An 80’s Tale

80’s nostalgia is all the rage.

I look at the things I see and read, and I don’t see the life I had.  I grew up in the 80’s.  My life wasn’t like the kids on “Stranger Things”

My parents didn’t get involved with the counterculture in the 60’s and 70’s.  Most of my relatives didn’t either.

My parents never let me play outside of my own yard.

My parents never let me go walking all over the neighborhood in the early 80’s, or riding my bike anywhere alone until I was about 15 and could drive myself anyway (albeit, on a learner’s permit).

I wasn’t even supposed to close the door on my outdoor playhouse.  I couldn’t walk in the woods next door.  I couldn’t walk to my Uncle’s next door without telling my mother where I was going and why.

When I turned about 12 or 13, I started getting invited to things like parties and little dates and the kind of stuff middle-school kids tend to do to act grown.  Parties with boys present were a hard sell for my parents.  I went to some, vetted to have responsible parents present, but for the most part, the answer was no.  I didn’t get to go where the other kids went.  I begged and occasionally got a reprieve.  I had to have five levels of justification to go to a different church youth group (Methodist instead of Baptist.)

At this point, some people will say, “But you probably didn’t get into as much trouble as those other kids.”

And that isn’t true.  I just fought harder for the gasps of air that I had.  In reality, I missed out on key socialization that I should have gotten earlier on.  I was always very independent, but I wonder how my life would be different, and possibly better now if I had been allowed to flex that independence by being allowed to … walk outside the yard.

There were no rock and roll albums in our house, and the most dangerous country songs was probably an Alabama album.  Most of what my parents listened to when I was a child were Ronnie Milsap, the Statler Brothers, and the Oak Ridge Boys.  When I was old enough to have records of my own to mix in with records about children’s characters, I had to play them on my parent’s record player.  I had a handful of 45’s.  I was about 5 or 6 when I got my first, but they had to be ultra-clean.  No bad words.  No blatant sexual allusions (my parents don’t really register metaphors and symbolism well, so I did get away with some things).  No references to drugs except in the “don’t use them” type of statement.

I did most of my music at other kids houses.

Every kid I knew was getting whatever album they wanted, no matter the content.  They had their own record players.  They had the life you see in “Stranger Things.”

I couldn’t watch most of the most popular shows because they were “filthy”.   My mother had a tough time with anyone in any movie or TV show saying “Oh God!” or “Oh my God!” She didn’t even like anyone to say the word “stupid.”  She monitored everything that came, was viewed, or was listened to in our house.

My brother and I got a tape player and a set of Disney cassettes one year for Christmas.  The standard type that held one tape and was black and silver and had a handle on the end.

That tape player was fun.  It let me record my voice. I had a few blank tapes I could record over and play with.  I was desperate for something that would let me listen to whatever I wanted.

Mostly, I did what I wanted to do at other people’s houses.  Watched the movies I wanted to watch. Listened to the current hits.  I remember learning the words to “Beat It” in the woods outside the playground at school.

We didn’t have cable.  Music videos were a precious magical delight to me.

The salvation of my life was Soul Train.  I would watch these people dance without a care.  Sometimes hear something modern before my mother heard something she didn’t like and change the channel.  I would also watch PBS’ Austin City limits occasionally when I could.  The second one was harder.  Came on when my father was in charge of the TV.  From time to time, an artist came on, and my father would say that he “Couldn’t stand” whoever it was and he would flip the channel.  That could mean anything from saying the individual had lyrics he found to be offensive to his sensibilities, or that the individual had displayed politics or said things he despised.  Willie Nelson’s long hair was never on TV for longer than five seconds.

Or, better yet- a mention that my grandfather or some other relative had hated (or did hate) that person—for whatever reason- and the channel was changed.  A Johnny Cash album in my car now will still cause my father to remark every time that his mother didn’t like him as if it was an important matter to my musical taste.

I was not allowed to play Dungeons & Dragons.  I had a few older cousins who played it, but their parents were the aunts and uncles that we weren’t fully encouraged to interact with.  With them, my mother had a social unease because they didn’t attend church regularly and allowed such things in their home.  They also kept beer in the house.  Although my father did drink beer, my mother never kept it in the house.  He could drink beer and other such things elsewhere.  My mother called it all “beer” no matter what variety of alcohol it was.   She never drank.  I don’t know that she has ever drank in her life.  She also has never smoked or done any drugs.  At all.  Such things, to her, are shocking and things to get a bit wide-eyed about.

My father did make homemade muscadine wine once, but he kept it hid in his shed, away from my mother, mixed in with other reused coke bottles full of oil and grease.

My mother didn’t like the men who were famous at the time.  If she ever found anyone famous truly handsome, she never indicated it in any way.  She didn’t watch most soap operas and always changed the channel when a sex scene came on. After a while, she didn’t watch them at all.  She would never get truly wrapped up in the adult conversations – only half paying attention to whatever was on TV.  When it comes to comedies, she laughed at bits that weren’t the actual punchline.

Very little got through the filter.  Either my mother thought it was bad language or too much sex or my father just didn’t like it, or the actor or singer was wrong in some way.

I fought and did my own thing as much as I could.

I had older relatives that were my parents’ age.  They may not have been as uptight as my parents, but certainly managed to go through the 60’s and 70’s without any of their core opinions being affected.  Some were uptight golf republicans—not religious, but still to this day, dress as if it is 1982.   Easy snobbery and dull, mostly unfeeling lives concerned with financial gain alone—they can’t get past the yuppie 80’s stage of their lives.

I wanted to be normal.  Badly.  I wanted to be able to drive my bike all over the place.  I wanted to be the kids who could go play as they wanted to.  I was sometimes able to sneak away and pretend at normal.  I made a point to get the jokes.

Cultural norms were that- norms. Not absolutes.  The extremities of my personal restrictions in my home were fairly unusual in the larger world, but in evangelical homes at the time, were actually par for the course.

Emotionally speaking, I feel my parents didn’t have enough of their own being worked out when they decided to marry and have children.  They never had the chance either.  And I am always working a little more on the ongoing process of life discoveries because of my upbringing.

Either I find a new movie that everyone else saw in 1987 or I find new depth in something forgotten. I listen to music from my childhood that was never played in my home and revel in its richness, no matter who is singing, or what the genre might be. I dive in. I let music engulf me.  I dance with wild abandon and relish in my body’s shakes and rolls and stops.

I am always finding something, even small things, that crack open the door a little bit more.

I still reach out for my normal.   ‘

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My mother and my father both walked into my cousin’s house several months back.  My father noticed the crack pipe on the table.  My mother didn’t.   Some people don’t register their surroundings.   Obvious clues fail them.  They get lost in what they are thinking or the conversation and their minds don’t land on the solid reality around them.

I’ve known people who had friends that took so easily from them.  Houses robbed.  Money stolen.

We all have the experience at some point of someone we looked up to (perhaps even were told or expected to look up to) turning into dust before our eyes.   We think we are bruised, but life is making us a set of glasses, with which to see truth more clearly.  The aunt or uncle that we thought was wonderful we now see as irresponsible.  The wondering wayfarers of our family become jobless individuals that can’t keep it together.   The teen kids with the cool jackets just become people, ordinary and oh, very flawed.   This one had their kids taken by the state.  That one did a stint in rehab.  That one became a preacher and embezzled from the church’s building fund.

Life is full of hard realizations.  We are all on a journey of getting closer to the hard solid bedrock of reality.  Each hard truth chips away at us, not taking away from us, but cutting the gemstone into greater perfection.

Back in 2011, I read something online that changed my life.  It was a blog about the “Always Broken Goddess” on Elephant Journal (currently offline). In breaking, we become something more beautiful. We are more than the sum of our parts in that moment, even as we feel our discomfort in our disarray.

We are all breaking, all the time.

In the years since I’ve seen a lot of fire and pain. The kinds of things that make you feel like your guts are being removed.  There were times – a couple of years ago when instead of stumbling forward toward greater truth about the people I knew,  I was free falling toward its ground, spinning uncontrollably. It started with one little step forward, and there I went.

Today, for the first time in a long time, I thought of the Always Broken Goddess.  While I’m not really a believer, I believe in learning from the lessons life tries teach us.  That is often what gods and goddesses represent.  Lessons we can learn from our lives.

Have I finally stopped and emerged at the end? Can my feet finally feel the sand?  Am I finally where I was supposed to land?   Can I catch myself?

Our journey toward truth, toward a greater embrace of reality, is not one that ever stops.  But I hope, I hope that I can pause and enjoy the feel of the earth.

No Safe Harbor

We are an unmoored generation.

We move.  We gypsy about.  We buy tiny houses and float from one hipster city neighborhood to another.  Never feeling quite right. Never embracing a sense of place.

I think we are looking for an emotional home.

The emotional safety supposedly proffered by families doesn’t happen in reality, only on television.

The emotional safety of friends in TV shows about young adults also fails us as we find friends taking advantage of our better natures, finances, and willingness to give of our time.

The emotional safety of religion and belief never existed, a fact that we know all too well as we see spiritual leaders take advantage of the weak and easily-convinced. We float in and among beliefs, nothing the weaknesses of each. We see incoherent verses with contradictions and science striking holes in tenets.  We float, and then fall squarely in the face of agnosticism and atheism, or we play-act at religion, not wanting to admit that we are agnostic or atheists even to ourselves out of fear of what that might mean.

We can’t have bars as homes—no “Cheers” type situation in a generation all-too-aware of the dangers of chronic alcohol abuse and with too little extra funds leftover to spend regularly on a happy hour.

We go to college and some of us take this on as a “home” for a while, and even afterward, but that fades with time and nostalgia wears into reality and we remember the things that weren’t so good in a new and different light.

We buy property and second-guess the decision. Sell, downsize, become more mobile. Minimize our belongings so we can make a quick escape from our work, our town, if we choose.

Relationships don’t clear up the matter either.  We know that people in the past were just as inconstant, and that nothing certifies a relationship as not having an expiration date, even if we do not wish it to.  We hear of the affairs grandpa had, or how grandma always pretended at the happy housewife even as she debated poisoning the tea.  We hear about how people made marriage and relationships “work” – but at a soul-removing or spirit-crushing cost to themselves.  We hear of people married several times. We hear of relationships lasting 30 years only to end when someone abruptly decides they have had enough.

We get into relationships and keep our separate apartment, keep a backup plan, keep a storage unit for “my” stuff.

We keep our eyes and ears peeled, knowing the smallest crack can shatter the windshield.

We have put up with people doing things, small things, starting slowly over time … just to make us be the bad guy and end it first because they didn’t want their own version of themselves to be besmirched.

We have had “nice guys” or “nice girls” turn out to be sociopaths.

We have taken running leaps at relationships, had them fail, and, in a fit of nostalgia, run at them again, years later.  Still failing to find the answer.  To find anything of value.

We buy pets.  Grieve like a banshee when they die. Because that is really all there is.

Or we overwork, allow ourselves to be underpaid, finding meaning where we can.  We delve into hobbies that promote social concepts we can’t get elsewhere… “Sisterhood,” “fellowship,” “bonding.”  Until we run out of funds or effort for them or the interest runs dry, and our souls feel raw and empty from the experience.

We are destined to die alone.  Because we know, deep down, everyone dies alone.  Even in a room full of people.  You live in your own head.  And that is all. You can see into no one else’s to verify what might be.

There is no emotional home.

There never was.

The Desperation of Rightness

Some of the people out there don’t understand what it is like to grow up in an evangelical home.  I can’t say my story speaks for everyone, but I think it speaks to a common mentality found in certain areas.

The mentality is this:

We are always right.  Your parents are always right.  You may know something that we don’t, but we are right about it by being your parents and therefore being older and wiser than you.

This is why reason doesn’t win.

You can argue all day long about the overwhelming evidence of something.  It doesn’t matter.  And it won’t matter what that thing might be.

For instance:  My father has argued with me about the meaning of the word “tenure”.  I work in higher education.  I have attended 3 different colleges and universities.  I know what tenure is. I know someone who was fired who had tenure.  However, he argued with me that it meant that people could not be fired.  I told him that it did not.  The argument devolved quickly into a nasty “IT DOES, TOO!!” from him.

I was 38 years old at the time.

I gave up.  He will never see my wealth of experience and knowledge or my professional level as being ever equal to something he heard some guy say on a Fox News show or during a sermon from the right kind of preacher.

I could literally write a book on something, and someone from that world would gladly tell me I was wrong about something that I had studied for years.

This is something beyond gaslighting.

This is a systematic devaluing of the knowledge of the younger generation, regardless of what their scope of knowledge is.  Some of it is mansplaining, but I also got it from the female members of my father’s family.

This is belief based in “rightness.”   And they believe in being right about everything.  The pattern of your wallpaper or what color car you should buy, even.   And that is what makes it hard to pin down as what it is.  It isn’t that everyone must fit a certain pattern, it is that everyone must fit the pattern that has been determined by someone else with more perceived “rightness.”

It is about the belief that all other white people are also Protestant and Evangelical, and that they are also Republican and listen to Country music and want and are expected to have exactly the same lives as their parents.

It is the notion that you will marry someone most likely from your hometown even if you don’t even live there anymore.

It is the idea that you want to live in a certain area even though you have never even voiced a desire to do so.  It is the assumption that you want what they think you should want without asking you.

It is constantly saying, to younger people who know something, that some mysterious “they” have you “convinced” of something – that the Muslims you work with every day aren’t planning your doom when they ask you where the scotch tape is, that tenured professors are fire-able.

I can only imagine some dark cabal out there determining that one must sneak around and “convince” us “dumb” people who actually work in a certain field what terms in that field mean, and that these meanings are somehow different from their actual secret meaning, which is somehow known to these other people out there.  Or that entire groups of people would decide “Let’s be nice about the office supplies and conduct ourselves graciously.  That’ll be how we get ‘em!”  The ongoing fallacy is that there is some secret code between individuals, who may have never met before now, and are deciding to do this complete social con game, full-on convincing other people into believing something. The fallacy that YOU disagreeing with them on a point about global warming or Charles Darwin means that that weird blob of random strangers has done their secret handshake behind the screen and has “convinced” you.

And this “having you convinced” will be proclaimed as truth–even though the person making this proclamation about you hasn’t managed to convince you of anything since 1983.  Because you just aren’t easily convinced.

But that screws with everything in their perception of you.  They want, nay, they NEED for you to fit the mold of a dumb kid, easily convinced of things by fancy people.

If I was a brain surgeon, I’m sure that would come up too.  And I would hear how wrong I was about something dealing with the brain.  How someone had me “convinced” about the benefits of some treatment or another.  If I sold cars, I would be told that some mysterious “They” had me “convinced” that one model was better than another.  I have heard my father argue with historians on TV.  I have heard him argue with scientists about the behaviors of tigers during wildlife shows.

Right.

Right Right Right.

That is what evangelicalism has to have.  Because that’s how evangelical preachers talk to their flock.  Admonitions rather than research and theological debate.  Evangelical preachers don’t care who disagrees with them or the level of knowledge of that person.

“I KNOOOOOOOWWWWW that the Lord created Adam and Eve in six days, the scientists and the atheists are trying to convince yoouuuuu that you came from a monkey… “

There is always the desperation of rightness. There is always a verbally confrontational tone, which we see now in national politics.  The preachers I grew up hearing were all too happy to tell you that they didn’t care if they were told they were wrong, were called bigots for their views on gays, or anything else.  They didn’t care.  Because the name-calling people were going to hell anyway.

Small towns in the red states are ruled by this type of thought pattern.  It doesn’t matter, even, if that person has never been to church in their life.  The thought pattern is “I am right.  It doesn’t matter what you show me, I am right.  It doesn’t matter how many sources you list, I am right.  It doesn’t matter how many experts you have, I am right.  It doesn’t matter if you tell me you saw it yourself, I am right.”  The big kicker is that my father wasn’t always very religious, but he was always “right” about everything.  His turn toward religion more seriously has been a product of a lot of life upsets.  My not-actively-church-going relatives are also “right.”  That is why they voted for Trump and other individuals who pop up in news feeds with stories that make most of America shake its head.  He reminds them of themselves in his constant insistence of his own rightness.

“I’m Right.  I’m Right even if I’m Wrong.”  That is the core attitude that is held by current politicians and constituents in the red states that the Democrats and many moderates fail to understand.  But I know it.  I’ve lived with from birth.   Christians who are from mainline belief systems don’t understand that this certainty of rightness is exactly why Evangelicalism is so very appealing.  There is no consideration of multiple meanings or historical changes to word definitions.  There is only Rightness.

This mentality requires blinders.  You have to ignore that your cardiologists’ last name is Hussain, that the person cutting your hair is a gay man. You have to seek to actively “not get it.”  To be so inside your own head that it never dawns on you.  To actively assume your bubble is the one that everyone else is living in, too.  Or to live so externally as to be perpetually worried about what other people are going to say about you or think about you or feel about you, so much so that it supersedes the realities of your life happening all around you.  Either way, the result is a triumph of non-awareness that is impressive.

I don’t argue with my father about anything anymore.   I avoid it as much as possible and seek to avoid saying anything that betrays my real thoughts on any subject where differences lie.  Arguing is pointless.  The only thing that does work is letting him find out the hard way.

It is hard.  But there is nothing that works nearly so well as failure.  Arguing is a desired outcome.  They want you to argue.  They think it is a fun exercise to argue. They don’t want to learn anything.  They don’t want to absorb information from you.  They just want an excuse to be snide from the beginning of the argument.  The only way to win…

Is to let them think they have. To be more mature.  To avoid the problem.  Then, go do what you want anyway.  And you let them lie in the bed they made for themselves.

I can tell you the story of a teacher from my hometown.  She had a husband that was politically passionate.  Put up signs.  She would help and do and volunteer and give money, but when she went to vote, she voted for the other person, every time.  It must have been a hell of an act.

I think of that lady from time to time.  I wonder who she voted for in the last election.

 

Looking at Laura

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I’ve always had a rocky relationship with Laura Ingalls.I’ve been reading the book “Libertarians on the Prairie” by Christine Woodside.  I have also recently read “Prairie Girl,” which is a collection of Laura’s unvarnished recollections of her life

I’ve been reading the book “Libertarians on the Prairie” by Christine Woodside.  I have also recently read “Prairie Girl,” which is a collection of Laura’s unvarnished recollections of her life

Growing up, I was always sitting in front of the television, watching this perfect American invention of what a girl should be, and our house was home to the entire series of books.  She was spunky, just the right amount to be mischievous and pull cute kid stuff, but never aspired to descend into any real rebellion.  Laura never brought home a science book with Darwin’s theory in it, asking difficult questions. Indeed, she was living in an age when they were first putting age restrictions on teachers, and a teaching certificate was only for rudimentary math and literacy.   Laura never listened to metal or punk or hard rock or gansta rap.  Laura never had a Barbie doll with a disco outfit.  Laura never tried to copy Soul Train dancers in her living room.  Laura never begged for a mini skirt (the tiered one with ribbon trim in different colors on each tier) or branded sneakers or cereal that had the cartoon of the day on the front.

I was overdosed with Laura and, when possible, the Walton clan, and reruns were endlessly on play whenever they were available.  My mother bought into and remained stuck in, that era of 70’s polyester pioneers and country simplicity bordering on bumpkinism.

Laura was guided only by elders in her actual presence.  Laura on tv had hair that hung in perfect braids (which my mother may still not realize was a wig.) Book Laura was impressed easily by what modern international trade made into everyday objects.  Laura didn’t have the benefit of chewable vitamins and would never live to see Geraldine Ferraro as a possible vice president, or 80’s era feminism.  Laura didn’t have Commodore and Apple computers at her school.

Laura was the one of the most wholesome of the wholesome professions for women—a teacher.  Later, a journalist, but in the books, always a teacher, and then a mom and wife. I found out when I was dating a Muslim man several years ago that Little House on the Prairie was well liked in his country and passed the censors because it was so completely safe.

It became apparent as I grew older, that my mother was desperate to be the wise and admired mother:  The Caroline (or on The Waltons, The Olivia).   Full of uncanny good judgment on TV, full of ridiculous teenage faux-mature behavior in the books. The reason my mother had children was to have someone to be wiser than.

I was born in 1976.  The tumultuous times of Madonna and Cyndi Lauper and Boy George were time for a different kind of wisdom.

In my mother’s eyes, Laura was a perfect poppet of just the right level of mischief.

But she was also poverty porn.

My mother idealized even the difficulties of prairie life. If there had been a way for her to make me stay home and do a bunch of farm work to show me how tough life was, she probably would have.  She frequently made me (not my brother, mind) work on my uncle’s farm, but would not allow me a summer job of my own outside of the family.   Laura was an example, an example to be happy and impressed that I even had shoes from a real store.  That I was supposed to be proud of homemade clothes over store-bought, and that’s how it used to be so I should shut up.

Encroaching on this mentality was always the problem of geography.  I am from the area surrounding Augusta, Georgia.  The old antebellum South.  There was no prairie for me. No deep snows.  This was a place planted by Oglethorpe, and sexualized through the shaking and quaking of James Brown.  I would see GI’s outside the Fort Gordon area drinking copious amounts of beer in the Pizza Hut on Dean’s Bridge Road, and hear them telling loud and dirty jokes.  I would go to Chinese restaurants older than I was. This wasn’t the prairie.  The closest thing in town was the Augusta National Golf Course, complete with the held breath of class consciousness it brings.

When I was quite young, still in elementary school, we had a town centennial beauty pageant.  My mother made my dress.  It was brown calico, unflattering for my coloring, and had an off-white apron and a bonnet.

I lost.  The little girl that won had something much fancier, much more likely for the area where we lived and the time frame in question.   The older girls that won wore prom dresses that were popular at the time that sort of had a faux-antebellum vibe.

Sometimes I think about the Laura’s that I did know.  Wholesomely wholesome unquestioning individuals, absorbing parental lessons rather than looking up another source of information, who became teachers and then stay-at-home moms. Always Protestant Republicans who majored in Early Childhood Education.

But, I don’t hate Laura.

I find her sitting there in the corner of the house of the mind, a dusty book once again picked up.

Laura and Rose cranked out good stories.  American literature that falls into the right rhythm in all the right places, and you feel the wagon creaking across an empty prairie again.  It’s good writing.  I still recognize the craftsmanship of the work itself.

I wish I could go back in time and tell that skeptical little girl that her suspicions are true.  And that yes, Dorothy and Alice are so much cooler.

Your Feelings About Abortion Aren’t About a Baby

There is one abortion clinic left in all of Kentucky.  One.  This story appeared on my news feed on Friday and I felt my gut wrench.

One. In a whole state.

The idea that all abortions should cease is a minority opinion in this country, and yet, that minority opinion keeps getting louder and louder.  And the protesters get meaner and ruder and worse all the time.  Angrier and Angrier.  More full of vitriol all the time.

They hate women.

Wait.  Let me rephrase that:  They hate women that have been found as being able to be sexed by men.  It doesn’t matter if the circumstances were rape or incest.  It doesn’t matter if the woman is a confused teenager or a 37-year-old married woman.  What matters is that the woman is guilty because she has female parts and a man experienced sexual excitement in her vicinity– mattering not if that was brought on by violence and rage or affection or some deranged perversion.  That is what they are angry about.  Having a pregnancy (not a child, but a full 9-month pregnancy) is the punishment they believe women should have for the crime of having attracted, even if that attraction was completely unwanted or even unwarranted.

They hate that women are holding their head up and walking into a clinic, verifying to the world that they have, indeed, been found fuckable at some point by someone.

This comes down to the sin of being female.  The sin of being able to attract. Hatred of women as attractors.

This comes down to assuming “nice boys” from “nice families” only do bad things if a bad woman gives them a reason, confuses her intention, or fails to be chaste in every possible aspect of her being.  This comes down to the too-low shirt or the cheerleader skirt or the strapless dress when no one says anything about the shirtless pool boy.

This is punishment for having female plumbing.

“Be pregnant for 9 months.  Grow a baby.  You should not have been attractive to anyone ever.  I don’t care if that was your intent or not.  You shouldn’t have been something other people could see as fuckable. Even you, Sister Hilda from the Convent who was raped while wearing a floor-length habit.  This is your punishment for being fuckable.”

Snicker if you wish, but I guarantee you– if it is living and breathing, something out there is wanting to have sex with it, no matter what it’s wearing.

The hard truth is:

If anyone honestly gave a damn about the kids, there wouldn’t be a single child sleeping on the street.  We would have enough homeless shelters and care centers for all of them. Why aren’t these religious organizations starting more homeless shelters?

If anyone honestly gave a damn about the kids, there would be no bickering over free healthy lunch in schools, and the cafeterias would not be outsourced to a private entity, but properly maintained and monitored.  Why aren’t these individuals protesting their local or state school board’s practices?

If anyone gave an honest damn about the kids, there would be comprehensive sex education across the board in the US that contained the tools to not only discuss sex but also to discuss boundaries and appropriate behavior.   Because American parents are way too scared to discuss sex in any rational manner whatsoever, and some of them may not know a lot about real sex education either because they didn’t have in in their school.

If anyone gave a damn about the kids, we wouldn’t be letting them get their ONLY sex education on how the body actually works from cheesy and wholly unrealistic internet porn.

If anyone gave a damn about the kids, there wouldn’t be a single child who is waiting to be adopted and these same people would be spending some of this protest energy on launching protest campaigns to reduce the cost of adoptions and the time for adoption transitions.

The first thing that anyone says is, “They should give them up for adoption.” Quickly followed by, “But it’s so expeeensiiivee.  And it takes soo longggg.” No one is protesting those laws.  Why not?  Where is the outcry?  Where is the demand to change that legislation?  Where is the ever-vocal minority on that?  It doesn’t exist because they really don’t care about it.  If they did, they would be doing something about it.

No.  We get people harassing women at the only abortion provider left in an entire state.

I’ve seen our sexual culture change.  In my high school years (think about the early 1990s), sex was just a thing you maybe did or didn’t do, and many sexually active kids did have, purchase, and have access to condoms.  Many boys in my high school carried condoms in their wallet, “Just in Case”.  While some might snicker at the assumption that these teen boys would ever get lucky, the fact is, kids were having sex all the time.  Those condoms got used.  The pregnancies that happened were often because the condom broke, not because there wasn’t one.  Sexual responsibility was a part of emerging adulthood, regardless if that responsibility led to abstinence or responsible sexual behavior.

Now, it seems we are in a world where teens are almost given the culture of having sex accidentally and unprepared as being the normal situation.   There has been an emergence of an American subculture that wants the drama, the negative outcome, salivating over the punishment.   They keep setting up the perfect storm:  Lack of sex education, so that people, especially kids, can only make stupid decisions, which can be devoured later with their eyes to give some sense of smug self-satisfaction.  Giving only one path for escape, knowing most won’t follow.  All to visually feast and scream through bullhorns at those who bear the burden of failure combined with bad luck so that they can be made examples of.

Because that is what they want.  Not more babies in the world.  Satisfaction from seeing a punished, “fallen” woman.  A woman punished because her body is breasts and hips and thighs and that female-ness committed the crime of being and therefore attracting, a male.

Circling the Bowl

Why do people argue the unresolvable?

Why?

Why can’t people admit that they are on different ground rather the same and just be okay with it?

I’m talking specifically about the arguments I observe (as opposed to participate in) over religion.   People push one set of values presented in a religion over another and the comment thread or discussion goes on and on and no resolution is ever reached, just endless cycles of blah-de-blah-blah about what someone should believe but it also says this other thing that another person thinks is “more equal” in the religious viewpoint.  You aren’t a REAL  (insert religion here) unless you believe THIS.  Then someone else chimes in and

People push one set of values presented in a religion over another and the comment thread or discussion goes on and on and no resolution is ever reached, just endless cycles of blah-de-blah-blah about what someone should believe but it also says this other thing that another person thinks is “more equal” in the religious viewpoint.

Maybe you aren’t the same religion after all.   Why is that hard to accept about one another rather than arguing a theological debate? Why do you feel an obligation to justify yourselves to one another?

Why?  Why spend time on it?

There are people who are in love with religion for its ability to bring judgment. There are people who are in love with religion because it might bring order to the universe, they tend to like having rules dictated to them, even if those rules hurt them personally.  There are people who are in love with religion because they think of it in a lovey-happy way– people who espouse the ideas of mercy and forgiveness and ideal, eternal love.

These people are different people.  They believe different things.  No matter what religion you are in, these people are going to have a different set of beliefs.  If they had been raised in a different culture, the temperature of their religious belief would largely be unchanged. They are, in a way, worshipping something inherently different within the religion, and will find a different set of outcomes rewarding to their sense of spirituality.  You can argue each other’s wrongness into the ground or next Tuesday but it won’t actually change anyone’s mind and it won’t matter to them.  They will keep justifying whatever it is to themselves anyway.
I vote everyone stops.
I am going to suggest a new tactic for comment sections and family reunions the world over.

Stop.  Just stop.  Put a stop to wasting your precious time and frazzling your mind over it and finding justifications for this beleif and that one.
Regardless of what religion you participate in, how different would your life be, if—
Instead of saying “Yes, I believe this, but my interpretation…” or “What that really means in the original language is.. “ – what if, instead you just looked someone in the eye and casually said,

“Yeah.  No.  I don’t believe that part.  I believe parts X-Y.  Can you pass the Ketchup?”

Can you imagine the reaction if you chose to opt out of the discussion instead of launching into a black hole of endless unresolved debate on your opinions of theology or the verb endings of languages you have never personally studied?   Wouldn’t that make life BETTER?  Just to stop?

Wouldn’t it be better not to discuss what a REEAAAALLLY REAL  (fill in the blank) believes?
Why can’t that be the answer?  Why shouldn’t it be?

You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your thought processes.  Not a single person.  They don’t owe you an explanation for theirs.  The problem is the endless justifying and verse-grabbing and historical veracity ad nauseum, because it is eating up precious seconds of your life without an end in sight.

You can pick and choose what you want to believe.  You can tell people to screw off if they don’t like it.  But that requires you owning what you actually believe.  You have to stop saying, “I know its wrong  buuuuuuuutttttt…. ” and just own that you don’t actually believe that bit of something.  It requires you to stop finding some vague verb tense only 3% of people majoring in dead and nearly -dead languages to determine what it “really means”.   It requires you to say, “I believe in the ten commandments, but I gotta tell you, I think the beatitudes are hogwash.  That hippie love crap is just annoying.”  Or the reverse.  Whatever is true for you. Own your current reality based on your actual life.

I’m telling you- go ahead.  It’s okay.  I don’t care if you do.  But you all need to start owning where you are and being honest with yourself. All you are doing otherwise is spending giant chunks of your life arguing over something you can’t resolve.  Who on earth would ever want to do that?  Why?

And who are you trying so hard to convince with that smidgen of information or vehement insistence?   Yourself?  If you have to fight that hard to justify something, no matter what it is, that’s usually a sign of a problem.

Is it hard to own your own mind?

Are we scared to know that instead of a few value systems there are infinite value systems, one per person, and we cannot legislate the mind?
Try it.  I dare you, religious peeps of various types—when someone gets all whatever and starts telling you what you believe,  what this book says or that, respond with, “Yeah, I don’t believe that part.”  even if you do. Take a look at their reaction.  Savor the moment you decided other people’s demands on your spirituality no longer were a thing for you.
What if, the next time someone tells you that you aren’t a “real (fill in the blank),” instead of getting angry or self-defensive– you just say, “yeah, I know” very nonchalantly and punctuate it by walking off to buy ice cream?

Endless debates on where the emphasis in religions should fall are a waste of your precious years on this earth. Time you can NEVER GET BACK. EVER.  When the time is gone, it is GONE.  GONE GONE.  Time you could have spent watching the sunset.  Remembering the names of the constellations overhead.  Feeling a summer breeze. Making snowmen.

Life is short.  Too short.  Don’t waste it debating the unresolvable just because you think you must.   Definitely, don’t do it because some clown is demanding answers out of you.  Your life isn’t about everyone’ else’s opinion.  It’s far too short to be.