Advice for Voters…the basics

In many places in the U.S. early voting is open. You might be saying to yourself, “Well, heck…what’s the point of voting?”

and to that I say, “The point is that you’re a citizen and you ought to get involved here, Bucko.”

and then maybe you might say, “Hey, all those politicians are the same!”

so I’d respond, “Maybe that’s true but it’s also possible it isn’t.”

and you’d most likely counter with the old “Yeah but my vote doesn’t count.”

to which I’d shout, “Bullshit. That’s what they want you to think.”

and if you asked me “Who wants me to think that?”

I admit I’ll have to shoot back, “I have no idea but I still think it’s bullshit.”

Listen people, your vote does count. What you have to say does matter and in this wide internet driven information overload society you actually have the means to make really well informed decisions. Look up the people who are running for office. Look up the issues on your ballot. You can be away from Facebook for a few minutes, I promise no one is going to post the next cat video that will blow your mind while you’re away and even if they do, you’ll most likely see it show up again and again and again anyway.

And then do the next bit, get out there and vote. When we find ourselves ranking 138th out of 172 nations on voter turnout as compared to registered voters we have to ask ourselves exactly what sort of republic we’re rockin’ here, right?

Get out there. Let’s do this thing.

Link

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If Huffington Post, Salon.com and Mad Magazine had a baby it would be Lefty Pop…

and they asked me to throw some words at them from time to time.

Fair warning…while I try to maintain an air of civility and balance here on Mrs Metaphor (picture me drinking tea with pinkie raised) I cannot promise it won’t go all “Animal House” over there from time to time. That’s part of its charm, I think.

ūüėČ

Hope you’ll check it out, jump into the fray, get yer pop and politics fix…

Why can’t Congress get along?

freeimage-8952432-highIt’s an uneasy collaboration. Two or more opposing ideologies thrown into a room together, each a messenger, presumably, of their constituency. They are supposed to do what we ask, what they promise, what we expect. Sometimes it works out that way, though I can’t remember the last time I heard that.

It’s probably because I’m getting older or because my kids argue all the time. I’ve reached my limit on the fighting.

Driving past a fast food restaurant on North avenue yesterday my youngest son stopped his argument with my oldest son long enough to tell me about a fist fight he’d just seen outside his window in the parking lot of the McDonald’s. The light had changed and I was already in motion. I craned to see if I could catch sight of it but I could not. He told me in as much detail as he was able about the two boys, about their friends on either side of the conflict. I considered going back, calling the cops. I had no idea how much was real and how much his imagination. In the end we drove on, nothing to see here. Home was waiting.

They resumed their argument and I interrupted. “Do you know what most fights are really about?” I asked. They offered answers like “money” and “girls” and “sports teams.” I said, “Most fights are really about power. Who’s got it, who wants it.” Think about it.

Let’s say two guys get into a fight over a girl. It’s easy to say it’s about the girl but really, is it? I mean, is the winner of the fight the one who “gets” the girl? Nope. The girl picks which guy she wants based on her own determinations, at least we hope she does. So, the fight isn’t about getting the girl, it’s about power.

Congress can’t get along because they’re not fighting over the issues we need to solve. They’re fighting for power, always and forever. Getting re-elected means they’ll have power, regaining a majority means they’ll have power, having the last word means they have power. They don’t “get along” because that would shift the center of power, presumably back to the people who elected them.

It’s exhausting. It’s no wonder so many of us voters elect now to just keep driving. Nothing to see here. Home is waiting.

For as long as we allow the crazy to carry on without recognizing it as all having to do with power then we will always be the ones ending up with the black eye.

justice…

” What is justice? Giving water to trees. What is injustice? To give water to thorns. Justice consists in bestowing bounty in its proper place, not on every root that will absorb water. ” -Rumi

Last night as I read an article about the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case my 11-year-old son asked what it was about. I closed my laptop and I took a moment to put words together to describe the situation. I left out as many loaded details as I could.

“A teenaged boy was walking home from the store in a neighborhood that was not his own. Another man, who thought he looked suspicious began to follow him. He was part of a community watch group and he thought the boy was up to no good. They got into a fight of some kind and in their scuffle, the community watch man shot the teenager.”

“What happened to the teenager then?”¬†

“Well, he died.”¬†

“What happened to the community watch guy?”

“He stood trial for it and was found not guilty.”

“But he shot the boy.”

“Yes.”

“How could he not get punished for killing a person?”

“Because he said it was self-defense. He said he was afraid for his life.”

“Did the teenager have a gun?”

“No.”

Henry shook his head.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

“Me neither,”¬†I answered.

Some things I think I know. ¬†Speculation is a safe pass time these days. If I hear the term “armchair lawyer” one more time I might throw up. Pundits get paid pretty well. It’s lucrative to have a strong opinion and a loud voice and a learned perspective because we all want to know how to feel in the wake of difficult things.

We all want to be justified in our thinking and our feeling and our opinions and yet it’s important, today, to remember that we are not simply the sum of our opinions. It’s important today for most of us to keep in mind how little we actually “know” in the grand scheme of things and I’m not talking about the rule of law or the case at hand.

Some are filled with moral outrage today, some are filled with righteous pride. Some are clinging to the possibility of justice, some are clinging to the integrity of the system. I only know that I feel sad for the loss of the boy and the realization that I don’t know what social progress looks like anymore.

That is all I know.

Your vote…

It’s always an election year.

Sometimes I forget this but it’s true. Elections of some kind or another are being held all the time. Special elections, local elections, School board elections…we’re in the process of appointing people to help us manage the governing of our people at some level all the time. We fall into a dangerous lull in between the “big elections” when we don’t sweat the small stuff but as we all know, it’s all small stuff.

It’s always an election year.

I ran across these posts from 2012 today and was reminded of my responsibility as it pertains to government, all government no matter how much television coverage it gets.

Advice for politicians

You could say this is a kind of ‚Äúopen letter‚ÄĚ for politicians although I doubt many would read and take to heart this unsolicited advice. They pay big money for advice, generally. They have gas-powered multi task machines, as it were, they have little need of my vegetable peelers and melon ballers I wager. Nevertheless, here is my advice to politicians…

Advice for voters

Turns out, I do have some unsolicited advice for voters for what it’s worth. Most of these things you already know so this is simply a reminder. It’s a reminder for you and for me, for your neighbor, your Aunt, your grocery store clerk. These are bi-partisan bits of  well-worn road seen through the lens of the digital age. So, without further introduction, Advice for Voters.

We can grouse about do-nothing Congresses or high level leaders we don’t care for but we build these people from the ground up. If we want adequate leadership in big arenas of our future then we better start paying attention to the small stuff and going local. Take some time, read my advice and then find out what’s being decided in your neighborhood, in your ward, in your city and state. Pay attention and participate. That’s how change happens.

Got advice for voters on “going local?” Add it here in the comments!

We really are in this together.

Your congressional leaders are found here

State Reps are found here

On digital engagement

Mother’s Day

REPOST: This essay was originally posted May, 2010. Since that time, I’ve found my perceptions of Mother’s Day have shaped to reflect the true spirit of the day. I read this one myself from time to time to remind me of the passion and the courage that originally fueled the real version of “Mother’s Day.”¬†

————

I know it’s been a few days since the US celebrated it’s own particular brand of “mother’s day” but it still feels important to post about it.

I hate “mother’s day” as I think I expressed last year at this time. I know many of my friends and readers love it, have awesome days of pampering and what not but frankly i just get cranky. I never USED to be cranky…it was not until after I became a mother that this started. I always thought it was the shallow nature of this “day for mother’s” that was so openly sponsorted by Hallmark. This idea that this ONE day of the year, a nice card or phonecall and maybe some flowers could really fill this weirdly empty spot in me. It didn’t. Nothing was “enough” for me. I dunno. I’m cranky. I just am cranky sometimes.

and yet.

I wonder if all along I knew there was more to it…and it turns out, there is.

Julia Ward Howe gives me my first real mother’s day this year…read her words, written to rouse the women of the civil war era, around a cause for justice, a clarion call for mothers to come together in the name of peace. Tired of seeing their boys killed and maimed, Julia began the first “mother’s day” in this country. It was not a day for “thanks mom” cards or flowers or gifts or pedicures…it was a day to remember their lost sons, to stand up against the brutality of oppression, the horror of war. This is what mother’s day is actually about in it’s inception. How I wish it were so now.

by Julia Ward Howe

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God –
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

the risk and the reward…

For a week I’ve been trying to find a way to write about the cases before the Supreme Court this week concerning same sex marriage and for a week I’ve failed to find a way to do that. I’ll do my level best on this but in the end, it’s bound to be just another voice shouting in the wind because after all, it’s the internet and everyone has an opinion and a megaphone these days.

I’ll begin with admitting something that I am ashamed about. 20 years ago when my sister “came out” to me I was shocked. I really never saw it coming and I did not know what to say. I think I stumbled through some platitudes or affirmations and probably I said some very stupid things but what I wanted most to convey to her was that it didn’t matter to me, that I still loved her no matter who she chose to love, so long as that person treated her with absolute love and devotion. ¬† We sipped our coffee and I think I probably cried…because I do that all the time. I’m crying now as I write this, if you must know, because I’m remembering how awkward I felt and how unprepared I felt and how shocked I was that I did not already know this but I’m crying because I’m ashamed that I made it so much about me.

What about how my sister felt? Now that I have 20 years to have thought about it I’m ashamed that the first person I thought about was me. How awkward must that have been for her? How nerve wracking and scary to reveal the most intimate detail of one’s sexuality to her big sister who was just beginning to consider herself a born again Christian? When I look back on it I realize that I cried not because I didn’t like her revelation but that I felt like so much of a disappointment to her, that I would not have known this, that I was so wrapped up in my own life that I did not take the time to really know who she was.

I was confused as well. I did not know how to navigate this relationship in light of my own religious lifestyle. I worried about what my friends might say, I worried that they would judge her, that they would want me to distance myself or try to change or save her. I worried about what our family would say. I worried about the current relationship she was in, at the time, I did not care for the woman she then revealed was her girlfriend. I confess, the woman gave me the creeps before I knew she was gay and she gave me the creeps even more once it was revealed that she was dating my little sister, who I also did not know was gay until that moment.

Not long after that she broke up with the first girlfriend and began to date the woman I’m proud to call my sister in law today. My sister and her partner have been together nearly as long as my husband and myself. They have been solid people in our lives. They are fun and caring. They are there when we need them and they are good for each other, they build up each other, they complete each other. Their “marriage” is not honored as a traditional marriage right now. They’ve done the paper work to be united in a “civil union” but they still do not receive the same considerations and benefits of traditionally married couples. What is happening at the Supreme Court this week has the potential to finally elevate them to have the same rights as other married couples, rights that we heterosexuals take for granted in my opinion.

Here’s the thing- I understand why people, especially religious people, are against granting marriage for same sex couples. At the root of it all is this idea that although the world is changing, they simply cannot be a part of something they see as a perversion of God’s design. For someone to support a same sex marriage means that they are complicit in the world moving in a direction they feel is “away” from the one that God might have for us as humans, they are an accomplice to that shifting. To remain steadfast and vote against it, to be vocal about upholding the most prevalent and conservative understanding of marriage means being true to the values of their religion which are based upon sacred and ancient writings. For these people it is not about hating anyone, it’s about hating the way the world is moving and wanting to be the drag that keeps it from happening as quickly as it seems to be happening. I do understand it even though I do not choose to be a part of that foot dragging.

The religious tradition I have adopted does not affirm a homosexual lifestyle. I doubt that it ever will. Before I converted to Orthodoxy this gave me great pause. I asked the priest if becoming Orthodox meant I had to hate or judge my gay friends and family. His response was that to hate or judge anyone is absolutely not Orthodox. He spoke about the underlying doctrine of the church, its reasons for its stance, the unlikeliness that it would change in the future regardless of how the culture changed and he waited because in the end, it would come down to me deciding if I was willing to move into a relationship with Orthodoxy, knowing its stance on this issue and knowing that it might never change. In the end, I decided that relationship was really what all of this was about and I did move forward and I do not regret that. For this reason, I take the long lens on this issue. I support my gay friends and family whole heartedly in their striving to legitimize their family life even though it may put me at odds with some in my religious community. And I choose to commit myself at the same time to a religious tradition that does not support this positon which may put me at odds with some in my social and family communities. I point to love and it’s all I have.

I don’t know what the “fabric of society” will look like in another 20 years, another 50 years, another 100 years. I’m not convinced that it will be same sex marriage that unwinds that fabric just as I’m not convinced that aliens won’t land before the fabric unwinds. I do not know what the future holds but I do know that adding my feet to the drag on the changing times does nothing to stop that shift. It takes me out of relationship with people that I love and care for more than I can ever express. I know these people and I do not judge them just as they do not judge my joining in to a community of faith that would not welcome their marriage when it is given its due rights. I take the long lens on this which is one reason I chose to become Orthodox in the first place. The Orthodox church is not trying to be in step with the culture, it never has and I doubt it ever will. I find some odd comfort in that because when all is said and done, hopefully it will have held the thread of the story from the beginning of time until the end of time and that thread is relationship, that thread is community and that thread is love. That is what the long lens promises, that no matter how things shift in the world there is a heartbeat at the root of it all and we can trust in that, we can love one another well. ¬†This is the risk and this is the reward.

love and violence…

Two teenage boys’ lives were altered completely by a ruling in Steubenville, Ohio because they raped an unconscious young girl at a party. Their lives were changed not because they were convicted. Their lives were altered because they committed an act of violence against a 16-year-old girl at a party. They got caught doing something illegal and morally despicable. They are not the first and they will not be the last. While I’m sad to see young men halted in their life I’m also very glad for it. For the sake of the young woman who had her life radically altered while she was unconscious, I am glad for the judgement.

When people drop the buzzword “rape culture” this is what they mean. We’d be foolish to say that this is a new thing, that we’ve quietly morphed into a Clockwork Orange version of ourselves, that at some point in our existence we were an idyllic place where women were revered and treated as equals. ¬†We never have lived in that society. That culture of equality has never existed.

Some might say that I’m over-reacting. Some shudder at the term “rape culture” and toss it off as extreme. Still, it’s hard to look at the treatment of women all over the world and not see the reality of this. It’s not just the boys who assaulted this girl. It’s the person who took the photos and put them on the internet. It’s the person who took the video and uploaded it. It’s the one who saw it and said nothing. ¬†It’s the friend who did not intervene or the person who judges and accuses the girl, calling her names, saying that she “had it coming.”

So the reaction to an act of violence falls to the woman even now, especially now, “she should not have been there” “she should not have been drinking” “she asked for it” and on and on. ¬†The implication being that she was of loose moral character and was seeking to be promiscuous. The trouble with that old and completely asinine way of thinking however is that rape is not an act of love, sex or passion. Make no mistake, rape is ALWAYS an act of violence. To suggest that a woman somehow was “asking” to be the victim of violence makes no sense at all. Who asks to be violated while unconscious? In what relationship would this EVER be appropriate?

When I was in High School I recognized a strange dichotomy. I recognized that it was dangerous for me, for all women, in the world, more than it was for my brothers. I remember feeling at once angry and also afraid. I could be violated. I was not sure what it meant in full but I knew that I was at risk when I was alone and I hated that. I hated that there was some social construct in place that as a woman alone walking down a street at night I knew that I had to be afraid.¬†So then, this is our struggle as women, empowerment or protection but never both. ¬†In theory, we’re liberated now. We’re a new brand of woman, no longer the 50’s housewife, the damsel in distress, the shrinking violet. We demand to be treated equally. The trouble is that we’re still not entirely sure what any of that means. We’re still developing a healthy dialogue of what it means. Add in there the recognition of the trans-gendered population and the role of equality in marriage for all people and just see how uncomfortable the conversation becomes.

For us as a society to move forward and continue this conversation, to develop the words we need in order to communicate fully what it means for us to live together on this crowded planet we’re going to have to dispense with the old, tired, inaccurate and damaging thinking. If there is one thing I want to stress here and now it is this reality, this truth- ¬†rape is an act of violence, not love, not promiscuity, not sex, not loose moral character on the part of the victim. Rape is an act of violence.

Rape in an act of violence.

It is a problem of teaching and a problem of basic respect for fellow humans no matter what the gender. Until we come to a place in our society in which we fully embrace and fully affirm the understanding that all humans are created EQUAL we will never overcome the persistence of the rape culture. The cycle of violence is not new but the discussion needs to shift so that we have a chance to build something new, something life giving for the sake of our children and their children. I’d like to see a world where respect is inherent for all humans. That’s my hope. That’s what we ought to be building.

the common denominator…

He sat at the kitchen table, head in hands, moaning. Even as a very young child, Chet always reacted to stressful moments of “I have no idea” in this same way. From across the room I called out cautiously, “Everything ok? You need help?” He lifted his head, his big almond eyes cresting with tears but his voice angry, “Yes. I hate this. I don’t know how to do this.”

Chet’s only been in a “real” school for a couple of months and inevitably he’s encountering concepts we had not covered in homeschooling or concepts we covered and he didn’t really imbibe. In any case, his frustration was clear. I admit, I was reluctant to jump in too quickly. Math was never something I was able to imbibe with any consistency. My brain just didn’t drink it in, oil and water…I wasn’t sure I’d be of much help.

When I looked at his paper I saw that he had completed a good portion of the problems but the “puzzle” he was meant to solve with the answers made no sense. His approach was off. He had to erase it all and start again. This news was greeted with renewed moaning, his head returning to his hands.

“You have to start with the greatest common denominator,” I said, “you have to figure out where these two guys meet, where they intersect, what they have in common. It’s like right now they don’t speak the same language.” I pointed to the fractions, stunned, frankly, that I even remembered how to add them at all. “They’re Republicans and Democrats trying to have a conversation about policy or freedom or social programming. They can’t even come together to figure out what they have together until they know what they have in common. See?”

I’d like to say at this point that perhaps he looked up at me with a wide, innocent 12 year old gaze of admiration, a moment of recognition, of “getting it” on several deep levels all at once but that’d be overstating it. What really happened is that he nodded, picked up his eraser and began the messy process of beginning again. “I think I remember this a little” he said with some reluctant resilience. I leaned over his shoulder and watched for a minute or two while he worked, blowing away the random bits of graphite and rubber eraser from his page, noticing the traces left on the page of past mistakes, making room for new attempts, for the pursuit of the common denominator.

another election…

Well, it’s only a short time before we end this torture we call “presidental election season” and begin to find ourselves again, hopefully. By now, people who are voting are most likely certain about who they’ll award their vote and people who are not voting are unlikely to be swayed by anything short of aliens landing. (and I’m not ruling out aliens landing.)

So, my vow to you, dear Reader, is that I will do my level best to ease up on my infernal liberal ranting here at Mrs Metaphor between now and the election. So in light of that, I will take up another election, this time electing to offer you this website of cute puppies that you may reference no matter how ugly it gets out there-

The Daily Puppy

 

Only cute puppies and kitties can save us now.