Welcome to Silver and Shadow

"Look at that sea, girls--all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds." -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

This is a blog I will be using for topics other than food. Politics, religion, spirituality, humor, green living, anything that I want to talk about that doesn't fall under the food/cooking category.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Blame Game

We have seen images like these a lot over the last year or two. They fill our hearts with sadness and pity for these people. We ask ourselves questions like, "How desperate do you have to be to put your kids on one of those boats, knowing you could all drown before you reach land again?" And of course the answer is, when the alternative is even worse, you will do whatever you have to do, however precarious, however dangerous, to survive. To keep your children safe.
How desperate do you have to be to throw your child onto a helicopter and hope they make it to the Promised Land of America, parted from you forever? When the world is closing in on you, and the end seems near, you will do what is needed to survive.

How desperate do you have to be to put your child onto a train and send them out into the countryside for others to take care of, in hopes that they survive the war, because the bombings are just too close and too often for their safety? You'll do your best to ignore the separation and the pain and anguish it causes, because it'll be worth it in the end when you're reunited. Assuming you survive...

I've heard parents say that they would sell their soul to the devil to keep their children safe. As I don't have kids of my own, I cannot attest to this personally, but I will take their word for it. People will do whatever it takes to make sure their children survive a dangerous situation, and also hopefully, thrive and have a better life than they had. As we are now deeply embroiled in the post-election blame-game, I wanted to point out this factor.

I am going to make what might seem like a radical and unliberal statement, but I ask you to hear me out with an open heart and an open mind. I would hypothesize that the vast majority of people who voted for Donald Trump, are not racists/misogynists/homophobes. The majority of them are desperately in need of help and reached out to the only person who appeared to be offering it.

The economy has mostly recovered from the crash of 2005, except in the middle of the country. The west coast, in particular, is doing very well. It's hard to imagine that it isn't the same everywhere else. For the last eight years, people from the middle of this country have been telling us it's still bad there. They've been yelling and screaming and we've chosen to ignore it. We've heard their issues, but say to ourselves, "That's ridiculous, look how amazing it is now!" We have countered their fears and complaints with statements like, "You just don't like the president because he's black. You're a racist!" but we haven't stuck around to hear the response which probably would be, "I'm not a racist, I'm just trying to put food on the table...Why aren't you helping me?"

A wise coworker of mine pointed out to me the other day, the idea that the unemployment rate is really low right now and in our minds we're thinking, "Wow, we're so great at employment!" When the reality is actually people coming to the end of their benefits and being dropped from the statistics. They still don't have jobs, but now they don't have help from the government as well. If you lived in a place where there were no jobs to be had, and you are now being cut off from the only lifeline that's been helping you survive, what would you do? Picking up everything and moving elsewhere isn't necessarily affordable to people and what kind of a job would you be qualified to have? Liberals like to tease and put down people who are less educated than we are, but that also limits their abilities to have a well-paying job. How dare we tease people who don't have the same opportunities as us? Did any of us ever bother to learn why they have less opportunities to become educated? Did any of us ever help? Or did we just laugh and point, contributing to their continued humiliation? No wonder they hate us. They have every right to.

My personal opinion on the role of the federal government, besides keeping us safe from foreign powers and all the international stuff it does, is to help the people who cannot help themselves. We are ethically and morally obligated to help people when they cannot take care of themselves. For eight years, we've been writing off nearly half the country who have been telling us they need help. Liberals pride themselves on helping the downtrodden, but we missed this group of people in need. We ignored them, willfully and willingly and their need grew more and more until they had no other choice but to accept the offer from the devil. When we should have been acting like a nation that cares about each other, we failed. We failed them and in so doing, we failed in being what liberals pride themselves in being: charitable towards those in need.

This wasn't a problem with Hillary Clinton's planned policies, this was the current administration. This is on the current president, as sad as it makes me feel to say. I love our president, but he is not perfect. This was also the problem of the GOP for not doing more to help, either. Both parties played politics with each other, abandoning their actual duties of getting policies set in place that help people out. And whatever the reasons behind it, whatever the actual reality of it all, is irrelevant, because perception is all that matters. Both sides appeared not to care about the people crying out for help, so they turned to the person who claimed he would help. I'm sure a lot of them are aware that he might have no intentions of making good on any of his promises, but it's better than what they have now. It can't be any worse, right?

Now, I have said that I believe the majority of Trump voters aren't "ists" of any particular sort, and I do actually believe that. I am not unaware, however, that there is a faction of the voters who are. And they are using Trump's invitation to hate openly and outwardly. People are already being attacked and harassed and there are reports that somebody was killed. It is on us to make sure people stay protected during this time. I would also say that it is on the majority of Trump voters, the ones who only voted for him because of the economy, to help as well. A refusal to care about it or a refusal to help is being a part of it. If they choose to do nothing, if they choose not to stand up for others and protest any policies Trump may try to pass that would hurt others, they have a moral and ethical obligation to stand side-by-side with us. Failure to do so will leave them branded as an "ist," and they will have to live with those accusations and words assigned to them. That choice is entirely up to them.

I think, overall, the country is actually moving in the right direction. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and we cannot overlook the importance of that. We are at a place as a nation, as a people, to elect a woman to the highest office in the country. And if you look at a state and city level, there were amazing victories for women, people of color, and members of the LGBT community all around the country. We are doing something right.

What I wish we could see, as a nation, is that economic issues and social rights issues are not mutually exclusive. One does not have to be sacrificed to bolster the other. One party tends to be better at the social rights issues, and one party tends to be better with the economy. We need to come together and get to a place where each party can lend their strength to the country, and move both issues, forward. Once we can do this, we can start to see each other as people again.

For so long, we (By "we," I mean everybody, no particular side. All sides.) have looked to the other side, not as people who have a different opinion from us, but as the enemy. An enemy is no longer a human. They aren't a person. They're an entity to be conquered and destroyed. We don't have to listen to what they have to say. Maybe this is why we spent eight years writing off the screams of desperate people, because we saw them not as humans and fellow Americans, but as an entity that deserved what it got. They deserved to live in squalor and starvation and humiliation, because they are the enemy and that's what you do in a war.

But we aren't in a war. We've forgotten that. It's time we remembered.

Monday, November 7, 2016

We Are All Deplorables

There have been many "watershed" moments in American history over the years. Moments where it seems as if the fate of the country, or even the entire planet, hangs in the balance. Times when it feels like the world has come to a fork in the road and either path taken will change everything forever. The choice is up to us to pick either the "good" path or the "bad" path. Deciding to break away from England and become our own nation, choosing to divide our nation in two and take up arms against one another to resolve the conflict, Pearl Harbor, the Civil Rights movement, 9/11. These were all moments where the world we know now would be vastly different depending on how these ended. This election is also one of those moments. History will judge us based on the outcome of this election. And how can it not? Our future will be shaped by it, after all.

We can all feel this. We can sense it. The heaviness in the air that seeps into our skin and permeates our brains and souls. It makes it difficult to concentrate on anything else, and it becomes nearly or actually, an obsession. It takes over everything. It has taken over our minds. Things we would never do under normal circumstances, feel normal to us now. Treating people in ways we would never dream of before, is now par for the course. I think we need to be reminded that civility, good manners, and being kind to each other has always been our choice and always will be. Regardless of who becomes our next president, nobody can take that away from us. The only one who takes that way from us, is ourselves. No presidential candidate made us do it. They might have started down that road, but we fully and willingly followed behind without questioning it. 

We have said to ourselves, Well, it was the other side who started it, so I might as well dive right in and fight fire with fire. It isn't just "them,"(whatever side 'them' is to you) who have become so rude. It is all of us. You, me, everybody. We have all become the deplorables. Some of the rudest words I have seen in this election have come from people inside one party, towards others within their own party. We aren't just disagreeing with another party, we are disagreeing with one another, and we are being vicious and cruel. Feelings have been hurt. Friendships have been damaged or ended. Family members have turned away from each other all because we disagree on the best way to move forward as a nation.

How many of us has wished somebody ill will during this election? Either a candidate, somebody online, or somebody in our own lives? How many of us have called somebody stupid or otherwise questioned people's intelligence? How many of us have questioned somebody's loyalty to this country? How many of us have had these things said about or questioned of us? It doesn't feel very good, does it? We've all created a lot of negative energy, not only in our own lives, but in the country, and the world. We owe it to ourselves and each other, to do better. To be better. To create positive change and energy for our world. The question is, can we do that without screaming at each other and tearing each other down?

For those of us who consider ourselves followers of Christ, we are supposed to follow his example. It isn't "politically correct" or weak to be kind to one another, it is literally "What Jesus Would Do." The concept of "grace" is one of the things that makes Jesus unique. We are forgiven, through God's grace, though none of us truly deserves it. It is a gift given freely to us anyway. Are any of us truly acting grace-filled during this election? Are we extending that grace to others? What are we becoming?

I can assure you, that regardless of who wins the election tomorrow, the sun will continue to rise and set, as it always has. Our money will still be in the bank. Our beds will be just as cozy and warm as they are tonight. For the most part, our days and nights will continue on as they always have, with very little interruptions. But soon, that fog we've found ourselves in, will dissipate. We will find ourselves having to look ourselves in the mirror and looking at each other. Can we live with the words we said or the actions we took? Can we mend family bonds and friendships that have been damaged? Only time will tell. But the choice is ours. It has always been ours.

I will end this with two of my favorite quotes. I have used them before, but I won't stop using them, because they sum everything up so perfectly:

"Turns out, real life is a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means―hey, glass half full!―we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try...Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us."-Judy Hopps, Zootopia

"Have courage, and be kind."-Cinderella