Tuesday, November 4, 2008

religious freedom

In the war of words that has become the prop 8 debate one troubling concept demands discussion. I'll leave the homosexual debate for another day, I'm talking about the first amendment. It reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Despite the constant barage and never ending repetition to the contrary...it is constitutional for me to vote based on my religious world view. The first amendment gaurantees that right. Common sense supports that right.

All laws are moral in their basis. ALL laws are moral in their basis. We all vote depending on what we feel is right or wrong, what is of greater or lesser value.

To categorically say that a group of people who believe the Bible cannot vote based on morals they have developed related to that belief is fallacy. A vote is expressing one's opinion, not forcing it upon other. A vote from a religious world view is no more force than a vote from any other point of view. We can develop our morals however we want, then vote as we desire based on those morals.

If we are to say morals based on the Bible are somehow not appropriate, it begs the question what books are appropriate to base your morals on then? Ayn Rand is okay? Stalin okay? Anything in favor of God..not so much? We can read books by political pundits, but not anything religious? Or is it just certain religions that are singled out? Who chooses this? Popular opinion?

Perhaps it is the number of people believing in a certain book...so if a certain percentage of the population read and votes based on Obama's books would they also be forcing their views with their votes?

Which beliefs are forced and which are inappropriate even in the Bible? The Bible teaches pretty strongly against murder. Shall I vote against that or is that also forcing my beliefs on others? How about child abuse? Am I allowed to vote against one moral issue, but not another and how is that decided and who is it decided by? You?

It becomes clear that I am only allowed to vote based on my religious world view when it agrees with the "general public" . Now by general public I do not mean the majority of the population that actually has religious faith, but the minority of the population that does not! On a more personal level, if the person I am speaking with disagrees with my moral stance on any law *I* am forcing my religion on them. Are they forcing their lack of religion on me? Or is this a one way purely anti religion tact? Are my morals of lesser consideration because my religion has influenced their development? Is this decided on a case by case basis?

How about religious people who vote differently from me? Are they forcing their views on me? If they vote similarly to you is it still wrong for them to vote based on their religious world view?

I am clear that I should not vote my religious practices into law. I do not think anyone should be forced to believe anything..if that were even possible. I do not think either that specific practices, such as requiring certain clothes, reading certain books or praying a certain way should be legislated. That is what the first amendment is all about. The government allows people to practice their religion or lack there of, but does not enforce any certain manner of religious practice.

But religion is not solely practices. Religion is not a checklist of beliefs that I consult, or a list of doctrines I memorize. It is not a set of counsel that I am to follow. The counsel to vote in void without my religion is implying I could. I cannot. My beliefs are intrinsically a part of me. Religion effects what I eat, where I live, what kind of job I seek, what kind of books I read, how I see the world. I cannot leave my world view at the door. Can you? Can you somehow leave everything you have experienced and felt and lived at the door of the voting booth in some sort of blank slate phenomena? If I could leave my world view at the door, what would be the cost? Would I also be leaving everything that is compassionate, giving and serving at the door as well as my sometimes troublesome morals?

The constitution demands that we value the votes of all. Those who believe as we do, those who disagree, those who are young or old, male or female, black or white...we all have unique life experiences, different morals and different political opinions. That is one of the reasons why this nation is so amazing. We all have a voice.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I am susan

My darling little three year olds were walking down the hallway wrapped in their towels. They had that fresh smell and clean faces. They also had somehow snuck a dolly in the bath and each of them had dipped their towels back in the water.

I checked on my husband's progress in the flood control and then came out to dress the girls. I heard the following argument. "You are soaking wet!" said Kalani. "No I'm not, I'm SUSAN!"

This same interchange continued probably a dozen or so times before I could pull Susan away and encourage Kalani to not belabor the point.

Although I've heard similar arguments in the past with other children, for some reason this time it struck me. We frequently forget who we really are and instead identify ourselves by our current circumstances. Are we a student, Stay at home mom, teacher, accountant, musician? Are we fat, poor, messy, well dressed or depressed?

Are we identifying ourselves or those around us by something temporary, or lasting? Are we seeing what people wear or who they are?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The poverty of motherhood

We are puppy sitting. Some friends are be out of town for a week and we have their 8 week old puppies. We have Tigger, Freckles and Snoopy. Tigger and Freckles are brothers. They are very snuggly and playful; everything you could want in a puppy. Snoopy is fun and playful, but a little wary. He is sometimes extremely defensive of the food bowl and is snappy when you move towards him with an open hand that isn't palm up. Snoopy hasn't been treated well. We don't know the details, but the owners were warned of this when they got him and the behavior difference between the dogs is stark at times.

When I heard today was blog action day, with the focus on Poverty, Snoopy was the first thing that came to mind. I know a few children that are like Snoopy. Poverty isn't solely a lack of money, sometimes it is a poverty of love, a poverty of motherhood. Babies who have not had their basic needs met, food, diapering and a little love, can develop a disorder called reactive attachment disorder. Motherhood is so amazingly powerful a DISORDER will develop if it isn't done at even a basic level. It may manifest itself in a variety of ways at first. The baby may be stiff, not cuddly. Lack of eye contact is a typical sign, but hard to detect in a newborn or excitable toddler. Sometimes the baby won't cry even when hungry, because she has learned it doesn't work, nobody comes. Sometimes the baby sleeps a lot and is listless, because she doesn't have the energy for much else and doesn't have coping mechanisms for how to take care of herself.

I have met some darling adopted babies who started out life not having their needs met. Some babies were left with a few bottles in playpens, not having a diaper changed or being looked on for days at a a time. Mom has friends over and is busy with drugs and a new guy. Some were left in a swing or high chair for long periods of time while mom left the house. All too frequently the real cause is the stress and overwelm of poverty. Though love doesn't cost anything, it requires time, hope, patience and a gentleness that are increasingly difficult when the mother is literally starving and sees no future for herself.

A baby who sleeps a lot and seldom cries sounds eerily nice. Even if suddenly the needs start being met some children will have lifelong issues to face from this early situation. The child is still a child and in trying to be self reliant, rejects anyone attempting to take over that role of caregiver. It's a form of emotional self preservation. The child has been taught that no one will help her meet her basic needs. Something in their little hearts has broken, as if they no longer have the ability to love or trust or accept even the most basic of necessities. The consequences shift from a lack of crying, a stiffness and listlessness, to a failure to make eye contact, a refusal to accept affection and an undercurrent of violence.

It's unthinkable really. The future of our nation, our most precious resource, unattended and uncared for. This results in a baby who is callous or a child who is a time bomb and may begin his show of rage at anyone who dares to come into his life and claim the title mother. Make no mistake this rage will generalize towards others and as the child gets stronger, their power to destroy increases. The price to be paid by society will be not only the loss of the distinct character and gift of that child, but a whirlwind of damage and loss as the growing child turns to drug use or increasing acts of violence to push people away.

It is staggering to think that the simple act of holding and feeding a baby has dramatic effects. We know that brain development occurs when a mother holds and feeds her baby. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/child/ and http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_67965.html We need to rethink the rocking chair. The simple task of holding a baby has long term effects for the baby and society. Changing a diaper and comforting a baby are both critically important tasks. Does that seem dramatic? Perhaps, but it is true.

Feeding a baby helps connect neurons in the brain! I have seen effects of a poverty of motherhood in the lives of children. It is difficult to imagine. It is hard to understand the feelings some foster parents face as they try to care for children who haven't experienced enough caring before. Despite years of love and attention, a young person damaged by the initial years of neglect may still reject the woman who has dared to be mother. It is much easier to keep a child's heart than to reclaim it.

We are in many respects experiencing a poverty of motherhood in America. It is not always as drastic as in attachment disorder children. Sometimes it is as simple as working mothers, teenage mothers, or single mothers. It is absolutely true that some people in these categories did not choose them and are working desparately to be everything to their children. A mother can do amazing things and stay involved in her children's lives even if circumstances and time are not ideal. However, the underlying theme running through these situations is a fundamental misunderstanding of the value of motherhood in the life of the child. Sometimes a mother must work and children can understand when it is a necessity, but they know the difference. Chidlren know when something is being chosen over them, whether it is nicer clothes, personal fulfillment or financial gain.

It is not just nice for a child to have a mother, it is essential for their emotional and physical growth. Children need a great quantity of time so when they are ready the quality moments can happen, not in little packages of time on the adults schedule, but casually by the kitchen sink, or sorting the laundry, reading a book or sweeping the floor. The basic development of a child is only possible when a mother chooses to mother. It cannot be outsourced for convenience sake, it cannot be begun too early by mistake. The development of a healthy child demand preparation and attention.

It is really astounding that it would ever have to be said that a woman should mother her children. She should choose when to have those children thoughtfully, then devote herself to them. Time in the rocking chair should be encouraged, supported and recognized for what it is, a powerful life giving force. Motherhood can reduce poverty and increase peace in the world on small and grand scales.

In saying all of this I do not mean to under emphasize the power of fatherhood, just to delegate another day for a discussion of that role.

Now back to our dear little friend snoopy. We have hopes for him as his owners have already seen great progress. We are very patient and he is coming along. His owners may have to resort at times to physically controlling him and caging him. As a young child I had a dog like snoopy who had been mistreated. We ended up putting him to sleep because despite all our efforts he bit everyone and was only increasing in his violence. Rightly, we would never consider physically controlling or "putting to sleep" an increasingly violent child. Children are too precious and valuable, no matter their behavior.

It's time we recognize chidlren as a priority in a practical, simple way. The path to destroy the poverty of motherhood is a simple one. It involves singing to your child no matter your voice, playing a game, rocking and reading more, encouraging a young mother, reminding a teen of her own self worth and her potential for motherhood and a thousand other little ways in which can affirm that motherhood matters. Tell the next young mother you see that what they do is powerful. It is not simply a rite of passage for a young woman it is a fundamental, saving power in our society. "For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world." William Stewart Ross "Woman:her glory, her shame, her God"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I thought I was done with third wave last week...darn thing isn't done with me. It occurs to me that there are probably dozens of lessons to be learned from that "backwards" agricultural age. There is aconcept as basic as gravity. As well known and commonly accepted...yet somehow we have lost the meaning of it in application. It is the law of the harvest. As the spiritual sings, you are going to reap what you sew.

This is the law of natural consequences. When you sew wheat, you harvest wheat...countless generations relied on this basic unquestionable law. Then along came toffler's second wave. We moved away from farms and their natural laws which technology seemed to overide. Technology and medicine sometimes strive to remove or mask consequences. Yet we haven't escaped the law of the harvest. Overeating, credit card debt, immorality and laziness all betray a generation that does not understand the law of the harvest. Every action we take has a consequence. Technology can delay that consequence or shuffle it around, but it cannot remove it. We are reaping a whirlwind of consequences. A majority of children don't live with their biological father and mother. Many people spend more than they earn. People eat more than their bodies need...including things that are known to be harmful. People spend their money on get rich quick schemes, ponzis flourish, lotteries expand and few profit.

Our ancestors would be perplexed if they could watch us continue in unhealthy patterns. How rediculous it would seem to them that with so much variety of food available to us, we still manage to be malnourished. Why, they would wonder, do we buy what we don't need and can't afford? Why should we ignore our spiritual feelings, but jump and run at the slightest physical attraction?

Perhaps the question we should ask is how can we use technology without loosing sight of natural laws?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

3rd Wave

I recently finished an intriguing book called Third Wave by Alvin Toffler. He details three distinct "Waves" in history. The first is agricultural, the second is industrial..then there is now.

He details the huge changes between the first two waves and talks about how we can use those to anticipate the changes of the future. In discussing the changes between the first two waves he identifies one main force in the changes; the division of production and consumption. In the first wave extended family lived together. The home was the heart of society. Marriage was largely a practical concept...with marriage partners looking for survival skills and health, or in the upper classes aliances. A majority of what was produced by the family unit stayed and supported the family. Time was measured cyclically with the seasons. Education was hard work and primarily at home or with tutors or small groups. Trade was the most common market function.

Then came the second wave. The factory is the primary symbol of the second wave. Mass production separated production and consumption. There was a need for a marketplace-intermediary people. Work was predominantly away from home and with the growing marketplace, and need for intermediaries and management, more people were separated from actual production. Success was measurable and focused on the bottom line. The nuclear family became the norm, with a father, mother and children moving to where the work was and away from their extended family. Public schools took children away from home, and with less property to manage a woman's role was further dimished. Marraige became focused on attraction and romantic love. Time was measured linearly, with progress the goal. Education became preparation for work and schools bear an intentional likeness to the factory with promptness and assimilation being taught alongside reading and writing.

In the third wave Toffler anticipates a Prosumer...people working from home and reclaiming responsibility for their education and production.

What fascinated me most of this discussion was the role of woman. In the first wave a woman worked beside her husband and performed a valuable and necessary role in society. Her role as both producer (in her homemaking) and consumer were prominent and critical for family survival. Her role as mother fit in with this concept of extended family, cyclical time philosophy and the home as the center of society. As the second wave rolled through man's role as provider was drastically changed. He was pulled from the home and separated from most creative production. he was a part of a huge factory machine. Man was in the marketplace though...he had advanced, while generally women remained home. Women stayed in their first wave role and as mothers their lives were more cyclical than linear. They had not "progressed". Suddenly motherhood could be considered a backward function and as it was unmeasurable and out of the market. Public schools took over mother's role as teacher, hospitals-her role as healer, and mass production her role as family seamstress and food production. Stay at home motherhood was effectively outsourced, and motherhood could be considered as backward as those communities who maintain their agricultural age.

Alvin Toffler theorizes that the third wave will revolutionize every aspect of life as drastically as the change between the first two waves. Ecological concerns and energy limitations will demand balance from the marketplace. He quickly passes over changes in the family including a changed concept of marriage. Marriage will become practical and romantic, with a greater variety of types and styles.

Toffler glosses over this and moves on with his focus on world economy. I stopped in my tracks. If such long lasting changes have come form the first to second wave as we directly attacked the man's role as a provider and separated production from consumption...what will happen as we attack the roles of mother and father? Science already makes childbearing without natural conception possible. Adoption and In Vitro Fertilization separate mother and child...sometimes this separation is for infertility, unprepared pregnancy or homosexual parents desiring children. What long lasting effects are there from this fundamental division of motherhood's role? For the father and the mother Toffler predicts greater freedom...but what is the consequence for the child?

Toffler identified a cry for meaning in the industrial age. Greater responsibility in production and consumption do not produce meaning. Reduced social morals do not produce meaning. I value progress. I value science and advancement. I wonder what if the amazing changes of the second and third waves were tempered and framed within the principle that family matters. Fatherhood is critically important. Motherhood is immeasurably valuable. Children are the future. The nurturing, education and raising of future leaders can never be outsourced, mass produced or even randomly made according to whatever feels good and happens to be convenient. Ethical development must outpace and guide all other aspects of human development.

The third wave can be an opportunity to truthfully guide technology and progress towards a gentler society. The stability required for the changes coming in the third wave is to be found in strong homes. The unity possible by information technology must be a natural outpouring from unified families.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

anger management

The more children I've had I've discovered I'm a far better student and volleyball player than I am a mother. I prefer controlled environments..at least to practice in until I'm ready! Children don't exactly offer that! They don't wait to grow up while you figure things out.

For years I have tried to completely change my way of speaking with my children. Sometimes I yell and almost always it is because I am tired or hungry! I have tried all sorts of things...studied many different ideas. One of the most humbling was when I asked my children to say a prayer for me when I knew I was loosing it.

This past summer has been ... unexplainable. Chris' dad died, we moved, lived with his mother for a while, then moved again to Texas. The emotions and stress don't seem to be explained in those few words.

During this time a wonderful friend started a book group. We read Corrie Ten Boom and Ghandi and Mother Teresa...each inspiring me to turn to the scriptures again (which during this time of transition has been a challenge). It was Ghandi who made the most obvious impact. Despite all of my studying and pondering and prayer, I still thought yelling worked. Technically it does, in the short term. Children move when I am angry. I was wrong. Yelling doesn't work. it doesn't really do what I want it to do. It offers short term results but doesn't offer the environment for my children to truly change their hearts and want to do what is right.

For one thing violence is not specific! We are angry because we are hungry, tired, frustrated with all number of things...so when I get angry with my children how do they know what is behind my anger...Angry acts through history show this so clearly. We wonder and question why so and so did such horrible things...but Rosa Parks? No one wonders why she wouldn't leave her seat. Her meaning is PERFECTLY clear!

One poignant episode from Ghandi's life is so creative and masterful...yet so simple. He walked for 24 days, 12 miles a day. He dipped in the ocean and picked up a pinch of salt...he had just broken the law! It was a gainst the law at that time to acquire salt in any other way except through the huge British Salt company. His protest was so simple and clear-not a drop of confusion. Had he bombed a salt mine people could wonder if it was the owner of the mine, the location, the product, the country, perhaps he was hungry and tired...anger isn't specific enough to make a difference!

For whatever reason all of this reading and this summer has brought a dramatic change in my parenting. I'm still not getting the dishes done every single night -- our schedules still need some adjusting -- please don't ask about the laundry or much of anything else...instead for the first time I am basing my parenting on a truth...peace and love are the ONLY things that allow for the growth and change I want for my children.

My children are still completely human, as am I. Whiny voices, tantrums, and fighting occur...but I am now being an adult and learning to be a peacemaker.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

snow and sun

The other day I was shoveling our driveway. We have had extra helpings of snow this winter and we haven't kept up with snow removal. Under the layer of freshly fallen snow was a rather large layer of ice. I chipped away at the ice, tried to ply it up with the shovel and used a lot of elbow grease. I worked at it the ice for over two hours with the aid of two neighbor boys. We had cleared one fourth of the driveway.

The next day it was sunny all day and the snow was gone.

I wonder how many times I have tried to change myself, diligently worked and set goals. I have made charts and programs and expended lots of effort. How much more changed would I be if I spend more time with the Son?