Should I Stay or Should I go?

Warning:  I’m venting…

If not for me but for anyone else who’s given this much thought I’ve put mine down and in doing so may rattle a few cages here, but this experience got my thought “muscles” working overtime.

I was asked the following question on Quora yesterday and what follows in blue was my response.

Question:

“I’m a Muslim man who came to America for a better life. I like the food and women in bikinis. However, I don’t like Christians because of their beliefs about Jesus. How can I avoid Christians in America?”

Response:

“This is interesting. You like what America has to offer, but you don’t like Christians. Put the shoe on the other foot for a moment. What if I went to the country you came from and said the same thing? I like this… but I don’t like Muslims. This actually happened to a friend of mine. She resolved it by returning home to America.

It was not the Muslim religion itself she did not like but it’s tradition of women being subservient and having to walk behind her husband rather than alongside him. And, there was more, all having to do with their beliefs and customs.

Even though America was primarily Christian when it was founded, it has evolved to embrace people of all faiths. If I went to your country, I would want to get to know the people better regardless of whether or not I agreed with their worship or them calling their deity by a different name than the one I believe in.

To Christians, God, Jehovah, Yaweh, is the equivalent of the Muslim Allah, Jesus as to Muhammad. I have not read the Quran though I do possess one. My father, however did read and study it. He told me, “Something most people do not know is, if you were to read both the Christian Bible and the Quran, you would find many equivalents.” Their prophecies, though not exactly the same, bare many similarities to those in the Christian Bible. As I understood what he told me is, it tells the same story using different names. Any Christian reading this might find his simple assessment disagreeable.

Aside from that, take a look at the figures. The thing is, 74% of America is made up of those who believe in Jesus, and that does not include those of the Jewish faith, which is the root of Christianity. That’s a lot of people to stay away from. 20% believe in no god. The remaining 4% are Islamic or of non Christian faiths.

The best way to overcome prejudice is to get to know it’s people and beliefs. Look beyond the superficial and find a common ground. If that doesn’t work, then I would politely suggest you do as my friend did and go home.
I hope this answers your question.”

I really tried to be polite because whether the question was contrived to get a rise out of me or not, I treated it with sincerity.  I also didn’t include the caveat that just because someone says they’re Christian, that they really are.  Sigh

Today is Cinco de Mayo and because we have a huge Hispanic population in California, it wasn’t unusual to see trucks with huge Mexican flags waving behind them which made me wonder.  Prior to the USA annexing California as it’s own, California and Texas were once part of Mexico.  The thing is, we aren’t anymore, so why do we share in that celebration, besides it being an excuse to party?  I mean, even in Colorado and Alabama, where I’ve lived, there was some form of observance.  No day off of course, but there would be Cinco themed partying in the streets and restaurants.

If you were a wee bit offended by the question above, it’s understandable.  It’s not that unusual for people who flock to our country’s doors for all the bennie’s they can get to have allegiance to their own country of origin and none to ours. That’s a lot of takers.  However, most folks don’t want to live in a country where they can’t thrive or better themselves. In the case of this man who, himself said, he wanted “a better life”, implying he can’t get it in his country. To them we are a prostitute, to use and throw away, ie devalued.

Personally,  we are nothing more than used toilet paper to a good many of the folks that come over.  They deride us and demand more.  Yes, they may work, but their money is going “home”, with a meager amount used to sustain themselves with.  They use us, giving back nothing, then throw us away when we have nothing more to give.  The audacity of that man.  But, I remained kind and even if I had added all that came to me after I was done with my reply, I would have done so with graciousness.  It breaks my heart that this occurs.  Other countries wouldn’t tolerate it if we did that to them, but then we wouldn’t even get through the front or any door if we didn’t have something to offer them. It is also why our country is torn between should they stay or should they go.

I know there are those born and raised here that do the same thing, disrespect, gripe, complain and ask for more and that breaks my heart as well.  As citizens they can legitimately exert their first amendment right to decry what they see as unjust. After all, if they’re paying taxes and putting back into the system then … it doesn’t make it right, but they are free to do so.

For some reason this reminded me of the girl who lived across the street from us, when I was a kid, who called her mother a whore because she had split from her dad and was dating someone else.  At some time in the future, I, at 14 years of age, referred to her mother as “that whore” and holy hell was rained all over me for that.  That was when I learned that it’s human nature to mouth off about your kin when you’re upset, but by golly, no one else better do so.

I truly don’t mind helping folks but for pete’s sake, I would like to see a bit more gratitude and loyalty from those folks that take advantage of our bounty.

If America is that awful, then yeah, you know where the door is.

crosses

 

Then, again, we must ask “What would Jesus do?”

There are two answers from the Bible that could defend two ways of thinking.

One, illustrates how he felt about the money changers as he ran them out of the temple for defiling (disrespecting) a holy place … Matt. 21:12, Mark 11:11

Then, the one, where he tells us to turn the other cheek… (forgiveness and generosity) Matt. 5:38-39, 5:41

Then again, there’s the warning about leaven (attitudes that corrupt)  Mark 8:15, Galatians 5:9

I think because we, as Christians tend to be compassionate and giving, we find ourselves perplexed or torn as to what course is the right one to take, not only for us but in dealing with others.

If the man who asked the above question fears or dislikes Christians, could it be he is actually afraid he may begin to like us or become one of us?  We can be a like-able bunch.

Hmmmm

 

 

The Red Bra

woolworthsSeveral years ago, my sweet sister came up to Alabama to help me care for my mother who had Alzheimer’s.  It was a difficult time for me and there were times, I thought I would surely die before she did.

You see, mother not only had Alzheimer’s but she was a bi-polar schizophrenic with Alzheimer’s!

When my step father died, I had asked her doctor for some meds to keep her manageable, which he was kind enough to provide me.  The problem however was getting her to take them.  Getting her to take them resulted in me getting a black eye, which had my brother not seen it coming and blocked it would have resulted in a far worse shiner than it was.  It was still bad.  Mother had not handled the death of her husband well and I had noticed a marked difference in her behavior afterward. Understandably of course.

There were many times early on in their relationship that I had wondered if those two even loved each other. I had always thought he married her to give his four children a mother.  He was in the Navy and gone all the time and his kids had been taken away from their mother due to abuse and neglect and were now in foster homes in Boston.

Little did he know mother’s mental state, as she was absolutely charming when she wanted to be. So, here these poor kids go from one abusive parent to another and he’s away at sea.

Mother on the other hand, was needing to get away from her abusive, inattentive, unambitious husband (my father).  Mother had grown up poor and she aspired to be rich in America and that was the last thing my father would ever strive for. Even so, she’d learned some bad habits from him when it came to discipline which we paid for dearly.

Many years later, we’d all managed to survive and they, my step father and her, had managed to stay together.  Granted early on he’d been away most of the time.  When he retired from the Navy, he went to college for a short time, but with her ragging on him all the time, he finally took on as a trucker, where he’d be gone for long periods.  She had many solitary days in the middle of nowhere on a couple of acres in California.  Eventually, they’d move to Tennessee.  While he was away she’d go on about how much she missed him and how hard he worked.  Five minutes after his return, she’d be yelling at him!  I would get so aggravated that his only response was always, “yes Vicky”.  He never fought her, argued with her or anything. Now, I look back and realize that he knew and accepted her state of mind. She did make sure the kids were well fed, well cared for and though her discipline was harsh and often unreasonable, she did make sure their physical needs were met.  I guess he figured it was the best he could give them and that she did the best she could. He was never mean or ugly to her no matter what she dished out.  Never.  For that I loved him.  As I’ve mentioned before, she was harder on us girls than the boys, so my step brother and brothers grew to love her in ways we girls could never.   And, so it went.

I was walking with my step dad one day and noticed an almost imperceptible wince.  I asked him if he was alright and he said, “yeah”.  I told him I didn’t believe him and had he gone to the doctors yet?  He said he had an appointment the following week and I insisted I wanted to know as soon as he knew anything.  Two weeks and four days later, he’d laid down on the floor to watch TV with mother on the couch beside him.  The two of them had fallen asleep as was their routine.  When she went to arouse him, he was gone.   He’d been diagnosed with liver cancer the Friday before. He died on a Tuesday. She’d fortunately had the wherewithal to call the police, but they took their time to get there.  Given her state of mind, she was notorious for calling them all the time. I would later find regular bills (amounting to thousands of dollars) from the police department for excessive false alarm calls.  Did you know they did that?  I didn’t.

So now he’s dead and there’s no will to be found.  Single handedly, I spent days going through tons of paper trying to find a will.  There was one record book with my name in it, but it was nearly forty years old and it wasn’t formal. I would later find 4-5 half started wills and that was it. Mother in her state of mind would hide things. I found so many multiples of documents and items around the house.  She would hide them so well that if they couldn’t find them, they’d buy another. Oh, and QVC was her best friend.  As she wouldn’t leave the house, she shopped online!  But I digress.

So here I am, mulling through everything, going to court to get custody of her and her estate and afterward tracking down insurance policies and VA benefits and doing this all alone. I would talk to my sister on the phone and after two years of this, she made up her mind to leave her job and come up to help me.   She had asked me a number of times if I needed her to do so but I vacillated saying yes.  My other siblings, including my steps couldn’t.  She was single and in a better position to come up but she’d be giving up her hard earned clientele and I couldn’t promise her anything that would match what she was making there. After some time, exhausted, I relented and said, yes.  A few months after, I would have a mini stroke and end up in the hospital.  By then, we were pretty settled in tag teaming mother’s care, but for the next ten days, she was on her own.  I couldn’t have been more grateful.

Later she would tell me why she’d been so willing to be there for me.  It wasn’t just because I was her sister or because mother needed our help.  The tyranny of mother’s mental illness and the hardships we’d endured with her resulted in there being no love lost there,  not for either of us but for some reason more so for her.  She told me she could stand to lose mother, but she didn’t want to lose me because of her.  It would be later that she and I would heal from that.  Now, years later we are able to mourn the mother we never had and the mother she may have wanted to be or could have been.

What took me down this road and reminded me of all this is a story Linda Bethea has been sharing on her blog: Nutsrock .  (There’s still time to catch up on it, so you may want to check out my link to her story. BTW if you want to go to the very beginning, it starts in April and is a worthwhile read of “Charley’s Tale“)

It was her latest installment that triggered the memory of my sister and the Red Bra. I’d not remembered the incident until my sister shared it with me.  She calls it her “story of the Red Bra.” She said, it was in part, the reason she came to help me. It was because she would never forget how I stole a red bra for her.   Incredulously I say, “I stole a red bra for you?! I don’t remember that.” As she tells her tale, I begin to remember what and how it all happened.

THE STORY OF THE RED BRA

My sister was the youngest of my siblings at the time.  (This was prior to the reincorporation of the families)

It happens that she was just starting to mature and her little breasts were just budding.  The boys in school were absolutely merciless and would pass by and pinch the girls, thinking it was funny.  I don’t know why no one tells them that this can be extremely painful to us during this growth state. Dad was still around and he was just as bad, if not worse, thinking it was funny.  We girls would walk around the house with our arms crossed when we passed him. It was not a good time.

Mother in general was unapproachable so you can imagine how difficult it was for my sweet, shy little sister to even broach the subject, but she did.  Mother did not disappoint and proceeded to laugh and rail on her about how ridiculous her request was, saying.   “you’re too young”, “too small” and too everything.  The answer was an adamant “No!”

It was humiliating, but she sucked it up, retreated to our room and didn’t ask again.

In those days it wasn’t unusual for us kids to walk into town and on some occasions we’d take the bus.  We’d hang out at the rec center and park or the plunge which was all within a few blocks of each other.  It was a different time then.

woolworths

As a kid, I was quite the thief.  If I wanted something, I’d take it.  (Not one of my proudest moments, but I was a natural) Although we weren’t poor, we kids weren’t allowed to get and or have the many things my peers were allowed to.  As it was, I was an outcast and I was so desirous of being accepted and being “one of them”, that I guess I reasoned this was how I could do that. If I could just have what they had perhaps they’d like me.  I really don’t know how my mind worked then.  I was just a kid.

As I recall, it was shortly after her denied request, that I took my little sis into our local Five & Dime, i.e. Woolworth’s or Kresge’s, I don’t recall which. We had both.

In those days merchandise was all laid out neatly in bins. If you picked up an item, you folded it back up and replaced it to the best of your ability as neatly as you found it.  It was common courtesy in those days.  The only counters that didn’t seem to make it were those with cosmetics.  For some reason, I’m guessing girls especially,  would open up a tube of lipstick and forget to roll it back down before putting the cap back on it, resulting in quite a mess. For some reason, I don’t recall ever kyping makeup.

bra section of 5 X dime

None the less, we went to the bins where all the bra’s were and started digging in, selecting a few before proceeding to the dressing rooms for her to try them on. These bins were the least neat given the nature of a bra’s composition.

I remember her trying on several ones and yes, at the time, many were too big for her, but that wasn’t the point.  She needed body armor and that was all there was to it.

Why, we settled on the red one I don’t know, but there was obviously no accounting for taste in our selection, so we did.  When things would get tough for her; when she thought there was no one else who would rally for her, she’d remember the Red Bra.  She said the memory of the Red Bra would always be a reminder that she could always count on her big sister.  Over the years, jealousy on both our parts would cause our relationship to wane and at times waver, but our love never did.

My stealing of one Red Bra so many years ago, now serves as a reminder for us both and how we could count on each other.  She was there for me when I needed her, as I was for her so many years ago.  It is the memory of the Red Bra that moved her to come to my aid and the story of her memory that makes me grateful for the bond that grew from the experience.

We now live on opposite ends of the States but we talk all the time and I miss her horribly as she does me. For a little while we got to be girls again and I miss that.

 

 

 

Don’t Judge a Book by it’s Cover

I was just watching a video clip of a young man and girl on you tube.  It was the typical, Simon Cowle makes a face or tweaks his mouth in reservation, judging them.  If you look at the faces in the audience, you see they too have made a determination about this couple.

Case in point.  You have to see this.

You see what I mean?

Later, we see this:

 

We, as people make snap judgments on everything we see or hear.  We often times don’t wait to get the full picture. I do it all the time and I generally hate myself for it afterward.

We are often hardest on one another. Judging. Always judging.

If someone walks out of the john with toilet paper trailing behind them, we tend to snicker or let it be, we do nothing to rescue them. Mind you, I didn’t let that pass, but did notice many who did.

If someone looks different, smells different, is fat, has too many tats, hair too long, varied in color or they look tattered, dirty or perhaps their mascara or lipstick is smeared or worse yet there’s a good looking guy with a big booger in his nose. What do we do? Do we tend to turn away and think, yuck!?

At that moment when the young woman came out of the ladies room trailing tissue, I ran up to her from behind and blocked the view as best I could and tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Stop! You are trailing tissue and your skirt is up!” Though embarrassed, she hadn’t gone far and was so very grateful. I had rescued her.

I remember feeling like a hero. The thing of it is, she was a large girl with poor posture and sadly dressed. She had all the makings of a joke, the kid in school that everyone would make fun of, yet something inside me didn’t hesitate.  I’m sure she may even have had the same level of confidence of Jonathan.

Yeah, yeah. While it may appear I pat myself on the back, I don’t.

There have been times, I would have wanted someone to tell me if something was askew, instead of me finding out hours later. There have been many a time I was not the rescuer.

I’m sure we all recall moments in time where we fell short.

Like the young kids above, sometimes people need “rescuing” in different ways. Sometimes, they just need a helping hand.

The story above is a lesson to us all and in many ways. On the surface it’s one of friendship and loyalty true, but it’s more than even that. At least to me it is.

At first he’d been judged and then she was judged.

Sometimes I think in rescuing others, we rescue ourselves. In the end they went their separate ways amicably two years later. For a time though they needed that bond they found in each other to give them each the lift needed to work independently. He had time for the stigma of his size to pass.  As Jonathan and Charlotte’s confidence level improved, they were both finally free to explore their talent, each in their own way. Both are doing extremely well on their own now. 

Sometimes, if you see a friend in need, or if someone reaches out, it doesn’t have to be forever but only for a time. You never know what impact you might make on someone’s life, but especially your own for having been there.

I once had someone tell me that the good deed doers are in it for themselves, for how it makes them feel to do it. Perhaps. I can’t deny, it does feel good to help someone but what harm is there in that?

As for the booger.

It was me who didn’t tell the good looking guy he had a booger in his nose.

We were in high school. Granted he’d been surfing earlier and water tends to do that, but I thought he should know that. I remember him flirting and smiling and I wouldn’t give him the time of day. All I saw was the booger. Besides that, it seemed that all he ever did or cared about was surfing. Out of high school, he went on to be a fireman. It turns out he wasn’t a loser. While fighting fires, he got a contractors license and built some very nice homes in California. Later he would move to Hawaii with his wife, a former cheerleader which surprised everyone and went on to build multi million dollar homes there.  At our class reunion, he told my husband how he’d always thought I was so hot and how I wouldn’t give him ‘the time of day’! Yeah, that was me.

My husband and I have a word for that. “Idiot”

As I said, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  You will almost always be surprised.