It’s 6:23 AM, and I’m awake, not because I’m grieving over yesterday’s shooting in Connecticut (though I am saddened by it), and not because I’m anticipating anything specific happening today (though every day is worthy of anticipation) but because my brain is spinning ideas like so much cotton candy, and even though I’d much rather be dreaming, I’m sitting in bed with my laptop on a pillow and a dog pinning my ankle to the mattress. At least it’s one of the smaller dogs.
There are so many topics in my head, but instead of picking one, I’m sharing five I’m not going to write entire posts about:
- Sandy Hook, CT:Yes, it was horrible and horrifying. Yes, it was tragic. But as I’m not directly related to the situation, am not a parent at all (dogs don’t count in this instance) and don’t have either magical powers or a viable solution to this recurring problem, I’m going to quietly say a prayer for the children, those who lived and those who died, for the adults (same categories) and for the parents and families of all of them. Whether prayer is a plea for help or merely adding my energy to the vortex doesn’t matter. In this case, it really is the thought that counts. HOWEVER, I have no patience for people who were NOT directly involved, directly affected, being maudlin about events like this for weeks. Tragedy happens, but dwelling on it is often just a waste of time.
- Gun Control: Do we, as a culture, need to talk about real measures? Yes. Do I believe it’s far too easy to obtain guns in America? Yes. Do I believe the average citizen either needs a gun or “should” own one? No. But neither do I believe that my posting so on Facebook or Twitter will do anything to fix THAT problem either. I think we’re all too likely to shoot first and ask questions later. Beyond that: I don’t allow guns in my home, and I think that, unless they’re in day-glow colors and shoot only water, gun-shaped toys are wildly inappropriate for all children.
- The War on Christmas: The thing is, there isn’t one. We live in a pluralist society. We have for centuries, now, and it’s time we all just admit it, and move along. If you’re Christian and your neighbor is Jewish or Muslim (or Wiccan, or some other kind of Pagan, or an Atheist, or Agnostic, or completely uncomfortable defining their spiritual practice), count yourself lucky that you get to maybe learn first-hand about a different perspective on faith. If you go back far enough, the stories are the same, and the meanings behind them profoundly simple: Be kind to people. Treat your neighbors at least as well as you would treat your family. Be good to the earth, we only have one. Recognize that we are all human, and that the things that unite us are far more numerous than the things which divide us. Christmas isn’t going away any time soon. Stop worrying about non-existent attempts to end it, and celebrate, instead. You’ll be much happier.
- The Separation of Church and State: I’m sick to death of people saying we need to bring God back into schools. No. We don’t. Religion is the job of parents and religious leaders. Schools exist to give everyone a baseline education so they can function in the world as independent adults. No school is equipped to teach religion or religious history without bias, and frankly, math, languages (including English), science, history, geography, and critical thinking are far more important. Besides, I don’t think God needs a remedial education, and I’m pretty sure God is already conversant in everything from astrophysics to zoology, though the free reading period that included Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series was probably skipped over in an attempt to remain sane. Anyway, freedom OF religion has to include freedom FROM religion, or it’s just empty words. Do I think everyone should go take a course in “the Bible as literature,” at some point? Yes. But I also think we should still be teaching kids cursive writing and accurate world history, as well as art and music. Then again, I’m not a parent (see point one).
- Vegetarians: I’m very happy that a portion of our society has given up meat. More bacon for the rest of us! What makes me unhappy is this holier-than-thou attitude that somehow being a vegetarian is the only ethical choice. First of all, are you aware of the great number of small animals (including rodents, which, okay, not really on anyone’s menu so much, but still…) die every time fields are harvested by machines or the land is turned over? Look it up sometime. As well, unless you live in a place where your entire diet is grown locally, you are just as guilty of helping to ruin the planet by transporting things from distant places or growing things where they’re not native. Also? Humans are omnivores. Look it up. Meat has ALWAYS been part of our diet. I do, however, agree that we need to eat LESS meat, as a rule, and that when we raise animals with the intent of eating them we have an obligation to treat them well. I don’t even have an issue with hunting, as long as it’s for food and not sport, and the whole animal gets used. It would be hypocritical of me to be anti-hunting – I like venison too much.
So those are my five mini-rants. But here’s a bonus one: SOCIAL MEDIA.
A lot, today, but fairly regularly over the last four years, I’ve seen people killing off-line friendships because of political/spiritual/cultural opinions posted on Twitter and Facebook. I find this absurd. Before we had social media allowing us to share every thought (or fraction thereof) that crosses our minds, we still held opinions that were sometimes wildly divergent from the opinions of our friends and families, we just didn’t know about it, and I think we got along much better.
I’m lucky. I have friends and family from all over the political and spiritual spectrum. I get along better with those who have views similar to mine, but I don’t believe we have to agree with each other all the time in order to love each other, or to get along. I’m a writer. Expressing myself is both my hobby and my job, but sometimes I think we should be much more intentional about what we put out into the world.
I’m not Jewish but over the past several years, ever since I learned of it, the concept of tikkun olem has really resonated with me. It’s about healing the world. From the ground up, from the heart down, with hands and minds and whatever else we each have to give. I’m going to repeat myself: the things that unite us are more numerous than the things which divide us. Go find a way to unite people today. Be kind to one another.
And thanks for reading this.