Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why in the world.....

......would you need an automatic weapon as a civilian?  I understand the 2nd Amendment, and all of the other "rights" our Constitution give us, but what's the big deal with outlawing assault rifles??????

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Jet-Lagged Christmas Revelation...

...otherwise known as "Duh!".

I get it.  I really get it.  I get Christmas! It IS love.  I got it at about 4 am England time this morning.  As I see it, all of our traditions surrounding Christmas are made in celebrating the love we feel for others---the Christmas tree, the lights, the carolers, the baking and cooking, the gifts.

I'll back up to these thoughts.  I used to LOVE Christmas.  I love to give, that's just me.  Last year after a 6-month illness, my father---my remaining parent--passed away on December 9th.  Christmas last year was just a date on the calendar.  It was just December 25th.  No love.  Nothing left to give.  I felt nothing except for the deepest sadness I ever felt in my life.  

Leading up to Christmas this year, even on Christmas Eve, I felt as if I was going through the motions of Christmas.  As I woke up very early this morning, a thought occurred to me, as I silently wished Mom and Dad a Merry Christmas, that Christmas isn't about the shopping, the baking & cooking, putting up the decorations, spending time with friends and family, but it is all about the LOVE.  And I can FEEL it. I can FINALLY feel it.  All of this preparation we go through is to prepare to celebrate it on Christmas with those we love (simply, kinda like decorating for a birthday party).

Andrew and I are in England with his family this year for Christmas.  It's a lot simpler here.  His family listens to "Lessons and Carols" on Christmas Eve and goes to the 11 pm church service, and on Christmas Day we go to church at 11, eat Christmas lunch, and listen to the Queen's Speech and have tea and open gifts.  We'll have a light supper later on for those who are hungry.  They don't put up outside lights, but inside of his parents' houses are decorated with Christmas trees and garland.  It's very special to be here this year.  

"In America", as it's called here in England, we put so much pressure on ourselves, and I blame the commercialism of our culture, to find the "perfect gift".  I work with the poor, and know that they put so much on themselves because they don't have the money to BUY the perfect gift.  Who says the perfect gift has to cost money?  My favorite gifts this year have been conversations with family and friends whom I love and who love me--where those words have been shared.  A telephone conversation with one of my best friends in Illinois sticks out in my mind here from last weekend.  We talk every day about the mundane tasks or work, life, and pets.  The conversation took a really special turn when Julie shared with me how much our friendship meant to her.   You can't wrap that, put a bow on it, and put it under the tree, but it lasts longer than any material gift ever would.

I have to share what's just happened as I'm writing this that has reminded me of my childhood.  It's 5:47 a.m. and Andrew's niece and nephew, Helen and Adrian, have just come down, half-awake but excited, to get their stockings and took them back to their rooms.  I FELT the smile on my face as I wished them a Merry Christmas and remembered that memory.  My parents used to put our stockings at the foot of our beds.  I woke up to the sound of my stocking hitting the floor I kicked my stocking off the bed, and Christmas morning began.  As I write this now, the kids are up in their rooms opening their stockings, and I can hear their excitement.

The grief I allowed myself to experience this year has changed me-hopefully for the better and hopefully it will last for the rest of my life here on earth. I take time and energy now to share my thoughts and feelings with those very special people in my life.  And there are LOTS of them.  We are all surrounded by love every second of the year, and we celebrate in on Christmas.  

Why not celebrate more often than Christmas?  This is my gift to everyone in my life----celebrate this gift of love every day and every second of your lives.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tragedy in the Elementary School

There are so many thoughts running through my mind regarding the tragedy at the elementary school in Connecticut this past Friday---spanning from the families and friends of the victims and the gunman, to the issue of how we regard and treat mental illness in America, to the explosive issue of gun control.  Video games, music, the media, and politics also come to mind.  

First, the families of the victims.  How do you explain to the brother or sister that the brother or sister is not coming home from school? Or ever again? How do you explain what happened to them?  How do those kids go back to that school? Will they ever feel safe again? My Christmas last year was bad enough after losing my Dad two weeks before, but how do these families, this town, celebrate Christmas? Ever again?  How much time will it take to heal these deep, dark wounds?

The gunman.  I'm really pissed at him.  For doing it.  For not leaving a note and saying why he did it.  For not asking for or pursuing help.  For being a total coward and killing himself.  And I feel really sorry for him and his family.   I ask the questions that every one else is asking, the biggest one of which is "were there any warning signs?"  If there were warning signs, could he have gotten help, or could someone have gotten help for/with him?  

Why is mental illness STILL such a stigma in our society?  Why isn't it treated like a physical illness, and insured like one?  Insurance companies only insure to a certain point.  Why?  Because they will lose their precious profits.  Yes, I'm pissed at the insurance companies too. Really pissed at them.  That they deny proper treatment--both medication and counseling to so many of those who need it.  And so, so many of the ones who need it cannot get the right kind of insurance or any insurance at all.  That's so morally wrong.  I cannot believe that we let this happen in this great country.  Yet this is no longer the great country I used to think it is, because the almighty dollar is more important than precious life--tobacco, alcohol, mental health, gun control, gambling (oops! I mean "gaming"), guns, asbestos, oil vs. alternate forms of energy and global warming--to name a few.  Companies/corporations are making serious money off of peoples' lives.  And we Americans allow this to happen.  We have to put an end to this once and for all.

Lastly the news media, video games, Hollywood, music, television are equal contributors and are countered by the lack of parental/adult guidance.  Video games, the movies, and television shows are so spectacularly violent now that our population is almost desensitized to it.  People see these criminals mass killing and some who aren't too sure about how tell the difference between right and wrong think this is ok to do in real life.  The most spectacular of movies at the box office is usually the most violent---and brings in the most money.  Our choice of television is "drama", or reality tv or sitcoms where people degrade and insult one another.  And the news media thrives on violence.  The headliners every night on the local news in Chicago are what I now refer to as the daily body count.  My brother-in-law from England was amazed and astonished that it was so consistent.  It seems like the news desks take the lazy way out each day and listen to the scanner to get "the big story".

I touched on mental illness, and now I'll touch on gun control.  We're way beyond controlling guns because there are simply too many out there already.  Police buyback programs are great as long as the guns are destroyed and don't end up back on the street.  I understand the 2nd amendment, but there are way too many people and too many guns now to use that as an excuse to continue to permit gun use.  Illinois is debating concealed carry--well, that's just great.  I doubt that'll stop the people walking into shopping malls, movie theaters, and other places where people assemble freely (yes, another constitutional amendment).  The age old excuse of "guns don't kill people, people do" is only half correct.  The wrong people who get a hold of guns kill greater numbers of people much easier than rocks, sticks, and knives do.  The NRA has been very weak to even acknowledge what happened on Friday, but they'll keep strongly supporting their buddies the gun users and manufacturers--licensed or not.  The gun lobby?  Again, it's all about the almighty freakin' dollar.  Gun permits and background checks?  Great, but the guns STILL get into the wrong hands, as happened this past Friday.

I have no solutions or answers.  I wish I did.