Stop The Bullying

Copyright: <a href=''>airdone / 123RF Stock Photo</a>I’ve lived fifty-one years on this earth before it happened: Someone bullied me. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been picked on occasionally, for one stupid thing or another. Is it possible to attend thirteen years of public school in the United States without being picked on? Unlikely. But today someone bully-shamed me on Facebook for something when I was completely innocent of ill intent. I learned a lot from the experience.

Being bullied or publicly humiliated or shamed, whatever name you put on it, makes you take stock of yourself. It puts your self-esteem in a check status. It threw me for a bit, but, thankfully, as a reasonably well-adjusted, mature, responsible adult, I was able to take a step back and regroup. I have a lifetime of experiences to draw on to remind myself that I am not the terrible things that were said about me. I am NOT a B-word. (I’m sure my siblings would heartily disagree in an instant. They have their personal reasons, but eventually, perhaps reluctantly, they would agree that deep-down I am NOT a B-word.) Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to adjust themselves after such an attack.

I was brought back to a pivotal moment in childhood. (If we only realized when they were happening in childhood that our stupid, little choices were critical decisions, we would maybe give them more thought.) A developmentally disabled boy sat in a seat alone on the bus, and some other boys were picking on him, telling him he was “no good,” that “nobody would ever want to sit with him,” and other similar bully phrases. I got mad. The boy was defenseless, nearly mute, so I sat next to him and told the other boys to go sit on their brains. It was a split-second decision that defined who I became as a person. I was never bullied. I was the defender of those who were bullied, and I defied anyone to harass me because of it. Anyone who went to school with me, I hope, would agree that I was NEVER the one to find fault with someone else for ANY reason. I’m sure I made my share of stupid mistakes, as any kid does when they’re developing their sense of priorities and values, but I did NOT pick on people.

When someone accused me today of being the kind of person who WOULD do that, and shared their wonderful opinion with a large group of my peers, it struck like a knife to my core. There is a big difference between having a contrary opinion about something and making a personal attack. I was expressing my opinions, and that was all. In this era when our world is so split by differences of opinion on policies, we all, adults and children, need to take a step back and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes before we lash out in public forums. Yes, you are legally allowed to express yourself here. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Go off on your own and take a few deep breaths. Say a mantra. Do what you’ve got to do to get yourself under control before words come out of your mouth or you type that text or post.

Words can bruise far more than anything else you throw at someone.

The Election and A Spoonful of Sugar

spoonful-of-sugar-1329415-1600x1200The following quotes are taken from a once-famous and powerful politician.  As you read them, consider this:  If this person were running for the office of President of the United States and uttered these words either in written or spoken form, would you vote for them?  Would you find these words compelling? Would these words convince you of this person’s viewpoint? Would you be willing to have this person represent your interests in the highest office of the world?

  • Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice.
  • As a Christian, I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.
  • I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty.
  • Life doesn’t forgive weakness.
  • All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.
  • This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!
  • I do not see why man should not be as cruel as nature.
  • To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.
  • If freedom is short of weapons, we must compensate with willpower.
  • The doom of a nation can be averted only by a storm of flowing passion, but only those who are passionate themselves can arouse passion in others.
  • Our enemies are little worms.
  • One needs great tenacity and a tremendous will to begin such an enterprise at all. And I should like to say this to you: If I had this faith, I had it only because I knew the people and because I had no doubts as to the quality of the … people.
  • What does a title mean to me? I do not need a title. My name, which I achieved with my own strength, is my title. I only wish that posterity would sometimes confirm the fact that I have striven to achieve my program decently and honestly.

I find nothing inherently wrong with any of these statements. In fact, I actually agree with many of them. There’s only one problem. They were spoken or written by what the world now considers a madman; a man so bent on obtaining power by any means necessary that he had no problem coldly murdering millions of people for nothing more than their ethnicity. He did it passionately, with fervor in a calculated, methodical way. Millions of people died trying to wrestle that man’s control away; yet, his words here are reasonable.

As we approach the final six months leading up to the presidential election, I beg of my fellow citizens to think carefully about the words you hear. Heed the line from Mary Poppins’ song: A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. You may agree with some of what someone says and still find their overall electability abhorrent. It’s allowed. Just because somebody says something you agree with, doesn’t mean you should elect them. They may just be pandering to get your vote, saying things they know you want to hear. Consider the whole person before you cast your vote. I know I will.

Lemon Meringue Pie and Lies

In junior high I was required to take several classes which I thought, at the time, were completely useless: shop and home economics were top on my list.

Lemon pie on a yellow plate with coffee in the background on a restaurant table.

Keep in mind that my parents worked diligently to raise self-sufficient children. We got no allowance. We got paid for work we did, just like any other farmhand. If you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid. We didn’t get anything handed to us. If you wanted a new record (once upon a time, music was sold on vinyl discs called records), then you got a job, earned money and paid for it. If you wanted anything outside of food and clothing, you got a job, made money and paid for it. By the time I was ten, I had worked several small jobs and had learned to do quite a few things for myself, like woodworking, cleaning cows utters, birthing piglets, mowing lawns, sharpening a knife: all the things they would try to teach me in shop class. Since I was a girl, my mother knew that cooking and domestic duties would be necessary for me to learn, so she taught me to cook, clean and sew: all the things they would try to teach me in home economics class.

At some point in home economics, we were asked to make our father’s favorite dessert. At the dinner table that night, my dad was absent, which had me downhearted. He was on a business trip, so I asked my mother what my father’s favorite dessert was. She said she wasn’t sure, but she had once made him a lemon meringue pie when they were dating that he had gone on about how much he loved it. He had sat down and eaten it with a huge smile on his face, so her best guess was lemon meringue pie.

I wanted to practice so, that weekend, I bought all the ingredients to make lemon meringue pie and worked on it at home. I made a lovely pie (which is NOT an easy flavor of pie to make from scratch, by the way) and presented it at dinner for my family. My father took a slice and ate it with a smile. I went to school the next week and made one heck of a lemon meringue pie. I got an A on my efforts, but not many of my fellow students liked lemon, and I had leftovers. This will be great, I thought. It’s my dad’s favorite, so I’ll bring it home. What a smart teacher to have us make our dad’s favorite so we can bring leftovers home for him.

When I got home that night my mother was out of the house, so I presented a piece of pie on a plate, neatly garnished to my father. He brushed me off saying, “I hate lemon meringue pie, honey. No, thank you.” I was extremely confused. Just last week when I made the pie he had ate it and said how good it was. I let him know my mother had told me about the pie she had made that he loved while they were dating.

He turned to me with his brilliant blue eyes and said, “I know. I hated lemon pie then, and I hate it now, but please don’t tell your mother. She wanted me to like it so much. I didn’t have the heart to tell her, and I still don’t.”

We tell lies to those we love and to ourselves for many reasons. I don’t know why my dad chose to keep his hatred of lemon a secret from my mother, but I’m pretty sure it was love. He truly loved her and could not bear the thought of hurting her in any way. It’s pretty ironic because two people cannot be married for twenty or thirty years and not hurt each other in some way, so this small, simple continuous lie for years was pretty ill-spent. He would’ve been much better off if he’d quit smoking ten or twenty years earlier than he did instead of keeping this stupid lie intact. She would’ve been much happier not to be hurt by the ridiculous expense and nasty habit he kept on with for decades than to find out that long, long ago he’d lied about his love of lemons.

What lies are you keeping stashed away for silly reasons? You might want to reconsider the value of that lie. By the way, although I can make an excellent one, I hate lemon meringue pie.

A Twin Connection

marva_and_margaretIs there such a thing as a twin connection?

That’s a question that I’ve pondered for most of my life. You see, my mother was a twin. I doubt very much that she was an identical twin, although back in the day nobody knew there was a difference between one kind of twin and another. When they were born in the 1930s, twins were enough of an oddity that any set of twins were a spectacle, and they were, indeed, a wonder in that day. They didn’t look much alike at all, yet they were dressed alike, spoiled alike and disciplined alike. If anything, they may have been mirror twins. One was right-handed, the other left-handed. One was popular and flirty, the other a quiet homebody. They were both voracious readers and were thick as thieves. Throughout most of my life, hardly a week went by that they didn’t spend an hour or more on the phone. I swear they were talking about the latest books they were reading.

They would call each other whenever one of them had an ache or pain, wondering if the other were ill or sick or in need of care. That was their twin connection, and it always made me wonder how that kind of bond could exist over time and space. For most of their lives, they lived nearly 300 miles apart. How could they feel anything of that link over such a wide expanse of particles and time? Just the car trip took hours, so how could a feeling in a leg or an arm, a tooth or a stomach get from one to the other? They claimed that it did. They’d spent all of their lives together, sleeping in each other’s arms, until they left home when they were seventeen.

Maybe this is a phenomenon anyone who isn’t a twin cannot understand. Perhaps it’s a coupling of their souls that happens in utero. When my twin niece and nephew were born, they would communicate with one another as babies on a level that was non-verbal and pre-language that you could obviously see when they were going through the activities of their daily life. One would get it in their mind to be funny, throw their food or shake their whole body in a crazy way and the other would laugh. They made their own fun, acted as both performer and audience for one another. That non-verbal exchange between babies was enough to make you believe in that twin connection.

What have you seen or experienced as unwritten, unscientific evidence of a connection between twins? Do you think twins have a bond that goes beyond time and space, life and death?

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