole opposing views and perceptions into enemy camps. At a time when we NEED each other, we ignore that need and act so hateful toward each other that we create enemies in people who could be our friends. 

We are NOT enemies. Why do we feel the need to war with each other? We are ONE species – homo sapiens – with a variety of beliefs and interests! Why can’t we accept our differences, embrace them even, instead of constantly feeding our own power while sucking the life out of our fellow human beings? Some of us still believe that in order for US to feel better, we’d better berate, humiliate, denigrate, abuse, and ostracize THEM.

Would life be better if we all had the same hair color, skin color, eye color, height, weight, heritage, intellect, and interests? Should we be clones of each other? 

If we can’t stop the internal war that is raging inside of us because of our hatred for others, our negative energy will destroy us. We will act like dictators who rape the minds and souls of others with our incendiary, soul crushing, and warped belief systems. 

Instead of reading hateful commentary written by people who just want to get a rise out of us and who spout opinions based on inaccuracies, why don’t we first get the facts? Let’s stop spreading lies. Let’s stop fueling the fires of hatred. Instead of watching videos that purport to tell the truth, let’s educate ourselves on editing techniques, so we don’t fall victim to the lies those video makers want us to believe. Instead of basing our views upon the views of others, let’s research original sources. 

How many times have I found myself in a discussion based upon a speech I heard or documentation I read with somebody who watched only a partial feed or read only a comment based on the commenter’s ideas? Those edited pieces came from people who weaved together a semblance of the truth to create a lie, but the person arguing his or her point, stands by the false version of what could have been the truth if the whole truth had been presented. When I present my side of the argument, I am vehemently opposed. But when I ask, did you hear the entire speech or did you read the entire document, I am met with a, “No, and I don’t plan to. I already know what I need to know. I hate so and so. I just hate him (or her)!” 

Want to feel powerful? Get rid of negativity. Educate yourself on deceptive advertising techniques. Learn how media create lies. Be a role model for your loved ones. Stop spreading malicious lies. Be loving! Be kind! Show some love!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stolen Thunder: When the Death of One Person Overshadows the Death of Another

In 2009, radio and television announcers declared the death of Farrah Fawcett. Suddenly our minds reeled with memories of her famous poster (pictured above), her stint as one of Charlie’s Angels, her surprising (for those who believed she was merely beautiful but had no talent) acting abilities in The Burning Bed and other movies, and her bout with rectal cancer. 

But before we had time to digest the news of this beautiful woman who departed this Earth much too soon, another announcement buried the news of Farrah Fawcett – the death of Michael Jackson. The world fell into a state of shock that someone so vibrant, so talented, so loved – would be gone so suddenly.

Farrah Fawcett, who might have received more coverage if Michael Jackson hadn’t died the same day, became a mere mention in the news. Though she was famous, Farrah became almost insignificant while the world mourned the loss of the more popular Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson’s death became center stage and received about as much coverage as did Princess Diana’s death, while Farrah Fawcett’s death became a mere shadow.

Fame of another kind comes to mind when I think about the day that Jesus and the two thieves were crucified. Those two thieves were so insignificant, their names didn’t even deserve mention in the Bible. Did anybody mourn their loss? Did they have family and friends who loved them? They were thieves, after all, not murderers.

And what about those of us who lost our own loved ones on the same day that somebody famous died? We attended quiet ceremonies where maybe a handful of individuals felt our deep loss. Our grief was deep, but nobody understood the importance of our own loved ones, because they didn’t receive the same recognition as did somebody more famous.

Does media coverage following the death of a celebrity indicate that the deceased person was more loved than the people we loved? When Princess Diana died, people around the world mourned her loss. We felt engaged. We felt close to her. But what about loved ones who died on the same day as did Diana? Wasn’t our loved one just as important?

We seem to be at the mercy of the media when it comes to our beliefs about famous individuals. Without our awareness, we become puppets watching other puppets perform on a stage. Whoever has the best publicist is the one who receives the most coverage. 

But we are blind to the famous individuals’ humanity. We see them as the roles they play and the performances they give. We dismiss the pain we see in their eyes (Robin Williams, for one), because we believe that because of their fame, they don’t experience any of the normal human frailties we understand. We think we love the people we don’t know because we assume that we know them based on what we see and hear about them.

We idolize the famous and forget that they are not the roles they play or the performances they give. They’re not even the people we believe them to be.

Many years ago I worked at a teaching hospital. As you would imagine, I encountered a LOT of doctors. But unlike my boss who thought of them as gods, I treated them like human beings. I even dated some of them. My boss was appalled and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t treat them with the same respect he gave them. 

What he didn’t understand was that I knew they were human beings. I’ve always believed, even though I was taught to respect my elders, including teachers and police officers, that after I gave these “elders” the benefit of the doubt, they would have to earn my respect if they didn’t act appropriately.

I didn’t always feel that way. When I was a teenager, if any one of The Beatles had appeared in front of me, I’d have fawned all over them like – well, a teenager. But today I look at everyone through the same eyes. We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses. Some of us are wealthy, most of us are not. Some of us drive fancy cars, others could care less about the type of vehicle that gets them from Point A to Point B.

But I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is that no one person is any more or any less important than any other individual. And no one person deserves to be loved any more or any less than any other person. Farrah Fawcett mattered to a lot of people. The fact that she didn’t get as much coverage as did Michael Jackson doesn’t mean that she was any less loved. Because – what really is our definition of love? Can you say that you loved Michael Jackson in the same way you love your child? Did you love Princess Diana in the same way you loved your mother, your father, or your spouse?

Some celebrity somewhere may have stolen the thunder from your loved one, but your loved one mattered to you. Without the fanfare, without the stage, without the publicist, those famous individuals are now souls just like your loved ones are. They all have no money, no home, no bills, no fancy cars. They are all living in spirit form in a place we’ll all visit some day.

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” The Beatles

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Miracle on the Rock – Miracles Do Happen and Prayers Do Get Answered

Previously published on Yahoo! Contributor Network (Yahoo! Voices/Associated Content) March 15, 2009, later published on and then removed from Persona Paper.

Anyone who knows me knows that the one career choice I would have made, if I could have supported my children with it, would have been writing. As I awaited recognition and opportunity, as I scribbled ideas, poems, screenplays, books, and articles in my numerous notebooks, I traveled many paths, several of which were closely related to the writing field, none of which allowed me recognition, stability, or support so that I could make money with my writing.

From a magazine to printing companies to a newspaper to a video production company, from insurance companies to hospitals to a nightclub to a radio station, positioning myself in such diverse roles as secretary, outpatient admitting officer, cocktail waitress, graphic designer, and daycare provider, among others, my work day was spent doing everything but writing. Forced to put writing "for a living" on hold I sought jobs that paid the bills while I anticipated the day my career would take off.

The most recent job I held was working as an "idea" person, writing commercials for a radio station. At least that was why I was hired. The man who hired me, however, left the station prior to my first day. He was replaced with a new manager and a promotions director. The director would be my supervisor. The new manager and the new director decided that since the promotions director would be performing tasks I was hired to do, I should sell advertising.

During my first week, I realized I had become part of a new reality TV series, The Edge of Twilight Zone. Or so it seemed. While we were on our way back from a business function one day, for example, my new supervisor, whose language would have made a pornographer blush, "mooned" a coworker on a busy road in broad daylight. I slouched in the back seat in horror.

In the three months I worked there, my coworkers and I were informed during sales meetings every time she was "f-ing bleeding like an f-ing pig out of her f-ing v…” It appeared that my new supervisor's goal was to make her employees feel uncomfortable; her joy came from being as outrageous as was humanly possible. I'm no prude, but I think that people who use f-bombs to describe every noun are either deliriously stupid or just plain lazy. The job proved to be more than I could (or wanted to) handle.

I immediately sought relief in the Help Wanted section of the newspapers - in print and online. My numerous physical problems made finding an appropriate job a challenge. A swollen right foot (a problem even doctors at one of the highest skilled teaching hospitals couldn't figure out) and scoliosis that caused persistent back pain limited me to jobs that didn't require me to stand for long periods of time. Asthma and borderline COPD prevented me from working around certain types of fumes, perfumes, and cigarette smoke, and carpal tunnel syndrome sometimes required me to wear a wrist brace that made typing difficult.

My long-term goal had always been to write when I retired, but retirement was more than a decade away, and I needed to find something that would sustain me NOW. Once a daycare provider, I wondered if I should return to caring for children. After all, children wear no fragrances, and I could probably contend with the limited exposure to smoking or perfumed parents. I could lie down on the floor when necessary, and I could sit often. I could also write up until the minute the parents arrived with their children and soon after they left to take their children home. But income from daycare never paid the bills.

And so I did what I always do when I grapple with a problem I have to solve - I prayed about it. And I asked God to give me a sign to let me know if I should set up a daycare while I continued to pursue my writing career.

Because this method has worked for me on many occasions, I knew to ask for a specific sign. I chose a butterfly. But not just ANY butterfly, a UNIQUE butterfly, something so unusual, it would grab my attention. If I saw a UNIQUE butterfly, I would know that I should return to daycare.

On my way to work at the Gates of Hell Radio Station the morning after my prayer, I saw a sign with a butterfly on it. However, I reasoned that I had driven by that sign every day on my way to work; I just never noticed it before. Therefore, I couldn't count it as a sign from God.

The following day, because my job required me to travel, I decided to test the limits of the radio signals to see if they matched the area the radio station claimed was included in its map (it didn't). I met my mother - who lived more than fifty miles from where I worked - for lunch. I wanted to tell her about the horrendous job I had and to ask her opinion about my leaving it to return to childcare while I worked on my writing.

Mom, who believes there is no worse job than caring for children all day, was surprisingly supportive. She brought along a tiny shopping bag that she placed on the table as we ordered our food. I wanted to tell her about my prayer, but I felt her support was enough. I would wait patiently for my sign from God if childcare was the job I was supposed to pursue while I wrote. Only after I made my career decision would I share the prayer with my mother.

Before she opened her bag, Mom placed her hand on top of it. "I don't know what you're going to think about this," she said almost apologetically.

She continued to tell me about a friend of hers who had to quit her job to take care of her mother. In her spare time, the friend crafted and painted all sorts of projects. My mom thought of me when she purchased this tiny trinket.

Worried that it was "just a little something - nothing big or expensive," Mom added, "If you don't like it, it's OK."

Whatever Mom gives me is special. On this day, as on any other day, it wouldn't have mattered if it were a scrap of linen from her dresser drawer or a poem she wrote. I would have treasured whatever it was. But I was curious. And so I opened the brown paper bag and unfolded the paper. Inside was a rock painted with a butterfly on the top, its wings folded.

As I was thinking that God had answered my prayer, and as I was about to share the prayer with my mother, I heard her say, "Isn't that the most UNIQUE butterfly you've ever seen painted? Most people spread out both of the wings, but these wings are folded. Isn't this one UNIQUE!"

"Yes," I told her. "It is unique. It's also the answer to my prayer."

Afterword: In September, 2009, I was struck with cancer. Unable to handle chemo well, I had to quit day care. Because I provided daycare from 2007 to 2009, and because it never paid enough for me to live comfortably, the Mills Breast Cancer Institute filed paperwork for me so that the government would put me on short-term disability. After two years on disability, possibly because of my age, the government put me on social security. As a result of those circumstances, I was able to retire early. I now live simply and within budget thanks to my youngest daughter, who pays me to provide care for her children a couple of days a week. As you might guess, I firmly believe in the power of prayer and in miracles. And when I’m not caring for children or crocheting, I’m writing!