Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fables - an important part of growing up

Fables may not be the word I should be using here. Those who follow Christian tradition would probably be more apt to use the word parable. But whatever word you want to use, there are stories, very important short stories that parents need to go back to reading to their children.

Start with Aesop. He? She? was an incredibly wise person. They told stories of basic morality. Those stories made such an impact that they are still passed down from generation to generation. These fables included children, everyday workers, rich people, animals and a variety of mythological creatures. The short tales taught lessons about trust, foolishness, financial responsibility and respect.

In raising my children, the most prominent of Aesop's fables in my house was "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". One of my children had a habit of telling tall tales of their own imaginings. However, these stories were things that could have happened in real life to them and/or the people around them. More than once I was ready to jump to the defense, to call out someone for having done something bad or to reward the child for an accomplishment only to have them speak up in the last mintue to tell me that it was not true. Any time the child did this I told the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf and explained that someday they could end up in a genuinely dangerous situation and no one would believe them. The child could end up injured, unjustly punished, or accepting praise meant for someone else. Sometimes I would pair the fable with the morality poem my parents had taught me; "Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to decieve." This was to teach the child that once the first lie is told then another and another and another need to be created to keep the ruse going. Sooner or later we trip-up in the stories we have fabricated and call ourselves out.

Today it is so apparent that many adults raising children have not only forgotten these morality tales but they are definitely not teaching them to those children. In an era of anonymous electronic communication, children have far too many opportunities to deceive themselves, their families, their friends and total strangers. This deception is proving detrimental in so many ways.

Recently I, an a number of other people, experienced an exceptionally heinous game of "wolf crying". In this round a "teenager" successfully convinced strangers on the web that they are someone they are not and were trying to help a "friend" who was experiencing trauma due to sexual abuse.  By the time it was over, I believe this was someone who was incredibly starved for attention. One has to have enough empty free time to become bored enough to begin even considering such a scheme. If there were real life people interacting with them, they surely would not give something like this a second thought.

Fortunately in the situation, the person fabricating this hoax began to trip over their lies. They also had not not counted on the people they were playing getting suspicious enough to contact newspapers, hospitals, childre protection agencies and law enforcement.  The perpetrator became careless about details. Again, people who had been duped discovered photos of both the perpetrator and their "abused friend" were stock photos of random teens taken anywhere between 2003 and 2007.  As the ruse began to unravel they ran for cover, shutting down Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. They have not resurfaced using the identities of this scheme.

 Now here are the morals of these stories. First, this kind of behavior starts as soon as a child is old enough to understand "No". Parents must teach children that lying is a very bad thing. They also need to be taught respect and compassion from the very beginning. Next, young people have unsupervised access to the internet. It's a crazy place out there full of all kinds of crazy people who can tell bigger and better lies than a child. Kids are in danger on the net.

Here's a spot for another old story moral..."idle hands are the devil's playthings". Where this train really gets derailed is the damage these schemes do to children who are truly in danger and in need of help. With this kind of on-line behavior, people who can help become more and more skeptical about the validity of the cry for help. The child who is truly in an abusive household or being physically assaulted at school, etc. is sustaining more and more injury while the people who can take them away from it do days and days of research to find out the truth lest they respond to a hoax. We all know that if this goes too long or too far it could result in the death of a child. At that point, it is beyond too late. In the end, at best one child lies in a hospital bed fighting to live beyond grateful that someone heard the cry for help in time and believed it. Meanwhile the child who was one of many that slowed the response time walks away whistling, feeling no remorse. Will the wolf catch up to them some day? We can only hope and spread the word that parents need to pay attention. Watch and listen. Stop their kids when they find them crying "Wolf". Explain the danger they are putting themselves and others in. They may not be the only meal for the pack. They can leave weak prey unguarded to become dinner too.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Occupy Wall St - The hippies are back!

It's been an incredibly long time since I've posted to this blog.  It's not that I haven't seen things that needed faces put on them, I just didn't have time to dedicate to a good long rant.

I'll start wtih "Occupy Wall Street" as it is the thing really stirring me up right now even though I came in half-way through it.  It was the reports on Twitter the past 24 hours about police brutality that perked up my ears.  YES!  The hippies are still around.  Boy, do I remember that part of the 60's and 70's.  The whole how and why police officers earned the slur "pigs".  Lord don't I love a group of testosterone overload men who like to pick on people smaller than them, weaker than them, less armed than them.  It makes them even angrier when the people they're trying to bully don't fight back.  Yes, at Ohio State they did fight back...with small rocks.  What they got in return were bullets...Four dead in O HI O.

Will the NYPD and Homeland Security continue to overreact to people shouting and holding signs.  Will someone end up dead before it's over?  A lot of colonists gave their lives to free themselves from tyranny.  They were called patriots.  Now they're being called terrorists.

The tyranny they are fighting is not taxing without representation but taxation into poverty while their representatives let the rich get off pretty much scott-free.  Our representatives also give money to banks who turn around and continue to foreclose on the middle-class borrower.  The oil companies make outrageous profits without creating jobs or cleaning up their mess.  Our representatives continue to send jobs overseas.  Hey! You can cut taxes all you want but if Joe Q Citizen doesn't have a job, or a home, or a car, etc. there's nothing to tax.

Thomas Jefferson said "What this government will need to survive is a good revolution every generation".  Last one we had by my observations, was the early 1970's.  Since then we've allowed big business to make us think we just need more stuff...manufactured in other countries.  Somehow we went from laughing off the Jerry Falwell and the "Moral Majority" without watching the growth of these groups or the influence they were having on American politics.  America went the reverse of the hippie movement and became even more hung-up on sex.  In fact we started getting paranoid about all kinds of things, because the news told us to.

Then came 9-11, the perfect opportunity for the government, big business, network television and religious fanatics to grow that paranoia to new heights.  Put that together with the subtle culteralization changes going on with our children that was taking the fight out of them...we were putting this precious democratic republic right into the hands of the people who were hell bent on tearing it down and creating a serfdom.

Thank you protestors in NYC.  Thank you for restoring my hope in the revolutionary spirit of America.  Thank you for showing some balls and real pride in what this country was meant to be.

I will help you by speaking out.  I will help you by using my words.  I will support you by sharing your stories.  I will support you by standing up to the bullies who are trying to scare Americans into thinking that "God's got it in for us".  Listen, we've had sexually promiscous politicians all the way back to the First Continental Congress.  But you know what?  Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock and all the rest were brave men.  They built the foundation for a totally new form of government and they made it work.  It didn't matter who they were sleeping with.  It didn't even matter that none of them were "fundamentalist Christians".  God didn't give them this country, They took it.  Admittedly they screwed up by taking more of it away from the people who lived here first.  But they stood up to an empire to make a new tiny little nation.

No NYPD and Homeland Security.  These people are not terrorists so put away you biological warfare toys.  They don't have weapons of mass destruction.  They have picket signs and thermoses full of coffee.  They're Americans trying to reclaim America...for Americans.  They're not Taliban or other religious extremists.  In fact I'll bet half of them are agnostics or atheists.  Please don't ruin the reputation you earned on 9-11 for being life savers and peace keepers.  Don't earn the PD that horrible nickname again.  We have the freedom to assemble peacefully.  We have the right to speak out against our government.  Bush tried to take those rights away.  We taking them back.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I used to be a Christian

Over the past two years I have drifted (run) away from my Christian roots as the religious sect has become more paranoid, bigoted, hateful and deceitful.  Although mainstream Protestantism may still exist, they've allowed their voices to be lost amidst child molesting Catholics, thieving fundies and lost sheep Baptists. 

Honestly though, this situation is really only making headlines over the past few years with the fundies trying to take over the Republican party along with the fight for equal rights by the LGBT community.  However, this goes back at least 30 years.  I had my first run-ins with people telling me I was going to hell in my early 20's.  It still surprises me that I became one of those people for two years and spent the next thirteen recovering from all that hatred. 

This morning it dawned on me that "christians' are succeeding in their hate-mongering, fear distribution and dumbing down of this country with two simple tactics.  The first is ramping up fear.  "God's gonna get America if it doesn't...", "Everyone else is out to get us because God sent them after us", etc.  The other game is playing the pity card.  The fundies are oppressed and picked on.  They get members by making them feel bad.  Sadly humans are big enough suckers that it works.

Yesterday good ole Pat Robertson again played the "The nation will fall because we've made God angry" card in his remarks about NY passing the marriage equality bill.  However, this time as I listened to the nonsense spilling out of old Pat, I realized that he is a mere hare's breath away from falling into cahoots with Fred Phelps.  Yep, Robertson hates fags and thinks that Americans recognizing that gays, lesbians, bi's and trans folks have the same inalienable rights as straight people will bring the demise of this nation.  With Pat having more money and a bigger platform (television) than Freddie-boy, this does not bode well for a country that has been lulled into fear, entitlement, sloth and isolationism.  The ground is fertile for the planting and cultivation of these seeds of hate.  The fact that people like Michelle Bachman are running for the presidency is proof of how stupid Americans have allowed themselves to become (note: my definition of stupid is 'those born with a brain who CHOOSE not to use it.)

For those who really do read what Jesus said and subscribe to it..."love you neighbor...", "treat other people..." along with the whole clothing the naked, feeding the poor, doctoring the sick, etc. It is time to stand up to these fundies who are robbing and raping your religion.  Find some balls.  You know...that whole "Fear not" thing.  Remember, at the beginning of the Jesus story it says "For God so loved the world."  Apparently "he" was over all that smiting stuff and decided "he" loved you.  Me personally, I don't subscribe to any of that any more either.  My gods and goddesses are not as petty, jealous and immature.  But that's me.  But for you guys, I love you too and I don't want to see your beliefs get crushed by morons like Pat Robertson, the Phelps family, Tony Perkins, NOM and Focus On The Family.  I sure as hell don't want my civil rights peed on by religious zealots overtaking the government.  Remember, separation of church and state. 

As for New York?  Yay!! Thank you for joining my state in protecting the rights of all committed couples in your state.  Thank you for giving them more legal muscles when fighting greedy family members who swoop in to gut the estates of a gay relative they haven't spoken to in years leaving their life's partner homeless, without memorabilia of their life together, stuck in long court battles while trying to grieve.  Thank you for making it possible for kids and parents not to have to fight with schools with regards to their 'non-traditional' families.  Just thank you.

As for the other forty-four states left, it's time.  America has stagnated and moved so far backwards.  We have lost our nerve.  The hippies became bloated, arrogant, nuevo-riche.  They became THE MAN.  All of their cries for sexual freedom, community and peace have turned into greed, avarice and paranoia.  America was founded on risk-taking, innovation and adventure.  Today we no longer invent, manufacture or explore.  We either work a million service jobs to keep life and limb together or we have some "suit" job running or advertising companies that send all the work that pays enough to live on overseas.  Look at us!  We're America!  We have the best environmental protection laws!  But we're too cheap to pay for things made here in a way that doesn't destroy the environment so we send it all to China.  Really hippies?  Wake-up...move forward.  Give us power sources and transportation that doesn't kill the planet, come up with ways of providing healthcare for the community and GIVE EQUAL RIGHTS TO ALL OUR CITIZENS.