An Excerpt from my U. S. Government class on the fundamental concept of Freedom:
In short, there is a fundamental agreement amongst most of the citizens of the United States in the importance of individual freedom. What we don’t agree upon is what that means in specific, concrete instances. Should a citizen be allowed to burn a US flag in a public place? Should a high-school student be allowed to sit down while everyone else in her public school stands up and pledges allegiance to the flag? Should a seventeen-year-old be free to send and receive pornographic materials over the Internet? As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
And speaking of details, I find it appropriate to state here that our country started out with a large segment of our population in slavery. There wasn’t much freedom for them. Even after slavery was officially abolished, real economic and political freedom for much of our black population remained an unfulfilled promise until the last generation. Even now, the prejudices that we’ve inherited from our past have not been totally eliminated.
It is also appropriate to mention that the original native population of the United States was not given much freedom. Most were killed or herded onto reservations.
Finally, women were not afforded real economic or political freedom in most of the United States until the twentieth century.
Wow…..I don’t see any mention of the “whites” taking land from the Mexicans…..weird.
It happened last night. It was inevitable. I knew it was coming, like murky grey clouds hanging over my house….the electric smell of a storm brewing. I had avoided it for almost a year. I kept thinking to myself….just one more year, a little more time, I am just not ready yet. We were sitting outside on the balcony. I inhaled a long drag off of my P-Funk and blew it away from him, as always when he would come out with me. The smoke just hung in the air like those cartoon bubbles above characters heads….just waiting for the silence to break. Then he asked….
“Mom….is Santa Claus real?”
I stopped breathing for a second or five…all possible answers flew through my head like a swarm of locusts on a crop.
“What do your friends say about it?”, I questioned back quicker than I thought.
“They said he isn’t real…that your parents do everything…so do all the kids in my class.”, he responded. He was matter of fact. Just as if he were telling me what time it was.
“What do you believe?”, I quietly said.
“I think he’s real.”…..And there it was. The answer I didn’t want to hear. He is going to be nine years old in exactly one month. I found out when I was about seven or so. Now what? I was so happy I squeaked by last year with answers like, “Do you think I want to stay up all night and put presents together?”….”Why would you think I would do all of that…I’m tired.” I refer to myself in the singular only because in the past eight years there had not been one Christmas Eve where Ted had been awake long enough to do it all. I was Santa all these years.
Jake is extremely mature for an eight year old. People don’t give him enough credit for how smart he is or for how much of the real world he does understand. He’s in third grade, reading at a fifth grade level….and a math genius. How do you lie to a genius?
So I did the dirty deed.
I explained it all. Santa…St. Nicholas…why people created the fantasy of such a person. A person with incredible influence and power over children. How does a child get over the fact that it is all a lie?
A lie is something you tell someone to hurt them. A lie is meant to be cruel….the fantasy of Santa is not a lie….it is a way of making children understand the concept of giving. It helps them to understand how to treat one another….how lucky we are and how unfortunate others may be. It is the reason we feed the hungry, house the homeless and drop our change and dollars into those red buckets every year outside of Wal-Mart.
He wasn’t upset. He wasn’t sad. He asked one question. “Well, if Santa and Mrs. Claus aren’t real, then who I was talking to on the phone last year wasn’t real?”
Ummm…yea….here we go…..
“Well, they were real people, just not Santa and Mrs. Claus.”, I answered.
“Then who were they?”, he asked.
“Your aunt and uncle.”, I said timidly.
“So, they lied to me.”, he responded…so quickly and with a shred of anger.
I proceeded to explain how it wasn’t really considered a lie, as it was not meant to hurt him in any way. It was merely meant to keep up with the illusion of the Santa myth. (I didn’t say that part ver batim….I skirted around that one as much as possible). At this moment, Ted came in from walking the dog. I proceeded to tell him the entire story. He didn’t react as I expected. He was extremely angry that I didn’t “consult” him before telling Jake the truth about Santa. Really?
I mean fucking REALLY?
Three months ago Jake asked the sex question. I “consulted” him on that one and he proceeded to simply say….”Oh no, you got this one.” and threw his hands in the air. So I took it and with the maturity that Jake has, he handled it just fine, matter of fact, not really even surprised at all. He just said, “Oh, ok”, and shrugged his shoulders.
Ted was so enraged about this life altering decision I had made that he went on and on for over an hour. I defended myself, Jake told him to knock it off…that he was just fine and to “get over it”, which I found completely hysterical.
After Jake fell asleep and Owen was bathed and finally in la-la land too, I proceeded to give Ted the silent treatment. For someone who says that I talk too much and to leave him alone during an argument, he cannot stand the silent treatment. It kills him. He tries any and everything to get me to give him some sort of response…none of it worked.
About 11:00 PM, Ted got up to go to bed. I simply said, “Ted, if it will make you feel better, I’ll give you the Easter Bunny and the fucking Tooth Fairy…..ok?”
How does one measure a person’s success?
I have known many wealthy individuals who have worked themselves almost to death and for what? A bigger house. A nicer car, designer clothes, more vacations and hair by Fredric Fekkai….why are all these things so important? Do they really measure a person’s worth? Do they calculate their success or value as a human being?
I knew a woman once that would give you the shirt off of her back…knowing it was her last shirt and never bring it up in a conversation again. She had ruined her credit, had no vehicle or home and was virtually broke. I also know a man who has earned a lot of money, helped his family members when he could, but was quick to use it against them in the future. Yes, this man worked long, hard hours. He was rarely home and saw little of his children. He had everything he ever wanted, but there was always something lacking…. something more…something better to buy…something more expensive or trendier to obtain. So he kept working way beyond what should have been his retirement age.
Now, this woman died penniless, but with all of her friends and family surrounding her.
This man is still alive. He has a strained relationship with one of his children. He lives under constant stress and is still striving to obtain “the American Dream.” Most people would agree that he has already achieved it, but not in his mind. He has to have more…has to keep up with the lifestyle he has made for he and his wife. I don’t discount for one second all the hard work he has done to have this level of success…but is it really success?
I have shitty credit. It’s my own fault. I made huge mistakes and now I am paying for them. I don’t own a home right now. I rent a really great two bedroom, two bathroom apartment. This is where I am right now in my life and I am taking steps to change my life. Not only monetarily, but spiritually as well. I am truly happy with my life right now. It has improved greatly from over a year ago and my husband and I are doing more to insure that our family will always be comfortable.
Now….am I successful? In one respect, no, as my credit is shot and some months are harder than others with the bills. On the other hand, yes. I am in a much better place than last year. I am healthier, my kids are happy and my husband is much more relaxed. We have improved our lives 100% in the last year, but we are by no means wealthy. Does this mean I am not successful? Do I have to be Donald Trump to be a success? Is the measure of ones success based solely on their economic status?
Is it so horrible to die broke? I really don’t plan on that happening, but if I do, does it mean I died with nothing to show for it? My children are always well cared for. They have everything they want and need and more. We do things as a family all the time. No…we don’t go on elaborate vacations to exotic destinations, but we go to Disney-world or Universal Studios for the day every few months. We go to the park and the beach. I spend almost every day at the pool with my kids and their friends. My oldest has sleep-overs constantly and my house has become the Kool-Aid House. I write every day, which is what I love doing. I have friends that I talk to every day. But most importantly, my husband loves me and I love him. We have had some of the hardest times one can imagine, but we got through them. We have both made mistakes, but we worked them out. We will be married 11 years on August 31st. He is the only man in my entire life that has never disappointed me.
Some would define our life as average….some below average.
Why is it so important to be wealthy and powerful to be considered successful? Does it not count to have a loving family and friends living a less than middle class life? The middle class has been totally screwed lately, but they continue to pick themselves up, brush off and start over.
I was middle class once. I screwed it all up. I am below middle class right now. I don’t plan to live paycheck to paycheck for the rest of my life….who does? But life happens and people screw up. What else are we supposed to do? I could drop into a deep depression, make my kids miserable, ruin my marriage and really make my life a royal fuck up. But I am choosing to pick myself up, brush off and start all over again….with the help of my husband. We did it before…we will do it again.
I would say that sounds pretty successful.
I would love to say that I have been slacking on blogging due to my chaotic life and busy schedule, but that just is not the case. Truthfully, I have not had any feeling or subject matter that I have felt strongly enough to write about. Yes, this is a sounding board for life’s problems that I have numerous questions to, but right now, I am questioning one thing.
I was raised Roman Catholic, Catholic school for 10 years, church every Sunday until I was a teenager, all the sacraments and ceremonies…the whole schebang. I have questioned why I believe what I was taught for most of my 20’s. I had completely severed any meaningful relationship I may have had with God for almost 10 years. Then I had Jakob. Things changed. I no longer had the luxury of giving up God…I was responsible for the greatest responsibility any person ever gets…a human life. That meant for the rest of my life I would be praying that he was healthy, safe, secure, happy…..any and everything one could ever think of. Is that wrong? I had not had a conversation with “my” God for a long time. Do I just pick up where I left off and say, “Hey, Ummm, I know I was gone for a long time, but I have this person I am raising now andI need to know that he is going to be OK despite anythng I am doing…I need your help, prayers and guidence….so, can we just let bygones be bygones?”
I don’t know if it works that way, but Jake is 8 now and he is healthy, safe, secure, smart, beautiful, kind, empathetic….everything I prayed for and so much more. I just cannot possibly believe that I am the only person (along with Ted, my husband/his father) responsible for all of it. That would be just egotistical. Right?
I stopped writing a few hours ago. Owen went down for a nap and I wanted to just lie down and rest. I was scrolling through all the On Demand movies available. I went back and forth in my head as to which one to rent. So, I picked “Doubt”. Maybe it was a subconscious thing…maybe I just wanted to see if it lived up to the hype….whatever the case…now, in retrospect…it seemed an obvious choice.
It was exactly as if I were back in catholic elementary school again. The nuns apparel may have changed from the setting of the movie until my time in the late 70’s, early 80’s….but it was all the same. The positions of authority the nuns and priests held were to be feared. The old school, drab colors within the walls and lockers…the grey sky and cold Autumn wind…then snow…it was all so very familiar. Mass….exactly as I remembered it to be. I could smell the incense as if it were burning next to me. I have always despised incense to this day. Nuns were scary and priests were to be revered.
Most importantly, it reminded me of why I am questioning my religion right now. It’s the hypocrisy of it all. No matter what you did, back then, you were going to hell. Take the Lord’s name in vain…confess it or you’re going to hell. Missed church…confess it or you’re going to hell. The biggest hypocrisy was to come later in my Catholic school years. The sex issue. No sex before marriage or you’re going to hell. If you did have sex and used birth control….hell. Sex and getting pregnant and keeping the baby…going to hell and having a bastard child out of wedlock. Sex, getting pregnant, giving the baby up for adoption….hell again. Sex, pregnancy and an abortion…forget it…your were fucked. There was no way to get around any of it.
Sex and teenagers is like peanut butter and jelly…it just goes together…someone is going to try it…and most will like it.
When I was 22 I found out I was pregnant. I was an adult. I took the necessary precautions to prevent pregnancy, but it failed. I was no more fit to raise a child than to keep a house plant alive. I had an abortion. My 1st of 2. I do not regret it, nor do I apologize for it. Yes, I had other options, but what may be right for one woman is not necessarily right for another. It was in the Fall of 1992. At Easter time the following spring, my Catholic guilt got the best of me. I don’t know why…I can’t explain it, but I decided to confess my “sin”. Fortunately, the priest on the other side of the confessional booth said that it was good than I confessed this “grave” sin now, at Paschal Time, as he had the authority to forgive such a sin, otherwise only a Bishop could forgive it. Wow….did I luck out. I was given the standard 10 Our Fathers, 10 Hail Marys and 10 Glory Be’s…you would think I would still be doing the rosary today for such a sin, but no. I didn’t feel any better after that confession…because I didn’t have any guilt to begin with. The Catholic religion had embedded so much “Hell” into me that I had a weak moment of self doubt and thought I had better confess it or I will be in big trouble if I die anytime soon.
Which brings me to the original reason I am questioning so badly right now….I watched Bill Maher’s “Religulous” a few days ago. Hysterical, yes….but also brought up so many valid points as to my beliefs and why I believe them. You have to watch the movie to understand my thinking right now, but now I am at a more serious crossroads.
Is Hollywood now dictating my belief system? Or should I say making me doubt it? What is it about fame and fortune and blockbuster movies that makes one think and over think their lives and beliefs? I could have had the same conversation with anyone of my friends about my questioning the beliefs that had been instilled in me, but not a one of them would have brought up the points that I am seriously pondering. No one I know what have that of it in the way it was presented to me by Hollywood…or more importantly, Mr. Maher. Now, he is famous for his non-conformist ways, questioning organized religion and marriage, but does he alone have a power of suggestion so strongly that I am affected by it? I think so. And I know why.
It not religion or God I am questioning…..it is organized religion created by men who never ever met Jesus Christ. How do they know what happened? What is all the parables I grew up to believe are a bunch of bullshit? What if Aesop is more accurate than The Old Testament?
I don’t have the answers. Neither did Bill Maher, which is why he made the documentary in the 1st place. All I know is this:
I haven’t prayed to God or Jesus since. I have only prayed with Jakob to my Mother, Aunt Alice, my Grandfather and Great-Grandmother….and anyone else close to me who has passed. I did sneak in a little favor for someone up there to point me in the right direction.
This was all before I watched Doubt.
Now…that’s all I have left….