Posts Tagged ‘America’
Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.–Dr. Martin Luther King
Change is hard.
It’s hard to change others. It’s hard to change ourselves.
Every now and then, something or somebody comes along with the power to change us. Maybe it changes how we think. Maybe it changes how we act. Every now and then, there comes a person, whose leadership is so powerful, their words alone are enough to change us.
Dr. Martin Luther King was one such man. His thoughts, deeds and convictions, had the power to change a nation. Using neither anger, nor force, he changed America. He made our country a better place, by helping a nation think differently. He made individuals want to do better.
We live in an era of compromise. We allow ourselves to be shaped by the opinions of others. Those who represent us, make deals for political favors. Journalists, who once relished the opportunity to expose the truth, now avoid controversy. Like adolescents seeking approval from their peers, very few of us are willing to risk becoming outsiders. Read the rest of this entry »
Heard the one about the guy who died during a threesome?
The punch line isn’t funny, unless you enjoy a sucker punch to the great American gut. The wife of the late William Martinez, was not involved in the frolic that lead to her husband’s demise, but while he was out (presumably) enjoying novelty sex, she was on the verge of becoming a multi-millionaire. Sour grapes, or survival of the fittest, Mrs. Martinez, sued the husband’s cardiologist for failing to warn Mr. Martinez to avoid strenuous activity.
The cardiologist who had seen Martinez, ordered a stress-test, but poor Willie died before test day. Even though he was smart enough to seek medical attention for his recurrent chest pains, we are to believe the bum with the bum heart wasn’t smart enough to know he was at risk. The jury awarded a judgment worth three million dollars. Time will tell whether Mrs. Martinez, will ever collect more than ninety-eight cents, after lawyers fees, appeals and all, but even so, while this guy was out having sex with people he wasn’t married too, she won a jackpot prize from the the stupidity lottery.
America, what a country!
Built with rugged individualism, Yankee ingenuity, hard work, vision and resilience, yet, it would seem the land of the free and the brave, is becoming the home of the weak and whiny. Thank God for government programs, because The American Spirit is on disability, and the American Dream is on life support. ( Though I would venture, single payer healthcare will eventually pull the plug on The American Dream, when its costs outweigh its usefulness.)
Younger Americans may believe that “rugged individualism” is Johnny Depp’s quirkiness, or Steven Tyler’s distinctive flair, but there was a time when “rugged individualism” was understood as the ability of individuals to succeed with minimal assistance from the government. Now, Americans believe it is government‘s job to eliminate hardship and risk from our lives. Even the idea of individualism has become peculiarly murky in our society.
There are still those who seek to be unique in a sea of clones, but not even those with tattoos, piercings, and lollipop hair colors stand out, when what was once edgy becomes passé. In a brand-conscious consumerist society, instead of going against the flow, we mimic others. We follow trends, as if being on the front of a trend makes us a courageous leader, instead of a follower. To set ourselves apart, we buy the latest and best homes, autos, electronics and clothes. Sadly, this has made us a people who are defined more by what we display, than what we believe. The number of foreclosures and bankruptcies, indicate it is more than our bank accounts which are empty.
We blame corporations for the high cost of living, and government for high unemployment. Hardly a day passes, we don‘t hear of the crisis in American education. We continue to spend more, but get less. Experts tell us that without the latest computer technologies, our children won’t be able to compete in the modern world. By this logic, our kids should already be smarter than Stephen Hawking, because almost every kid has a cell phone with computing power greater than those of the computers used to guide the Apollo missions. A world of information, countless apps, and lighting fast computer power at their fingertips, yet the only thing we have to show for it, is the development of a more efficient truncated English, mastery of angry bird warfare and countless instagram photos.
It would seem that the artificial intelligence that powers computers has replaced common sense, and “smart” phones have replaced Yankee Ingenuity (the once necessary resourcefulness of early Americans, who had to improvise to solve problems with limited resources). As primitive as their lives were, they now seem light-years ahead of us. Our modern “educated” America, has become so dumb and/or greedy, as to require even the most common items to be labeled as if they were new and dangerous inventions. The wrapper on my fast-food “Hot Apple Pie” and the accompanying coffee cup both warn “contents may be hot”, which is sort of what I’d expected. Used to be we didn’t need instructions on bars of soap, NOR warnings not to eat them. We were smart enough we didn’t need boldface type to tell us not to use a toaster in the bathtub, and even bad parents were smart enough not to be confused as to whether or not a plastic bag was a toy.
Of course, should you knowingly or unknowingly be stupid, there is a remedy. You won’t even need to be smart enough to read a phone book to get in touch with a lawyer who is willing to come to your aid. Just lay on your couch watching TV, and eventually, some helpful personal injury attorney’s number will be imprinted in your brain. Dial the number and he or she will assure you, stupidity can be treated with a big green Band-Aid–AKA MONEY.
So much for hard work, because lucrative lawsuits are now viewed by many as an alternative to working. Our courtrooms are clogged with greedy, groundless lawsuits and opportunistic lawyers with questionable ethics. The courts, once established to uphold justice, are used by many (often the least deserving) to make money. The first Americans, who came here because they didn’t want to be victims, have been replaced by Americans who do.
The hands-down award-winning poster child for the emerging victim class is Stanley Thornton Jr., who collects Social Security disability benefits for a condition known as paraphilic infantilism. For those who have yet to figure out how to make a million in a courtroom, this term translates to “grown-up who lives his life as a baby”– complete with diapers and a nanny. His condition has a name, but it is also fairly representative a large segment of society which simply refuses to grow-up.
We are all victims. As Peter McWilliams said, the definition of a victim is “a person to whom life happens.”
At some point we’re supposed to get up and get on with our lives. We may be victims at times, but if we choose not to move forward, then we become volunteers.
So much for American resilience, because we have been groomed to expect the government to lick our wounds, apologize when we’re offended, meet our needs and solve our problems.
There was a time when those who were forced to rely on government assistance were embarrassed, at not being able to provide for themselves. Now, many are angry that the government doesn’t have more to give. Gone are the poor houses, soup kitchens and relief societies–because the government has made poverty a business, in which nobody profits. The shame once associated with poverty, has been replaced by a sense of entitlement.
The incentive to work hard has been diminished for those at the bottom and the top. The poor no longer need to work, because the government will send checks to them for staying home. The middle and upper classes, are punished for working, because the government takes more and more from them. Those who could take care of themselves, wonder why they would. Those who do take care of themselves, wonder why they should.
Our country was a Super-Power, leading the world in economics, business and innovation. Even those who didn’t go to college were smart enough to make something of their lives, Sadly, now children of middle & upper middle class families, are occupying Wall Street, campaigning against everything that feels unfair. Once, we the people aspired to success, now our people have contempt for it. So much for progress, the only thing we’ve produced is a nation of whiners, takers and ninnies.
Only half a century ago, a Democratic president with a vision, admonished us “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” That country and its vision changed. Perhaps it is time to shorten the inscription on The Statue of Liberty from “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” to simply “Give me.”
Sometimes when I’m watching politicians, I wonder if they’re really actors. It’s confusing, because actors think they’re politicians–doing their best to tell us how to vote. The politicians must be confused too, because they often think they’re scientists or scientists and social engineers. I took Civics, but don’t remember anything entrusting the government with responsibility for interpreting science or re-engineering society for us. However, I remember be taught about Hitler trying that.
When did it become government’s job to interpret issues for us? When did they become responsible for legislating what we should think in regards to religion, science or sociology? It seems legislators are doing their best to make sure we all walk the same dogma, as they purge history books of history, in order to make room for more politically advantageous things. We are supposed to believe they know best–that they are smarter than the great collective of American thinkers. Whether the issue is climate change, or diversity, any person who refuses to embrace the groupthink is deemed an uneducated moron. Take for example the controversy regarding Evolution vs. Creationism comes up a lot. I know what I believe, but I’d never be so arrogant as to suggest it’s the only viewpoint, or the only thing that should be taught. It takes neither faith, nor intellect to believe something, if you’ve only heard one side.
It’s not just science or history, the government wants to tell us how we should feel about those around us–how we should view people of other lifestyles, religions and races. It is easy for those, like myself, who live in diverse communities with little racism, to deny it’s existence, but racism is alive and well. Unfortunately, the most insidious form of racism is that which disguises itself as a progressive effort to eradicate racism.
In the most regrettable era of United States history, Africans were treated as subhuman. Wise leaders, struggle, and bloodshed abolished slavery, but even a century later, many still refuse to acknowledge African-Americans as equals. Every minority in this country has faced their own struggles, but none have suffered more than our “Black” citizens.
Black–I think that means all those with brownish skin who are not Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander Caucasian or Hispanic. Not sure, but I think the current politically correct term is African-American. That’s a silly term, considering there were Africans here, before the British-Americans who wrote the constitution.
I’ve lost track of all the terms used for “blacks” in my lifetime, but never mind that, I’m part Mexican and I can’t even figure out what I’m supposed to call myself. I hear terms like “Mexican-American” will soon be changed to American-Mexican. It’s semantics, but why are those, who want us to stop labeling and embrace diversity, the biggest purveyors of labels? I’m part Super Taco, part Big Mac, in other words, I’m American! Want an affirmative action? How about we stop classifying people by race?
The “smart” people are doing their best to make sure the rest of us think they way they want us to, but I think it’s time for those know-it-alls to dust off their biology books. Here’s a little lesson for the smart people, coming straight from a good ol’ girl educated in a pre-progressive public school smack-dab in the center of the oft-maligned state of Arizona:
There is no such thing as race.
My entire life, I was always aware of my skin color and sometimes wondered if it made me a less desirable specimen of humanity, but I was still raised to be as proud of my European and Hispanic roots, as I was of my American heritage. However, I wanted to know more about where my family came from, so I turned to DNA testing for answers. I’ve always been fascinated by how the sequences of four nucleotide bases combine to make each of us–even those who are one of a set of identical twins, unique. However I was very surprised by what I learned in my latest look at DNA. My quest to find out about myself, turned into a lesson about the human race.
Notice I didn’t say human races?
That’s right kids, there is only one race. We don’t all look alike, we may not come from the same continents, but we are all the same race with variations.
Those who are still making distinctions between Asians, Blacks and Hispanics may think they’re progressive, but they’re actually very behind the times. They might as well be back in the 1850s or 1950s, because their view of race is anything but progressive.
Previously, I wrote about the new addition of a dog to our house. At first I was convinced he was some kind of German Shepherd mix, but as he’s grown, it’s harder to figure out what he is, because he’s an indecipherable mix. There are DNA tests for dogs, but they wouldn’t tell me much more than I can guess looking at him. My dog, like most Americans, is the magnificent product of many generations. His breeding is like most of ours–indistinct. He is a mutt, but he’s not a lesser dog.
No matter what external traits we exhibit, we are all the same species of the same race. We may have different hair color, eye color or skin color, but we are all the same race. See, in a lab, even the brightest and best of geneticists can’t identify race. It’s not that they haven’t figured out how, it’s that there isn’t any genetic difference. Traits associated with race are the result of adaptations and subtle changes in the DNA. It doesn’t matter whether you take that as proof of evolution or evidence of intelligent design–the DNA shows every single person on the planet comes out of the same lineage started in Africa.
That’s not politics, not religion, not dogma–it’s science. Those who believe that the genetic matter of an Asian, Black, or Hispanic is different than that of a white person, are as naïve as children who believe an egg dyed green will taste different from one dyed pink. Most of the traits we have used to define race are no more substantial than the difference between a brown egg or a white one. Whether you prefer brown eggs or white ones, once you remove the shell, they’re all just eggs.
Deb’s Note: In the next edition of de blog, more about DNA, including my own discoveries and explanations of why the use of race labels is an outdated practice.
I have a college degree and some other educational credentials. They are mostly useless, but I have them. I have yet to apply for a job where it mattered whether or not I had anything other than a college degree, yet the two least prestigious pieces of parchment I hold are the most significant to me. They are my high school diploma and my certificate in mariachi music.
A few years ago, a college in my area became the first in the United States (and I believe the world) to offer an accredited program in the study of Mariachi. I had been dabbling in mariachi for some time and made it my goal to be the first person to receive that degree. A friend of mine beat me to the pole position, but I was still able to become the first woman to ever receive this degree in a genre of music which was once exclusively the domain of men.
This might lead you to believe I’m an accomplished or scholarly musician. I am not. In fact, compared to my peers, I’m a hack. I suppose, if I were highly motivated I could parlay what I’ve learned into some kind of lucrative livelihood. Certainly my rudimentary knowledge of mariachi music, history and instruments would qualify me to teach, and while that might be a good fallback, it wasn‘t my motivation. To me, this degree is indicative of what it means to be an American.
I was born in America, taught to salute the flag and pledge allegiance to it. I was taught the principles of The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States. I was born in the time before being a celebrity meant having a platform for expressing contempt for America. In fact, when I was young, being anti-American could still get stars black-listed in Hollywood.
I was taught The Pilgrims were decent folk who came here seeking religious freedom. Now, school children are taught that the pilgrims represent the ruination of Native America. My ancestors were pilgrims, but not the Mayflower kind. As your ancestors probably were, they were just pilgrims seeking a better life for their families.
One side of my family came from Europe, the other from Mexico. Both came to The United States, because this country offered freedom, education, economic opportunity and a life free of government hostility. You’ve heard it all before, but the opportunities and freedoms unique to this country have given many the chance to build a better life. It was certainly true for my family.
In my grandmother’s country, she didn’t go to school. From the time she was very young until her death, she worked.
There are still countries in the world where children work, instead of going to school.
My mother’s life in this country meant she learned a new language and was able to go to school.
There are still countries where girls are not allowed to go to school.
When my mother left home, she set her sights on becoming a nurse.
There are still countries where governments decide what you will become.
She met my father, and married him two weeks later.
There are still countries where younger daughters must wait for older daughters to be married and husbands are selected by parents.
In just a few years, she had gone from living in a poor two-room house to living The American Dream in a home with bedrooms, heat and indoor plumbing.
What might take generations in many other countries, can be achieved here in decades.
I am grateful for having been allowed to go to school free of political indoctrination. I am glad to have been able to decide for myself where I would live, what I would do, and who I would marry. I am glad to have been able to work beside men, choose my own religious beliefs and receive a paycheck in return for my work. Surrounded by nice cars, appliances, and electronics, it is easy for Americans to take things for granted.
Our clothes, our shoes, our abundance of food, our books, our medicines would be luxuries in many other countries.
I am thankful for my high school diploma, because in those years, I learned something many schools no longer teach. I learned to be proud of this country. I am proud of the degree in mariachi. because it reminds me people of any race can come here, without sacrificing their cultural pride.
In other parts of the world, being a different race means being a target of genocide.
This country isn’t perfect. Our history is rife with mistakes. The politics of our country may leave us discouraged or disgusted, but individuals have the right to expose the flaws of our government.
In some countries, governments control access to information.
We can speak out against our leaders, without fear of retaliation. Men and women are allowed a vote.
In many countries, the citizens have neither a voice, nor a vote.
If I had been educated today, I might be ashamed of America. While there are certainly many shameful and regrettable things in our past, like slavery, our treatment of Native Americans, the bombing of Hiroshima, segregation, our economic policies, or some of our other military actions; this nation has done it’s best to respect the worth of the individual. We haven’t always gotten it right, but no other country in the world has demonstrated a greater commitment to freedom and democracy for all people.
America isn’t done making mistakes, but there isn’t a place I’d rather live. It is no small thing to be a woman who has opportunities and the right to make her own decisions in regards to her body, her family, and her future. Each time I drive past the plot of land where my mother once lived, I am moved. I am thankful for the opportunities America has given to me and to so many others. For being a woman born in America, I am as grateful as those pilgrims were on that first Thanksgiving.
May God bless and preserve all the best things about America.
The turkey is awaiting final preparation as the holiday season has officially begun. The sights, the sounds and the smells of the fall & winter holidays are alive with tradition. Whether the gathering of loved ones, sentimental rituals, or the taste of a a favorite family recipe, the romance of the season is in our memories of those past, and our hopes for those to come.
Traditions are merely memories. Memories we attempt to relive. Whether the smell of turkey in the oven, the magic of holiday lights, or the suspenseful wait for Christmas morning; our holiday celebrations attempt to recapture the best we can remember, and grab hold of the best we can imagine.
I love honoring old traditions, but believe each holiday is an opportunity to birth new ones. That is why, I was disappointed to realize that in my frantic preparations for this year’s new Thanksgiving tradition, I had forgotten the tradition I started a few years ago with my family. Each year on the eve of Thanksgiving, I prepare a very special meal.
Gratitude is a virtue worthy of celebration and practice. Ironically, my sense of gratitude causes me to have less enthusiasm for the holiday of Thanksgiving, than the act of giving thanks. We gather at tables set with plump birds and rich gravy. There will be stuffing made from bread and hot rolls with butter. There will be two kinds of potatoes, numerous side dishes and probably two kinds of pie. Thanksgiving is a feast of excess, in which we barely pause to consider all that we have. Many are the years, I’ve sat at tables listening to those assembled, list things for which they were thankful. If we truly took the time to acknowledge all the things for which we should be grateful, there would be no time to carve the turkey or cut those pies.
It is because of this, I started the tradition of serving my family a very special meal. It is a meal which might be served in any country on earth–a special dish which truly puts me in the proper mindset for the rest of the holiday season. I look forward to this meal each year, but not nearly as much as others who might eat this same meal today. This meal prepares me for a happy holiday season, by reminding of things taken for granted.
Our very special meal is rice. Not ordinary white rice like what might accompany Moo Goo Gai Pan, nor is it the fragrant Byrani basmati of Indian cuisine. It isn’t the creamy risotto from a trendy bistro, nor a tasty pilaf hiding flavorful treasures.
It is rice, simply rice. Barely substantial, no special preparation. Just rice.
The first time I served it my children were barely old enough to understand it.
The second year, they had already forgotten the previous year, and anxiously looked to see what would accompany the rice.
By the third year, they were beginning to better understand the meal. I am very thankful their understanding is the abstract type–not the kind had by those, for whom this bowl of rice would be a luxury.
In our country tomorrow, our garbage cans will be overflowing with food scraps–remnants of a feast, tossed, when those who ate it, had too much. We will try to figure out what to do with the leftovers, never considering the many in the world who live for weeks on less than what we discard. Alas, tomorrow, across our planet others will search garbage dumps to find food enough to stave off hunger.
Whether it be food we mindlessly waste, clothes we cast off for charity, or money we squander on unnecessary things, we hardly consider all that we have. We are more than fortunate, we are blessed beyond what those in many countries could even imagine.
Today as we sit down at our tables, I wish for you the kind of gratitude that is appropriate for the bounty on our tables, but also for all that we have in America.
Being an American means amazing abundance–whether it be food, shoes, cars, TVs–Americans have much. We don’t dream of bread or stand in line for bread–we choose from the dozens of loaves available and toss out our excess.
It means education and opportunity–everything is available for those who are willing to make an effort to get it. As true as it ever was, in America you can be whatever you want to be.
It means our communities are unique and vibrant, with little pockets in every city steeped in ethnic culture. It means a government and society which embrace people of all races. For many who come here, it means never again living in war-torn cities or under government oppression. In America “genocide” is a term learned in school, not a reality.
Being American means freedom to think independently and give voice to those thoughts.
It means we can freely disagree about how the country is run–we can freely express contempt for our governments.
It means that our votes are counted–the results of elections are not pre-determined.
It means the freedom to pray or not–freedom to worship or not.
It means that we have better stuff –even stuff most of us don’t think about–like better medicine, better dental care, better roads, better bridges, and even too much stuff in our closets or garages. It means we have more to be thankful for than most even take time to recognize.
Being an American means you can take it all for granted–and even complain about the generosity of a country that provides, welfare, unemployment, Social Security, food stamps, Head Start, medical care for the disadvantaged and too many other programs to count! It means that when you fail to provide for yourself, you can blame the government for your plight and complain that they won’t do more.
Being an American means that every single day there is something to be thankful for.
In America there are many who resent those they see as having been born with an economic advantage. There are those who believe that others have it easier, as if they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths.
I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, because I was born in the USA.
Tacos, nachos, ramen, and egg rolls, these foods are nearly as American as apple pie.
Truly, what could be more American???
The pot on the stove, which contains beef simmering in Guinness Stout, provides an answer.
Cooking corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s day feels like a very Irish thing to do, and today, I AM Irish. I am every bit as Irish as that deliciously savory brisket.
Impressed? You might be, unless you are one of the few who realizes that corned beef is no more Irish, than hot dogs are American.
Irish immigrants to America,would have preferred salty Irish-bacon with their cabbage, but in their new country, there was none to be found. For this reason, they substituted corned beef–a traditionally prepared food of Jewish Americans. That is how, ironically,this Kosher meat, became traditional fare for a Catholic holy day. Knowing this, you may add corned beef to the list above of foreign-born foods, that Americans have incorporated into our cultural composite.
Only in America!
It’s a great nation, but even great nations have failings. When the Irish began immigrating to America during the potato famine, they hoped to find freedom and economic opportunity in their new country. Sadly, instead, they often encountered unmerited prejudice and contempt. This didn’t stop them from becoming citizens or working to build and become part of this country.
As they joined and changed the American mix, the small-minded who had forgotten their own foreign-born roots, had no choice but to accept, and eventually embrace, the newest Americans. Those Irish immigrants were becoming part of us. As they became Americans, their food and culture became part of American tradition.
Other new immigrants faced similar hostilities. The Italians, the Japanese, the Germans, and others were also targets of unfair racial bias. Undeterred, they became Americans. It didn’t happen easily or immediately, but they became us. It is exactly what the founding fathers imagined and intended.
That’s civil righteous!
It’s America, and it’s a great country!
America is a nation like no other nation, because of its people.
E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one.
Somewhere in school they taught this. For those who have yet to grasp the subtle nuances of the Latin, let me paraphrase. It means that on St. Patrick’s Day, we are all Irish; on Cinco de Mayo, we are all Mexican. It means we eat pizza, hamburgers, and egg rolls, as if they were born in the U.S.A. It means we forget these foods came here with people from other countries, because those people are no longer foreigners, they are us.
With this in mind, may I suggest, tonight is a night to celebrate? In fact, as part of the celebration, forget the pinching and opt for kissing. Don’t waste time looking for a Blarney Stone, or someone wearing a t-shirt with a “Kiss Me” directive, just kiss somebody. Anybody. Kiss someone who is Asian, Black or Hispanic. Kiss anyone American, because tonight, every American is Irish.
Here is a kiss for you! Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
Deb’s Note: If you are one of the unfortunate souls who has contempt for this country, it is only a matter of time before my love of country will annoy you. Now, you’ve been warned. Gloating about what a great country we live in? wrapping myself in the Declaration of Independence or the constitution? It isn’t the first time, it won’t be the last. Kiss me I’m an American!