…new “normal”…???

Politicians and the media are now calling gun massacres…the new “normal.” Unfortunately once our self-appointed mouthpieces put it out there, it sticks. Their favorite catch-all being…”the majority of Americans think.” I hate when they say that. None of them ever asked me for my opinion.

What’s scary is the fact that the new “normal” will become fodder for statistical data…namely racking up deaths of innocent folks in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s like a death lottery with names appearing on a draft list of the unlucky ones.

I don’t mean to sound morbid, but those who poison the atmosphere with sensational rhetoric make light of a horrific anomaly.

Personally I think President Obama has the right attitude. His focus is upon solving problems as they occur. He’s done it time and again, beginning with the financial crisis at the start of his presidency almost 8 years ago. The President is a deliberate problem solver which unnerves those wanting instant gratification which, in our current society, is just about everyone.

Since it first exploded on U.S. soil in 2011, terrorism has metamorphosed into what we are now witnessing…”mom and pop” type store fronts popping up willy-nilly all over the place. What Trump and others like him seem to overlook is that these types of terrorists have proliferated among us in the guise of white men, mostly young. Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy. James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King. Sirhan Sirhan killed Robert Kennedy. Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon. John Hinckley tried to assassinate President Reagan.

Then, of course there was Columbine, Sandy Hook, the Arizona Safeway attack…which almost took the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords…and the Umqua, Oregon shooting. In these mass shootings James Eagan Holmes, Adam Lanza, Jared Lee Loughner and Christopher Harper-Mercer were considered societal misfits. Their cases propelled mental illness to the forefront of America’s collective consciousness. Eventually however they, along with their victims, disappeared from view, resurfacing only annually on the anniversaries of those events.

By comparison with these forerunners of terrorist attacks upon American society, the recent San Bernardino massacre was the first carried out by a man and a woman…who HAPPENED to be Muslims. First and foremost as with the others mentioned above, this husband and wife were obviously societal misfits…even within their own Islamic community. Many of that faith, including those born in America, have decried the killers as abhorrent. Why then should the entire Muslim population world-wide be denigrated because of those pledging allegiance to Isis, a group as deranged as Hitler?

Consider that not even the brothers Tsarnaevs who carried out the attack during the Boston Marathon were railed against as Muslims, which they were. It’s clearly the timing in that the San Bernardino massacre occurred shortly after the Paris attacks…and in the midst of a contentious presidential campaign. It might also be Trump’s presence on the national stage…namely his big mouth…which has pointed the finger at Muslims in general. It served his purpose of keeping media attention, and free publicity, on him.

Mental illness and gun control are not high on Trumps agenda…getting elected to the White House is…and he’ll do ANYTHING, including lambasting an entire population…to serve his interests.

We shouldn’t be the dummies…

…in trump’s ventriloquist act.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

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reality tv is not…reality

If you’ve ever watched The Housewives of Beverly Hills…Orange County…NYC…or NJ…you know those folks are larger than life. They’re not the real deal. They’re like the super-sized balloons flying overhead during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. All blown up with…mega-sized eyeballs, lips, hair and bodies.

The same applies to Donald Trump. Followers enamored of him imagine that as President of the United States, he will fire and hire employees exactly as he did on The Apprentice. That’s the individual they want running the country. They further fantasize that President Trump will stop illegal immigrants and incoming Muslims singlehandedly. They don’t ask how. They just know he’ll do it because he says so.

Trump’s presence in the presidential arena replicates exactly what has happened in Congress. Moderate Republicans and their extremist counterparts cannot see eye to eye. A President Trump would tip the balance of power in favor of the Tea Partiers. Where we escaped the same fate with a President Palin, we will now come face to face with an egomaniac far more maniacal and lacking in knowledge than Sarah ever was.

If Trump doesn’t like Mexicans and Muslims, how will he govern those who already live in this country as American citizens? Will he backtrack on his inflammatory rhetoric? Probably not enough to satisfy those groups. And it’s unlikely that the extremists who devour the “red meat” Trump holds out in front of them on a daily basis are going to allow their candidate to renig on his promise to cleanse the population of racial and religious misfits.

Today Trump’s focus and those of his Tea Party followers are upon the Mexicans and Muslims, is it possible that tomorrow they might want to distance themselves from Blacks? Asians? Jews? Catholics? Who knows. Once extremists gain momentum, America could be facing its own Hitler and the evil he wrought upon millions. What happened then in a land far removed, could happen here.

The KKK and the Skinheads are surely smiling at the turn of events…

…and their good fortune.

………hugmamma.

…republicans will lose…

Like a spoiled child screaming for attention, Donald Trump will say anything that enters his 5-year-old mind. It’s as though he’s standing in the middle of the kindergarten playground, spewing venomous, childish dribble hoping to attract like-minded bullies. Trouble is he can’t let up on his ridiculous rants for fear he’ll lose his attraction.

Now that he’s acquired a national audience, Trump hopes to hang onto it at all costs. Sanity be damned, as he shows his insanity for ridding the world of all he deems incompatible with his lifestyle. And those who are riding his coattails have no clue where Trump’s insatiable appetite for the absurd will take them.

So now Trump wants to ban Muslims along with Mexicans from making their home in the U.S.

Who’ll be next? The homeless? Welfare recipients? Women seeking abortions? Gay and Lesbians seeking to marry?

Trump mouths off without consideration for what any of these groups contribute to the fabric of American society. They serve in the military. They work at menial jobs…jobs most of us would consider only as a last resort, and maybe not even then. They work in healthcare and insurance offices and government agencies, providing necessary services for the rest of the populace. Some folks within these groups have even become entrepeneurs…gardeners and landscapers…hair stylists and boutique owners…to name only a few.

Donald Trump is a big jerk. How his children…wife and ex-wives…can stand the ugliness he exudes every time he speaks is unfathomable. Yes, he is speaking for the extreme, right-wing faction of conservatives who have remained pretty much on the sidelines. Until now. With Trump as their leader they are now publicly owning up to all the prejudices they have harbored all their lives…dating back generations.

Trump and others who are fanning the fiery flames of prejudice…in all of its forms…care not for the health and well-being of America and its relevance to the rest of the world. They are isolationists who think only of themselves and those near and dear to them. They’d just as soon declare war first, and figure out who the innocents among the dead are afterwards. If they even care.

If the Republicans offer Trump up as their presidential candidate…

…they will lose…big time!

………hugmamma.

our freedoms…at a price

For gun activists who refuse any and all efforts at having their rights to bear arms restricted, they must bear some of the burden for the mass killings that are taking innocent lives. Whether they care to accept the fact that each of these deaths is like a notch etched upon the grip of their guns, it is nonetheless an indelible mark upon their consciences. The only way to ignore this shared responsibility is to relegate those deaths to media statistics. Twenty-four/seven coverage blurs the faces of the dead until they are no longer recognizable as human beings, individuals whose lives were cut short. Their souls lingering on in the purgatory of memories of loved ones left behind.

Facebook, Twitter and other such media sites are similarly responsible for the massacre of innocent lives. Folks in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Acting as enablers of social connectivity, these billion dollar corporations accept no responsibility for crimes that are perpetrated through the use of their sites. The co-mingling of users whose sole purpose is elevated pen-paling with those intent upon murder is akin to seals swimming with sharks. It’s only a matter of time before the latter gets the upper hand.

What price freedom? Sometimes death.

A sad statement when we are willing to accept our lives as headlined in the news. We the people are responsible for what happens to us. We allow it to happen every time we scream our allegiance to our inalienable rights…to bear arms…and freedom of speech. We refuse to compromise our rights, to give an inch to save another’s life. Rights supersedes lives. Always. Either that or the wealthy and their minions who crowd out the silent rest of us are allowed to run roughshod over whatever stands in the way.

We reap what we sow…all of us. Those who buy and sell guns, and those who use social media. We support the framework of human demise.

…simple truth.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: love one another…

In keeping with the season, I think it’s fitting to remember that we are all children of God.

That includes those among us who choose to turn their backs upon the rest, even going so far as to massacre innocent people.

God the Almighty Father will determine their fate.

We know not what lies deep within one another’s hearts…our sorrows, our anxieties.

Only God knows.

Rather than sit in judgment, we should rally with one another to heal any divisiveness.

Our fundamental humanity should bind us one with the other.

We should put aside our robes of many colors…racial, cultural, religious.

Those who would lead us astray and isolate us one from the other are themselves enemies of humanity and…of God.

“I am the Lord thy God…thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

“The Lord is my Shepherd…”

Let us not follow graven images eager to raise themselves up to be false gods.

They are only interested in amassing personal wealth and an army of followers to rival all that has been created by the one, true God of all people.

God does not choose one race over the other.

God does not choose one culture over the other.

God does not choose one religion over the other.

God created all of us  with love.

God will have the final say…

…about what we have done with His love.

………hugmamma.

(Note…more inspiration can be gathered from ladies of wisdom at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/nurt-thurs-peace/#comment-26089 )

…the world according to..

…Donald Trump.

Trump paint’s the world around him with broad strokes. Just as he employees hundreds of Hispanics, Trump has lots of Muslim friends. However when asked specifically about derogatory statements he’s spouted…claiming Mexicans are “rapists and murderers,”…and agreeing with the birthers that Obama was not born in America…Trump refuses to acknowledge his stupidity.

Trump is like a blind man painting the world as he “sees” it. Not that the handicapped are incapable of creating beauty from seemingly nothing, it’s only that Trump is an ignoramus. He refuses to see what’s right there in front of him. He chooses to pick and choose what he sees…and ignores all the rest.

So where do the rest of us fit into Trump’s purview of the world?

Obviously we’re all dummies to Trump. Those of us who believe the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate, and those of us who believe in the goodness of individuals, refusing to lump them all together within an ethnic group.

And why doesn’t Trump counter the extremists among his own followers? Those who hate that the President is a black man, and worse that his name is proof-positive (to them) that Obama is Muslim. It’s because Trump, a supposed sophisticated man of the world, really is an uneducated bumpkin at heart. If not for his wealthy trappings, he would just as easily fit in with the right-wing element of the Republican Party who want to be left alone and have nothing to do with a society that believes we are all one people.

Donald Trump has a lot to say…much of it off the cuff. Whatever goes on in his head seems totally preoccupied with dollar signs and self-promotion. He does NOT represent Americans……me, most of all. So I wish he’d stop saying he’s what Americans want. He’s what a small minority wants. Thank goodness the majority of us sees the world…

…as it is.

………hugmamma.

Letter to Santa Claus

I know this is a month early. However, it touched me instantly. I hope it does you as well…and ushers in a holiday filled with peace among all mankind…believers and those who believe differently.

………hugmamma.

Maxim Sense

santa_gifSanta Claus is very much alive, and to think this way out from a Muslim’s perspective, is doubly amazing, I think. I can’t speak for the Christians and those who likewise celebrate Christmas with Santa as the other prominent figure in addition to the Nativity. But for our Christian neighbors here I have not seen any difficulty in the way they hold  the religious Christmas from the fantasy and celebrate them both, and in doing so they both give and receive.

I have my own bias for this post which was originally posted in my blog last year at about the same time as now.  Just as Santa Claus seems to be seen as more of an immortal being now, or at least in the eyes of the innocent children, so is his memory and the way we fantasize him still, bring a lot of wonderful experience every Christmas. I…

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at the heart…of the storm…

 

Following is the low down behind the now infamous YouTube video that has wrecked havoc in the Middle East.

“U.S. Probes Alleged Video Producer”
by Devlin Barrett, Tamara Audi and Erica Orden

Federal authorities are investigating whether the man allegedly behind a video insulting to Muslims violated the terms of his probation by using computers and the Internet, according to two U.S. officials.

The man in question, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was arrested in 2009 and was convicted of bank fraud a year later for a scheme in which he defrauded banks of thousands of dollars, according to documents from Los Angeles federal court.

The law-enforcement officials say they believe Mr. Nakoula is the same man who in recent days has been identifying himself as Sam Bacile, declining to say how they have drawn the connection.

A man calling himself Sam Bacile said in interviews, including a telephone conversation Tuesday with The Wall Street Journal, that he directed a film called “Innocence of Muslims.” A clip posted to Google Inc.’s YouTube by one Sam Bacile in July, which purported to be a trailer for a film about the Prophet Muhammad, has sparked angry protests in the Middle East.

The movie has its roots with a Southern California group of Egyptian Christians associated with extremist critics of Islam. The film’s assistant director, Jeffrey Robinson, said its production budget was just $250,000.

Media for Christ, a nonprofit religious organization in the city of Duarte, about 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles, took out a permit to film the movie that came to be called “Innocence of Muslims” according to Film LA Inc., which coordinates permits.

Media for Christ produces Christian television programming and broadcasts it abroad in Arabic and English, some of it highly critical of Islam.

Duarte officials said the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is providing extra patrols of the group’s facilities, which include a television production house called “The Way TV.”

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Southern California, said the Christian group in Duarte was “well-known for being Coptic,” the term for Egyptian Christians. Mr. Ayloush said some local Muslims have complained to him that some of its shows are spreading anti-Muslim propaganda.

Several women who answered the phone at Media for Christ and The way TV, who declined to identify themselves, said they didn’t know anything about the movie.

The Way TV aims to “use Christian satellite television to transform the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, American and Canada,” says its website.

The views espoused by The Way TV and Media for Christ appear to be far from the norm among Egyptian Christians, known as Copts–a mainstream group of Christians with moderate views similar to those of other major Christian religions. The Coptic Church, like the Greek Orthodox Church, has its own hierarchy and leadership.

There are small communities of Copts in the U.S., including in Southern California. They have denounced the film, and in recent days some have expressed fears it would spur retaliations against Coptic communities overseas. Mr. Nakoula told the Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that he, too, was a Christian Copt.

In recent years, well-known extreme anti-Islamists like Steve Klein, an insurance salesman from Southern California, have linked with a few Coptic Christians, said Muslim civil-rights groups monitoring the situation. These loosely formed alliances have produced protests at Islamic centers and events in the last few years. Mr. Klein, who didn’t return calls seeking comment, has said in media reports that he served as a consultant on the film.

“There are built-in tensions between Muslims and Copts,” said Mr. Ayloush, whose group put out a statement before the deadly embassy assault in Libya urging Muslims to ignore the film. “It just takes a few extremists to throw fuel on the fire and then other extremists to take the bait, and suddenly the entire world is dealing with a crisis.”

In the AP interview, a person identifying himself as Mr. Nakoula said he had managed the film’s production but denied he was Mr. Bacile. Attempts to identify a Nakoula B. Nakoula at the address were unsuccessful.

The creation of the film itself is unlikely to have violated any laws. The First Amendment and subsequent Supreme Court decisions specifically protect speech even if it is offensive.

However, under Mr. Nakoula’s terms of probation, he can’t access online services without the approval of a probation officer.

Of particular interest to officials now is that someone claiming to be Sam Bacile has repeatedly used the Internet in recent weeks, including to post the 14-minute trailer to YouTube. The U.S. Probation Office in Los Angeles declined to comment.

(Wall Street Journal, Friday, 9/14/12)

…all it takes…is one bad apple…

…hugmamma………

 

“life’s flavor,” ethnicity

Father Edmunds, I’m almost certain that’s the name of the priest who regularly assists our pastor at saying a few Sunday Masses. Charismatic in a more soft-spoken manner, Father gave an interesting homily last weekend.

The Gospel’s message was that we, God‘s disciples, are the “salt of the earth,” and the “light of the world.” Father began his sermon telling of a book fest he’d attended where an acquaintance, a Muslim, was speaking to a predominantly Muslim audience. The man had authored many books based upon his life experiences.

Born in Egypt, the speaker was raised in Switzerland. Now living in the U.S., he’s very familiar with living in a society unlike his own. Initially he tried to fit in, setting aside his cultural idiosyncrasies. In time, with the advice of friends, he realized he should celebrate his Muslim heritage, sharing, rather than hiding it.

Father likened one’s ethnicity, to the salt used by Middle Easterners to heat their earth ovens. There, children set to work mixing together salt and the dung of camels and donkeys. The result is spread over the stones covering the bottom of the earth ovens. The salt acts as a catalyst in igniting the fire. As the flames burn, the catalytic quality in the salt is expended. The salt, its flavor intact, is then scattered on the ground outside the oven.

Just as salt flavors the food we eat, so too our individual differences bring a vibrancy to the world in which we live, explained Father Edmunds. He went on to say that God gifts us with our distinctive traits, as part of His greater plan to bring “light” to the world.

Moving to New York from Honolulu, where I’d graduated from the University of Hawaii, and gotten married, was like moving to a foreign country. Most New Yorkers I encountered didn’t look like me, nor did they share my mannerisms. Being of Chinese-Hawaiian descent qualifies me as a Pacific Islander with the census bureau, but my habits and attitudes are generally like those of the Asian population, and very unlike those of Caucasians. Living in the Big Apple compounded my dilemma, for its residents are unlike those in any of the other 50 states, or so I’m told.

It took me a while to develop a stiff upper lip, not to mention a spine. Orientals in Hawaii in the 50s and 60s, were “invisible.” We had no problem adhering to the golden rule, “children should be seen and not heard.” So finding myself among New Yorkers who were aggressive, ambitious, and often ill-mannered, left me feeling like a doormat. I tried to fit in, by setting aside my ill-equipped Asian mentality. I was like a scared chicken let out of its coop, left to flounder among long-time, cage-free residents.

Slowly, inevitably, I began owning my culture once again. I wore it like a badge of honor, telling everyone within earshot, “I’m from Hawaii, born and raised on the island of Maui.” As whites and blacks warmed up to me, I wore my pride and humility equally. I came to love The Big Apple. Visiting relatives commented that I was becoming a New Yorker, exhibiting more confidence and “hutzpah.” Working in New York City for 10 years, my personality underwent changes in order to survive. I even joked that the stork must have made an error, delivering me to Pacific Islanders. It seemed I should’ve been “dropped” on the island of Manhattan, alongside the Hudson River.

Of course I’d never relinquish my unique heritage. It embellished my experiences in the Big Apple, and being Hawaiian continues to flavor life’s journey wherever I go.

savor one’s heritage…life’s salt, life’s “flavor”…hugmamma.

“gays,” a rabbi’s viewpoint

Once again I’m reprinting the opinion of another author in my blog. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach interjects a very interesting and compelling argument in support of gays. None of us are experts, but those so inclined can try to infuse some logic and reason to level the playing field for those among us who have been relegated to society’s periphery.

I am familiar with the writings of Rabbi Boteach; I read his book The Michael Jackson Tapes – A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation. A compassionate man, the Rabbi felt he could help Jackson devote his talents to a greater cause than self-aggrandizement, in the hopes that his life would be more personally satisfying. Unfortunately, the two men went their separate ways, as it was difficult for the entertainer to relinquish his life in the spotlight. He returned to his fans, whose adulation forever defined who he was, even beyond death.

And so I commiserate with Rabbi Boteach’s empathy for gays. They should thrive as we do, for they are also the children of God.

My Jewish Perspective on Homosexuality

Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, sparked controversy this week by declaring in a speech at an Orthodox synagogue that children shouldn’t be ‘brainwashed’ into considering homosexuality acceptable. He later apologized, saying that he supports gay rights but opposes gay marriage. The Rabbi who hosted Mr. Paladino’s speech then retracted his endorsement of the candidate.

Some people of faith insist that homosexuality is gravely sinful because the Bible calls it an ‘abomination.’ But that word appears approximately 122 times in the Bible. Eating nonkosher food is an ‘abomination’ (Deuteronomy 14:3). A woman returning to her first husband after being married in the interim is an ‘abomination (Deuteronomy 24:4). Bringing a blemished sacrifice on God’s altar is an abomination (Deuteronomy 17:1). Proverbs goes so far as to label envy, lying and gossip ‘an abomination to (the Lord)’ (3:32, 16:22).

As an orthodox Rabbi, I do not deny the biblical prohibition on male same-sex relationships. I simply place it in context. There are 613 commandments in the Torah. One is to refrain from gay sex. Another is for men and women to marry and have children. So when Jewish gay couples tell me they have never been attracted to members of the opposite sex and are desperately alone, I tell them, ‘You have 611 commandments left. That should keep you busy. Now, go create a kosher home. Turn off the TV on the Sabbath and share your meals with many guests. Pray to God three times a day for you are his beloved children. He desires you and seeks you out.’

I once asked Pat Robertson, ‘Why can’t you simply announce to all gay men and women, ‘Come to Church. Whatever relationship you’re in, God wants you to pray. He wants you to give charity. He wants you to lead a godly life.’ He answered to the effect that homosexuality is too important to overlook, as it is the greatest threat to marriage and the family. Other evangelical leaders have told me the same.

But with one of every two heterosexual marriages failing, much of the Internet dedicated to degrading women through pornography, and a culture that is materially insatiable while all-too spiritually content, can we straight people really say that gays are ruining our families? We’ve done a mighty fine job of it ourselves, thank you very much.

The excessive concern about homosexuality that is found among many of my religious brothers and sisters–in many Muslim countries being gay is basically a death sentence–stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of sin. The Ten Commandments were given on two tablets to connote two different kinds of transgression: religious and moral. The first tablet discussed religious transgressions between God and man, such as the prohibitions of idolatry, blasphemy and desecration of the Sabbath. The second tablet contained moral sins between man and his fellow man, like adultery, theft and murder.

Homosexuality is a religious, not a moral sin. A moral sin involves injury to an innocent party. Who is harmed when two unattached, consenting adults are in a relationship? Homosexuality is akin to the prohibition against lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating bread during Passover; there is nothing immoral about it, but it violates the divine will.

I am in favor of gay civil unions rather than marriage because I am against redefining marriage. But gay marriage doesn’t represent the end of Western civilization. The real killer is the tsunami of divorce and the untold disruption to children who become yo-yos going from house to house on weekends.

I have countless gay friends whose greatest fear, like that of so many straight people, is to end up alone. Should we just throw the book at these people? The Bible says, ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’ All I ask from my religious brethren is this: Even as you oppose gay relationships because of your beliefs, please be tortured by your opposition. Understand that when our most deeply held beliefs conflicts with our basic humanity, we should feel the tragedy of the conflict, not find convenient scapegoats upon whom to blame America’s ills.

Wall Street Journal, 10/15/10 (Rabbi Boteach is founder of This World: The Values Network, a national organization that promotes universal Jewish values to heal America. His latest book is ‘Renewal: A Guide To The Values-Filled Life’ (Basic Books, 2010).)

 hugs for the rabbi…hugmamma.

children, “clean slates”

A favorite saying has been that “Children are clean slates, upon which adults leave their chalk-mark.” Although babies are most likely born with individual personalities, it’s also very likely that adults influence their development to a great degree. Our passions and prejudices are passed along directly, or through osmosis. We are human, so it’s impossible to guarantee perfection when raising children. Nonetheless, we should make a concerted effort to guard against leaving a legacy of negativism to future generations. Easier said than done.

Change is inevitable; life isn’t stagnant. But while we can’t stop change, we can  control its direction. Viewing life through a baby’s eyes, it would seem only natural that he or she would want a pleasant environment in which to grow and  flourish. It’s not far-fetched to think that adults would agree.

Unfortunately, life has had a head start, our world seems already “set in stone.” War is waging all around us. Battles are being fought on every front: rich vs. poor, liberals vs. conservatives, Wall Street vs. Main Street, blacks vs. whites, Muslims vs. Christians, U.S. citizens vs. illegal immigrants; big businesses vs. small businesses. On the front line fighting are the stockholders, politicians, consumers, lobbyists, NAACP, Ku Klux Klan, “skinheads,” religious fanatics, families, farmers, pharmaceuticals, health insurance companies.

The fallout from our self-inflicted war is its negative impact upon our society, particularly our children. Many fear they will be saddled with our trillion-dollar national debt; I fear they’re already saddled with a psyche of distrust and dislike for anyone and anything, alien to the world in which they’ve been raised.

Children are “killing” children, as in the case of Tyler Clementi’s suicide brought about because his college roommate and a friend posted pictures on YouTube, revealing that Clementi was gay. Obviously the instigators grew up with a certain mind-set, and felt certain their revelation would be well received by millions having the same mind-set. That way of thinking, “us against them,” has been generations in the making, passed along without thought of the consequences to the most vulnerable among us, our children.

When we become adults I wish we could remember how it was growing up as children. Rose, a black girl at the orphanage where my mom worked, was forever picked on because she was mentally slow, stuttered, and built like an Amazon. With nowhere to go when she graduated from high school, my mom brought Rose into our home for a couple of years, to share what little we had. Another orphan, Fuji, was teased because he was slightly built and had effeminate tendencies. And I can remember telling “white lies” in elementary school to cover up being poor, wanting desperately to be accepted by others. How did we children know that being black, disabled, gay and poor were qualities that set us apart, like lepers, like outcasts? Why did our perpetrators know they could victimize us, and not be punished by the adults? It’s no wonder we grow up doing what was done to us, or by us, as children. Can the cycle ever be broken? I hope so.

I’m still trying to “wrap my brain around” the Human Rights Campaign. While I can’t identify with gays in their perception of life, I know in my gut that they are human beings deserving of the same respect that I demand for myself. Knowing several gay men, I’m aware of their incredible talent for business, and commitment to doing their utmost in their positions, most of them in management. Perhaps because they feel they have to prove their worth above and beyond their straight peers, gays are sensitive to their surroundings and those who cohabit them. Granted, there are those who are jerks, just like there are straights who are jerks. I avoid both, not because they’re gay or straight, but because their personalities don’t coalesce with mine. Period.

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is not an easy undertaking, not because it CAN’T be done, but because of society’s pervasive mind-set. Get rid of the mind-set, and I don’t see a problem. As children, weren’t we told to “get along with others?” I don’t remember being told only to play with “straight” boys and girls.

One of my best childhood guy friends, Michael, was very fashion conscious, seemed like one of the girls during sleepovers, eagerly joined in learning new dance steps, and was as heartbroken as me when my boyfriend and I broke up. My brothers referred to Michael as a “mahu,” (Hawaiian for “gay”), but that didn’t deter me from having him as a close friend. My mom thought he was a great friend, my girlfriends liked him, and my other guy friends, sports jocks, liked him as well. In fact Michael wasn’t gay for he had a serious crush on a mutual friend, who felt badly that she couldn’t return his feelings.

I couldn’t imagine the world without the gay men I know, and about whom I care. They’re like me in all the ways that matter. They love, they feel, they bleed. Why wouldn’t I let them defend me by serving our country? Their sexual preference seems to be the only obstacle to military duty. Delete that, and it seems a “no-brainer.” But eliminating historical prejudices, especially ones based upon subjective interpretations of the Bible, seems an impossibility. My one voice can’t “move mountains,” but as Gandhi said “Everything you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s important you do it anyway, because no onelse will.”

For me, those discussed in Eve Conant’s Newsweek article “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,”  are the faces of the Human Rights Campaign, gays who want to serve and, perhaps, die for our country.

Joseph Rocha had always wanted to be in the military. He enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday, trained to become a handler working with explosive-sniffing dogs, and found himself part of a small, specialized unit in Bahrain. Banned by law from discussing his sexual orientation, he had a hard time explaining to his peers why he didn’t party with them, or even join their bawdy conversations. He became an outcast. Fellow sailors ridiculed him for being gay. At one point they locked him in a dog kennel. Another time they forced him to eat dog food. In 2007 he was discharged after signing a document admitting his homosexuality. But if “don’t ask, don’t tell” is repealed–as many expect will happen in the coming year–Rocha says he wants to serve again. “You never lose that sense of duty and service and love for country,” says the second-generation Mexican-American from Sacramento, Calif., who will graduate from the University of San Diego this spring. “It’s a unique and beautiful thing most of us feel we were robbed of and would take the first chance to have it back.” …

Lissa Young, 48,…A West Point grad from a military family–her father was a fighter pilot–Young had an exceptional 16-year military career before she was outed in 2002. At that time, she was a Chinook pilot and West Point instructor who had just been selected for promotion to lieutenant colonel. …

To fly commercial planes, Young needed new training, but her financial security–including her retirement benefits–disappeared the day she was discharged. She was in her 40s with $50,000 to her name and no job experience outside the military. … she was hired by Raytheon as a salesperson for air traffic-control systems in the Middle East. But she felt awkward in the corporate world. …She…made her way to Harvard.

Now Young is on the verge of getting her doctorate in education, still hoping to teach at West Point as a civilian if she can’t rejoin the military. As a cadet at West Point, she was the first female to serve as a deputy brigade commander, and she returned later becoming a full-fledged instructor. ‘I’m a product of West Point,’ she says ‘They molded me, I took an oath to dedicate my life to leading soldiers.’ …being in the Army and serving isn’t what I do, it’s who I am.’ She would love to fly again, and if allowed back in, wants to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. …

Bleu Copas, 34, joined the Army after the attacks of September 11. ‘I thought it was the honorable thing to do,’ says the native of Johnson City, Tenn. But after almost four years in the service, the then-sergeant–and fluent Arabic speaker–was anonymously outed. …He accepted an honorable discharge. ‘My commander told me he didn’t want to do this, that I was one of his best leaders,’ …Despite what happened, he says he wants to return ‘for the same reason I signed up in the first place: to serve my country.’

The Army invested a lot of time and money in Copas before it dumped him. He spent 18 months in intensive Arabic training in Monterey, Calif., and had top-secret clearance for handling sensitive documents. These days he works a desk job at the Department of Veterans Affairs back home, helping soldiers transition to civilian life. He doesn’t feel comfortable in a suit and tie, and he’s forgetting his Arabic. ‘It’s very rusty now; I don’t have a lot of use for it in northeast Tennessee.’ He says he’s not bitter, but it’s clear he’d like a change. ‘I’ve been told I’m too forgiving; maybe that plays a role. But if there are new opportunities, I just want to take them.’

After 9/11 ousted gay vets felt hopeful they would be recalled to service. ‘These were high-performing people who knew the nation was in need and couldn’t imagine the military wouldn’t want them,’ says Bridget Wilson, a San Diego lawyer who has represented gay and lesbian soldiers for decades. Yet pilots, linguists, and trained gunners watched from the sidelines as the military loosened restrictions on high-school dropouts and former drug users to boost recruitment for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ‘It really made us crazy when they waived convicted felons into service,’ Wilson recalls.” 

If my daughter were to go to war, I’d want her fighting alongside soldiers who are the best in their fields. But I don’t anticipate having to worry about my child going to combat, so I’ll leave it to the parents of children who might one day decide to enlist. Would it be better that they be caught in a hailstorm of fire with trained soldiers, gays and “straights?” Or all “straights,” some having been drug addicts or felons before joining? I’m not saying they can’t change, but what’s their proven track record? 

just my opinion…hugmamma.

christians, muslims reach out

Early in the week, an article appeared  towards the back of Section A in the Wall Street Journal. Too bad it wasn’t on the front page, especially in lieu of the current debate over mosques in our country. While a “drop in the bucket,” the news piece reflects that change, when least expected, can happen.

“Turkey Allows Christian Mass At Monastery” spotlights a movement by the Turkish government, which leans towards Islam, to “improve the country’s record on religious tolerance and boost tourism.” While the motive may be mercenary, the hundreds of Christians who attended the 3-hour Virgin Mary Service at Sumela Monastery in the Black Sea region on Sunday, welcome the gesture. ” ‘We came because we think this is our native town,’ said Violetta Popova, a 20-year-old language student and Pontic Greek descendant who lives in Piatagorsk, Russia.” Although Christians have been free to practice their faith, their places of worship have been transformed into mosques, museums or lay in ruins. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew gave thanks to the government, which kept a low profile in its representation by the  town mayor of Macka.

A second service is scheduled September 19 at the 10th century Armenian Aghtamar Church on Lake Van in Eastern Turkey. At one time it was the seat of Armenia’s national church. It remains to be seen if this event comes to pass given the current political atmosphere. A year ago, when the government agreed to the church services, the focus was “on a Democratic Opening policy, aimed at finding nonmilitary means of ending the country’s decades long conflict with militants claiming to represent the country’s ethnic Kurds by improving minority and religious rights. Those have been key demands of the European Union, which Turkey is negotiating to join.”

Unfortunately the Democratic Opening soured with attacks by the Kurdish Workers Party which triggered a backlash that threatens to dominate the politics of the  July 2011 elections. Negotiations to open the border between Turkey and Armenia are “in deep freeze.”  Turkey’s culture ministry explained that opening the churches was expected to increase religious tourism which would help solve the region’s economic, political and social problems, while improving relations with their neighbors.

Perhaps a leader of the displaced Christians was correct in saying ” ‘No one should fear believers, whether Christians or Muslims. The most dangerous people are non believers,’…”

one step forward…hugmamma.