This needs to stop

A few weeks ago, as I was driving up to Michigan City, I saw, in front of a small white clapboard sided church next to the highway, this message on the church marquee:

Jesus is coming.

We hope He gets here before November.

Interesting how that stops being funny the more you think about it. Humor often masks fear –and the most common thread of emotion running through all of the public “conversation” this past year is Fear.

Fear that makes people speak and act in haste, say and do things that they never would have if they weren’t tired and afraid and on the defensive. Friends and family members find themselves at odds and become vocal because everyone has been scrubbed so raw by verbal vitriol that we’re all walking nerve endings and it doesn’t take much to sting and hurt.

And thanks to social media, you can find yourself defending a position you don’t really believe in because you expressed it in public, in writing, at some point when you were tired or scared or both.

I find myself again, this campaign year, holding out for it to be over – and I’m not alone. I hear that same sentiment reflected back wherever I go: “I just wanted to be over.” “Is it November 9 yet?” As if we could get back to the business of being normal, ordinary, decent people in a vibrant free society once the election is over.

What does it say about us that we have so let our system of “government” devolve to the place that it barely matters which presidential candidate wins the election because we just want it to be over? Or, better yet, we want someone to save us? Because, ultimately, we have no faith that any of the people who are poised to govern us and serve the public good will actually be doing that.

In reality, it isn’t about politics or the issues or serving the public good ~ it hasn’t been for a long time. It’s about the insidious and subtle erosion of those virtues that our parents taught us and that we try to teach our children: honesty, integrity, respect, and responsibility; the importance of compassion tolerance, and empathy; and of being contributing members of our communities. Or even common courtesy  or just plain human decency.

Unless you’re a sociopath you have a conscience. You have one for a reason. Listen to it.

This presidential campaign, especially, has devolved into public displays of intolerance, rudeness, misinformation and out right lies perpetuated and spreading like a disease throughout the public consciousness via social media and so-called mainstream media. And it just goes grindingly on, until we’re all so raw and hurt and weary we just want it to be over. An entire society of individuals who increasingly feel as if they’re being water boarded – because it won’t be over on November 9. Regardless of who is elected as president, the divisiveness will go on.

It’s time to stop this.

You can’t change other people’s behavior by force any more than you can change their opinions by shouting louder than them. If you want strong, honest, and responsible leaders you have to be strong and honest and responsible yourself.

Try not to react to verbal barbs and pot shots from people who are themselves emotionally raw and tired and scared. And try not to participate in the propaganda machine that is social media. If you’re too tired to go and check out that post for yourself and verify that it’s true, don’t share or retweet or whatever.

If you want to have an impact in government, start with your own family and friends and community. Get involved on a local level; do your best to serve your constituents and make your community a better place. As far as this, or any, election goes, if you’re going to exercise the privilege of voting, then take responsibility for educating yourself about the candidates, their track record in dealing with people, serving their communities, etc. Once you have, vote your conscience ~ and be grown-up enough to let other people vote their’s ~ then do your best to exemplify the virtues of respect, for yourself and others, honesty, empathy, compassion, and responsibility that you want to see in you leaders.

It isn’t about Hillary or Donald. Ultimately it’s about each one of us, individually. That old saw about being the change you want to see in the world is a cliché only because it’s true.

It all starts with YOU. So be the person who behaves with honesty and integrity and responsibility, be a person of good conscience who sets a higher standard. Don’t just keep your head down and hope for the best ~ or for a savior to get us out of this mess.

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Posted in belief, Love, Peace | Leave a comment

Happily Gluten-free: A Gift Beyond “Ghosts”

I just finished a rambling email (the bulk of which I want to share with you) to my friend, Sarah Wynde ~ author of the Tassamara series (which I just love). In my opinion, the series is the quintessential example of a happily successful marriage of genres (I’ll let you figure out which). You could (and still can) download the first book, A Gift of Ghosts , for free at Amazon, and the “quirky dedication” in the front matter sold me on it, and her, before I ever cracked the cover. In fact, I think my first email to her was entitled: “you had me at Eureka” for the pop-culture references that resonate with me which she uses so well throughout the series ~ and all the Tassamara stories never fail to reinforce that first reaction.

But wait, my story gets better, as my favorite stand-up comedian would say 🙂 [here’s the bulk of that email I was talking about, the part I wanted to share]:

Well, it’s been nearly two months since you opened my eyes to the effects of gluten, and nearly that long since I stopped eating gluten ~ and I can’t thank you enough for sharing your experience with me, because (it sounds like hyperbole, I know, but) it has literally changed my life!

I’ve been going to email you and express my gratitude and thanks for the last couple of weeks, but (shamefaced grin) I keep waiting for it to stop! Goofy as it sounds, I keep waiting to wake up foggy and feel worse as the day goes on instead of better!

It took 3 or 4 weeks to get the complete effect ~ and my husband, bless him, says it’s just because the weather and light improved so my SAD backed off like it always does BUT! that doesn’t explain how this rash I had on one foot for more than two years (literally!!! and despite trying everything under the sun, from prescription creams to OTC fungicides to apple cider vinegar to bag balm, ad infinitum!) suddenly cleared up *in less than 2 weeks*, or how come I have more physical energy as well as mental clarity, why I’m able to really accomplish creatively for the first time since before my hysterectomy two years ago . . . I could go on and on (I know, I already have ;-)) but I am just SO thrilled and thankful to you for sharing your experience with me!

I’m still having issues (a LOT this year), with my summer allergies (it is Indiana, after all ;-)), so I’m going to have to revisit what you said about paleo and see if that helps later on in the season. And I’m much more aware of the effects of what I eat or drink, particularly the negative effects of things I don’t have often, such as taste-alikes like flavored coffees from JL Hufford [good thing I don’t go to the mall often!] and certain kinds of sugars, which I no doubt need to give up for good ~  but for now, I am SO enjoying being myself again!

And I am SO grateful to you for taking the time to tell me about your experience. Thank you so much!

I’m also (like many, no doubt) waiting with bated breath for “Grace” ~ that series, and the denizens of Tassamara, make me feel heart-swelly and so satisfied at the end [except that, you know, it’s over! D-`: ]

… aaannnddd I got distracted! Went to your blog for the spelling of Tassamara and got into the last three posts 😉 and then was reminded that I needed to hie off to buy some Georgia peaches and pecans from a truck that would only be there selling them for 90 minutes, met up with my sister, who came back with me and visited for a bit and only now getting back to this ;-D  Ah, life! Sometimes it’s SO fun!

Congrats on your Serenity! LOVE the name (of course ;-))

And on deciding to head-hop (never heard it called that before!) in Grace ~ lots of people do that in their writing and if you give a section break or something to indicate the switch in POV, it shouldn’t interrupt the flow. I struggled with that rule myself when I was first told that “it’s a big No-no! It confuses the reader! It breaks the flow!” etc. etc. I still have writer friends who are almost obsessive about it . . . me, not so much. Done properly, I think it actually adds depth. Or even not done “properly” ~ for instance, the first time I heard/saw the POV switch from one character to another in the same scene was in an “In Death” novel by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) when it jumped from Eve Dallas to Peabody. It didn’t jolt me out of the story, ’cause I knew who was “thinking” and as I mulled it over I thought: who am I to argue with Nora Roberts, yeah? 🙂

So, yeah, rambling a bit, I know but the point I really want to make is this:

I am truly amazed by the results of this gluten-free experience and by how easy it’s been to leave it out and still be able to eat almost anything I like, substituting other favs for the gluten-bearing ones. Eating a handful of Fritos, instead of garlic bread or sour dough, with lasagna or Mexican black bean soup, for instance.

I have also, in recent weeks, had some of the dishes I like (like cheese fondue) that do require the use of gluten-bearing breads ~ but I had just enough to satisfy that craving, and I paid very close attention to how I was feeling 3-5 days later, and the effects were minimal. BIG difference to how I was feeling when I was eating gluten-bearing foods on a daily basis.

And all because I “happened” [I don’t believe in coincidence, y’know 🙂 ] to see a post about her gluten intolerance experience on Sarah’s blog ~ and because, when I asked, she was generous enough to take the time to share her experience with me in detail.

I am SO thankful to her for that. So, this is me, paying it forward. <3 Thanks, Sarah!

See you on the beach!

Rebecca

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Being People of Good Conscience

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

Everyone has heard or read a variation on that quote, and many have engaged in research and debate as to its original source. They’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter who said it or when. What does matter is that it’s true.

I shared this video on facebook day before yesterday:

 

The reason I rarely comment on political issues, there or anywhere else, is first and foremost, I don’t wish to add to the negativity generally being spewed by all sides.  It’s toxic to every aspect of your life. So I generally choose not to participate in the “conversations” that take place online or off. Additionally, so many people look on such posts as an opportunity to be combative, so mostly I just don’t go there.

The exceptions: I will speak out in support of people of good conscience, like Elizabeth Warren. Is everything about her above reproach? Probably not. She’s human, after all. But if the worst you can say against her is that she claimed a drop of Indian blood in the past based on family stories, you still have a long way to go elevate her transgressions to one tenth of Donald Trump’s. (BTW: the idea that she used this “minority status” to get a job at Harvard teaching one class for hundreds of thousands of dollars is completely false: look it up.)

What I do know of her, having followed her career for the past 8 or 10 years, is that, unlike many in government, she is not all about expediency. Her position remains the same on the issues. It doesn’t change to whatever will be most effective for her in the moment, whatever will cast her in the best light. What she is all about is fairness and equality and standing up for those who have been victimized.

For instance, she is one of the only people in government to actively try (though often hamstrung by congressional “procedure”) to hold accountable

  • those people responsible for the collapse of the economy in 2008,
  • those who have contributed to keeping the minimum wage from increasing with productivity and profit as was intended (those of you making $7.25 would have been making more than $21 an hour by now ~ But don’t take my word for it: look it up), and
  • those who have engaged in profiteering through crushing and inescapable student loan debt.

These are the “fruits” by which I know her.

As for Donald Trump: at best, he is a clown, but a clown of the same stripe as the Nazis that perpetuated the Holocaust in Germany and neo-Nazies that invaded Skokie, IL (see the 1981 movie Skokie), or more appropriately, the character of Greg Stillson in Stephen King’s 1980 novel The Dead Zone. I’m afraid his “at worst” is beyond my comprehension, but I know the man is dangerous.

It isn’t hate speech if it is verifiable fact. It isn’t name calling when it is true. Saying that Mr. Trump is a bully is just speaking the truth. It doesn’t equate with, to use just one example, him calling Elizabeth Warren “goofy” or “goofus.” Saying that he is racist (and a misogynist) is stating a fact. It is not equivalent to him calling Ms. Warren “Pocahontas.”  Saying that he is a liar is also just stating a fact. Examples abound, so I’m not even going to try to narrow it down to one. Like Meghan Trainor might say: “his lips are moving.”

The fact of the matter, though, is this: you don’t need me to point out these examples or even really need to go out and research the matter (though if you’re going to repost or share something that has this much import you really should at least try to verify the facts first). All you really need to do is watch him on video ~ speeches, debates, or even just interviews. You know that uneasy feeling you get? the way your shoulders cringe just a bit, even if you can’t point to exactly why?

It’s because you have a conscience. It’s because your subconscious knows even if your conscious mind doesn’t. It’s because, even as you’re nodding and going along, the real you is dumbfounded at everyone oohing and ahhing over the emperor’s new clothes when you can see with your own eyes that he’s parading through town naked.

But we don’t do anything. We don’t say anything. Even when we’re shocked, or maybe especially then, we keep our heads down, keep our mouths shut, and hope for the best. We don’t respond. We don’t stand up and say what’s going on here is wrong. We tell ourselves we’re above responding to such behavior, we won’t let ourselves sink to their level. We keep quiet, even in our increasing unease, and think surely someone will do something about it. And we trade our birthright for pottage, our future good for the status quo of good-enough.

Why? Because we don’t want to become targets.  We don’t want the jackals to turn on us. It’s hard to be brave when you have evidence all around you of what happens to people who stand up and speak out (even if it’s just being sniped at or ostracized on Facebook).

I get it. I do.

And I wish I knew the magic secret that would help you not be afraid, that would give you courage, but I don’t. I’m afraid myself. The best I can say is that sometimes you just have to do the right thing anyway, do it afraid and believe that the courage will come.

In the words of Elie Wiesel -American Romanian-born Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Holocaust survivor, and Nobel Laureate:

“”It’s not easy, it’s not easy to try to believe in moral courage in a world that lacks it. It lacks it because people are afraid, afraid of their own temptations. What is moral courage? Does it mean simply to have the audacity to say no? Absolutely. Just to say no. But isn’t that the definition of civilization? Just the ability and conviction that there are limits. You cannot go beyond that limit, that frontier, and still be part of humanity. You must not, you cannot. But whether you believe in God or not – and, of course, when we say to believe in God means to me, to some of you, it’s scripture, the Bible where it says ‘No, no, don’t do that, don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t humiliate,’ and the main thing to me, it’s not part of the 10 commandments, it is to me a kind of 11th commandment: Thou shalt not stand idly by. I love that commandment. Thou shalt not stand idly by whenever there is an injustice committed against the honor or destiny of a person or a people. Thou shalt not stand idly by. You must speak up. You must defend. You must tell the victims, look, at least you should know that you are not alone, that somebody cares.” (emphasis added)

See, Elizabeth Warren is right. Whether you like her or not, whether you believe she has Indian blood or not, whether you really believe that that particular question is anything more than a distractor issue ~ the fact remains that she is right. We have to stop sniping at each other on Facebook and thinking that’s doing something. We have to reclaim our birthright as people of conscience, stand up and not stand idly by.

Rebecca

http://www.snopes.com/politics/politicians/warren.asp

This is why Donald Trump is calling Elizabeth Warren an ‘Indian’


https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-controversy-over-elizabeth-warrens-claimed-native-american-heritage/2012/09/27/d0b7f568-08a5-11e2-a10c-fa5a255a9258_blog.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/13/minimum-wage-productivity_n_2680639.html

The Minimum Wage Is Stuck at $7.25; It Should Be $21.16 — or Higher

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