Walled In, Walled Out

Closing In On Me by Heroethic on Flickr

 

Tired today. Of a lot of things for a lot of different reasons.

Physically? That’s easy. Daughter asked to sleep with me last night. This never happens so I allowed it. This never leads to a good night’s rest on my part and I knew that going in and it was no different last night.

I lay there for a while between Daughter and Boyfriend (seriously, I have the lamest nicknames) listening to their generally synchronized but still completely different breathing. Daughter’s was mixed in with a slight whistly wheeze and Boyfriend’s was rougher with an occasional snore. Daughter’s was shorter than Boyfriend’s but they pretty much started and ended at the same time which is impossible for me to understand right now much less explain.

There’s a lot of yawning going on here.

But I’m also tired in a different way.

Why are so many people angry today? Fearful? Depressed? Anxious? Hopeless? The election insanity is not helping, I know. The economic crisis. It just feels like everyone is on the brink– ready to explode. And instead of coming together, reaching out, embracing each other, linking arms, we’re taking sides. Division, division, division. What happened to all the shades of gray?

White people here, Black People there, everyone else over there somewhere. Men here, women there. You “others” just go and hide somewhere so we don’t have to acknowledge your existence and recreate our nice little division system.

Republicans here, Democrats there and the rest of you grow a damn spine and either take a side or shut your mouth because this has nothing to do with you. Conservatives here, Liberals WAY over there, Moderates please see above Republicans/Democrats memo re: “the rest of you”. And by the way, changing your mind is something that no longer exists. It’s called flip-flopping now and it will not be tolerated, respected, or accepted.

United States vs The World. Poor vs Rich. Corporations vs People. My Pockets vs Your Pockets. Progression vs Regression. Spend vs Save. Capitalism vs Socialism. Free Market vs Regulation. Healthy vs Sick. Big government vs Small government. Rent vs Buy. Illegals vs Citizens. Baby vs Fetus. Hetero vs Homo. Stay at Home Mom vs Work Outside Home Mom. Atheism vs Theism. State vs Church. Single Parent vs Married Parent. Slut vs Prude. 1% vs 99%. Planet vs Global Warming. Custodial Parent vs Non-Custodial Parent. Religion vs Science. English vs Math. Candidates vs PACs. Fact vs Opinion. South vs North. East vs West. Blue vs Red. Manning vs Tebow. Blog vs Trolls. Star Wars vs Star Trek. Facebook vs Google+. WordPress vs Blogger. Knit vs Crochet. My Way vs The Highway.

Why are we so eager for a fight? Why are we so ready to jump? Why are we convinced someone/something is surely out to get us?

It is so exhausting but as much as I want to just let it go, the fighting is all around me and I can’t always stop from being caught up because so many times it just goes too far. We can debate but stick to the facts, not your interpretation of them. Contrary to popular belief, reality does not have a liberal bias. We can debate, but refrain from insults. We can debate but please keep your ears open as much as you keep your mouth open.

Every day it gets louder and louder. Everyone is screaming to make this point and that point, to be seen and to be heard. Look at me! Listen to me! Pay attention to me!

When did we forget we’re not animals? Our gut instincts are about as right as often as they’re wrong folks. Why are we listening to them more and more instead of listening to each other? My gut might tell me punching your face would be the most effective way of getting you to shut up but my  mother taught me better than that. Who do I listen to? My gut tells me to blow my paycheck on whatever I want, when I want it but the people I respect tell me to at least save some of it and I’ll be better off in the long-run. Who do I listen to? My gut tells me I should work hard to get ahead and you should do the same for yourself but Mother Teresa taught me the value of working hard to get many of us ahead together. Who do I listen to?

Isolation everywhere. Bickering. Divisiveness. This whole feeling that if you see things one way, you must be crazy/uneducated/immoral/fanatical/classless/lazy/dirty/pathetic/foolish/not human.

We don’t want to accept each others differences, we just want to know what they are so we can somehow gain the upper hand.

Isn’t it interesting how the most hyped movie right now is this thing called The Hunger Games? And the central plot to this wildly popular movie based on a wildly popular book is a bunch of fights to the death? We are drawn to this concept like moths to the flame.

There can be only one.

It’s stifling. It’s confusing. We’re being forced more and more to take narrower and narrower sides.

Am I the only one feeling claustrophobic?

Review- 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

Oh this book. This book took me completely and utterly by surprise. For Christmas, a friend gave me 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess because she thought I’d like what she took to be the general theme of the book from the blurb in the back– this lady scales back in 7 aspects of her material life. Yeah I love that stuff.

What is not glaringly obvious from the main blurb in the back is that this book is written by a pastor’s wife who’s also a speaker on Christianity. You have to look at the fine print for that and then it’s like “How in the hell did I miss that?”

When I started the book, this was an unpleasant surprise. Holy bible quotes everywhere. Not to mention the fact that God, Jesus, Christ, Jesus Christ, Lord, Holy Spirit, etc. get mentioned about 5 times per page. Usually bible quotes combined with a zealous use of Jesus name drops is very much not a good thing for me. My hypocrisy senses start tingling and I usually back away as quickly as possible while trying to not draw attention to myself.

But this is a book, not a person, and there WAS the whole thing about cutting back the excess in the seven areas of her life: Food, Clothes, Spending, Media, Possessions, Waste, and Stress. And she even broke it down into monthly projects. Which I always am a sucker for. Always.

Oddly enough, this book was part of a rhyming event in my brain as I had lately been thinking about the Republicans and the huge conservative shove to strip down “entitlement” programs in favor of a smaller government and more money in their pockets in the form of lower taxes that they have somehow mixed up with a fervent “We love Jesus and the Bible and truly want to protect Christianity” message.

And I kept thinking about how damn hypocritical it felt to me because even though I don’t practice anymore, I sure as heck know all about “Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ” thanks to being raised by a really strict Catholic family and going through Catholic education from Kinder through High School. I’ve read the Bible thing those guys love front to back, inside out . Heck I even used to read the Bible out loud for the benefit of others as I was one of the lecterns at Church. And if there’s one thing I know about the Jesus that is in the Bible, it’s that he can’t possibly be the same Jesus the Republican candidates vow to love and protect to woo a bunch of Christian votes.

It turns out Jen Hatmaker apparently sees a lot of the glaring hypocrisies in American Christian churches today that I do. I can’t stand churches and I can’t stand the Christians that practice what I see as a Capitalism is Awesome form of Christianity. She is just way totally nicer about pointing them out than I am.

Let’s face it guys, Jesus was a dirty homeless hippie. You want to know the truth? Every time someone makes a derisive comment about “bleeding heart liberals” one image comes to mind:

If you really think the same dude who gave away free wine for his first miracle and later sat on a mountain giving away fish and bread all day would be against programs like Food Stamps or WIC, you’re wrong. If you think the same guy who made it a point to always seek out and include society’s shunned ones would be against extending this and other forms of assistance to as many people as possible, you’d also be wrong. If you really think the same guy who walked around healing lepers, restoring sight to the blind, and even raising people from the dead would be against free health care for everyone you’d be totally and completely wrong yet again. If you think the guy who talked about how awesome the Samaritan guy was for helping feed, shelter, and heal a total stranger no questions asked would want people to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps, well I’m pretty sure you’re in the totally wrong church.

You can imagine then why Jen Hatmaker turned my insides cold when she made the observation that, speaking on a personal finance level, you could interpret “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” into an equation where you live off 50% of your income and use the other 50% to love all of your neighbors.

I think it was around there that I started thinking, “Oh wow. She is a total Jesus Christ lover geek but she actually gets it. That’s… rare.”

Jen’s story is inspiring, moving, and interesting. Lots of people do projects where they eliminate this, that, and the other from their lives in big ways. But until Jen’s book, I was yet to read someone who took the experience and turned it into a movement to help those around her. De-cluttering is only half the battle. I missed the memo but I’m glad I got it this time.

Personally, I don’t think you need to be associated with a faith or a church or anything to look around you and do good for the world but I would likely be very interested in at least linking up with a church like Jen’s because it would give me an excellent way to lend a hand to the community. That moves me greatly.

Personally I found that my favorite thing about the book was the fact that I would read her experiences and think, “That is a brilliant idea. I want to do that for someone. How would I even start to do something like that?” Her book is a reflection and a call to action. A really loud, persistent one that somehow manages to remain humble and honest at the same time.

I strongly recommend the book even if you’re like me and things like churches and Jesus Christ give you the Hypocrisy Heebie Jeebies. Because I actually think Jen Hatmaker might be authentic. What she is teaching and what she is practicing makes more sense to me as an example of a true Christian than the classic modern representations of Christians today.

If you feel there is just TOO MUCH in your life– too much crap, too much stress, too much noise, too much madness, too much sadness, too much to deal with– grab this book. I think you’ll be moved.

By the way, the rhyming events continue. Last night, I caught this completely nauseating piece about Christian Louboutin at the Bal Harbor Shops. While I think many of his shoes are beautiful works of art, I can’t move past nausea thinking of the cost. I honestly wanted to weep when the woman so breezily admitted to owning about 100 pairs of the red-soled extravagances. Something is really messed up in our world. I’m glad there are people like the Hatmakers working to change things. I want to be one of them too but man is it scary.

P.S. What is a rhyming event? The term comes from this RadioLab podcast (omg I forgot to tell you about the Live Show of theirs I went to last week- future post) called “The Universe Knows My Name“. I like to think of them as dots waiting to be connected. Coincidences that can’t be so easily brushed away.

P.P.S. I keep thinking about this book every time I read another update from the many participants in Carla’s De-Cluttering Challenge for February. Rhyming event, rhyming event, rhyming event!

Politicians as Playground Bullies

Rock'em Sock'em Robots
“Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots” by Profound Whatever on Flickr

I’ve been reading a lot lately and I’ve been reading a lot of different things. I think I need to pull the plug on the news though because it’s really getting me down.

I know I’ve blogged about it before, but I can’t stand it when our government acts like a bunch of playground bullies and brats. They’re adults. They were chosen by adults. We expect them to behave like adults.

They don’t.

They have the meanest cliques, the cruelest words, the harshest punishments, the most illogical rationalizations, the stoniest silences, and the coldest stares. I cannot understand it. Nor can I stand it.

Furthermore, I’m absolutely shocked at the swell of support our leaders are getting from “the people” to behave in such idiotic fashion. Have we no shame? What are people thinking cheering, supporting, and encouraging these ridiculous hard-line, bullying stances? Why is this nation so hell-bent on steering our ship in one direction, or the complete opposite, but never down a calm and steady middle path?

It’s bad enough there’s a playground fight erupting between a bunch of meanies cheered and egged on by extremely pushy and loud observers, but to add complete chaos to the process you have a relentless media spotlighting and magnifying every single second of disgusting behavior.

I find it completely nauseating.

To my fellow Americans—leaders, followers, rebels, and everything in between:

We got ourselves into a shit-storm and we did it together. There is not one single exclusive reason we are in this mess. Yes, the government spent too much money—on Republican-sponsored wars and Democratic-sponsored programs and a bit of ridiculousness from both sides of the aisles. Republicans and Democrats and Others all played various roles across all spectrums in the housing debacle. Now, it’s time to buck up and begin that long, arduous path many of us are familiar with—getting out of debt.

Now, I know for a fact that in the case of every single person who has successfully dug themselves out of debt, there was a master plan that relied on two heavy-hitters: Expenses vs. Income.

Oh yes, we need to slash spending. Get over it. All of us with our debt loads know what this is like—that painful stripping and stripping and stripping. But we do it. And our government has to do it. And we need to deal with the ramifications of that because it’s going to hurt like heck. Many of us are feeling the squeeze and it’s going to get tighter.

However, stripping and cutting isn’t the only thing a person determined to achieve the status of debt-free does, is it? Nope. We bring in the money. We have garage sales, e-bay auctions, and craigslist listings. We do little jobs here and there. We ask for raises. We look for better jobs. We look for extra jobs. We hustle to bring in that money.

When it comes to the government bringing in money, it means collecting taxes. Get over it. And I am simply tired, exhausted, irritated with the ridiculous chanting of misinformation. The tax hikes being brought to the table affect families making over $250k a year. Considering the slashes in spending mostly affect programs in place to aid families who make well under that, it’s sensible to balance the scales in this fashion.

Ah, but there’s the problem. Sensible.

sen·si·ble/ˈsensəbəl/Adjective

1. (of a statement or course of action) Chosen in accordance with wisdom or prudence; likely to be of benefit: “a sensible diet”.

Not much happening in, around, or about Washington D.C. is wise or prudent and it is all likely to be of detriment instead.

This cannot continue. And I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but it appears it must be us, the American people, to show our government representatives true leadership skills.

We must calm down. We must remove inflammatory language. We must soften our stances. We must back away from our painted corners. We must remove the boxing gloves. We must shy away from absolutes. We must erase lines in the sand. We must never say never.

The debt ceiling is a big issue, yes. It has many ramifications. But the bigger issue is the complete lack of decency, professional respect, common sense, and willingness to compromise that is ravaging our nation.

There needs to be a call to action in this country, but it has to be for decorum first, reform second.