A Mission Statement For My Life

Just yesterday, I was released from the ICU of a local hospital after a fall that resulted in a couple of brain bleeds, “Praise God, ” they only required monitoring, and no medical intervention. Frightening though it was, it was not as serious as it could have been.

As a way to distract my mind from the intractable headache (One that made some of my migraines seem like a walk in a park.), I mindlessly checked out a website, www.nextdoor.com to see what is happening in our neighborhood. It is a nationwide website that allows over 180,000 local neighborhoods to interact with one another, and to share both vital and run-of-the-mill information. I am not on the site very often, so I looked forward to see what was happening in the 29 neighborhoods surrounding me.

I came across a rather innocuous post about a missing political yard sign. The person who posted it made the “mistake” of identifying it as a sign supporting a politician from a certain political party. (I am not even identifying the politician or the party, because those facts are immaterial.) The post resulted in many comments, some of which rife with undisguised rancor, and unfounded accusations, which devolved into an “us” vs “them” environment. Although I was so exhausted that I could barely keep my eyes open, I was incredulous as to how a benign post (except for the word naming a certain politician) could cause seemingly intelligent human beings to stoop to discrediting, trivializing, and condescending another human being, simply because of their perceived, or even real, different belief. It appeared that the animus is directed largely at people that they don’t even know.

After reading that post and some of the replies, I was compelled, in spite of my exhaustion, mental confusion, headache, and overall crappy state, to dictate this post, no matter how long it took. In response to the obvious digression from an unintended partisan discussion, to a series of unsubstantiated and unfounded jabs against the opposing party, the original postor offered to meet anyone, regardless of his or her political persuasion, for a sit down, face-to-face, heart to heart discussion and exchange of ideas. Until I choose to stop reading, the curt, obviously partisan, off topic, and mean spirited replies vastly outnumbered those agreeing to the offer.

As I have for the past few days, while lying in ICU, I thought of my grandchildren, and in this case, of the rancorous environment that we, as adults, are exposing them to, and my heart ached. Is this the new normal that I wish them to inherit? Do I want them to believe that those who think and look differently, are evil, and are to be reviled? Do I want them to believe that they are in it for themselves, and should not be concerned about the plight of others? Do I want them to believe that they should do anything that it takes, regardless of the harm to others, to achieve their goals? Do I want them to believe that they are more special, more precious or more important than the child seated beside him, or do I want him to know that, in God’s eyes, we are all made in his image, and loved the same? As I answered these questions, my tribe, my community, became clear.

I seek a group of diverse (i.e., based on, among other things, gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political preference, marital status, income, age, disability, rank in the social hierarchy, beliefs and more) individuals, who desire to interact with one another in a civil, non-confrontational or accusatory, and most importantly, respectful manner. I seek those who have no need to surround themselves with clones or carbon copies of themselves, but who long to grow, learn and expand their horizons through interactions with those from cultures, backgrounds, beliefs, lifestyles, and life experiences that differ from their own.

I seek others who believe that there is no reason that those who hold different views should be unable to sit down to peaceably and amicably engage in discussions, even about weighty matters, without the need to resort to the denigration, belittlement, ostracism, or disparagement of others, simply because of opposing beliefs and views. I seek those who believe that we are equals, who are entitled to her/his own beliefs, and that we are free to exercise and express those beliefs without fear of being subjected to wanton criticism, vitriol, physical, mental or emotional harm, or any other adverse action.

I seek those who remember that this country was founded by a band of immigrants who sought refuge from oppression, and for the right to practice their chosen beliefs. They sought freedom. Our ancestors were not the original inhabitants of this country, but that is a topic for another day. Everyone of us is borne of immigrants. I seek those who believe in the protections afforded by the First Amendment, though initially intended to allow each of us the right to practice our chosen religion, affords us the right to express our beliefs in a legal, amicable, and peaceable manner. I seek others who long for the times when we were able to do so without fear of retribution or the loss of treasured relationships. I also seek those who strive, as the Second Commandment states, to love your neighbor as you love yourself, which should be practiced universally, and not solely by the Christians among us. Admittedly, it is far from an easy undertaking, but one worth pursuing. Finally, I seek a community of those who abhors the current division, the “us” vs “them” environment, in favor of one that proclaims “we the people,” which is all inclusive. I seek a community who refuses to accept the current environment as our “new normal.”

I am still a bit confused as a result of my head injury, but I felt compelled to dictate this right now, because it is much too important to put off. When my end arrives, and as for us all, it is inevitable, I have no intention of being remembered as an intractable proponent of views that served to tear down, instead of build up, and that stirred dissension for the wrong reasons. I have no desire for my children or grandchildren to model hate, division, lies, fear, or any number of other negative qualities, for the sake of politics — any politics. I have no intention of leaving behind such a legacy.

I am a perfectly imperfect person who struggles every day to be a source of light, love, and hope. I make mistakes, and do and say things that I shouldn’t, but I regret them. As a Christian, I am a sinner who strives to do and be better, and the politics of the day, plays no role in those efforts. I intend to leave a well of love, compassion, fair dealing, empathy, community service, trust, honesty, sensitivity, action, and more for my children and grandchildren to inherit. I want to teach them to stand for what is right, even though they may be ridiculed or stand alone, and to speak for those who cannot do so for themselves. For that is what it comes down to, doing what is best for the greater good.

God is not interested in how much money we earn, the clothes we wear, our spotless lawns, our net worth, the car that we drive. or the lofty position that we hold. None of it matters! It all comes down to our good thoughts and acts, and to the degree to which we strive to be and do good, for others. Having been recently reminded of the brevity of this life, I do not chose to meet my maker, trying to explain or justify my bad behavior towards any of God’s creations, for any reason, especially, politics. Party politics should never be allowed to supersede our basic humanity.

Initially, I decided against writing this post because of fear, retribution, threats or ill will, against myself or those that I love. Yet, how can I teach my grandchildren to do the right thing, cowering in the shadows? In dictating this post, I have tried to walk the middle path. Yet, I have no doubt that some will take issue with what I’ve said, and how I’ve said it. Although I have firm beliefs and clear opinions, I wrote this without the inclination or need to point a finger at one side or the other. The thing is that they are wholly irrelevant when speaking of qualities such as respect, civility, trust, honesty, compassion, love, and selflessness. Still, I am well aware that if one searches long enough, they will find what they believe supports her or his stance, but I cannot allow that to sway my actions.

Although I am charged with rest to promote healing, am unable to drive, as soon as possible, I look forward to a gathering of everyone who believes as I do, party affiliation aside. Until we are able to meet one another face-to-face, I wish each of you good health, peace of mind-body-spirit, happiness, laughter, unity and love. I remind you to “love your neighbor, as yourself.” Imagine how that would change the climate in this country? If you are like me, you will undoubtedly stumble, but then, you pick yourself up, and begin again.

Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away

  I’ve always loved this song, “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Miles Away,” by the one and only Stevie Wonder. As I listened to the tune, I  was reminded of all the strife and negativity that exists today, but with the renewed hope that “All will be well.” I have provided both the lyrics and a YouTube video of him singing the song. If you can do so, I recommend that you listen to the video, as the written lyrics do not do the song justice. xoxxo

Continue reading

Today’s Musing

sunset beach people sunrise

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I shared an article to Facebook. The article pertained to the level of assistance given to Puerto Rico after the most recent devastating hurricane. I purposely choose not to provide a link to it, because the article itself is immaterial to this post.

First, you must understand that I don’t write or share anything on social media with an eye to the number of likes or comments that I receive. I write or post because I deem them important to me.

Anyway, a very dear person, who I do not know outside the Facebook and Instagram realm, commented on the post, and I felt a need to reply to it, because it triggered an issue that has been on my mind, as of late. The following post, though it encompasses my reply, significantly expands on it.

I have to thank you for responding to this post.

You know, it both astounds and saddens me, that few seem to show any interest in responding to articles such as this one. I can’t help but wonder why that is.

Many people appear more comfortable commenting on, for example, cute furry animals and other benign posts that elicit warm, fuzzy, and happy feelings. I truly get that it, because they are a welcome escape from the day after day news of half-truths, lies, criminal behavior, the horrible things that people do to one another, and the most innocent among us, ineffectual governments and leaders all over the world, genocide, religious persecution, and I could go on and on, but I won’t.  I stopped watching television years ago, and after listening to public radio for decades, I only do so on very rare occasions. So, I understand the need for escapism, lest one goes completely mad.

Perhaps, many want to, but are afraid to speak their truth, or to have an opinion one way or another, out of the fear of setting themselves up for the vicious attacks that are commonplace in today’s climate. Today, stating an opinion is often followed by personal attacks, and  a string of crude, cruel, racist comments, and much worse. (In the political climate in the U.S., I’ve seen such attacks emanating from both sides of the political spectrum, so neither can claim any moral authority.) I can understand the need to protect yourself from such behaviors. Hell, I felt that way for quite some time, and still do.

I have scores of draft posts that never made it to the “publish” stage. As I did with this post, my finger hovered over the “publish” button, because that ‘negativity thought-producing’ demon unleashes all the thoughts that feed the above fears.  So, I hovered. Finally, my rational mind counseled me to “feel the fear, but do it anyway,” and I did.

Still, I worried that I would offend one or more of my followers (who only number around 230) or others. Yet, my greatest fear was (is) that if I posted anything indicating my position on controversial issues, I would open myself to the hate and vitriol from those who do so, merely because I have the temerity to hold and express beliefs or opinions that differ from their own. I am embarrassed to admit that I even worried that I would be blocked.

One day, I came to the conclusion that if a follower blocked me, and did not respect me, simply because I have a position that differs from theirs, they are part of the problem that runs rampart, in this country and others. As a result, he or she can not be considered a “friend,” even in the virtual word. In the world in which my mind exists, that word implies someone who accepts you as you are, because our differences enrich our lives and relationships.

In my case, I have never been interested in surrounding myself with people who think and feel exactly as I do. Of course, we share interests, but we do not walk in lockstep with one another. I believe that our differences foster inner growth, because they challenge all of us to consider whether the belief that we proffer and cling to, is our own, or one foisted on us, or adopted by us, from family, friends, society, etc.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, originally provided for the free exercise of religion, but it was later amended to protect freedom of speech, the press, and the right to assembly, without federal government action, intended to abridge those rights. Thus, in this DEMOCRACY, each of us is afforded the right to speak, to express our opinion, and to pick a side, regardless of what it may be. In this era of vicious verbal and physical attacks on those who believe differently than they do, I must stand up, if only to denounce any attack that seeks to deprive me and others, of their fundamental rights, even though I may find their opinion different or repugnant to my own. 

We are supposed to be a civilized society with people who can “discuss” our differences, at times, vociferously, but without rancor or hatred. Ultimately, if need be, we finally agree to disagree.

So, from now on, bit by bit, I will put myself out there, simply by refusing to hide or conceal my thoughts and feelings on topics about which I feel strongly, even the controversial ones. In all likelihood, some degree of fear will always remain.

I do so in the hope that I hear from and meet others, who also chose to “fight the fear” and to speak her or his truth, in spite of the risks. I welcome the opportunity to communicate with others who detest the present divisiveness, and chose not to follow that path, in lieu of discussing our differences. 

The only thing that I find nonnegotiable is that, in spite of our differences, we each work towards civility, mutual respect, equality, peace, inclusion, not divisiveness, and love. Mere words are inadequate; our actions herald the truth of our words, and who we are as a people. Nothing worth doing comes easy, but I am prepared to do what I must to provide my grandchildren with a world based on honor, compassion, trust, faith, mutual respect, empathy, and honesty. These children are our future, and we owe them more than what currently masquerades as public discourse.

The thing is that at a basic level we are all alike — human beings, doing the very best that we can. We each have hopes, dreams, and struggles, but more importantly, we share the desire to live a happy life, to feel a sense of community, to love and be loved, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, to be allowed to express ourselves, (Hopefully, in a reasoned and respectful manner.) and when the moment arrives that we all must inevitably face, to know that, by our actions, we leave this world better than we found it.

It is true that no one person, by her or himself, can change the current angry, hostile, and unwelcoming environment. It takes each person committing to working towards change in their seemingly small way, and EVERYONE has a role to play. The excuse that, “It doesn’t matter, because nothing that I do will change anything,” is a lie that we tell ourselves, to justify our own inaction.

Imagine millions of people working for change in their little corner of our country. History is our greatest teacher and asset, and it is replete with numerous events in which  the power of the few banning together to become a force with which to be reckoned. Such a force is a start, and we can begin right here.

I Support The Second “Commandment”

close up of heart shape

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Due to two recent surgeries, I’ve been lying flat on my back for most of the week, and am rather loopy. As a result, it seems that I may have inadvertently published this post before I intended to do so. If so, I apologize for any confusion.😘

Some of you may have groaned when you read the post title. I can only assure you that the overall post speaks to issues that are decidedly universal, and not dependent on any “religious” ideology. Nevertheless, there is no denying that my mother’s religious beliefs informed the manner in which she raised me, and contributed to the formation of the person that I am today.

With that said, I was born and raised in the Catholic faith, spending 12 years in the New Orleans Catholic school system. As I grew older, I expanded my limited knowledge and gained an appreciation for the moral teachings on which Christianity, and many other religions are rooted. I also recognize that “religions ” hold no monopoly over such moral truths, but that they exist in the hearts and minds of most of us.

Although I don’t walk around hiding my faith and beliefs, I have no need to hold them up as proof that I am better than others. Yet, because of the constant mental and emotional disquiet caused by the state of the country, the use of religion to justify the inexcusable, and the silence, and, or worse, support for inarguably un-Christian, and immoral beliefs and acts, I feel compelled to write this short, but in my heart, meaningful post to declare where I stand.

Just the other day, right after overhearing a person embracing the Bible to justify his belief that religious persecution and racism are in line with its teachings, I happened upon the words to the Second Commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Every time I hear these seven words, they send a shiver up my spine. These words wield such power, are clear, concise, and offer no room for endless misinterpretation, exceptions or conditions. They should be etched in the hearts of both Christians, those who claim to be “Christians,” non-Christians, as well as  those who hold no religious beliefs, but value love, compassion and empathy.

Quite unconsciously, as I read the words, I thought of the following as my “mission statement” of sorts:

  • My Bible does not promote or condone hate, racist views, misogyny or any other manner of treating the ‘other’ as inferior.
  • My Bible teaches that we are equal, plain and simple.
  • My Bible espouses the beautiful ideal of loving another as you love yourself, and
  • My Bible does not serve as a conduit to promote views that are intended to denigrate, seperate, or exclude anyone.
  • So, now that I’ve placed my cards on the table, I have a question for you.
  • First, let me be crystal clear. Considerations based on either left or right, or red or blue, have no place in any response, and for those who believe that they do, well, that is a post best left for another time.
  • My question for you is this: what is your “mission statement” based on how your Bible, religious tome, moral compass, beliefs or spiritual practice guides you to treat others, especially those who are deemed “different” from you? I welcome your thoughts.