I hear a lot about “safe spaces” lately. Places where people can go and not get their feelings hurt. When I was growing up, and in fact, up until the past 8 years or so, I never heard about so many people walking around feeling hurt, wounded, offended. Now, I am certain that there were plenty of folks who felt all of those things. I have frequently felt hurt, wounded or offended. But I’ve never thought it was appropriate to express those things publicly. In fact, I was raised to keep my personal feelings to myself. Of course, if you know me, you know that’s been a lifelong struggle for me!

Anyway, I have a theory about this sudden need for “safe spaces”. I believe it is because we have, for all intents and purposes, done away with the concept of etiquette. This was a very important tool when I was growing up, and now it seems that people scoff at the idea. But let’s look at this for a moment.

Etiquette gives everyone their “safe space”. With etiquette, there are things that one simply does not say out loud. There are ways in which one simply does or does not behave. The purpose is not to stifle anyone’s creativity or freedom of speech, but to protect someone from being hurt, wounded or offended. Or from feeling or causing embarrassment.

Within the confines of etiquette, one is required to be polite and pleasant to everyone else, regardless of how they may actually feel or what they may think. While I know that many people believe this is a form of dishonesty or deception, it isn’t. It’s merely keeping thoughts and words to oneself when they might hurt someone else. It’s actually a form of caring.

It seems to me that today everyone feels they have a right to tell anyone and everyone what they think or feel, no matter who it might harm. And usually, a lot of folks are harmed. Personally, I think it started with websites providing comment boxes. People could hide behind their computer screens and say the most horrid things to other people who they’ve never met and likely never will meet. There are rarely any consequences for this sort of thing. I’ve often said that the downfall of our civilization will be the “com box”. And that’s why: because so many people feel that they have every right to insult and bully anyone and everyone.

I myself was recently “bullied” online. They disagreed with an article I posted on Facebook. Instead of reading it and moving on, they felt compelled to start leaving comments about it, and attacked my religious beliefs. I felt very hurt, wounded and offended, and tried to ignore it. But after several more unnecessary and unkind comments, I actually got angry (which is rare for me, these days) and decided to stand up for myself. I stated that I didn’t appreciate anyone attacking me or my religious beliefs, and that there was no reason to do so. I added that nobody is obligated to agree with me (in fact, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me) and that they could just either read the post and move on, or not read it at all. That’s when I was informed that perhaps I should find a specifically Catholic social media outlet, that would be better suited to my “sensibilities”! 😳 Seriously? That’s the height of intolerance, of bullying! And the crazy thing is that this came from one of the most sensitive, caring individuals I know! We disagree on a great many issues, but this person didn’t even recognize when they, themselves, were doing the exact thing they hate to someone else!

Let’s look at what was said. How would they have felt if someone said that to a gay person? Or a Muslim? A Jew? Or a “person of color”? Or just to a woman? What would that sound like?

Perhaps a a GLBTQ Social Media would more suit your sensibilities.

“Perhaps a a Muslim Social Media would more suit your sensibilities.”

“Perhaps a Jewish Social Media would more suit your sensibilities.”

Perhaps a a Black Social Media would more suit your sensibilities.”

Perhaps a a Female Social Media would more suit your sensibilities.”

Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Because it is. And etiquette would have saved the day. Nothing at all needed to be said in response to my post, which was, by-the-way, about assisted suicide, and the fact that I’m against it.  Apparently, in the current social media court of law, that makes me a right-wing religious nut job.

So, my point here is that, instead of safe spaces, why don’t we teach people how to behave properly in social situations? Let’s bring back common courtesy! I mean, in your own home, feel free to rant and rave all you want about whatever you want. (I certainly do, from time to time!) That truly is your right, and I have no problem with that. But in public, and yes, social media is very, very public, instead of feeling compelled to comment or criticize anything you disagree with or don’t like, how about saying nothing? Or finding something kind to say? How about actually treating every person you encounter, whether in real life or on the internet, with respect and dignity? That is what etiquette is all about, and it would eliminate the need for safe spaces.

Dirty_LaundryThere is a disturbing trend in our nation (and possibly globally) to air our dirty laundry publicly. We use the internet as a sort of “Cyber Clothesline”, where we hang out information about ourselves that we’d never even consider displaying in real life.  I have long suspected that the “Com Box” is going to be the downfall of our civilization. People will say all sorts of mean things in comment boxes that they would never have the courage to say to someone’s face. Ever. I have seen some of the most irrelevant, yet hateful speech in these comment boxes. Don’t believe me? Just check out the Weather Channel. I promise you, no matter what major weather event is happening, someone will mention politics, which will offend someone else, and it will go straight downhill from there. And without fail, it will get UGLY.

And lately I’ve noticed that this trend of “honesty” is bleeding out into other areas of people’s lives. One of the new things that absolutely makes me crazy is “GoFundMe”, and other like sites. Let me explain. I remember, as a child, when a family in our community had a big need but little means, we would see jars all over town with a photograph of perhaps a child who had a serious illness, with a little blurb asking for donations to help defray medical costs, or some such. The community would rally around and raise money to help the needy family. And, when used appropriately, I think sites like “GoFundMe” serve a great purpose. But so often, they are not used appropriately.

But today it just seems that anyone who thinks they’d like a few more bucks can set up a website begging for money! I’ve seen all sorts of stuff that just makes me want to scream! I understand that families need money. I’ve sold off so many of our belongings over the years just to buy groceries. Years ago, our family even made use of WIC. But we never broadcast that sort of stuff. It was private, and even shameful. If you couldn’t afford something when I was growing up, well, you just didn’t get it. Period.

A couple of months ago, I saw a Facebook post by a woman who’d set up an online account and was begging complete strangers to give her money so she could go take a Neonatal Resuscitation Course! She is apparently a student midwife (like me) and we are all required to take an approved NRP course. But this woman wanted to take one of the more expensive courses, and felt like we should all chip in to help her out! Really? If you can’t afford it, perhaps it’s not yet time to go to school. Just a thought. I saved my money and paid my own way. It’s how I was raised.

I also have seen various folks get on Facebook and start whining about how much money they don’t have, and how desperate they are. I’m not talking about a single prayer request, but an ongoing theme of poor-mouthing. Here’s a tip: if you are self-employed, offering some sort of service, folks don’t want to give their business to someone who’s always carrying on about needing more money. People start to feel like you’re not really interested in them, or even in the service you’re providing. It’s all about you, you, you, and the money, money, money. And, since there’s never enough of it, we, the consumers, can only conclude that you are a poor manager of your resources. I, personally, will not do business with someone like that. I want to support people who seem to know what they’re doing and exude some sort of confidence and success. I tend to believe they are better able to provide the services they’re offering than someone who’s so caught up in their own desperation that they can’t see past the end of their own bank account.

My Daddy always said you don’t go airing your dirty laundry. Maybe that’s a Southern thing. Maybe it’s the sin of pride. All I know is that it’s ridiculous how people will prostitute themselves online for practically anything, and call it a worthy “cause”. But then I guess it’s just the logical, modern extension of those ‘beggars’ under the overpasses all over Austin. Dignity is becoming a lost art.

Flavitsky "Christian Martyrs In Colosseum"

Flavitsky “Christian Martyrs In Colosseum”

A lot of things surprise me.  In fact, the older I get, the more things I feel like I simply do not understand.  For example: yesterday, I was browsing the fabric selection at a local store, and ran across a woman who, seemingly, was doing the same.  I needed to get by her, and so I smiled my brightest, most polite smile, said “Excuse me,” and waited for her to move. Or smile. Or something.  But no. . . she just glared at me, much like one might glare at an annoying stray dog. So I tried even harder to smile, thinking maybe she just needed someone to be friendly to her, and her mood might improve.  But, again, no.  She wasn’t having it, and so I ended up maneuvering my cart around her and hoping I wouldn’t run across her again. (I didn’t.)

I am surprised by the viciousness of politics in our country nowadays.  I have lots of opinions of the way things should be, but I do not expect everyone to agree with me.  And I certainly do not start name-calling and labeling those who disagree with my point of view.  I think it’s ridiculous to call someone a ‘hater’ because they disagree with you!  Seriously?  That’s such a childish mentality!  It reminds me of the guys who, when rejected by a girl at a bar or party, immediately conclude that she’s a lesbian!  That just doesn’t make any sense! Just because a girl isn’t attracted to a guy doesn’t inherently mean there is anything wrong with either of them!

And, I’m surprised (although, at this point, I suppose I really shouldn’t be) at the ridiculous and perverse antics of the pro-gay activists up in Washington, D.C.  Does dressing in drag and harassing children really make the point that the GLBT groups really deserve marriage equality?  I think it makes them all look like freaks that just want their 15 minutes of fame, and it really makes me question if they are serious about their “rights”, or if they just want to put on some sort of freak show!  What if “straight” people ran up to folks marching in a gay pride parade and started making out or having sex right there in front of them? No way would that fly!! To say that these two groups have different definitions of marriage doesn’t even begin to define their differences!

But I am not surprised at all by how much the attacks have escalated against the Catholic Church.  There has always been someone who was ticked off at God or the Church about something (or everything!). And since today, it’s almost mandatory to have a chip on one’s shoulder, that’s an easy one to take on.  The Church has stood tall and strong for many centuries on certain points, and she is not giving any indication of changing her mind now.

It would make sense to me for those who oppose her teachings to be unhappy with her, but that’s not enough for them.  Apparently, they feel some sort of guilt or shame over what they are doing, so they need to attack the Church in some feeble attempt to discredit her.  But here is where I feel baffled: if they think the Church is so wrong, or corrupt, or whatever, then why do they focus so much energy on it?

I have a theory about that. I think it’s because they know, somewhere deep inside, that the Church is right! Consider this: satanists do not have “Black Altar Calls” or “Black Tent Revivals”.  They have “Black Masses“. They do not bother to steal the communion crackers from non-Catholic churches, because there is no power in them.  They try to steal them from Catholic churches, because those communion wafers, those consecrated hosts, are the transubstantiated body and blood of Jesus Christ, himself. They want to mock what is real, what has true power!

So, it’s no surprise to me that people want to discredit the Catholic Church.  That they want to bring her down to their base and perverse level. And, it’s nothing new.  Christians have been persecuted since the beginning.  Starting with, of course, Jesus himself!

This has all been on my mind lately for a few reasons, but I can attribute most of it to some billboards that the American Atheists are running attacking the Catholic Church. Why a group who doesn’t even believe in God cares so much that they would spend in excess of $6,000.00 per billboard to attack Him is beyond me.  Wouldn’t that be their equivalent of Don Quixote fighting windmills?  They are railing against a “fairy tale”!  WHY??? I think, again, it’s because they know, deep down, that they’re wrong.

At any rate, I do not think that things are going to get any better, or easier, for Christians of any denomination in the days to come. Already our own government, the last bastion of freedom in the western world, is trying to force Christians to violate their own consciences with healthcare clauses and laws.  Christians are being labeled as ‘hate groups’ for being pro-life! That simply does NOT make any sense. At all! It’s irony in its worst form! And, while other groups are lauded for standing up for their rights and beliefs, anyone standing up for Christian rights and beliefs is a ‘hater’ or ‘bigot’! Nobody would dare to challenge a Muslim for facing east and praying to Allah!!! “Tolerance” is the buzzword of the hour, and yet those who actually preach mercy and forgiveness are the least “tolerated”.

No, none of  it makes sense to me, but then, that’s really no surprise, is it?

 

When I was a child, I looked forward to and enjoyed many things.  One of the most exciting of these anticipations was Halloween.  St. Helena’s always had a wonderful Halloween Carnival on Halloween night, and we all got to dress up and participate in all sorts of fun activities, including a Cake Walk, Bingo, and even a “Haunted House”! I remember walking through the “Haunted House” over and over again with my classmates.  Sister Josepha’s classroom just didn’t seem quite so exciting to any of us the rest of the year!

At home, my dad would wear a Werewolf mask and jump out from behind our planter to frighten the little children who dared to come trick-or-treating at our house.  He seriously lived for this, and I think it was one of the highlights of his year, especially when one particularly terrified little boy ran all the way down the block, shrieking.  It never occurred to Daddy that these children would probably wind up in therapy as adults, due to an unreasonable fear of crazy old men in rubber werewolf masks!

Until I was ten years old, we lived out at the State Line. There weren’t any neighbors to solicit for treats, so my grandmother would take me around her neighborhood, in the thriving metropolis of Hobbs, New Mexico, and I always collected more than enough candy and treats.  And yes, sometimes we even got homemade candy apples or popcorn balls! **DEEP SIGH** Those were the days!!

The next day we usually participated in the processional at Mass singing some time-honored favorite like “When the Saints Go Marching In”.  Then, we would go back to our classrooms, say the Pledge of Allegiance and our morning prayers, and go right back to ‘business-as-usual’.  We never considered whether or not Halloween was “evil”, or how we should try to combine it with All Saints Day.  Things really were so much more simple, back then!

After we had kids of our own, trick-or-treating had pretty much become a dangerous endeavor.  And, because we homeschooled, there wasn’t a Halloween Carnival at our kids school, so we decided to create our own! I love to sew and make costumes. We love to decorate our home for all holidays, and Halloween is no exception! So, we decided to start having our own parties, and it has been something our entire family has looked forward to every year.

After moving to Texas, our first house wasn’t really big enough for a party, but this year, we moved into a larger home, and decided it was time to throw our first Texas Halloween party!  It was a wonderful success, and we had a blast! My only concern, at this point, is that next year, we may still need a bigger place to host the party, because we had a full house this year!  It was so fun!

We also love to watch “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (Disney animated version, narrated by Bing Crosby).  We love a good ghost story (May I highly recommend “The Others” starring Nicole Kidman?) Other family favorites include “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “Young Frankenstein“.

Alex has taken up my dad’s old tradition of handing out the Halloween Candy in a wolf costume, only his version is not as scary. 😉  He grows his chops out and dresses up like Wolverine, from the X-Men.  The teenaged girls especially love this!  We hear lots of giggling when he hands out the candy, and last year he even got some repeat customers!

I have previously lamented the ever-deepening chasm that separates the Left from the Right in this country, and how the two opposing camps are quickly deteriorating into some really nasty name-calling and downright guerilla attack tactics, rather than trying to communicate with one another with dignity and civility. I am seeing this more and more, and the progression is alarming!

It reminds me of the way, in the beginning days of Nazi Germany, people were slowly convinced that Jews were horrible, and even that they were not really human beings.  It started with name-calling and derogatory media coverage.  No facts, mind you, but a lot of really persuasive propaganda.  We all know what followed, once the Masses were convinced that the Jews needed to be exterminated.  And make no mistake:  it happened FAST.

At this point, I am not sure which side is “winning” in the United States.  The Conservatives or the Liberals. The Tea Party or the Coffee Party.  Pro-Life or Pro-Choice.  The one thing I know for sure, and that I think every one of us can agree on, is that each side is firmly convinced that the other side is evil, and therefore must be destroyed.

Point in case:  Friday, I read an article on Weather.com about the “Exceptional Drought” that is being experienced by a large portion of our country.  It was of interest to me, because here in Texas, we have the most acreage affected by this drought. The article, of course, mentioned Global Warming, as one of the many causes contributing to the situation.

When I was done reading the article, I glanced down at the Comments section, and was shocked by the unwarranted attack that the second commenter had leveled against the first guy to post.  I just couldn’t resist putting in my .02.  Here are the first 4 comments (including my own) from the exchange,  which I think is rather interesting, and certainly proves my point.

T.L: (First Commenter, identified as “Texas A&M”, “Commerce, Texas”, and whose picture shows him holding a guitar) – “It would be folly to think that mankind hasn’t had an effect on the environment, including warming patterns, however, one large volcano like the ones in Iceland, Alaska, or the Phillipines puts out more atmospheric damaging gas than all of the creatures of the Earth. What we could all save in ten years of green movement can be wiped out instantly by one of these volcano eruptions.”

D.M.: (Identified as being from “Rockwall High School”) – “I suggest you spend more time in class and less time playing your guitar so you can get your facts straight…”

A.M.: (Identified as from Fashion Institute of Technology) – “Thanks Dustin, you beat me to the punch…”

Me: (Identified as “Domestic Goddess Homeschool Mom”, LOL) – “I think it would be more helpful in general, if opposing sides could be respectful to one another. Do you seriously have to insult a complete stranger, and use such condescending tones, or could you merely present your evidence, and let others make informed decisions. Don’t expect anybody to believe your point of view, no matter how accurate you think you are, unless you present yourself with dignity and not hatefully.”

Now, there have been dozens of comments left after this initial little exchange, but I am only going to include the ones that were directed at me, by using my name:

D.D.: “Well said, Valarie”

J.P.M.: “amen Valerie, amen.”

斯光源 (aka D.S. on his Facebook page): “Valarie I think that is a sweet view, but in all honesty all that matters is the reality of facts. If someone is sweet, kind and filled with dignity, yet devoid of any hard scientific empirical evidence then they are not worth the air they have just wasted spreading lies.” (Note:  I feel sorry for this guy.  He clearly is jaded beyond repair, and not worth further comment.)

G.K.: “Yes, THANK YOU V. . .W. .  .B . . ., for pointing out the obvious. There is a serious lack of civility in discourse today, especially prevalent from those leaning to the “extreme Conservative/Right” side of issues. You made the point well, in an intelligent fashion, with sincerity and integrity, and like a lady – by that I mean as an intelligent, gracious, polite AND very well informed WOMAN. Thank YOU. Good Wishes to you as you continue on your life journey. Peace.”

T.W.: “Well put Valarie, we tend to forget we are in this life all together and a little love for our fellow brothers and sisters goes a long way.”

Altogether, as of this writing, I’ve gotten 287 “Likes”, and one lady added me as her friend on Facebook!  But the one thing I really want to point out is what G.K. had to say to me.  She said that “There is a serious lace of civility in discourse today, especially prevalent from those leaning to the “extreme Conservative/Right” side of issues.”  She also assumed that I was”intelligent” and “well informed“!  However, nothing in my original post gave any indication as to whether or not I was intelligent, well informed, or (and this is the one that I’m hanging my hat on) Liberal!  Consider that she believes that Conservative/Right folks are the vicious ones. Yet, because I was able to present my thoughts in a way that was non-threatening and respectful, it seems that folks just assumed we were on the same side of things!

Let me make this very clear:  I really, really, appreciate G.K.’s thoughts, and especially her good wishes and peace.  I totally honor and receive that!  I merely want to demonstrate that she felt like I was a good guy, because I didn’t attack the other side.  In reality, I totally agree with what the first commenter, T.L., said, and even think that Global Warming is popular science at its worst.  Normally, G.K. and I would never sit on the bus together!  But through mutual respect, we were able to build a bridge.

A great riot was dispersed, in Ephesus at the Temple of Artemis, because the most famous of all Christian evangelists, St. Paul, did not attack or insult the “other side”, as it were.  In the Biblical Book of Acts, Chapter 19:35-37, we have this amazing tale:

“And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky?  Seeing then that these things cannot be contradicted, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess.”

It is always the better choice not to insult the opposition! So, why can’t this happen more often?  Maybe I should start some sort of Facebook Campaign for “Mutual Respect”!  What do you all think?

 

I have a lot of soapbox issues, as most of you probably know.  However, generally, for many private reasons of my own, I don’t discuss homosexuality or the “Gay Agenda”.  I am making an exception to that rule here.

There are many, many businesses who donate millions of dollars to pro-gay organizations.  And, with the exception of the very conservative ‘religious right’, most people don’t get too freaked out by that anymore.  So why in the world are all the gay groups all up in arms over Chick-fil-A feeding lunch to a group that’s pro-heterosexual marriage?  Seriously?

If they want organizations to be able to fund them freely, then they need to suck it up and allow other groups the same rights and privileges!  For a group that has fought so hard for “rights” and “equality”, you’d think they’d be the first to acknowledge that others have the same rights!!!  But maybe that’s not what they’re all about, after all???

I am disgusted!

It is mandatory in my home that everyone stand and place their right hand over their heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. (Must be why BO has never visited us during a football game).   Yep, I’m a Patriotic American, and proud of it.  I vote, in spite of all the naysayers who tell me my vote doesn’t matter.  My right to vote mattered to a lot of men an women who died for it.  When I hear the Star Spangled Banner I get tears in my eyes.  And I always stand for the pledge.  So, yeah, it matters.  Here is a cartoon that I think sums it up beautifully.

The Liberty Council in Florida issues a “Naughty or Nice” list every year, listing which stores are “Christmas Friendly”, and which are not.  I was happy to see this year that Walmart and Disney are on the “Nice” list!

The fact of the matter is, I celebrate Christmas.  Kwanzaa is a made-up holiday, and is not celebrated in Africa.  (When my mother traveled to Kenya in December several years ago, she got off the airplane in Nairobi to the sound of American Christmas Carols!)  The Jews have always celebrated Hanukkah, and I’ve always been a little jealous that they get to celebrate for 8 days and we just get one, but I’ll save that for another post! 😛 Suffice it to say that my Jewish friends are always quick to wish me a “Merry Christmas”, and I love them for it!

So, if someone doesn’t celebrate Christmas, that’s okay with me.  But I think they should accept my “Merry Christmas” greeting for what it is:  me sharing my joy with them.  What sort of freak would be offended by someone offering them joy??  Wait. . . don’t answer that!! 😉

So, anyway, if you’re interested in boycotting stores that refuse to allow their employees to extend Christmas Greetings, then be sure to check out the list.  The “Nice” side is happily quite a bit longer than the “Naughty” side!  Merry Christmas!!

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