Closure

I was listening to NPR while I was out and about today, but I suspect that I would have heard the same type of broadcast on any news radio station I chose today. Elated callers were sharing their patriotic enthusiasm for the killing of Osama Bin Laden and many of them expressed their thankfulness for the closure that taking out Bin Laden would give the families of the victims of 9/11.  I just don’t see how this will provide any closure for our family or any other 9/11 families.  “Closure”…  What is meant by that word anyway?  Now that Bin Laden is dead, should we feel lighter?  Should we feel less loss?  Should we feel like 9/11 is more behind us?

Our family, immediate and extended, has learned to adapt to the post 9/11 new normal. We have learned to live without, much like one would have to live without after loosing a limb.  I would suppose Killing Osama Bin Laden gives us as much closure as an artificial limb gives closure to an amputee.  Even though we have become accustomed to the loss, we are painfully aware of it nonetheless.  When my husband received his Doctorate 9 years ago, my mother in law celebrated her son’s achievement without her husband, when my husband’s first son was born 6 years ago, my husband was painfully aware that his father would never meet his grandson, and when our son was the ring bearer for his oldest cousin last May, their Grandpa would have been beaming and we all missed seeing Grandpa’s proud smile.  We have learned to live the new normal, not because we want to, but because we have to.

So before you thank God for giving us closure, think about much closure you would have with your artificial limb.  Think about how easy it is to open a mayonnaise jar.  Think about the way your child’s had feels when laced with yours.  Think about the joy you remember when you see your wedding band on your left ring finger.  And then think about how that would feel with prosthetic, artificial, metal or plastic hands.  Sure you’ll adjust, but you will never have closure.  Maybe instead it would be more appropriate to thank God for the strength He has given us to not live with hardened hearts and the strength found through Christ alone to every day keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Now those things, those are worth being thankful for.

Visiting Grandpa's Memorial at Arlington Cemetery

Advertisements

Kristin Stewart as Snow White?

OK- So I just read that Kristin Stewart is being “courted for the role of Snow White.”

Really?  Well, that’s an original idea!

I can see it now, “Your short, you wear floppy hats and funny clothes, yyyyou whistle while you work….”

“You sleep in tiny little beds, you sing, “Hi-ho, hi-ho, hi-ho” all day long, I can’t resist kissing you on the forehead!  Your, your… Dwarfs! ”

OH-  SOMEBODY PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!!!!!!!!!

AHHHHH!

Then she will have to bite and apple and die and then be brought back to life!!!!!!!

That means there will be ANOTHER APPLE SCENE!!!

***Is this thing on?***

ANOTHER APPLE SCENE!!!

THIS IS TOOOOO MUUUUUUUCH!!!

Type casting anyone?

She’ll even get to finally wear a cape!!!!!

This is like a bad dream that keeps on giving!

Excuse Me While I Rant! On 9/11 and Other Numbers

This evening I read a note that Rick Steves posted on his public facebook page.  While I am a huge fan of Rick Steves and respet his work as an Travel Writer and Humanitarian, I think he missed the mark and landed short tonight.  Here is his note as posted on Facebook:

9/11 and Other Numbers (by Rick Steves)

This month we Americans — all 300 million of us — remember the tragic loss of 2,973 lives, when terrorists attacked our nation. In the more than 3,000 days since that terrible event, hardly a day has gone by when 9/11 hasn’t colored our response to what life has dealt us since. We have mourned together the loss of these innocent victims of this horrible act. And we have been reminded of the fragility and preciousness of each of those lives. I think it’s safe to say that the loss of these nearly 3,000 Americans has changed each of us in some way. And our collective response to the tragic event has changed us even more.

On this ninth anniversary of 9/11, as I remember our loss, I challenge myself to consider other human tragedies that have occurred since then — the loss of lives, the causes, the grief, and how they might have been avoided or minimized. I meditate on proportionality; on our response to each of these tragedies — and on how the desperation and suffering of the poor, dark, and dirty, uncovered by news media, plays out in our hearts.

In 2004, more 4,000 people — mostly civilians — died during the Second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq.

Each year since 2001, between 11,000 and 17,000 Americans have died in alcohol-caused car accidents.

Every day, more than 25,000 poor children die from diseases rich children don’t get.

Every year since 2001, an average of 30,000 Americans — most of them innocent victims — have been killed by firearms.

Since 2007, Mexico has lost more than 22,000 people to the war on drugs.

In 2010, an earthquake in Haiti killed nearly 230,000 people. In 2005 and 2008, earthquakes in northern Pakistan and China’s Sichuan Province took approximately 75,000 and 70,000 lives, respectively. These earthquakes likely would have caused far less death and destruction in lands with First World building codes.

In 2004, an estimated 230,000 people perished in the Indian Ocean tsunami. In 2008, more than 130,000 people died when a cyclone swept through Myanmar.

Since 2003, about 300,000 have been killed in Darfur.

Imagine the horror in little Honduras when Hurricane Mitch struck 12 years ago. Approximately 20% of that nation’s 7 million people were left homeless, while 70% of the country’s transportation infrastructure was demolished. Mudslides killed more than 6,000 people. In a horrifying instant that few of us here in the US even noticed, a land with 3% of our population lost more than double the people we did on 9/11.

As we remember 9/11, some might think it wrong to ponder how and why we pay attention to human tragedy near and far. I’ve been thinking about how good and caring people notice suffering selectively — by proximity or race or religion and how and why we respond to some and not to others.

I think of who the innocent victims were in New York on 9/11 and how their loved ones have grieved. Then I think of the loved ones who survived each of the other tragedies listed…and how they grieved. A New York office worker crushed in concrete…a Honduran family drowned in mud…an Iraqi child riddled with shrapnel…a Californian widow joining Mothers against Drunk Driving.

On this anniversary of 9/11 (as I try to ignore the sick media circus of Quran-burning threats), I think of those who lost loved ones on that terrible day. And I also can’t help but think of a million poor Afghan refugees barefoot and cold in tents just over the Pakistan border as another winter sets in — collateral suffering with barely an army blanket of compassion tossed their way. It’s a thoughtful time…I hope.

This was my response as posted in his Facebook comments:

Tsunami, Earthquake, even dare I say Drunken Driving… these things are not events that happen because of the hatred of one person toward another. Natural disaster and poor judgment are not the same as premeditated murder. My father in law was on board flight 77. Someone deliberately plunged the aircraft he was on into the Pentagon. Proportionately we may have not suffered the quantity of loss as other tragedies, but to say we suffer more or less than another is, well for lack of a better word, hurtful. I don’t know that personal loss can or should be compared. I lost my mother to cancer. 11 weeks and she was gone. It was every bit as devastating and painful, but completely different. I hope for peace. I hope for cultural understanding. I hope for compassion for all who have grief and are suffering at the hand of terrorism. At this 9 year mark I hope we as Americans can move forward by eliminating fear mongering and imperialism and realize that while we suffer from the heinous loss of 9/11, our loss is not ranked on a scale of 1-10 among the other horrible loss of our fellow humankind, it is not harder or easier than theirs, it is instead something that makes us one and the same. We all share in the human experience and create community when we “get to carry each other.” There is nothing wrong with acknowledging a day where Americans suffered as our citizens were murdered, but in turn we need to also give the same to others who have suffered and not put our loss on a pedestal and question why it could have happened to us. It happens to all of us.

Thanks for letting me let off a little steam!  After all, we’re all in this together!

Excuse Me While I Rant! My Perspective on Haitian Adoption

A friend of mine posed the question; “I’m thinking… why are people so anxious to “help” the children of Haiti by adopting them, removing them from their culture, their country, their language and their homes? Wouldn’t it be better to help rebuild and invest in the children there, so they can develop into the country’s future leaders?”

The comment got me to thinking about the current crisis in Haiti.  While I’m sure that my friend has the best of intentions when asking this question, I found myself having a pretty strong reaction to it.  It’s a busy morning for me here, so pardon my unedited and hardly proof-read response.  I just couldn’t not write anything about it!

Perhaps it was a slight leaning toward the vilification of adoptive parents.  Or maybe because it conjured in me the idea that Haiti, even before this crisis, was a delightful place to raise a child.  I am going to attempt give words to these strong feelings, for my self, but so that I can be a voice in some very small way for the orphans of Haiti (and all over the world for that matter.)

By now it should be obvious to all of us that Haiti is in a crisis beyond any of our imaginations.  Before the earthquake, Haiti was already the #1 most impoverished country in the western hemisphere.  Number 1.  So lets not kid our selves here, with an 80% poverty rate, and an abject poverty rate at over 50% (pre-quake) there are a lot of very practical needs of Haitian children that are not being met.

People all over the world have opened their wallets and given money to the people of Haiti.  That is a wonderful gesture of good will and very generous, but in the end some problems need more than our collective paycheck, and they need it now.  While my children all went to sleep in their own beds last night with full tummies and a hug from their parents, it is heartbreaking to me to think that there are children in Haiti, and around the world, that don’t have that.  I think prospective adoptive parents are looking at the situation in Haiti and from a really practical, tangible standpoint have stepped up.  Not only have they opened their wallets, they have opened their homes and hearts.  That takes guts.

It will be years before any of the money being funneled to Haiti becomes anything tangible for these kids, and while it’s a great story, “Earthquake Victim Child Rises From Rubble Of Haiti To Become New Charismatic Leader!” it is not going to be the case for most of those children.  Sadly, the odds are not in their favor.   It is likely that without parental support from people who are emotionally and financially dedicated to them, they will become the next even more impoverished generation, and on top of that they will be parentless.  I find that extremely sad.

Most people willing to raise an orphan are not able to uproot and move to the child’s home country in order to provide them a home.  And to back up a little bit, we are talking about adoptive parents who are not looking for healthy, white, newborn, “perfect in every way” babies, and we are talking about kids who have been through horrific trauma, are sick (HIV is rampant in Haiti), and poverty stricken.  I’m wondering which is worse, living in abject poverty without parents, or learning a new culture and language?  I know many adoptive parents, in fact, embrace their child’s native culture and earnestly try to teach them about it.  I think about how I have grown to love my husband’s family and traditions because they are a part of him, whom I love and adore, and can’t imagine an adoptive parent not embracing the culture of a child they love and adore as well.   Adoption isn’t a neat and tidy solution.  These parents have signed up to get down and dirty and they have their work cut out for them.   They certainly are doing more than many of us rubberneckers!  Many of us gawk at our televisions and send $10 text donations, while they have signed on to a lifetime of support for one person, possibly even a group of siblings, and have agreed to be forever changed by the events in Haiti.  I hate to say it, but it is likely that I will be as changed by the events in Haiti as I was by the events in Indonesia in 2005…

In the 10-20 years that Haiti is rebuilding the buildings, those adoptive parents will be building people, and hopefully they will be instilling in them a pride of where they have come from.  Hopefully because theses Haitian children raised with the love and support of parents, raised with stability and security that comes from parents committed to them, hopefully they will naturally have a compassion and heart for their native country and people, and they will become citizens of either country that are positive influences for us all.

Around the time my first daughter was born I heard a quote from a man named Ed Cogar that has stuck with me and I have thought a lot about it in regard to the orphans in Haiti, “It is easier to raise a child than to repair an adult.”   I applaud the parents who are stepping up in the most tangible way for the orphans of Haiti and around the world.  I believe they are most heroic.

Excuse Me While I Rant! On Being and Doing

Last night Parent-Teacher Conferences were held at the Junior High where my daughters both attend school.  Both of my girls earned great grades, all A’s and one B for both, and are reportedly “a joy to have in class, helpful, ask great questions, and are dependable and hard working.”  Both of my girls were also lightly teased by their teachers for talking “just a little” too much.  Hmmmm… imagine that?  It was one of those nights where I was so proud to be their mom!   All in all it was a great night, but despite their glowing reports I didn’t leave the school without heavy concern.

The order of the night was to meet each teacher and discuss the progress and concerns of our students.  Teachers were seated at their own tables and in typical arena style parents took turns having their individual meetings.  Since there are few concerns about the girls’ academic progress, I decided to take the time to ask each teacher for more specifics about the content of the classes that my daughters take from them.  It was an interesting view into the world of today’s 7th and 8th graders.

It was at one of these tables, with a teacher that was new to our school this year, and seemingly new to her teaching career, that all of my internal sirens started wailing.  It wasn’t her fault.  The phrase “Don’t shoot the messenger” comes to mind here.  She teaches my oldest in a class called Framework for 21st Century Learning.  This class title has intrigued me and I have been curious about what content the teacher is going cover.  As I learned last night, the class covers a lot of basic life skills like balancing a budget, how to manage debt, and write a resume.  It was when she began talking about writing resumes with 8th graders that my “lizard brain” began twitching.  The earnest young teacher began explaining about the variety of aptitude tests that my daughter was taking in class and how after taking all of these tests my 14 year old daughter would be prepared to enter high school with a very good sense of what classes she should be taking to prepare her for her future career or further education.  It was all I could do to keep my emotions from totally popping on this well-intentioned teacher.  Ahhh, she had no idea who she was talking to!  Let me give you a little back-story…

I grew up in a very traditional (even though it was “blended”) family in an age where the times for women, well, they were a-changin’.    My mom went to a year of community college until she married my father, whom she had met the first week of school.  I was born literally 9 months after their wedding, and my brother almost 2 years after that.  On occasion she took jobs to supplement the family income, but they were certainly not considered a career.  My parents divorced, and for the brief time mom was single she worked a J-O-B to put food on the table.  After she married my dad she was a full time stay at home mom until I was a senior in high school.  My dad was a 3rd generation paper mill worker.  He was a faithful and reliable union employee who put in a very respectable 40 sum years.  He once corrected me when I referred to his job as a career.   It was a job, and nothing more.

I was a young girl coming of age in the 1980s, an era when women were entering the work force in record number.  The opportunities that a college education could afford me were exciting and I had dreams of  ‘having it all’.   Title 9, Rowe Vs Wade, the Feminist Movement, like it or not ladies, we were the children born of that labor.   Despite this, it wasn’t all ‘Woman Power’ on the home front.  Now, I want to be clear that the home I grew up in was not an oppressive environment for women, there were just not a lot of opportunities for exposure to what was really out there.  As I prepared to enter college I was excited to one day pursue a career and I think my parents, particularly my mom, were excited too.  Although they never said such a thing, it felt like the acceptable career choices were for a woman to be either a nurse or a teacher.

Since I was the weak stomach type, I was forever being encouraged to become a teacher.  I have great respect and admiration for teachers.  In many ways I see myself as a teacher.   I loved the coursework for my Human Development degree, but being a teacher of little children in the formal sense of the word was a career I quickly ruled out once I became a student at Warner Pacific College.  It took me at least a year to divulge that information to my parents.  They handled it well, but I was constantly being asked what I was going to “do” with my Human Development degree, and honestly I didn’t have a clue.

I was discovering that College was a perplexing environment!  On the one hand I was attending a Liberal Arts College exploring Human Development through the lens of an institution that heavily engaged the Humanities.  This was an environment where I was discovering and exploring all sorts of things about people and life in general, the Human Condition and the correlations between all disciplines.  On the other hand I was learning that College is not Vocational School.   I was learning to be a thinker and not do a specific skill.  This was confusing to me.   I had come to College with the preconceived notion that much more of the latter would be happening. The focus was about who I would be, not what I would do.   I have come to understand and believe this is so much more important.   I am forever grateful for that experience because it has irrevocably changed who I am.  It now really bothers me on a guttural level that as a society we place such a high value on doing and not being.

So this is the place I was coming from when I met my daughter’s fresh-faced teacher across that table.  As we spoke I could see the chasm of differing opinion opening up between us.  She began to explain to me that after each student had taken all 6 of these aptitude tests they would have a direction on which to plan their high school career.  Seriously.  From the tests of 13 to 14 year old 8th graders.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think aptitude testing can be a valuable tool for identifying interests and talents in specific areas for people who have had a wide exposure to various experiences.  When I was the same age as my daughter I was certainly not prepared to take tests that would gage talent and ability, and future success in specific areas.   These test that are being taken while she is still in Junior High could affect the trajectory of her educational career!  Furthermore, I would have to say that I don’t think aptitude testing should be the focus of educating kids this age anyway!  Shouldn’t they be allowed to explore, discover, and (dare I say) mature a little bit before they are shoved into the press that will sieve out any creativity, or desires to experiment with something new?

I guess this is what happens when society has a system in place where it is of utmost importance for each one of us to become the sharpest cogs in the wheel, when it is most important to be very knowledgeable and smart about one certain thing in a very quantifiable way.  Science is like that, math is like that, philosophy, character, and thoughtfulness are not, but it does not make their discipline any less valuable.  I shudder to think of our community, our nation, and our world without all of those things.  All of those things work together to bring out the best in all of us.

Somewhere along the way I once heard someone described as being “An inch wide and a mile deep.”   When we become so focused on only the things that we are good at or have a natural aptitude for we loose creative problem solving skills, we loose patience for those who don’t think the same way we do, and we become myopic and ego centric in our views.  We become an inch wide and a mile deep. That’s not the hope I have for my children’s education.  Quite frankly it isn’t the hope I have for anyone’s child.  When we put kids into a funnel that drains into a specific bottle we limit their exposure to so many things and we change who they can become.  I see this as such a colossal tragedy.  It’s a big world out there, shouldn’t they have more than a short 14 or so years to find their place in it?  Shouldn’t we be more concerned about who they will be than what they will do?  I sure think so.