Wednesday, May 24, 2017

See Something, Say Something


I saw this sign in the subways of NYC, where I went with my family a few weeks ago.  For some reason, it stuck with me.  Maybe I felt responsible as I was guiding my family through the mazes of the subway system.  Maybe it was because it was the day after flying into JFK and hearing this being said over the loudspeaker numerous times.  Nevertheless, it stuck with me.

Later that week my mom and I were in a Starbucks when I happened to see an unattended bag.  I remembered this sign and how in the airports they tell you to report an unattended bag.  I showed it to my mom and she pointed me to two police officers nearby.  I went to them and directed them to the bag, of which another unattended bag appeared.  I told my mom let's get out of here, envisioning a horrible explosion ready to take place. As we were at the door, five men walked by us,. two holding those same bags.  The police officers had asked if those bags belonged to anyone, but I don't know what happened between that and the men leaving.  They didn't look happy though, and so as not to appear non-PC, they looked mighty suspicious to me.

I don't really know what those men were doing there, or what was in their bags.  But I knew I was in a city that has suffered the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, and I wasn't going to take any chances.  

Sometimes I feel so helpless about the war on terror.  I want to do something but all I can think of is to pray.  Not that that isn't effectual.  But in WWII, every one participated in some way.  Everyone was involved in the war effort.  Now most of us aren't.  We go about our every day lives barely noticing anymore any attacks anywhere.  Even when Manchester was hit on Monday, I didn't see anything about it until later that evening, and it had happened earlier in the day.  Why so late?  Why was there no breaking news?  Have we become so apathetic and complacent that we don't even notice anymore?  

I think we can all do our part, we can all join in the war effort.  First thing to admit is that there is a war, a war between good and evil.  A war against those who practice extremist Islamic jihad.  If we can't call it what it is, we have already lost the battle.

We have to make a stand for what's right, and against evil.  Evil that throws homosexuals off of buildings, evil that straps bombs on children, evil that closes all schools except for madrassas.  Evil that takes away a woman's identity and makes her a slave, evil that destroys all works of art, and evil that eliminates any source of joy and peace.  

This is not what I signed up for as an American.  But just waiting for the government to fix it, or just depending on our armed forces to win it, is too much for them to bear.  I may not be able to do much, but I can

SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day


I owe all that I am and hope to be to my angel mother also.  I do also feel this way about God and my dad, but yesterday was Mother's Day, and I want to thank her for that.

Last night I watched a show about how a mother advocated for her daughter, and fought for her to get whatever she needed.  Sometimes the enemy is too big, and the mother has to step in to speak for their children.  And that is what a mother is supposed to do.

My mom spoke up for me with doctors, schools, and rude parents with ruder kids. People might not have liked her for it, but a mother does that when her child is suffering and needs her help.  A mother fights for her children.  And my mom did, and still does, even to this day.  

I am thankful my mom taught me to be strong myself.  There will always be people who don't like me for what ever reason, and who will not help me with what ever I may need.  Sometimes my family and I are on our own, against a world that doesn't want people like me around.  

True, there are some good people out there, and true, I am not an easy one to deal with.  But when it come to a child with a disability, a mother has to always be ready for a fight.  And a mother has to teach her child to advocate for themselves.  She also taught me to advocate for others, to be a voice for those who have none.

She taught me that life doesn't have to be the way it is.  We can fight for right.  We can fight for justice.  Sometimes we won't get it, but unless we try, we will never know.  

Thank you Mom, for all you have done for me.  I love you.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

9-11 Museum and Memorial

My family and I finally made the journey to NYC, admonishing my father to not fall off any more tractors!  We did the usual Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Central Park, Rockefeller Square, and Times Square.  But the one place that moved me to take pictures and now to write, was the 9-11 Museum and Memorial.  Please note that I can't find info on the pictures I took, so I am going on memory.  I encourage every American to see this stirring museum themselves.  


This was the last pillar standing in the attacks.  The numbers are those who perished in each first responder departments.
                                    


These are the survivor's stairs, where hundreds of people were able to escape the towers.








 On the left is part of the TV and radio antennae from the towers.

On the right is an elevator motor from the towers.  






On the left is a marker that was made after the first WTC attack in 1993.  On the right is a set of many girders that melted and bent from the heat and the collapse.   











On the left is a window from a plane.  On the right is a fire truck that was at the scene. 








After the attacks, there were missing posters all over the city.  The right is a quote to remember those who lost their lives on this horrendous day.  "No day shall ever erase you from the memory of time,"  from Virgil. 





These are the memorial pools.  The towers fell on these very sites.  All the names of the victims engraved around the pools.  






My pictures do not do the museum justice, and these are just a few of the remnants found there.  I hope that as in the Holocaust, we will never forget.  This is my generation's Pearl Harbor, and we must never waiver from the duty to remember those who lost their lives on that fateful day.  And we must never forget.


Monday, April 24, 2017

I Believe in God


This past weekend my church started a new series that you can see in the picture about.  If you would like to watch the sermon, click on the words below the picture.  

This is a timely series as a new movie is out called, "The Case for Christ," which is based on a book by the same name, written by a once atheist journalist who came to belief.  I've read the book myself and highly recommend it.

The sermon was good as always, as I had already worked out in my mind and heart why I believe.  The pastor talked about how there seems to be a dichotomy between science and religion.  But I think both can co-exist.  I do think that evolution has a place, as we can see that animals and humans adapt to their surroundings over time and space.  But I do believe we are not evolved from animals.  The proof for me is our sense of morality and theory of mind.  Theory of mind is our conscious thinking.  We know we are thinking about our thoughts, feelings, values, etc.  Animals don't have a sense of morality, they act on instinct.  They do have thoughts and feelings, but not like we do.  It's hard for me to explain.  People might think I don't love animals because of this.  But it is my love for animals that contribute to this. It is not fair to humanize animals, expecting from them what they are not able to give us.  Yes, they are far more intelligent than we give them credit for, but as I've said, their thinking is different than ours.  They don't think about God, eternity, etc.  It is because we are higher than animals that we are commanded to take care of them and respect them.  It does not mean that we can use them for our own purposes, or to make them more human.  

But I digress.  One more pint about science.  Even if the big bang were true, what caused the big bang?  Eventually you have to admit that something or someone created the circumstances for that to happen.  Noting exists out of a vacuum.  Therefore, I believe God created the world and all that is in it.

This makes all life have value.  At the turn of the century (1900), eugenics was very popular, which was based on evolution.  Eugenics is the belief of a superior race overcoming an inferior one.  This fit nicely with the Nazi's goal of creating a pure race and eliminating what they perceived as inferior.  There is no value in individual life in this theory.  On the other hand, being created by God gives value to all people and things.  Personally, I like this as I would have no value in the eugenics theory.  My life would not matter, and if not eliminated, as least not given the chance to pass on my progeny.

Morality exists, whether we want to admit it or not.  Most of us believe that murder and abuse are wrong.  We have laws to punish those who do this.  We may disagree on other actions that may or may not be explicitly wrong, but that doesn't mean we do away with all morality. Most religions have a sense of right or wrong.  These religions form the basis of governments around the world.  Communism is anti-religious.  No one life has value.  All are for the country.  No one has rights.  No one can exercise free will.  

It is true that religion sometimes has caused harm, like in the Crusades or the Inquisition, but those are caused by people, not religion.  Religion does good.  It brought the plight of the poor, disabled, and mentally ill to the forefront.  It stopped slavery.  It brought the civil rights movement.  My point is, again, you can't throw all of something away because of the few bad people that would use anything to take power from the people.  

My beliefs have been developed over years of study.  I don't just believe what others tell me, I want to find out through research and study.  God gave me a brain, He expects me to use it.  The more I study about Him, the more I am convinced He is real.  History, science, and literature tells me so.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter


The Easter message and music was just what I needed in my miserable estate of having a flu/cold/virus.  I was coughing so much I was unable to sing, so I just sat during the worship, sucking on a cough drop and sweating profusely while having a coughing fit.  

If you click on the words below the picture above, you can watch the sermon as well.  Along with that are discussion questions that i thought would share with you how I would answer them.

They asked about my hope.  I thought to myself, I don't just have hope, I know Jesus is real, and He lives!  That is what I hang my hopes on, for nothing else is as perfect as His love for me.  True, I have family and friends and pets that love me, but we are all human, we all hurt each other from time to time, and it is really not fair to totally depend on a human or thing for everything.  I made that mistake with Chocolate.  

I do believe I have been transformed by Jesus.  I know sometimes I don't show it, which I regret.  But I know in my heart and mind and soul, that I have peace, real peace, that comes from knowing Him.  Not only that, I have true contentment that I am blessed, and I have a good life.  It is not perfect, no life is, we all have problems.  But I know I am not alone, ever,  He is with me always.

Finally, they asked about relationships.  My relationship with God is, I think, growing deeper each day, as I read His word and pray.  I must confess I still get depressed and anxious.  Living with a mental illness, like a disability, is something you never get rid of.  You just learn to live with it, like whatever weaknesses a person may have.  Through that,  I can believe that God can bring something good out of it, which He has, like my writing, and my support group.  My relationships with others tend to fluctuate over time.  When I was away at college, I had a great group of friends that I still keep in contact with to this day.  Now I am home, and my friends are married with dependents, I have my family that I am close to.  So I think God has always provided me with others that I can talk to, have fun with, and help when needed.  

So there is my hope.  And in retrospect, I can see that following Christ has been the best thing for me.  I have hope, I have peace, and I have love.  What more do I need?  The rest is just gravy!

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Zookeeper's Wife


I just finished reading this excellent book, and the movie is now out in theaters, although I will probably not see it as it involves animals dying, which always sends me over the edge emotionally.  

It is a true story of a zoo keeping family in Warsaw, Poland that helped the Underground and hid Jews during WWII.  I had read a book a few weeks back about what happened to the Poles during WWII, and now I have read this.  Before these books, I had no idea of what happened in Poland, except for the Nazis' taking all the Jews from the Ghetto in Warsaw.  I wondered why I have not heard of these things until now.  I never realized the whole impact of WWII upon the European populace.  I suppose no one, but God, will ever fully know the impact.

The Nazis seemed to have an obsession with not only creating a pure race, but also a pure world, with nature and animals included.  At least what they considered pure.  So when they came to the zoo, they took the breeds they wanted to breed to its original state, and killed the rest of the animals.  

They came in and changed the floral and fauna, desiring to turn Poland into a pure German/Aryan country.  Thus, not only were Jews carted off to the camps and crematoriums, all the intelligentsia and political figures were killed.  They came in and destroyed Warsaw, obliterating it to ruins.  

Why did they hate the Poles so?  From what I can gather, and I may be wrong, Germany had considered the land Poland was on German, and it was right between Germany and Russia.  The Nazis had intention to invade Russia all along, but they had to take over Poland.  Russia wanted Poland too, so they agreed to divvy up Poland between the two parties, until Germany reneged on the deal.  I am surprised that Russia was stupid enough to trust Germany, considering they were just as ruthless.  

The Polish Underground was the greatest one in Europe, well organized and well managed.  They helped each other out, hiding Jews from one place to another.  They left animals at the zoo, know the family would care for their pets.  The Poles helped the Jews transform their appearance so they wouldn't look Jewish, but German, or at least Polish, coloring hair, teaching mannerisms, even cosmetic surgery.  

I guess Germany was mad that they lost so miserably after WWI that they wanted to punish the world.  Not all of Germany, of course, but when the Nazis came into power, they were  a murderous mob bent on destruction.  It is amazing to me how people can hate others so much that they indiscriminately kill, maim, or destroy.  

I can see why they have the EU.  They just don't want to go through that again.  And yet, there is a rise in neo-Nazism and antisemitism in Europe.  I don't get that.  Every where you go there is a museum about WWII and what happened.  Why would they want to go through that again?  Why would they deny something that is so obvious?  Are these people so brainwashed like in a cult that they just can't see what is in front of them?  It boggles the mind.

I don't suppose these questions can be easily answered, as we see this type of systemic destructive thinking and behavior all over the world, from gangs and cults, terrorists and extremists.  These systems give individuals a sense of power that they think they don't have.  And their solution is violence.  


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

To Walk Invisible


This past Sunday the PBS TV channel broadcasted this movie about the Bronte sisters.  I didn't know much about them, but that one wrote Jane Eyre, one of my most favorite novels, and another sister who wrote Wuthering Heights, which I did not like so much.

The three sisters never married, and lived at home with their reverend father and alcoholic brother.  The brother tried to make it as a writer but failed.  The sisters, ever mindful of their brother, used gender neutral nom de plumes partly not to upset their brother, but also partly because they lived in a place and time where women generally were not encouraged to work, and publishers didn't believe they could write.

My favorite sister is Charlotte, the short one, who wrote Jane Eyre.  She was a feisty and independent spirit, who expected a lot of herself and others.  She knew full well what people thought of her, short and homely and not capable of not much of anything, but her book was the most successful of all the sisters, and is still widely read today.  

She reminded me of me.  I think when people look at me and listen to me, they don't think much.  But I know I am capable of so much more than they think.  I may not have a book widely published, but I do have a Master's degree, and I still write, even though I will probably not ever be famous.  Even so, I still have a voice, and still plan to use it, like these sisters.