The Edge


In my experience as a blogger I have been upset and bothered enough to stop only twice. Today was one of those days. Today I felt like I had a Facebook experience honestly, not my usual warm and friendly ‘community’ feeling of the blogging community.

I made the mistake of commenting on a blog recently and was rewarded with a barrage of answers from the blogger, and someone related to her, that was…well, more than I bargained for shall we say. It left me stunned. The thing I commented on actually, if found anywhere else, most likely could have been considered edging very close to a hate statement (in my opinion anyway)–and that is why I commented on it. I said something far more tame than I could have in fact.

In most instances what I saw on the blog, and might have been seen elsewhere, might have been taken down on other sites as offensive. It certainly was to me. But WordPress seems pretty lax about things. They don’t monitor much. And, worse than that, they don’t allow us the ability to block harassing people. So we must endure their comments, no matter how mean they get–self-righteous as these people think they are.

WordPress feels this is an open forum so buck up. Take it. And if you can’t, get out of the game. Make your site private (which can be very tricky).

Well, I guess I understand. But I don’t have to play.

I’ve been thinking for some time about a break anyway. The ideas have been coming hard. One of my favorite bloggers told me maybe to stop writing every day. This seems like a good idea. I just had my five-year anniversary on the site. Five years seems like a good time to try something different. So I may just write when the mood strikes me instead of forcing it all the time, every day.

Sometimes the Universe directs you a certain way. That blogger that won’t go away has directed me. If she won’t go away, then I will–at least now and again. So I say to her: thank you for helping to push me towards this decision that has been hard to make. You tipped me right over the edge…

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What I Did Today


(Note: This is a political post and could be offensive to some readers)

While I have never thought of myself as very political or extremely patriotic, I do vote and care about what happens here in this country. That’s just because I’m a caring human being in general, most the decisions I make in life, big ones anyway that involve ethical decisions, are geared around trying to be kind and trying to think about the ‘bigger picture’ beyond just me.

Because of this I’ve made lifestyle choices that have often made me seem odd or have put me far from mainstream America. This is fine by me. Live and let live, as long as we are all respectful of each other.

Of course you guessed by now that my ‘politics’, if I have to label myself, is liberal. For many years I didn’t claim either party and simply considered myself Independent, but this just seemed, well, simply too non-committal to me. And I knew I would never affiliate with the Republican side, so one day I decided to become a Democrat. No surprise there, right?

I’m not an over the top Democrat though. Like I said: politics isn’t my schtick.  I’ve lived with Republican Presidents, Senators, Congressmen and all the decisions that they make too. I understand that being an American means: you vote and sometimes your ‘side’ doesn’t win. And then you deal as best you can. You continue to be the best person you can regardless.

But this time it’s different. This time the election has left me cold. It isn’t just a Republican that has won, but someone altogether different. Someone who so many of us simply can’t understand how our fellow Americans wanted as our President. It’s simply baffling….and scary.

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As reports come out now about his personality (narcissist) and his capabilities (turning democracy into kleptocracy), my years of being a side-line player in our political system is becoming harder to be. I am a pacifist at heart, so plunging into the heart of a heated protest is not my style, but I also am a strong believer in our right to be heard.

Today for the first time in my entire life, I wrote political leaders in my state. My Governor and my two Senators. I’m compelled to do something to bring attention to the freight train barreling toward our democracy. It subtly and over time, can be dismantled without anyone really being aware. Unless we are diligent and proactive. Standing by hoping it will ‘go away’ or just play itself out, is a dangerous thing to hope for against someone who is so full of himself as this president.

I’m sorry if I have offended those of you who support this person. I only ask that you look beyond your personal needs (and I know they are real!) to the man behind the words. Many men just like him spouted big words and went on to do horrible things. It’s about personality here, ethics, greed, morality, neediness, hate and ego to name a few. It’s not about political party. He doesn’t represent a political party, or me, or you. He represents himself, his family and his own desires.

This is a very dangerous thing for the head of any country!

So be aware, be kind to others (even if you don’t agree with them), think beyond yourself, read real news (not on Facebook) and notice what he does and doesn’t do, really listen to his words!

Everything important here is at stake. Truly. For ALL of us.

Sorry I Just Had To…


I’m not usually very political on my blog, but it’s getting harder and harder not to be these days. I turn on the radio and listen for a few minutes and either get ill or have to turn it off. Every time I hear something to do with our president-elect (sorry but I will not give power to him by mentioning his name), and feelings of such sorrow come over me.

Today I heard a story on NPR where a Gay man was interviewed in Orlando. He is a prominent figure in that town and the reporter was recapping the Orlando massacre, how the city has handled it, how this man feels now in Orlando as a Gay man and as one in general.

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While he felt there has been an outpouring of support in the city, he said his biggest fear is in the future or this country’s attitude because of the election. Since the vote, he has experienced even more hate crimes and said there is more fear in the Gay community. My heart just sank. It doesn’t surprise me though….

The radio is just heavy with the news of death everywhere in the world: major world powers teetering on the edge of hate ready to explode, while others are in the thick of raging wars already. Innocent people trapped between warring extremes desperate to escape somewhere, anywhere safe.

And now so many places, including potentially our country, shutting our doors to these people. It sickens me. Our fellow humans! What is the difference from them and the Jews in Germany? Nothing! Since when have we become so narrow? Why is there so much hate in people’s hearts now? Hate against anyone different… But the sad irony is: we are all the same!!!

Cut us open: we all bleed, break down our cells, we all share the same DNA; hurt us, we all cry; we all have the same bodies, bones, skin, brain. It is crazy to me that some people look at cultural differences, or skin colors, gender orientations and to kill over these things? I mean, seriously: think about this….

When will we all just think about ourselves as HUMANS?

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All the chatter about Christmas…does anyone remember the first five letters in that word? What would He say about this behavior? Hey, I’m not even Christian, and I know!

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Maybe I will be wrong about this all and He-he-who-will-remain-nameless will get his act together and not start another world war. Maybe he will realize you can’t keep opening up your yap all the time and say the first thing that comes out of it just because you feel like it. Maybe congress will actually do something smart for once and realize what a blessed mess we’re in and hopefully not undo so many of the decent things that are in place just to show they can.

Any maybe Santa is real too…

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Good Or Evil?


There are some things in this world that can either a very good thing or a very bad thing. Recently, I’ve wondered if the Internet is a perfect example of one of these things.

Certainly it is quite obvious the wonderful qualities the Internet provides to us all–especially you bloggers out there! For me personally, I never would have had the opportunity to test my writing or photography skills on such a public scale. Much to my surprise, both have been greeted with great positive delight and careful considerations. It is truly a highlight in my life (if that says anything about my life!!).

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Delighted

Another amazing–and so current–part of the web is how it connects people! Again, it has been my great fortune to meet some wonderful bloggers who have become my friends. But beyond that: people meet future partners, have job interviews, start businesses, visit Grandchildren, read the news from around the world and get any random bit of information from this amazing thing called: The Internet. You never, ever would have thought of this 30 years ago!

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 Fellow bloggers fall from the same tree!

But this very same thing that helps, can harm. Most of us are innocent in our browsing and searches: looking for how to spell some word or how to cook some new dish. All these things are at our finger tips. We can do or find anything…and so can someone with evil intent.

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The dark side of the Internet

The Internet gathers information like Antarctica gathers snow. Each snowflake holds a bit of data waiting to be read. Purists have been trying to keep the web free from monitoring–let the data be free and unencumbered. People have a right to search, gather and download whatever they want from this treasure trove of information no matter what they may do with it after some say…. Or do they?

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The treasure trove tree

Police, FBI say it’s OK to get on a perp’s phone or computer if they were terrorists. Maybe they could get information that could lead to stopping further attacks. Others say if we set a precedent  of hacking into people’s privacy, then we’re as good as lost. Back to the McCarthy era of profiling potential bad guys. Some feel if you have nothing to worry about, then you shouldn’t worry about the Internet being monitored–your data being monitored for subversive searches: if you’re innocent, no problem.

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Find the Red!!

There is always a way to get information from one group to another, Internet or no. If the bad guys want to recruit, they will. Even within Nazi concentration camps, the prisoners had underground rebel groups that stock piled weapons. They had no web to pass this information back and forth, rest assured of that one! But the Internet makes it so easy and so International! Click a button and wham…join a terrorist group. Scary.

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A mysterious symbol? No just a tile on my patio! 🙂

Certainly, we all want to be safe from these horrible extremist groups, but our right to privacy in this country is also paramount. Unfortunately, every time we push the power button on the computer and hit either Google or that big E….we’re putting ourselves out there for anyone to find us….eventually. Hopefully it’s only for things like clothing ads and other nuisance items that attach to your searches.

I guess the moral of the story is: be careful what you search for, because Big Brother may eventually may be watching.

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If you find me big Bro, I just want peace!

Too Small


Inspired by the movie “The Woman In Gold,” I have begun to read the book titled “The Lady In Gold,” by Anne-Marie O’Connor. It is about a famous painting by the Viennese artist Klimt which was stolen during the Nazi invasion of Vienna by Hitler, along with many other Jewish treasures and artwork.

The book goes into much detail about the horrors of that time and it has hung heavy on my heart. And I realize, though, it seems not much different from today.

When I woke up this morning, after having dreams about German invasions of a hospital (because of my new job offer at a hospital I suppose), I turned on the radio and heard about the San Bernardino shooting.

My early walk had already been filled with thoughts of what a violent species we were, and questions about why this was so. And here it was yet again! More death, more unnecessary bloodshed.

NPR was profiling the current types of people who do these sorts of things: the outcasts, the unhappy childhood, the ones that feel separate or not a part or who have been rejected. This was even Hitler! It’s shocking. But what makes that one person turn on their fellow human and decide to harm them–sometimes en masse?

Sometimes this person is so extreme in their behavior they are able to recruit others–even change a nation to be brutal! Slavery of any kind is also a kindred kind of violence unleashed upon others and is filled with superiority and hatred.

In looking through history, what little I know of it, it seems that many indigenous people did not act in these types of ways. There may have been some tribal fighting, but the random ethnic cleansing due to insecure and hateful personalities of individuals seems to be missing.

I often wonder if we are mutating to possess some gene that carries this violence within us. I pray we do not. There are days I fear turning on the radio and simply feel numb when I hear about more dead.

How do we stop this march? How do we make these people feel more a part? Can you start to sense when someone might do a heinous thing and help them see it is not the answer? Are we all simply lost?

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Maybe work places need to provide more time for employees to meet, gather and really talk. And make sure everyone’s mental health is stable. We need to really start caring about one another: our co-workers, neighbors, family members–even people you just meet in the street.

Because if we all are going to live in this volatile world together, then we are each responsible for the action of another. The earth is getting too small to believe otherwise!

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The Choice


Recently I’ve been reading a very moving book entitled “Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed” by Philip P. Hallie.  It’s about a small French village called Le Chambon during the Nazi Occupation and “how good happened there.” They helped thousands of Jewish and other refugees escape the horrors being razed upon them.  They did it not for money and not because they were organized by any group. Quite the contrary. One man in particular stood out: A Protestant minister named André Trocmé  was the mover and shaker for the movement. His powerful messages both from the pulpit and every day about loving all men rang true for every villager.

Not one person betrayed the refugees. They hid them in their homes, taught them in schools and didn’t come out and lie about hiding them when the Gestapo came into town. There was a system of alerting those hidden when there would be a raid so they could hide in the nearby woods. Some of those helping even died in the cause. And some took extremely risky chances and lead some to freedom into Switzerland.

Trocmé and two others spent time in an internment camp themselves and wouldn’t leave, even when they were allowed, because they refused to sign a doctrine that stated they would follow the French rules. These rules were aligned with the German rules they believed were cruel and went against the laws of a higher power.

So many that would have surely died were saved because of this village. And while only a fraction of the millions murdered, it still is an amazing beacon of hope during the darkest of times. France for the most part was not a safe place for Jews or anyone aligned with Jewish people. So the simple people of Le Chambon showed such depth of character, high ethical beliefs and an ability to move beyond fear for what is right and just.

It made me pause and think: what would I do in such a similar instance? I’ve always thought of myself one of high ethics and believe we are all one. While not a religious person, I certainly feel we are all cut from the same mold. The people from this village took it so far as to not even hate the Nazis and believe in non-violence always. This is actually what helped them in many instances with the Gestapo.

If push came to shove, would I put my life on the line to save others in such a time as was seen here? Would I put my family, my community and everything I had ever known in jeopardy to save people I didn’t know because I believed it was right? And would I try to get others around me to do the same? I have always thought I would.

I would because to live in a world where to run from helping and turning my back on others, is not a world in which I would choose to live anyway. If I had to stand by and watch my fellow human beings march down a street–most of whom were my neighbors–to certain death, then I might as well be dead too. I would at least have to try to help and risk dying myself.

The beauty of Le Chambon was the simplicity of so much of it all. No real planning. The right hand never knew what the left hand was doing–and this was actually critical. That way if one house was caught, they couldn’t divulge information about another because they honestly didn’t know. They never even knew who provided the false identification cards–to this day it is unknown.  And they never truly and came out and lied about harboring Jews. They would just say things like: What is a Jew? Because they believed they were just men like they themselves were.

And ultimately these people only did what is right. When Hallie interviewed them years later and asked why they put themselves at such risk, he said they would shrug and say things like: well of course it’s what you would do! They needed help! Trocmé and others were recognized by Israel many years later as Righteous Among Nations as was the whole town.

In other parts of the world genocide continues. Human beings continue to slaughter other human beings because they are ‘different’. We are the only species where this happens. But within these pockets of death and inhumanity, there always seems to groups of people who rise above. The Quakers, some Catholic organizations, American Red Cross and many other groups that have gone in to help the helpless for years.

Does this mean there is hope for us? For me? I can only wish that I would rise to my best self as the people of Le Chambon did during the dark days of the Nazi occupation and put my life at risk to save others. And hopefully motivate others to do the same.