Roseanne and Other Twitter Nightmares

Roseanne’s racist tweet gets her show canned. Bill Maher apologizes for using racial slur. Alec Baldwin viciously slams gay reporter. Joy Behar equates Christianity with mental illness.  Trump…well, you know. And on, and on, and on…

The attacks are personal. They’re not about issues. Neither are they about seeking resolution. They are personal and cruel. Most are distasteful and horrid digs at a person or a culture, revolving around race, sexual orientation, disability, looks, or any number of physical or characteristic attributes.

 But they are not about issues.

 Issues themselves are boring and don’t grab headlines. Shocking slams get attention.

 Looking over social media, it’s clear that very few people have honor or mores (look it up, this is not a typo). There is no civilized discourse, or honorable interaction. Everything said is meant to grab attention and to feed or sway an audience.

 And, we are the audience. We’re the suckers lapping it up.

 I’m reminded of a story my husband told me. His dad, after a long career in the Air Force, lived out his work life in the corporate world. He nabbed a gig at an American plant of a Japanese company. Now, anyone who has worked for Japanese companies understands their unique culture of comingling capitalistic big business with Japanese cultural protocols. It can make for some interesting situations. My father-in-law worked on the team reorganizing a new inventory system. He became alarmed at the lack of security, and when questioning his superior, the response was, “We will rely on honor.” To which, my father-in-law replied, “Sir, we’re Americans, we have no honor.” The losses that first year were so great that they shut down the entire program.

 I can hear his sentiment ringing in my head as I read the latest scandals: we have no honor.

 As a collective, we don’t.

 But as an individual, we can.

 You, me, your neighbor, your co-worker, your spouse, your friend, your mother, your brother…we can EACH have honor in this dishonorable world.

 How? 

 The honorable thing to do when someone else doesn’t have honor is not to fight back, but to turn off that person. Unfollow or unfriend them. Unplug from Social Media. Stop listening to the news. Stop scanning the latest headlines. When we’re stuck in the Troll-dom of responding to every headline, every tweet, post, quote, or opinion piece, we’re part of the problem, not the solution. We allow the garbage to thrive.

 But, if I don’t respond, no one will!

 No. If you DO respond, you’re not changing them, you’re giving them an audience. You’re giving them a platform, an opportunity to be the most talked about issue of the day.

 Don’t give them that power. Unplug. Take a walk. Meet a friend for coffee. Do your work. Laugh with your family and friends. Volunteer. Give back. 

 But, don’t continue to feed the negativity.

 They have no honor. But YOU can.

 “Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces ethics. It is honor.” ~Emily Post, etiquette author

Expectations and the Devil’s Tramping Ground

Devil’s Tramping Ground, photo courtesy of northcarolinaghosts.com

One of my biggest disappointments was one of my own making: expecting someone to be something they were not.

Have you ever had that? Have you ever put expectations on someone else, only to have them disappoint again and again?

It hurts. And, yet, they are not the ones hurting us, we are the ones hurting us.

Unrealistic—or even realistic—expectations silently placed on a friend or family member will merely sow seeds of resentment as that person fails to live up to what we’ve imagined. They aren’t purposefully hurting us, they are simply going about their lives, living as they choose.

There’s a place a few miles from here called the Devil’s Tramping Ground. It’s a spot of earth where nothing grows, and legend is that anything planted there will wither and die. It looks real enough, and “ghost hunters” have detected anomalies (whatever that means), but it’s mostly a place to visit for a lark or to drink beer, as evidenced by the empty cans on the trail.

When we sow our seeds of expectation in a Devil’s Tramping Ground, we cannot expect fresh, verdant shoots. Planting our hopes on someone else’s behavior, no matter how “right” it seems to us, will not end well…for us.

Like my father once told me, if you want to make sure people don’t disappoint you, don’t expect anything out of them!

Oh, true. Sadly, true. Even when we expect them to do the right thing. Even when we expect them to live up to their role, as mother, wife, sister, friend…titles don’t ensure our needs are met. I have friends bending over backwards for some of the most vile people on the planet simply because they hold the title of mother or father. Titles are worthless. Behavior determines role.

The next time someone disappoints us, we need to perform a forensic analysis. What were our expectations? Were they realistic? Did the person know what was expected? (Not merely could they assume, but did they actually know?) Is the current behavior linked to past behavior? Should we really be surprised, or does it just feel good to “be hurt.”

Sometimes playing the victim can have its own rewards, so we need to be careful with how we handle hurt. We can’t wear it like a mantle. We need to turn to God. God promises to comfort us. God promises to care for us in our hurts.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” ~2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The next time we’re about to place expectations on another, we need to ask ourselves if it’s warranted. By forgoing placing expectations, we can avoid being hurt. But, since we’re human, we’re bound to do it again, so the next time we’re hurt or disappointed, we need to turn to God for comfort.

And, then, try not to do again.

So much easier said than done.

The Cure is God

Image courtesy of Virtue Online

I’m in news fatigue and it’s hit me hard.

Wars, violent “demonstrations,” child abuse, sexual abuse, murder, missing persons, protests, slander, holier-than-thou liberals and conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Fascist Socialists, and people so sure that they can solve ______ by banning _____, or by their own will, ingenuity or prowess, it’s enough to make one sick. Everyone is so sure that their idea is the ultimate solution and they, alone, are the ones to fix the issue.

Problem is: they can’t.

We can’t.

Only God can.

We all need more God.

While the Christian religion has been hijacked and is misrepresented and maligned in the world, those who wish its destruction don’t factor in the truth that religion isn’t God; only God is God.

The more we self-centeredly believe that we, on our own, will solve a problem, the farther away that goal becomes. We were born to need God.  It’s in our DNA.  We are wired to rely on God.

And, when we do, when we give it up to Him to solve, and fix, and help, and comfort, He appears in our woes in miraculous ways. He’s not a genie to snap His fingers and make the problem go away. Instead, He guides us along a path we hadn’t considered to live, even in the strife, and welcomes us into a peace we never thought possible.

So, for a better life: turn off the news. Stop listening to the media and the talking heads, politicians and activists, and start listening to God. He will lead you to a wonderful place, even in your storm, that you never realized existed.

It’s Going Great…Then, WHAM!

Cartoon by Maria Scrivan, Tribune Content Agency, LLC

My friend posted on Facebook, asking, “So how come every time things are going great something bad happens?”

It seems that way, right? I mean, we’re tootling along, following that proverbial primrose path, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the tank is clean (Nemo, anyone?), and then WHAM—we get smacked down like a bird flying into glass waking up stunned and immobile on the ground.

But, is that really how it is? It may seem like it, but what we can forget is: that’s life. Life is a roller coaster, up and down and all around. Good things and bad things happen, sometimes simultaneously. Like Frankie sang, “You’re riding high in April; Shot down in May!”

One way we can offset the feeling of having the wind knocked out of our sails is to realize that not everything is going to come off perfectly. Our lives in alignment and chugging smoothly along with our days is not our normal. Here is where gratitude enters the picture.

When we are grateful for our lives going well, in little and big things, we can see the peaks more clearly. When we don’t accept the peaks as our base point, as our normal life, but as gifts, lovely and divinely offered, we appreciate them.

Got fresh water from the tap today? Is your belly full, do you have clothes, did you laugh? Did the lights come on when you flipped the switch?

We do ourselves a disservice when one million and one things in our days happen flawlessly yet we concentrate on the few that went wrong. That doesn’t mean that a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis or a child’s death isn’t cause for our world turning upside down, but I’m not talking about disasters. I’m talking about fender benders, inconveniences and annoyances.

While I was writing this blog post, my keyboard stopped working. I spent a good portion of my morning trying to fix the issue. I did, but I let it derail me. Not totally, I took a break and worked on a project I need to finish by next week that didn’t require a computer. But, even with the knowledge, yes, even as I’m writing about it, even as I’m fervent about it, I still let the snag get to me.

Like you, perhaps, I’m a work in progress.

So, we need to remember, in all things: perfection is not our base line. When we embrace that, we can more easily handle this roller coaster called life, with its ups and downs and all overs. And, maybe with some effort, we can even learn to enjoy the ride.

As long as my keyboard works…and my car starts…and, well, I’d better re-read this post and try again.

Being Known

Nothing drives home the need of being actively involved in a small group at a large church so much as experiencing a life-altering event and having your posse mobilize on your behalf. Or, likewise, the opposite.

As a small group leader, I spend some amount of time encouraging members to attend our meetings. Life gets in the way, of course, travel, work, activities, family…you name it! Our lives are busy.

Still, there are those who stop coming, for one reason or another, and they fall off the radar, yet they don’t want to be taken off the roster.  Just in case. The other members soon forget they’re a part of the group, or new ones join having never met them. Their names take on a distant ring not a familiar tone.

In their minds, they’re still “part of the group.”

My heart breaks for those people, because they aren’t known. They might be remembered, but no one really knows who they are. They aren’t sharing in the intimacy happening weekly. They’re simply a name on the roster.

I had one such woman contact me today. She got some devastating news and she was distraught. She asked for prayers and I immediately sent out a group notice. And, I have zero doubt that our group, whether they remember her or even know her, will pray for her.

But, how much more valuable would it be for her to reach out on her own? To speak directly to the women she knows, loves and spends time with? How much more reassuring would it feel to personally receive their heartfelt responses?

One might get a Meal Train started, or offer to take and pickup her kids from extra curriculars.  Another might invite her out to lunch or coffee. Someone might start taking donations for gift cards.  Any number of things might occur when the group is involved.

I’m not saying those things won’t happen. Our group is full of caring, loving women who pitch in to take care of others. But, we have only so much bandwidth to give to this, that, and a hundred other things. Many noble things that require attention.

The desire to help is there. It is. We help strangers all the time.

But, how much more impactful could it be to know without a doubt that your group has your back?

And, they tell you that personally.

P.S. I just received two inquiries from my prayer request email to my group as to how they can help me and what can they do. I was pretty clear that the request was from the other woman, not me. However, there would have been zero doubt if the woman had contacted the group herself… 

Alfie Evans, My Take

Peter Byrne – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Backstory: Alfie Evans is a little boy in England who has been on the front lines in a life support battle between his parents, health officials and the British government. Alfie, like Charlie Gard, has been used as a symbol for those preaching against socialized medicine. Alfie is suspected as having a degenerative mitochondrial condition which is terminal.

My own concerns with Aflie’s situation, beyond the heartache and tragedy, are thus:

1. His parents are barred from seeking a second opinion outside of “the system.”

2. The hospital has police guarding the boy, so the parents can’t take him out of the building.

The first matter just doesn’t sit well with me. We hear all the time we need to seek a second opinion. A true second opinion is not another doctor in the same medical facility, but one outside of the facility/hospital/practice. Locally here, the Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem is coming under fire now for performing mastectomies and lumpectomies on women who were diagnosed with cancer but didn’t actually have it. Second opinions can mean life or death.

The second matter is such a violation of human rights I can’t see straight. I liken it to a police state. As of today, the parents are going to court to see if a judge will allow them to take their little boy home to die.  I. Can’t. Even. The hospital and has fought and won the right to refuse further treatment for the boy, and now, they won’t let him leave the building. They won’t care for him, but they won’t let others care for him, either.

The one thing good to come of this—even with its hijacking of causes from the anti-socialized medicine groups and the anti-vaxxers—is that we’re talking about these issues. We’re having conversations about the right to refuse treatment, the right to give treatment, and the right to die with dignity, et. al.  These are discussions that we need to have. These affect us all.

My own opinion is that life is precious. People have a right to not suffer. Parents have a right to care for their young. It’s at once very simple and extremely complicated. 

Why Kanye West’s Tweets Matter

(image via Billboard)

In a country that promises freedom for its people we have anything but. The thought police have taken over, and, because their voices are so loud and their demands so “righteous,” we have most of the nation cowering and second-guessing their every sentence, every word. Those who don’t fall in line are labeled and shamed.

And, yet here comes Kanye. Tweeting that he has a right to think for himself—gasp! Doesn’t “Ye” know that you just can’t do that these days? Speaking the current party line with approved talking points is not only encouraged but expected. Anyone who falls out of step, especially a celebrity, is castigated and shunned. He must be out of his mind.

I was so stunned at first that I thought for sure his Twitter account had been hacked. Or, I reasoned, nah, this is some joke, he’s punking us. But, no, he’s sticking by his tweets that people are free to think for themselves. It’s not a novel idea, but it certainly hasn’t been used in a while.

Maybe we can all take a cue from Ye. Maybe we CAN think for ourselves, instead of regurgitating popular opinions presented by the media, celebrities and politicians.

Ye’s own words could be our next step toward gaining back our freedom as a people. He said, “I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.

And, so we do.

Why Universal Basic Income Will Fail, Every Time

NEWS HEADLINE: Finland To End Universal Basic Income Pilot Program

Of course this doesn’t work. It’s human nature to take the path of least resistance.

Just look at teenagers and kids and they’ll show you human nature at work. Parents provide for their necessities, as they should, but when it comes to work and chores, there is much prodding that must be done. When a human’s needs are provided for without conditions, there’s no impetus to pursue toil and labor. The detriment is that the benefits of toil and labor that go beyond monetary gains, namely the self-confidence and esteem garnered through self-provision, are lost. We teach our children to work hard for their goals whether studies, employment, athletics, arts, clubs and organizations, or other pursuits, because we know that by working toward goals and meeting them, it enriches their lives.

Likewise, a life spent in laxity and inactivity leads to depression, hopelessness and self-doubt. Esteem cannot be given, it can only be earned.

I always look to Spongebob as my example: cheerfully work at something you love. He was born to be a fry-cook, and so he is the best fry-cook under the sea. He’s not Mr. Krabs, he’s not wealthy, he’s not Sandy, he’s not particularly intelligent, he’s not Squidward, he does not seek luxury, he is Spongebob, happy with himself and his life.

Maybe if we stopped thinking that money solves all problems, and we looked to what truly solves all problems, God and purpose in our lives, we wouldn’t be quick to think handing out money will take care of the deeper issues. Yes, give to the poor, give to those in need, that is vital, but realize that many needs transcend money.

I once lived on a $5 for a week to feed a roommate, a dog, a cat and me. Chicken livers and onions lasted the whole week, PTL. But, I was happily pursuing a degree in dental hygiene, I was living in beautiful New Hampshire overlooking a creek and woods, I was working in retail helping people, I had time to run in the field with my puppy, it was a great time. I could have asked my dad for more money and he would have given it, but I wanted the independence. I wanted to do it as much on my own as I could because I know the difference between earning something on your own, and having it given to you.

You cherish what your sweat has delivered.

Another Protest Today

Two MORE protests today for the kids—one at school (during school!!) and the other in downtown Raleigh after school.

I think having high school students leave the classroom is hardly a “protest.” How about a protest where they have some skin in the game, like at 8 a.m. on Saturday? Skipping school and having news media fawn over you, everyone cheering you on, is hardly a protest. My sister protested the Vietnam War–I was too young–and those were protests, difficult and violent, quite unlike today where protesting is some sort of activity of self-indulgence.

I grew up in a place where the guys and some gals brought their guns to school so they could go hunting after class. They left them in their trucks on campus and no one thought anything of it. I don’t think it’s a gun issue alone, I think it’s a multi-faceted issue and when we spend the entire time talking about guns, the other factors get zero attention and the issue will never resolve. We’re not going to solve this by banning guns.

We’re going to solve this by starting at home. Who is the kid who laughed at my kid yesterday? Who is the kid that stole part of my kid’s lunch in the hallway? (I mean, really…smh.) Maybe we ought to have heart to heart conversations with our kids about their behaviors in school and elsewhere. Maybe we ought to start looking at heart issues. Maybe we need to start teaching compassion.

As a gun owner married to a competition shooter and hunter, I know that guns have zero power on their own. They cannot load themselves and shoot. Only a person can do that. And, the heart of the person is the key to any behavior, as all behavior comes from the heart. When you kill a deer for organic, natural meat, you are feeding your family and providing a service in animal control as designated by the government. When you kill a human without the reason of self defense or public safety, you are acting out of hatred and fear and loathing. A black heart will find a way.

Look at London, they are now banning knives because there have been so many knife killings. It’s not a gun issue. It’s not a knife issue. It’s a heart issue…and it’s a multi-faceted issue regarding mental health, lack of gun safety training, lack of compassion training, et. al., and, lack of God.

Build Bridges; Don’t Spray Gasoline

Regarding Gun Control…or any issue: 

Remember, we have to work together. Fake town halls with scripted questions and hit news pieces are roadblocks to any solution. It’s like adding gasoline to the flame. We need to find common ground and engage in conversations. Build bridges. Let’s figure this out. Let’s hold politicians accountable that they’re not going to make money through this. Let’s hold news organizations accountable that they’re not going to promote political agendas with this. Let’s talk among ourselves and tune them both out. Let’s all write our representatives and tell them to not make this political, but to get to work and solve the issue. Bridges, people.  Bridges.