Judging

So, Kris is currently away in North Carolina for work, as well as to apartment hunt for the move in early August.  Of course, for me, not only does this mean getting the bed all to myself, but it also means that I can watch all those movies that Kris hates when I watch.  Whenever I watch movies that make me blubber like an idiot, or sputter with rage, poor Kris always has to bring me back to normal, so I try and watch those movies only when he’s not around, sparing him from having to deal with me.

In this vein, I recently watched :”Snow Falling on Cedars” for the first time in years.  I had watched it when it first came out, and remembered being upset over the way that things were handled (not by the film, but in a historical sense), but looking back as an adult with everything that has been going on politically in the past decade or so, it made me even more ragey (yes, that’s now a word).  There are a number of wonderful bits in this movie.  One of my favorites is the closing arguments delivered by the defense attorney.

Here’s my rant…we, as Americans, pride ourselves on being the bastion of democracy and equality in the world. I’m not going to go off on my tangent about the fact that we’re not really a democracy at all right now.  Someone remind me of that later, please.  Anyway, despite this blaring contention of equality, we have a really crappy history of inequality.  Everyone knows about the race issues that arose from slavery and the Civil Right’s Movement, but very few people talk about or seem to remember our other atrocities.

As much as I am not a fan of Bill Clinton in many ways, he was the first member of our government to apologize for what we did to Japanese Americans during World War II.  The FIRST.  In 1993, half a century after the fact.  That is deplorable.  We took citizens and their property, placed them in “internment camps” based solely on the fact that they were different.  All the while, we were fighting against the Third Reich, claiming to be fighting for freedom.  And guess what guys, internment camps was simply a different way of saying concentration camps (but no, we couldn’t, and still can’t, use that term, because that’s what the Nazis did, and the Nazis were BAD).  Well, sorry to hit you with the ugly truth, but America we were BAD too.*

I realize that there were people at the time (and since) who spoke out against this as unjust, un-American, and whatnot, but unfortunately, they were hugely overborne by the silent masses who stood by.  Or by the vocal and horrible masses who pushed for and encouraged these acts.

We did it to the Native Americans, we did it to the Japanese, we went on a psychotic hunt for Communists in the 1950s.  And now we’re doing it to Muslims, Middle Eastern people, and anyone who seems to disagree with the government.

Why is it that we, as a people who supposedly value truth, freedom, and equality, are constantly letting fear and hatred form national policy?

The saying “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” (whatever its provenance) holds true here.  If we consider our hypocrisy throughout our entire history, we must start to consider how other countries (both allies and not) view us.  We are a country that proclaims equality and freedom, and yet was the last Western country to outlaw slavery.  We are a country that flaunts its freedoms in the faces of others, yet continually reelect politicians who take away our freedoms.

Who are we as a nation?  Shouldn’t we be judging ourselves first, instead of other countries for their issues?  Let’s fix ourselves before we try to fix others.  Let’s stop doing nothing, and actively start making the world a better place for our children.  A more compassionate and open-minded place.

 

*Note, I just looked this up, and apparently the process was started with the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, but no formal public apology was made at that time.  Also, that act specifically excluded any foreign-born Japanese prisoners from receiving any restitution.  So the process was formalized and concluded in 1993.  But still.

Parenting

This time of year we’re all encouraged to think about our parents.  Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are at the forefront of advertising campaigns, but as Kris and I were talking about the other day, there is a huge disparity in the messages.

For Mother’s Day, all the commercials are centered on appreciating Mom and buying her expensive jewelry.  For Father’s Day, the message seems to be centered on buying Dad a grill or making sure that he gets a new tie.

Why the disparity?  Don’t fathers deserve to be appreciated and respected in the same level as mothers?  We are constantly reminded in society today that we have a problem of absentee parents, most particularly fathers.  Why aren’t we addressing the issue as a society then?  Instead of focusing on thanking good parents once a year and buying them things that haves no real meaning, let’s try celebrating the everyday things.

Growing up, I had many arguments with my parents.  But I never doubted that they loved me.  Of course I questioned their choices, I was a kid, and that’s what they do.  But I remember many times where something would have me thinking the world was ending, and Mom or Dad would comfort me and eventually I would realize that they were right and that life does, in fact, go on.

As a parent myself, I now can understand many of the decisions my parents made, and can also hear my parents coming out of my mouth.  Sometimes I feel an overwhelming urge to strangle my son, and Kris will step in to save his life, or vice verse.  There were days when we were in Illinois, and Dru was having all his sleep issues, when I would call my Dad to talk me into a calmer state of mind.

Parenting is not easy solo, I have great respect for those who are single parents for whatever reason.  But why as a society do we not chastise and shun parents who refuse to take an active and caring role in their children’s lives?  Obviously, some people are never meant to be parents, and there are those who shouldn’t be around children.  As for those who have no reason to not be a part of their child’s lives, why aren’t we holding them accountable?  When did it become acceptable to be an absentee parent?

I don’t know how to fix it, but advertising isn’t helping with their unequal messages toward the importance and roles of the parents.  Any suggestions?

Changing

Today, a number of my friends, and other people across the country, changed their Facebook profile photos and statuses to reflect their support of equal marriage rights.

I am all for equal rights for everything, marriage or otherwise.

Here’s my issue however…how many of you who are posting these kinds of activism messages on Facebook actually get out there and do your part in your community?  I know a number of you do, and that’s awesome, but for those of you who don’t, why not?  Facebook is a wonderful way to share your feelings, lives, and photos with friends, but for the most part, the people you are friends with are going to have a similar life outlook to you.  So it’s not surprising to me that many of my friends support equal rights, because they are my friends, and I like to associate with people who support similar issues.

But, in the real world, off the internet, and off of Facebook, are you proudly touting that same message?  Did you vote this past election season?  If you did, did you research your candidates fully, or just choose based on what party you thought you supported?  Do you write to your elected officials when a vote is approaching?  I’ve been writing to my elected officials for years.  I still remember a while back writing to our State Rep when we were still in Massachusetts.  The State House had recently begun to consider a breed ban, and I thought it was a bad idea.  So I wrote to our local Rep.  I had no idea where he stood on breed specific legislation (BSL), because it wasn’t something that had come up during his campaign, but I felt strongly about the issue.  Well, shortly thereafter, I received a letter back from his office (maybe it was even from him personally, I can’t remember) stating that he also was against BSL and would not support any legislation along those lines.  That added a point in his favor when the next election came around in my book.  I’ve done it for other issues as well.  I don’t usually get a response to my letters, but I know that I feel more active that I’ve sent them.  Because I know that my voice is being sent to my elected official.  And then I pay attention to how they vote on the issues that are important to me.  Any politician can say they’re pro- or anti- an issue, but they can’t deny a voting record.  So if an issue is truly important to you, educate yourself!

Know your local, state and federal laws on any subject you deem important enough to stand up for.  And then do it more than on the internet.  If you feel that gay rights is a hugely important issue, donate your time to a local group that supports gay rights.  If you feel that gun rights are important, go to a demonstration.  Whatever your issue, put your body where your mouth is.

Your physical presence (monetary as well, though I know that’s not always possible) is infinitely more effective than your Facebook presence.  If you want to change the world, don’t just sit behind your keyboard and talk about it, do it.

And yes, I know this blog seems to be doing just that, but at least I can say I’m actively involved in supporting issues important to me. :-p

Testing

So here comes another political rant…

So we were just sitting around and discussing Nancy Pelosi’s most recent foul up regarding the Constitution.  Apparently, over the weekend, she gave an interview where she confused the first and second Amendments.  And this is not the first time she’s shown a complete lack of knowledge of the basics of our system.

Unfortunately, she’s not the only one who is so woefully ignorant.  And even scarier, many of those people are in positions of power within the government.  Part of the oath all members of Congress swear is to uphold and defend the Constitution.  How can we expect, or trust them to do that if they don’t know what it is?

So here’s my newest proposal…all elected officials have to pass the citizenship test that we expect others to pass to become citizens.  If it’s important enough for new citizens to have to know the information contained in the test, I would think it would be even more important for anyone directly affecting the policies under the Constitution to also have to know what is involved in it. And I think it should be an ongoing thing…like a driver’s exam.  Every other term, they have to pass the citizenship test to be eligible to make the ballot.  We already require them to submit a sufficient numbers of signatures, so why not submit a passing grade on a citizenship test as well?

I think it would make for more responsible and educated representatives, as well as for avoiding looking like complete morons to the rest of the world when the House Minority Leader can’t even make coherent arguments using the Amendments as backup.  It’s disgraceful and she (and we) should be embarrassed.

Romancing

As many of you know, I’m a voracious reader.  Because of this, my e-reader goes everywhere with me.  Because of Dru’s night terrors, we’ve been having one of us sit in with him every night to get him to sleep calmly.  So I bring my e-reader there as well.

I generally end up with at least an hour of reading time a day (if not more), so I blow through books quickly.   Lately, I’ve been on a romance kick, and have a complaint.

Why is it that in a large percentage of romance novels, the male and female protagonists go from violently hatred to truly, madly in love within a matter of a month or so?  Why do we so rarely see relationships that evolve from friendships or that have two people meeting and falling in love in a healthy relationship? 

One of the recent ones I read had a guy who is a raging jerk to the girl he ends up with.  And it’s never discussed why she doesn’t punch him in the face for his treatment of her.  Nope, she just falls madly in love with him in a matter of seconds, and they (apparently) live happily ever after.  Oh, and they both make wildly outrageous assumptions about the other person because their ability to communicate like human beings is apparently non-existent.  

And yes, I realize I’m reading them anyway, but I do like the happy endings :-p.  And in general the ones I read have stronger female characters, and good character development.  

I just would like to see more romance novels that glorify truly healthy relationships.  

We have an entire generation of people growing up with Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey as romance examples.  The relationships in those books and others like them are so blatantly ridiculous and unhealthy that they make me stabby.  Let’s put forth some books that show people entering healthy long-term relationships with good communication and equality.  I think that’s a truly romantic relationship.

Giving

Like many people right now, we’re not flush with cash.  But I still have a desire to give back.  When I was in high school, I regularly participated in the local soup kitchen.  When I was in college, I helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity.  After college, time seemed to get away from me, and it was harder to do.

I don’t remember how, but I discovered freerice.com back in 2007 or 2008.  It’s run by the World Food Programme.  When it first started, it was a vocabulary game.  Every right answer earned rice, which was donated to those in need.  Now I love vocab games, so I did it religiously for a while.  Then I completely spaced out and forgot about it.

Right before Thanksgiving, I rediscovered it.  They’ve expanded the options.  Now, it’s not just vocab words, you can do chemical symbols, SAT Prep, multiplication, and foreign languages.  In a total of about 45 minutes, I donated almost 3500 grains of rice.  I’ve done it more sporadically since then, but I’ve been going back and doing it.

Today, I clicked on the link to the totals of rice donated over time.  Here’s what they have to say:

  • Year 2007
  • Year 2008
  • Year 2009
  • Year 2010
  • Year 2011
  • Year 2012
  • Year 2013
  • 12 255 121 230
  • 43 942 622 700
  • 16 773 400 950
  • 13 198 863 280
  • 8 218 094 800
  • 3 351 398 496
  • 89 679 890

Now, the site started in late 2007, so 2008 was its first full year in action.  Since then, the numbers have dropped drastically.  So I’m challenging myself (and anyone else who wants to join me) to get it back up to at least where it was in 2010.

It’s a way you can give back without spending a dime.  And since we can’t really afford to donate money, time is all we have.  But I can spend 15 minutes and donate 1000 or more grains of rice.  According to their website, it takes about 19000 grains of rice to feed an adult for a day (averaged, not exact), so while it takes some time to build that up, you’re getting some education, some fun, and they’re getting what they need as well.  So maybe instead of messing around on other websites, we could all try and give 15 minutes a day to this cause.  I’m certainly going to try.

Snowing

So a few large storms have made their way across the country in the past week or so, giving our area it’s first real snow.  Dru is wicked excited.  We had a minor snowfall a bit ago and the first thing he wanted to do was to go make snow angels. 

Here’s the issue, when we moved, I packed all the snow stuff in one box – my big winter coat, both his snow suits, and probably a couple of Kris’ coats as well.  But when looking through the plethora of unpacked boxes, I CANNOT find them.  I’ve looked in all the boxes large enough to hold them that aren’t marked kitchen…so now Kris and I have to go through every box and find them, because I love that coat and I don’t think Dru’s going to wait much longer to make his snow angel.

And yes, I could just buy new for us, but I don’t want to.  My inherent inability to spend my own money makes me determined to find them, or to tear apart every box trying!