“Ours Not to Wonder…

…What were Fair in Life; but finding what may be – make it Fair up to our Means.” ~ Anne McCaffery

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kansas-judge-man-who-provided-sperm-to-lesbian-couple-must-pay-child-support/

This made headlines recently and I figured I could use a good op-ed piece to get my muse kick-started again. So here goes…

First of all, I am completely supportive of same-sex couples adopting and/or having their own biological children together.  A loving home with good consistent co-parenting is a key factor in raising a healthy well-adjusted child. (I’m leaving single parenting out of my factoring in this case, although a loving strong and consistent single parent is just as effective in raising a healthy well-adjusted child – I think we all can agree that having two involved parents is the optimal situation for all concerned. Parenting is a tough gig.) That said, it is not the “right” of any couple to be able to have children simply because they want them.

If one or both of the partners is infertile then medical insurance can cover procedures to mitigate that, and/or provide Artificial Insemination or other options to assure pregnancy.  In the case of this lesbian couple – its safe to presume that at least the biological mother was fertile – in which case it was NOT incumbent upon her medical insurance (if she had any) to provide coverage for the AI procedure. Just as it is not incumbent upon a fertile heterosexual woman’s insurance to provide that coverage.  There’s no problem with the plumbing in either case.

No, I can’t say its fair that same-sex couples have to struggle on this level too, but in regard to this issue – that’s the way it is.  I’m going to use myself as an analogy here for a moment:  I had bariatric surgery several years ago.  I could use a few nip/tucks here and there post-weight loss.  However, I am not covered for it. Fair? Nope. But that’s the way it is. Life’s given me bat-wings so I better learn to fly with them! Anyway, however any of us may feel about same sex relationships, and related civil rights –  we cannot deny basic biology. Unless there is some help or scientific intervention there can be no fertile relationships between same sex partners.

So,  – the correct thing to do if AI is the way fertile females are choosing to conceive, is to SAVE THEIR MONEY in order to get the procedure done.  Mistake #1 in the case I am discussing here. Mistake #2:  The couple  advertised online (Craigslist???) for a sperm donor.  They must be OUT OF THEIR FREAKIN MINDS.  Mistake #3:  The man involved actually responded to an online advertisement to be said donor.  He was not a registered sperm donor.  HE must be OUT OF HIS FREAKIN MIND too.   The poor kid could’ve ended up with John Wayne Gacy or Delphine LaLaurie as parental material!  We all know what a wonderful, safe place the internet is, so let’s search it to find the perfect person to create a child with…….. OR NOT.

Mistake #4: AI is a medical procedure with inherent risk even when performed by a licensed physician.  Conception a la Turkey Baster at home is, how shall I say this – a “Bozo No-No”….. yeah that works…. The woman was fortunate in that her home performed procedure did not result in complications such as infection, peritonitis, sepsis, STD’s, or even death – and lead to a healthy baby.

I guess my bottom line here is that life isn’t fair.  We all have dreams that are unfulfilled; things we want to do that we cannot.  It is what it is, and we should try to make the best of it if we cannot change it.   The Kansas court rightly decided that the donor should be responsible for child support in that proper procedures were not followed by any of the adults involved regarding the insemination of the woman, or the subsequent support of the resulting child. The judge also quite correctly inferred that the child is the person who matters here.  Hopefully this will serve as a heads up to other couples deciding whether or not to have AI. If you want to be a sperm donor, please register and donate at a licensed medical facility. These steps protect you legally.  If your insurance doesn’t cover artificial insemination, save your pennies, consult a lawyer, draw up a binding contract that clearly spells out obligations and will be recognized in court, and use state approved and medically licensed facilities and personnel to perform the procedure.  Or alternatively – ADOPT. There are far too many children who need loving and supportive homes out there.  But that’s another story…..

You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught

Lyrics from ‘South Pacific’

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,

You’ve got to be taught from year to year,

It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear,

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid

Of people whose eyes are oddly made,

And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,

Before you are six or seven or eight,

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You’ve got to be carefully taught!

I must admit I didn’t get the underlying social messages when I watched this wonderful movie as a youngster. I was more interested in the beaches, and later as a teen – in the beefcake – to give much thought to a little bit of a song in the midst of all that glorious technicolor – sun, sand, the United States Navy, and the US Marine Corps.
That little throwaway number has become an earworm for me over the last few weeks, as I try to make sense of the senseless. I did a bit of research about the song, which actually had a pretty powerful message for 1949; and again in 1958 when the movie was released. Apparently Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein felt so strongly about the importance of that message they insisted it remain in the performances, even if it meant that the production failed. In essence, this song was the lynchpin of the entire play/movie to them, and could not be removed. And it was not, despite considerable political pressure to do so.

Humans are not born racists, homophobes, bullies, misogynists, thugs, or criminals. We are taught, and as the song goes – by “six or seven or eight” – taught to hate. It’s pretty easy actually. You just have to point your finger at someone who looks or acts different than you and blame them for your misfortunes. It’s easier than blaming yourself, after all. You just have to be afraid of the different. It’s kind of genetically programmed into us – right? Biology and survival of the fittest ; we cull out the mutations. We make snapshot judgements about others and we pass on what we think we “know” to our little ones. With our words, and with our actions, we teach our children to mistrust and/or hate people who aren’t exactly like us. Chips off the old block, as it were. We’re becoming increasingly polarized, intolerant, violent, and murderous. It’s almost impossible to even agree to disagree these days. The uber liberals and uber conservatives belittle and scoff at one another in their quest to be “right” and get the last word. Centrists don’t seem to have a voice – and a loud centrist voice is sorely needed. I had hopes at one point that our POTUS would be that voice, hopes that have been dashed by the realization he can’t even get out of his own way, much less facilitate an environment where all can come together to work towards solutions.

So I guess it’s up to us folks, and not the politicians. And maybe that’s as it should be. If change is not coming from our government, we must bring it to our government. Rightly, righteously, respectfully. We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That all people are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We need a different lesson plan for People; for Families. We start with self respect; we set a standard for behavior at home and in public and we hold everyone accountable. We talk TO our children rather than AT them. We do not tolerate bullying or demeaning behavior and we support our children to speak out if they are targeted; and to stand up for others who are being harassed. We stop making excuses for offenders and we expect consequences for offenses. It’s based on the Golden Rule. Do unto Others…. We have the talk with our sons about respecting our daughters. We have the talk with our daughters about respecting our sons. We encourage learning – more books and less TV. We work at making our adult relationships work so that our children can see that these commitments are neither convenient or disposable. We admit when we are wrong, and we apologize. We can reeducate, but it will take some hard work. . I feel sometimes like I am screaming at the top of my lungs to what at best is echoing silence. These truths I have outlined, this lesson plan for humanity is SELF-EVIDENT. A no-brainer. A return to that Golden Rule and the Core Values our society is based on (see above).

Above all we need to get mad, in the proactive sense. We have to stand up and scream “No More!” No more hate speech, no more name calling, no more profiling, no more beatings, no more rapes. No more feeding a beast that deems softcore porn appropriate entertainment matter for a globally televised awards show. No more judicial system that says a 14 year old girl bears responsibility for consenting to sexual activity with a man more than twice her age… Just exactly how does one become “older than their chronological years” anyway? She is not an emancipated minor – just so that’s clear. 14 is not capable of legally consenting to ANYTHING. Coercion is implicit when a much older person gets a minor to perform sex acts. Apparently this is something the judge chose to ignore in his statement of ruling. No more mothers who sit bored and yawning in a Georgia courtroom where their son is on trial for cold bloodedly shooting an 18 month old toddler. Society’s Moral Compass is severely misaligned at present, quite obviously.

It bears repeating – This is what we need to be CAREFULLY TEACHING:

Respect yourself.

Treat others with Respect and Kindness, even if you do not receive Kindness in return. Remember that a difference of opinion is not a personal attack. If you can’t say something nice(ly); don’t say anything at all. (“You Stay Classy San Diego!”)

Play by the Rules.

Help your Neighbor.

Speak out about Injustice and Inequality. Be that shining light in dark places when all other lights go out.

Own your mistakes and strive to do better.

Get – and stay – Educated. Learn to read, speak publicly, write well, and most importantly LISTEN. You’ll find out much more when you are silent and observant.

Above all – Love one Another.

That’s not really so hard to do. The government isn’t going to legislate that for us. We have to do it ourselves. It starts with an individual commitment to change, and a commitment to raise our children to be better people than we are. How many of you reading this are willing to make that commitment, take that step, and for example perform an act of kindness for a total stranger? Give up getting a few extra presents under the Christmas tree and instead donate that money – or some of your time, to a food pantry or homeless shelter? Set limits with your children and enforce them? This includes curfews, and dare I say it again – some form of dress code? We can carefully teach our children by our loving example. They pay far more attention to what we do. What we say – not so much. (Ask any mother of a teenager about that – we’ll tell ya!) Hold the door open for an elderly person, offer to help someone struggling with grocery bags. Show our kids that we have respect for one another and I’m pretty sure our kids will start showing respect too.

I do not want these people, and countless others I can’t name, to have died or suffered for nothing – please remember them:

Delbert Belton. Christopher Lane. Antonio Santiago. Trayvon Martin. Matthew Shepherd. Islan Nettles. Cheryl Green. Jyoti Singh. Brandon Teena. James Earl Chaney. Andrew Goodman. Mickey Schwerner. Martin Luther King. Phoebe Prince. Jamey Rodemeyer. Reginald Denny. Paramjit Kaur. Satwant Singh Kaleka. Prakash Singh. Sita Singh. Ranjit Singh. Suveg Singh. Francois Chenu. Ginger Slepski. James Byrd. Jennifer Daugherty. The Victims and Families of 9/11. The Victims of the Manson Family Murders – included because it was Manson’s stated intention to incite a race war. The 11 million + Victims of The Holocaust. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………

There are no words, really… but I’ll try…

I am feeling inadequate this evening. Also very sad, and very, very horrified.  Mr Delbert Belton, an 89 year old veteran of the Battle of Okinawa during WWII has tragically been beaten to death by two individuals who aren’t worth the amount of time it takes to type their names. I am absolutely incensed by the fact that a member of the Greatest Generation has been horrifically murdered by two members of the Worst Generation – the worst generation EVER.  The Gimme Generation.  I’m not gonna play a race card here (draw your own conclusions folks) But seriously  I DON’T CARE what your income level is, or what color skin you have. There is a standard of decency and civilized behavior that must be maintained- and just because you don’t like white people does not give you the right to target and murder a defenseless old man.   Any more than just because you don’t like or trust black people gives you the right to profile, stalk, and shoot them in “self-defense”. This man did NOTHING to deserve what these two sub-humans did to him. Any more than Christopher Lane did to deserve getting shot in the back by 3 lazy good for nothing teenage idiots.

This man Delbert Belton – this Hero, sacrificed of himself so that future generations could live in freedom.  Think about it – if the Nazis had won the War does anyone believe that people of color; or of a different culture, would even still exist? Honestly, the crematoriums would still be burning if Hitler and his cronies had prevailed.   But if you do believe otherwise,  I have swampland in Arizona I can sell you on the dirt cheap.  Delbert Belton and his comrades fought for EVERYONE – and he ended up getting his head bashed in for it.  I wonder – whatever happened to respecting your elders? Hell, whatever happened to just plain respecting each other?   I think I might be able to tell you – but you probably either won’t like it, or just don’t want to hear it….

Its all about entitlement and enabling.  It’s about covetousness.  One of the biggie major sins the Ten Commandments talks about. Somehow, during our efforts to  assist others to better themselves, those we have tried to help have got the idea that they are entitled to what the rest of us have actually worked for. And we help them to validate this by buying into the “race card” idiocy. Which – to be fair – isn’t always idiocy…. But – Tell me, please – since when does decent, caring human behavior come with a color?   A person is a person is a person. If we truly want to have a dialogue and work towards a resolution of prejudice and racism then we have to agree  AND ENFORCE a minimum standard of humanistic behavior towards our fellow man.  This does NOT include beating someone’s brains out – just so we are clear.  No exceptions or excuses.  Excuses are where we get bogged down; where we get foggy.   Here are some statistics:

48.5% of African American children are growing up without a father ( in a single parent family) http://www.withoutafather.com/facts.php  A severely disproportionate number of victims, suspects,and arrest-ees are African American – in New York City at least, as of 2012. http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/analysis_and_planning/crime_and_enforcement_activity_jan_to_jun_2012.pdfI I have been informed ancedotally that up to 70% of violent crime is committed by African American males between the ages of 16 and 21.  Are the rest of us wrong to be wary?  No.  Wrong to profile – absolutely yes.  But in the case of Mr Belton – Its quacking just like a duck – and loudly. This case, and the Lane case in OK, unfortunately quite solidly reinforced the stereotype.  And guess what? If you don’t want to be thought of and treated like a gangsta thug – STOP ACTING LIKE ONE!

How do we assist  single mothers to raise their sons to respect life, respect humanity – in all its diverse plumage? I don’t think we do it by throwing 50K a year (in MA) non-taxable benefits at them.  ( thats just me though and just so y’all know that’s a LOT more than I make annually!) Delbert Belton was an 89 year old widower and military veteran with nothing of value other than his dignity and a Purple Heart. Why did he become a target?  I think perhaps because we are raising a society that has no empathy, no connection to one another, no moral compass. I don’t dislike anyone based on the color of their skin. I dislike them for the demonstration of their lack of character; their lack of humanity, their stupid sense of self-entitlement, and their complete disregard for the value of life.  As John Mellencamp wrote: “Its what you do and not what you say – if you’re not part of the future, then get out of the way!”    This man was literally defenseless – and yet somehow two lowlife thugs who have extensive juvenile records for assault amongst other things – thought it appropriate to beat him with flashlights until he died. The future holds no place for ignorance, intolerance, disrespect, and injustice. Read a Book, Get Educated, Be Aware, , Ask Questions, Speak Out, Be Responsible.

At some point we need to put aside the racial baggage and start fresh – a clean slate – with the idea that all of us have intrinsic value and that no one should be a target of violence simply because their skin is a different color.  There has to be a standard of proper behavior for humanity.  Not one standard for one group, not an excuse for another. Until there is one standard for all, until the murder of any one person causes everyone to be outraged, until equality means we all play by the same rules – we are, and will continue to be – in a lot of trouble. So if you can’t play by the rules on the field – you should be ejected from the game. We can even provide housing for you – its called prison.  We can achieve true equality much easier if we hold everyone to the same standard.  Delbert Belton’s generation understood this – fought and won a war for it in fact.  And, if we don’t start seriously addressing this problem, Mr Belton will have died for less than nothing.  I, for one, will not stand for that.   Rest in Peace Mr Belton.  You are honored, and will be missed.  #JusticeForDelbertBeltonvet24n-1-web

The Slippery Slope

http://jezebel.com/girl-gives-boy-blow-job-at-music-festival-boy-is-hero-1170516814

This past weekend there was a music festival in Slane, Ireland at which a young woman was photographed engaging in sex acts with at least two different young men. The photos went viral quickly and the young woman has promptly been slut-shamed; while little if anything negative fallout has been attributed to the young men who participated in said publicly indecent behavior. I cannot even begin to tell you how upset this makes me – on many levels.

First off – it takes two (or more in this instance) to Tango, folks. The young men who engaged in this activity with her are just as “slutty” if not more so – than the woman in question. They ALL should be ashamed of themselves, and probably should be arrested for public indecency and placed on the sex offender registry when convicted. Since 17 is the age of consent, child pornography is not an issue in this particular case. Yet, I fail to understand why young people these days deem it OK to photograph, videotape, and share what should be extremely private moments. There is certainly  more than enough information out there about the dangers and consequences of sharing explicit photographs and messages via cell phone or on the internet. Once it’s out there, its out there FOREVER. I don’t completely understand why folks aren’t more careful about what they do – or don’t do, in the internet age. Hel-lo!?! It ain’t rocket science to figure that one out – and act accordingly. Secondly, there was no expectation of privacy…. Moreover, since when did it become OK to get a blowjob in public? So for the young woman to be “distraught” by the publication of these pictures doesn’t make sense. Duh – they were in PUBLIC. If this woman was inebriated, where were her friends to talk her out of doing something this dumb? Oh wait, they were probably all inebriated…… and thought this was HILARIOUS….

I think, perhaps, there’s a very slippery slope here – and what we see in this instance is the pileup at or near the bottom of that slope. The code of conduct for public behavior, hell – even the dress code, has relaxed considerably in the last few years. For example, \10 years ago I don’t know of a single person who would have left the house in their pajamas for any reason other than a critical emergency room visit. Just stroll around your local mall this weekend and you will see a lot of people wandering around in their nightwear. Standards of decency have lowered too – as evidenced by the fashion of wearing ones pants below the hips with one’s tightie whities or boxers showing to all the world. Shirts showing either under-boob, side-boob, or uber-cleavage. Low rise pants that stop millimeters from revealing the upper pubic area. Short shorts clearly outlining one’s genitalia, and buttocks hanging out the back. The attitude is “anything goes” – fashion wise. It’s a short step down to “anything goes” behaviorally, is it not? Especially when, alcohol and drugs are involved. These music festivals are notorious for such things. Is the lack of decency in fashion a cue to act less than decently when wearing such costume? I think that’s highly probable.  I am not saying one cannot express themselves via their clothing.  I am saying that one should be careful and thoughtful, always. Just because you CAN do something does not necessarily mean you SHOULD.

There’s not a clear line to distinguish the acceptable from the unacceptable anymore. Is it then surprising when we (ie the rest of us)  get treated to the free show? If we are surprised, we shouldn’t be. We are not holding anyone to acceptable standards of public behavior when we make ridiculous allowances for “freedom of expression” that cross the line into indecency and immodesty. I am not saying that fashion choices are the sole determining factor in this debacle – but I do think that it was a big part of the slippery slope these folks were on when they fell. Its all connected folks – don’t let anyone tell ya different. I believe it does no one harm to be told “NO” once in awhile. No – you can’t go out of the house dressed like a hoodlum, or a 5 dollar hooker, period. That boundary allows us the structure to eventually determine our own levels of self-respect.

In the festival fellatio fiasco, there was a serious lack of self respect shown in regard to all the participants in the “event.” Certainly more than enough blame to go around for all involved. Is it slutty behavior to perform sex acts in public? Absolutely. All should be held accountable, not just the female who performed the favors. A young man with any self-respect whatsoever should have declined any ‘offers’ and assisted the woman to a safe location. Any young man who was raised correctly, that is. And any woman with any sense of self worth should absolutely know better than to engage in such behavior. If both consenting individuals were interested in a hook-up – it should have been conducted in PRIVATE. I am hoping that all parties will have charges brought against them, that they will learn a tough life lesson, and conduct their sex lives in private from this point on.

 

Is it Just Me, or What? Community, Neighborhoods and Crime…

I’m not feeling safe. There seems to be a spike in violent crime in my city and more importantly my neighborhood lately. A home invasion less than 3 blocks from my house,  a domestic/drug related shooting literally behind the parking lot of my youngest’s elementary school less than a mile from the house (and a neighborhood wide lock down complete with staties and K-9 patrols while the suspect was at large) And just last night an 18 yr old drug dealer stabbed a 30 yr old downtown – also less than a mile from the house.  The Viking was walking the dogs in that area literally minutes before the incident.  I think he dodged a proverbial bullet. Having the dogs with him probably provided him with a measure of safety – or at least distance.  See below for links to the related articles.

Last summer the Viking was awoken to the sound of Sophie and her “Big Girl”,  “I Mean Business” bark.  He checked around and didn’t find anything or anyone. But the next morning he noticed the living room window screen had been completely slit through at the bottom.  Good Girl Soph!  Two summers ago we had a rash of break ins in the neighborhood where women’s pocketbooks left in their kitchens were rifled through and money/credit cards stolen.  Please note: this is a very blue collar neighborhood and section of town.  We aren’t well off by any means and we ALL work very hard for what we do have. Not sure why these neighborhoods are being targeted – other than propinquity.  And if that’s the case then the offenders have obviously never listened to the old adage about not pooping where you dine.   Our dogs provide at the very least a good alarm system but frankly I do worry about my Mom and Stepdad down the street, and others in the area who either can’t afford an alarm system or don’t have a dog.

For years now, I’ve kind of scoffed at my mother for locking her doors during daylight hours when she is home – but I am now seeing the great sense in this. Most of my life I’ve been relatively fearless after taking reasonable precautions.   These days, I’m feeling much more insecure.  Is it aging?  I’m certainly not 25 – but I am in much better health than I was at 40 – so maybe?  Or maybe not. These are our streets, and I would like to be able to sit on my front stoop and watch the world go by – without thinking that every person walking by my house might be casing the joint.  Not that I have anything in here valuable enough to steal – but still…. its mine.

Is this type of crime an unintended consequence of the current generation’s sense of “self entitlement” ? In other words, “I want it, don’t care if its not mine, I’m taking it….” Are we not teaching our children proper boundaries?  Does it harken back to valuing things that are worked for; not handed out?  I’m taking an educated guess here, but I’d say yes to all of the above.  And these days  I often think we are more focused on blaming circumstances /bad parenting etc than on holding offenders accountable for their actions.  If you break the law, there are consequences, period.  That’s the way it should be anyway.  Too often theres too many excuses and not enough restitution or justice.

Which brings me to another point: If greater pride was taken by the neighborhood community perhaps the crime rate would decrease.  So:   How do we instill a sense of pride in our neighborhoods when we barely speak to our neighbors? The Northeast has a pretty frigid reputation when it comes to being neighborly. The lack of fluency in English makes it difficult to communicate well with the increasing number of immigrants in the area. They are often not willing to embrace “American” culture, either. They certainly do not trust the police.   Hardly anyone on my street allows trick or treaters at Halloween anymore – the kids have to go outside the neighborhood.  Another good example is our neighbors across the street hanging their laundry – including unmentionables on the shrubbery in front of their houseQuite the eyeful as I sat here on my front porch, I must say. Repeated requests from all the neighbors went unheeded (a communication issue perhaps), but finally our community police officer had to tell  them in no uncertain terms to hang their laundry in their backyard…. But anyway – we are isolated in our home bubbles.  Going to work each day, coming home, doing our yard work and chores etc and focusing internally.  I  have never ever been to a block party or community party in my neighborhood, and I only know my neighbors a few houses up or down the street on either side.  Which is kind of sad, and admittedly at least partially my fault.

So here’s what I AM going to do.  Continue being nice, first.  It costs nothing to smile after all.  Increase my vigilance and awareness of whats going on in the neighborhood. Including getting out for walks with the Viking and the puppies more often.  The more familiar I am with things, the more likely I am to spot something out of whack. I’ll be checking on our elderly neighbors.  And lastly – we’ll be making sure the canine alarm system stays healthy, and will definitely be locking our doors even when we are home during the day. Any other suggestions or comments would be  most appreciated. Thanks all!

Divide and Conquer

Besides the cheap hooker on the corner, its the oldest trick in the book.  And we are, sadly, falling for it hook, line and sinker.  Give em the old Razzle Dazzle!  That’s what Washington does, Elephant, Donkey or whatever.  They dangle the bait of some hot button yet relatively insignificant issue (in the long run) in front of us. We become incensed (rightly) and lose focus on the bigger picture. Its what they want us to do to keep the status quo.

Time for a brief American History lesson:  Our government was set up by  privileged landowners. Many of them were also slave owners.  When they said “all men are created equal” they were not thinking about anyone other than people like themselves.  Its a hard truth; and we have amended our thinking somewhat in the ensuing years – as evidenced by constitutional amendments, court rulings and new laws for all. But make no mistake folks – our government’s representatives are by and large interested in making and keeping money for themselves, and keeping the power that goes along with that.  Think about how difficult and expensive it is to run for office.  They don’t want an average joe in there. They want someone with a silver spoon- someone who thinks like them.  Now you can get donations- but who are the donors -Corporate, right?  If they are gonna give you money then they expect you to vote the way they want you to.  You are beholden and obligated; so even if you weren’t born with that silver spoon, you have to act as part of that club. Corporate Finance drives decision making in this country and you can bet your sweet bippy that most politicians are in their back pockets- where the money is.  Here endeth this lesson.

So the system ain’t fair,and they want to keep it that way – (Thank you Captain Obvious!)  How do they do that? By highlighting or creating issues that increase the divide between  parties, between right and left, so that the gen pop is more focused on taking potshots and full on sniping at the “other” side. Rather than focusing on Socially Responsible, Common Sense Right (ie Correct) change.  Change that does the most good for the most people. Change that benefits all of us.

One of the other problems is that we all wear rose colored glasses to an extent. We’ve been raised to believe that like us, most people are good and decent. We don’t think, or more correctly – we don’t like to think, that there are A LOT of people who are not good and decent. People who are corrupted by avarice, power, or just plain sociopathy – and who will do anything to get what they want.  We seem to have elected many of them to go to Washington. These are people who think that the rest of us are only good enough to be used.  Remember that the next time you think  ” Oh, the government wouldn’t do that to us.”  This is what the Germans and the Jews thought about Hitler and the Third Reich  -and we all know what a price was paid to fix that problem… Governments are all about self protection.

So folks, lets not focus on the fact that our president forgot to return a service members salute, or that he used an umbrella during an outdoor speech on a drizzly day. Or that our combat troops are having to eat MRE’s once a day as the military support system dials down in preparation for leaving Afghanistan. Given a choice, I’m absolutely positive that any service member would prefer to go home sooner rather than having a hot meal 3 as opposed to 2 times a day. Screaming and yelling at each other about trivialities keeps our attention directed away from where it needs to be, and we need to remember that’s what they want. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”  Indeed.

Lets focus on cutting waste and stopping fraud and abuse of “entitlement” programs. Let’s  focus on actually educating children rather than teaching them to perform well on a standardized test. Let’s focus on assuring that everyone has their basic needs met – that no one’s going hungry, without clothing, or without shelter.  Let’s focus on changing our collective self entitled attitudes so that we can be content with what we can  afford to have -rather than living beyond our means. Let’s focus. On creating employment opportunities for everyone. Let’s focus on taxation that actually makes sense – a flat tax rate so that everyone pays their fair share. LET’S GET OUR SPENDING UNDER CONTROL AND REDUCE THE NATIONAL DEBT.  And lets focus on making people accountable.  Threats of  “I won’t vote for you next election” carry little weight when our collective memory is even shorter than an Alzheimer’s patient’s. So let’s keep our eyes on the prize, shall we?   We’ve got some first-rate sorcerers in DC, who are really, really good at keeping the rest us off-balance, off-target, and divided.

The Head Table

Head Table Place Settings

Head Table Place Settings (Photo credit: VancityAllie)

Remember when you were a kid, and you couldn’t wait to sit at the grown up table on holidays?  No more mismatched chairs, paper plates and plastic cups at the rickety old card table. No sirree bub – you got the formal dining room and the good china at the adults table.  You were where it was happening. Definitely a mini rite-of-passage, at least for this chick.  As the oldest child and oldest grandchild I got to go first. Woo Hoo! Welcome to the Party, Pal!

But I want to talk about a different table.  The Head Table.  I don’t mean where Bride and Groom sit during their reception, or where the Silver and Gold Anniversary Couples get to sit. Those are cool places to be.   The happy place – center of attention and hub of the party wheel.  I want to talk about the table you get move up to – and sit at – when your parents pass away.  Its not an actual table, but its a real thing nonetheless.  And its emotional, and scary.  If all goes as hoped, you’re bound for the cemetery next. Not that anyone hopes to die, but if The Fates are kind, they take you before your children.

When you step up to take your seat at the table (if those Fates have once again smiled upon you) you’re usually middle aged – and usually with children and grandchildren by that point.  Sitting down, you get to take stock of your life to date.  You evaluate your goals, reevaluate them and maybe even change career direction. Or divorce. Or remarry. Have a full blown nuclear mid life crisis. Make a menopausally fueled Hit List. Or none of those things. But –  underlying whatever is going on is the stark reality that there’s no human buffer zone between you and the Great Beyond anymore. No safety net below you as you stand on the platform at the ceiling of the Center Ring.  Tag. You’re it.

I was chatting with my Aunt Jean the other day.  She lives near Chicago, but we try to connect with one another as much as possible. She was 17 when I was born, and she’s my Godmother.  We were discussing careers and work. She mentioned that at my age- I’m at the apex career wise.  If I’ve reached for the brass ring already – great. If not, I’d better do it soon. She didn’t say so, but I thought –  I’m approaching the Head Table, dammit.   I haven’t sat down yet because my Mom is still with us; but  I’m halfway up there as of 2007 when my Dad left us terribly, suddenly. Two of my best friends in the world – Cheryl and Martha – have a seat saved for me. Cheryl’s been sitting up there since 1999.  Martha, since last year.

I’ll be in great company, but I’m really not ready to move up to the Head Table yet. Those Fates though, they don’t deign to ask whether or not you’re ready to sit up there. And if I had to guess, I would say that NO ONE is ever ready for a seat at this particular table.  The view is probably lovely up there – friends, family etc. The love, palpable. But it seems a lonely place, regardless of the company you’re in. And, taking your seat up there acknowledges that you are, in point of fact, now an orphan.

So, as I meander towards my new assigned seating (which I FERVENTLY hope I will not have to sit in for a few years yet) I find myself asking the questions:  Am I happy? What makes me happy? Do I matter? Selfish questions, but at my age I’ve paid enough dues in life to ask such selfish questions. I also ask unselfish ones:  Have I made a difference to someone, helped someone, been a good parent?  (Don’t ask my girls that until I’ve had a chance to bribe them) Hahaha! ;). And finally: What do I want to do with the next 30+ years of my life?  I’ve certainly discovered a passion for writing and photography in the last year or so. I would like to build on that if I can.

What questions will you be asking yourself as you approach The Head Table? Or, what are you thinking about as you sit there?  Inquiring Minds…. etc.