Salt in the Wound

How is it that I am back here after only 2 weeks to write about another massacre?  Oh, that’s right…I live in America.

Whenever I go to the grocery store now, and probably for the rest of my life, I will think of the ten people who lost their lives on Jefferson Ave.  I know many of my fellow Buffalonians can echo that sentiment.  And now, whenever I go to work, I will think of the dozens dead or injured in Uvalde.  And I know my fellow educators feel the same way.

Listen…no teacher is out there receiving combat pay, so stop acting like they are the first line of defense.  I saw a meme yesterday that said not to even suggest arming teachers, because apparently y’all can’t even trust them to choose books.

When I graduated high school, I was told there would be a teaching shortage right about now, and there is.  There were many incentives in place at the time for those who wanted to pursue education, such as reduced tuitions and 5-year Master’s programs. Naturally, I jumped at this, as I had wanted to work with children and teaching seemed to be the obvious answer.

Ooooh boy am I glad I dropped out of college now!

As if teaching through a pandemic wouldn’t have been hard enough, you finally get back into the school setting and now you have to worry about “active shooters.”  No, thank you.  Yet…I look at these kids I teach and the crazy thing about it is that they know what to do in the event of a gunman, better than I do.  I’ve had no training; they’ve been doing it since pre-k.  So while I am the one expected to lay my life on the line for a child, they are the ones more likely to save me.  I have a better chance following a third-grader’s directions than they would have following mine and ouch…I think I just found a blind spot in our program.

Last Saturday, I took a CPR and First Aid course.  It’s required for work, but it’s also something I like to have.  It’s a skill I have thankfully never had to use, but I am prepared in case it happens, and I guess that’s how we are spinning shooter drills to the kids.  Except it seems more and more of them assume they are preparing for “when” it happens, not “if.”

Listen, I hate guns, and if you’ve read a lot of my stuff, you probably already know that.  However, I am pro-choice on pretty much all topics…so if you like guns or own one, whatever…that’s your right.  HOWEVER, I do think we should have common sense gun laws.  I mean, why do you need a AR15?  Explain it to me like I’m a child, and don’t use the words “target practice.”  Oh, and as soon as you mention killing humans, even if in defense, you are proving my point.  I don’t care about your shotgun, your handgun, your hunting rifle; I care about your semi-automatic assault rifle.  ASSAULT is right there in the name!

Anyway…I wrote a poem, video below, about the events in Uvalde.  Too much to process, and far too soon.

God is Not a Real Estate Agent

I am an American woman of Irish descent who is a former Catholic.  That is my basic profiling headline.  As such, there is a part of me that thinks I should sit down and shut up because I know very little about a conflict half a world away, but alas, here we are.

You see, one of the most important people in my life is an American Muslim woman of Palestinian descent, Sahar.  We have been friends since sixteen, and for us, religion has always been present in our friendship.  In youth, we examined the differences and similarities between Islam and Christianity.  We learned about other cultures from each other.  For instance, I had no idea that in some parts of the world, the land I know as Israel is actually called Palestine.  This is the land that Sahar hails from, and as the daughter of immigrant parents, she still has family there.  I can’t relate, because any close family we had back in Ireland are long dead.  I can kind of sympathize with all the disruption in the area, as northern and southern Ireland have always had their issues, but I think it’s safe to say it’s never escalated, and probably never will, to the level that it has in the Middle East. 

Growing up Catholic, we learned a lot about Israel and the Jewish people.  In school, we were taught that the Jews were like our kin.  They were the people that Christians would not exist without.  They believed in the same God as us, just with a different view on prophets and Messiahs.  It was actually used as a teaching tool to help us understand other cultures, which is cool.  But, as I’ve said before, I didn’t know what a Muslim was until I was 14.

Are you aware how similar Islam is to Christianity?  Probably not, but essentially, just like the Jews, we are all worshipping the same God, just with different views on prophets and Messiahs.  The Jews sometimes use the name Yahweh, so why do we freak out when Muslim’s use Allah?  It’s just a different name for the same basic principle. 

Anyway, my point is that I was raised to think that Israel belonged to the Jewish people because it is the land God granted to them.  And we, America, supported that.

Then I grew up and I realized that God has nothing to do with real estate.

So, for a while I was like “why can’t they just share the land?”  That seemed like the fair thing to do, and I remembered learning about Gaza in school, so I thought that the whole situation seemed fair.  After all, I was an American and taught that it was totally fair for the Native Americans to live on reservations.

Then I grew up some more and realized that was absolute bullshit and that colonizers were thieves.  I mean, you can’t just come in someone’s house and say it’s yours now.  We literally have a constitutional amendment prohibiting the military from doing exactly that, and I am positive there are other federal and state laws in place to prevent someone from just coming in and taking your house.  And this is what is happening over there…Israel came in and took the Palestinians house.

But wait!  There’s more!

Because they were sick of having their house stolen since 1948, they fought back.  Y’know, as one would in the USA had they property and a gun.  Except instead of a gun (since after all, this is not just one house, but a million,) they used some rockets.

Well, the Israeli leadership did not like this, so in a completely disproportionate response, they proceeded to bomb the bejesus out of the Palestinians.

Sahar told me that on one of the most holy days of Ramadan, they bombed the most important mosque in Jerusalem, just a few blocks from her grandparents’ house. 

For Catholic context, this would be like someone throwing a bomb in St. Peter’s Basilica on Christmas morning.

And that just disgusts me.  I mean, not as much as the photos I am seeing come out of all the dead or injured Palestinian children.  Or the fact that yesterday they bombed al Jazeera’s headquarters, which is their press hub.  Or the part where they’re blocking roads and trapping people in Gaza.  Or the bit about how they’re bombing hospitals, which is a war crime.

Tell me again why we are supporting these people?  Explain to me why Israel is in the right, and do it without God in the equation. 

I dare you.

A Political Pandemic

The other day I asked my parents if the government was like this when I was younger, and they were my age.  They both said no.  Dad elaborated that things changed after Clinton.  Sure, people didn’t like GHWB or Reagan, but congress was mostly fair and had our best interests at heart, it would seem.

I saw a question on twitter asking Republicans how they went from Terry Schiavo to “you can have a ventilator when you kiss my ass.”  This is just a random thought that is slightly related.

I’m a hardcore Democrat who is married to a middle-of-the-road Independent and occasionally we butt heads, particularly on GOP-brand stuff.  For the most part though, his beliefs are fairly liberal: equal respect and opportunities for all individuals being chief among them.  Hubs considers himself a Humanist, and does not like the way we separate people into groups.  I think in his head, any separation at all really only takes place between “assholes” and “non-assholes.”  That’s how he judges people.

I remember being young, maybe fourth grade, and we did a play for some patriotic holiday.  We learned the 50 states song, which I can still perform to this day.  We had a parade in the gym and sang and did skits about the presidents.  We were raised, through school, to believe America was the best country in the world, and was on the list of important things right behind God (Catholic school problems.)  We said the pledge every morning, we made flags in art class, we learned about the founding fathers.  Everything was tinged with “America is #1.”

High school.  They give us 2 years of Global studies first, in what I assume was an attempt to show us how worse off some other countries have it, so that by the time we got to American History and started learning about all the atrocities of our home country-all the way from slavery to segregation-we were still thinking “well, other places have it worse.”  I wrote a paper once, I don’t recall if it was for high school or college, but it was comparing the Salem Witch Trials to McCarthyism.  Two great examples of Americans acting like fools.

In Senior year, we took Government and Economics, and my stupid senior-itis self slept though it all.  Of course, I have taught myself how the government works-in college I considered changing my major from History Education to just History or Political Science.  So, I figured things out on my own, which if I’m honest is one of the best ways I learn.  (Side note, besides 1:1.  What I would not have given for an aide like they have at M’s school!  But I digress…)  Economics still alludes me-it’s the numbers.  I am bad at numbers.  Words are my forte.

Anyway, the point is that around the time I wrote that paper (which I think was first semester of college) I started to realize that something was fishy.  GWB got elected, and I was just a few months shy of being able to vote.  I started paying attention to things he was doing, particularly on the social front, and I started to get angry.

Even with Obama, a president I adored, who came and improved a lot of the mess his predecessor made, I still felt like we were being gridlocked.  Congress had lots of trouble agreeing on things.  There was massive outrage from the right, all over the place.  And now we are a few years later, with 45, and that outrage has slipped over to the left, while the right sit there like “well, I don’t remember saying that…”  Why wouldn’t they take that tack?  The president does.

Anyway, in the same fashion that I slowly discovered the Catholic church was full of shit, I also discovered America was.  Not the country, the government.  Again, like the CC, the people in charge were ruining the message. 

So, when I saw the bipartisan work that brought our (decidedly crappy, but helpful nonetheless) stimulus package to life, I was encouraged.  I saw 45 sign it.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Then Hubs comes home from work all enraged because the Trumpoids he works with are all giving dear leader the credit when it was the work of both parties.  So, he goes on an anti-Trump Facebook rant, as he is wont to do on occasion, asking for someone to please tell him what 45 is doing to make America great again.  He got a lot of anti-dem memes (which piss him off, he’s not a dem but people assume that since he’s also not republican) and his bro arguing with him in what for them is a playful manner.  What he did not get was an answer to his question.  A lot of “Trump is great” but no actual “and here’s why…”  Meanwhile, I’m watching this with like 100 news articles in my head detailing why he is in fact NOT great, even for these people who defend him, but I keep quiet because I leave my Facebook arguing for that handful of Republican’s who haven’t unfriended me yet. 

See, there’s two kinds of those, though.  Take my friend C.  Politically, we could probably not be farther apart.  She’s a staunch woman for Trump, and I’m over here like “But…’grab ‘em by the pussy.”  Sometimes she will post some things I disagree with, and I will post things she disagrees with, and we just keep scrolling.  It’s that simple.  It might stick with us for a minute…we might think “well, what the hell would make her think that’s ok?”  But we keep scrolling, and we don’t comment.  I WILL comment on something that I agree on-because as different as we are, those things do exist.  Here’s an example: she is a correctional officer near New York City and they were being denied the ability to wear masks because it violated the dress code.  That is the biggest load of bullshit I have ever heard and I don’t care whose side it originated on.  THAT, I was up in arms about.  (Fortunately, it was announced yesterday that they can now bring in their own masks.)

But then there’s the other faction.  There’s the relative who shall remain unnamed who posted several anti-abortion memes to my Facebook timeline because I posted something about how the government DOES NOT fund Planned Parenthood’s abortions.  Instead of reading the thing, he just went nuts on the whole “you must not think life is precious” tack, like I’m not a childcare worker with four kids.  Get outta here, bub.  Eventually his trolling of my posts (anything even slightly liberal) got me mad enough to go hard.  See, I figured a couple of things out.  This man was related to me by blood, yes, but he wasn’t present in my life.  He has no idea about me at all, proven by his many off-base Facebook messages regarding my employment, relationship, income, family reputation, etc.  And while his wife had always been sweet to me, I could no longer abide his ignorance and unfounded hatred.  So, I wrote a couple paragraphs that told him to go play a round of golf or see his grandkids instead of harassing a 30-year-old relative online and stop worrying because he was going to be dead soon, and I won’t be.

When I was a kid, the “grownups,” who were in their 30s and 40s, ran the country.  And those same people still are in charge in some cases.  Well, guess what?  WE are the grownups now, WE know what WE need, and WE are growing as the largest population while y’all die off denying climate change.  So, please go home and feed your cats, and stay out of the way.  I’m not saying your contributions haven’t been valuable, but just retire at 65 and move to Florida like everyone else.

I have tried to stay away from writing political based blogs, because I don’t care for your opinion if it is rooted in ignorance or hate, and those are the messages I get when I’m political.  But politics are playing a huge part in the pandemic here in the US, and I live in New York state.  Yes, I am blessedly 400 miles from the epicenter, but we also have over 600 confirmed cases in my county, the most cases in Western New York.  I don’t have times for your politics.  I’m not trying catch this thing, and I need my government on my side.  So far, I’ve seen encouragement.  Gov. Cuomo, who I never really liked even though I’m Dem (I feel like everything with him is a money grab and he focuses too much on the City,) has been a comfort to me in this time, providing insight and information that I frankly was not expecting.  Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz also graces my television screen on a daily basis, talking to me about my community.  I have found strength in these leaders.  Then there’s 45…I will say there have been glimmers.  Little glimmers that he might do the right thing.  Some have already gone out, but others remain.  I pray that he finds it somewhere in his Grinch-sized heart to help his people in the way he was elected to do, and not play politics in the process.   I hope…but I don’t expect much.

Tigers never change their stripes.

That said…Tiger King, man.  Wild.