Wednesday, February 18, 2009
While taking a break for lunch today, I was catching up on the headlines and read an article on Bristol Palin. You know, the center of controversy for Gov. Sarah Palin's VP run?
As a recap, Bristol is the eldest daughter of the Palin's and during the candidacy, she was a hot topic issue - teen pregnancy. News outlets across the globe worked tirelessly to tarnish the image and reputation of a politician at the expense of a child. I know, another great showing for the media. Way to go!!!
Anyway, Ms. Bristol has recently given birth to a healthy baby boy named Tripp and she's engaged to the father. She claimed in an interview on Fox recently that it wasn't her mother's decision for her to keep the baby, it was her decision and she made it. Further, the father was in full support of both the baby and the upcoming marriage. Given sociological statistics, I think it would be best not to judge and just wait and see what happens in light of the coming attraction.
As a woman and a mother, I was impressed by both Gov. Palin as well as Bristol for their absorption of the ugly punches as well as the class they exuded during the campaign.
But in this recent article / interview, Bristol said something that (of course) would become the headline...she said she didn't believe that abstinence was realistic. Hmmm...interesting statement. I must admit that I have not been able to read the entire transcript from the interview, but of course the article does not say anything in line to why she said that, in what context and what else was said.
However, let's take this idea for a minute and play with it. Is abstinence, in this global community, really realistic? The side question for me on that, is whether or not the so-called educational systems excuse for "sex ed" is even working or simply a waste of time and resources? And if it is a waste, what are we missing as a society and Christians? What are we neglecting to visualize for the future?
As teenagers, which we've all been, we can all acknowledge the inarguable influence of not just peer pressure, but unabashed adolescent hormones. We've all tried and we know that hormones CANNOT be turned off no matter what anyone says or how much you love Jesus. But, can the mind really overcome the matter? Can the spirit/Spirit triumph over the temptation?
For many parents facing this issues today, they had experienced sexual activity during their teen years. Once you become a parent, your visualization changes, for arguably a number of reasons and you simply don't want your children falling in the same traps you did. But can we stop them? Can we control everything? Who sells chastity belts? Catch my drift.
I've meet wonderful Christian parents who established a loving and moral home for their children and did everything one can imagine right in raising their children. But, their children still made their own decisions, good and bad. I have also witnessed what some may say are horrible parents, the worst of influences imaginable. And yet, their children grew up making the right choices, some even ending up abstinent until marriage.
What then are the sociological, psychological and theological factors thus involved? Is teen pregnancy not just something for our crazed popular culture or did it indeed exist since the beginning of time? After all, every generation has their fare share of teen pregnancy's in and out of marriage...so where is the standard, the moral, the idea? Are girls in the spotlight like Bristol Palin, Jamie Lynn Spears or the Massachusettes pregnancy pact creating a recent fade of teen pregnancies? Or is it that new car syndrome, where once you buy a new car, you suddenly see that car everywhere? So, we become brutalized by the media through one teen pregnancy story and now we notice all teen pregnancy stories? So I ask you, Fad or Fate?
We were created inherently good, yet born with sin. So is it even avoidable to face sexual activity and teen pregnancy?
I think humans intend well with everything. I think there are astringent socio and psychological issues involved in each situation and that we must be incredibly cautious when daring to judge on something that is not concrete but fluid in social context and realities. I believe that we all sin and do things we know aren't the best choices and some people end up with harder consequences as a result. I'd rather my teenage daughter (which I don't have by the way - just hypothetical) come to me with a pregnancy issue and wanting to keep the baby, than coming to me with HIV, wanting an abortion, other STD's, rape. At least I could have the peace that it was consensual and that babies are blessings irregardless the box they come in. I would be better equipped to deal with that than the other. Though I would find a way to work with the other, I would have more natural resources for the first.
I don't wish young sexual drama on anyone and I wish we could make our young people understand that...but did we listen at their age? So how do you confront this?
Friday, February 6, 2009
While watching the news I heard something that outraged me. President Obama had issued an order to halt court proceedings on all prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the Navy Detention Center which has been the center of many human rights issues over the last 8 years.
Unfortunately, one of those cases, was against the leader and head strategist behind the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. This man, suspected Al Qaeda bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, has thus had all charges against him, wait for it....DROPPED!
I believe in justice and I believe in innocent until proven guilty. However, the evidence against Mr. al-Nashiri, is indisputable. As I understand it, there is a possible opportunity to re-draw up charges against him, but...this will no doubt lead to a dangerous time of reprieve.
So my questions to you are: have you heard about this, what do you think, what have you heard and if you were advisor to the President, what would you tell him to do?
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Now, gun control. I hate the argument, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Of course that is correct in meaning that guns could not kill anyone unless someone pulls the trigger. However, guns provide a more lethal (and accessible) weapon than any that have been in existence. Biological warfare is even worse, but the average Joe can’t get his hands on it. You can’t argue the fact that the number of firearm homicides is more than double that of non-firearm homicides: In the US 64% on average over the last 30 years. (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/b
I know that taking firearms away from people by making them illegal would not get rid of all the guns. There are plenty out there that are not registered, due to the black market. But over a long time, if you start with the guns we know about, and then collect and remove guns being transported in the black market by taking them when they are used in crimes, slowly the number of guns will decrease and approach zero. Also, if you stop selling bullets, the guns in the black market will be useless to everyone who cannot make their own.
I have a plan that probably won’t work although I think it is striving for the very best scenario. Remove guns as described above, including all legally owned handguns, assault rifles, and any gun not used in hunting. As for the hunting rifles, those should be stored in “gun banks” which would be secured locations at entrances to hunting lease properties. Hunters can keep their own guns, stored in a locked secured safe at a “gun bank”. They must return their gun to the “gun bank” after their hunting trip is over. This should limit hunting rifles to hunting, and prevent them from being used in a homicide.
I know this will never happen. There are too many selfish people who would rather keep their weapon and allow the 12,700+ people on average per year to die. It is kind of like a selfish child. Telling the child to share and the child responding, “You can’t have it because it is mine.”
I also don’t buy the argument that guns make people safe. I can’t prove it, but I’ll bet having a gun makes people less safe at least as often as it makes them more safe. My reasoning: If an intruder enters your house, they usually are after your possessions. They don’t want to kill or hurt anyone. If you run downstairs with a gun after hearing them break a window, you are risking the lives of yourself, your family, and the intruder. You better hope you are “the fastest gun in the west” or he could shoot you before you even figure out where he is. Or if you are successful and shoot him before he shoots you there is a chance he does not die instantly. He can then shoot back at you and kill you or shoot wildly and hit your two year old son in his bed upstairs. Not worth the risk. Let him take your TV, call the police and everyone lives.
Argument / Response:
To start this off, you must understand that overall, I am fairly moderate in my political, social and spiritual viewpoints. What this means is two fold: 1) I believe in gray area and 2) I don’t believe that I have all the answers nor will I in this lifetime, so I leave room for a margin of error. I work very hard to keep my mind open to the varying degrees of life and I believe that things, on the whole but not entirely, are circumstantial. What may be a good solution for guns today, may not be the best solution for guns tomorrow or in the same fashion.
There are several things one must consider when looking at issues such as the one we are examining. To be frank, someone once told me that wisdom never includes statistics. Oddly enough, this came from a sociology professor whose class was peppered with statistics. Anyway, we must proceed with caution when using statistics. They are fine if they are treated for what they are and that is biased. An unbiased statistic is the essence of an oxymoron. Further, it is a rare occurrence when statistical sources notate the make and model of the focus group or collaborative sampling from the outset. It takes a great deal of motivation and research, in most cases, to find out the differential characteristics of those polled and then to look at the psycho-social, social and psychological factors that played therein and that were determined based on such factors as gender, race, socio-economic status, education, etc.
With that said, I have great respect for the fact you sourced a website that is probably as credible as one can get even though it is a government run agency. I tend to be a bit skeptical of motives behind certain agencies. As does most of the country these days. Pretty hard not to be that way with the economy in the status it is and governmental officials skirting the system. What are you going to do? There is corruption everywhere…just another reason to make sure you’re reading between the lines.
I come from a long line of card toting NRA members. I myself have been through hunters training courses and own my own gun. My husband has 8 guns, most of which he inherited from his grandfathers and great-grandfathers. These guns are used in two ways: 1) hunting and 2) for the simple enjoyment of skeet shooting and accuracy competitions. Some people choose to box for enjoyment and stress relief. Others enjoy going to a gun range and shooting clay pigeons. I, for one, like to shoot the gun target practice…meaning; I like to work on my accuracy…not so I can become an amateur sniper shooter.
My father enrolled me in a hunter’s safety training course that was extensive, when I was 13. He did this for two reasons: 1) to help me understand the nature of guns and learn respect for them and 2) to attain my hunting license. In my home, it is a personal choice of mine not to obtain handguns. The sight of them scares me. It’s odd, but just my personal quirk. All guns have trigger locks and are kept in a locked and secure gun cabinet. If someone where to break into my home, even if my first thought was to protect myself with a gun, it would be a mute point because I would never logically have the time to run to Michael’s office, find his key to the gun cabinet and then find the right key (of 9) for one of the guns. And to be honest, I would probably end up defending myself in other ways. Nothing scares an armed robber like an inflatable bat from my son’s room.
Now that you have a little info on my history with guns, we can discuss my feelings towards gun laws.
I know you don’t like that line, “gun don’t kill people, people kill people,” but its true. It’s one of those stupid little “duh” lines…like no kidding. So I understand your reaction to it, but where is the inaccuracy? It’s the same thing with cars. Cars are dangerous. Look at the number of people killed every year in automobile accidents. Now compare that number to the number of deaths caused annually from gun incidents. The reality is, because statistics are skewed, that I have been able to find several sources claiming that gun deaths are higher but I’ve also been able to find stats that say auto deaths are higher. So, let’s say hypothetically that they are even. Should we outlaw cars because of their inherent risk? What about planes, buses, boats, trains, motorcycles?
Being a mother, I have had to learn really fast, that there is only so much I can protect my son from. I can roll him up in bubble wrap, but that’s not going to protect his feelings. I can dope him up on depression meds, but that’s not going to protect him physically. I can ban him from all sports, all physical outdoor and even indoor activities, refuse to let him watch any movies or television, limit the books he reads to foamy soft ones, cover my home in rubber…but what happens the minute he steps outside of my house? The best tool I have is to teach him how to be cautious, what ‘danger’ signs to look out for, raise him to be responsible for his actions and to always consider the well being of others in all that he does.
My problem is that I found many stats saying that gun violence is down, so we can argue that point until we’re blue in the face. The bottom line is that removing guns from the situation, is not fixing the situation. Do you not think that people outside of our “home” will get them in somehow? Further, we risk a much greater danger because now we’ve made them even MORE black-market than they are now. Look at the extreme violence currently taking place in Tijuana, Mexico. Guns are being illegally shipped in and out at a constant pace.
Another important factor is that we must look at the bigger picture. That is, guns will never go away. Whether this country ever agrees to banning them or not, is yet unseen. But if that day comes, violence will escalate exponentially. People will find a way to get them regardless. I also believe we are fools if we fail to learn from our history. So, lets take a look at prohibition. The outlawing of alcohol was mainly a moral issue that became a political issue that then became a national headache. For a little fun, take a look at crime statics during the time of prohibition. I think you might be shocked to see that violent crime (especially thanks to large mafia activity and grass roots cartel) increased.
I think we’d be making a huge mistake by banning guns and that is not a Republican position or a conservative position, but a Tiffany position. I’m not drinking anyone’s Kool-Aid…just researching and reading and then making my own educated opinions.
If we want to see a dramatic change in violent crime, its time we walk the talk. That doesn’t mean banning, it means teaching. We have to be intentional in regulation and in punishment to violent crime, and frankly, crime in general. If we compare the number of repeat offenders to the escalating degree of crime they commit, we shouldn’t be shocked. We arrest people for violent crime and though they may get sentenced to prison, they rarely serve out their entire sentence, or even close. Psychologically, most of these criminals have very telling psycho-DNA profiles, which show patterns to crime and violent behavior. Most criminals of violent crime come from violent family lives and lives of poverty. Even for those who did not come from poverty, there is almost always a history of violence, fear and abandonment in that person’s life.
So, we take this criminal and throw them in jail on a 20 to life murder sentence. With good behavior, our criminal is now back in society after only serving a 10-year sentence. The odds are unmistakably in their favor that they will commit another crime to bring them back to prison within 1-3 years. Why? We fail them. Yes they got themselves there, but then what did we do with them? We put them in a cage with a bunch of other animals and let them attack each other, sometimes kill each other. We don’t, with all the money we put in our prison systems, give attention to rehabilitation. Why are we not rehabilitating our prisoners? That’s the outrage. They came in criminals, where trained through survival techniques how to become even more violent and then without another word, we set them free on civilian society. That makes absolutely no sense. Rather, if we would rehabilitize the inmates with social skills, intense (and regulated) therapy, trades, education, etc., one’s release back in society could be a win/win. The criminal would have been taught life skills. They would have been dealt with in a manner that is stern but is one of grace.
I have two brother-in-laws in civil service and almost every man in my family and my husband’s family is a part of the military in one branch or another / one way or another. I have spent considerable time talking with these men about their views, their thoughts, what they’ve seen. My standpoint comes not from imagining what I don’t really know, but from the words of those who have been in times of war including several currently serving and those who are on the streets protecting the rest of us as police officers. If we created and properly regulate laws that mandate appropriate training (as I went through) in order to own a gun, that would be step one. To keep your “license to operate” (which could be created for all, not just those who are licensed to carry) you must attend a course on continuing education once a year or every two years. Guns can only be legally sold to those who have meet certain requirements, like those above and other requirements currently in effect in relation to criminal history, etc. Any violators must be disciplined and not let off the hook. Those put into the prison system, are thereby rehabilitated and now you’re devising a completely different cycle into mainstream society. Most gun owners would agree to this kind of compromise. The right to own a gun should be seen as a privilege for citizens, one that will be indefinitely revoked if laws are broken.
The problem is that you have to be very careful with how much control you give to the government. I’ll talk more about this when I answer your statement on the health system. The government was never created to ‘control’ those who live here. In fact, that’s why there is a U.S, because people wanted to escape from that. The governments roles is to serve, lead and protect. We need to seek justice in all its facets. If we were more concerned about achieving justice in areas of poverty, we would see a substantial decline in crime. Proven fact…what is the crime rate in an upper middle class suburban area compared to inner city Los Angeles? Ask any expert…poverty often leads to crime. And if the poor and poverty stricken can manage to get their hands on guns my husband and I couldn’t dream of affording, then what good is a ban going to do. Case in point – drugs. They’re illegal and banned. It hasn’t changed a thing. Where there is a will, there is a way. So we must stop focusing on this nonsensical ideology of banning guns…it won’t change the situation. Guns don’t kill people, people do. So if you take the guns away, you have only eliminated one weapon. But you haven’t done a thing for the violent mind.
Sorry this is so lengthy, but it’s simply not a two-sentence issue. With all do respect to you, I get it. Truly, I’m right there with you. I hate the way our world has become. I loathe the violence, the injustice, the environmental wasteland…the muck we’ve made of things. I’m in ministry because I have a deep love and respect for God, but also because I really, truly want to help make the world a better place. I want to feed the hungry, deliver medicine to the sick, comfort the lonely, house the homeless…and give hope to a world that often feels so lost. I know that most of my brothers and sisters in the Democratic Party, who include Summer (my best friend and godmother of my son) and several members of my family (who I love and respect), are wonderful people. They have huge hearts, are well educated and have only the best intentions for this country and our global community. What we face is a world of people who are inherently good, as we have been created to be so, who want to heal this world of the constant pain its in, but who disagree on how to go about. I care about violence as much as you do. I feel deeply the pain of people I know and have had the honor to have met who have suffered horrible acts of violence (rape, physical abuse, slavery) and even those who have suffered in the Rwandan genocide. Guns were the major weapons of choice in Rwanda and around the world. If we ban guns here, how does that change anything or help those in Bosnia and Rwanda avoid disasters in the future? We have to think bigger and globally. We can’t just safety proof our house…we have to make the world a safer place.
Ok…you get the drift. I’m exhausted. ☺ But I’m grateful for your ear and your open mind.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Recently, I started talking with an old friend. This friend has challenged me to a debate...which I welcome and am excited about. Not only because it keeps my mind fresh to new ideas, but it gives me an extra reason to do personal research and come to conclusions on some of today's hot button topics.
Thus, I've decided to use those conversations as a new Coffee Talk Series called Tackling the Issues. Depending on the frequency of these debates with my friend, you will see recaps of his comments and then my responses posted here.
To add a little sugar and spice to the mix, this friend and I are polar opposites.
1. He's male. I'm female.
2. He lives in a largely liberal and urban community. I live in a small urban community in a largely conservative state.
3. He's a self described Atheist. I'm, well, in the ministry...so I kinda believe in God. :)
4. He's a ultra liberal, left wing Democrat. I'm a moderately conservative, registered Republican (who by the way, votes for the best candidate, not always the Republican).
5. He's an engineering major with major brain cells. I'm a women's studies major gone seminarian who knows how to look smart.
6. He's married. I'm married with a child.
What do we have in common: well, that's a long story, but in general, we went to high school together ions ago.
Let me tell you, thus far, this debate is shaping up to be quite something. Be sure to tune in and leave your two cents, no matter which way you feel your cookie crumbling. You'll know its part of the debate when it says Tackling the Issues: (Issue).
Is there a debate you want me to debate with my friend? Let me know. I'll see if we can't tackle it.
Disclosure: These are issues that get everyone riled up. Though my friend and are on own opposite 'teams' we have agreed to remain respectful, considerate and constructive. Understand, that I'm expecting the same from any comments we receive. I'm not for deleting comments, but for the well-being of all, make sure you follow the RCC code (respectful, considerate, constructive) when engaging in dialogue.
Alright...are you "Ready to Rumble?"
**Summer...my dear sweet lovable democratic best friend...you should pop in your two cents too.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
January 28, 2009
Sports is a cold and cynical world, but its nice to know that uplifting tales of goodness can be found in the abyss. Oh, look... your mom just forwarded you an email from 1999!
For the second time this week, we have gotten the email chain about "Kurtis The Stock Boy and Brenda The Checkout Girl." It's the kind of thing you might read in a "Chicken Soup For The Arena Football Player's Soul" and it's popping up in inboxes and message boards all over the Western world this week. Here's some excerpts::
In a supermarket, Kurtis the stock boy, was busily working when a new voice came over the loud speaker asking for a carry out at register 4. Kurtis was almost finished, and wanted to get some fresh air, and decided to answer the call. As he approached the check-out stand a distant smile caught his eye, the new check-out girl was beautiful. She was an older woman (maybe 26, and he was only 22) and he fell in love.
Let's skip ahead to "KURTIS" and "BRENDA"'s first date, where she explains that she can't go, because she has two kids and the baby sitter canceled.
To which Kurtis simply said, "Well, let's take the kids with us." She tried to explain that taking the children was not an option, but again not taking no for an answer, he pressed. Finally Brenda, brought him inside to meet her children. She had an older daughter Jessie, who was just as cute as a bug, Kurtis thought, then Brenda brought out her son, Zachary in a wheelchair. He was born a paraplegic with Down Syndrome.
Kurtis asked Brenda, "I still don't understand why the kids can't come with us?" Brenda was amazed. Most men would run away from a woman with two kids, especially if one had disabilities - just like her first husband and father of her children had done. Kurtis was not ordinary - - - he had a different mindset.
Are you crying yet? It goes on like this....
When her son needed anything Kurtis would take care of him. When he needed to use the restroom, he picked him up out of his wheelchair, took him and brought him back. The kids loved Kurtis. At the end of the evening, Brenda knew this was the man she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life with.
Those two crazy kids got married and had five more babies of their own. Have you figured out ... the rest of ... the story?
So what happened to Kurtis the stock boy and Brenda the check-out girl? Well, Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Warner now live in Arizona , where he is currently employed as the quarterback of the National Football League Arizona Cardinals and has his Cardinals in the hunt for a possible appearance in the Super Bowl. Is this a surprise ending or could you have guessed that he was not an ordinary person.
OMG I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING! WHAT COULD POSSIBLY MAKE THIS STORY ANY BETTER?
Both Brenda and Kurt are active born-again Christians.
Yes, this email is not without a purpose, but surely it made the rounds before, when Kurt was leading the Rams to two Super Bowls. There's long been talk that his inspiring story will become a movie someday, but the real tragedy is that this cheesy email actually shortchanges the Warners, because almost all the details are incorrect and not as interesting as real life.
This internet legend has already been chronicled by Snopes.com, which breaks down the inaccuracies and points out how the true story is even more sad and inspiring. Brenda was never a checkout girl. She met Kurt when he was still in college and before his career took its unfortunate turn for the worse. (She actually stuck with him, despite his many football failures.) They were together five years before they got married, not one. Her son, Zachary, is actually her oldest child and he doesn't have Down's Syndrome. His birth father dropped him on his head when he was an infant, leading to brain damage and blindness. (The trauma of that incident let to the father leaving Brenda, while she was pregnant with her second child.) Also, left out: the tornado that killed Brenda's parents in 1996; the spider bite that cost Kurt a tryout with the Bears; and Brenda's first career as a freakin' Marine. This family [has]* perseverance.
So, yeah ... their story is pretty awesome—which is why I just assumed that everyone had already heard it before. But I guess maybe your great aunt just got her first MacBook so you should probably send it along just to be safe.* word changed by Woman on a Mission to better suit her blog readers.
For information on Kurt and Brenda Warner's First Things First Foundation, please visit www.kurtwarner.org.
Support your brothers and sisters who are doing things in the name of Christ!
Link to the Snopes article: http://www.snopes.com/glurge/warner.asp