I Am Not of This World: persistent abuse cultures really make me want to leave

cslewis

I think that today I need to talk a little about sexual abuse. I am sincerely hoping to write a more coherent, less personal follow-up to this piece, but right now I needed to get all of this down. I know that it’s been on everyone’s mind lately with the Stuebenville rapes and rape culture all over the media.  And to that end you should go read this: “I Didn’t Know What Rape Was.”  Yes, I know all about the author, I know that there’s profanity, but don’t make me give you the language lecture. Go read Jen’s blog and let how heart-breakingly relevant her words are in our world seep in.

(And if you need the language lecture, ask me. I’m sure I have a copy handy somewhere).

Now, I could discuss social, cultural, and gender norms, but I hope at this point we’ve at least gotten to an understanding that traditional versions of these are not without their problems.(And honestly, I think that Jen does an admirable job).  Instead, I want to share something personal from the closet that is the Hellmouth in which I grew up.

Let me say first and foremost that I have been blessed to have never personally suffered physical, mental, emotional, or sexual abuse. Arguments can be made for each of these, but the latter, and my husband has done so. But I disagree, maybe even on semantics. For my experiences “abuse” is not quite the right word. But I’m going to work on that in the next post. No clue where I’ll end up from here.

When I was twelve Mum lost her temper and hit me in the face. The bruise was small, but it was there, just below my eye on my cheekbone. She shouldn’t have done it, won’t argue that at all, but the psychology of abuse doesn’t work in that situation any more than me getting hit in a schoolyard fight would. It was a violent attack, yes. It should not have happened, yes. But I promptly punched her back and the ensuing fight was not one that left me with a fear of my mother or any other victim psychology. I did not hurt physically or otherwise any more than I would have had I gotten into the same tussle with my bff (and trust me, Billie and I had our scraps).

Violence is not abuse, though abuse can be violent. Violence is not always malicious. I would argue that abuse most certainly is.

I feel as if I’ve rambled. To return to the topic. I have not been abused, though I too easily could have been. I grew up knowing this. I watched children around me suffer neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse. I saw classmates cringe when the teacher had to raise her voice. I knew kids who couldn’t be touched, and children that you had to approach cautiously, as if they were half wild. I knew kids who feared their parents and their disapproval or their retribution. I knew, from an early age, that no all adults could be trusted.

For the record, none of that ever happened with me and Mum. Until I left for college, if I had a bad dream, I still went to Mum and Da’s bedroom and crawled under Da’s side of the bed. There I slept safe, loved, and protected with Pinky Toast (epic teddy extraordinaire) as a pillow, Mum’s robe as a blanket, and Da’s gun tucked between their mattresses just above my head.

Atypical, I know, but I tell you all of that to illustrate the important parts that an abused child doesn’t get: I felt loved. I felt safe. I was protected. With the exception of a single incident that to this day haunts my Mum, I did not encounter anything (at home) that would even count toward abuse. Mum (an abuse victim herself) always watched out for us, always talked to us about the signs, and how to protect ourselves. Da made sure we knew we could come to him with anything and that he’d kill anyone who harmed us. That sounds crazy violent to some, I’m sure, but when you’re a kid surrounded by adult predators, knowing that your folks have your back (even violently) is a comfort that cannot be overstressed.

And now the predators.

Dadai’s family is large. Large enough to have that one uncle that most good people would not leave alone with their children. I remember, from a very young age, not trusting said uncle. More importantly, I remember Mum telling me to stay away from him. To never be in a room alone with him and not to let him put his hands on me. I remember her telling me not to worry about being polite. Back talk, yell, kick, do whatever I had to in order to keep him away from me. I didn’t have to hug him hello and goodbye no matter what Dadai said. These were important bits of advice, since after their divorce when I was four years old Mum was not present at Dadai’s family gatherings. She raised me to never be a victim. Which in a funny way is precisely why I hit her back that day when I was 12.

Long ramble short, I was safe. I’m still safe. I’ll be dead in a ditch somewhere before I’m ever a victim unless some super clever serial killer kidnaps me and has the patience not to let me drive him to kill me.  Still, the predators are sout there. Most of Dadai’s family won’t talk about it. If you bring it up (and believe me, I did after I found out that said uncle had asked Smeagol—the baby sister—to see her breasts when she was fourteen) they act as if it’s some small bad thing that he shouldn’t have done. As if he swiped a cookie before dinner or something. They don’t tell the other children in our family to avoid him, to stop him, that they have every right to scream, shout, or kick. They make them go give him hugs when he shows up at family dinner. They make the teenage girls wait on him (fix his dinner plate, etc). I have one little cousin who is repeatedly allowed to spend the night with him and his wife!

This man has molested young girls and young women (can’t say about boys, I only know about the females) for decades. DECADES. At least forty years. That. I. Know. Of.  And while I think he should be taken out back and shot, I would be happy with even a moderate, modern response. Reporting. Counseling.  Protecting. These women have no support structures. By ignoring it, dismissing it, blaming the victims even!, family members not only hurt existing victims, they create more.

Their solution is always to pray about it. While I’m ALL for prayer, that’s b.s. It’s our JOBS to protect the innocent from harm. Not merely pray that they never come to it. More importantly, if you know that they are going to be harmed and you do nothing to stop it then you are JUST as responsible as the one who harms them.

Which is where I am today. The camel with that last straw.

I recently found out that someone biologically close to me—while under the influence of alcohol—said inappropriate things to Smeagol. These things could have come straight from the mouth of my hellbound uncle and because Smeagol’s parents are the useless creatures that they are, the Darkling and I had to explain to her just how inappropriate those comments were. Alcohol does not excuse it. I cannot go to her parents. I have done so already where the uncle was concerned and they LITERALLY did nothing. I have, of course, told Smeag to be assertive, to avoid as often as possible, but that if necessary she can shout, kick, scream or whatever.

As I said, today I’m angry. I’m angry for current events, I’m angry for past events, and I’m angry on behalf of all those victims. Little girls who had no one to stand up for them. No one to whom they could go and know that Da would shoot the bastard who’d put hands on her.

I’m also, just a little, angry for me, because I’ve finally gotten old enough to hate them all for their indifference.  I look back and I don’t see a family so human in their flaws, I see deplorable weakness and darkness. I see malice. I do not want to forgive them. That’s not who I am. I believe FIRMLY that there is good and evil in this world, and I DO believe that some people are bad. The adult me has broken trust with them. I cannot view them in the light that I once did. I do not care that they are “saved by grace.” I don’t believe that most of them are saved at all, because the abuse continues. The cycle is unbroken.

Men in that family treat women in wretched and horrifying ways because the women and the men buy into a system that reinforces the false idea that men are weak, subject to their hormones, and that they “can’t help” what they do. Women are taught that it must be their fault since the men can’t help it. So they believe that they deserve the abuse for wearing, saying, being whatever it is they were.

Enough. Enough, enough, enough. Humans MUST stop creating victims. Humans MUST stop creating these cowardly excuses for predators. And gods help us, they MUST stop using religion to reinforce this culture.

Truths:

All the prayer, church, singing, and Jesus-shouting will not save you if you are living daily the role of malice, of abuser, of harm. Being saved means you stop all that junk and pray for forgiveness for it. Not that you’re counting on JC to mitigate for you so that you can do whatever the heck you want.

An individual may be sick. An abuser may have deep-rooted psychological issues. But when over one hundred people know of even one instance of abuse and a child is still encouraged to spend time with the pervert, that isn’t a sickness, that’s frelling evil. No amount of being a “good person” will excuse you from the sins you committed against the children you sent like lambs to pain.

We need to empower one another. Children, adults, it doesn’t matter. We need to each know that no matter how stupid we may be or what we do, that no one has the RIGHT to harm us. Then we need to flip that coin and teach each other not to be stupid.

We need to empower men. That’s right. Read that again. Men are more than basic animalistic drives. Men are to be held responsible for their actions, not have excuses made for them. Men are capable of civilization.

We need to empower women. Women are not temptation. Women are not virtue. Women are humans. Just like men. If I don’t have the right to punch someone in the face because they’re stupid, then men don’t have the right to rape, molest, proposition a women because she’s not swathed in wool from hair to heel.  My skin is not an invitation to have sex with me. And a decent person never thinks that.

We need to stop apologizing to the perpetrators for the crimes they commit. Stop giving them excuses for committing them. We need to create a social norm that doesn’t encourage sins to be kept in closets that victims are then led to. We need to be comfortable calling people what they are. “Oh, he/she has had a hard life and didn’t know….blahblahblah.” WRONG. He/she is a rapist. A child molester. That’s what he/she is. And if he/she doesn’t want to be that then get help, redefine. BE BETTER.

The Stuebenville rape situation is heartbreaking because I agree with Jenny (the linked article).  It’s depressing that we do not teach physical, emotional, mental, sexual boundaries. That not only to women not know what rape is, men don’t. That we teach that someone is ENTITLED to another person’s body or being for any reason.

That, my friends, is the definition of chattel slavery.

I owe Mum (even with that right hook of hers) a greater debt than she will ever know. I was raised in region where slavery still rages (though I’ll argue it is not limited to the South), but I was not born in chains. Maybe it’s because of how hard she fought to break her own bonds. Maybe it’s simply because of how much she loved me. I don’t know. I don’t care. I am just thankful.

I do know that as a child I wasn’t much better than the monsters. I protected myself and my cousins as best I could from my uncle but because I was never abused, I didn’t stand up and say “hey, it’s not okay. It’s not okay for you to pretend this isn’t happening. It’s not okay for you to say he’s just being a dirty old man. Dirty old men are NOT OKAY!”

I did stand up when I found out about Smeagol’s incident. And that’s what I’m doing today, because I’ve watched that evil grow and it must be stopped.  If all I do is leave, if all I do is refuse to reinforce the sense of community surrounding the perpetrator, then I will have done something. Maybe not for those older than me. They know better. They choose otherwise. But maybe for the young ones. I will not be a part of it. Not in association, not in name, not in forgiveness.

Evil has too long been permitted to thrive in the hearts of humankind because we tell one another how sorry we are for the blight, instead of trying to cure it.

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As Christmas Approaches

Look! Words! 

linus

This is Linus. I love Linus. He knows what Christmas is all about.

Y’all know that I struggle with Christians. Technically I struggle with zealots of all types, but this is the time of year that the “Christians” remember the God they try to ignore for most of the year and start trying to cram in “worship and praise” like they’re vacation days that they have to take or lose next year. I hate them. I tried being mildly displeased with them, but I realized last night as my FB feed blew up with evangelical ravings from the modern culturals that I really. Really. Hate. Them.

Christianity, in and of itself, is something of a struggle for me. If you remove people from the equation (and it’s technically not possible, but if you can suspend your disbelief for Batman, you can work with me here), I have a powerful love/hate relationship with the basics tenants, a whole lot of nostalgia from my Grandmother’s version of the faith, and a deep respect for those who at least attempt to get it “right”.

For the record and in fairness, I DO NOT HATE ALL CHRISTIANS.  But a large majority of them are why I started this blog and why I have decided to reread the Bible (cover to cover with Apocrypha) before getting too specific with my rantings again.

However, in the interest of heading things off at the pass and getting out my general rant of the day, let me give you a few of my heretical notions.

  1.  I do not believe that everyone should be a Christian. Period. If you want to get super technical, Jesus came to fix what was broken in Judaism, not start a new religion (read the red words, folks), and I’m not going to say that the Messiah’s chosen religion is wrong. Are you? People really need to stop using their faith as a way to ostracize and assimilate people. Sheep. Grr….I hate sheep. Crooked shepherds are even worse.
  2. I think that the word of Jesus trumps the word of Paul, so stop ignoring the words in red and harping on Thessolonians.
  3. The book of Revelation was written for early Christians. It’s allegorical. A code written about specific people at a specific time. It is not a portent of doom for the future. (For the record, if I’m wrong, I’ll be thrilled. A Red Horse, a Great Sword, Dragons, Harlots, self-righteous hypocrites getting their comeuppance…I’m so on board for that.)
  4. I loathe a “Sunday Christian.” Spare me the speech about how you should go to church every Sunday. For the record, I have nothing against church every Sunday, but you aren’t giving him a day of worship if you sit in church for an hour and then spend the rest of the day watching sports or whatever. You’re giving him an hour (two tops if you go to Sunday School too) and two hours on a Sunday is NOT “remember(ing) the Sabbath by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8 for those following along).
  5. “Christmas Christians” fall into the same category of loathing as those above, only some days (like today) they are worse because I love Christmas, the Christian and the Secular versions (except Santa Claus, I do not like Santa Claus, sorry. Oh, and that Elf on a Shelf junk. Ick.)
  6. On the “Happy Holidays” topic (to paraphrase a lovely post I saw somewhere): I don’t mind being wished Happy Anything by someone who is actually taking the time to wish me well. Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, Yuletide, whatever (just not Wren Day…I don’t  want to be a part of anyone’s Wren Day). The point is that *I* celebrate Christmas, so unless I know that you observe another holiday, I’m going to wish you a Merry Christmas. This is not a covert way of saying “I wish you’d accept the Lord Jesus Christ and come into the fold of his robe” (<-heh). “Happy Christmas” means simply that “I wish you love, joy, peace, warmth, friends, family, and just enough abundance to feel how blessed you are this winter season, this time of darkest nights.” If those are not the sentiments you wish to receive from me, then we probably don’t need to talk anyway.
  7. Now, onto the evangelicals. Let’s get this straight: I do not think that it is acceptable for people of any faith to disparage (especially from a pedestal of ignorance) any belief. Atheists might not make sense to me, but neither do most Christians. Most days, Zen and Tibetan Buddhists make more sense to me than the rest, but you don’t see me plastering “Be a Buddhist!” all over my social networking outlets. That said:
  8. Be kind. Be loving. Be helfpul. Be inclusive. Be questioning. Be skeptical. Be willing to learn. Be grateful. Be compassionate. Be honest. Be faithful. Be intentional. Be aware. Be purposeful.

Cause I gotta tell you, the modern, political, occasional Christians are ruining Christmas for the rest of us. And for a group that seems largely driven by evangelical notions, it is amusing to me how many drive faithful hearts right out of the churches.

People are Different: how “racism” has crippled intelligent discourse

“Different is just…different.”

I’ve decided to tackle the topic of race. I think that, thanks to history, political correctness, and humanity’s (erroneous) determination that they are not animals, we’ve hindered ourselves from any useful sort of dialogue. Now before I get a whole bunch of criticism, yes, I’m a white girl. I’m a white girl raised in the American South, in one of the worst counties in my state. I’m also a white girl with an African American sister, friends from all walks of life, and a serious set of blinders. My family has called me colorblind with more than a little accuracy. Most of them have said it like it’s a bad thing.

Racism is kind of a big deal where I’m from. Other regions look down their noses at us because our racial lines have long been defined around the idea of whiteness. As a US history student, I’m actually a little sick of hearing about whiteness. It’s constricting, far too convenient, and really only applies to specific groups of people.  Pseudo-intellectuals bandy the word around like they do gender. As if concepts of masculine and feminine are universal standards. BAH. Whiteness isn’t a universal standard either. But Otherness…oh, otherness is.

While racism is a topic that is particularly relevant to me and the region in which I grew up, I would like to go on record and point out that we certainly don’t have the market cornered on it. Racism (more accurately discrimination) has existed, and continues to exist, in all parts of the world. As an American, some of the most racist people I’ve ever met were not from the South. They were Northern urbanites. The United States may be more of a melting pot than other places, but that doesn’t mean everyone is happy about it or that they were. Sectionalism, nationalism, and good old-fashioned human entitlement have created a racial climate pock-marked with ugly, festering heads. Only some of which have been black and white. In the urban landscapes of the north, ethnicity has been just as important, just as ugly, but for some reason, if an Irish someone sneers at an Italian someone, they’re not nearly as bad as the white, Anglo-Saxon protestant in the South who sneers at an African American. (And I can hear the defense now, cause I’ve heard it before, but the Irish didn’t enslave the Italian. They didn’t have Jim Crow and lynch mobs. Doesn’t matter. A sin is a sin is a sin, right?)

Don’t get me wrong, I want to punch them both in the face. There’s no such thing as race. Race is a social construct. If there is race at all, there’s only one, the human race. Now you can divide the rest up any way that you want. Ethnicity, nationality. People like to use racism only when an obvious physical difference in ethnicity can be seen. Skin color is the laziest, but people will also use accent, hair type, and build.  Race has also been defined around region and religion, but “smart” people will call this ethnicity now. They’ve blurred the lines so well that good people don’t know what intellectual evils they’re fighting.

Honestly, it’s all the same thing.

At their most harmless, people like to organize things and define them. The Judeo-Christian creation story includes Adam naming the animals. The Islamic Creation story is almost identical, but has Allah telling Adam the names of the animals. Labels are important to people, and their worst they are used to justify horrible, horrible acts. Racial and ethnic labels are just geographic and cultural organizations.  The scientific racists, the social darwinists, and the poor, stupid inheritors of that well-conceived but poorly applied ideology seem to like the biological approach.

Most days, so do I.

Human beings are scientifically classified thusly:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae
Tribe: Hominini
Genus: Homo
Species: H. sapiens

There is nothing to further divide us by phenotype or genotype. We aren’t divided into subspecies or breeds like horse, cats, dogs, other domesticated creatures. Maybe we should be. Maybe if we were, we could talk about our differences as matters of fact rather than matters of superiority or division. Should one be “better” than another. No, not spiritually, not legally. But are some folks better suited to things than others…well sure. Physical facts exist and some of those are because of where our ethnic group evolved.

The loudest shouting folks say that phenotypes (outside physical characteristics) don’t matter, we are all biologically the same. Well…we aren’t. Biologically speaking. Some of us have different pigments, different body types, different diseases, blah blah blah. These differences are biological and evolutionary. This means they developed based on needs for survival. Many of these needs were geographic and climate based. It’s not a big deal. It’s just a thing. It means that my African-American sister Aries may need sunblock, but not nearly as much as I do. It also means that I have stick straight hair that won’t hold a curl and that she can do amazingly elaborate things to hers. Big flipping deal.

The comparison is a no-brainer, but people don’t like it. People need to feel superior to the rest of creation. (Hundreds of Creation Stories confirm this.) Human beings are better than animals. They are not animals…pay no attention to that pesky Kingdom classification.

The Scientific Classification for the Wild Horse is:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Genus: Equus
Subgenus: Equus
Species: E. ferus

It further divides into three subspecies which include the domesticated horse and the myriad shapes, colors, and constitutions therein. They can all breed with one another, they all possess certain characteristics in common, and at the end of the day they are all HORSES.

This shouldn’t be a stretch for folks, really. If, for all their differences of both phenotype and genotype, the Arabian–with its dainty feet, flared nostrils, and love of sand–and the Clydesdale–with its giant feet, shaggy coat, and love of cold weather–are the same species then why on earth do human beings look at themselves as completely separate from one another based on the same set of criteria???

Well, I’ll tell you. Human beings did not survive as long as they have by being friends with each other. Oh, no. They survived because they were exclusive, not inclusive. Kinship and religion were the first (and are still the most powerful) ways that they sectioned themselves off. Outsiders were liabilities. They brought newness. Newness could destroy the fabric of codependency so necessary for hunting together, gathering together, and breeding. Newness became Otherness and Otherness, my friends…that is the fear that rules the whole dang world.

People on this planet are born fearing the Other. From the time we’re old enough to toddle through the house or yard on our own, it’s in there. That need for the approval of our parents, our siblings. That drive to belong, to not be other. It’s a survival mechanism. You think the rebellious cave-child lived long when it decided to buck the status quo and do its own thing?? Nope. It died, starved in the cold without passing along that rebellious independent gene. You want your social Darwinism? There it is.

Belonging has for millennia been the device that propelled the species forward. If you belonged you were safe, well fed, mated. Those who belonged produced the next generation of little knuckle-draggers just begging to…you guessed it. Belong.

Others, however, they were not to be trusted. I mean come on…why didn’t they belong somewhere? They must be bad. Maybe their group kicked them out, or maybe they brought calamity and their group was destroyed. Didn’t matter. Different people don’t belong. And large groups of different people spell catastrophe.

So humans had two choices: destroy the others or make them belong. “Make them.” See that…that’s coercion. By physical force or the threat of survival. It’s forced. And it isn’t always easy. Not everyone wants to give up their belonging (even upon threat of death) and become what they have always viewed as other. And the requirements for belonging are always defined only by the victor.

Racism is the application of this “other:belonging” duality. It’s the result of the world getting smaller. Because physical differences (like we discussed with the horses) develop based on environment, it was not likely that people with dramatically difference physical traits would encounter each other. It’s not really rocket science. Think back on how “primitives” looked at anything that departed the norm: hair color, eye color, disfigurements. The unfortunate bearer of these traits was either revered or reviled. In a great many cases, physical differences were a death sentence.

Modern racism is the just the same sordid thing. Human beings are pack creatures, always have been, always will be. You don’t take out a mammoth on your own, folks, and a human against a lion without the aid of technology is just lunch. Humans wouldn’t have survived to become the dominant pestilence on the planet were it not for strong drives toward social collectives, divisions of labor, and bureaucratic stratification. Technology would be nothing more than a really good rock, and a really nice stick. Do you think humans would have started smelting if left to forage for food all day? Nope. They wouldn’t have had time. But they gathered around communal fires, shared food, and divided up the labor. Pretty soon, few could feed many, and the many could divide up the duties to advance the species. Hello, better weapons!

The very nature of human evolution has created a world where different is scary and belonging is paramount. Judging someone on their external characteristics is just an expression of old, inherited fears, and basic survival drives. It is sad, and frustrating, and makes me want to hit things, but that’s the why of it folks.

Human beings are nothing more than they’ve ever been. Two hundred thousand years and all that’s changed is the stuff that they make.

Heretics of the World Unite!….well maybe not, but can we at least get rollerblades?

I have called myself a heretic for quite some time, but even I find my gift for gab challenged when it comes to articulating this in a calm, rational, non-insulting manner. I have often said that I just have problems with everyone. And that might be true too, but I don’t actually think that I’m the irrational banshee I hear screaming in my head when I hear people speak in their imperialistic, condescending, fearful, ignorant manners about things that are not just important to me, but should be important to all of us.
I get angry when religious folks attack philosophy, or George Carlin; and I get angry when intellectuals attack the faithful. Neither camp seems to really know anything about the other. They base their opinions on a limited number of experiences and refuse to see the larger picture. I find that I can’t talk to either of them.

This beautifully written article might not say it all for me, but it certainly says most of it, and all of the important stuff.

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/atheologies/5941/coming_out_as_a_heretic

Be Prepared! (please sing that in the voice of Jeremy Irons as Scar from the Lion King)

When I get back I’m going to be ranting about entertainment, gender roles, relationships, alternative lifestyles and why this world sucks.

A few warnings ahead of time:

1. I am not necessarily against pornography, though I have a rather complicated view of it with an awful lot of qualifications.

2. I am a reluctant feminist and, as usual, I blame the masses for my being so. Seneca Falls would have little to do, I think, with the agendas of those labeled so often as “feminazis.”

3. I am sick of the the “criticism=censorship” mentality.

4. I am not politically correct (in case you missed this).

5. I have recently decided that while I may not necessarily judge people on their choices and ideas that are different from mine, I do choose to judge people by what they venerate. Judging in this case does not have to do with whether a person is bad or good, going to heaven or hell, but whether or not they are a problem in the betterment of our world. (I realize that “betterment” is also subjective, but I think there are enough things upon which most of us can agree: decreases in animal, child, mental, physical and sexual abuse, violent crime, shifts in cultural values away from this entitlement crap, empowering people instead of teaching them to be good little victims….etc etc etc).

6. I will be discussing those problems. I am not going to get into bad or good, though I do believe that those are only sometimes subjective, but there are things of which I approve and disapprove. Perpetuation of stereotypes, romanticizing of abuse and rape culture, misrepresentation of cultures for entertainment purposes, unexamined lives….I disapprove of these.

7. None of us lives in a vacuum; we are not islands (no matter how much we may want to be). I believe, especially in a market economy like ours, that what you buy and what you encourage others to buy is not a right, but a responsibility. This means that things as simple as our choices in entertainment are demonstrations of power. We like to blame Hollywood and publishers for things that are out there, saying that if “they” didn’t sell then “we” wouldn’t buy them. But not only do we shell out our ten to twenty bucks for things, we say it’s okay, it’s just entertainment when those things are either symptomatic of a increasingly ignorant and depraved mass consumer culture, or worse we say that they have every right to be that way. WRONG. We have a responsibility to each other, to future generations, and when we encourage them to fill their heads with crap, we get exactly what we’re seeing in the rising generations.

8. Entertainment is a big deal. It shouldn’t be. But in a culture increasingly defined by leisure activities and one in which children are being educated primarily through entertainment, we cannot expect those children to “know better.” They look at things like Twilight and think that the relationships portrayed are the way things should be. They watch televisions shows like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars and think that such behavior is NORMAL, because they are not being shown a better way at home, at school, or in their churches. Children now do not distinguish between fiction and reality because they have not been taught to do so. They are not looking at these things as escapism, but as a pattern for being.

9. I’ve recently realized that I’m not sorry for who I am.

10. I’ve also realized that I’m a crusader.

Christmas Musings: aka why do I always end up sounding like a villain Gabriel? (a re-post to get you through)

Everyone wants a heartwarming story. Even the cynics who try to tell you that there isn’t one. We can hate humanity, loathe the darkest secrets, the falsities, the banality. We can stare down our noses in deepest disdain, but all we want is someone to prove us wrong. We spend our lives clinging to illusions, those rare moments in our childhood or the even rarer occasions in our adult lives when people, for but an instant, don’t seem so bad. Christmas treasures, family gatherings, images that grow more vibrant as time fades those around us and sharpens our longings for what we thought existed once.

Eventually we become angry at the phantoms. We blame our innocence and our naïveté until our past lies in ashes and all we can do is carefully excavate from the rubble the remnants of ourselves that we know to be true. Then we walk like relics across the landscape, hoping desperately to encounter some other crumbling, rumbling fossil and only finding the living.

We hate them most of the time. We begrudge them their humanity, or we make endless excuses for them, but deep down we hate them because our hope lies in them.

Every Christmas I wonder about it. I have what might be termed a messianic complex at worst, a narcissistic complex at best, but truly, most days and especially at Christmas and Easter, I find it to be more of an intense sense of empathy. I don’t actually care if Christ was divine or not. I don’t feel the need to argue with the supposed religious or intellectual. The labels too often to me are a contradiction in terms. But I can understand sacrifice and I know historically or intuitively, that over the past two hundred thousand years of our species’ existence there have been at least a handful of individuals who thought us worth dying for on some level much grander than taking a bullet for a buddy, or leaping onto a grenade.

This is the part that boggles me. These people have not traditionally been ignorant. No small town kid stuck in a happy family with a rosy tinted view of the world that needs saving. I try to imagine what would persuade someone not from here (and for those of you with trouble following the mad rantings, I mean earth) someone not from this stupid little human-infested planet, to come here. To live with them, to see humans in all their imagined glory and still decide at the end of it all that they’re worth dying for…worth living for.

The scholar in me knows that it could be as simple as myth. A story humans tell themselves to help them sleep at night, that of course they’re worthy, somehow, someway, they deserve saving. It’s easy enough to see in the increasingly commercialized incarnation of Christianity currently bleeding across the globe like one of Capra’s war maps. Between it and Political Islam…ick. Just ick.

I try to remember the people that I like. The few that I admire. The ones I love. The humans that I think are actually good people. That’s capital G-Good. But I keep thinking, man…sometimes there’s just collateral damage. I’ve always believed that while surely hypothetical, my choice was important. At the end of it all, would I die for them? Would I suffer for them? And maybe it isn’t important to anyone but me. Who knows? But there was a time when the answer was a great deal clearer.

Maybe we just need a good war.