Orlando Massacre: We Are all To Blame

Silence, blame

Blame. It’s easy to throw around. Most people throw it as far from themselves as possible not wanting to take responsibility for their actions. This week blame has been flying like shrapnel in a war zone.

Guns. Muslims. Democrats. Religion. Media. Isis. Conservatives. Parents. Trump. (I’m afraid I could go on forever.)

I have heard each one of these blamed for the Orlando Massacre. What an easy out. People cast their blame like trash in a dumpster. Wad it up, toss it in, and throw it away…as far away as possible. You see, by disposing of their blame into one of these receptacles they don’t have to own it. This makes it all too easy. It’s akin to blaming the French fries for making you fat. I serious doubt those French fries jumped in your mouth, and I seriously doubt any of these groups can be solely held to blame for the Orlando massacre. It’s just not that simple.

The way I see it…WE ARE ALL TO BLAME.

I know what you’re thinking. “This is bullshit. I didn’t have anything to do with the massacre.” You’re right to a point. You did not research the nightclub; scoping it out to see when it would be at its busiest. You did not buy the AR-15 used to strike down 102 innocent people. Killing 49. You did not pull the trigger. You did not.

Sadly, WE ARE ALL TO BLAME. We are all to blame for the silence. We are all to blame for the hate. We are all to blame for the intolerance. We are all to blame for the ignorance.

Have you ever listened intently while a friend or colleague told an anti-gay joke; laughing at the punch line. I mean everyone enjoys a good joke, right? At the expense of others? Have you stopped to think about the prejudices that are exposed in you by being a part of this derogatory humor? Oh sure, you were just listening…you didn’t actually tell the joke. I get it. You were silent.

My favorite is when someone reacts to something by saying, “that’s gay.” Hmmm. Fifty years ago “that’s gay” was used to describe something as happy. I think we can all be honest about its meaning today. You might throw that expression out not even thinking about it, but it is showing your true colors.

Pray for the victims! Pray for Orlando! Hashtag Pray! Prayers have been flooding every possible outlet since Monday. I can’t open my social media pages without seeing a “copy and paste” prayer. Hollow…cavernous prayers. Seriously. Praying out of one side of your mouth, and hating out of the other is not how this works. If you are going to “pray for Orlando”, and “pray for the victims” be ALL IN. Do not flip-flop.

Are you talking to your children? Really talking to them? Are you asking the important questions? Are you answering the important questions? Education, no matter the topic, starts at home. Let me tell you…if you are not having these important discussions with your kids…someone else will. Are you teaching your children to be compassionate and loving to all they meet? They learn from example. Are you setting the right example; an example you are proud of?

Do you speak up when you hear casual conversations ridiculing others for their way of life? Or, do you blow it off as “not my business”? That’s a hard call isn’t it. I mean “they are JUST talking”. By not speaking up you are in a sense condoning their words. your silence speaks volumes, I’m afraid.

Do you have a family member or friend in the gay community? Have you reached out to them? Have you comforted them? Have you said, “I’m here for you.”? They are fighting a war they never sought. They are in unimaginable pain. Can you imagine being hated this degree? Can you imagine people wanting you dead? Dead for loving someone. Think about it. Can you imagine being afraid to go to work, afraid to go out in public, afraid to live. I implore you to reach out.

I am to blame as well. I am embarrassed that I have coward down in some of these very same circumstances. Afraid to speak my mind. Afraid to rock the boat. Me, I have a son who happens to be gay, and I was afraid to rock the boat. I cannot alter my past behavior, my silence. But, I can tell you I won’t be silent anymore. I’m going to rock the boat, and if you get whacked with a paddle so be it.

Have you noticed that people are never shy about sharing their disdain for something? They tell jokes, they mock, they hide behind their hateful posts online. Why do we allow this in our lives?

Why are we so meek? Why do we yield to the “haters”?

Are we afraid we will “make them mad”? Ok, be mad. I don’t give a shit.

Are we afraid of what others will think? High school for me was almost 30 years ago…I’m so over caring about what you think of me.

Are we afraid of losing friends? If I lose a friend over this; I’m afraid we weren’t very good friends to begin with.

Now, I’m no fool. I know that for the most part people are going to disagree on the issue of homosexuality until the end of time. It’s ok to disagree. The hate, however, is not ok. It’s not ok to hate someone simply because they are different than you. It is not ok to fuel this fire. Why is this such a difficult concept?

I know you are thinking, “I’m just one person. How can I make a difference?” You have a voice, don’t you? Use your voice to educate, to provide compassion, to speak out. It takes just one spark to light a fire. One. Use your voice, people.

If you are not part of the solution; you ARE the problem.

Those 12 Letters…Middle Scho

 

imageThe view from my hammock this morning…..swaying slowly, trees dancing back and forth above just enough to give me that slight twinge of motion sickness….

Thinking about the upcoming week…total serenity buzzkill. Why do Mondays creep in on the weekends where they have no business? The twins will start 7th grade. New school…Middle School and all that those 12 letters bring with them. The good, the bad, the nervewrackery that is junior high.

Oh, I know they’ve got this…I’m quite certain I’m just remembering the fun that I had in Middle School. Yes, that’s it.

So, as I lay in my hammock I’m saying a prayer and lifting up all of the kiddos as they approach “the first day”. Take care of our Babes, handle them with care. Give them the courage they need to stand tall each and every day, and let them know that we are waiting for them each and every day to love and hug them…to fill them back up. #lovedoes #middleschool #wecandohardthings

Us Instead Of Them

us Instead of themUsually in our lives we tend to separate people into groups …most often two groups. US and THEM .

Our neat and tidy group…US. These are our friends, acquaintances, and people who look like us. It’s a pretty safe group. We gravitate towards them at Church, parties, sit by them in theaters, smile at them in line, push our kiddos towards them on the playground. Oh come on you’ve done it. I’ve done it. Go play with that cute little girl; she has a pony tail just like you. We don’t even have to “know” them, but we seek them out. They look like us, dress like us, behave like us…We’re smart like that. How convenient. How typical. How boring.

Why do we stay in our comfort zone? Why are we afraid to dip our toe in the water of unknown?

And then there’s THEM…you know…people who aren’t like US. (At least that’s what we think) Are we afraid that the tattoos and piercings covering the young man in line 13 are going to rub off on us? Surely, we know they aren’t contagious, but still WE stand back a couple of feet. Not to pick on tatts and piercings…I’ve got a kid with a tatt, and I’m sure it won’t be his last. Ladies, we have all given that Mom the “look” at the grocery store. You know the one pushing the cart with a shirtless diaper clad baby in the front swigging on a juice box; followed closely by a snotty nosed toddler with no shoes on…with his face buried in a cereal box. Maybe instead of judging this poor exhausted Momma we should be saying, “Sister, I feel your pain! How can I help you?”. (Honestly, it wasn’t that long ago that I WAS that Momma). How about the person on the corner? Store clerks? The new kid at school or Church?  Someone with skin a different color?   A person who loves differently? You see them everyday.

I was reading Bob Goff’s essay: 10 Ways To An Extraordinary Life last night, and this really struck me…

Goff suggests making friendship intentional and, moreover, risky. Because sometimes you can learn more from friends who stand just left of center than those with whom you share everything in common.

What if we got rid of THEM, and included everyone in US? How cool would that be? Step out of your comfort zone and you will be amazed who you meet. Just start looking at people as humans…not as races, tattoos, piercings, homeless, exhausted Mommas, store clerks, straights or gays.

Humans. Us instead of THEM.

 

Love Others As Themselves

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This. Is. Everything. Love others, but as THEMSELVES. Embrace others…all their quirks, messiness, decisions, beliefs, everything. Just love them. Don’t try to change them to fit your mold or ideal; or question how they run their house. Truth be told you’ll never understand everything that makes another person tick…

We all do this judgy thing. Only when it’s small we call it gossip…you know what I mean. We’ve all been on the giving and the receiving end. Jen Hatmaker in one of her preview essays from her new book  For The Love brings up a fabulous list that I am all too familiar with: stay at home Vs career, private school vs public, free range vs tight ship, Christiany vs non-Christiany, formula Vs breastfeeding, glitter & glam vs yoga pants, attachment parenting vs traditional. No matter what you call it…Gossip or judging it serves no purpose. So many of these things seem to center around women…why are we so hard on each other?

I’ve been on one side of all of these “differences”, but the one that sticks out the most is Breastfeeding vs Formula. I’ve had five kids, and I kid you not; one of the first questions I would hear usually from an a acquaintance, or a total stranger…”Are you gonna breastfeed?” Why is that? Not, “Congratulations!”, or “when are you due?” And, the minute I would say, “No, we’ve (feeling the need to throw John under the formula bus) decided to use formula.” I would get this look~~the look that said my formula fed baby would have 3 eyes and 12 toes look~~that would compel me to defend my decision on how I had chosen to feed my baby. When I really wanted to shout, “Look lady, I tried it for a painful two weeks with my first kid…(I still need therapy from the trauma). I’m now on kids 4 & 5, and I want Dad to do his share. I’m just not a nurser.” Guess what? I’ve got 5 formula fed, healthy, happy, smart kiddos. Nurse if you want…I promise I’m good with that. I won’t give you “the look”.

Same with families who let their children sleep with them. I myself am not a fan. My kids know they can snuggle with us until 10…then off to their beds they go. We just need our peace and quiet. But, if others are ok with that in their homes; then go for it. I don’t recall reading about college dorms that have space for the parents of these “attachment” kiddos. They’re going to be just fine.

I gotta tell you…if you are raising an eyebrow at the decisions and choices of others chances are they are raising one right back at you. So, why not just enjoy the different beats of all of our drums? Seems to me that if we all marched to the same beat it might get a little boring around here.

 

 

 

You Will Never Regret Being Kind

Kindness…what a wonderful virtue to have. And, honestly talk about an easy gift to give….it’s actually free. Kindness can be given to others by simply smiling when you pass, reaching out to friends, stepping out of your comfort zone to ask a stranger if they need help. But, I watch people and I wonder why they guard it like their most coveted treasure…almost as if they have a finite amount. You know your not going to run out, right? Your heart is overflowing…the more you giveaway the kinder you become. I promise, you won’t be able to help yourself. You will never regret being kind.

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I will warn you though; kindness is contagious. All of the little eyes that watch you will soon pick up on this trend. I guarantee your kiddos, those little sponges, will jump on the kindness train and it will be fabulous. I’ve seen it. They will start holding doors open for strangers, returning baskets for people in parking lots, reaching out to the new kid in class. Without even realizing it…they too are spreading kindness.

So, as you head out today approach others with kindness; remember that it’s free and that you have an abundance. You won’t regret it.

Be Nice Or Leave

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This has been a relatively quiet week (on my news feed anyway) since #scotus made their landmark decision which consequently did not cause the world to go up in 🔥🔥🔥. In fact it was quiet, peaceful. Quite loving. Would you expect anything else from people who are now allowed the same rights as the rest of us. They celebrated with joy, smiles, love, and family. Hmmmm, kind of like you and me when we get good news.

Here’s the kicker for me. Apparently, there are some people who are not very happy about #marriageequality. And, they have been stewing for the past week…almost at a slow boil. Well, this morning my #Facebook page could not have been any uglier. But, they were sly and sneaky about it. Kind of like a snake. You know the kind….”We don’t hate you, but we’re sure as hell gonna Judge the s$&@ out of you!”. Or, my personal favorite, “it’s ok to be Gay. Just be celibate. We know it’s hard, but it’s doable.”

This HATE they disguise as Chistianity is far crueler and more toxic than any abuse I’ve seen. All these glass houses…Whatever. Hold your stones and answer the following question. When has your life ever been effected in a negative way by someone in the LBGT community? Honestly, please let me know. I doubt ever. Why? Because they are just like you and me. Why have you succumbed to being a bully; just because someone is different than you? Have you been on the other side of those taunts, abuse, hate? Doesn’t matter the reason: color, nationality, sexual orientation, shortest, tallest, over weight. I have. My children have.

It’s all the same: HATE. You can’t camouflage it with Christianity. This is not how my God treats people…we are all the same in His eyes. He loves and accepts us all.

Maybe the bullies and the haters should be worried.

If you have this HATE thing that you can’t get rid of…as far as I’m concerned for my life: BE NICE OR LEAVE!

Never Cut What You Can Untie

Never cut what you can untie

 

Never cut what you can untie.
Burning bridges, kicking down the ladder, closing doors…those are all pretty easy escapes, aren’t they? I know I’ve mastered them. When someone tears at our soul to the point of tears or anger we want out, and we want out fast. Often times our first reaction is to slam the door in their face without listening or giving the other person a chance. Without giving the relationship a chance. We base our entire relationship on that one turbulent moment. It’s such a knee-jerk reaction. You hurt me and I’m done with you. Forever.

Forever! Gone. In a flash. Time goes by and of course you second guess yourself; your rationale. But, if you’re stubborn like me you dig in a little deeper and applaud yourself for being RIGHT. Well, whatever!!! Can you even remember what the argument or issue was about? If you can I’m sure it seems trivial now. If you can’t…well, there ya have it.

Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s experience. Maybe it’s the number of doors I closed in the past. Maybe it’s the fact that life is too damn short to be frivolously getting rid of the important people in our lives. I know one thing; this anger thing we carry around is a heavy burden.

I am much more willing to extend an open hand and reach out now. Humility and Grace have played a huge part in how I handle my relationships. I no longer feel the need to be right….it serves no purpose, honestly; except to add fuel to the fire. If each person spends their time voicing how “right” they are then no one is listening.

Listening is where it’s at.

Listening=Understanding.

Listening was/is a hard one for me. The old me used to listen to reply, and as soon as the other person shut their mouth I couldn’t wait to get MY words out. I promise I never heard a word they said simply because I wasn’t listening. This changed everything. And, Grace! What power that word holds. YOU have this power. Give it freely!! Give others and yourself forgiveness and mercy. Remember that no one is perfect, and that we are all fighting some kind of battle…depending on the day you don’t know what someone else is bringing to the table. Cut them a little slack.

Before you walk away next time; stop and think about the words that were said. I mean really think about where they were coming from. How was the other person really feeling? Were they coming from a place of anger, really? Or was it pain, hurt, sadness. If you take a step back it might change everything. Take a walk in their shoes. Ask them how they feel. And, then LISTEN.

Friends…reach out. Sometimes it takes patience. Sometimes it takes persistence. Sometimes it takes time for the other person to reach back. I’m learning that that is OK. Everyone deals with their emotions differently; in their own time.

I urge you to take a moment in the heat of anger to breathe; walk away; to just think. Do whatever calms you. Go for a run, have a glass of wine, take a nap. Then and only then think about your relationship. Not just this one moment, but all of the moments. And remember…Never cut what you can untie.

WE Must Be Part of The Change

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Every time the horrible video of the OU SAE fraternity shows on TV…which is nonstop right now…my heart aches for every group that feels the sting of hate.  Every group. You know this isn’t just about race, right? This venom seeps far deeper than that. Its about race, sexual orientation, obesity, sexism…these prejudices are all abundant. I cannot even imagine the pain that must be felt in the heart and homes of those treated so viciously.

How do WE let this happen? I say WE because as I watch that disgusting video I have to wonder why no one stood up and said, “STOP!” No one…not one single person. I’ll tell you why. No one on that bus had the BALLS to stand up and say, “STOP!” Damn it!! That’s the WE! That’s the US, People. It’s really easy for us to sit on our couch, or talk about it around the dinner table, but be honest….which one of us is going to stand up in the middle of the hatred and say, “Enough is Enough!”? Who is going to link arms and cross the bridge?

Show your kids that video, and ask them what they would’ve done. This my Friends is an opportunity…it is a very valuable and teachable moment. Teach them the right choices to make.  Teach them now to stand with their fellow man, and to love and appreciate everyone….because we are ALL the same. Teach your kids to be part of the solution now, so that maybe they can see a change in their lifetime. Teach them to be part of the WE that makes a change.  WE must have these crucial and powerful conversations with our children.  WE simply must.  WE must teach them that it is not OK to sit on the bus and allow others to spew hate…WE must teach our children to stand and say, “STOP!”.

Be part of the WE…link arms with your fellow man. I can only hope that we can march forward into the future with a positive change….WE just have to. Will I see it? Will my children see it? Only time will tell. I know that loving our fellow Man starts at home, and that is where WE WILL START. Be an example to your kids, to your family, to your friends. Folks is folks. Be part of the WE.

xoxo

Amy