Posts Tagged ‘rant’

In putting together my post for MLK Day 2012, I have spent the week pondering the oft-ignored import of it as a national holiday. It is more than an excuse for stores to have more post-Christmas sales or a reason for kids and teachers to enjoy a day off. It is not just a token federal holiday intended to appease the minority voters. In 1983, when President Ronald Reagan signed the national holiday into law, he was acknowledging the important work that Dr. King did in bringing equality to all citizens, a fundamental belief on which this country was built.

Back in January 2009, the day before the inauguration of Barack Obama, the first American president of ‘color’ (or however the heck you state that in a politically correct manner), Mr. Rick Warren, popular minister of the 22,000-member Saddleback Church, gave the keynote address at the annual birthday service for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta.

The whole thought of Rick Warren speaking on Dr. King’s day made me absolutely sick. I support Mr. Warren’s intent to bring God into the national conversation, to make religion a part of everyday lives. I admire his chutzpah in forcing political leaders and celebrities to discuss and confront issues of faith. And I admire a religious leader who calls for Christians worldwide to confront the global problems of AIDS, extreme poverty, climate change and disease in third world countries.

But I do not and cannot support his call for the social, political, and religious exclusion of those he (as a flawed human being, just like the rest of us) deems unworthy. In my own personal formulation of Christian behavior, I cannot condone the messages of intolerance and judgement that seem to be very much a part of his very fundamental Christian beliefs. For all of you fundamentalists out there, put away the poison pens – I just don’t happen to have the same world view as many of those churches. My own personal framework of beliefs is much more liberal, that is all. I would like to think that I will be judged by my Father, not by a human being who runs a superchurch and holds sway with newscasters.

I have written before about my mixed-race marriage, on my stance on gay marriage and about the importance of diversity in our world. Dr. King’s work alone has inspired 3 of my posts, all hoping for a more equal, just world. Obviously, I am very much a student of the lessons that Dr. King taught about equality, justice, and freedom. I have also been struggling with a major crisis of faith since the collapse of my marriage – yes, I am divorced and therefore subject to Rev. Warren’s derision – and have been doing a lot of soul-searching about the meaning of God’s forgiveness and what it means to be a Christian in the modern world.

Jesus himself healed blind men and lepers, kept company with prostitutes, beggars, and thieves. If our Lord was able to treat those people as equals, with the right to be treated respectfully, why can’t we do that? What makes any one human being feel that he is better than anyone else, good enough to judge others?

Would our Lord truly think it appropriate that any church (purportedly operating in His name) run websites, online chat rooms, television interviews and major media campaigns to ostracize these people? This church’s scope of national publicity is astounding – and very upsetting to those of us who happen to believe that God loves all.  Reverend Warren, and many others like him, teach lessons that include the exclusion and vilification of  homosexuality, divorce, abortion, sex outside of marriage, and a variety of other behaviors. I am not arguing that those behaviors are or aren’t morally, Biblically, or ethically wrong – I am arguing that we as human beings and children of God have the right to NOT be publicly ostracized for our actions. As my friend Pastor Drew has told me a number of times, Jesus went to the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, big and small.

In reading back on MLK Day 2009, it turns out that I was not the only one opposed to Revered Warren’s participation in the King’s Center’s events – that day, about 100 protesters with signs reading “No bigotry in MLK’s church” and “We still have a dream” gathered outside of Dr. King’s former pulpit. I think there were much more appropriate selections that could have been made for the keynote address – perhaps one of the thousands of civil rights protesters that had marched in Selma or took their turns as Freedom Riders; perhaps one of the millions of black Americans that have lived in a world much different than their ancestors because of Dr. King’s work; perhaps one of the many celebrities that actually knew Dr. King personally. So many other, better, less offensive choices!  I was so disenchanted with The King’s Center’s choice in speakers in 2009 that I actually put pen to paper and wrote a personal letter to Mr. Dexter Scott King. In thinking about my article on Dr. King for MLK Day this year, I got to thinking about that letter. I want to share it with you now because I still (after 3 years) feel so strongly on the topic – Mr. Dexter Scott King may not have been affected by my words but maybe someone out there in the great internet cosmos might be:

19 January 2009

Dexter Scott King, Chairman

The King Center

449 Auburn Avenue NE

Atlanta, GA 30312

To the honorable Mr. King and the board of directors for the King Center;

I am writing to you today to express my incredible disappointment with the King Center’s choice for Rev. Rick Warren as the keynote speaker for their annual celebration of Dr. King’s birthday in 2009. How unfortunate that a man who actively campaigns against gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose was chosen to commemorate a man who gave his life to protect our rights.

Although I personally do not condone abortion, I firmly believe that all humans have the right to choose what is medically best for their body. And while I cannot say that I have done scholarly research on Dr. King’s spiritual and political beliefs on matrimony, I would like to believe that he would have supported any human’s civil right to enjoy the equal opportunity to be legally married. Fifty years ago, I myself would have been in a marriage that was considered socially and legally inappropriate – I am a white woman married to a black man. I owe Dr. King a personal debt of gratitude for the efforts that allowed me to publicly declare my love for whomever I choose. How then, in Dr. King’s  honor, can the King Center overlook one man’s actions to block the civil rights of any human being and select him as their keynote speaker?

Does Mr. Warren not realize the incredible hypocrisy it took to stand on the pulpit of Dr. King’s church and speak about Dr. King’s struggle for equality – and then return to his activities to prevent equalities for entire populations of American citizens?

I am disappointed in the King Center for having made this choice. With so many notable and active people in America struggling for racial, social, ethnic, educational, and economic equality, I believe there were many others who would have and could have made a more effective and less divisive impact. I suggest you take the time to listen to Colin Powell’s speech that he gave in Minnesota yesterday – what a truly remarkable tribute that was!

On this most auspicious occasion, as we stand on the eve of inaugurating our first United States President of color, what a true shame that the keynote speaker for the King Center was one who regularly preaches exclusion and intolerance under the cloak of fundamentalist morality!

I have a very deep and very sincere respect for Dr. and Mrs. King and the legacies that they have left behind. I can only hope that their hard work will continue through the efforts of the King Center. Thank you for what you do to keep the King memory alive.


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A special tribute to the AssHat that I once loved! Thank you for convincing me to stop!

I haven’t been to church since I don’t remember when

Things were going great – til they fell apart again

So I listened to the preacher as he told me what to do

He said “You can’t go hating others who have done wrong to you.

Sometimes we get angry, but we must not condemn.

Let the good Lord do His job and you just pray for them.”
I pray your brakes go out running down a hill,

I pray a flowerpot falls from a window sill

and knocks you in the head like I’d like to.

I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls,

 I pray you’re flying high when your engine stalls.

I pray all your dreams never come true.

Just know wherever you are honey, I pray for you.
I’m really glad I found my way to church

‘Cause I’m already feeling better and I thank God for his words.

Yeah I’m going take the high road, And do what the preacher told me to do.

You keep messing up and I’ll keep praying for you.
I pray your tire blows out at 110.

I pray you pass out drunk with your best friend

and wake up with his and her tattoos.

I pray your brakes go out running down a hill,

I pray a flowerpot falls from a window sill

and knocks you in the head like I’d like to.

I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls,

I pray you’re flying high when your engine stalls.

I pray all your dreams never come true.

Just know wherever you are, near or far, in your house or in your car,

wherever you are honey, I pray for you. I pray for you!

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Like almost every little girl in the world, I grew up on fairy tales and romantic stories. One of my favorites was Cinderella, when the handsome Prince can see through the outward less-than-ideal appearances and falls in love with the common woman. It helped that she was basically a chambermaid, who had to slave away every day at a job – what a thrill for my liberated sense of independent womanhood.

Even now, I would love to think that such a romantic story could happen. I’ve celebrated Kate Middleton’s fairy tale romance with the handsome Prince William, thrilled to see that a commoner truly can marry a king-to-be. I even saw a news blurb yesterday about how Kate buys her own groceries – what an amazing woman!

But, I am here to tell you, I think that for the rest of us, the ‘your dream can come true’ fairy tale is a fat load of crock! Those romances, full of true love, undying fidelity, and endless passion – those stories can kiss my hind end! I have dated men of a variety of types – fat, thin, tall, short, kind, mean, fireman, cops, truck drivers, students, goody-two-shoes, bad boys, white, black, older, younger, educated, stupid – you name it, I’ve dated it. And NONE of them have shown even the slightest hint of being a Prince Charming. Not to say, mind you, that they weren’t all great people who taught me a lot about myself. Buuuuut….I wouldn’t exactly describe them as chivalrous. Some of them were self-centered, some just mean, others confused and disheartened, others bitter and angry. Some were players, some were following their own selfish agendas. But NONE of them were the stuff of the fairy tale romance!

So, I guess now, at the tender age of 30-something (don’t ask, I’m still not telling), I am setting aside the childish fantasies of a handsome, chivalrous prince that would sweep me off my feet and love me forever. Perhaps my standards were too high and I was expecting real men to act like fantasy dates – let’s turn the page to looking for a decent man who is honest. It’s time to say that those stories can kiss off, I’m going to look for a real good man. Someone who is like me – full of flaws, fears, and foibles. Someone who needs me to take care of them and will, at the same time, take care of me too. I’m done kissing frogs hoping that one of them will morph into a wonderful man. No more will I hunt for Prince Charming – he doesn’t exist!

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I’ve mentioned before that I struggle daily with the tendency to view the world, and myself, rather negatively. I’m not sure where that particular trait comes from, as I’d like to think that I’m generally an optimistic person. I tend to trust people easily and like to see the good traits that people possess rather than dwell on their shortcomings. Negativity on television, in the movies, in political campaigns all makes me cringe – how can putting someone else down make you feel better about yourself? But yet when I am thinking of my own feelings and my own life, negativity just oozes out like some sort of emotionally toxic slime.

I had no idea how easily I slip into the mode of self-negativity until it was pointed out to me recently. Granted, my husband yelled at me for years to stop being so negative – and then he would proceed to follow it with some sort of verbal slap or putdown. Hmmm…I’m thinking those might have been mixed messages….? But recently, when a good friend pointed it out to me very kindly, it dawned on me how easily (and annoyingly) I start looking for the worst.

The truly sad part is that I cannot define the reason for my negative view of myself and the world directly around me. Is it insecurity? A defense mechanism? Some pathetic manifestation of inherent melancholy? I don’t know but I really do NOT like it about myself!

Quinn McDonald, life coach and author of the QuinnCreative blog, has written about negativity and how it affects the world around you. His advice: “you have to start with yourself, turning negative thoughts and critical talk to positive talk. Then pass it on.” I think this is how I am going to approach my battle to end the negativity – do it for others! If I stop being so down on myself, it will make me a much happier person and I will be able to pass on that happiness and positive energy to the people around me. And I encourage everyone else to try this too. Maybe the world would be a nicer place if we could all try thinking positively once in a while.

So I’m going to put down the negative anchor and pick up the positive wings and try them on – I think they’ll fit just fine!

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Why is it that we as women are afraid to ask for what we want? Why can’t we state plainly and clearly what we want in this life? Why aren’t we allowed to make demands on how we want to be treated? Oh no, instead we have to dance around the subjects and use pretty words and flowery symbolism to SUGGEST what we want. This is especially frustrating when we are dealing with men because, as we well know, they do not do well with hints and innuendos. They want things spelled out clearly, with no room for error or misinterpretation.

Example: You are due to go out to eat with a group of guys. You are afraid that they are going to take you to Hooters or a titty bar. You politely mention a couple of really nice sports bars and/or barbecue joints that you’ve read about. Rather than flat out stating “No, I won’t go to Hooters and I do NOT believe that you go there only for the wings,” you hedge around the issue and stress over whether you’ll have to eat while watching some poor half-naked woman prance around. It would save you quite a few points on the blood pressure cuff if you could just say how you feel.

Another example: You’re ‘seeing’ a guy and he wants to take a break, gives you the “it’s not you, it’s me” spiel that cavemen perfected and has been in use ever since. Rather than coming right out and saying “you’re so full of shit, tell me what is REALLY going on,” you nod and smile and agree that maybe just being friends for now will work. And then you eat a gallon of ice cream and wonder (obsessively) what you did wrong.

Yet another example: You really want this cute guy in the bar to notice you. You’ve done all the standard girl motions like flipping your hair, sticking your boobs out, laughing adorably, and batting your eyelashes – and he’s still not getting it. Instead of just saying “hey, I saw you across the bar and thought I’d like to get to know you better,” you stay with your girlfriends, pray desperately that he’ll notice you, and leave at the end of the night frustrated because you think you can’t find a decent man anywhere.

Do you see where I’m going with this, ladies? In all of those cases, the men probably have NO IDEA what we are really thinking. They are not psychic and cannot read our minds. And, yes, in most cases you would think that it would be fairly self-evident – but we cannot assume! So we need to get better about vocalizing what we want and what we demand. And this lesson will need to extend beyond our interactions with men – in our careers, our home lives, and our friendships, we have to get better at saying what we want! It’s time to start telling the world what we want, girls!

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In 1949, Cole Porter’s smash hit musical Kiss Me Kate won the first Tony award ever given for Best Musical. This “show within a show” features a cast of actors and actresses preparing for a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. It features plenty of bickering, romantic sizzle, and a little harmless gender-bashing – just my kind of entertainment!

This song occurs in Act 1, when “Kate” has been used and mistreated by a number of suitors who, in the usual fashion of selfish piggish men, only look to her for their own physical needs. She is frustrated and insulted by their refusals to see her as a human being – and she didn’t have a terribly high opinion of the male species to begin with. “Kate” is a shrew, ill-tempered to many and particularly contemptuous of men:

I hate men.
I can’t abide ’em even now and then.
Than ever marry one of them, I’d rest a virgin rather,
For husbands are a boring lot and only give you bother.
Of course, I’m awfully glad that Mother had to marry Father,
But I hate men.

Of all the types I’ve ever met within our democracy,
I hate most the athlete with his manner bold and brassy,
He may have hair upon his chest but, sister, so has Lassie.
Oh, I hate men!
I hate men.

Their worth upon this earth I dinna ken.
Avoid the trav’ling salesman though a tempting
Tom he may be,
From China he will bring you jade and perfume from Araby,
But don’t forget ’tis he who’ll have the fun and thee the baby,
Oh I hate men.

If thou shouldst wed a businessman, be wary, oh, be wary.
He’ll tell you he’s detained in town on business necessary,
His bus’ness is the bus’ness which he gives his secretary,
Oh I hate men!

I have to say that while I do not actually agree with most of these sentiments, the song is catchy and the underlying frustration is one that I’m sure many women have felt. It has been a long time since I was on the ‘market’ as a single person; sadly, not much has changed. I am learning a lot of valuable lessons by dating and seeing what single men are really after – and not a whole lot is good. I would be much better suited to this lifestyle if I was more of the promiscuous, easily-sexed/heart-never-broken type of girl – but I’m not. Call me traditional but I’d like a little romance – and for the man to actually stick with you AFTER he has slept with you.

At any rate, this song popped up on my iPod (as one of the embarassing show tune selections) and it amused me. It fit at this moment in my life so I thought I’d share with all of the girls out there who might be suffering with me…

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One of the guys in the firehouse  has implied that I am a Man-Hater. In fact, he was nervous allowing me to be alone with his girlfriend (who herself is divorced) for a couple of glasses of wine for fear that I would turn her into a Man-Hater too. I am so saddened by this implication because, honestly, I truly do love men. Many of my best friends are of the male persuasion and I adore the  unique perspective they have on life.

I tried to explain to my friend that I do NOT hate all men in general – maybe just one. And I’m not even sure I can hate him – my ex has truly shown himself as an AssHat as a husband – but I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a firefighter and paramedic. It’s very hard to hate someone you admire. But in thinking about being accused of being a Man-Hater, it reminded me of one of my favorite movies, “Runaway Bride.” In the opening scenes of the movie, a cynical male columnist writes this about us women:

Today is a day of profound introspection. I have been accused of using this column to direct bitter diatribes at the opposite sex. This uncomfortable accusation has plunged me into at least a minute of serious reflection, from which I have emerged with the conclusion that, yes, I traffic in female stereotypes. But how can one blame me when every time I step out my front door, I meet fresh proof that the female archetypes are alive and well. The mother, the virgin, the whore, the crone. They’re elbowing you in the subway, stealing your cabs, and overwhelming you with perfume in elevators. But perhaps in fairness to the fairer sex, I do need to broaden my horizon and add some new goddesses to the pantheon. I would like to nominate for deity the cheerleader, the coed – and the man-eater, the last of which concerns me most today. In ancient Greece, this fearsome female was known as Erinys, the devouring death goddess. In India, she is Kali, who likes to devour her boyfriend Shiva’s entrails while her yoni devours his dot, dot, dot… never mind. In Indonesia, the bloody-jawed man-eater is called Ragma.  You notice these are all countries without cable. And in Hale, Maryland, where she helps run the family hardware store, she is known as Miss Maggie Carpenter…

How ironic that, since my ex has accused me of using this blog to display my bitterness and my friends think I have gone off men altogether, I am labeled a Man-Hater. I guess I am in good company, though, as you look at “Runaway Bride’s” researched list of mythological divinities that have paved the way for me. I am certainly, according to this list, not the first woman to be frustrated beyond belief by the actions of the opposite sex. And, as many of you reading this are probably female, you can understand the things that guys do that make us crazy…

But, as I said before, I really am NOT a Man-Hater. I would hope my guy friends could testify that I pride myself on being “just one of the guys.” I depend on my men to keep me grounded and to help me to let go of grudges, to not allow emotions to get in the way of reason, and to be a little selfish sometimes. My guys are the balance to the estrogen of my girlfriends and I need them to help me not take life so seriously, to laugh at the absurd, and to relax a little more. I rely on them to teach me about beer, baseball, fart humor, and the genius of Mel Brooks movies.

So, I am proclaiming here and now (are you listening, Chris?) I am NOT a Man-Hater! I will not be turning into Kali and devouring your entrails or going postal on your guyness. My guy friends are wonderfully unique creatures totally different from my girly self and I am truly blessed to have them to keep me straight and to keep me laughing!

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