Friday, July 03, 2015

inconveniences

There's been some discussion of county clerks and the granting of marriage licenses, and concern that clerks may be required to do something that is objectionable to their personal beliefs.

Again, I can kinda see both arguments on this: when you sign up for a job, you sign up for all the requirements of the job. If the job changes to include duties you regard as immoral, perhaps it's time to find a new job*. But I also see that that's not really practical (and honestly, all jobs contain objectionable things)

(* For example, pharmacists not wanting to sell birth control pills that a doctor has prescribed)

However, it's also been suggested: well, in counties that have more than one clerk, hopefully one will be okay with issuing same-sex marriage licenses, and so you could just let it be known that same-sex couples come in THEN.

(I also think, just as there exists a list of religious groups - like Quakers, for example - who are "on the list" to be able to claim Conscientious Objector status because of their faith, if they so choose, maybe make a list - Catholics, conservative Jews, Southern Baptists, Church of Christ* - of denominations where gay marriage has not been approved, and if someone is part of that denomination, they can claim Conscientious Objector status to issuing same-sex licenses)

(*I'm guessing on that last one but I bet I'm correct)

And yeah. I can see an objection rising: "But what if there is only one clerk in a small county, and he's a Southern Baptist?" or "What if the only Unitarian clerk works really limited hours?"

And yeah, then it becomes inconvenient for a same-sex couple to get a license. Or they have to drive to another county or even another state.

But you know what? Just as there is no guarantee against one's being offended, there is no guarantee - it's not in the Constitution, for sure - against having to deal with inconvenience.

And you know what? As a single woman who lives alone, inconveniences are a regular part of my life. Yes, you can argue that a marriage license and obtaining it is a big deal, and you can argue it's "humiliating" to have to drive to another county for one.

But it's also humiliating to be without water for a week, because of some plumbing problem and the first day the plumbers are available AND you can be home from work is a week in the future. So you flush toilets with a bucket of water you filled up at work and carried home in the back of your car. And you use baby wipes to bathe. And it IS awful, and it does feel kind of humiliating - and I've been there.

And inconvenient: if my car gets called in for a recall and it takes more than a couple hours to fix, I'm having to call on people from church or colleagues to drive me places. To and from work. To the grocery, if it's an extended thing. And that's inconvenient for both me and them. And it *feels* humiliating to me to have to call people up and ask them for help.

And I live in a small town. There's stuff I use regularly that none of our few local groceries sells. So I have to drive to the next state (where the next town of any size is) and shop for it there. And that's a pain in the neck for stuff I use regularly.

I dunno. There's a point where "offensive to the faith of someone" buts up against "inconvenient to the other" and it seems a little shabby to me to want to cause offense JUST to avoid inconvenience - because an awful lot of us deal with all kind of petty annoying inconveniences on an almost daily basis. (And I would note - if you do it right, you should only ever need ONE marriage license for your entire life, whereas I may have to have extensive work done on my car five our six times during the 10 years I might have it)

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

a quick observation on the election

If the 2016 presidential race becomes a Clinton vs. Trump race, I WILL be voting third-party.

Or staying home.

(He is such a buffoon. I have a friend who says, "He could be good if he listens to well-chosen advisors" but I think that is highly, highly unlikely; it seems more likely to me the first time someone gave him advice that didn't fit his concept of the world he would fire that person. Also diplomacy is not only not his strong suit; it's not even in his deck of cards. And I get, we don't want a limp noodle when dealing with dictators of other nations, but we also don't want someone who will say exactly the wrong thing.)

I dunno. I'm trying not to answer the question, "How screwed are we?"

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A couple random thoughts


Maybe disrespectful, I don't know:

What's going to happen if a same-sex couple goes to a baker and wants a wedding cake with the Confederate battle flag on it?

And all the Hollywood (and other) hetero couples who said, "We're not getting married until EVERYONE can get married" - time to step up to the plate, no more excuses. (And I suspect in some cases it WAS an excuse).


Also, is there still an IRS "marriage penalty" on the taxes? Yeah, people are not gonna love that. (If it still exists).




I dunno. I personally am unaffected, at least directly, as I am neither gay nor married. I just hope this doesn't lead to a raft of unintended consequences (or maybe, in some circles, intended) for people practicing more conservative forms of faith. (I've hard a few people farther to the right of me opine that this is going to be a way to start trying to eliminate church tax exemptions, which would lead to a lot of churches - mine included - having to close, because most churches don't have that kind of money on hand these days. On the other hand: maybe in 30 years we go back to more and more "house churches" like back in the first days of Christianity, and there's less insistence on big facilities and the money taken in is more directly spent on missions and outreach. I know if we didn't have to keep up our big old building we'd be in better shape financially.)

I will also say that all the people on social media who are making it more about "THE PEOPLE WHO OPPOSED THIS ON WHATEVER GROUNDS LOST, NANNY NANNY BOO BOO" rather than "same sex couples can now marry and I support that" .... well, that's the ugly place our culture has gone to, for some it's more about crushing the other guy's face in the dust, apparently.


I am generally in favor of things that enhance stability in a culture (which marriage tends to do - though I will also say I can see some divorce lawyers getting ready for their practices to expand now) and I think many understand homosexuality differently than it was understood in Biblical times or even a hundred years ago (Then again, you read of pairs of women or of men who "shared accommodations" and from other things you read about them, you figured they were a couple in all but name, and it seemed in some cases people either pretended not to see what was there, or maybe they were more tolerant than we think of them as being)

I don't know. People smarter than I am on both sides of the issue probably have clearer ideas of the implications. My gut feeling is to get government out of "officiating" marriage and instead let people legally choose a "next of kin" who would fill the legal role a spouse would in re: inheritance and medical proxies and the like. And then leave it to individual religious leaders to follow their consciences, and tell couples they are not permitted to compel someone to marry them. (And there's probably no shortage of folks willing to)

I do have friends who are gay, some of whom lived in states that recognized same-sex marriage and so they got married, so that's one side of it. But the other side, as I said, I hope this doesn't lead to persecution of people who genuinely, as a part of their faith, have an opposition to same-sex marriage.

I think the reason I find this kind of stuff - with the spiking of footballs and all that - frustrating is that I can genuinely see both sides of the issue.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Crabby

I get that this is all very First World Problems (and oh, how I hate that, because what I hear is "you should feel very bad about complaining, shut up, because you're not really struggling), but I'm having a hard time:

- as much as I enjoy teaching summer, that's ALL I do. I go home and just collapse because I'm too tired for anything else.

- It's very warm in several of the classrooms, and humid to boot. That's partly why I collapse when I get home.

- My classes are mostly good but I have one person in each class who is constantly asking for "consideration" because they have crap going on in their lives that makes it impossible for them to hand stuff in on time or be in class. I give it, I let them do make ups and stuff, and then they just do badly on them. I'm sure it's the crap going on diverting their attention from class. But really, if you're trying to negotiate a job chance or family issues or moving or whatever, DON'T take summer classes at the same time. Summer classes move damn fast.

- Something I delegated to a couple other people didn't get done and I'm in trouble because they didn't do it. I took a couple hours today and did it but I am not happy I had to do it. And I'm especially super extra not happy that the person in charge thanked "all" of us even though she knew DAMN WELL it was only me that did it, when I wasn't supposed to HAVE to do it in the first place. The problem is butthurt. One of the slacker people gets butthurt when they're not thanked. So instead I get to be butthurt, privately and personally, because I don't express that hurt to other people because I know it's childish to.

- Other people who are supposed to take care of junk are AWOL. This is another sucky thing about teaching summers: people go on vacation without realizing that you're NOT and their not being here means you have to do extra stuff you don't normally do and don't know how to do

- I'm FINALLY getting to the research I've been trying to work on for DAYS. But now I'm tired and borderline upset and am having a hard time focusing on it.

- There's a bunch of other long-term stuff not getting done because (a) I'm having to mop up for people not doing their jobs and (b) I'm so fecking tired when I get home at the end of the day that doing more work is beyond my capabilities.

- Just what's going on in the world, the fact that people are trying to drum up hate when other people just want healing and to get on with their lives. And just EVERYTHING. I don't see it getting better corporately (in the sense of the bigger picture, not in the sense of corporations). Individual people may act lovingly and may do good, but it seems like there's this weird messy mob in our culture who wants to work against that and pit us all against each other. STOP IT. Most people are just struggling to get through their days, if my own life is any measure.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

People are stupid

Especially this jerk who shot up a black church, and killed nine people. Nine people who were pillars of their community, nine people who were parts of loving families, nine people who - I dare say - were working to make their community a better place.


I'm just....there's not so much useful I can add to the debate other than that I'm sad and I'm angry. I feel especially angry that this guy targeted a church.

And yeah, maybe he's a psychopath. Maybe he grew up steeped somehow in race hatred. But still, on some level, he chose to do this thing. We could suspend the First and Second amendments, we could shut down the internet, we could lock up all the "loners" and there would still be people choosing to do wrong, to hurt other people.

I also hate that so much political hay is being made of this. Because it boils down to this: this guy chose, on some level, to do this. It was his choice and his responsibility. Just as it is the rest of our responsibility not to do hateful things if we don't want to face the consequences of them.

I don't feel equipped to comment on the whole Confederate flag issue, which has cropped up again. I'm a born and raised Northerner, with no history with the whole flag and thing. My gut feeling is that if it's so deeply offensive to some, people of goodwill would choose not to display it, but I get that there's deeper stuff going on than a race thing. (Edited to add: I'm in favor of states taking it down as a semi-official flag, especially since I've read that apparently it became popular as an anti-civil-rights measure. But this current, "Let's paint everything gray and pretend that lots of the past didn't happen" is a bit alarming. There's a monument to the Confederate Dead a couple towns over from me, and a guy is now agitating to remove the statue and monument. Well, couldn't Japanese immigrants make a similar complaint about World War II memorials?)


I don't know. I think all the blame lies on this guy, and talking about guns or the internet or anything else is kind of pointless - there are thousands upon thousands who have guns and who only use them for target practice or hunting (or, in extreme circumstances, defense of their family in a life-or-death situation). Millions of people use the Internet and while I will say there are parts of the Internet (the comments section of just about any news site) that make me cringe and want to avoid them - I don't think the internet has changed me for the worse.

I WILL say, hearing the statements of the families of the people he shot - wow. Just, wow. That's being a Christian right there - some of them are talking about forgiveness. They are celebrating their loved one's lives rather than screaming at this guy. I think that's what we should focus on in this - the families that are showing the absolute depth of love they can have, the love that is informed by their faith.

It also frankly blows my mind that after the people welcomed into their Bible study - apparently even prayed with him - he could still do what he did. And that after that, some of them can still say "I forgive you and God will forgive you." I hope that ultimately becomes the take-home lesson from this event, not what the guy did....


(I don't think, if I were the family member of someone killed in that way, I could so quickly forgive their killer.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Right to die

Okay. I'm going to be up-front about this: I am pretty much against doctors killing patients because the patients ask to die. I don't have a problem with the "withhold heroic measures in cases where there would be no future quality of life" (which I think is also a wise advance directive to have, if you feel that way).

At the same time, I do understand some people not wanting to continue to suffer. If I were developing Alzheimer's, for example - would I WANT to stick around for the eventual end? I don't know.

Right now I'm in good health (thank God) and good frame-of-mind, and the idea of ending my own life is abhorrent to me.

My problem with the whole doctor-assisted suicide is, I admit, a slippery-slope argument: if we allow doctors to follow patient's stated wishes about "I want to die," will there then be those who either feel it's their duty to "persuade" people who seem to have low quality-of-life to take that path? Or will there be doctors who are maybe, I don't know, pushed by higher-ups or insurers to "cut costs" - which means trying to encourage the "expensive" (e.g., sick and unlikely to get much better) patients to end it all?

And do we eventually get to the point where the patient's wishes are considered less: "Oh, this person is autistic, they won't understand, so let's just do it." "This person has had a massive stroke and we're really not sure they have much cognition left, better to just end them."

But also, there's the question of family members. My parents, in recent years, have gone through a few minor health crises - thank God, in each case it was something that modern medicine could more or less fix, but it also brought home for me that there might come a day when something is NOT "fixable." And what if they're in constant pain, and want an out? How do I deal with that? I mean, part of it is, you have to say, "It's their decision," but what about in cases where a family member is not consulted? Or where there is estrangement that could be fixed?

(In both my extended family, and in my sister-in-law's family, there are some cases of estrangement. To me, it is strange and sad: yes, I have got my feelings hurt by relatives in the past. But that's life, people do hurt your feelings. I can't cut them out of my life because of some stupid thing they said or because they happened to push my buttons a few times.)

Anyway, I was reading this article, which discusses the legalization of euthanasia in Belgium. It mainly centers around the case of one woman, Godelieva, who suffered from depression most of her life. She divorced her husband (who later killed himself), wound up estranged from her children (though it sounds like her son tried to stay in touch somewhat). Apparently the practice in Belgium is to "read in" the family on the patient's wishes, but she never did....her son found out after her death.

I think I struggle with this because on the one hand, I understand not wanting to see someone go through endless suffering.....and yet, on the other, I wonder if there was more that could be done to treat the woman's depression.

Also, I think I struggle with the issue after knowing a couple people - one of them a cousin, I've written about him before - who committed suicide.

After Godelieva killed herself, her son went looking for answers. He arranged a meeting with the doctor who helped her and a proponent of assisted suicide. Eventually, though, Tom kind of broke down, he couldn't keep trying to have a reasonable discussion:

The gut-punch line of the article was this - Tom said: "You’ve just taken away the suffering of one person and transposed it to another!’ "

Oh man. Oh yes, that. I had to stop reading for a bit there. I wasn't super-close with the cousin who killed himself (he was almost a generation older than I was and was a married man with kids before I knew him)., but still - yes. The pain doesn't go away, it just moves to other people. And while maybe each person experiences less individual pain, it's still there. (His mother, oh, his mother, my aunt....it was awful for her and for the rest of her life she questioned if there was something she could have done. I remember a sad and uncomfortable conversation with her on a family visit about whether or not we thought suicides were allowed into Heaven, because apparently some idiot who was well-meaning in their own mind had told her they were not.....)

I don't know. I don't have any answers. But I worry about culture and society getting to the point where there are people who are "throwaway" people because they are so sick or disabled or don't have something to "offer" to the betterment of society. And I also worry about people taking what is a very large and serious and severe step without letting family and friends know - family and friends who could maybe help them bear the pain and make it through.

A couple of the other suicides I knew were young people, and in one case it was more a situation of impulsivity, someone did something (over a break-up, mainly) that was a pain many people have had and, if they had just given it more time, they probably would have gotten over - that's another of my fear about legalized suicide: that there will be pushes to make it "easier" and "less burdensome" and that people who just might need some time and some talk-therapy and maybe a course of antidepressants instead decide, and are allowed to, take the irrevocable step.....

Also, how strange and eerie it seems to me: writing out letters to send to people, giving your key to a trusted friend, all those things, knowing in a few days you will be dead. As I said: I enjoy good health, both mental and physical, so my mind rebels - revulses - at the thought. (And yet, at the same time, I think: maybe I should have all that stuff already lined up, God only knows when there's gonna come a bus hit me or something equally awful. I have SOME arrangements made but not as many as someone older than I am probably would....)

Apparently one of the suicide doctors has a pattern of being sloppy about notifying family ahead of time, and is some legal trouble for that (good). Family should have some input, especially in the case of someone who is not terminal, or not in such great pain, but maybe "tired of life" (apparently a justification some want for suicide). Or at the very least, should know before the fact so they can say goodbye! If assisted suicide were legal here, and someone I cared about did it without letting me know so I could AT LEAST have a final goodbye.....well, I'd be incredibly angry. I might have no right to be, but I would be.

(I will also observe that two of the doctors described in that article seem uncommonly callous. I wonder, does doing assisted suicides make one so, or must one have a callous predisposition in order to go into that business?)

Of course, the fact that few of the people involved apparently have anything like a religious faith - and in fact, a couple may be anti-religious, could possibly play some role. Not all non-religious people are callous towards human life, and in fact, I've heard some atheists who are anti-abortion on the grounds that ending a life is wrong and that we are all just given this one go-round, and so should all get it - but at the same time, I think MY faith is part of what gives me a horror of throwing away what I see as a gift.

Friday, June 12, 2015

so much outrage lately

So many things that have gone on, that have fizzed up in the news (kind of like when you mix baking soda and vinegar), so many things people have gotten really shouty about.

I have just a couple of thoughts:

1. It's really a shame we can't generate electricity (or something similarly useful) from outrage. If so, we'd have 100% energy independence and probably be EXPORTING electricity to Canada or somewhere.

2. In nearly every case I've seen, the narrative is more complex than people have wanted to make it. Very, very few situations on this earth are a case of "Person 1 is 100% in the wrong and Person 2 is 100% in the right." Like what happened in McKinney this week: kids show up at a pool party in a neighborhood. Apparently the kids are not from the neighborhood and it's a pool the neighborhood's HOA dues pay for. Kids get rowdy. Cops get called. Cops are kind of rough with the kids who are "sassing back" to the cops. Cop pulls his gun (allegedly) on a young woman.

Some want to make this another "bad white cop, poor harassed black kids" thing. (And I find myself thinking: "Stop trying to make McKinney happen. It isn't going to happen.")

Yeah, the cop was overstepping his role to pull his gun on an unarmed kid (she was wearing a bikini, so there's nowhere she could have been keeping a weapon, as far as I can tell). But the kids were also being rude and unruly and they were doing something *against the rules* - having a pool party in a pool that was the property of a neighborhood where they did not live; a pool they didn't pay for. And, from what I've heard, some of the kids behaved very badly.

I've also heard that families in the neighborhood - both black AND white - were unhappy with the kids taking over the pool and were very unhappy with their behavior.

EVERYONE was a little wrong there. So it's not a "This little angel got roughed up by a demon cop," it's more like "This kid was behaving badly and violating community rules, but the cop did get overly rough with her."

3. I just fear stuff is going to get worse, that people are looking for stuff to be upset about. Looking for ways to further divide people.

4. I have no energy to deal with any of these things. I have no energy for people excusing people behaving badly. I have no energy for cops overstepping bounds and damaging their relationship with the community by jumping to the most extreme response.

Mainly, what I want, is by and large just to be left alone. And I want to leave other people alone as long as what they do is not endangering me or infringing with how I live my life. For example, if a neighbor decides to have a loud backyard barbecue at 2 pm on a Sunday, I might sigh heavily and roll my eyes and stomp off to the local library for quiet, but that's their prerogative. If the same neighbor has a loud party at 2 am, I'm calling the cops - because I, and my other neighbors, need our sleep.

Similarly: If I don't get to weeding my flower beds right away, having a neighbor call the city on me and have the city write me a nasty letter about abatement, that's kind of excessive and needless and is a jerk move on the neighbor's part. If I let my lawn grow up into a jungle and rats and snakes move in, that's a health issue that affects the neighbors and they are right to call the city on me.

But it seems like people have lost ANY balance and there are some people going, "But I should be able to have rats and snakes in my yard" but there are other people going "She has ONE dandelion in her flower bed and that is unacceptable." It's like we don't know how to live in community, how to live and let live, how to go, "You know? Her yard is kind of a mess but she works long hours so let's leave her alone for now" or maybe even: "Her yard is a mess but I know she's not been well this spring, maybe we should see if she'd be willing to accept a little help from us in cleaning things up."

Some of the stuff that goes on, I think, boils down to a failure to love ones' neighbors (on both sides). And that kind of thing, well, this is how I think the Major Proponent of trying to show a little love and tolerance to your neighbors would react:







'Cos people just aren't getting it.