Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Response to Freespeaker

I wanted to respond to the friend who replied to yesterday's outburst, but apparently I am not allowed to use over 4,096 words in a reply. So, here is the complete reply to Freespeaker who was hurt by my outburst.

Dear Freespeaker,

I would love to know who you are in real life so I could respond personally to your concerns. But, I will respond here instead.

Yes, there are two sides. In this particular environment, there is the side of hate, xenophobia and greed, of disdain for the poor, gays, women and the social safety net we have in place. Then there is the side of compassion, of inclusion, of shared success, of equal opportunity for all. I choose, in my life and in this election the side of collaboration. I choose in my life the side of fact based arguments. I choose in my life the side of education. I choose in my life the side of COMPASSION AND TRUTH.

And while I choose all these, I cannot make others come to the table willing to speak with love and compassion. I can't negotiate with people who don't have the understanding that their fervent belief in something doesn't actually make it fact; there's science for that.

My truth is this: I am no longer willing to let myself be used or abused in order that other people may say, "I have gay friends." Bottom line, one doesn't get to BE my friend if one is not driven by compassion for all people, all the time. I will not allow myself to be constantly referred to as a friend by someone who votes against my civil rights as a human being. Friends don't encourage or allow their friends to be bullied into suicide. Friends don't allow their friends to be spoken of derogatorily or as the butt of a joke. No. True friends go to the mat to protect. True friends stand up to bullies. True friends defend with their dying breath their friend's value and worth.

I am honored to be called "friend" by a very diverse population of people: some of them Republican. These people are fighting the pretend Republicans every day to get their party back: the party of Ike, the party of Lincoln. The Republicans I embrace as friends are heartbroken at the treatment of minorities (all of us: women, gays, the disability community, people of color, etc) by the present leadership. My Republican friends are furious at the behavior of the House and Senate members who made it their primary goal to keep Obama as a one term President and so block every idea, even when it started out as their own. My Republican friends wouldn't "like" a chair lynched to represent lynching the President. My Republican friends wouldn't "like" the candidates who are so disconnected from reality that they think a raped woman can't get pregnant. My Republican friends wouldn't "like" a candidate who repeatedly lied and switched positions on issues EXCEPT marriage equality and gays having children. My Republican friends want to keep religion out of government. MY REPUBLICAN friends believe in the republic of the UNITED states. And so do I.

You might wonder what makes my Republican friends different than me. Well a lot, actually. I believe big government can be a source for good. They would like less regulation in business. (They do believe in SOME regulation however.) My GOP friends think we need better defense spending,(not me!) but they don't think we should sacrifice the health and education of all our citizens to pay for unneeded weapon systems that were outdated decades or centuries ago...there are a lot of differences.

However, while we disagree on a bunch of issues, we never disagree on human rights, or that free speech ends where hate speech begins, or that we need a safety net for the elderly or poor or disabled; nor do we disagree on fact based arguments starting with Science and making sure the separation of church and state is itself sacred. In short, we believe in the same AMERICAN values that brought us this far and were only sent wildly careening off the edge of a cliff when a group of 9 people stole an election and then that President's Vice President started running the country for big oil and the companies who make money off war. And then, 8 years later, a black man had the temerity to run for President. That is when this country started its sharp dive into the fanaticism and hate of the TeaParty and the religious right trying to make a theocracy out of our Republic.

The America I grew up in, was aspirational. We sucked at equal rights, but we knew they were the right direction. We sucked at equality for women, but we knew that it was the right thing to do. We knew prayer was fine where ever you wanted to do it, but you couldn't push it on others, especially at school or the office. We had bad music, and riots and Vietnam and Grenada and a guy with Alzheimer's in the White House. But we also believed in helping a stranger up from the sidewalk. We believed in picking up trash off the side of the road. We believed in inviting the "huddled masses yearning to be free" to come to America. We believed in providing a good education to every child in our country. We believed in taking care of our elderly with Medicare and our most desperately ill through Medicaid. We believed a lot of things that made our country one of the best experiments in democracy ever attempted in world history.

I want THAT America back. I want that compassion back. I want that ASPIRATION, NOT the selfish, ideological, exclusionary social Darwinism the TeaParty and so called Christians are espousing to be the driver of our policy.

So, yeah. If, when describing the Tea Party or the right wing Christian Theocrats, I have included your ideology and mindset then .. I don't need friends like that. I need people who will work together with me to make this country the best of our imagination, not the worst of our fears.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Everyone has a breaking point, Today I hit mine

Everyone has a breaking point, today I hit mine and rather than post it on my Facebook page, I will rant and post it here. I have no idea if you are a Republican or a Democrat, but if you are going to try to be my friend, I need to know you support me. And I won't know that if you are constantly saying "i love you" while you continually beat the living crap out of me with your votes against equal rights and in favor of removing the social safety net I have lived within for the last several years. Somehow, getting beaten up while being told you love me strikes me as abusive. And frankly, I'm done with abusive relationships.

ATTENTION: I have officially hit my saturation point. Yep, someone finally put me over the edge when it comes to the ideological right wing teapublicans who are desperately trying to ruin America, one vote at a time. I've had it. You want to support Romney, fine. GET THE FUCK OFF MY PAGE. I'm done with you. I am sick to death of people being puppets of Fox News and Karl Rove and an empty hat called Romney.

It's this way. I am not stopping you from feeling any way you want, but keep it the hell away from me. These people and, in supporting them, you want me not to exist.  Well, I'm not going anywhere. Damn it this is my fucking country and I refuse to let you make it into some bastardized version of Christian Ideology's Taliban. It's MINE damn it. And even if you didn't let me join the fucking military, I still love it and I wanted to. Where the hell was your precious Mitt? Running away, that's where.

Fuck you people. I am tired of being the reasonable one, the one who is calm in the face of unbelievable stupidity, especially on the part of people who vote consistently against their own best interests. I'M YELLING AT YOU, YOU IDIOTS OF THE LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS - THE MOST SELF-LOATHING GROUP EVER ASSEMBLED UNDER ONE BANNER.

And I'm yelling at you, you idiot red-staters who receive more federal and state aid than any blue state, eschewing education not because you think it's elitist, but because some jackass in a suit told you that's what Jesus would do. Well, you morons, you wouldn't know Jesus if he sat in your church, you know why? Cause he'd be a left wing socialist: healing people for free, and feeding them for free and making sure everyone was clothed.

So, if you want to support the tea party and vote for Romney, well you all go ahead. I'm done with you. UNFRIEND ME NOW. No amount of reason, or calm or patience has worked and you all have finally hit my last nerve. GET out of my friends list, get out of my life, because you are not my friends, not if you support people and ideas that would rather me not exist and would happily remove my life line for the last 10 years. Get out of my life if your tax breaks are more important than my civil rights. Get out if you hate black people more than you love me. JUST GET THE FUCK OUT.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Will Not Stand Idly By

Hello, I was going to write a blog about my mom yesterday to celebrate her birthday, but I couldn't come up with a picture and then something happened to remind me of something I still remember that she taught me before she died when she was 29 years old (and I had not turned 6.) So, in honor of her and until I can get a live feed from my facebook and twitter accounts, I am going to take today to discuss a comment I made on Facebook yesterday evening. I will try to give you a context so you can understand where the response comes from and so you, too, can comment.

The following video was posted by my friend and colleague from Maine, Ginger Roberts:

Video: boy filmed while being bullied speaks to news crew - about bullying

Go ahead, watch the video. It doesn't take long. So a friend of Ginger's responded, "People are so cruel. I don't understand why. I just don't."

Here's my response, not to the video, but to the person who doesn't understand WHY this happens. I know exactly why... and I bet you do, too.  But the following is how I reacted.

[this happens] "because their parents and our culture tells them it's ok to bully. Our governments bully. we say, "toughen up, grow a pair" whatever, we tell anyone different they are not ok. OUR entire culture is set up to humiliate the weaker, less attractive, less athletic... and we are taught from day one via tv and schools and churches that it is ok. each of us needs to take a stand. stop it when we see it, not watch it as it happens and say poor kid... grown ups need to step into the fray and stop kids hurting other kids, no matter who the kids belong to... and we need to hold our politicians accountable... when they treat one class of citizens better, or differently that speaks a message loud and clear."

Frankly, the woman who responded that she "didn't know why" is of greater concern to me than the bullies or the newspeople who watched it happen. It is the belief that we don't know why it happens or that we don't know how to stop it that seems most likely to immobilize us and keep us from acting.  My first response is not "why?" My first response is, "is this behavior ok, for any reason, EVER?" Bullying is never ok. How we respond decides whether we are complicit in the bullying, and by not intefering, by not protecting the bullied person (child, disabled person, fat person, short person, unathletic person, geek, nerd or any other permutation of human, or animal which is in the line of fire) then we are culpable. We are responsible for the injury. There is a lovely quote beside the altar in a church in Springfield, Missouri which I first encountered (I think) in Night by Elie Wiesel, "Thou shalt not stand idly by."

I will not stand idly by and watch a bully. I will not stand idly by and watch cruelty to others. I will not stand idly by and watch my world fall to people who would destroy all I love. I will not stand idly by and stay quiet when hundreds of thousands of people are injured every year through medical error or hospital acquired infections or complications. I will not stand idly by while theologically challenged fanatics try to keep me from my human rights. I will not stand idly by ... 

What will you not stand idly by to watch? What is important enough for you to "get involved?"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Interpretation is always personal

This morning on Facebook, Maya Angelou


posted the following:

"I’ve had people explain to me what one of my poems meant, and I’ve been surprised that it means that to them. If a person can use a poem of mine to interpret her life or his life, good. I can’t control that. Nor would I want to."

It got me to thinking about my own poetry, (and other writing)  and so this is what I wrote on FB: 

"It is mine until someone else reads it and finds their own meaning. I am always stunned to see the layers so many come up with... and pleased. My job, as I see it is not to tell a static story, but to offer a place where the reader can see a path, and find herself walking it with me, but see the things along the way that I don't see. We all look through different lenses of our own making. I am always interested to see what I "missed" and what they "found.""

In order to illustrate this, I am posting a poem I wrote many years ago (2 Lives, Kaitlyn Bragdon-Roe, Enigma Press, 1998.) I would love your feedback. What, if anything, does it mean to you? Later, I will explicate it from my point of view. But I really want your "interpretation" before I offer up my original "idea."

So, there ya go. A very old poem. I would love to hear your feedback and tell me how YOU interpret it. I look forward to hearing from you. And by the way, the person who made it possible to see this poem at all is Carolyn Capern from . Check it out... she was amazingly helpful to a new friend who is seriously technically challenged when it comes to getting a picture of a Word document.

Cheers, Y'all. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Embrace Yourself

So over the weekend I attended a conference called Partnership WITH Patients in Kansas City, Missouri. It focused on Patient Advocacy and how to make a better impact through social media: ok, well maybe that isn't what the original goal was, but the Unconference on the second day  Health Camp Kansas City offered an opportunity to attend a breakout session with Rev. Kate Knodel on Power and Empowering and I chose, through some cajoling, to start writing again. So I am. Up until this morning though I was frustrated by exhaustion and the frenetic energy I was expending to "catch up" afterward. And I didn't see a chance to start a new blog until I found a point of purpose as I kept seeing this woman's photograph and the conversations around her, her faith, and our culture's "acceptable" norms on Facebook.

Here is a picture of a woman posted on Reddit for the sole purpose of being "funny."

Here is a link to the Jezebel Article including a response by the woman who is pictured and the photographer who tried to earn cheap points via Reddit.

The woman in the photograph, Balpreet Kaur, a baptized Sikh, embraces her physical being because of her faith. And I think that is great. I believe wholeheartedly in religious freedom and encouraging others to find strength where they will. But I have trouble with the idea of embracing oneself ONLY because of an outside tenet or rule.

Here's what I said on FaceBook today.

Everyone has likely seen this by now, but I thought I would add my two cents. I admire the woman for embracing herself because of her faith. However, there are those of us who look different and embrace ourselves (and others) for no other reason than it is who we are. I don't need an external rule telling me to love my body. I really just want everyone else to stop deciding what anyone else "SHOULD" look like. Maybe we could suspend judgement of others based on looks. Maybe we could let go of our preconceived notions of beauty and spend time getting to know people personally. And maybe we could just love for no reason other than we are creatures who share this planet and love makes it easier. 
So let's start a conversation here and/or on my Facebook page about embracing each other for no reason at all. Except, of course, love is a good thing and we should do it as much as possible. Discuss.