Monday, March 6, 2017
Courage may be one of the personality traits that I most respect at this point in my life. It comes in a lot of different sizes, shapes, and colors. Some, I respect a lot more than others. That line where brave just blurs into careless/crazy…I don’t particularly have any admiration for that kind of courage. The courage to speak out though, to tell the truth, and to protect others at personal risk…those attributes are the ones that make heroes.
I did not grow up with courage. Nature or nurture? I just can’t be sure. I can’t be sure about that when it comes to any other sort of personality trait either. I honestly believe that in almost all cases it is a mixture of the two. I remember working up the courage to speak in front of groups as a child, but not to do much else. I never remember standing up for a friend in childhood, and I can’t remember ever speaking out to my peers. I was terrified of my peers as a kid.
Study. Travel. Marriage. Parenting. (Seriously Parenting). Publishing personal work. These life experiences have shoved me into having to muster up courage. They have trained me to develop it, whether I had it inside of me from the point of my original design or not.
The reason that I bring this up, is because I am newly aware of how much courage I have managed to realize. Just a handful of weeks ago, I came to the actual understanding that I am much more willing to lose my life than I am to lose my liberty. I naively, never thought that I would even have a need to entertain that thought. Which brings me directly to privilege. I am a white woman, I am very well educated (though not by traditional means), and the combination of these attributes consequently gives me the appearance of the most innocuous person in the room most every day of my life.
I have the experience and ability to fit in and fade into the wallpaper in a wide spectrum of situations where I might find myself in the society in which I live, and that provides me with an exorbitant amount of privilege.
I have recently begun to look around me and to realize how lacking in courage some people are. So when I try to widen the spectrum of my understanding on this point, I can see collectively that the majority of individuals that I observe who are so deeply lacking in courage are deeply privileged as well, and they are terrified to step out and speak out for other people because they know how easily, or fear how easily, their privilege can be dissolved.
Connecting the dots, it is apparent to me that ignorance of our own privilege = an intense fear of losing it.
Back to when I wrote above that study was one of the things that led me to develop my own quality of courage: study of the holocaust caused me to weep for the people who were stolen from their homes in the middle of the night while their neighbors hid inside of their own homes, ignoring the sounds of horror that were penetrating their thin walls. Later, study of the shame that those same neighbors experienced for the rest of their lives as a result, of the fear of retribution that they expected to fall down upon them around every corner, caused me to weep for them as well.
It wasn’t until I looked back upon all of this much later, that I understood that the stories that these people were brave enough to pass on are the stories that made me understand that I would never allow something like that to happen. The courage has been growing inside me, all of these years. We are all different, and it can’t work the same way for every individual, but we all need to do everything that we can to continue pursuit of learning, understanding, and growth.
When we remain ignorant of the suffering of others, when we remain ignorant of our own privilege, when we decide that there is no value in the constant study of history, or the constant cultivation of personal development, we set ourselves up to be absolute COWARDS.
(NOTE: By personal development, I mean PERSONAL development, not bullshit seminars designed to empty your pockets. Be smart, friends!)
And, I have friends who are absolutely unwilling to explore any of these concepts. They have actually, literally, ignored me when I have brought up discussions on privilege and on the suffering of others, (in an ear covered, na-na-na-na-I-am-not-listening sort of way), and even stopped me from speaking, and told me that they were not interested in discussing any of this. Flat-out blatant willful ignorance. Needless to say, some of my choices in friendships have been changing quite a lot recently. I honestly, do not spend any time anymore with the neighbor who ordered me to stop talking about slavery in our country, because he simply did not want to hear it.
Of course, dismissing people who refuse to make an attempt at improving the climate of our country and our world only further alienates them, and does not help anything in any way. Here, I have to step back and say that it is important for us, now more than ever, to focus on ourselves, and on our inner circle. I did not have a close relationship with that neighbor. I have great hope that a close friend or family member of his will speak to him about his denial of reality, in the meantime, I have close friends and family to work on myself. So do you.
We also have endless resources to help us work on developing, and nurturing ourselves. Recently, I have been taking implicit bias tests and exploring my results. I highly recommends this. I have also been exploring my own privilege vs. my responsibility in light of that privilege.
The privilege that hits me closest to heart is the fact that although I have been bisexual since I was eighteen, I fell in love with, and married my husband at twenty six. I have always been very forthcoming with my identification as a bisexual woman, but outside of some offhand comments and social rejection when I was dating women in public years ago, I have never experienced any of the real prejudice that I would have had to struggle with every day, if my husband had happened to be born a girl.
As a result I feel an ENORMOUS sense of responsibility to my LBGTQ community. They are forced to deal with all of the discrimination, and I feel like I have a lot less to lose than they do by defending the rights that we all deserve. I explore this feeling a lot. Believe me, it stirs a lot of guilt.
I cannot say that I have had much success to date with reaching out to the people who are close to me that I have the ability to influence in a positive way. I have friends who aren’t fond of reading, (I wrote that line with my eyes rolled back into my head). I have friends who completely zone out or talk over me when I bring up a subject of actual relevance. I have friends who's personalities are so sweet and kind and wonderful, and so goddamn oblivious to world events that I just want to take them by the shoulders and shake em’ until they wake up!
At least I am well aware of what I am up against, and that shaking people is no way to deal with this problem. I am going to keep looking inward, and have faith that the outward approach will come to me eventually.
I battle with the reality that these people would probably be the people to hide in their homes cowering if someone came in the middle of the night to drag their neighbors away. I will not be able to live with the fact that I didn’t try to ignite some courage in them when I had the chance. So I will keep at it. I will keep trying. I will keep sharing miscellaneous truths for them to consider and hope that those seeds grow roots.
I have been steeping in the disappointment that I have experienced because of this reality for several months now. I have been working and studying while somewhat closed off from a lot of people that I previously spent much more time with. I have even considered how certain friends are currently experiencing feelings of insult and are “sick and tried of being called racists”. Well, I haven’t seen this happen, but I can understand how someone on tv must have told them that it was happening, and they then chose to believe it, because when you don’t read…well.
I think that it is important that we suggest to friends like these that we know that they do not identify as racist, and that additionally we would love to help them better understand what racism is. It might sound like this would be unimaginable to do without sounding superior and belittling, but amazingly you will see people respond well to this information if you approach it in the right manner. Understanding your own implicit bias is a really good way to break the ice. Many of us, actually a large percentage of us, have some level of bias towards many groups of people, and this is a wonderful way to share with someone who is deeply afraid of being labeled as a racist.
For me, my disappointment was never even in any sort of prejudice that was made clear to me by the recent actions of my friends. It was the cowardice that they displayed that I have been struggling with, actually grieving over, for the past many months. I have been overwhelmed from the loss that I have experienced in knowing that I live my life closely with others who would not put themselves at risk to help their fellow man, who would not contribute to the survival of their neighbor at a personal loss, who would not help to protect the interests of our planet at large if it interfered with their immediate gratification.
“This is why I grieve. I don’t think that you are a racist. I DID think that you were a more whole human being. Our friendship will sustain because I believe in building bridges, but you may never regain the same level of respect from me that I offered to you before you showed me who you really are. So, why did you decide to stop hiding it, anyways?”
This is how I feel today. This is what my sense of responsibility compels me to share. I don’t know at which point we made that wrong turn in this country which allowed for the cultivation of selfish, cowardly, individuals who are seemingly incapable of empathy, but I do vow to commit myself to helping correct that wrong turn.
“Wherever you are waiting, I am coming straight at you with tolerance and patience and love whether or not you have any to offer to me in return.”
Thursday, December 1, 2016
This recipe is vegetarian and gluten free and the taste always brings me back to the holiday season. It is easy to make, and a fantastic addition to your holiday buffet.
2 c. grated Cheddar Cheese
1 package Cream Cheese - softened
2 tbsp. Sherry
1 tbsp. Curry Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground Black Pepper
fresh Sliced Scallions
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor, leaving the sliced scallions aside. Pulse the food processor frequently until the cheeses and spices are combined evenly.
Transfer the cheese dip to a bowl, or to a plate, and mold it into a ball. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so before topping with sliced scallions and serving with gluten free crackers and a cheese knife for self-serving. Enjoy!
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Being a Unitarian Universalist is not easy. My family has been blessed enough to have found our church just recently, but I have been an unlabeled UU my whole life.
We are peaceful people. We believe that all people have an inherent value no matter what giant assholes they may appear to be. We work hard to never devalue the opinions of other people. We respect opinions…ALL opinions.
Being a UU if damn HARD right now! If I have to hear my big hearted husband console one more of our-privileged white asshat acquaintances over how upset they are because people are calling them a racist, I am going to lose it. I seriously am.
Thank frak, he now sees them coming, and has stopped answering the phone calls.
I myself, have been waking up in a semi-nightmare-scape-twilight zone sort of space for the past two weeks. I am not supposed to be angry. Anger leads to fear and fear leads to hatred, so instead I am just distraught.
Upset, heartbroken, devastated. People ask me how I am and I say “fine”. Yesterday, in the store, I told a clerk that I was fine and then I turned to my son and said, “I am a fucking liar!”
I am deeply, disparagingly, disappointed in my friends and my family who proved with a vote that they care more about themselves than they do about the rights, freedoms, and well-being of their neighbors, or the foundations that our country was built upon.
They care more abut themselves than they do about America, but I need to cool off, stop being so dramatic, sit down, take on my pathetically traditional feminine role and shut the hell up.
You know what? NO!
I am done with it. I do not exist to make people feel better about their selfishness or their poor judgement. I may be a hell of a good person, but I will not babysit the consciousnesses of a bunch of pampered hot heads who have now fucked our country over because they didn’t bother to read enough about history.
I will not put them down or demean them, but I will tell them that now is the time to get off of their asses and work to defend this country from the white supremacists, the Nazis, who have been living among us all along, and now believe that hunting season wide is open.
I have tried being optimistic, patient, and open minded, and I still feel like I am waking up in the same pile of shit two weeks later. This is not going away. We live in a country full of Christians who apparently do not understand what Jesus was talking about.
We must be active, we must be blunt, and we must not sugarcoat the reality of the fact that we have taken the early steps into a holocaust here, and the main goal of every good person waking up in this country, each and every single day, from now going forward should be to STOP IT!
We must stop this at all costs.
This country is going to need a hell of a lot of heroes moving forward my friends. Are you up to the task?
As for myself, I don’t even have a choice. I love this country. I love each and every one of my neighbors, and I love what our country stands for most of all. I will stand and defend our country and its people.
Americans are heroes. We defend the freedom of all people. We fight for fairness and justice. We will never back down to bullies or tyrants. We stand up for the weak and we defend the helpless.
We are Americans, goddamn it! It is time for us to start acting like it.
Monday, November 14, 2016
I think that we are all still a little stunned. Wednesday I cried all morning and all afternoon. I cried so hard that I gave myself an unyielding headache and everything that I ate wanted to come right back up.
Wednesday night I watched the kids at church while their parents attended fellowship, so I had to pull out of it, paste on a smile & trudge on.
Thursday and Friday, thankfully, I had a large Thanksgiving party to prepare for, so I immersed myself in my cooking and my cleaning.
On Saturday, we marched for Gay Pride. It was powerful and important, and I think that we all gained some healing for being a part of it.
Early on Sunday, back with the kids at church again, and then home yesterday afternoon to exhausted to do much of anything but heat leftovers and take solace in Harry Potter movies.
Now, it is Monday Morning and I find myself crying at my desk again. Not with the same gut wrenching pain that I did that first day, but with the ongoing numbness that I have felt ever since.
I am so overwhelmingly disappointed in the people of my country. I know that nobody needs a lecture today, but that is all that I feel. I grieve for my homeland.
The reasons that I love America is because we are the heroes, because we fight to stand up for those weaker than ourselves, because we are always there to lend a hand to someone in need, because we want to make the world a better place. We still do, don’t we?
Most of what I am seeing from my countrymen today is directly in contrast with those beliefs. I see Americans entrenched in selfishness…it is predominately selfishness, but I also see righteousness, vengefulness, and hate.
So I hide myself away in my community of UUs, the people who work to always defend the America that I believe in. The people who give me hope and make me feel like I belong somewhere.
It is as if I am in Oz all of the sudden, and someone has lifted back the curtain, or taken my rose colored glasses away from me. As if all of the progress that we have worked so hard for, was all just a daydream.
I am in mourning for the country that I believed that I lived in. For the world that I always defended to be “Getting Better Every Day, One Step at a Time.”
Now I am just not sure anymore.
I believed that my friend’s mean old father who would latch onto whoever he could at a family gathering and get to his work of making them as miserable as he is, even if just for that moment, was only one sad, bitter, old man.
How could I have known that my country was stuffed full of this kind of human, from whom I need an entire day emotionally recover, after having been subjected to their baseless vitriol?
How can we possibly have a bright future when our country is teeming with resentful, ignorant, hate-mongers who outright refuse to acknowledge how good this life truly is…Humans who have hearts seemingly devoid of gratefulness?
Five days later, I am compelled to go out and start explaining to people what it is like to live in the way that so many people live, all over the world today, with no possibilities, no hope, and no future, but that of more abuse, and loss, and pain.
I would like to explain to angry white men in this country how much they now stand to lose at the hands of the demagogue who tricked them. A loss that will be far smaller than the the loss that the unprivileged majority of our country will suffer at the hands of hate.
Yes, the privileged of our country are white christian men, and the rights of all other peoples are at risk today.
I would like to be hopeful for my family and my friends, those who are seeking out hope in scarcity right now, but I have read this story far too many times before to logically foresee a different ending to it at this point in history.
All that I can do is to gather strength. The strength to make the right decisions that will make this fallout as minimal as possible.
I will stand with the people of my beautiful brave country.
Humanity is my Race.
Love is my Religion.
Peace is my Weapon.
This is all we have.
Friday, October 28, 2016
This recipe is easy to make, vegetarian, & gluten free.
2 pounds Baby Red Potatoes
1 stick butter
1 sweet onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. brandy
1c. heavy cream
1/4 c. fresh chopped parsley
salt & pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes in water for 30 minutes over medium high heat. When they have cooked, drain them and lay them out on a towel to cool.
When they can be handled, use a knife to remove any large eyes or damaged skin from the potatoes.
In a large pot, over medium heat, cook the garlic and the onion in the butter for about ten minutes, stirring often, until they have browned slightly, add the cream, brandy, and the potatoes.
Smash the potatoes with a hand-held potato masher until the potatoes have absorbed all of the liquid in the pot.
Add the salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the parsley before serving. Enjoy!
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
This makes a delicious, and beautiful, appetizer for the holiday season. The recipe is vegetarian, free of gluten and added sugar.
1 wedge good brie
1 package fresh cranberries
1/2c. coconut oil
1/4 maple whiskey
1/2 c. honey
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
crackers for serving
Rinse the cranberries well & sort out & discard any that are soft.
In a large pot heat the cranberries, oil, whiskey, honey, and salt over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about fifteen minutes until all of the cranberries have broken down and the sauce has thickened.
Refrigerate for at least two hours.
Place the brie on an oven safe plate and top with a large spoonful of cranberry sauce. Heat in a three hundred and fifty degree oven for fifteen minutes.
Sprinkle with cinnamon & serve with crackers. Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
This recipe is free of gluten, and added sugar & is vegetarian. For a vegan option, just omit the sour cream.
5 lbs. Russet Potatoes
1 large red onion - sliced
2 large handfuls fresh spinach - rinsed & chopped
4 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 c. olive oil
2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. paprika
salt to taste
In a large pot boil the potatoes, covered in water over medium to medium-high heat for about 30min.
Drain the water, and set the potatoes out on a clean towel to cool & dry.
In a large pot, or dutch oven, heat the red onion in a couple tbsp. of the olive oil over medium heat, stirring often, until they begin to brown slightly.
Peel the cooked potatoes, and cut them into wide slices, before adding them to the pot with the onions. When all of the potatoes are added, add the garlic and the rest of the olive oil.
Add the spices & continue cooking over medium heat. Use a heavy spatula to turn the potatoes only once about every two to three minutes.
The goal is to get the potatoes that are in contact with the bottom of the pan to brown and crisp before turning them and incorporating them with the rest of the hash. It should take about a half an hour until the potato hash has turned golden brown. You may need to lower your heat to medium-low to keep the hash from browning too quickly.
Remove the hash from the heat & stir in the spinach & salt to taste.
Top with a dollop of sour cream & enjoy!