Monday, December 28, 2009

Safer among the unbelievers

Merry Christmas everyone!

That said, religion sucks! I look at all the horrible goings on in this world and have to note that were it not for religion, probably none of it would be taking place! Someone is a devout Muslim and feels a calling to blow himself up along with a plane full of innocent people just trying to get somewhere for the holidays. Another devout Muslim opens fire on his co-workers because he cannot reconcile his beliefs with his profession.

Not to be outdone, a zealot Right to Lifer guns down a Doctor at the door of his church in an effort to save lives...ummm that one was beyond my comprehension. Others make themselves a menace at the funerals of soldiers by picketing their religious beliefs to the anguished families of the fallen. I don't get it!

Iran is a country tearing itself in two because of religion and human rights issues. 25 die in Karachi (Pakistan) suicide bombing on Shia Muslims' holy day of mourning. Afghanistan's people have endured years of strife due to the extreme beliefs that narrowly defined of an otherwise beautiful religion. An 85-year-old Holocaust survivor was among a group of grandmothers who began a hunger strike in Cairo on Monday to protest against Egypt's refusal to allow a Gaza solidarity march to proceed. Netanyahu wants Israeli force on Palestinian border. Oh boy, that will promote peace...NOT!

In an effort to be fair, Chicago allowed a Menorah, a Nativity and a Freedom From Religion Sign in a State building (just as they did last year.) A Christian man became so enraged at the sign he took action to remove it. He was stopped. Christmas is a lovely holiday and the spirit behind it has a wonderful giving meaning. But the spirit quickly dissipates when someone takes that meaning too far and tramples the beliefs of others. Shame on him.

Throughout history, ie., The enslavement of the Israelites, The Crusades, The Spanish Inquisition, Salem Witch Trials, The Holocaust; religion has been the sticking point and reason for actions against other humans. If you do not believe what another culture believes, well now that is a just reason to go kill them so that their beliefs cannot contaminate your beliefs.

Hatred it seems is born of religious differences. This "my god is better than your god" mentality seems to rule the nations and cultures of the world. If you want to demonize someone, simply try your best to make others believe that person is has empathy or ties to a different religion, whether it is true or not.

Now at the risk of offending everyone I know, I am turning further and further from so-called main stream religions. Why? Because I no longer trust that they have my best interest in mind. As a human being, I think I should not have to have my spiritual beliefs judged or measured by others. If I do not believe in the Bible, the Torah or the Koran as the word of God, the heads start shaking and the prayers for my salvation go out to protect...themselves I guess, from me.

Now I am not a member of PETA or a tree hugger, but I think if I just take care of my corner of the world and hope that everyone else takes care of theirs, we would be living in a much better place. I don't think it necessary to encroach on others beliefs and hope that they will respect mine. Truth be told, the only culture that does not seem to be radical enough to want to blow me up or torch me for heresy are the unbelievers.

If I had to pick a plane to fly on, find the one that has all the unbelievers on it...I'll book that flight.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The strangeness of it all...these numbers

I am 54 this year. Two years older than my dad will ever be. My mother who is an independent 73, just realized that she still has Christmas cards going out with both her and my dad's name on them. She broke out into laughter wondering what everyone must have thought. My brother Don is struggling at 52 with lung cancer that is not giving him a moment of peace. Is there a way to give him one more year, one more day, one more hour, one more minute, one more second? My brother Larry just celebrated turning 50 with a wonderful surprise party in his honor given by his wife. He and his friends sang all night as if they had never stopped singing. They are bandmates for life. My youngest brother still in his forties will become a grandfather in a matter of days.

The strangeness of it all. I am in a waterfall that does not stop.

These numbers keep falling away.

Why do the numbers matter at all? We are obsessed with marking out the milestones in our lives and then pretending the number does not matter, when of course it does. It is how we compare and measure ourselves, where we are in our lives and how much time we may have left. That is the usual "unasked" milestone we quietly mark in our minds. We look at it with a fleeting but focused stare and then look away as if to confirm to ourselves that it does not matter...yet.

When I was young, I could not wait to be a teenager.
At 16, I could get a car.
At 18, I can vote.
When I become 21, I can go to the bar.
And so on. I found myself wishing time would hasten so I could get on with my life.

Now I just want it all to slow down so I can take it all in and enjoy every moment. It catches me off guard to realize that we are 10 years into the 21st century. Wasn't it just a second ago we were worried about our computers and y2k change-over?

My daughter turned 33 this month, dammit! Is my son really almost 28...next month? When did I find time to have all these grandchildren?

It is probably that we are in winter. People ponder the year that just went by. We take stock. We make lists of events that took place in the past year. We give one last solemn nod to those that we lost. So it is with each person to look back over the year that was so that the New Year can be greeted with excitement and hope. I find myself doing this today.

Is there a way to freeze time, if only for a little while so that I can catch my breath. For this life is truly breathtaking. I just want to take it all in.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saving face

Sometimes when you have a disagreement with someone close to you, a firewall goes up that cannot be breached without somehow diminishing one or more of the parties. Asian's call this matter of pride "face" and go to great lengths to "save face."

I honestly don't know how to break down the current barrier that has gone up between me and another family member. Yet I value this person still. I find myself dug in and unwilling to budge. This is truly unfortunate for I understand well the cost.

So here I am at a crossroads. Unwilling to swallow bitter fruit. I fear I am at a loss and words now fail me. I know I should probably let it go, but cannot. And it may be years before I can.

I am not perfect.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Snowflakes


I am sitting here cutting snowflakes, the old-fashioned kind. White paper and scissors can make miraculous creations of wonder. Last year I made nearly a hundred of them. I decorated the office at school and all over my house. I kept most of them and took them all to school this time to decorate the office again.

Our fourth grade teacher Ms. Fennell is temporarily on leave and her sub, Mrs. Boyle saw my little snowflakes and asked me to come to class to teach the kids how to make them. So I am making some more for show and tell.

I think it will be fun to visit the class and watch them make cuts in the paper not know what they will get until they unfold them. That is the best part you know, unfolding them to see what you did. It never fails to make me smile.