Pride and Freedom

America was a land of the free and her citizens were allowed to choose whatever beliefs they chose to believe in. That is not true anymore. America is failing and her freedoms have eroded.

One of America’s most cherished freedom was freedom of speech. Now it is one of the most restricted parts of being in America. You must walk on eggshells and tippy-toe around others for fear of “offending them”. I’m waiting to see when word offenses become jail time events.

Even if you said or did something decades ago that is now not considered PC (politically correct), you are shunned, yes, shunned for it. You can lose your job, your place in society . . . everything but your freedom. When will that happen? When will we lock up those who dare to speak something different from what is demanded of Americans?

Then there’s the matter of pride. We can have black pride . . . “Black is Beautiful” is a slogan from the not too distant past. But if you dare speak of being proud of white heritage, you are immediately attacked. You’re shouted at that you’re a white supremist or a Zionist or whatever the person who is suddenly offended by your mere suggestion that you have a reason to be proud of your race, just as African Americans have a right to be proud of their race. No. For some reason, in this country, which was founded by mostly white people, white people must now be ashamed of their skin color.

I also see statues being destroyed, and today that is acceptable. It is a part of the heritage of this country. It is a reminder of when the country tried civil war and a reminder of many things that we do not need to forget. Someone said those who forget history tend to repeat it. I don’t think we need to destroy things that were designed to remind us of this country’s history.

We also take pride in those who struggle to do well. I saw a long article on a Down Syndrome child who was succeeding as a model and wondered why we don’t ever do long articles on a brilliant child who is succeeding? Our Academically Gifted school programs are mostly gone, but we have one on one programs for mentally deficient children in our schools. We hire at least one teacher in every school to teach non-English speaking children the English language, but we do not do anything for the brightest children we have.

I may get in trouble for writing this. I may lose followers. But let me share something with you that is how we treated differences of opinions when America was free. We walked away. If I begin to read something that doesn’t agree with MY beliefs, I quit reading it. If someone talks in a manner or about certain things I don’t believe in, I walk away or do not engage that person in conversation.

Everyone is not the same in America. If anything, our diversity is greater than any country in the world’s. It was what made us unique and what introduced us to different opinions, different religions, different cultures. Now? Now we must all agree, or something is wrong with the one who isn’t falling into step with all the rest.

I see something dangerously wrong in that.

 

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Righteous Anger

People who are angry and should be angry, are often said to have “anger issues”. This is said by those who have no idea how much pain and hurt those people have tolerated. Feelings belong to the person who is experiencing them. Unless you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins, you are not allowed to decide how they should be feeling just because their feelings make you feel uncomfortable. Handle your own comfort level. Do whatever you need to to feel better, but don’t tell the person pounding the wall that s/he should not feel that angry or to “calm down”.

A Nation of Complainers

I don’t know when it happened. It was a slow erosion of American spirit, but America has now become a nation of complainers. Where our forefathers took up the fight and won what they fought for, our current populace prefers to complain and wallow in misery.
Fires in California? We have a president with a solution, or even the start of a solution, and most of what I have seen is ridicule for his ideas and whining that it won’t work! How do you know it won’t work, if you haven’t tried it?
My grandmother’s words often are heard in my thoughts as words of encouragement. “You don’t know until you try” was one of her favorite sayings. When I’d ask her opinion . . . could this work? She’d encourage me to try.
Her work ethic was taught too. As a young child I was coloring my least favorite page in the coloring book, but I went through page by page and colored whatever was next. I wanted to hurry and get to the next page. I said aloud, “It doesn’t matter how this one looks. I don’t like it anyway.” She leaned over to see what I was doing and said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
That was just two of the things she said to me as I became a teen-ager and then an adult. She came to me when I had recently graduated college. My grandmother who was slow with praise told me how very proud of me she was. I was the first to graduate from college in our family. My grandmother quit school after sixth grade because the other kids made fun of her old coat that was too small. She said she didn’t plan to go through another year of being ridiculed. So she quit. My own father had an 8th grade education. My mother graduated high school. I graduated college.
But my grandmother came to me that day in the dining room of her house to tell me how very proud she was of my college degree. No one from my family came to my college graduation. I went through the ceremony because I had earned it and looked forward to it. My grandmother was too old to attend . . . it was on a football field. My mother was too crippled. She had polio as a child. If there was handicapped parking back then, I didn’t know about it. And besides, I had no car. They lived in another town. But that day in the dining room, my grandmother came to me to tell me how not many others would have gone through what I went through to finish college. I shyly told her I was hungry a lot of the time. I was only able to afford two meals a day. I had some financial aid and I had a part time job, but still, I could only afford two meals a day. She said she knew I was hungry. She had sent me back with some of the food she had, when I’d come home on occasional weekends. She said that’s what she meant. Not many others would have gone after a dream, if it meant being hungry to do it.
Now I see what she means. Today’s Americans do not want to suffer, but they want things back to how they were when past generations were alive. Well, past generations had grit, courage and determination that today’s Americans lack.
Have you seen all the ridicule President Trump has faced as he suggests we clean up the forest floors and do whatever other steps it would take to deter future California wildfires? Other countries have even chimed in to make fun of his suggestions. But he’s right. He’s as right about that as he’s been about the need for a wall and the illegal invasion of America that has been tolerated for years.
Past generations didn’t sit and complain and feel like they were suffering all the time. They rose up and did things to improve their situation. Where is that grit today? What has happened to Americans?

Bingo

So, I got up, put on makeup, wore the outfit I’d picked out, and drove to Bingo. It’s Parks and Recreation Day. They have good prizes. I missed Target last week. Gonna get a nice prize!

The woman who is going to call out the numbers, I’ve never seen before. She’s black and mouthy . . . yak, yak, won’t quit talking. She puts brochures on each table with a section for us to fill out with contact info. Yak, yak, yak . . . takes out her prizes. A couple of covers for beer bottles, she says, with coke and some other brand on the covers . . . I guess because we seniors have to disguise the fact that we’re drinking beer, if we’re drinking it. She also has bird geegaws that won’t stand up, but she says we can put them on our shelves at home . . . sit them on our shelves. I look at the dead looking birds laying on their sides on the gift table and think that’s depressing.

I look at her brochure which is telling me about how to plan my funeral and similar types of info.

She called numbers for Bingo until three of us win. (We play the same game until 3 people bingo and then she starts a new game.) Between games she tells us a horror story about a man who paid his insurance premiums, missed one, tried to get reinstated, got sick . . . went in the hospital and was diagnosed with cancer. The insurance refused to reinstate him . . . at least for 90 days. He went right from the hospital into hospice. . . If you have insurance, she says, let your relatives know so no premiums are missed . . . she wants us to fill out the forms so she can contact us about her insurance policies.

She starts another bingo set . . . we’re going to play 3 more games and then she’ll tell us a happy story . . . meanwhile between calling numbers, she tells us stuff I don’t really want to sit and hear while I’m trying to do my one fun thing this week . . . I’ve been sick and felt better . . . wanted to go to Bingo. Now she’s telling us to let our relatives know we have a life insurance policy. We don’t have to tell them how much or who the beneficiaries are, but they will pay it, if we can’t. No, we don’t have to tell them anything because she knows some relatives are mean and we don’t want everyone knowing our business, but it’s important that we keep our life insurance policies paid up . . .

I’m sitting there listening to how important it is for my relatives to get money when I die and I need to have insurance policies because I could go at any time, like that poor old person who went to the hospital after not paying his premium . . . he should have let a relative know . . . they would have paid it for him, she’s sure.

I already battle depression frequently. I have looked forward to this Bingo game all week. I’ve been sick, very sick for about a week and as days went by and I got better, I was delighted because if I wasn’t sick on Friday, I was going to Bingo! I counted down the days.

And now this. This depressing, worrying woman who has a roomful of old folks . . . most are older than I am, and none of them reached for her brochure, but shoved it to the middle of the table and sat expectantly waiting for Bingo to begin.

I looked at the prize table with the apparently dead bird figurines and the covers for my beer bottle . . . I don’t even drink beer, and if I did, I wouldn’t feel like I had to hide the fact . . . and wondered why I was sitting there getting more and more depressed. Mental health affects physical health. I was just getting over a week long illness.

As she called numbers, I put my coat on. I put my shoulder bag on my shoulder and between games, I stood up to leave. Everyone at my table looked shocked. “Are you leaving?” they asked. I wish I’d been quick enough to say “Not permanently”, which seems now an appropriate response to the question, but I nodded and said yes and walked out. I stopped by the front desk to ask where the regular folks were who usually came on Fridays and she said she didn’t know. I started out and came back. I told her I suffered with depression and all the woman was talking about was funerals, death, cancer, hospice, insurance . . . and I had to get out of there. Then I walked out.

It’s like telling a kid you’re going to give him a piece of candy and when you bring it to him, you tell him you decided he’d like a raw piece of broccoli instead. No thank you. I’ll come back home and watch TV.

Cell Phones

You know what I miss? Dial tones.

When I use my cell phone, it’s dead air while I’m making a call and I don’t know if it’s going through or not. I still hesitate to hear a dial tone and I know and have known for years that cell phones don’t have them.

I just tried to activate a new card I received. First I had to key 1 for English. Then I had to key in the card number. Well, that stubborn 1 was still showing and must have affected the numbers they considered because they couldn’t accept the numbers I keyed in. I called back.

This time, rather than press 1 for English, I just waited because I knew the instructions would say enter the 16 digit card number. And it did. And it was in English. So I got my card activated, but there is a lot of stress related to using the phone now that there didn’t use to be.

Just like kids don’t know how to use a rotary phone when presented with one, seniors don’t know all the quirks and gimmicks of a cell phone because we didn’t grow up knowing what key will do what on technical gadgets.

The world has changed a lot since I was young. I even worked as a telephone operator for two years way back when, but I still struggle with my cell phone. The other day, as I was skyping with my youngest, my cell phone rang. I tried to answer it. It was the doctor’s office. I recognized the number calling. No matter how many times I swiped my finger on the screen like I have to do to answer the phone (remember when you just picked the thing up and said Hello?), but no matter how many times I swiped, it would not answer. Even my son didn’t know what else I could do as he watched. I ended up listening to the message the doctor’s office left, which was to call them back. Well, I would, if my phone let me.

I don’t like cell phones. I know they are very convenient, but only if you can make them work. I spend more time trying to use mine that I would if it was the way I learned to use a phone. Even a rotary phone would be more welcomed than this tempermental thing I call my cell phone.

When Children Argue

I spent time with a group of 8 year olds today and the thing that bothered me the most was how much they argued with adults. I wasn’t the only adult they argued with and tried to correct. What in the world?

I think it’s important that children learn to express themselves, but they need to remember adults are in charge and they need to have respect for the adults with them and realize they have a lot to learn before their “arguments” can all be valid.

Even I, as an adult, listen to the other person’s point of view during an argument. Once in awhile the other person even changes my mind. Most times I realize we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.

But children? When did children decide or be told that they had an equal vote in any adult discussion or decision? I would never have dreamed of contradicting my grandmother. I may have thought she was wrong and as I bit my tongue not to say so, I continued to watch what happened and always, without a doubt, realized that she did know better than I did . . . especially when I was 8 years old.

I worry about the younger generations. I think they have been given too much freedom and too many choices at a young age. People also don’t wait for anything any more and they will never know the joy of anticipation.

But when it’s been raining and an 8 year old insists they have the right to go outside in the wet, cold grass to play and then have the audacity to argue with an adult about it?

These times certainly were a-changing and they did not change for the better.

Where Did The Tolerance Go?

When I was growing up, we acknowledged that people were different. Sometimes we celebrated our differences. Other times we tolerated them. We believed people had a right to their own ideas and thoughts, beliefs and traditions. We didn’t try to force everyone to think alike, but delighted in the fact that we lived in The United States of America, where people had freedom to be themselves.

Now? Now you can lose your job, if you say or do the wrong thing. We all must believe exactly the same ideas or we will pay the price! Newscasters and leaders tell us what we should believe. If we don’t, there’s something wrong with us and we will pay the price!

Where did the tolerance go? I was fascinated with different ideas, difference religions, different beliefs. Sometimes I was persuaded to change my belief; most times I was just aware that people are different and different didn’t mean bad, it meant exactly that . . . different.

We have shootings in America now like we never had them before. You don’t know when the next place will be shot up and you sometimes don’t know why it happened.

Words have become more meaningful than actions.

People can say something about someone and instantly folks jump on the bandwagon to smear that person’s reputation. No one knows if it’s true; they just know someone said it, and they believe it. Used to be, proof was required.

Folks keep wondering how all these shootings can be stopped. Well, why don’t we try a little tolerance? If someone says something we disagree with, we can have a debate, or we can not spend time with that person. We had freedom of choice. It was bad enough in school when everyone wanted to be just like everyone else. We outgrew it. What is going on in this single minded country today?