Posts from the ‘Entertaining’ Category

Responsibility in the Blogosphere | Ethics

www.snopes.com

http://www.snopes.com (Photo credit: biggraham)

Recently, I came across a blog that quoted and commented on an article that has been widely circulated, mostly in email, but is full of misinformation.  I know bloggers aren’t professional journalists and do not belong to any ethical society.  However, discovering that a blogger may not realize the power of their words available online disappointed me.  That at least one reader questioned the report’s validity pleased me, though.  In my comment, I provided a link to the Snopes article referring to the report.

Snopes is one of a few online resources known to research without bias whether a reported fact is indeed the truth.   Most often, such services focus on the distribution of emails and the online publication of materials that are distributed en mass and have the ability to significantly sway person’s opinions and therefore behavior.  Sadly, when it comes to some very important matters such as the interpretation of research statistics, language, and literary work, the complexity of the necessary investigation and of the detail needed to accurately present results is far too involved for a service like Snopes to undertake.   In fact, often times, such is the topic of countless volumes and only the most dedicated and discerning reader can come close to an accurate assessment of the truth in what s/he is examining.

I respected the blog reader’s willingness to read what others write with a spirit of discernment.  Hopefully she does the same with what she hears.  If we are to be seekers, ministers and bearers of Truth, one important ingredient is doubt.  We are not to doubt the Truth, but rather what is presented to us as Truth until we can discern validity to the best of our ability through careful consideration of the motives of majority opinion, well-rounded study, dialogue with experts in their field, reasoned argument, and earnest prayer. God gave us brains and the Spirit to guide us for a reason.  Even well-intentioned persons are capable of great folly, whether by accident, lack of discipline in spiritual stewardship, or the misguided ignorance of spiritual immaturity.  We all have room to grow and we can best do so by exercising the “muscle” of our brain and practicing virtues for the development of our souls.

Aside from personal responsibility in such situations, I’ve been wondering as blogging becomes more popular, what if any measures should be in place to encourage accuracy in the report of “facts”?  How can we do so without infringing upon free speech?  Who would be responsible for regulating such?  I think we can all recognize the difference between slant versus lie.  Even if one source says, “General Smith strode to the mic,” another says, “walked to”, and a third says, “ambled up to,” they all agree on the fact that the General moved towards (apparently on his feet) and arrived at a specific microphone.  Mass dissemination of misinformation has the potential to create or prevent change in ways that have significant negative impact.  What responsibility do I have to help prevent such?

If you enjoyed this article, consider reading the following related post on this blog,  On Blind Faith.  Your comments on one or both are greatly appreciated.

Doing Away with Welfare Rodents – perspective

This article was originally published July 6th of 2011 and is being republished as a foundation for an upcoming article. The illustration is a recent addition, a stock photo image combining photography and clip art to which I added the words then blended the coloring. Enjoy the article. Please share your opinions and be a part of the solution…

Have you heard that term, “welfare rodents”? It’s the most derogatory term I’ve heard to describe those, especially children, reliant on welfare. I heard someone mumble it as I walked with the two foster kids, for whom I help care, to our seats for the fireworks display last night. It implies such people are like rats – dirty, sneaky, robbing food, spreading disease, worthy of nothing more than laboratory experiments. Some express the same sentiment more subtly like 1996 Kansas House guest minister Rev. Joe Wright, who in the prayer to open the session (since referred to as The Prayer of Repentance and actually written by Rev. Bob Russel), stated  “We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.” I do empathize to a degree with the prayer’s sentiment; I agree there are people who abuse the welfare system. However, as stated, his words imply that all on welfare are lazy. This is not a new or infrequently held attitude. In fact, as the numbers on welfare rise due to our recent financial crisis, this espoused opinion reverberates far and wide. The foster kids are of course on welfare, but I won’t discuss them any further here. I, too, currently am on welfare. I can’t be sure whether the person who mumbled the term was referring to any of us, but it has given rise to things I’ve been wanting to say and haven’t yet. I am disabled, but I am not my disability. I am unemployed, but I am not lazy. I have tried repeatedly to work, even since first being on disability, and not only failed, but endangered my health even more by trying to do so. Some are forgiving of the disabled or displaced children on welfare, but reject the notion that others need it. In general, I disagree with this perspective. I could sit back and quietly accept that at least they’re not picking on me, but it’s just not in my nature.

I once had a personal care attendant who assisted me for over a year and also relied on welfare to a degree. She was an honest, hard-working, God-loving woman with three very sweet boys, aged 11, 7 and 3. Her first husband abandoned her and her first son, providing no support. Her second husband worked a 36 hour split-shift in Dietary at a hospital. I won’t give you a full run-down of their expenses, but they were not frivolous in their spending. They simply could not make ends meet. She was only able to get 15 hours per week of work at just above minimum wage. She had been able to get more hours before her car broke down. Then, at one point, when she tried to fix a sliding closet door, she accidentally deeply cut and broke her foot. Can you believe she was forced to wait four hours for a couple friends to assist her home because she had no money to pay for crutches and the hospital would not loan them to her. When she informed her welfare case worker by phone that she would be off work by order of the doctor for at least three weeks, her worker’s response was only that she needed to provide a copy of a doctor’s note when she was released to work again and written verification of her wage and hours upon return. Two weeks later, due to receive her foodstamps for her kids, she got a letter that not only had her benefits not been increased (as one might have reasonably expected they would), but all assistance of any kind (including her kids’, one of whom has a heart condition, medical coverage) was cancelled because she had not provided written verification of her change in work status. It took 6 weeks for benefits to be reestablished, during which time she accrued an emergency room bill for her son and one for herself due to diabetic complications from an infection of her wounded foot.

Recently, she made the difficult decision to use money she saved up to go back to school for training in a related field she hopes will require less travel and give her better employment opportunity. However she had to limit the days she was available to work because she couldn’t handle working on the four days she went to school and needed to do homework. Now, her agency has told her they can’t accommodate her restricted time available and she has been without any hours for 3 weeks. She is diabetic but now can’t afford even emergency medication she does not qualify for medical coverage except as related to a pregnancy. After having to move due to her landlord’s failures to address poor living conditions resulted in her home being “condemned”, her kids’ new public schools were “fining” her daily because she couldn’t afford their required uniforms for the last month of school. She is being hounded by the hospital for payment on her bills, washes the family’s clothes in the bathtub, sold her furniture except for her kids’ beds, and is now without any phone line (despite hers nd her son’s medical conditions). She survives on will-power, grace, faith, and a strong commitment to the future of her children. Yes, she’s still alive, but can we call this “living”?

As for myself, even with the assistance of welfare, not all of my medications or medical treatments are covered and after paying shelter costs, I have only $250 per month for all other expenses combined. If I did not have federally and state-funded medical coverage at all, just my medications alone would cost over $2000/month. Unable to afford that, my conditions would deteriorate quickly, bringing me to a pre-mature death, perhaps first briefly forcing me into an institution if such were publicly funded. Is there another way? Sure; if we could all count on each other to support the weakest and most in need members of society without the need for a regulated system, we could indeed do away with welfare. However, we do have this system currently and when I did work, I paid into the system that now supports me and have moved past my initial shame in having to rely upon it. I’m sure I have by now drawn from it more than I put in, but believe me, if I could earn a wage, I would. Even of my meager income, I give charitably. Yet, I wish I could give more. And I contribute to society as best I can, helping to raise foster kids, for example and sharing my experience, strength and hope for the benefit of others. So, I wish people would quit trying to eliminate the system or bash people using it, but instead, listen to the people who know how it works first hand (those who administer it and those using it). We need to address the gaps and barriers in the system for the welfare of individuals and our society as a whole. It is a shame that those most in need of advocacy are often least able for health or financial reasons to advocate for themselves. So, I ask you, my readers who are capable, will you please be someone I can count on to support my wanting to be and do the best I can? Will you please join me in  promoting cooperative efforts and a positive outlook? Will you please quit looking for who or what to blame — or simply looking the other way — and look, instead for solutions?!

On Blind Faith

A Break in the Flurries: Blind No More

Whether one hold to a religious faith or not, most are familiar with the phrase “on blind faith”.  Some are absolute proponents of the necessity in some circumstances of believing in something without proof.  Some will believe nothing without proof.  I believe there is a middle ground.  Personally, I am a very spiritual person, so I’ll make no apologies for my belief in a Higher Power, but I won’t tell any one else what to believe or that they should.  I mean instead to remind everyone that whether by divine creation or a pure evolution without a firmly known origin, we have a brain and ought to use it.  I’m simultaneously annoyed by, amused by, frightened for, and disappointed in those who trust completely in the words of another without exploring or examining an issue for themselves – “the followers”.  Most often such feelings wash over me in reference to those led by charismatic, self-identified religious leaders, but I’ve experienced the same even in looking over comments on blogs and social sites.  I could write a whole separate article on such “leaders”, but I’ll refrain for the moment except tp say one thing.  Ignorance masquerading as intelligence is a dangerously contagious virus.  I believe followers sometimes just don’t know where to turn for or how to access information, but often times I think followers are simply afraid to take on the responsibility of making decisions for themselves because they must accept that they are then fully responsible for the consequences of those decisions and the actions or inaction that results.

Sometimes we must weigh all the factors and make very difficult choices.  THose choices are our own and we owe no one an explanation or an apology.  If you have any faith in a Higher Power, in “salvation”…a belief that involves seeking enlightenment…a basic belief that you are meant to grow and change…even a belief that you are a meant to be an active participant in the evolution of the human race, then you know that ultimately, YOU AND NO ONE ELSE is responsible for YOU.  Only YOU know what YOUR heart is telling YOU, and only YOU have lived YOUR life and intimately know YOU.  NO OTHER PERSON know YOU better than YOU.  So, what will YOU choose?  Will YOU choose what is true? what is best for YOU? what YOU know is right? what YOU have discovered for YOURSELF?  Or will YOU believe simply what someone else tells you they believe.  Choose to believe what you will, but remember that beliefs aren’t necessarily facts, no matter how assertively or intelligently they are declared.  If YOU choose to not investigate or think for YOURSELF, YOU are still making a choice and YOU are responsible for that choice.  Similarly, be prepared to know that YOUR words have the power to lead others astray if such persons are ignorant of how to access resources for their own investigation or are lacking in the mental capacity to make reasoned decisions.

Downshifting from Overdrive: Accepting Myself

On most days, my appearance would give you no clue that I struggle with my physical and mental health.

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Occasionally, though, I can't hide my biology's battle against me.

Does anyone remember how in the “way back days” (a boy who I once had guardianship of used this to refer to my younger days), even in an automatic car, you drove in Drive sometimes and in Overdrive sometimes? The two weren’t synonymous. Well, no matter, I’m sure you can fathom what I mean. I keep trying to live my life in Overdrive with the Parking Break on. I don’t mean to. I don’t want to. I want to drive, but my health keeps applying the parking break, because I’ve been unwilling to downshift. I’ve been afraid. I’ve been thinking that if I downshifted, I’d be in Neutral and that wasn’t acceptable. You get pushed in Neutral. You get towed away in Neutral. Sometimes in Overdrive with the pedal to the metal and going nowhere because the Parking Break is on, I’ve thought shifting into Reverse was going to help me somehow, like when you rock a car to get yourself unstuck from an icy, three-foot high snowdrift (I grew up on the Chicago latitude). But it hasn’t ever worked because (unlike when I’m driving a car) I’m still in the habit of putting that pedal to the metal so I lurch backwards and slam myself into a tree trunk. Then I’m really going nowhere! All this to say, I don’t want to be lead-footed anymore in Overdrive or Reverse. It’s incredible how long it took me to realize why I wasn’t going anywhere or going so slowly.

Have you driven with your Parking Brake on? The first few times you try, your car holds you locked in place and you realize it. But, imagine the Driver’s Ed teacher keeps secretly setting it because he wants you to quit speeding. He knows you aren’t really in control when you are going so fast. We’ll suppose he’s tried to tell you in other ways, but you just weren’t getting it. It’s not necessarily your fault. It turns out he speaks with a heavy accent; you have to listen really, really hard to catch half of what he’s saying. Well, if he keeps setting it but you don’t know when, you keep pushing that pedal to the metal when you feel that drag. He means well, but sometimes you speed even worse because you anticipate the drag of the brake being on. You are in even less control than before. It’s a strain on you and the car. The brake starts to give. Eventually, when you do it, your car moves but my gosh, it’s like trying to push it uphill all alone! You get so frustrated. Everyone’s passing you by. You can’t get where you want to go. You want to give up, but you won’t. I mean, after all, at least you’re still moving. But inside your engine is burning hard, wearing down. Let’s just say, I’ve really been killing my engine!

I’ve got a lot of updating to do to my “About” page, but to put it briefly, I’ve got 20 chronic health conditions. I use to be an “overachiever”, but I’ve been disabled for many years now. I struggle with activities of daily living, but looking at me and even being around me for a day or two, you probably wouldn’t have a clue. I’ve been in various degrees of denial, not intellectually but emotionally for the most part. I still have found reasons to rejoice here and there, but I’m not happy and I know I’m the only one who can change that. I have the power to choose joy, but it is an “attitude in action” and my attitude, though positive, has been pretty stagnant. I’ve decided I’ve got to try downshifting from Overdrive to Drive. I had to trade in for an older model, one that has that option. So, I may not fit in at first. I don’t like that, but if it means I might start making some progress, it’ll be worth it. This past year – it’s been so hard! I realized I wasn’t going forward, no matter how cool my sports car life looked. I realized how burnt up my engine was. I realized shifting into Reverse didn’t help. I wanted people to pitch in and push. That didn’t work either. I’m so angry. As much as I hate being angry (I mean who really likes it), I’ve got to admit it. I’m angry I didn’t understand what my health problems were trying to tell me. But I’m not going to waste anymore time being angry at myself. Well, that’s probably not true; it’s a hard habit to break, but I, at least, am going to do something different too.

My downshifting is starting right here, with this blog. I’m sure sometimes I’ll still blog my philosophical musings or spiritual meditations or inspirational reflections or political rantings or artistic expressions, but here out this blog is foremost going to be a chronicle of my choice to live my life. That sounds so ordinary, but the key words in there are choice, live, and my. I reminded myself recently when I emotionally vomited an email to someone that my mind doesn’t process things well inside. If I’m going to write, it makes sense that I should use it to help myself, not just others. Often, I’ve shared the lessons I’ve learned but not the process of how I’ve learned them. I look over my blog and sometimes it just seems so stiff and formal, so unapproachable while inside I’m crying out for someone to not only approach but to hold me. Well, how can I ever face writer’s block again if my mind is always going. I’m not going to worry about getting things just right or being right. I’ve known for a long time I’m not “Super Molly,” but I wanted everyone else to think I was. Funny thing is it wasn’t because I needed people to see me as “Super” but because I needed them to see me and since I haven’t figured out who I am yet, I thought I had to show them me as “something”. I didn’t trust they could figure out who I was right along with me. Actually, I think I was a bit afraid they’d figure it out before me and I’d feel like I was being passed by. Hmm, the irony.

I truly believe God speaks through other people and I think it’s important to let people know when they are a vessel of Spirit’s voice in what they say or do. So, many people have contributed to this moment, this particular instant of awakening, but aside from my therapist Tina Marie Dale, LCSW, I want to thank a few special people who probably have no idea how they have touched me. Honestly i don’t know if I can explain except to say that their “being there” and/or genuineness is emboldening me to expose my Self, to love myself enough to slow down. I may have to add to this list as I remember people but here are the people off the top of my head right now…
Barb Efflandt, Rev. Kathleen Thomas, Frankey Landon, @aeTyree, @Read2Write10, @JillMarieinFL, @tetka, my friends at Poetry here And Now, Deborah Helm, Jill & Jo O’Brien, Lady Dawn, Alice Puckett, Jesleen92 (blog: 91 Odd Socks), “Bananas” Charity (blog: charityjh.com), and Wendy Holcolme (blog: Picnic with Ants: Living with Chronic Illnesses). Those names beginning with “@” are the Twitter usernames by which I know them. Many people on Twitter have blogs and I encourage you to check out these Tweeters and their blogs.

My Life in 6 Words

I will
relax
when I
know

Inspired by the Hope of Others

sign amidst the rubble at SOCMCC in Joplin MO

~~~To H O P E…
to Have an Optimistic Plan for Everything (for Eternity)~~~

Though I’m normally disinclined towards including what others have created in my blog, two things really inspired me recently and I wanted to share them to put my reflection in context. The first is a portion of a church’s email news I recently read. I’ve included an excerpt. The second was a link someone shared on Facebook. See further below. I, of course conclude with my comments.

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Pastor’s Corner

…Amazing things have been happening in Joplin as churches, businesses, and individuals begin to emerge from the massive piles of debris left by the F5 tornado. People who didn’t even know one another are joining together. People who may have not associated with one another are working together. Churches that didn’t support other churches are ministering together and to each other…

The barriers – real and imaginary – that have separated the people of Joplin have been razed in a mighty force of nature. Across that broad newly opened space, people are reaching out to one another and building community together. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. It’s a reminder of the courage of the human spirit. It’s a testament to the grace of God who can redeem anything – even total devastation brought on by such a powerful storm.

[A thought] expressed by several people was hope. Hope to sleep through the night. Hope to quit hearing the roaring of the tornado. Hope to find treasured possessions. Hope for insurance proceeds to purchase a car. Hope for an apartment or a home. Hope for a washer and dryer to launder the remaining clothing and donated clothing. Hope to always remember what is truly important, discovered when your world changes in six minutes. Hope to rebuild.

As I left …, I drove down Range Line Road a few blocks to the site of the Unity Church building that Spirit of Christ had called home for 15 years. I pulled into the driveway, rolled down my car windows, and looked around. I saw three things that really grabbed my attention: a newly planted garden where debris had stood during my visit on May 27; the angel statue standing nearby that lost its head in the tornado, repaired and whole again; and a sign that expressed so well what I felt in the hearts and minds of the people of Joplin… [The sign reads “Hope Grows Here” – photo above was part of this eMail News].

Rev Dr. Carol Trissell
Senior Pastor at MCCGSL ( mccgsl.org)

To read the whole article, follow this link to a copy of the entire newsletter eMail News MCCGSL

To donate to the church, who lost its home to the tornado (as did many of its members), follow the directions provided on the MCCGSL eMail News page you can access by clicking the link above.
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So the second bit of inspiration came from a Godtube.com video, Homeless Boy Wows Judges on Korea’s Got Talent

You’ll want to enjoy it yourself, but I’ll summarize a bit. The 22 year-old contestant was left at an orphanage at 3, ran away at 5 after being beaten, and  lived on his own on the streets selling gum and energy drinks for 10 years, sleeping on stairs and in public restrooms. He studied and tested out of elementary and middle schools, not attending a real school until high school. At some point in his youth, he was “sold” and while continuing to sell gum, but now in a night club, he was inspired by the sincerity of a singer onstage. He convincingly told the judges he was “not a good singer” and had had no formal training, but “like[d] to sing” before melting them and the audience with a richly voiced and heartfelt delivery of an Italian opera selection, “Nell Fantasia”, made famous in the movie, The Mission.

The English translation of the song: In my fantasy I see a fair world, where everyone lives in peace and honesty. I dream of a place to live that is always free, like a cloud that floats full of humanity in the depths of the soul.  In my fantasy I see a bright world where each night there is less darkness. I dream of spirits that are always free, like the cloud that floats. In my fantasy exists a warm wind that breathes into the city, like a friend. I dream of souls that are always free, like the cloud that floats, full of humanity in the depths of the soul.

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What struck me about both of these is the very real evidence of hope. Reverend Carol speaks of SOCMCC’s congregants expressions of hope, but some may look at this as an expression merely of their wishes and wants. In the video, the judges comment how they want the contestant, Sung Bong Choi, to be happy and comments on the video recognized the young man’s perseverence. I call your attention to the fact, though, that both of these stories show the spiritual fortitude and faith of people who survived and persevere because they chose to HOPE. The attitude of optimism towards our future can make all the difference in how well we are able to manage the worries, disappointments and heartaches of today. Optimism doesn’t guarantee success, but it certainly hurls us toward it. Meanwhile, any success achieved despite pessimism fails to be enjoyed. That is why I Hope…it is Because I Must. To not hope, to not have faith, is entirely too illogical to me. Hope allow us the opportunity to experience joy, in spite of sorrow and on top of happiness. Choose hope today. Find reason to rejoice.

Little Brother, Love Your Mother

mother in nuclear family

Image via Wikipedia

[Author’s note: This article was copied and reposted without permission from the author on another WordPress Website which seems to mostly or only consist of such reposting. I appreciate that the blogger at least included my name, but the action was nonetheless immoral and disrespectful. Still, the blog itself is a nice collection of articles. I have not included it on my regular blogroll or below, but for the sake of my readers, I want you to know it is called “Kids Say”.]

Young man, your mom may not be complaining but I bet she doesn’t hear from you much and usually doesn’t know how to reach you. Daughters and moms are a little different. My mom lives 6 hours away and can track me down within 4 hours max. Mothers never stop being moms and as age steals away control over their own lives, they start looking for more control over their kids’ again. The more control you give the way you want to give it, the less frantic attempts will be at control where and when you don’t want it.
I’m going to play big sis/mentor again. Please out of courtesy to the role of mothers who will always worry, stay connected. How? 1) Call your mom at least weekly (maybe even set a day to be “update” day), visit her (even just stop by) every 2 weeks, take extra time for her at least monthly (longer conversation or visit, a movie together, etc), and (until you are married) spend every major holiday with her even if it isn’t right on the date. 2) At least monthly, ask her advice (for anything, even if you don’t need it or follow it) or tell her how something she’s previously taught you (however little) has helped you. 3) Figure out what her love “buzz” word is. Does she like to be “admired, appreciated, adored” or asked what her opinion is? Actively look for opportunities to use the buzz word frequently. 4) Acknowledge her anxieties (which sometimes may get expressed as anger) spoken and unspoken, then respond with compromise (give into extra caution when it’s not a big deal and give her firm evidence to counter her fears) 5) Never be unreachable. Choose when you communicate, but make sure she has a few friends’ numbers for emergencies. Check your messages often and respond within a day or less, acknowledging when you got the msg.  Your mom needs you as much as you once needed her, and you need her still even if you don’t realize how.
She’s always gonna be a mother and you’ve given her oodles of reason to worry.You’ll always be her “baby”.  Remember that you were intimately tied to her at one time; letting go of you is like letting go  of a part of herself. Even when a mother barely acts like a mom, there is that biological bond that men can never understand. Accept her concern with empathy and remember that her world is getting smaller as she ages while yours is getting bigger. Don’t carve her too far out of it; she’ll be gone before you know it.
I’m coming from a place of experience, saying this while I’m watching my mom’s health decline and my brother get frustrated with her such that he doesn’t want to “deal” with her as much. My mom is clinging hard to me, but I’m not resenting it anymore. Someday, she won’t be able to cling and I will be the one who doesn’t want to let go. And the things that once annoyed me, I now see as the fruit of her upbringing and all that has influenced her through her life. I use humor to draw gentle boundaries and remind her with admiration of who she was and what she was doing at my age. I remind her what she’s taught me and acknowledge I was a slow learner. I remind her that she doesn’t have to be a perfect mom and that my mistakes are not due to her lack of effort. I remind her that SHE is still growing too.
Anyway, mother-child relationships are often at the heart of our “hard times” in life. Sometimes the solution is a just a little companionship, simply showing interest by calling or listening. I hope the most important thing I’ve helped you do is grow up. Learn from my experience little brother. My mistakes aren’t worth repeating.