I think it’s a little unfair that the Tea Party gets to categorize themselves as a third party when all of their candidates are running as members of the Republican Party. If they want to call themselves a party, the need to see if they can stand on their own and win on their own. I don’t think they can, and I think they know it. I wonder why the media has not called attantion to their differences from the GOP while mentioning that they are still running AS the GOP.
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I was reading a blog post by a high school friend of mine on loss, and more importantly detachment. Both of these concepts have been overwhelmingly familiar to be in the past year or so, and as I read his post I realized how detached I had become from the world around me, how incredibly enclosed I was in my own little chamber, so much so that I had stopped writing, had almost stopped thinking, and realized that I have to get out of this box. The dissolution of a marriage, the loss of close friends and family to a cause you cannot seem to get behind, and more losses to a disease that just seems to sneak up on people has left me exhausted, emotionally, mentally, and when you throw in two kids under the age of five, physically on a level which I never imagined was possible.
I can’t help but feel that I have been childish in a, “if you’re going to push then I’m going to take my ball and go home” sort of way. Clearly I’ve been selfish. Do my children not deserve to have a mother who is completely emotionally available to them? What the hell was I thinking, stepping into my chamber during important events and birthdays simply because their father was there and he hurt me. It’s time to get out of my head and back into the world. By the way, Richard, I guess this means I’m doing better. Thanks for asking!
For some reason, speaking your mind has become offensive and is not to be tolerated. Dissent is the lifeblood of our nation, and this idea that disagreement with our government somehow makes us less American, less patriotic, is absurd. Flag print underwear and a Fourth of July BBQ is not what makes us patriotic. Patriotism is a love and devotion to your country, and who is more devoted than one who sees its flaws and, out of love, wants to correct them rather than just standing on the sidelines complaining about them? Using your voice, no matter what it may say, is an essential and intrinsic part of our nature as Americans.
Many stay silent because we’ve been taught that the average American isn’t worth listening to. More credence is given to doctors, lawyers, politicians, and news anchors, though the latter is becoming less and less a factor as news gives way to opinion. Year by year, the roots of our country have been covered over slowly by complacency, by apathy, and by the mistaken belief that we have a government made up of experts who are working for our best interests. We forget that those involved in the War of independence were well educated, but not experts. They were simply revolutionary. Normal, everyday Americans created the Confederacy, the League of Women’s Voters, the Civil Rights Movement, and a hundred other campaigns and grass roots efforts that have changed America and helped her grow. It is the creation of those movements, the ability of the people to speak for themselves, that has allowed us to come this far, but we seem to have stagnated. Why?
Our lack of inertia is partially due to the “Politically Correct” movement in which labels became verboten, many for good reason, but many that were necessary. One of the major problems is that we take something that applies in one area of our lives and implement it across the board. While we shouldn’t be labeling children as “disabled” because they can’t do everything other children do, it does not harm to identify oneself as Conservative or Liberal as long as it does not become our only means of identification. Labels provide a starting point, a way to identify one’s beliefs or direction and find others on the same course, but they also give us the ability to generalize and ignore those with opposing views. It makes discussing those views a battle, with an “us vs. them” mentality, rather than an open discussion in which a consensus could possibly be reached.
Because of those labels, we avoid topics that we know will be controversial for one group or another, making sure that no ground can be gained by either side. Discussion and debate is necessary for progress, even if we vehemently disagree with each other. This has become increasingly difficult because our society holds a deep seated belief that something that might offend should not be discussed. Many people have a strict “No Religion, No Politics” rule for all group events. We are so afraid of a raised voice or a heated debate that instead we talk about the weather. Blue skies and sunny days are never offensive. Unfortunately, this stance helps facilitate the facade of tolerance that permeates much of our culture. It requires no actual thought or reason, no real debate, no knowledge of any kind. We say it is out of respect, so that no one is offended, but it is, at its very core, offensive to those who created this nation and expected it to evolve.
The inability to talk openly about politics, government, and religion makes people lose their respect for it, as well as for those demanding the silence. Why should you keep something to yourself simply because it is offensive to someone else if it could lead to a productive discussion? When the abolitionists talked about freedom for slaves, it was offensive to some. When women demanded the right to vote, it was offensive to some. Being offensive to point out hypocrisy or injustice is what Americans have been doing since the country began. It is why we became our own nation. We have forgotten that avoidance is not tolerance. In fact, it is avoidance that has made us an intolerant people, incapable of seeing the similarities between those of varying points of view.
I had a conversation with someone yesterday about the afghan war that really concerned me. The person with whom I was speaking expressed his faith that the people “In The Know” have a purpose for this war and that we, the American people, who are sending their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, off to long deployments to fight and possibly die, don’t need to know the purpose for their sacrifice. In nearly every war featuring the American soldier we were given a clear reason, a purpose, and a set goal to achieve before our soldiers could return to us. But not this war. In this war we have been kept in the dark about casualties, about troop movements, about the purpose and goal. What’s troubling is the number of people who seem to think that’s just fine. It also concerns me that the troops we’re supposed to be supporting don’t know why they’re taking the lives of other human beings. To take a life without reason or purpose, even in war, is callous and immoral. I truly hope that “Because my government said so” will not be an acceptable response at the Pearly Gates.
It seems just a little too much like 1984, in which people were committed to supporting an endless war against a faceless foe and anyone who dared question the reasons for this scarified were deemed enemies of the state. Why aren’t we “In The Know” when we are giving up our families, our time, and our money to support this fight? Who IS “In The Know”? Most importantly, why is it okay with you that you DON’T know? There is nothing wrong with asking questions and demanding answers, and the second your government tells you that there is, it is time for some SERIOUS changes.
Why is there not a movement for the parents of teenage mothers to sue the teenage father’s for child support and force them to take joint custody? In the cities, most people don’t have the money for a lawyer, so that I understand, but it’s not just minority girls getting pregnant. There are teen mothers everywhere, and something like 6 out of 10 teen fathers disappearing. Being a minor shouldn’t preclude you from taking care of your child. That certainly doesn’t work with the mothers. If it were more difficult for the fathers, if they actually had to give something up, they might think twice about not using protction or having premarital sex.
I used to be a workaholic, but then I had a baby. I am desperately trying to juggle all of the separate factions of my life. I’m working harder than I ever have before, and I still feel like the biggest slacker in the universe. It’s a “too many irons in the fire” syndrome. I’m doing a lot of things, but I don’t feel like I’m doing any of them particularly well (the best I can, of course, but never quite good enough).
I only get to see my son for an average of 3 hours a day. I leave for work before he wakes up. I don’t get to pick him up until 4:30, and he goes to bed at 8. I make the most of the time I have with him, but I never feel like it’s enough. I feel like I’m missing out on major things. I didn’t know he could do the hand motions to “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” until I saw him do it by chance a few days ago. I reinforce what he does at day care,but someone else is teaching him. I rationalize by reminding myself there are millions of children in daycare all over the world, that we have chose carefully, that my husband works in the same building, and that he is a bright, independent little boy who seems to be thriving (as far as I can tell) in that environment. I still feel guilty.
I don’t put the prep work into my lessons that I used to. I love my job and I truly believe that my students deserve the best education I can offer them, which requires a lot of preparation. I have to consider various intelligence levels, learning styles, interests, and language abilities. I have to grade one quiz and one test a week for 120 students (and I teach Literature, so it’s not like they’re multiple choice), call the parents of those who are failing, meet with those who have behavioral issues, and do whatever my principal asks (which included planning the prom, explaining PSSA and SAT questions, and creating and grading the Senior Projects). An hour and a half a day is simply not enough time. I used to work from home, but by the time the baby’s in bed and the house has been tidied, I’m exhausted and can’t quite come up with a new and exciting project about Chaucer. I “stole” one from the Internet and adapted it to my students to the best of my ability to my students and felt incredibly guilty.
I juggle playing with the baby and tiding the house until my husband gets home , but I never feel like I get enough done. I can fold some laundry, do some dishes, vacuum the livingroom, or make dinner, but I can’t do them all in an hour or two and watch the baby. I use Sesame Street more than I should. Domestication is not my strong suit, and my working hours have added to the struggle. A little boy adds to the mess and the distraction (and the exhaustion) . I do what I can and feel guilty about not getting to the rest.
I write when I need an outlet. Unfortunately, I’ve only found the time once a week or so since school started, but I plan on taking a little more time for myself during the summer. I’ve been a little self-centered. I haven’t given enough attention to the war in Iraq, gas prices, and the war. I’ve stuck to what’s easy – opinions on religion, philosophy, and science. I feel like I’ve gotten rusty and complacent. I’ve been slacking. I should sleep less, drink more coffee, and write more (after my son is in bed, the housework is done, I’ve finished my lesson planning for the year, and I’ve had an actual conversation with my husband).
I heard a report on NPR that nearly half of all Americans are on some sort of prescription drug. While the story tried to convince us that it’s a good thing because it means that we have had major advancements in medical technology and science, I tend to think that it has more to do with pharmaceutical companies making billions of dollars on health care that many Americans have to pay for out of their own pocket. I highly doubt that so many Americans would be on so many drugs if the government was footing the bill.
Our health care system has become a money making industry and has strayed so far from its original intent that I wonder if doctors have forgotten the “do no harm” part of their oath. Easy health care doesn’t mean it’s good health care. Prescribing a pill instead of diet and exercise doesn’t do anyone any good, especially since we’re in this particular health care nightmare of rampant diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure because of what we eat and our propensity to sit on the couch rather than go for a walk.