Feel

Feel

2019.02.10

Mindfulness – The Human Spirit

 

 

My vacation is over and I realized through it all that some things never change.  Whether we are on vacation, at a spiritual retreat, or caught up in the busyness of everyday living, we continue to feel.  For the last decade, it seems like all we hear about are opinions rather than facts and how we should feel.  It is enough to make a person want to hide.  At a time when most people need to cool down and stop spreading the hateful, nonproductive rhetoric that marked the last several years of political mudslinging in the USA and worldwide, it might seem strange that I am encouraging you to be open and feel.

 

I sincerely hope I get some responses to this question:  How do you feel?  I am not asking just about how you feel regarding the political verbiage.  I am asking how you feel… in general and specifically.  How do you feel?  It really is not a trick question.  Nor is it a complex one.  How do you feel?  The reason I am asking you is that feelings matter.  They comprise the very core of who we are.

 

Feelings are important.  The University of Wisconsin encourages students to consider their feelings as a barometer of their own health and emotional well-being.  “Feelings provide essential information about our reactions to situations. They are often our best clue to the meaning of our current experience — they are less “processed” and more “raw” than our thoughts. They can provide accurate feedback on our current “inside” state.”

 

Eckhart Tolle explains the important of our feelings this way.  “Emotion arises at the place where mind and body meet. It is the body’s reaction to your mind – or you might say, a reflection of your mind in the body. For example, an attack thought or a hostile thought will create a build-up of energy in the body that we call anger. The body is getting ready to fight. The thought that you are being threatened, physically or psychologically, causes the body to contract, and this is the physical side of what we call fear. Research has shown that strong emotions even cause changes in the biochemistry of the body. These biochemical changes represent the physical or material aspect of the emotion.”

 

Emotional competency is a popular phrase that is trending right now and learning to recognize the emotions of others as well as ourselves helps build strong relationships.  That brings me to my intention with today’s post.  How are you feeling?  Have you realized that others are feeling those same emotions?  We all experience the same feelings.  Perhaps not at the same time and not in the same consequential fashion but we all experience the same emotions.  At some point we have all felt happy, sad, proud, scared, jealous, hopeful, envious, sorry, tired, exasperated, sympathetic, upset, overjoyed, angry, elated, relieved, grateful, bored, excited….. The list could go on and on.  We all feel the exact same way although not at the exact same time.  Why?  Because we really are, at our core, similar. 

 

Some might argue that not all of these are emotions.  Some would characterize them as mental states of being.  In the 1991 book, “Emotion and Adaptation”, author Richard Lazarus lists several mental states that may be emotion related, but are not themselves actual emotions. The list includes the complex states of: grief and depression; the ambiguous positive states of: expansiveness, awe, confidence, challenge, determination, satisfaction, and being pleased; the ambiguous negative states of: threat, frustration, disappointment, helplessness, meaningless, and awe; the mental confusion states of bewilderment and confusion; the arousal states of: excitement, upset, distress, nervousness, tension, and agitation; and finally the pre-emotions of: interest, curiosity, amazement, anticipation, alertness, and surprise.

 

Again, we all experience those very same mental states of being.  Why?  Because they are related to our emotions, the very same emotions we all experience.  So how does this affect our actions?  After all, most words used to describe emotions are adjectives, not verbs.  It is relevant because our emotions often affect and determine our actions.  More importantly, when we criticize others for their feelings, we limit our right to experience those very same feelings.

 

No one is so good that they should not experience sadness and we all, at some point in time, will.  Even the bravest of us have felt fear and I sincerely hope that we all have hope.  My wish is that I get back hundreds of responses telling me people felt happy, relief, joy, gratitude, etc. but the reality is that some today experienced grief, uncertainty, or pain.  Life is not easy.  Not all feelings are going to be positive.

 

“Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times? …As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar.”  This passage from Cornelia Funke’s book “Inkspell” refers to reading a book but I think it applies to our feelings.

 

Feelings broaden our perspective and when we allow others to have those very same feelings, we broaden our world.  We begin to see that the world is not made up of many different people but of different variations of ourselves.  The outside packaging might look very different but each is a version of one, at different stages.  When we learn to respond to the pain of others, listen to their feelings, then we can begin to be together, truly together, living in peace and harmony. 

Living the Now

Stories of the Human Spirit

Week One

2019.01.12

 

Living in the moment is often described as the art of now.  During the next six weeks we will discuss how to perfect our ability to do just that as well as read about stories of the human spirit that illustrate this.  After five years of daily postings on this blog, I took a week off to do just that – live in each moment without deadlines.  John Steinbeck once wrote “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray” and my vacation plans did just that.  Still, it was in that week of chaos, spelled f-l-u, that I realized the true meaning of a favorite quote of mine:  “You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.”

 

Our concept of normal is whatever is familiar to us and so, Julie really thought her life was fairly normal.  She had grown up going to public school and once a week took part in scouting activities in the troop that met at a neighborhood church.  Going to the scout meetings meant her parents did not have to find a babysitter for her after school on meeting days but it also meant she would learn different skills.  The other girls were cordial but as an introvert, their lack of including her in a close circle of friends really wasn’t too troubling.

 

As the years passed Julie continued in scouting although nothing really was a favorite pastime except working with the disabled youth her troop spent time with at a nearby community center.  In the summer she volunteered as a counselor at a camp for the disabled and enjoyed the interactions with the campers.  They made up for the camp lifestyle which was definitely not her style and the lack of inclusion from the other counselors.

 

Winning a college scholarship, Julie continued her studies and, seeing the world through her roommates’ eyes, realized her “normal” was not quite like everyone else’s.  Being forgotten at home had not been the normal for others nor was the exclusion by relatives.  Still, there were classes to attend, papers to write, and a degree to finish.  Life went on and Julie went about it each day.  She convinced one of her classes to volunteer at a local residential school for the disabled and continued to volunteer each summer as a counselor.  There were joys to find in each new day.

 

Julie began her last year in college with great anticipation.  In six month she would have the degree she had worked so hard to attain.  Her family had emphasized their pleasure at anticipating her graduation and having her out on her own which is why she was so dumbfounded when both parents told her they were suddenly going to stop helping her fund the last six month of her education.  Her two parents had divorced years earlier and their acrimony had reached new levels with Julie as the game piece being used to punish each other.  She had a part-time job so she asked for extra hours to pay for a place to store her belongings.  It was little more than a storage unit with no utilities or a place to sleep.  She sold her car to pay for the rest of her tuition and supplies.  Julie earned one meal a day at her work and became an expert at washing up in public restroom stalls.  Using the public restrooms just before dawn meant she could wash her hair in the sink and then leave with no one realizing her hair was now wet.  Walking the two miles to the college campus gave her hair time to dry and her early arrival gave her time to study and complete assignments.

 

The spirit of the disabled youth she had worked with was Julie’s example.  She had watched kids struggle to walk, delight in learning to write their names, and exude joy in breathing in each second of their lives.  These kids who had so many obstacles took each minute as it came and had never given up.  Julie was determined to do the same.  She sometimes slept behind a friend’s apartment or, after offering to clean up the choir room after choir practice, on a couch in the music department at the local church. 

 

On a cool spring day, Julie walked across the stage to receive her diploma.  She had been homeless the last six month and no one had noticed.  Not once had her appearance seemed different to her classmates.  She had relied on the skills learned as a child, the examples of those many deemed incompetent, and completed her college education with honors.  Her life exemplified Brian Tracy, Canadian author and motivational speaker, statement:  “You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.”

 

Life does not come with guarantees and I sincerely hope none of you ever end up in Julie’s position of being homeless.  I do believe, though, that we do have in our history a wealth of knowledge that helps us meet the challenge of each new day.   I will close with another of Tracy’s quotes:  “The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.”

 

So how do we start to perfect our ability to live in the moment.  Years later someone asked Julie how she had found the strength and courage to keep going during her last year in college.  “It was simple”, she replied.  “I kept breathing and as long as I was breathing, I needed to live today so I’d hopefully be able to do the same tomorrow.”   This past week I lived in the moment of being ill and breathing was sometimes a bit uncomfortable.  However, it gave me a great understanding about the concept of breathing through the moment. 

 

A young man picked up a phone in a phone booth in the middle of the dessert one day and received the same sort of answer.  The setting was Burning Man, an electronic arts and music festival for which 50,000 people descend on Black Rock City, Nevada, for eight days of “radical self-expression” – dancing, socializing, meditating, and yes, even a bit of debauchery.  One can see all sorts of things at Burning man but a phone booth in the middle of nowhere that purported to be a direct line to God was unusual, even for Burning Man.  The voice at the other end had one word of advice – Breathe.

 

“Ordinary thoughts course through our mind like a deafening waterfall,” writes Jon Kabat-Zinn, the biomedical scientist who introduced meditation into mainstream medicine. In order to feel more in control of our minds and our lives, to find the sense of balance that eludes us, we need to step out of this current, to pause, and, as Kabat-Zinn puts it, to “rest in stillness—to stop doing and focus on just being.”  We need to stop, breathe, realize we are living in this moment and not two days away, and breathe in the “now”.  Once I gave up trying to pretend I wasn’t ill, I started to improve.  Stay focused on the here and now and let tomorrow worry about itself.

 

 

Veer

12 Days of Kindness

Christmas 11

Veer

 

“Oftentimes, people reflect on their lives and wonder how they came to be at a certain crossroad or exactly how they got where they ended up. This can apply to anything in life, be it career choices, our choices of marriage partners or even personal decisions we’ve made, crises we’ve lived through.. A path is just that; a means of getting from one place to another and made up of individual stones or paces we take one after the other…When we start out on a certain path in our life, we don’t have the luxury of seeing where our footsteps will lead us…That’s the beauty of living…Every decision we make along the way leads us to more paths and so on and so on until by the end of our days, our life is one continuous string of smaller paths we have taken…All combined to make the final trail…Is it fate that leads us to veer from the original path we had in mind or is it something called destiny? Or is it a certain amount of luck, good and bad, or personal choice?”

 

I found the above quote online but could not find by whom it was said.  We could spend days discussing it and whether or not the things said were true.  One thing is clear, though.  Our lives do contain those moments in which we seem to head “off course” only later to wonder if the “off course” was really the course we really needed to follow.  Sometimes life’s detours take us where we needed to be all along.

 

Some of the sweetest fruits look ugly on the outside.  The rough texture of the skin of an avocado is in direct contrast to the smooth inner texture of the fruit hiding inside.  Somewhat a color much like algae, who would expect the fruit of the avocado, often considered a bit bland, to be considered a superfood?  Life often hides its treasures in the same way.

 

A friend of mine considers people who never think outside of the box to be people who believe in a “small God”.  People who discriminate do so, according to my friend, because they cannot conceive of a God who has children that look different than they do.  Such people, my friend believes, have a narrow vision of their deity, a tunnel vision that does not allow for any colors beyond the primary colors, nor people who are different than they.  In short, my friend concludes, they have a small, boring, bland God.

 

There are times when the world seems too vivid, life’s happenings too real and far too painful.  There are days when bland and boring would seem like a gift to me.  Then I realize that such bland and boring days would teach me nothing, give me no new opportunities to grow, and usually do not offer a reason to smile or laugh or feel the joy of life.

 

In her book “Rise Up and Salute the Sun”, Suzy Kassem wrote:  “I have been finding treasures in places I did not want to search. I have been hearing wisdom from tongues I did not want to listen. I have been finding beauty where I did not want to look. And I have learned so much from journeys I did not want to take. Forgive me, O Gracious One; for I have been closing my ears and eyes for too long. I have learned that miracles are only called miracles because they are often witnessed by only those who can see through all of life’s illusions. I am ready to see what really exists on other side, what exists behind the blinds, and taste all the ugly fruit instead of all that looks right, plump and ripe.”

 

Today your challenge is to veer just a little bit off the beaten path you usually take and experience a fuller life.  Perhaps it will be to take a different route home.  Maybe you will select a different entrée to eat or just add a slice of avocado on a burger or to top off a baked potato.  Maybe instead of watching television you will exercise or perhaps,  or maybe you will put a treadmill in the room with your television or computer and do two things at once for a brief period.  Maybe you will stop by a mall on the way home and walk inside, not purchasing anything, just getting some exercise and smiling at those you pass.

 

A popular viral video on Facebook features a toddler standing by the glass railing of an escalator.  People descend to the floor below on the escalator as the toddler waves goodbye.  Some never veer from their routine, never see her wave or smile, never realize someone has just shared the joy of life and caring about their journey with them.  Others, however, do see her, the motion of her hand catching the corner of their eye.  Instead of going down the escalator like they usually do, caught up in their own world, they veer from their norm and return her wave.  Some smile back, and there are a few that even respond with their own “Bye bye!”

 

“In life one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day – or to celebrate each special day.” Rasheed Ogunlaru’s quote speaks to our challenge today.  We can either stay on our regular course, limiting not only our God but our life, or we can realize that today is special just be being.  Veer away from the humdrum of the regular routine and see the beauty of the moment.  Let your deity be all that he/she could be and your life will be as well.

 

Need

Need

2018.12.31

12 Days of Kindness

 

 

It is an old African folk tale set to music. The father is out in the field and the mother is at the well. The grandmother is at the market hoping not only to purchase but also to sell. A neighbor is watching the children who are playing out in the yard. An old man comes by and stops to tell them a story because he likes to make them laugh. His story has a moral, though, and that is when they are down by the river, they need to look out for the crocodiles. The moral of the song is the unity with which everyone comes together for the children. In Africa, there is an old saying: “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”

 

In 2014 the town of Ocean City, Maryland celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of its Play-It-Safe Ocean City program. Designed for graduating high school seniors, the three week-long program involves area merchants, local volunteers, state and county agencies and volunteers to assist with the free events for the young people. Seniors can come for one week and are given a booklet with free coupons for food and a schedule of events, all designed to help seniors celebrate their high school graduation in a drug-free environment. Free bus passes are included to help those participating navigate the city. Free events available to the seniors include free roller coaster rides, tye-dye t-shirt events, pizza eating contest, dance party, tennis tourney, laser tag mini golf, regular mini golf, dodge ball, Splash Mountain, 3-on-3 basketball tourney, beach volleyball, wind surfing, kayak relays, moonlight bowling, and karaoke.

 

In a world where many feel afraid of their neighbors, Ocean City, Maryland had adopted the African slogan and made it a celebration. During the summer of 2014, as they celeb rated their twenty-fifth year, they had seniors from sixteen states and the District of Columbia attend. Sixty thousand brochures advertising the program were sent out and twenty thousand Passport to Fun Booklets distributed. There were over forty-eight planned drug-free and alcohol-free events for the eighty-three hundred-plus attendees at no charge. This was made possible by the over three hundred businesses, organizations, and individuals who contributed services, money, and prizes. Over three hundred and fifty volunteers, private citizens, assisted as well as the employees of state, county, and municipal agencies. Over two thousand hours, half by volunteers, make this village-sponsored event a reality.

 

During Kwanza, seven candles are lit, the first being the black candle. The remaining candles, three red and three green flank the black candle. The red candles represent the principles of self-determination, cooperative economics and creativity and are placed to the left of the center black candle. To the right are the green candles which represent collective work and responsibility, purpose, and faith. This is to show that people come first, and then the struggle and finally, the hope that comes from the struggle.

 

The program in Ocean City, Maryland, is not simple. I can assure you that there are struggles. Weather delays are just one of the many surprises that life sometimes offers. However, year after year, the people and the agencies of the area continue to do this for students from outside their neighborhood. All this comes from a town of less than eight thousand year-round residents.  These residents and the annual summer residents work together as a village united, serving to provide high school seniors a safe yet fun way to celebrate their high school graduation.

 

The world with all the modern technology has gotten smaller and now it is as easy to travel half way around the world as it was for our parents to travel one hundred miles to a cousin’s house. The celebration of Kwanza is not just for those of African descent but for us all. We all need to remember that we had help getting to where we are and that we need to help others. Television has many so-called reality shows about people who want to live “off the grid” and yet, they are so popular because these people end up needing someone.

 

On this the last day of the year 2018 ACE, people will gather all around the world in crowds to usher in the New Year.  On a remote island in the south Pacific, the first festivities will commence.  They will continue much like a long row of dominoes, one leaning into the other, each needing the other to complete the path dictated by gravity which is shared by all. 

 

It is a fact that we need each other.  None of us are born alone.  Life is a team sport and perhaps, as we take part in the festivities of the season we will remember that we also take part in a greater celebration about the family of man called life. It really does take a village, not only to raise a child but to help an adult in their living as well.  We each play a vital role and not only need but are needed. 

 

You have value.  I hope as we say goodbye to 2018 we will put to bed all insecurities and past griefs.  As we usher in the new year of 2019, may we begin with renewed hope, confidence, and energy to make this new year one in which all people have value and are respected.

 

 

 

 

Clemency

Clemency

2018.12.28

12 Days of Kindness

 

“Hakuna Matata…It’s a wonderful phrase!  Hakuna Matata; ain’t a passing craze!”  If you have ever seen the movie “The Lion King”, just hearing those opening lines of one of the more popular songs has you already singing the rest of it.  “It means no worries for the rest of your days.  It’s our problem-free philosophy…”  The 1994 movie was not the first time the Swahili phrase was used in a song, however.

 

A Kenyan band used the phrase in the chorus of their hit “Jambo Bwana” and several years later a German band released an English-language song entitled “Jambo – Hakuna Matata”.  It was “The Lion King”, though, that made it a household familiar saying.  Although the phrase is Swahili, it is seldom used by native speakers of Swahili.  They prefer to either say “hamna shida” or “hamna tabu”.  The song from “The Lion King” is so popular that a Hebrew version exists online.  Everyone likes the thought of “no worries” as a way to live, it would seem.

 

Considered an unofficial motto of the country of Australia, “no worries” is a phrase that seems to speak to the supposedly relaxed nature of Australians.  Usage of the phrase goes back only about fifty years but the relaxed carefree and easy going, quick to forgive Aussie reputation dates to much earlier times.  Many feel it also characterizes the casual optimism which seems to permeate the Australian culture.

 

Can we possibly live such a philosophy?  How often do we give people a “hakuna matata” or a “hamna shida” in our daily lives?  Do we tell those who have offended us “no worries” or do we hang onto our anger?  Does that reflect the type of people we really want to be?  Is it kindness to others and, perhaps most importantly, kindness to ourselves?

 

Dr Richard M. Jacobs of Villanova University feels there is quite a bit of difference between a sermon and a homily.  The sermon, he writes, is in “the form of a lecture or discourse given for the purpose of providing religious instruction or inculcating moral behavior.”  One would seldom expect to hear the phrase “no worries” or “hakuna matata” in a sermon.

 

Dr. Jacobs characterizes a homily very differently.  “In general, a homily is a scripturally-based reflection [which] provides food for thought about the challenges of living in today’s busy and hectic world.   Ideally, the material conveyed by a Sunday homily addresses the real daily lives of ordinary people.”  While a homily might mention “no worries”, it is also doubtful that “hakuna matata” would be encouraged.  The homily is designed to be a shorter format than a sermon and was made popular by St Peter Chrysologus, a bishop appointed in 433 ACE.  Known as the “Doctor of Homilies” for his short but inspired talks, he supposedly feared boring his audience. His piety and zeal won universal admiration.

 

This leads us to an interesting point and our word and gift for this, the fourth day of our twelve days of kindness.  Today’s gift is clemency, a word which has all but become forgotten in everyday living.  Nowadays, it is used only in the judicial system.  Originally, the word “clemency” was derived from the Latin “clementia” which meant gentleness, calmness, or mildness.  It goes even further back as a compound word made from the “Latin “clemens” which translates as calm or mild and “clinare” which translates as to lean. 

 

How often do we hear the phrase clemency is our daily instructions and spiritual teachings?  While most of us would admit to wanting an overall life philosophy of “no worries” and the ability to live “hakuna matata”, few would be able to cite examples of it in their beliefs.

 

Mercy is what most deities offer their believers.  It is what most believers are encouraged to share with others.  We are not created to be judge and jury for each person we encounter.  We are told to love and show mercy, to offer clemency to those who offend us.

 

My challenge to you today, on this the fourth day, is to show someone “hakuna matata”.  Perhaps it will be that person who cuts you off in traffic.  Instead of shaking your fist at them, wish them well.  That person who hurriedly sneaks in front of you in the line at the coffee shop or marketplace…smile and give them a “No worries” response.

 

It is not always easy.  As I write this I realize I need to let go of some anger and hurt caused by the words of another just the other day.  I need to simply say “hakuna matata” and move on with my living.  After all, hanging on to negative emotions doesn’t accomplish anything.  It doesn’t burn calories; it just deprives us of feeling good ourselves.

 

So live a casual optimism and focus on the positive.  Enjoy a carefree day with a problem-free philosophy.  As with other things, giving clemency to another will build our own character.  Gandhi described prayer as “a potent instrument of action”.  I think he would agree showing mercy and offering clemency is as well.  Lewis Carroll wrote:  “One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.”  Sharing clemency helps both others and ourselves.    Let’smake hakuna matata more than just a passing craze; let’s make it a way of life.  Remember, to do a kindness to others and yourself adopt this attitude: “No worries, mate! G’day!”

Mindfulness at Christmas

Mindfulness at Christmas

2018.12.22-24

Everyday Miracles

Advent 2018

 

A child shivers in a cold room, watching for a sign of a better tomorrow.  A teenager creeps out of the shadows to rummage through a garbage bin outside a closed restaurant.  A woman is walking out to her car in a busy mall parking lot and suddenly feels her purse snatched off her shoulder.  A man stumbles home after working two jobs, wondering how to explain to his family that Christmas will not be like the ones in the store windows.  These are often the bleak picture of Christmas that make one wonder if there really is a reason for the season.

 

We forget, though, that somewhere a child is sharing their holiday by donating to a local charity.  That a group of teenagers is wrapping presents at a local store to earn money to buy Christmas dinners for the homeless.  A stranger has stopped to help the woman whose purse was snatched while another chases after the thief and calls law enforcement.  The father returns home to see his children making their own presents and years from now, those will be the ones kept and treasured.  The trappings of Christmas have only the hold on us that we allow.  We make the holiday have meaning by how we live it.

 

This post is being published a day late on purpose to prove my point.  Whether or not we accomplished everything on our to-do list or not, the clock kept ticking and Christmas has arrived.  The season of Advent is about preparing but sometimes we forget what comes next.  Are we running away from Christmases past?  Is our expectation for Christmas Present realistic?  Have we given up and sworn off any Christmas Futures?

 

Mindfulness can be structured meditation or simply a calmer way of living that helps us break habitual patterns of thinking that usually serve no useful purpose except to create more stress and greater unhappiness.  The easiest mindfulness practice is to simply sit quietly for several minutes.  IN the midst of holiday mayhem, the easiest place to find those few minutes of calm might be the toilet, a bedroom, or even a shower or bath.  Then you just have to breathe.  Easy, right?  I mean, you are already breathing so just do it with thoughtfulness.  Focus on the movement of air going into your nose and then visualize it in your throat and chest.  Then exhale and reverse the process.  By being fully present in your breathing, you have stopped negative thoughts and are no longer clinging to those causing anxiety.

 

The holidays seem to intensify the mind wandering we do as we go about our daily activities.  Odds are you are doing one thing right now and thinking of at least three others you need to do.  Having spent the past month preparing, take time today to be present in the moment.  Right now notice the sights and smells around you, paying attention completely and with the utmost concentration.  Perhaps today will go perfectly but even if it doesn’t, take a few moments to breathe and give thanks that you can.  Life is a beautiful gift in and of itself.

To Be a Mother of a Child

A Current Events Comment – A Child’s Mother

2018.12.13

Everyday Miracles

Advent 2018

 

A minority group is defined in the United States of America not by being out-numbered but by several characteristics that indicate inequality in their treatment.   The first such characteristic is actual unequal treatment.  This can be defended by statistical or empirical evidence.  For example, if a candidate from a minority group is not hired for a position in which a person of lower experience and education, then said minority applicant has been a victim of discrimination.  This might be discrimination based upon age, national origin, ethnicity, physical condition, gender, or professed or assumed sexual orientation.   Distinct physical or cultural traits can also be the source of inequitable treatment.  This might include the wearing of a headdress, eye shape, skin color, a beard, etc. 

 

Recent comments that payouts to former mistresses were simply “normal business transactions” demean and demote that humanity status of women.  When we devalue women, we devalue life itself.  Recently immigration has been an item of interest in the USA and currently continuance of the US Defense Dept.’s budget is at jeopardy pending the allotment of five million dollars to build a wall to prevent further immigration from the southern borders. 

 

Women make up just over half of the world’s population, but according to the Pew Research Center, they account for a slight minority of migrants worldwide. The situation is much more equal than it used to be: in 1984 women made up just 47.2 percent of global migrants, while in 2005 they were 49.6 percent. Among unauthorized migrants worldwide, the divide is more striking: in 2005, just 42 percent of unauthorized migrants were female, compared with 52 percent of legal migrants.  In the U.S., though, the trend tells the opposite story. In 1980, a clear majority of U.S. migrants were women (52.3 percent), but by 2005 that number had dropped to 50.2 percent.  U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not publish of the percentage of women among applicants for H-1B skilled worker visas but data indicates the gender imbalance among H-1B recipients skewed as much as 85 percent towards men.

 

Though women comprise 51 percent of America’s population, they have less than a fifth of the representation in Washington DC.  Those four-fifths of the representation in Washington must have forgotten how they got there, and I am not referring to those who voted them in office.  I am referring to their maternal parent.  The female body is not just for joking nor is it a commodity as the recent comment about pay-outs for improper sexual congress might suggest.  It is the only vessel through which humans are born.  In this age of test tube babies and IVF impregnation, the female body is still a vital incubation and host environment for the birth of each and every infant born on this planet.

 

In this time of Christmas, when many songs and prayers are offered to the Virgin Mary, I would suggest that respecting women would be a miracle.  Google “women jokes” or “rape jokes” and you will discover that many still think the female body to be an appropriate topic for inappropriate humor.  This is not how we respect someone or a gender.  Surely, to be respectful of the reason for the season, we need to be respectful of women.  This is one way we can show our gratitude and respect to Mary, the mother of Jesus.  The respecting of any minority group is commanded by events of the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.  Hopefully, this is a miracle we will strive to make reality every day.  Starting during this season would be a gift to the world and ourselves.