Argument 1: It's the world's oldest profession. You are never going to get rid of it. Quit trying and use our tax dollars for something that you can make a difference at.
William Wilberforce became interested in eliminating slavery in the Commonwealth in around 1789. For what it's worth, the act to abolish slavery throughout the UK was not proclaimed until 1807 (18 years later) and the act that abolished slavery throughout the commonwealth was not proclaimed until 1833( 44 years later, and Wilberforce died 3 days after)
Perhaps because I am interested in politics, I have an idea of what 44 years of political work and activism looks like. Countless meetings with people who don't care. Ridicule. Excuses from the other side. Dissimulation. Exhaustion. Standing in the House of Commons, again and again, to talk about the same point, while those around you ignore you or scoff at you. 44 years is a very long time. Very long. I'm sure, at times, he felt alone and unequal to the task. But, I do not think he ever thought of giving up. This was his calling. But more than that, he knew he was a lamp, held up to the evil that was slavery. He knew he was a voice calling in the wilderness, calling people to stand up for right and good.
Prostitution is not the world's oldest profession. That dubious distinction likely belongs to slavery. And yet, no one would for a moment think that anyone who can't pay their bills should voluntarily enter into slavery. No, we say, that's wrong, it's morally repugnant, and we won't let you do that. When you read through the annals of slavery in the American south, certain themes begin to emerge - the economy would fall apart, the Africans are just like children, slavery "takes care of them", the Bible condones slavery, says it's ok. It's the natural order of things.
Now, we look at those "justifications" and we think, quite rightly, that they are crap. We see them for what they are, pathetic justifications of an unholy thing. We reject them as false. I bring up slavery when I talk about this myth because the roots are the same. For a long time, far too long, the world looked at those justifications and we were lazy. We said that well, we didn't think it was nice, but it wasn't hurting anyone. We only need to look at race relations in the US to see how wrong we were. We know deep within us, our ancestors have blood on their hands.
I doubt we will ever rid the world of the scourge of murder, the scourge of child abuse, the scourge of slavery. But we still try, don't we? You don't often hear of people who say that we should stop trying to police ourselves, protect our children. I suspect we will always, this side of heaven, live in a world where babies die (and there's Jen, Marching with the March of Dimes for Gabriel). But out of the best that it is to be human, a child of God, we keep trying to make our world a better place. As Christians say, Gods will done on earth, as it is in heaven. We try out of what is pure and noble and good in humans, to make our world a better place. We don't always succeed.
The point is this: when we say we will never eliminate prostitution from our world, we are giving in to laziness. When we say that we should stop trying, we cease to care for the woman on my street corner, on Christmas Day. We say that she doesn't matter. We say that we are too busy to help those who need our help, to consumed by our families and our things. We keep the small parts of the law, while ignoring the call to justice and mercy and love. We are a cup that is clean on the outside only.
And I'm sorry, but she does matter. She has a family. There is someone out there, who loves her. And I'm sorry, but I have to stand up and say that she's my neighbour. I owe her a duty of care, and that duty of care means that I have to stand up and say that she is already enslaved, and it is both wrong and every single kind of morally bankrupt to say that we should further enslave her with legislation.
Perhaps the easiest change we can make is this. It doesn't involve volunteering with a soup kitchen, donating money, handing out condoms to sex workers. Do you have a son? A brother? A husband? Any men in your life? Teach them it's not ok to "buy a woman". Teach them that women are people, and they deserve respect and protection. Teach them that prostitutes aren't out there because they like their job, and that they are some one's daughter, mother, friend. They too are our neighbours. And if they are good and honourable men, men like Mr. Spit, affirm that. Be a light against evil and a voice calling in the wilderness.
Laziness. It's not ever going to be a valid excuse for ignoring the marginalized. At least not in any kind of world I want to live in.
Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go clean up the rubble from destructa-dog.
And the problem is that I don't quite no where to begin. But maybe it's by saying this:
When I moved into my neighbourhood 4 years ago, I didn't know much about prostitution. I knew it existed. I had a classmate that put herself through University working as a call girl. But street level prostitution, well, I knew it existed, out there somewhere. If you asked me about it, I might have said something like "Well, I don't like it. I don't think it's a good idea, but really, it's between the women who do it, and then men who hire them."
And then I moved to somewhere.
Just the words I have used give me pause now. The women who "do" this, and the men who "hire" them. As easily and casually as if they were hiring someone to clean their house or watch their children. Except, not really.
One of the things that astounded me about the entire subject was to realize that prostitution isn't about sex. Mostly it's about possession and control and power. It is exactly what those John's say it is - it's about buying a woman. That's the term they use "buying a woman".
Now, I know someone will come along, sooner or later and point out that maybe selling sex is a viable economic prospect for these women, and who am I, with my moral puritanical-ness to tell them what they can and cannot do with their bodies.
And I suppose that's why I haven't written a blog about it. Because I know, deep within me that selling sex may be big business, but it's not ever going to empower women to sell their bodies and not their minds. I think we can all agree that men aren't hiring any woman: be she on a street corner, in a massage parlour, in a high priced hotel, or in a yellow pages ad for "escort services"; for her mind. Frankly, if they wanted someone for her mind, they could go and strike up a conversation with a woman. You know, have a relationship.
No, there's a problem with saying that it's ok for women to sell their bodies, but frankly, I'm still not sure how to articulate it, other than to call it a form of slavery.
But really, that's not what strikes me most about prostitution. You see, when someone asks me why prostitution is wrong, I think of the woman I saw, standing on a street corner 2 years ago, on Christmas Day.
She was standing kiddy-corner to my house, at about 8:30 am. It was cold, I think. She was standing there, waiting for a man to pick her up. On Christmas Day. Now, you can tell me that women might consider this to be empowerment, a valid way to make a living, but the truth is, did you work outside on Christmas day? When I was going to open presents and have eggs Benedict, she was standing, looking, waiting for a John.
Did you stand outside, looking for work on Christmas?
And lest you start thinking of this as a terribly Dickensian scene, she was standing there, freezing, stoned out of her mind. Frankly, the girls in my neighbourhood usually are stoned. I hardly wonder why, I'm sure I would have to be too.
Could we all just agree, irregardless of what you think of women's rights, irregardless of your position on empowerment, that she probably, in whatever lucid bit of her was left, she probably didn't want to be there either.
Could we leave the issue of whether she should be there, or wants to be there, or even if this is an economically viable method of supporting yourself aside. Could we say that when you have to be stoned out of your mind to do a job, when your job supports being stoned out of your mind, and when that job has you performing risky work on Christmas Day, that we have an obligation to stand up and help you?
Irregardless of the politics, could we make it about the people - the women? And could we be their voice?
750g was what our hospital called the tipping point. The point at which a baby born had a good chance of a meaningful life.
Gabriel was 520 grams at birth.
1/2 a pound.
A hair's breadth and a heartbeat too small. A tiny gap, and a gap that is miles wide and kilometres deep.
20 years ago a baby born at 32 weeks was a dicey thing.
10 years ago a baby born at 28 weeks was a dicey thing.
10 years from now, perhaps we will have a cure for pre-eclampsia, and perhaps we will be able to handle a baby with a gestational age of 23 weeks - when our Gabe stopped growing.
Jen is trying to help.
If you can, could you help her, help our babies, well that would be great.
Jen at the March of Dimes.
During a visit to the mental asylum, I asked the director how do you determine whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.
"Well," said the director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."
"Oh, I understand," I said. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."
"No." said the director, "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"
I have, in my personal life, been besieged with questions about what to do with people who make annoying, inappropriate personal comments.
From my poor niece who was accosted by a woman who suggested that she and her husband should "get busy" they had been married too long with no children. (Unfortunately, this woman had no idea about the 4 babies lost, who should be with us and are not.), to the friend who had to answer questions about who the flowers were from, to a colleague who was asked about why she chose to leave her job to grow vegetables.
Here's the thing about personal comments. As near as I can figure, personal comments are made simply because the person making them has not got the brains that God gave sheep. The thing about making personal remarks is that the person making them is either utterly unaware of how rude they are, or they simply don't care.
We need to act with grace, whatever the rude personal tendencies of the person who is interrogating us. I suppose this means that we can't simply screech at the person who asks us stupid questions. But, and it is an important but, being gracious does not mean acquiescence. Being kind and polite is not the same as being a doormat.
Therefore, here is the etiquette lady's three-fold solution to rude personal comments.
Step 1: Look.
Please, everyone go and introduce yourself to a librarian, an old-fashioned school teacher or a Catholic sister. Observe their look. Perfect it. Most importantly - use it.
Stupid Questioner: "Mrs. Spit, are you too selfish to have children?"(1)
Mrs. Spit: Look.
Step 2: Take a deep breath. Then reply.
Do not get angry. There's really no point. Smile disarmingly, and say "That's a very personal question" or "My word, what a [blank] thing to say". Nothing more. Don't sermonize, don't insist.
"Mrs. Spit, those are the ugliest shoes I have ever seen."
"My word, what an unkind thing to say."
Step 3: Walk away
Now, you have given them the look, you have identified that the remark was inappropriate and hurtful or overly personal thing to say, walk away so you leave with your dignity intact. There's no point in having the last word. It's not going to be the last word.
It took me a long, long time to learn what my FIL had been telling me most of my life - when you argue with a pig, you both get dirty, but the pig likes it. Why, dear reader, would you argue over something that is simply going to make you feel bad. Why do it? You might feel better for a bit, but frankly, in the end, you are going to feel as bad as the person who made the remark likely doesn't feel. You can't fight rudeness and insensitivity. You can call it what it is, and then move on. You can't make another person feel remorse, that's up to them. Keep arguing and all you are going to do is make yourself look like an undignified banshee.
Try this once next week, and let us know how it goes.
(1) Why yes, this was a real question I was asked.
We were sitting at the emergency vet's, with Delta, the beleaguered mastiff who just will not stop eating things, when she came in with her dog.
Normally, this is a type of dog that I despise. Small and white and furry. I can just see them growling at me, lunging forward to take my hand off when I reach to pet them. I could just picture the rhinestone collar. I'm sorry, I'm sure your small, white dog is perfectly lovely, but really, I haven't had great luck with small white dogs.
But, I stopped to pet this dog, small and white, while the large, brindle mastiff looked possibly even more pathetic than ever. If looking pathetic could have cured gastro-enteritis brought on by eating a brown, fluffy lion, well, she would have been cured. (Alas the cure involves $3,500 in treatment and surgery instead)
I brought over a box of kleenex and sat petting Talia, who could not be saved. I told Talia that she had been a good friend and companion. I cried a bit, remembering those pets that have left their mark on my life, but are no longer in my life. I remembered names, and I remembered how hard it is to say good-bye. We talked a bit about the possible course of treatment, and when her owner said that she was suffering, our eyes met. I stayed to pet her, while she phoned her daughter. Scratching an ear with nothing much to say.
It is what we do, as good and responsible pet owners. We look at our dogs, and we look at the surgery estimate, and one day, we realize that they have been with us for such a long time. And while loving kindness still has us see them as they were, healthy and whole, the reality of the situation is that they are not that way, and with our hearts on our sleeves, we say good-bye. It is the last kind thing we do for our pets, to make this choice for them. We say good-bye to our tired and worn pets, we acknowledge that the world and the law and the vet bills say that they were ours, but we acknowledge in the pain of saying good-bye a far deeper and more painful truth: that we were theirs. We acknowledge that if they were our dog, then equally we were their human, we belonged, not one to another, but to each other.
When it came time to say good-bye, all of Talia's family were there. From mum to daughter to grand-daughter. Her last moments were kind, in the words of the Vet to the granddaughter, she closed her eyes, and she went to sleep. It was not hard or painful, just a last good-bye.
I heard the little girl ask, as they were leaving, as we stopped our conversation, and looked, not with pity but mercy and kindness, a remembrance that we too had been there, I heard her ask where dogs go when they die.
I do not know. But suddenly this occurs to me. I call God mine. But equally so, like Talia and Maggie and Delta and Toby and Koda, He calls me his. He says that I am his child. And I wonder, what would give me more surprise and delight than to meet the veritable menagerie of animals that have owned me. From a hamster at 5 years old, through a multitude of goldfish, to Max last September. I do not know if I will see them, I do not know if heaven is like that. But oh, I hold out some hope.
I looked at Talia, and I thought of what all dogs want, and what they teach us. To love and be kind. And I could not help but think of God's words to his son. To tell Talia that she had been a good and true dog.
Well done, Good and Faithful Talia. Well done.
We anticipate the Mastiff will recover nicely from her surgery, and should be fine for a few more years yet. I miss her already.
And today was Gabe's due date. Perhaps, a year later, I have a better perspective. This time last year I was standing at the ocean, at San Simeon, watching waves in moonlight. I watched them crash over rocks, making you think that they would sweep away everything in their wake, and I watched the ocean roll back out, and the rocks remained. And I suddenly understood, with a bolt of clarity, what grief was.
It is to be a rock in the ocean, at high tide. Struggling to keep your head above water, struggling to understand, struggling to keep breathing and not be overwhelmed. This was our test, Mr. Spit and I, to hold on to each other, to hold on to Gabe's memory, but to carry on.
And we have. We still do. It is a daily choice, to live in this world, and not the world that we want to be in. There are daily reminders. I don't know that it won't ever stop hurting me to see women complain about their kids. I think it will always hurt that Gabe is not here.
But, we are here, and here we remain. In lives with joy and sorrow. Holding on and hanging in. Changed.
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Cor 15:50-57
On Thursday the whole work situation exploded again. I was in a routine meeting with my manager (the semi-annual quarterly meeting we are supposed to have), and I expressed my concern over how a situation was handled. I expressed concern over the perceptions it left me with, and how I felt about the situation.
It quickly became apparent that my manager was going to blame my supervisor, for everything. Now, neither of them are great, and usually, blaming my supervisor would not be unreasonable. She's, frankly, a little outclassed.
But probably more than that, she's miserable. With the onset of the new manager last March, things seem to have gone from really bad, to well, worse than really bad. And we all see it. We see the hunted look, and we know who's doing the hunting.
So, after meeting with my manager, when it became quite apparent that my supervisor was going to be blamed, I took my supervisor out for coffee. Left the building. And I told her what happened, what I said, and what I thought was coming. She took a sip of her water, and she started telling me that she knew. She told me she was miserable. And I, truly trying to be compassionate, suggested that maybe she should think about finding a new job. I wasn't implying that she wasn't competent, I wasn't implying that I thought she should leave, but she was and is clearly miserable.
And somehow, out of all of this, I wound up in a Vice President's office with my manager, accused of:
Yeah, I know. I'm a bit perplexed. Mostly because I truly meant it with compassion.
But more than that, as the VP threatened me with a letter of reprimand, there was shame. I have to confess, I was fired once, long ago, but I've never been reprimanded. And I still don't get it. I could see a charge of manufacturing dissent, of being disrespectful, but insubordination? And a threat of a reprimand without the supervisor or even someone from HR there? And a threat that did not actually materialize? What do I do with all of this?
And this leaves me confused. I was truly trying to be compassionate. And realistic. It's just that I can't reconcile how speaking the truth in this case, could possibly be insubordination.
I sucked it up. It seemed, in that office, looking out over downtown, that this was not the time to suggest the context of the conversation made the comment something less than disrespect, and something more than simply being human.
But here I stand, accused of insubordination, and more than a little confused.
thank you for the chocolate. It was, as always, delicious. And unlike last time, I was able to keep
Unfortunately, another form of vermin struck the chocolate bar with almonds. This particular pest is about 5"8', and gasp, I am married to him.
Yes, that's right - Mr. Spit ate my chocolate bar!
He says I have to share.
So, what I want to know is this: did I have to?
In November, a colleague literally dropped dead. I'm sorry, it's not the most gentle way to put it, but that's exactly what happened. She went to have a nap on a Saturday, and she didn't wake up. Today I was working on something, and I looked up at the person I was working with, and I said "I miss Judy." I said it with a fervor that surprised me. I miss her when I have to talk to another lawyer, and Judy is in the corner of the room, and we navigate around her, around her absence, around the unfinished files we are slowly picking up. I miss her for her acumen. I miss her for her gentleness, I miss her for her kindness. I simply miss walking into a conference room, and seeing her there.
I remember a meeting after I returned to work last year. No one outside my department knew what had happened. The more observant among them knew that I had been pregnant, and I now wasn't, and that I clearly hadn't been gone for a year. A few thought I came back early. Most didn't really ask - they just stared. I still don't know what's worse, the asking or the not.
But, we were in this meeting, wrapping up. Chatting, the way we do at the end of meetings. I think I was likely apologizing that whatever we had been discussing had been dropped when I left on 'medical leave'.
And there was that moment. You know it. When someone is about to say something about what happened, about to ask a question, about to express some sort of sympathy. And truthfully, I was probably fed up with talking about it. I used to joke that I was going to hand out a card. With a timeline on one side, the frequently asked questions on the other. I was tired of explaining my son's death in corridors and elevators and on the thresholds of meeting rooms. I was tired of his short and wondrous and miraculous life reduced to 2 sentences. I was tired of talking about it, of thinking about it, of re-living it, just to give someone the Cole's Notes version. I was, just tired.
But this moment, in which Judy looked as if she wanted to say something, was going to say something: I did that almost instinctive thing, where we start speaking really quickly and stop looking at the person, and change the subject, and hope the moment passes, silently.
Perhaps I was resentful, I had worked on an entire project, for months, with my belly getting slowly, and silently larger. Others commented. They laughed at my snacking and my brain dead tendencies. Judy, well, Judy said nothing, which seemed strange. She surely noticed, and she was the sort of woman who you would think would say something.
I read the obituary, those tiny words towards the end - pre-deceased by her daughter. Suddenly, with 8 months of experience at this grieving thing, suddenly I saw that look in her eyes the day she tried to, wanted to speak to me. I understood why she wouldn't say anything to me while pregnant.
I wrote her husband a letter a few days after her death. Telling her family, and especially her young daughters how wonderful it was to work with her. Telling them how much I missed Judy. And I closed my eyes, and my heart broke for her husband and son and daughters here on earth. I hurt for them, for no mother, no wife. But my heart also soared. For a tiny little girl who waited such a long time for mummy to come home.
If you asked me about the outdoors, I would talk about snowshoeing. I would talk about a 40km season ending race. We started at 6 am, and were home by 7pm. I would talk about walking through forest and through field. I would talk about how the topography of a large field changes, and that it is noticeably colder in the lower parts.
I would stop and remember summer. Fields of harvest wheat, yellow canola and blue skies. Grain elevators, old houses and barns, country roads that are dry and dusty. I would talk about the smells of summer, the sounds of harvesting, summer moons. I am a prairie girl. This land is wrapped up in bone and sinew - in the very marrow of my body.
For our honeymoon, Mr. Spit took me to Victoria. Taken 8 months after our marriage, things were much better, but we were still trying to amalgamate two lives and souls into one body. It was hard. We were heading to Victoria, for a honeymoon and Mr. Spit's brother's wedding.
We drove through the night, stopping in a town called Hope to sleep for a few hours. We drove on to the Ferry early in the morning, and were over the water just after sunrise.
When you ask a prairie girl about oceans, we are apt to think about wheat - wheat in a field, as far as your eye can see. We are apt to think about standing at the edge of a field, feeling tall, and watching. We are apt to remember how still a wheat field looks, until you stop and look, and you see the play of the wind on the wheat, creating waves. Prairie girls don't think of oceans as water.
There I was, on the ocean. I stood at the front of the boat, and I just stared. At the water, at the waves, at the gulls. Water, like wheat, as far as my eyes could see. I gaped. Spellbound.
Around me, people went about their way. I wanted to run through the ferry. Shouting.
This moment of wonder, it will not last forever. Catch it now. Catch it while you can.
I was serving Hot Chocolate on New Year's Eve. Yes, with the stupid hot dog questions.
The fireworks started. And these people, they were standing in line for their hot chocolate and their hot dogs. The fire works are behind them. They were not looking at fireworks. Things of wonder and beauty, and they were looking at me, wanting hot chocolate and a hot dog.
And I wanted to stop. To shout. No, look. Watch. Wonder.
It is a feeling of buoyancy that I am trying to find. I think it has to do with watching and wondering.
Now, I have tried telling myself it won't be all that bad. (It will be, there's lots)
I have tried telling myself to be thankful for all the clothing I have. (why did I buy so much)
I have tried telling myself that I am a grown up, and that doing chores you do not want to do is what makes you a grown up. (When I was a child, I fantasized about not having to do things I didn't want to do)
I have tried telling myself that my clothes will be horribly wrinkly if I do not put them away. (This is a patent lie, I pulled they out of the dryer yesterday, they are *already* wrinkly)
None of it is working.
Oh wise internets, tell me, why I should fold the laundry?
I remember it felt like I was living out of time. I breathed a sigh of relief, in some sense, when Gabe's due date passed. That time out of time sensation was gone. It didn't hurt any less, but at least I knew where I was in time.
And I'm back in that feeling. In the normal world, the real world, the just world, the world I want to live in, I would be going back to work today, for the first time. My years' maternity leave would have ended today. Starting today, I am supposed to be here. Another period of time out of time is over.
This morning, for the first time, I would have driven a station wagon to work, dropping my son off at daycare first. I would have picked him up out of his car seat, I would have kissed him good-bye, and probably cried myself, as I drove off to work.
I would have parked in the same spot, I would have crossed the street, walked through the doors of my office tower, taken the elevator up to my floor, and sat at my desk. I would walk in, be happy, tell stories of my year off. I would have a frame with a photo of my child for my desk. I would complain that I was tired, not used to wearing heels and a suit. I would maybe laugh that I had cut my hair short, too busy, needed mum hair.
Perhaps I would have logged in to the CCTV that the daycare I chose had. Perhaps I would have called the lovely owner. I can hear myself calling. "How is he doing?" Laughing. "I know, neurotic. Harder on me than him. He's doing fine. I know. We tried this out before I came back. I know it will get easier. "
I would have done all those things today.
Most days I can remember what is, and not spend too much time focusing on what should have been. Most days, I can live in the here and now, and in the here and now, Gabriel is not a little boy that I dropped off at daycare, he's dead.
Some days, this day, the space between those two worlds, the space between what is and what should be, it is so tiny, and so frustratingly huge. Small enough for me to see what should have been, to almost taste it, but far, far too wide for me to navigate my way across.
All I can do is wake up and carry on: knowing, remembering, aware, telling you all, this could have been a different day.
It snowed last night.
Wish Kuri luck.
(1) Words are not the things we are speaking about; and
(2) There is no such thing as an object in absolute isolation.
thanks . . .
(going to have a cooky now)
Otherwise, I will read a note that says "You Know you are a Liberal When. . . . ." And I will fascinate myself, spending the entire evening thinking of an equally caustic and disdainful equivalent for those to my right.
You know you’re a liberal when:And I will laugh to myself, and I will want to post my own version here, and then I will remember that I do have a few conservative readers (wave hello guys!), and I will equally remind myself that I am somewhat conservative. (No, really, I am.)
1. Your first reaction to anything you dislike is, “There ought to be a law against this!”
2. You foam at the mouth over how “hateful” and “intolerant” conservatives are.
3. You think there should be a million laws to protect children…unless they’re unwanted: then they’re “tissue”, not children.
4. You believe in “survival of the fittest” but you want to take the "fit’s" livelihood and give it to those who refuse to contribute to "society’s" survival.
5. You accuse the Bible of teaching hate against gays but ignore that it’s only in countries which have had the Bible that homosexuals are given any rights at all.
6. You enshrine personal freedoms, civil liberties, and privacy but think children should be taken from their parents if they aren’t in government-run schools.
7. You believe that “separation of church and state” is written in the
Constitution but you don’t find it peculiar that the government legislates against churches all the time.
8. You think outlawing guns will
prevent their use but fail to notice that millennia of laws outlawing the crimes of violence, rape, and theft haven’t done anything to stop them.
9. You believe people should question authority but you have a fit when they try to put stickers in textbooks reminding students that evolution is still just a theory.
10. You think immigrants who entered the country illegally,
proving their contempt for the law, would make model citizens.
11. You watch more than 9 out of 10 blacks vote for Obama and don’t notice any racism.
If anyone likes this list, you're welcome to publish it anywhere you like, as long as you don't change it to make it rude, angry or insensitive. - Luke
And I will try to be nice about the whole darn thing, until I read that note at the bottom. And that's when I say, game on. . .
You know you’re a conservative when:
1. Your first reaction to anything that might violate what you think is in the Bible, or what you want the Bible to say is to make a law.
2. You foam at the mouth about how stupid and ungodly those Liberals are. Why, they're positively un-American.
3. You think you should be able to tell a woman what to do with her body, until you have to help pay her health care bills. It's ok if children don't have healthcare or food after they are born, as long as we don't abort them.
4. You believe in organized groups, as long as they are church, or the NRA, and not unions or civil rights movements.
5. You love the portions of the Bible that deal with sex and violence and spanking your kids, but you somehow manage to ignore the parts about love and charity and duty to neighbour.
6. You want the smallest government possible, that is still big enough to be in everyone's bedroom, all the time.
7. You believe that “separation of church and state” is written in the Constitution but find that annoying. You'd rather legislate Christian morality than have people chose it because you've shown them the influence of God in your life.
8. Your convinced that if you just look hard enough, you'll find that right to bear arms in the Bible.
9. You believe that no one should question authority, unless it's you doing the questioning. If you are questioning, then that authority is just wrong, and more importantly, unGodly.
10. You think immigrants who entered the country illegally, often risking their own lives, living life on the edge, with virtually no safety net, doing jobs that no American wants to do would make lousy citizens, but they make great cleaners and gardeners.
11. You watch more than 9 out of 10 blacks vote for Obama and still don't believe that maybe the national sins of slavery are being slowly abolished.
12. You want to tell everyone how to be married, but your rate of divorce is as high as anyone elses.
See, I can do that too. I probably even got some of you smiling - at least wryly. And I can say that I'm fair and reasonable and even-handed. I can even mutter about speaking the truth in love.
And I'm left at the end of this, with a dirty taste in my mouth. None of it is true. Not what my BIL said about Liberals, not what I said about Conservatives. It's all parody, an intellectual short hand. Discussing the issues without having to sit and make a reasoned plea. Not even discussing the issues. We aren't articulating a policy to prevent child poverty, we aren't articulating ending gang violence, and there are still drug addicts on our streets. We hurling accusations, that have no basis in fact.
It used to be that politics was the process that attempted to define a better country. A better place to live. It used to be that policy could change lives, could make our countries better. It used to be that some Christians fought against slavery and fought for civil rights. I think, I hope we used to debate policy, not sling mud.
We can all sling mud. It's easy enough. I'm wondering if we can debate policy.
I am, perhaps envious of her. Just a tiny bit. To do this, you see, I would have to sell my house, find homes for my dogs, leave behind my own garden. Given Mr. Spit's unreasonable dislike of living chickens, I might have to leave him behind too.
And, I would do none of that willingly. I like my life. Mostly. I wouldn't leave it behind. However much I might be wistful, I am not the sort of woman who goes on grand adventures. It is hard to have a grand adventure when you like sleeping in your bed, next to your husband, with a dog between you, one on the floor next to you, and two cats in a pile on your feet. The older I get, the more I realize, Christ was right, our things, do in some sense, own us. Even when they are good things like a husband and pets, we cannot easily move to another thing. I will say it again, I love my husband, and I like my life. I would not turn my back on it.
But, there is a niggling. A thing that I think strikes us all from time to time, a thing where we want to throw up our hands and our careful lives that seem so small and mediocre, and we want to pitch it all in, and go and do something very different. We wonder, what would our life be like, if we did something completely different!
If you could pitch your career, (0r if you are a SAHM, your kids), what would you do? What wild and crazy career/adventure/new life would you live?
Way too cold, Alberta.
Re: Hershey's Eggies(1) and your Kindle.
Dear Husband Mine:
While at Costco yesterday, I purchased a Costco sized bag of "Eggies" by Hershey. I purchased them with the sole and express intent of adding them to your package, containing your Kindle, which I would be sending by Greyhound, to you in
I did not, as your Mother-in-Law scurrilously asserted, purchase these to consume myself. Good grief, this is a 2.18 pound bag. No one would eat that many "Eggies" in one sitting. That would be piggy. No, I looked at the scurrilous mother in law (whom I might claim as a mother, when she's not making comments about my baser self), and I told her, that these "Eggies" were for my beloved darling, who is far away from home and really likes "Eggies". Furthermore, I asserted, the beloved husband purchased some "Eggies" of the Noel variety (featuring cunningly disguised bunnies, dressed like snow men) for Christmas and I
I will take this opportunity to mention that I did open the bag, merely to check for defects in the "Eggies". I must admit, at this point things become a trifle unclear. Really rather unclear. OK, it's a total mystery to me. I do recall observing that some of them were broken. And I remain fully convinced that in a spirit of self sacrifice, purely for the betterment of man-kind, with no thought to my self,
It was clearly still my intent to bundle up the package of "Eggies", take it to work, put it in with your kindle, and send it off to you, possibly blaming Delta that it was open. Yea, that was my intent. I am not sure what happened last night, but I will admit, the bag seems to have shrunk. It defies all the physics I know, there you have it. The bag has shrunk. Indeed, the bag is
Anyway it wasn't just me. Lori had 3. My mother (the diabetic!) had 1. I had 50 gazillion.
At any rate, by the time I went to go and mail your kindle, well, your kindle will be in there tomorrow. Let's just not talk about "Eggies" that may or may not have been purchased.
What do you mean you smell chocolate? Don't know what you are talking about. Do you suppose it's too late to blame the dog?
Your humble, obedient and devoted servant,
I can't find a link to Hershey's Eggies anywhere. But they're like a Cadbury mini-egg.
And finally, Blogger does not spell check the titles of posts. Leading me to mis-spell qualification. I can spell it. Really.
The first was that I hoped to call someone out. A few some one's to be honest: people who had talked about abortion in a particular way, and with a particular tone, and frankly, they'd made me feel uncomfortable, and it's pretty hard to make me feel that way. So, I wanted to point out the error in absolutes - which did not seem to work. I was hopeful that perhaps my story, the reminder that we are talking about real people, would remind others to chose their words carefully, to be kind when disagreeing. I was preaching to the converted, which, in some sense, is nice, because you all said really lovely things about me, but wasn't what I intended.
The second thing was much more troubling. Much, much, much more troubling. I would not have thought that we had membership rules and sub-clauses to be a dead baby mum. I wouldn't have thought that you had to qualify, based on your circumstances. And I struggled with what to write about this. I have not been around this community all that long, and I wasn't sure if it is my place to speak. But, in the voices of other dead baby mum's (dbms), I heard these words:
I didn't think I fit in.
I didn't think I qualified.
I thought it was my fault.
I had to convince myself I made the best/the only decision I could.
What? No, really. Excuse me? There's a qualification test other than your child dying? It's not enough that our babies died? Now, we have to pass some sort of other test? We need to be socially acceptable? We need to grieve the right way? We need to fit a religious or a societal exemption? We have to believe in the right things - the right God? We can't offend your ideas of how we should grieve? Your kidding, right? And I don't know if I get to set the rules for this community. It seems like no one is. No one does. And maybe that's why it works. But. . . .
We are a group of women, those of us who lost our babies later in pregnancy, or shortly after birth, who miss, and want our children with us. For some it was last week we said good-bye to our babies, and for some it was ten years ago. Together we are a group. And we are only as strong as the care and concern and love we give to each other. When we set rules, when we tell others the right way to grieve, when we try to limit who gets in and who stays out, based on our feelings, our own sense of right and wrong, well, the group falls apart. Broken people get more hurt.
Here's the thing about grieving - it's individual. It's your story, your show. You are here because your baby is dead. How you handle your baby's death, well, it's how you handle it. There's no right, and there's no wrong. You grieve how you grieve. There's no exam, and no one's marking you. (And if you are marking others, knock it off.) I assure you, there are no medals for grieving properly, and no one is going to hold you up as an example of how to do it well. No prizes, no models, no best-practices. There's no great way to do this. Do what you can, with what you have. Tell your story.
And when someone is grieving in a way that you wouldn't? For the love of all that's holy, would you remember that there is someone who is looking at you and thinking that you are wrong?
Whether your baby died before you got a chance to say good-bye, to beg the universe to allow your child to stay. Whether your baby died before you felt their kicks, picked out a name. Whether you had to make a choice, whether your life was up against the wall, or just your heart. Whether you came home to an empty room, or packed up the nursery furniture. Whether they slept in their crib, or in a NICU isolette, or never slept here on earth at all. Whether they were born still, or born alive and gone to soon. Whether you gave your child a name, whether you held them, baptized them. Whether their ashes are at home, or they are in the ground. However. Whatever. Whenever. Our babies are not with us. And you have a right to grieve. A part of your heart is not with you. It belongs to your baby, and your baby is gone.
If you have to ask, the answer is yes, you belong.
A few months before my arrival, a young man from Canada had come to India, and he had shut down factories employing child labourers. He had campaigned in Canada, and was able to come to India for the subsequent raids, wherein the government of India, watched by the rest of the world, closed the factories.
And as only an 18 year old can, full of smugness and knowing, sure she had all the answers, I commented that this was a good thing.
"I realize that you do not understand, cannot understand. It is not the same to be a girl child in Canada as it is here. Here, in my country, a girl child is another mouth to feed. She is a dowry to pay, and a set of hands that will marry, and go and work for her husband's family. She is another mouth to feed, and when you are the poorest of the poor, she is a burden. We are not like this, you must understand. Ranjeneen and I do not live like this, we do not believe this, but we are not hungry either."
"Where do you suppose", Veevic asked. "Where do you suppose those children went, when those factories, making shoes for the world, closed? I will tell you. The boys, perhaps they found other work, because they must work, or they will starve. The girls? Working is what kept those girls from death! The employers, at least sometimes would pay for the medications for pneumonia, the parents would not and could not. They cannot take food out the son's mouth, the son that will support them in their old age. The girls, if they could not find work, they are prostitutes, or they are dead. Perhaps not cold in their grave yet, but their days, they surely are numbered. Your young man shut down our factories, but he did no good for our children."
I am thinking about justice. I am thinking about Vincent Li, and a young man called Tim, who was brutally killed, dismembered, and cannibalised. I am thinking about Vincent, who in a psychotic episode believed that the voice of God was telling him to do these things. I am thinking about Tim's mother, who is trying to understand what has happened, who is asking for justice. She does not disagree that Vincent Li is terribly ill, but wants him to be locked up for the rest of his life. She wants someone to be accountable for her son's gruesome death.
I am thinking about a young girl named Ashley Smith, who died, broken in her mind, when she wrapped a ligature around her neck, while Corrections Canada officials watched, told not to interfere. Her family is asking the Government of Canada to release the names of those who watched their daughter die, those who gave the orders to allow her to wrap a ligature around her neck, to not intervene. They are asking for justice.
And finally, I am thinking of a soldier named Marc Diebe, that we sent to Afghanistan, so that we can all be free, and so that, please God, the Afghans can be free.
And in this all, I am wondering - what is the true nature of justice? How do we give it to others? How in the world do we give it to Tim and Ashley's families. I think of these things, I watch the movie, and I hear the words of the Ash Wednesday service.
I invite you therefore, in the name of the Lord, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving,and by reading and meditating on the word of God. Let us kneel before our Creator and Redeemer.
Joe Walker had a blog entry yesterday, highlighting what it is to be teachable. He asked, compared between a faculty member and a student, if there could be equality of opinion. The student says yes, the faculty member says no.
My answer is to remember back to that night in India. To remember my terrible arrogance - shameful ignorance that just kept talking. To remember my disgusting conceit. And to remember Veevic's astonishing kindness. His patient explanation. Two people, with an equal right to their opinion.
The issue is not equality of opinion. Here, in Canada, as in all democracies, we all get to have an opinion. No, it's not about equality, rather quality.
We all have an equal right to an opinion, but it does seem to me, some 12 years after that night, that the right to an opinion is a fearsome thing, a thing of great weight. It seems to me, the right to an opinion requires us to form one of quality. It is of no use to our world when we have a great quantity of opinions on anything and everything. Rather, what might enable us to give justice is the quality of our opinions.
There are 29 days left in Lent, I am supposed to be observing a time of penitence, fasting and self-examination. A time to remind me that what I may be sure of - it is such a tiny portion of what I think my knowledge is. A time to remind me of the virtues of humility and examination.
A time to think of, to seek out, to ask for Justice.
I do not think Lent will be long enough for me.
I've been thinking about abortion. It's not the first time. It was a post from a while back on some one's blog, and another and more after that. It was the Alberta College of Physician's and Surgeon's who are trying to set rules around referrals for abortion. Simply trying to say that you must refer a patient. You don't have to perform the procedure, but if you have a straight request, you have to refer them to a Doctor that performs the procedure.
I've heard rhetoric and hate, and horrible things. From both sides. I've heard people scream about oppressing women, I've heard people cry anti-choice and anti-life. I've heard horror stories from both sides, it's all ugly. It's all abstract.
And perhaps it is this: we forget, real people are involved, with real stories, and in some cases, real heartache. We forget who is listening. We forget, abortion is not abstract if you've been in that place. There's nothing abstract about it. Women who have abortions are short and tall and fat and skinny and married and single and young and old and educated and not. Whatever they are, they are real people. Who have real feelings and make real choices. Whatever, whomever they may be, they are not theoretical.
When I thought about writing this post for the first time, I thought about a friend of mine. Who had an abortion. I remember her when I talk about abortion. I remember that she is not some degenerate, that God loves her, that she is still a wonderful friend and a great citizen. She's smart and funny, kind, compassionate, and I will stand up and say that I am proud to know her, I was then, and I am now. She's still the same person. She hasn't changed.
But, no. Her story is not mine. I have a story.
On December 8th, a resident walked into my hospital room. I will never forget it. Mr. Spit and my mum had gone home, to eat and shower and pack some things. I was in the room with my midwife. She'd given me a shower, the Magnesium Sulfate was hooked up. And this resident walked in my room.
She took her surgical cap off. She sat down and picked up my hand. She said "I need you to sign a consent form to be induced. I have to tell you that in all likelihood your baby will die. I have to tell you that at this point, given his gestational age and weight, and given the pre-existing complications, he will die. Most likely before he's born. Do you understand?"
I nodded. She handed me the pen. I signed my name.
I, Cheryl-Nancy Elizabeth.
I signed my name. I gave full, free and informed consent. I had options open to me, and this is the choice I made. I consented to kill my child.
I had an abortion.
I will stand up with thousands, hundreds of thousands of women. I will say that we made the best choice we could, at the time, under the circumstances. I'm not sorry if you don't like my choice. Frankly, I don't care. Perhaps you think I'm morally bankrupt, perhaps you think we all are. Perhaps you are able to make distinctions between my case and someone else's. I will say that those distinctions are completely artificial. I will say that I am not flattered when you tell me that you think I had a socially acceptable abortion. I will say that you are dead wrong when you tell me that I didn't have an abortion at all because I was dying. I will say this: either I have the choice to chose my life above my son's, or no one does. Either we all have choices, or none of us do.
When you fight about abortion, when you say that I am an exception, when you say that we are wrong or horrible or morally degenerate, when you want to take away a woman's right to choose what to do with her body, would you remember -
That's my face up there. That's me you're talking about.
Smiling, having fun
Feeling like a number one
I won't apologize for pointing out that they already have a beautiful daughter they adopted, and she is 3. I will tell you that she is real and loved, and it's inappropriate to send a card congratulating someone on their twins, that says "Congratulations on your first baby".
I won't apologize for saying that this couldn't be their first baby, and that they had twins, even if it looks dicey for their son.
I won't be sad or sorry or apologetic for standing up and saying that this would hurt, and these parents have seen enough hurt.
I won't apologize for telling you to go and buy another card.
I won't apologize.
I simply won't.
This is a world you will never know. And I'm glad that you won't. But I will stand up and say that you are wrong.
about the only thing I have to say today is:
(in my whiniest voice)
(with a kleenex in my hand)
(in search of the cure for the common cold)
Hope your day is going better.
Given to those who perform silent but heroic acts. Those that would never think of praising themselves. People who probably don't even realize how remarkable their actions are. Those who work hard to make the world a better kind of place, just by virtue of who they are and the decisions they make. For those much like brave sir Toby, shoving his brother off the counter, so that he can eat his breakfast.
When I read her post this last week, it took my breath away. It stayed with me for the entire week, and I would take out those words and memories and turn them around. I had another nominee for this week, but these words so struck me.
Obviously, we would likely not be in a position to do so if we had our own
children's education to budget for. I consider it another silver lining in the
cloud of childless/free living...
The kindness and generosity and perhaps the incipient sadness took my breath away.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you would join me in raising your glasses in a toast. To Loribeth of the Road Less Travelled, who can find a silver lining in her sorrow, and who can give of what is hers, while the giving reminds her that things are not the way they should be. To LoriBeth, for kindness and generosity, even though there is pain in the offering.
To Lori Beth.
And one last toast.
To Katie, who is not here, but is the whole of her mum and dad's heart. Her memory lives on when we speak her name. As thankful as we are for her parent's generosity, we wish she was here.
Got someone who deserves a Toby? Send me an email explaining why - it can be short, and I'll happily write it up.