A World With a Different Kind of Memorial Day

Bisbee Mining Museum
Bisbee Mining Museum

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” – Sam Ewing

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

This past weekend was the Memorial Day celebration. Every year I feel strange about all the hoopla about honoring the men and women who gave their lives during times of war. I want to honor their sacrifice. I’m grateful to live in a country that is free. I’m grateful, but also sad. I wish we lived in a world where wars didn’t happen, and we didn’t build memorials to our “Honored Dead.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if Memorial Day honored Artists, Scientists, Peace Keepers, Teachers, Social and Aide Workers? Wouldn’t it be nice if countries didn’t need an Army, Navy, or Air Force? Wouldn’t it be nice if every single person in the world was honored for who they are and what they do?

Just think what it would be like if we had a day to honor Garbage Workers. I know, you’re raising your eye brows. But think about it. What would your neighborhood, or city be like if the garbage wasn’t picked up every week. What if we didn’t have people working at the recycling stations? What if the garbage piled up, like it does in some locations?

The point I’m trying to make is that every single person’s job is important. What if we didn’t have people to wait on us at restaurants, or clerical people to file our paperwork? What if there was no one to fix our cars, or the roads, or build houses and office buildings? What would it be like if we had to fit our own glasses, or make our own clothes? And what would it be like if we had to teach our own children, or diagnose our own diseases?

I don’t believe one career is better than any other, yet even in this country, we have a class system, where some jobs are considered better and more lucrative than others. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone earned a wage that made their lives comfortable, with all the bills paid, and gave them the nice things in life. I’m not saying that we should all have yachts, or fancy mansions to live in. I’m just saying it would be nice if every single person on this planet had food on the table and nice roof over their heads.

I know we can’t create that kind of world over night. However, I’m willing to say, “That’s the kind of world I want.” I’m willing to look my waitress, or waiter in the eye and thank them for their service, with a nice sized tip. I’m willing to thank my garbage man, or the construction worker on the street, or the cashier at the store. I want everyone on this planet to have fulfilling work that provides them with the necessities, and some of the niceties of life. I’m willing to honor people for the contributions they make. I’m willing to buy that piece of artwork at the price the artist puts on it, because artists have bills to pay too. After all, I’m buying something unique that is the expression of someone’s soul.

So, I say thank you to the people who are willing to do the dirty work that I can’t or don’t want to do, no matter what it is. I’m grateful for your dedication, hard work and service. I hope that one day we’ll honor every single person living on this planet.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Women Unite!

July Moonrise - 1“Out of 6 billion humans, the troublemakers are just a handful.” –Dalai Lama

“I think governments can’t do much.” –Dalai Lama

“Change in the world comes from individuals, from the inner peace in individual hearts. Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far reaching affects.” –Dalai Lama

Last week I wanted to scream! So many attacks of all kinds on women. I don’t say this often, but I was OUTRAGED by the kidnapping of the girls in Nigeria. There are so many incidents reported in the news where women are attacked in one way or another.

I was already fuming when I saw the link to this article on Facebook the other day, and I nearly lost it. The title of the article is: “Council of Islamic Ideology declares women’s existence anti-Islamic.” And here’s a quote from the article. “As the meeting concluded CII Chairman Maulana Huhammad Kan Shirani noted that women by existing defied the laws of nature, and to protect Islam and the Sharia women should be forced to stop existing as soon as possible.” Ahhhh! Good luck keeping the species going with that one guys. The article is completely unbelievable to me, as a Western woman.

As a disclaimer, I have to say that the CII may be an extremist group. I’m sure not all Islamic leaders hold to this drastic point of view.

It’s no secret that women suffer ill treatment world wide. Some men think we women are commodities to use as they see fit.

In this country women’s rights aren’t much better. The rights women worked so hard to obtain when I was growing up, are being threatened by ultra-conservative men. They think we can’t understand what kind of health care we need, that we don’t need wage equality, and if we complain about the fact that we’re not getting paid the same amount as men for doing the same job, we get fired. Take for example Jill Abramson, former Executive Editor of the New York Times.

If we women stand up for ourselves, we’re labeled as hard to work with, or overly emotional, irrational, illogical. We’re often characterized as hormonal bitches. We’ve been blamed for causing men to rape us, and I couldn’t believe this one: In an article on Care2 on April 29, 2014 titled “Is There Anything We Won’t Blame on Women?”, South Carolina Republican Senate candidate Det Bowers said we’re to blame if our husbands leave us for another woman. I guess men don’t have to take responsibility for their actions.

The thing is that we women are so much more than any description anyone can give of us. Human beings are complicated. It may be that women are more complicated than men, and that’s what baffles them so much. I will be bold and say, I believe women are what holds civilization together.

In 2009, the Dalai Lama is credited with saying that “The world will be saved by the western woman.” Well I’m a western woman, and I’m going to stand up and state in this blog, and anywhere I can, that I’ve had enough of this foolishness. I’m a human being created by God in Her image with a brain to think with, and a heart to love with. And if you’re such an insecure man, that you have to try to subjugate my gender because we scare the bejeezes out of you, well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. We’re getting sick and tired of your juvenile attitudes and treatment of us. And like we always do, we’re going to clean up this mess you immature guys have made.

Here’s one bit of encouraging news that happened just last week. Minnesota has a “safe harbor” law meant to treat girls who are kidnapped and trafficked as victims of a crime rather than criminals themselves. (It’s about time someone realized that!) It’s the inspiration for a new law being crafted by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Erik Paulsen to tackle sex trafficking in the United States. Yes, it happens here too. It’s just one good thing that’s happening to change the way women are treated.

I want to be clear, I’m not saying all men are bad, or think women are inferior. I am fortunate to be surrounded by great men in my family, and circle of friends. Most of the men I know, are mature, kind, and supportive. They’ve done their own personal work, and want to make the world a better place in which all people can live. But there are men out there, like the men who kidnapped those girls in Nigeria, who are delusional. Dare I say they’re sociopathic? Just what is it about women that frighten men so much? It seems to me that’s a key question we need to address.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I can do to help women find their power. Writing this blog, speaking out on the issues I think matter, is one thing I can do. Another is to support women in my local area in any way I can. What I feel is happening, is that women and men are seeing the faults in the way we’ve treated each other. They are forming a web of support for their fellow human beings. I want to be part of that web of support. I want to nurture others, and help turn the tide of human interactions from dog-eat-dog, to cooperation and collaboration. What about you?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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You Get More With Honey Part 2

Lucinda and Barry Christmas 2013“I wish to live without hate, whim, jealousy, envy, and fear. I wish to be simple, honest, frank, natural…to face any obstacle and meet every
difficulty unabashed and unafraid.”-Elbert Hubbard

Something about the article about Donald Sterling that I wrote last week stirred up lots of discussion, and made me go back to take another look at what I was trying to say.

Over the years I’ve done a lot of personal work, which started with listening to, and observing my dad. He used to say, “You can’t change another person’s mind. You can only change yourself, and hope they’re paying attention.” I’ve taken that advice to heart. Over the years I’ve discovered something really amazing. If I stop pushing against what I don’t like in others, and just accept them for who they are, amazing changes happen.

I’m a very sensitive person, so I feel the pain of others deeply. It’s hard for me not to speak up when someone is getting abused. Here’s an example. When I was teaching high school, I had two students who were named to the State All Star Football team. They were full of themselves, and thought they ruled the world. This created a very bad situation in our classroom. There was a student in that class that everyone assumed was gay. The football players treated him very badly. When I tried to stop them from harassing him, they acted as if I had no power over them.

I called their parents, I talked to their coach, I talked with the Principal trying to get support to back me up. I got support, but the boys were convinced that they were gods, and nothing could touch them. They continued to treat that student badly. Of course, they treated everyone else with distain as well. One day I’d had enough. I took them outside the classroom individually, and told them that in my classroom everyone gets treated with respect. If they weren’t willing to do that, then I would have them removed, which would mean they’d have to make up the English class. I left the choice up to them. If I saw improvement in their behavior, we’d say no more about it. Otherwise they were out. They straightened up. Part of what made that work was their eligibility to play football during their senior year.

They stopped harassing the student they thought was gay during class time. I don’t know what happened outside of class.

Something happened to me during that incident. I had to accept that the two football players were probably not going to change their minds about gay people just because I said they should. The only thing I could do was to protect the other student, and show as much respect for everyone in the class as possible. Maybe it made a difference, maybe it didn’t. I’ll never know. However, by the end of the school year, the relationships among the students seemed to be much more amicable.

My dad was right. We can’t change someone else. We can only change ourselves. That’s been a big lesson in all my relationships, but particularly in my marriage. Like most of us, I thought once Barry and I got married, life would be perfect. But, of course, it soon wasn’t perfect. Over the years, I’ve learned that if I want Barry to love and accept me, I’ve got to stop expecting him to be someone other than who he is, and I’ve got to love him the way I want to be loved. I’ve realized that I can’t make him responsible for making me happy. Being happy is my job, not his.

Having written all that, I have to admit, that staying silent about issues as big as the way we treat others from different races, creeds and genders, isn’t good. We have to speak up. We have to engage in discussion. We have to look at our own attitudes, and admit when we’re wrong. We also have to treat the people who are racist, and full of hate with the kind of respect we wish they’d show to others, even though we’d like to punch them out.

Not long ago there was a great example of that. The Pastor of the Kansas church that makes a practice of demonstrating at funerals, showing signs full of hate, died. I’m sorry I don’t remember his name or the name of his church. This group was particularly hateful toward gays. A large group of people got together for a different kind of demonstration at his funeral. They stood outside the church, with signs of love. They could have returned hate with hate. But they didn’t. They turned the other cheek and returned hate with love. I don’t know if that act of kindness will make a difference in the lives of the people of that congregation or not. I do know that being kind to someone has a better chance of affecting change than treating them with hate. Treating someone who’s mean and hateful with love is a lot harder to do than lashing out in anger, but it’s the only way I know to bring about positive change.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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You Get More With Honey

“It’s not what enters men’s mouths that’s evil. It’s what comes out of their mouths that is.” –Paulo Coelho The Alchemist

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” –Virginia Woolf

Cochise Flowers
Cochise Flowers

 

Recent events, and subsequent comments about them in the media have got my ire up. A white man, Donald Sterling, shows his true colors, and the brouhaha is on. In an” Open Letter to White People: Why I’m Donald Sterling and So Are You,” The gist was that all white people are racist, and we’d better admit it. What made me so irritated wasn’t what the author wrote, but the tone of the article. If you want to influence people, you get more with honey than you do with vinegar.

I’m not saying that this article is completely wrong. What I’m saying is that if you want us to take a good hard look at ourselves,accusing all whites of being racist is the wrong approach. In fact, EVERY SINGLE PERSON on this planet, except for those who are enlightened, like Jesus, Buddha and others have been, carry some kind of prejudice around with them. And we ALL need to check ourselves for prejudices of all kinds.

I know I’m not perfect, but I am continually working on becoming more open and loving. I’m always double checking my attitudes. I’m working on myself, so that I can be an influence for good in the world, and help humanity evolve to a deeper level of being. And I don’t believe in the “when one person messes up, everyone in the class gets punished,” mentality. So, I get angry when someone tells me I’m prejudiced just because I’m white.

We can’t know what is in the deepest heart of another person. To lump an entire group together, and accuse them of having exactly the same feelings, is unrealistic. Not all Germans are bad, because Hitler was the leader of Germany during WWII. Not all people from Arab nations are bad because those who were behind the 911 tragedy were from Arab countries. Not all Mexicans are in this country illegally. Not all Black people are gang members, and commit crimes. Not all Asians are smart, and make cheap products that fall apart the first time you use them. Not all white people feel entitled because they’re white. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

We have a lot of problems in this world. As I see it, the only way to solve them is for every single person to take a close look at themselves, as the article suggests. If we take care of the mess in our own backyard, and every single person does that, it makes solving the world wide problems so much easier.

In my opinion, we need to thank the Donald Sterlings in our world. They point out areas in our society where we still have work to do. He’s not the only one who has made comments that we need to be scrutinizing. There are lots of intolerant people mouthing off in the media. We need to be examining what they’re saying as well, and checking our attitudes about their points of view. They are showing us areas in our society where we need to work on becoming more tolerant of the plight of others.

I know this much about myself, when I’m judgmental of other people’s actions, I’m doing that because they’re showing me an area of my life that I don’t want to look at. I’m trying to blame them for the mess in my own backyard. If I resist hiding my head in the sand, and look at my faults, my heart opens up. I understand myself, and the faults of others.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone needs to accept responsibility for what they do. But, if we’ve done our own work, it’s easier to have compassion for someone when they mess up. We are after all, imperfect human beings.

I read another article last week that helped me feel better about what’s going on in the world. The title is “7 Things Self-Actualized People Do Differently” It’s an article that gives us all something to shoot for in our self-improvement journey. If we can achieve the seven states of being described in this article, we’ll be contributing to the growth of the human race.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014
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