Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Blame for What's Wrong With America

Read carefully the following words. All of these comments were made within the last few months by teenagers in a school with a mostly white student body.

If I were sitting in a room full of ____________ and didn’t know them, I would be scared.

All that is wrong with our country right now can be blamed on ______________.

I was sitting in class, and they were talking about some awful part of our history and someone asked, “And whose fault is this?” Everyone answered, __________________. I was practically the only _________________ in the class. I felt so uncomfortable and awkward.

__________________ have had all the privilege and the power for so long, it’s someone else’s turn. We should just eliminate all of them. Yes, the world would be a much better place if all the ____________ were gone.

Fill in the blanks with the word or group of words you think were originally used.

Did you write in the word blacks? Did you write in gays? How about Jews?

Go ahead. Reread the comments and fill in the blanks with those words. Does it scare you? Are you concerned at all at the casual communications of our youth? I hope it scares you. It should.

Now, let me tell you the actual words originally used in the comments.

If I were sitting in a room full of straight, white males and didn’t know them, I would be scared.

All that is wrong with our country right now can be blamed on the straight white male.

I was sitting in class, and they were talking about some awful part of our history and someone asked, “And whose fault is this?” Everyone answered, the straight, white male. I was practically the only straight, white male in the class. I felt so uncomfortable and awkward.

Straight, white men have had all the privilege and the power for so long, it’s someone else’s turn. We should just eliminate all of them. Yes, the world would be a much better place if all the straight, white men were gone.

That last comment was said in jest, but I’m not sure it matters. Or maybe it does. Maybe the fact that we can casually joke about exterminating an entire race-based gender should matter a lot more than it does. Maybe that’s the problem.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How to Love Your Life

You know that friend you have who, when you ask her how things are going, spews all over you? I mean, that’s what friends are for, right? And if I didn’t want to know, I shouldn’t have asked. I’m all for love and support, but I gotta tell you about another kind of friend.

I am blessed to meet up with my friend Lori about two or three times a year. There comes a point during every one of our catch-up conversations where she looks me in the eye, displays a giggly grin and says, “Man, I love my life.”

She’s also tall and trim and beautiful and smart and funny. But don’t start hating her. Her life is not perfect.

If you knew her, you might be tempted to say...but she has a great husband. No wonder she’s happy. She has great kids (eight of them, I might add). She has a beautiful home. She never has to worry about finances. She doesn’t deal with disease. She doesn’t have the problems the rest of us have.

My answer to that---BULLSHIT!  (By the way, she has this terrible habit that is one of my favorite things about her. Let’s just say the swear word jar in her house is for the parents.)

She has a great husband because she married a great guy. In other words, she chose judiciously. Their marriage isn’t perfect. No one’s is. But they work on it. Sometimes together, sometimes individually.

She has great kids because she constantly reflects and seeks out better ways to parent. She struggles. They struggle. She tries and fails and tries again--just like every other parent. More than once have we mused on how we’ve scarred our kids--not on purpose, but because every parent does.

She has a beautiful home because they worked and saved and prayed for it. Then created it.

She doesn’t worry about finances? Ha! She has eight kids, remember? And we all deal with disease and illness and health...and death. And so has she.

So how is it that she never fails so exclaim, “Man, I love my life”?

Consider this. What if “I love my life” didn’t meant what we think it means? What if it didn’t mean I enjoy my life? Or my life is perfect? Or I have no stress?

What if we thought of love as an action verb? What if we “loved” our lives the way we love our pets or our children? To love another is to care for it, right? What if “I love my  life” meant

I seek out peace.
I’m open minded and humble enough to learn how to be a better parent or person.
I reject harmful people and substances and places and activities.
I actively seek out nourishing people and substances and places and activities.
I practice gratitude.

What if loving our lives meant taking care of our lives?

I wonder what would happen if we started all our catch-up conversations with “I love my life”? I wonder what would happen if we started every day that way?

Lori creates a life she loves because she cares enough about her life to nourish it. Even in turmoil and tragedy, she chooses to love her life. Love is a choice, and life is a series of choices.

Choose judiciously. Choose love.