Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Post-Election View From A Moderate

"A moderate? Ha! I've seen your posts. You voted for Clinton.  You've been vocally anti-Trump. You must be a crazy liberal!"

Well, no, actually, I'm not. My mom use to tell me that way back when... your vote was private. You kept it to yourself.  Now, after this election, there's a similar vibe. If you say you voted for Clinton you're a crazy baby-killing, God-hating, latte-sippin' liberal, and if you say you voted for Trump, you're a racist, sexist, xenophobe filled with hate. The reality? Most of us are none of these. We are, in fact, a member of the non-vocal majority of moderates struggling for representation and hoping for a savior.

This election took it out of me. I did not vote for Trump, clearly. But while I respect the incredible career and accomplishments of Hillary Clinton,  I too, was sick of the political dynasty families and I didn't want to see another Clinton or Bush in the white house. But I voted for her anyway, as it was a vote to keep a billionaire experienced only in being a billionaire from the all-important job of running our nation. I saw that many were actually voting against the "system" more than they were for voting "for" Trump.

But he won and here we are.

But I  believe that no matter who we voted for, we moderates are worried. We are unhappy with the extreme views on the left and the right, because most of us are somewhere in-between on most issues. And I believe that even those right-leaning people who voted for Trump for any reason, are  bit worried too.

Here's the thing: I may think a surgeon is an elite snob who is out of touch with my world, but  if I need heart surgery, I want him or her operating on me anyway. I may think the smug pilot flying the plane I'm on from Cleveland to Portland isn't in touch with the common-folk passenger, but I want him flying the plane. Mr. Trump might have been an interesting cabinet pick or financial advisor, but he should not be flying the plane.

As a common sense thinking person who cares about our country, I believe we should be able to express concern and criticize our president and not be called a sore loser. I didn't like a lot of what President Obama did. But when I (or anyone) expresses concern over the fact that Republicans and Democrats BOTH worry about Trump's defense of Mr. Putin and Russia, who has historically always been an issue for the U.S. (um, remember President Reagan? Cold War? Tear Down That Wall?) we are called out. Why are so many people who voted for Trump trusting Putin and Wikileaks founder Assange over our U.S.  intelligence? This is not a republican or democratic issue. This is a security issue. I've always thought that the President really doesn't run the country anyway. Big Pharm, Big Ag and Big Oil does. But now that we have a future president in bed with those 3, and with the Russian government, I think there is cause for concern.

I am beginning to understand that the average rural American in fly-over states didn't feel represented by our current president, nor would they have felt represented by a political dynasty player like Secretary Clinton. But I am struggling to understand how they think this billionaire can relate to their pain. It has long-been the republican administrations that have cut aid and reduced programs in these very states that help these very people. I read a quote by Oscar Dean Ray who said “We Made America Worse Again, and did it as fools cheered. A lot of those cheers have gone silent as our new president picks mostly people for important positions whose only goals in life have been wealth and power for themselves and their friends. We will pay a heavy price for this mistake and the people who cheered I am afraid, will pay the heaviest."

I hope he is wrong. I hope that the very people Trump says he will help will not find that if they lose their jobs, savings, or homes, the safety nets like welfare, medicare, medicaid and social security that they wanted taken away from everyone else are suddenly gone for them if they need them.

There simply has got to be a middle ground for this great nation to survive.

This particular moderate wants a government big enough to keep us safe with systems that include a military that can defend and protect our freedom without policing the world and infringing our way of thinking on others. Big enough to protect our electric and cyber grids from hacking. Big enough to protect us from the greed and corruption of politicians and corporations that can buy them. Big enough to protect us from dangerous food and drugs; and from those who would poison our environment and destroy our national parks. Big enough to protect those who cannot speak for themselves, children, the elderly and animals. Big enough to use our tax dollars for these things, plus a solid infrastructure of roads, bridges, and improved public transportation. And big enough to provide education at all levels to keep us competitive globally in a world we are falling way behind.

And conversely, I want a government small enough that my personal rights are protected. That no one should be able to tell me what religion to practice and condemn me or others who practice something different; or nothing at all. Small enough that no one religion, including Christianity, even though I am Christian, should monopolize our country to the point it controls our government. Small enough to allow me to live with, love and marry whoever I want, or not marry at all. Small enough to not tell me who can be in the hospital making end-of-life decisions on my behalf. Small enough to protect my right to end a pregnancy within a limited amount of time, or to protect the life of the mother. Small enough to stop spending my tax dollars enforcing laws against growing or buying a plant that can be grown in my backyard that has better medical benefits than most but is illegal because it doesn't benefit large drug companies.

I'm hoping (and praying) that the moderates of both parties take over and really make our country great, not again...just great. The only extremism should be an intolerance for intolerance.

The common sense members of the GOP should stand up and stop what they see as dangerous behavior in our president-elect. The common sense Democrats should stop the "they did it to us so we'll do it to them" obstructionist behavior if, in fact, there are programs and policies worth supporting because they will move our country forward.

The vocal minority is winning right now, represented by those on the extreme religious right....or the extremist left, spewing hate and intolerance on social media and on 24-hour news networks. They don't represent me.  And if they don't represent you, we moderates need to rise up, on social media, in-person and beyond and speak up to find like-minded people to put into politics. We need bridge-builders, diplomats, statesmen and women who we can respect, look up to, and not be ashamed of.

We need a new generation of politicians to work together to put the good of our country ahead of the good of their party. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Still my BFF

Anne.

Our houses were just 3 blocks apart in West Akron. Almost daily I would walk to the bottom of Mentor Road and she to the bottom of Upper Merriman Drive to the railroad tracks that were a path to both our houses. We'd walk along the tracks, over tressels and back into the woods and streams of the surrounding undeveloped areas that seemed then like the wilderness, but is now an expensive housing development. We'd lay pennies on the tracks and watch them get smashed as we talked for hours and hours about life, boys, dreams, fears....just everything. I smoked pot for the first time with Anne. Drank my first drink; shitty Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine, with Anne.

I think about how formative her friendship was to my development as a person. I learned everything about being a friend from her. We loved each other, got annoyed with each other, and sure we got mad at each other as we went through our awkward stages of development....but like a sister, we may get mad at each other, but if anyone talked trash about the other we were the first to defend the other. It seemed I couldn't think a thought or form and opinion that I didn't discuss with her to see if she agreed. That sense of belonging and having someone's opinion matter so much that is the staple part of childhood that as adults we need to remember.

We went through musical formative years discovering some stuff on our own, like the west coast sounds of Jackson Browne, Dan Fogelberg, Poco, Pousette-Dart Band, Joni Mitchell, Sanford-Townsend to the Progressive rock sounds from Yes, ELP and Led Zeppelin. We were more mellow rockers than hard rockers but I remember buying the album "Physical Graffiti" and that plus Led Zeppelin 2 turned me into a fan. Her older sister Lisa schooled us in Beatles, Van Morrison and the Rolling Stones.

After graduation, I stayed in Ohio and she moved to Boulder to join her sister and attend the University of Colorado. Years later her other sister moved to Boulder from San Francisco, and finally her parents retired there. I thought it was so cool that their whole family moved to the same place to be together. Colorado had their hearts and souls and although she missed her friends in Ohio, and came back to visit here and there, she never looked back.

I missed her like hell. So much so that I spent the summer between my first and second year at Kent State in Boulder with Anne. She tried to talk me into moving out there, but I came home and finished school in Ohio. And I have stayed in Ohio and lived only here my whole life.

I spent some time on the phone with Anne recently after the death of her mom. We talked about our parents fondly, as now, both of us are orphans. I marveled at how, even when I don't talk to her for a year, we pick right up. And I get sad when I realize that although I will forever consider her one of my best friends, time, distance and just "life" have just kept us from staying as close as I would have wanted. Every day, when there is news of an illness, an accident, an untimely death of someone taken much too soon, and I stop and realize how precious life is, and I think I need to tell the people I care about how important they are to me.

So today, it's Anne.

She has always been an inspiration to me for so many reasons, and I don't know if I ever told her. As a toddler, she had a tumor behind her eye, and because if this, she had her eye surgically removed. Her whole life she lived with this disability but never, ever did she have any kind of chip on her shoulder. In fact, to even use the word "disability" when speaking of Anne doesn't feel appropriate. It was never anything I noticed about her. When I looked at her at 7, 12, 15 or 20, I only saw her beautiful personality, contagious smile, her lovely brown hair, and admired the cool, hip way she wore her clothes. She had and still has a down-to-earth, natural style that always made her just a touch more "cool" than everyone. Her laugh was infectious and I can hear it when I close my eyes, as I recall us hanging in her basement, bent over with laughter on the carpet as we shared stories of our day. Then we'd go home and call each other on the phone, yes the kind that had a long cord, for literally hours. What on earth did we have to talk about for so long? We'd always find something.

It wasn't until I was much older did I ever realize what going through childhood with that challenge must have been like for her, and how cruel kids can be. If she struggled with insecurity or confidence issues, you'd never know. She had courage I never did, to leave the security of Akron, Ohio and move to a place far away to go to school, and make her new life. Now, Anne is a successful teacher, author and most recently, finished another degree--this one in Bilingualism and Language Acquisition, and she has spent months at a time in Spain. She is smart, fun and funny, and I know my way of looking at life, friends, loyalty and relationships were formed because of her, and for that, I am forever grateful.

I've never been big on "what ifs"...because I know If I'd have done anything differently, I wouldn't have married the man I did, had the two daughters I did, or had the same career. But, now that I'm in my 50's reflecting on my life, my family, friends, and career, I can't help but look at the many possibilities that lie ahead of me. And as I do, I am inspired to approach this next phase of my life like Anne has always approached hers: with an attitude of acceptance, encouragement, an embracing of life, and never afraid to learn something new.


Thanks for the life lessons you are still teaching me, my friend. 



Thursday, October 3, 2013

3 Reasons I Became a Vegetarian

People often ask me why I chose, after 50 years, to stop eating meat. It's a question I get mostly at work dinners, and it is usually asked when someone is apologetic about their ordering meat when I ask for meat-free options. Other than a select few, almost everyone in my life eats meat. So believe me when I say there is no judgement or disapproval of those who have not made the same choice I have.

But I've really had to work on the correct reply when asked, as to not sound preachy or opinionated, or worse, offend someone who has not made my choice. I don't expect to change anyone's mind about whether they want to give up eating meat, entirely, although I admit, I do hope that by reading this, people will chose to make choices in their meat-buying and eating that will eventually change laws that improve the lives of animals, and in doing so be better for humans and our environment. Here are the 3 main reasons I became a vegetarian:  

1) Animal Welfare. My decision to give up meat was 90% moral and 10% health. I lived in ignorance of what goes on in the factory farm world during the life of the average, cow, pig or chicken before their slaughterhouse death. Even if animal welfare is not on the top of your list, it is good to care about whether or not the animals you eat are being treated humanely during their lives, because when an animal is scared and in pain, they release naturally occurring stress hormones which decrease the quality, taste and nutritional value of their meat. The pain, suffering and cruelty is beyond measure, and after seeing a couple of documentaries, I decided, unconscionable. But, it doesn't have to be this way. We can choose to get our meat, poultry or dairy from farms that raise their animals in a free range world, eating well, without drugs or hormones and not suffering in confinement and torture. 

2) It's Good for our Environment. Meat-eating is the largest source of global warming. Raising cattle & pigs for food requires more agriculture than vegetarianism as most of the crops raised go to feed livestock. Waste from livestock is one of the major sources of pollution in the world; second to pesticides and uses more pesticides,used on crops for food for people. These pesticides kill insects and birds, and leak into local drinking water supplies. The loss of bees in our ecosystem is a true environmental hazard due to the overuse of pesticides.

 3) Good for your health. Heart disease, cancer, strokes, impotence, obesity, Alzheimer's, diabetes, mad cow disease, e. coli can all be reduced with a vegetarian diet. However, these illnesses can also be reduced by eating a clean-meat diet. A recent study by the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsche Krebsforschungszentrum) included 1,904 vegetarians over 21 years. The shocking results: vegetarian men reduced their risk of early death by 50%! Women vegetarians benefit from a 30% reduction in mortality. Read the article here

"We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and organs as our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear."  Robert Louis Stevenson
 
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Mahatma Gandhi 

"Every time we sit down to eat, we make a choice: Please choose vegetarianism.  Do it for animals. Do it for the environment and do it for your health." Alec Baldwin

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Acceptance

I've have the pleasure of knowing many people who have many successful, happy relationships in their lives. Whether it's a long and happy marriage, friendships that have endured time and tribulation, or family bonds that go beyond blood, there's one common theme in these relationships: Acceptance.

It sounds so simple, but a person's willingness to accept another is the key to an enduring relationship.

My brother-in- law often jokes about how he is surprised my sister puts up with him after 30 some years of marriage. A wonderful and self-deprecating kind of guy, he'll easily list his faults, and follows with word of gratitude that she accepts him with all those faults. And my sister is quick to point out the things she does that drive him crazy.

Acceptance doesn't mean you can't be frustrated by things that bother you. It doesn't mean you like every personality trait your partner has; it simply means you weigh the good verses the bad, and if the good rules, and you accept the irksome traits for what they are. You realize that while they aren't perfect, neither are you. There is an agreement, spoken or unspoken, that you love more than you don't love about them, and the things you don't love you will live with. And, in turn, they will do the same.

When one is unwilling to offer total acceptance, the relationship is in trouble, and often fails.

To search for "the one" who will fill every single need you have is an unrealistic expectation. How unfair it is for us to expect one person to fill our every need when we ourselves cannot fulfill our own needs or 100 percent of another's, no matter how much we long too, or how hard we try.

No one fits like a glove. The people I know with lasting relationships have a variety of people in their lives that fulfill a variety of needs. A woman may love to shop, and her husband doesn't, so she shops with a friend. A man may love to golf, but his wife doesn't so he plays golf with buddies. A couple certainly needs to have common interests that bond them, and shared activities are crucial…but it is also healthy to have friends and interests apart from one another.

We can't change another person's personality attributes or their behavior. We can only change our attitude and our response toward them. In a long term friendship or life partner relationship, we can choose to accept those things about that person that bother us…and hope they can do the same when it comes to our faults. Or we can decide those things are beyond our ability to tolerate and walk away.

I don't think we can choose who we fall in love with. We just fall in love. But staying in love is a decision. It takes work. And acceptance is also a decision, and it too, takes work.

Note: this article was originally written in November of 2007

Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's Not Fair! The Age of Entitlement

Working at a radio station, I've been a part of many on air contests and promotions that give away desirable prizes, but none gain quite the attention--good and bad, as a contest the gives away a prize that kids or teens want to win, or worse, that a parent wants their kids to have.

I'm a mom. So I totally get wanting to get that gift that your kid is totally into. I went through the phases of beanie babies, the more expensive American Girl dolls, the less expensive giga pets and pogs (anyone remember those?) Like most parents, we did our best to get our girls the things they wanted, within reason. And they were blessed to have aunts and uncles and grandparents who could help get some gifts we couldn't or wouldn't spend money on.

But I've always been amazed and frustrated by the stories like the cabbage patch craze that went on before I had kids, where parents fought in the aisles over the last remaining doll in the pack. They HAD to get their child what he or she wanted.

I've continued to watch as the years go by stories of parents screaming from the stands in little league, soccer or football games. Making demands on coaches, cussing out umpires, claiming over and over again "it's not fair!".

And then comes Taylor Swift. Radio stations like ours attempt to find every way possible to give away tickets on the air, on location, online in ways that everyone can participate. One recent contest involved an online vote for Taylor's Biggest Fan. While the majority of participants had fun with the contest, there were a select and vocal few that showcase what I feel is a terrible sense of entitlement we are guilty of having for ourselves and perhaps by example, passing on to our children.

It's not fair...that Johnny got called called for a penalty.
It's not fair...that Britanny got more votes that Lauren
It's not fair my daughter can't go to see Taylor.
It's not fair that one team loses over another, so everyone gets a trophy

These days, there can be no such thing as a most valuable player because little Ashley's self esteem may get damaged. Ask any teacher of especially middle-school age kids and you'll hear more horror stories about parents than the kids complaining "it's not fair".

Life isn't fair. And the sooner we learn it, and the sooner we teach our kids that lessen the better off we'll all be.

It isn't fair that a 40-something year old woman who never smoked or drank and who took good care of herself dies of breast cancer.

It isn't fair that a 23 year old kid gets loses a limb from a war he knows nothing about but now can't afford the lifetime of mental and physical health care he'll need.

It isn't fair that someone spent time in prison for a crime he didn't commit and can never get those years back.

But missing a Taylor Swift concert? Losing a game? Get a grip.

Life isn't fair, to be sure. But I thank God for those lessons learned from injustices faced. We learn far more from our failures than our successes. Disappointment make us stronger and teach us so much. And the victory is so much sweeter after working, falling a few times, struggling through something and then finally achieving it.

"Life ain't always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride" ~ singer Gary Allan