In this time of Divisiveness, don’t forget who YOU are

It is the Lenten Season and I am trying to be good and have daily devotion. Even though I work for a religious business (a church camp), I have to admit that, sometimes, I fall short of reading the Bible daily. I converse with God daily and I try to be a good listener, but the education component is sometimes missing-except during this season.

Today, my devotion took me back to my upbringing.

My dad was a small business owner. I was raised in a small/mid-sized city and I was sure that everyone knew who my father was (silly child!) What that did for me was to help keep me on the straight and narrow. (http://www.co-z-aire.com/)

I didn’t want to do anything that would cause shame to my family or in any way impact my father being able to do business. I was so sure that my actions might impact my dad being able to have customers. I may have been very naive, but it was something I always thought about when I had a choice to make; ‘How will this affect the family name? Will Dad lose business if I do this, or that?’

Today, I was reading about being part of the family of God. It made me think about what I do daily. Do I think ‘How will my actions affect my Godly family? Will Dad (God) lose business if I do this, or that?’ I will have to honestly say that I do not always think in those terms.

I am not a bad person but I could always be better.

Yesterday, my son had me take a survey to “determine” my political temperament. Where did I fit on the political strata? The questions were very black & white and very polarizing. I answered honestly and I think my son was surprised that I was almost smack-dab in the middle of the fascist/libertarian & right/left quadrants.

circle UM logo  When I take “what are you?” political tests, I always rank as a conservative Republican. If I were to take a religious test, I would be right where I am supposed to be. As a United Methodist (click and learn more about the UM Church) , I am allowed to have my own beliefs and still feel confident in my political views. You see, the United Methodist Church is made up of all peoples. And studies do show that over 50% of church members are conservative but over 50% of the pastors are liberal (I do not have exact percentages but you can read this article: https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2016/05/on-the-political-leanings-of-methodists/483683/ )

I think my son was surprised at the results. I told him that I try to see all points of view and try to be compassionate and understanding. But there are times when I do not think about my God Family when I do things. I don’t think about how God might look at my actions.

While the majority of people in the United States believe in God, the percentage is dropping – http://www.theharrispoll.com/in-the-news/harris-polls/Americas-Belief-in-God.html . I think it is apparent when you see how violence has escalated, how insensitiveness  has increased and how people are louder, ruder and less kind than in the past. I think that people are hard and combative and not willing to sit across the table and break bread. It seems to have become ‘It’s my way or the highway’ attitude.

I try not to be that person. But I also know that I need to be more concerned about my God Family and think first how God will react to my actions. Just as I don’t want my children to behave inappropriately, I, as a child of God, need to make sure that I do not behave inappropriately. I need to make sure that my words are loving and not divisive; that I use proper language and not words which are polarizing, degrading or downright tasteless.

Today, I want to be aware of my God Family; that I make sure I do not do anything that would embarrass my Father or take ‘customers’ away from His Business. What a wonderful world we would have if we all just tried to make our family proud.

Advertisements

Political Correctness-Political Reality-the Real World Part One

As a person with a background in journalism, I have always tried to write in an unbiased way when it came to NEWS. I make no bones about it when I am expressing an opinion, but in trying to report the facts, I try to do just that.

In this day and age, when reporting the news is more about who can be the first to disseminate the information, facts are sometimes secondary; you can always submit a retraction! OR, the other thing that is done, is reporting half the news because it fits your agenda; only share half the quote, present facts that are not relevant to this day and time. I have had this blog rolling around in my head for a long time. I could never have it gel into a readable prose so I opted to let it keep spinning and spinning and spinning. It just didn’t seem that I would ever be able to put my thoughts down-until today! This may still become a rambling but I hope you will bear with me as I try to help us make sense of this insane world. And I will try to do my best to stay on topic. (That is the nice thing about blogging, I can always edit and let it sit before I publish. But it will be my words and I will research facts. The best of both worlds, news and editorials!)

Even is this world of social media, worldwide connections and instant news, people in the United States are still pretty naive about other countries. Today I blog about immigration, the law and the reality.

My research showed that the United States has some of the most lax laws when it comes to immigration. For example:

In Mexico, you must  speak Spanish and must be a professional who is useful to the Mexican society.  All government publications are done in English. If you are a foreign business, you must pay your workers higher than a Mexican based company. (Article 32). If one wants to live in Mexico, proof must be shown that there are enough necessary funds to support themselves and their dependents.

When my family lived in Spain, we found that some of those same rules applied. I do not know if the laws have been amended, but when we were there, a foreigner had to show proof of funds to live and could not be in the country to work in a job that could be filled by a native. One of the cooks at the restaurant where we frequented was actually a doctor from Russia. She told us that it was better for her to cook (her husband owned the bar) than to practice in the Barcelona area. In Cataluna, you were required to be sufficient in Catalan, as you needed to be able to treat natives in their native tongue. She said that the requirements were too strict for her, as an immigrant, to practice medicine. (It was lucky that the company for which my husband worked was a worldwide country, so he could do business in English. He did learn Catalan and I learned Spanish though.)

The Guardian, a newspaper of England, in 2015, reported that a law will go into effect that…’Non-EU migrants who have spent more than five years working in the country will be required to earn £35,000 per year or else face deportation, according to a policy that comes into effect in April next year.’ That is over $49,300 a year in American dollars.

To immigrate to Canada, there is a point system. You get points based on your work experience, your education, your language, age and adaptability to Canadian life (Yes, that is on the point structure) “The Canadian government also takes adaptability into account when evaluating any applicant. The adaptability category addresses a potential applicant’s perceived ability to adapt quickly to life in Canada. The Canadian Government will award any applicant who has relatives in Canada or has spent time in Canada working or studying.”
Read more at http://www.canadavisa.com/canadian-immigration-requirements.html#kFxD70dGg7AwKJTo.99 http://www.canadavisa.com/canadian-immigration-requirements.html The United States does not have an adaptability requirement that I could find.

Speaking English is not a requirement to apply for a Visa to live and work in the United States. In Mexico and Canada, you need to speak their language (for Canada it is English and/or French) Whether that actually happens, I do not know, but that is their law.

The United States requires that proof be shown that the new immigrant will not live in poverty. But it states that if the sponsoring company or family cannot provide proper documentation for income, the sponsoring entity can go to other sources and have them provide supporting documentation and it can include property, bank accounts, assets that can be liquidated within the year. So the US is bending over backwards to help people meet the financial requirement. (I mean can you imagine a sponsoring families extended family selling their home to provide you income, say a cousin of the sponsor? That cousin could be one an additional sponsor and use their home as proof of necessary funds) https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/affidavit-support

There are those who want our borders opened for all. Really? We don’t want to know who is coming into our land? We don’t want to weed out the thieves, murderers, mortally ill, those dependent on their native governments for assistance (which means when they come here, they are dependent on our government). Do we want un-skilled laborers who will need government assistance to live here? It doesn’t make sense to me that there are people out there who don’t care about those things.

I pay my taxes; I donate my time to non-profit organizations; I donate to our food bank and give clothes (new and gently worn) to our local business, run  by our ministerial association. (It is the equivalent to the Goodwill or Salvation Army.) But I have limited resources. Believe it or not, our country has limited resources.

If you are looking at me cross-eyed now and think that I am insane, let’s take this home, literally! Think of your home, would you leave your doors wide open for anyone to walk into your home? What if you have a one-bedroom apartment, would you want 4 or 5 living with you? Are you willing to pay for all of their expenses because as a sponsor, you are supposed to guarantee it. Yes, the majority of the time, you might be okay and safe. But we have locks on our doors, to keep our loved ones safe from harm. We have security passwords for our bank and credit card accounts to ensure that our finances are safe from dishonest people.

That is all I ask, that we look at what we can do, and do it, but realize that there is a reason for vetting immigrants. It is for the safety of our country; it is for the safety of our loved ones. I was an immigrant in a foreign country. It was not an easy process, but we went through all of the steps because that is what was required. And look outside our borders when people become so judgmental of our process; every country has immigration policies and many are stricter that the United States.

If you are so adamant about immigration but would not be willing to sponsor an immigrant to this country and guarantee the 125% funds that are required to secure an immigrant, then you are just words. I believe in controlled immigration.

I am grateful, as a third generation American, that my great grandparents came to this country. I am grateful that they went through the proper channels that I am a U.S. citizen.

I will continue on this venue. I will write next on how things have changed and we can’t treat immigrants in 2016 like our ancestors were treated. I will relate a communication that spurned me to write.

Charlie Hebdo: In the trenches equal to Vietnam?

The images live in my mind, watching reporters put their life on the line. The tall weeds acting as a wall, separating the reporter from the carnage that was occurring before the lens. The sounds of the helicopter engines were so loud that the reporter had to yell into the microphone. That was how I learned about the Vietnam Conflict. It was because of those correspondents risking all that I decided I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to be that reporter, dodging bullets (and bombs), putting my life on the line to get out the truth.

It is reported that 63 news correspondents lost their lives during the Vietnam Conflict. Some of those deaths were execution style, others from stray artillery fire, while, at least one, French Journalist, Michel Laurent, was killed while trying to rescue another correspondent. http://pathofhistory.com/2012/05/28/michel-laurent-on-one-of-our-photographs/. Laurent, a photographer for the Gamma news Agency, was the last correspondent killed during the Vietnam Conflict.

Reporters, photographers and their support staff have always been in the middle of dangerous situations. The New York Times posted an article in 2006 that reported the following statistics:  From 2003-2006, 83 reporters and their support staff had been killed in Iraq,  17 were killed in Korea and 69 in World War II. The desire to report the news, while relatively safe, has always held risks. Reporting the news is not always about the cute babies and feel good events; sometimes it is reporting on natural disasters, or man-made disasters. Journalists, in all genres, put their lives out their, even when they do not expect it.

But who would think that media specialists would be risking their lives by just showing up to the office. That is what happened today with the terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo, a French Satirical Magazine. At this writing, twelve have died and the terrorist were still at large. French police described the scene as “carnage” and the attackers were heard yelling “Allahu Akbar”, which is an Islamic phrase meaning “God is Great!” (Multiple sources for this information, USA Today, NBC News, Fox News)

It is one thing to consciously put your life out there based on the story you are going to cover, a natural disaster, or war or conflict. It is a totally different affair to be attacked and killed because of a satirical editorial cartoon, or a controversial  story that was objectively written, in the security of your office.

I am an American! I believe in our First Amendment right which allows freedom of press: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.. – See more at: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html#sthash.nXPWiqsw.dpuf

It gives me a heavy heart to know that, in these modern times, people still are losing their lives for expressing their opinion, in a controlled media. I know that there are exceptions to every case, but I believe that opinions are opinions and facts are facts. Charlie Hebdo does not discriminate; no one is immune to their satirical cartoons. While I do not like what they draw (it is very sexual and inappropriate), they have left nothing untouched. There have been cartoons on the Pope, on the French President, the British and the reason for the latest attack, the Muslim faith. I have not read of an attack initiated by the Pope or the President of France against Charlie Hebdo. (I have purposely not put a link to the Charlie Hebdo website. It truly is not something I would read and will not promote it. This is about an injustice to the employees by their senseless murders)

Rewind a few weeks, and you have the controversy with the movie The Interview. North Korean President, Kim Jong Un threatened retaliation on Sony Pictures if The Interview was released. The Sony hackers, reported to be from the North Korean government, threatened movie goers, the studio itself and the United States if the movie was released. After much consideration, Sony did release the movie online and in independent movie theaters. The online and VOD release earned 31 million dollars in two weeks. They will earn six more dollars from me today as I plan on renting it this afternoon, in support of a fiction movie that someone did not like.

I am a Christian woman. The Christian faith is challenged all of the time but you do not see me taking up arms to tell someone they are wrong. Some how, I do not think God finds violence the best way to handle these situations. I myself, am not without controversy. While I do not know for a fact, I am pretty sure that a relative of mine unfriended and blocked me on Facebook because my words did not set well with them. I thought this person had gotten off of Facebook (which does happen). But after some research, I found this person’s name on the FB page of other relatives. I put out facts, disputing their opinion, which is what a responsible individual would do to squash rumors and editorials represented as factual news. Because of that, I have been cut off from this family, which is sad. I really enjoy this person and their family. I do miss seeing the family posts.

But back to the news…it is apparent that the trenches run from the war-torn countries in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and so many more, to the desks of cartoonists in Paris and to the big screen. Too many think that violence is the end all to silencing that facts and opinions of others. One of my favorite quotes comes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I have used it a lot in the past six months and I end it here today:

Dr. King’s Question To Today’s Social Movements

http://justinh.org/2013/08/29/darkness-cannot-drive-out-darkness/

Find peace in your heart and the ignorance of others cannot weaken your fortitude.

 

Politics

Okay, I am kidding. I am really not going to write about politics, specifically. I am going to talk about kindness, consideration, responsibility.

First of all, I have not watched any debates and have never planned on watching anything like that. And, believe it or not, I am very politically minded. I don’t watch them because I know how I am going to vote and I know that watching the debates would just get me frustrated and stressed. I hate how comments are twisted and something that seems common sense to me is interpreted by another party and it takes a whole other personality and then causes confusion. I hate how people stereotype and how polarizing politics has become.

So let me write about what I believe. I hope that you do not put me in a category or stereotype me. I am sure by the end of describing who I am, you can guess my party. But let me tell you that I do not agree 100% with my party. What I believe is what I believe. I just so happens that what I do believe fits primarily in one party.

Maybe you haven’t read anything of mine before so let me tell you a few things. I am a stay-at-home mom who has a couple of minimal paying jobs. I am a church handchime director for youth 7-10 years old. I also direct a youth vocal choir. The members are from 11-18. I receive less than $1500.00 a year for these two choirs. I am a substitute teacher but am limited to 40 days a year as I do not have a teaching certificate. I have taken classes to be able to sub and I can sub K-12. I do like subbing. I volunteer for the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, my church, the school, a church camp, My children started out in public school but because my husband traveled with his job, we decided to homeschool so we could travel. The children were homeschooled for six years. This is their second year back in school. We have a son who is a Junior (who was just accepted in the National Honor Society) and a daughter who is a Freshman.

I have a degree in mass communications and met my husband two years after I graduated from college. We have been married 23 1/2 years. We lived in Spain for a short time, almost a year, when our children were 3 & 5.

That is a little about me. Now about what I believe.

I BELIEVE…you have to believe in something bigger than yourself. For me, it is God.
I BELIEVE…My husband and I are responsible for raising our children. It is our job to teach them morals, responsibility, and to guide them in a way that they can be independent, self-sufficient, Christian minded adults.
I BELIEVE…that we pay way too much in health insurance and taxes. With my husband being self-employed, people don’t realize how much we have to pay out.
I BELIEVE…that unless it is physically impossible, you should do some kind of work. If you are on assistance, get off your tail and volunteer if you can’t find a job.
I BELIEVE…that welfare was not meant to be a program that was long-term.
I BELIEVE…I should do everything possible to help our Earth. We recycle, live in an energy-efficient home, have a solar panel, are conscious about using our yard to filter out any chemicals that might run into the lake from the residents uphill.
I BELIEVE…that too many children today feel entitled and do not show enough respect to authority figures.
I BELIEVE…that if schools can teach about Kwanza, Hanukkah, they should be able to talk about Christmas and Easter.
I BELIEVE…that the Ten Commandments are good rules to follow, regardless of your belief. I mean don’t we want to people to not steal, cheat, kill, covet, etc…
I BELIEVE…You should teach your children that they should get married before they live together or have sex. (what they do is their business but I would not teach my children anything different)
I BELIEVE…if I have to pay for your children, I should be able to tell you how many to have.
I BELIEVE…that we live in the greatest country in the world. Having lived in Europe, I have seen how others live and the freedoms that we have are phenomenal. Many Americans do not appreciate what they have.

If you cannot guess my political party, I am not going to tell you. But I believe that you have a right to disagree with me. And I will not call you names. I can tell you that people from another party have called me clueless, a f***ing idiot, racist, and I could go on. I would never talk that way to anyone.

I also can’t believe that this country would not want people to work hard, to make all the money they can, so they can put it back into the economy, or save it for their retirement, or give it to not for profit organizations to be able to help those that are unable to help themselves. I can’t believe that we, as a society, want people to be dependent on government for their survival. How sad is it that we are teaching people to be complacent and not be engaged in their own life.

If someone disagrees with my statements, I am sorry. I like to think that I have it right. If you do not agree that people should want to be independent, that we should be concerned about our environment, that my husband should be allowed to provide for our family by hunting deer, antelope, etc…, that we should be allowed to make money so we can help others, then you must not be a member of the party for which I am a member. BUT I do not like controversy, so I will not tell you which party it is.

That is the beauty of this country, we have the chance to be a part of different political parties. That is not the case in other countries.

I guess you can decide if my statement that I was not going to write about politics was accurate or not. Maybe tomorrow I will write about bread pudding!

Oh and BTW, my coffee was a take off of the Magic Bar, chocolate, butterscotch and coconut. It was Nummy!