Tag Archives: Thoughts on Life

June has arrived and Facebook thinks I am a public figure.

ExcellentWell, I ended my week with getting bumped by Facebook with a notice that claims they believe me to either be a business or a public figure.  And as much as I should appreciate the compliment of their assumption in that I am some sort of public figure, or a business owner, they are mistaken on both accounts.

After fussing with trying to convert my profile as requested, I finally hit a wall of frustration when they told me I couldn’t use my e-mail addy as it was already attached to a profile.  Uhm, yeah.  So, as amused as I was with the video with Bill Nye about the “Universe trying to tell you something”, I am going to say that maybe the universe was trying to tell me something.  🙂  I think I can use a break from the time guzzler Facebook is.  And the time to decide if I even want to try and get myself reinstated with all their new invasions into privacy, forcing people to represent themselves according to their inane definitions and ever more endless ads.

The only real deterrent was in the fact that for a short time, I also lost my Spotify account as a result of my lockout by Facebook.  That one was not a happy moment!  Especially given that my son had just renewed my account with another year of blissful, commercial free music of my choice.  Thankfully, the wonderful people at Spotify went out of their way and found my ancient account with them, moved all my playlists and gave me my remaining credits.  So, I have my music back.  And so ends the one truly pressing reason I had to fix the Facebook issue.

I figure this could all be a giant blessing.  Maybe I can spend the time I would have scrolling through Facebook to do more real writing.  Who knows?  If I become more consistent and frequent with my postings, I could get a greater following.  And that is the best place I have decided my energies will be best spent.  At least for now.  I may return to Facebook.  I suppose it depends on how I fare without it.  Though I doubt I will fare badly as I did without it for years when my friends were using it.  But, if I return, it will be if I can find a way to do so on terms I find acceptable.  Hell, I have a stupid phone.  I read physical books, I can write with a pen and paper (even use fountain pens).  The ones I feel sorry for are those that can’t function without their electronic leashes.  🙂

So, while a majority of the people who claim they are stepping away from Facebook generally don’t really mean it and return very shortly after.  I am not sure mine will be the same situation.  First, I didn’t “choose” to leave.  They booted me.  Probably because they want me to operate under my birth name.  That just isn’t going to happen.  I don’t run any social media under my real name.  And in this age of identity theft, spying, and basically feeding every commercial interest your entire viewing tastes, it really is a bad idea.  Plus, I have never been one to play by rules that don’t set well with me.  I have been just fine on Facebook for years without any issues.  Now, they want to change the rules and want me to just blindly accept so that I don’t lose that “oh-so-needed” contact with my friends and family.  I guess I am just going to figure if my friends and family find me of worth, they will contact me directly.  And even better that.  I miss that form of interaction with people I care about.

That aside, I think its time I get back into my yard and my surroundings and start sharing what I see, what I think, how I feel.  I have a nice little garden already growing this year. My dogwood is blooming, I have hummingbirds buzzing me and bees everywhere, and my latest garden treasure is a lovely Voodoo Lily that bloomed within hours of being settled into the ground.  And damn!  I forgot to take a picture of it yesterday!  Hopefully, it will still be blooming today and I can make up for that.

 

The Right’s Balance

Much debate is going on currently regarding the rights of individuals, groups, organizations and whose rights take precedence.   This is dangerous territory when we begin to allow the wills of a church or group to be forced upon an individual’s personal freedom.  And it is dangerous in far greater reaches than it is presented to us.

Most prominent in the spotlight right now is on whether companies have the right to exclude the coverage of birth control and if pharmacies have the right to refuse to dispense them based on their personal moral and religious beliefs.  On the surface, this can cause many to think that these groups have such rights as their religious beliefs prohibit such things.  And this makes one hesitate on if they should be compelled to go against such dictates of their beliefs.

But, what we fail to take into account is the myriad of areas this can be expanded to.  It also fails to allow for the respect of the beliefs of others that may be different.  It fails to respect the right to privacy of others to live their lives by their conscience, their beliefs.  And it also leaves them open to others imposing laws and rules that could compromise their lives.

It also asks, where is the line drawn?  If one argues that a company has the right to refuse to allow coverage for birth control or that a hospital or pharmacy has the right to refuse to administer them based on their moral and religious beliefs against them, what is next?  There are thousands of people who believe that gays are an abomination.  That AIDS is God’s punishment for an immoral life.  Does that mean these same employers, hospitals and pharmacies have a right to refuse medical coverage for AIDS medicines and treatments based on their beliefs?  What about the interracial couple?  Many believe that is also against God’s dictates.  Can they also be refused?  Or children born out of wedlock?  There was a time when they could not even be buried on consecrated ground.  Or of any people that practice a religion, live a lifestyle, hold a belief that is contrary to their’s?

And whose rights take precedence when your beliefs say to use prayer instead of seeking medical aid?  Whose rights take precedence then?  The parents, or the child who will die without that medical intervention?  What of the religious conviction of many Muslims who believe that a woman’s genitals be carved up for her moral good?  Or that she be hidden behind veils and locked doors?    What of the rights of the child?  Or of the women being forced under the knife?  Are their rights overshadowed by those of the group?

The truth is that we open the door to all these possible scenarios when first we crack it for the first time.  It is a Pandora’s box, that once open, can unleash a firestorm that will quickly race out of control.

It is the selfsame argument as of free speech.  We cannot limit it because we do not like it, because it goes against our beliefs, our religion, our morals.  To be truly free, we must also defend the rights of those we do not agree with, that do not share our religion.  So too, must we defend the freedom of a person’s body, their lifestyle, their private choices.

Yes, the practitioners also have rights.  But, they must evaluate their beliefs when they enter into a profession that might put them in contact with people who do not share their beliefs.  If that vocation involves making available those things that they find immoral, then maybe they need look for another vocation.  Just as one who is a member of a pacifist religion, like the Amish, can be exempt from being drafted into the military, so too can they make a choice to not enter a career that forces them to go against their beliefs.  It does not give them the right to go into that vocation and then impose their beliefs on others that don’t share it.  You cannot join the military and expect to hold the belief that you can refuse to carry and use a gun of moral or religious principles.  You can only stand on those principles to not serve in the military that such a thing is a part of the job.

I think it was best said by our president.

“Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all. Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing.”

Barak Obama


SephiPiderWitch
February 23, 2012

 

The Company Store

 

Does an employer have the right to impose restrictions on the ways is which an employee uses the benefits and compensations that are earned by an employees labor?  Do they have any right to such privileged and private information?  I would like to think that this would not even be a question that ever needed to be asked in this country.  Most especially given all the fights in our history to gain workers rights to do with their pay as they see fit.

This has, however, become an issue lately with church run hospitals, employers with religious beliefs feeling they are within their rights to make such mandates on how the compensation to their employees is used.   They offer health benefits, yet feel they can tell you that you cannot however, use it for birth control or other things they, as your employer, have “moral” issues with.  And many think that they are within their “rights” to make such conditions.  I don’t.  And they are backed by many vocal politicians who feel they are in their right to impose such conditions.

There was a time in our history where companies owned entire towns.  The people they employed were required to live in their houses, buy their good from the company store, conduct all their business transactions through company approved sources.  Employee uprisings and union support eventually put a stop to that.  I am not a huge supporter of most of the unions today, but I give credit for the changes they made in the past that have carried over into the present day;  better safety standards, reasonable work hours, employee rights and the right to use your pay in any way and at any place you see fit.

Your health care benefits are part of your compensation package.  They are a part of your paycheck.  That’s all there is to it, plain and simple.  They are the property of the employee.  An employer should have no more right to impose how your insurance is used than they should have in how you spend your earned dollars.  For, they are one and the same.  You earned them, they are your’s.  Stating that you can’t use those earned dollars to purchase birth control pills, get any other medication or procedure is the same as telling you what stores you can shop at, what purchases you can make, what you do for entertainment.

Once you leave the company for the day, what you do is of no business to them.  You would have every right to cry foul if they handed you a list of “approved” stores where you could spend your money, activities you could engage in, food and sundry items you were allowed to purchase.  I doubt there is a single person who would not be outraged at such a concept.

Yet, many seem unable to see that this is the same thing.  Its not “their” insurance”.  Its your’s.  Just as your pay is.  Its the same thing.  Its part of your earnings.  Period.  What you do with it is your business, not their’s  It is your funds to do with how “you” and you alone see fit.  You worked for them, you earned them.  You have the right to spend them where you want, squander them, gamble them away, give them to the beggar on the corner or make purchases from your employer’s competitor.  Your insurance is a matter that is only between you and your health provider. I don’t understand why or how this has ever become a question.

Or are we on our way back to the company store?

 

 

The Vows We Make

In the news today is Washington ratifying the rights for gays to marry.  It awaits just a single signature, and one that has been promised will be given.  As expected, a fire storm has erupted over this issue.  The standard argument that marriage should be reserved for a single man and woman.  Its against the laws of God.  A promise that it will be protested and fought and attempt to overturn.

There was an amazing speech given by a Republican woman, Representative Maureen Walsh before the state legislature.  She speaks of the life she had with her husband, the love they had, the things they shared.  And she speaks of her daughter, who is gay and quite obviously one that she loves deeply by the passion she has in her voice as she speaks of her.  That she believes that her daughter has the right and deserves the ability to have the kind of relationship she had with her husband.  That it is just the right thing to do.

Listening to this woman speak echoes all the feelings and emotions I have on this issue.  I am not gay.  I do however have a child that is.  I have a best friend that is. I have known more than I can ever begin to count.  I have been their friend, their parent, their confidant.  And what I have found is that they are equally wanting, equally gifting, equally just as human as anyone else.

I come from a generation when gays hid safely in the closet.  Rarely was the time when you knew that a person you had spent time with was gay.  It was a time of great bias about many things.  Racial inequality, women’s right and the question of sexual freedom.  As children, we were fed a myriad of misconceptions and prejudices about anyone that was different, that dared to challenge the way things were, “had always been”, that God had decreed.

I was raised by a man that was a small town born and bred Georgia boy.  I lived on two different occasions in that rural area near where he was born.  I even remember overhearing my grandmother tell someone that I was only “technically” her grandchild, because my mother was a Yankee.  I went to schools that though they were “integrated”, they were only barely so.  The separation was there.  Held by the beliefs that had been instilled in the children by their parents and their community.  We went to the same schools together, but we kept apart.  The blacks knew their place and kept to themselves.  They didn’t cause problems, didn’t talk back, didn’t do anything to make themselves stand out in any way.  It was a time and a place where a black man didn’t walk on the same side of the street with a white woman, more yet, dare to hold her hand or touch her in any way.

By the second time we moved down to Georgia, I had pretty much lost most of my southern accent.  And I found myself in a place of being shunned for being a Yankee girl.  The blacks wouldn’t associate with me because I was white.  So, I was effectively shunned by all.  After a while, the blacks noticed that the whites had nothing to do with me other than harass me for the way I talked and befriended me.  They took a great chance opening their circles to me.  And I learned that they were no different than others.  Well, they were down there, because they were able to step past their rules and accept one that was not one of their own.

The first gay person I consciously know of having made friends with was a woman that I went to school with.  We became very close friends for a long time without me knowing that she was gay.  I was stunned when I found out about her.  I had undressed in front of her when we were trying on clothes, spent the night in the same room with her on numerous occasions.  The truth is that I felt betrayed that she hadn’t told me as I felt I should have been made aware of such things given the things we had done together.  I avoided her for a while after learning the truth.  Not sure what to do about it.  In this massive internal battle over the fact that I felt deceived and the fact that she had become one of my best friends.

She finally cornered me one day in the hallway and demanded that I talk to her.  I told her what I had been feeling.  She told me that there was never any doubt in her mind that I was all female and one that was completely heterosexual.  That she never looked at me as anything other than a friend.  She had no desire for any woman that did not share the desire to be with women.  We talked and we talked, and we laughed and we cried and we laughed some more.  And I realized that I had nothing to fear from her.  Her sexuality did not change who she was or what she was to me.  She was my friend.  None of the rest of it mattered.  She didn’t care that I was straight.  She was just my friend.

Maybe that is why I have so often bonded with people that were so very different in my life.  Because they have the ability to look past such things as skin color, sexuality, etc.  Maybe it is their difference that allows them to see past the superficial things that make most find comparisons of better or less than.  Sometimes it seems that the outcasts often have a greater capacity to love and accept.  And to ask so little in return.  They don’t ask you to share their beliefs, their color, their station.  They just rejoice when you extend your hand to them, give them a smile or wrap them in your arms in a hug.  They just want to feel that they are accepted.

I have been touched by so many of these truly beautiful people in my life.  Their differences at first seemingly so alien, so daunting.  But, they have taught me so very much.  They have allowed me to see how far my own heart is capable of opening and loving.  They have allowed me to peer into another alien realm through their eyes.  Maybe not one that I would ever want for myself.  But, I can see the love and joy they have in that world and I can rejoice that they have found a world that brings them such joy.

My own son came out to me when he was 18.  I still don’t know why he found it so hard to tell me.  Why he would even think there was a chance that it might affect how I loved him.  I have come close to understanding it after talking to another friend of mine, who is a lesbian.  She said that as much as he might have known how devoted I was to him, that he feared putting that to the test.  For, what if he was wrong and it lessened what he was to me?  That I was so very much to him and it was one of those things that one was afraid to put to the test on even the tiniest chance that you could be wrong.   That I needed to understand how very many kids are thrown out for such a revelation.  Shunned and disowned by those that were most important to them.  It didn’t matter that I could never conceive of doing such a thing to my child.  It is a fear that all who are born different harbor within them.  I understood better after listening to her.  But, it also filled me with the most immense sadness that a child, any child, should have to hold such fears.  That “my” child would have such fears.

My son is one of the most brilliant, wonderful, compassionate people I have ever known.  With both of my children, I wonder what I ever did to be given the immense gift of their being bestowed on my life.  I don’t know what or who I would be if I had not had them in my life.  They are my breath and my universe.  And they are two of the most beautiful incredible people I have ever met.  Not because they are my children.  But, because they are.  Last night, my daughter helped a total stranger on the road.  He had been missing for over a week.  He said he had been drugged and kidnapped.  I don’t know if that story is true or not.  What I know is that she helped him.  She called the authorities, she stayed with him.  And yes, she was smart enough to keep constant contact with friends  and gave them her location.  She took a great chance.  But, she did a beautiful thing.

They deserve to love and be loved in whatever way meets with their nature, that brings wholeness to their lives.  There are many that say that allowing gays to marry undermines what marriage is.  Marriage is a bond and commitment that is made between two people.  It is not something that should be subject to the influence of the world outside.  It should be a sanctuary from that world, a place of solace and trust.  The only thing that can undermine what it is is the people who make the commitment.  It is defined separately and uniquely by each when they enter into it.  It is inviolable.  It is what you believe it to be.  It is NOT what others believe it to be.  If it is in danger from outside influences, by others who choose a different definition, then it it a danger that you injected into it.

My children, my friends, have the right to whatever happiness they reach for.  So long as they are not doing harm in the process.  Their loving one of their own gender or the opposite is not harming anyone else’s definition of marriage.  They make that vow solely with the person they take the vow with.  You make it with the person you make it with.  Its between you and your beloved.  You may choose to share it with others.  But, the vow is a secret bond connecting you to that other.  Vulnerable only if you allow it to be.  Defined only by those making it.  Its not “our” vow.  We don’t have to understand.  We can make our own vows.  And if we wish the freedom to make our own vows freely, we must allow others to do the same.  They’re our children, our friends.  We must allow them to find their happiness.  That’s what love is.

 

The Golden Rule


The Golden Rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  These words appear in some form or another in most of the religions.  Many consider that if one applies just this single rule to their lives, it covers all of the others.

So, why is it that it seems to be the one that is espoused so often, yet so rarely adhered to?

We are meant to be our brothers, and sisters, keepers.  That does not mean that we have the right to regulate and demand their lives or their choices.  It means that we are to care for them, regardless.  That we are to come to their aid when needed.  That we are to be a community with them and help them to be the best that they can be, offering support when needed, guidance when asked.  But, as their keeper, we must allow for them to make their own decisions.  To love and accept them as much in their differences as in their sameness.  So long as they are not harming others in their choices, it is not up to us to mandate what and who they are.

These thoughts come to me with all the things in the current news.  Komen Foundation withdrawing funds from Planned Parenthood, politicians opposing gays in the military and wanting to police the internet, doctors, employers and insurance companies wanting the right to refuse birth control, stores wishing the right to refuse to service same sex couples.

One of the most amazing and beautiful things about the human race is the diversity of it.  Left to blossom and flower naturally, it is a cascade of colors and variations.  Not all of the blooms will be to the liking of every person that looks upon it.  Some will love the stark expanse of the desert with its thorny monuments and jutting rock faces.  Others prefer the tree studded mountains where moss creeps and wraps about everything it touches.  Still others revel in the marshes and swamps where the heat and moisture hang like a blanket and fill every breath with its layers of decay and growth.    All, if not worthy of worship, at least worthy of their place in the universe.  All worthy of fostering and maintaining.

We, none of us, can know the true mind of the divine.  We speak in contradictions.  We decry a woman terminating a pregnancy, yet applaud heroism in battle and the slaughter of our enemies.  We say we have no right to play god by terminating that pregnancy, yet we defend sustaining a shell of a life which is kept alive with the machines of man.  We set ourselves apart from the rest of the creatures of this earth, then turn and compare ourselves to them.  We exclaim scientific knowledge when it backs what we want and decry them when it goes against.

We are all of us members of this human race.  We are all of us gifted with the brains and free will that we can make our decisions for ourselves.  We are all both cast out of a similar mold as well as there being unique variations in each casting.  Some of us have red hair, some blonde, some brown.  None is better or less than the other.  Some of us move to math and the sciences.  Some to the arts.  Some to healing.  The fruits of our labors, in all these areas are what we are meant to be shared freely, with all of our brothers and sisters.  We are not being our brother’s keeper when we refuse him the right to seek and reach the goals that are his heart’s desire simply because he loves someone that is not one we would love.  We are not being our sister’s keeper when we withdraw funding for medicine because the caregiver’s ideology differs from ours.  Are the funds being used as they were agreed on, toward the purpose they were given?  Does the man or woman do the job that he has committed himself to with dedication and excellence?  These should be the only things that matter in such issues.

Do you feel pain when someone turns from you because you see things differently, feel things differently, want different things or look different?  You would not be human if you did not.  For, one of the amazing things about humans is their capacity for caring.  For their ability and willingness to be their brothers and sisters keepers.  We don’t have to be the same.  We don’t have to agree.  We don’t have to even understand.  All we need to do is to think how we would feel if we were in their place.  And if in that place, how we would wish to be treated.  We would want to be seen as a viable contribution to our community.  We would want people to look past those things that are different and look instead on what is the same.  The need we all have to be loved and accepted.  It all seems so very simple to me.  Love them even if you don’t understand, disagree.  Right will show itself on its own.  And we may find that right comes in as many colors and dimensions as humans do.  As life itself does.

SephiPiderWitch 02/04/2012

Do unto others as is written in the most well known religions:

Christianity:  All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. 
Matthew 7:1

Confucianism:  Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state. 
Analects 12:2

Buddhism:  Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. 
Udana-Varga 5,1

Hinduism:  This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. 
Mahabharata 5,1517

Islam:  No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. 
Sunnah

Judaism:  What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. 
Talmud, Shabbat 3id

Taoism:  Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.
Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien

Zoroastrianism:  That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself. 
Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5

Wiccan Rede:  And it harm none, do as thou wilt.