Posts tagged why
I don’t get this one even more.
I mean, I get it – but I don’t see why it happens.
As a country, we are collectively mourning the loss of five Dallas Police Officers. FIVE… In a matter of minutes, FIVE lives gone, children without fathers, wives without husbands, mothers without sons.
Then we take sides…..
This is terrorism. The gunman wanted to fulfill an agenda he had, radical or fanatical thinking behind it – take your pick. And he was trained by the structure present in our country’s military. Homegrown, by definition.
You hear all sides – it wasn’t justified, it wasn’t right, it was justified by not right, it was justified and right – all positions on the spectrum. Liberals cite the gun laws, Conservatives cite gun laws. Democrats differ from Republican thinking, Republicans differ from Democrats.
And in this wonderful age of social media, we can be scrutinized about our beliefs in a two word post on Facebook or in less than 140 characters on Twitter. People hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see. They believe who they choose to listen to and dismiss those who do not agree with them.
I have lived in New York all my life. I take pride in the fact that if someone needs a ride or directions to get somewhere, I can provide assistance. I can tell you the “ins and outs” of travelling in the five boroughs of our city because I have driven almost every section of every borough over the twenty-years that I ran a balloon delivery business.
Yesterday, I read a post from someone who is married to a newly hired police officer in another part of the country. She wrote about the sacrifice her husband is making – “so willing to sacrifice so much for people who care so little”.
Want to know what’s wrong with police training? Their home lives? Their way of thinking? Read that last part of the last sentence in the previous paragraph. Thankfully, most police officers truly believe in the serve and protect and that belief being applied to everyone they come into contact with. But those who are of the mentality that “people care so little” have no business putting the uniform on. You are charged with serving those you look like, those you do not look like, those who dress, pray and eat like you or not. When we wake up to that reality, we will have to address the broader issue of eradicating racism from every police department’s employee – young and old, newly hired or near retirement.
Today I was challenged by someone I am friends with on Facebook, to “take a walk in Brownsville or Bed-Stuy after dark tonight” – the challenge concluded by telling me to let the person “know how it goes”. This particular person and I have minimal contact with each other – a distant relative, the kind you may see at weddings and funerals, but not much more. We were raised in the same neighborhood as children but we apparently see the world from two hugely different perspectives.
Truth is, I have gone through Brownsville and Bed-Stuy, East New York and Coney Island; I have made deliveries in these areas as well as Bensonhurst, Mill Basin, Bayside and Astoria. I assume that the “challenger” (as we will refer to her) wanted me to agree with her that those neighborhoods that she cited were “dangerous”. Well, maybe they are – as all the rest of the neighborhoods in any area could be – at night, in broad daylight, at dawn.
The insinuations that were prompted by a post are revolting. People in a more privileged position can draw all the conclusions they want. Walk the walk, as they say; put your money where your mouth is.
I have worked with the finest people in this gigantic city – and believe you me, they are not always found in the best of positions, circumstances, or neighborhoods. I have decorated street fairs in Brownsville, grand openings in Bed-Stuy; I have brought my staff to places in every borough that may have made others look around nervously; we have been at all-day events in Corona. Our shop was in Coney Island for 19 years and we opened and closed all hours of the day and night. You may ask if we ever had problems. The answer is yes some issues but not something that would have chased us from wherever we were. The only think that ever scared us was Superstorm Sandy and even then, with every single property in Coney Island being affected, neighbors who walked passed our store in the days after the storm, asked if we were okay, if they could help and would we be back in operation.
Social media – where you can post something and it lives forever. The internet? Put it up – take it down, the web has the last laugh. If someone posts something you do not agree with, let them know; if a comment is biased, object. Do not stand by and look the other way – your voice is as important as theirs. Use your voice!
The word that will carry us forward is EMPATHY. Know what its like to be someone else…..
So I am trying to get the word out there about A Vivid Imagination and I truly thank all of you who have chosen to subscribe to this crazy compilation of strange ramblings! It always amazes me when I check up on my subscriber list and see a few more people added to the list – I can’t believe anyone would want to read about what I am thinking!
I have to ask you for some help….
If you are a Twitter user (a Tweeter, if you will), please follow me @vvdimagination. Sometimes short notes, pending writings, questions to you and requests for comments will show up there too!
I am also working on a Facebook Page but need to pull some more background stuff together (pictures, writings, etc.) before I could even ask you to check out my page!
Any follows would be greatly appreciated!
I promise if you “follow”, I’ll try not to get us lost!! : D
I was bullied as a child.
I was bullied as a teenager and a young adult.
I even think I have been bullied as an older adult.
And now, as I remember the words of a woman I met when she was in her late seventies and lived to be 99, “At my age, I can say whatever I want”.
At least on this topic, I think it is realistic to say, I can safely speak my mind about my experiences.
I went to a Catholic elementary school in a working class neighborhood. I was a scrawny kid who wore glasses, got good grades, and had parents who volunteered a lot of time to that school and church. I was called “teacher’s pet” for years and spent many a school day firing how I was going to make it home without getting my butt kicked because someone in my class thought I got them in trouble with the teacher, wouldn’t let them cheat from me on a test, or because I put my lunchbox down too close to theirs. The boys in my class were hurtful and the girls were mean. Some of the “cool” girls tried over the years to be protecting or at least not joining in on the bullying but that usually gave way to the, being threatened. So their efforts ceased and they stood by while the taunting went on. I got beat up on the way home several times and cried because I couldn’t imagine how to tell my parents that my glasses were broken again. My 8th grade teacher kept me after school on Halloween to talk about being Editor of our yearbook. But because “The Gang” of boys was waiting outside the school to throw eggs and more, she drove me home from school to keep me safe. That Josephite nun always showed me such kindness and always pushed me to do the best I could. But her kindness in driving me home that day only resulted in more taunting throughout my last year in that school.
I played softball in grammar school and the girls only wanted the “star” player to pitch. Once were losing so badly that the coach pulled the “star” pitcher and put me in to pitch. Loosing by almost 10 runs, I pitched my best and struck out one or two batters. But if the ball made contact with the bat, I was done for. My “teammates” would let the ball roll through their legs, drop a fly ball or let the runners advance without even trying to play fairly. The coach reprimanded the entire team but it did no good. She pulled me and put the “star” back in. We lost anyway. The parents in attendance said nothing to any of their daughters during or after the game – that was that.
The bullying continued when I went to the local high school. The tough kids from another section of our neighborhood liked to intimidate people in the hallways and every day was another challenge to stay out of their way. I was a “nerd” – honors classes, music lessons, church volunteer – none of it was “cool” back then.
But then a class called “Leadership” was offered. I jumped at the chance to work on all extracurricular events the Leadership class was responsible for. With senior year came empowerment, as we all were the class leaders. The concept of being bullied was gone as we were the ones accepted and the people who got things done. College years and never a thought of being bullied.
Just when you think its over…
I began teaching at a Catholic elementary school. Faculty meeting on the first day – all new teachers were told, “Ladies, make sure that even if you have a ring on your finger, you are saying ‘No'”. Bullying takes on a new name – intimidation. With a morals clause written into out contracts, I can’t really call this bullying, but you knew she meant business. I found put on the successive months that who I socialized with, who I befriended and what I did after work was up for these intimidation tactics by the principal. I left that school that same year.
The principal at the next school was an old family friend who was a ton of fun but took bullying right back to when I was in elementary school – which was where I knew him. I spent more time being reprimanded in his office as a teacher than I ever was when I was in elementary school. “Don’t teach this”, “Don’t call the parents by the last names”, “You MUST have a Halloween Party for your class” (fist fights among students aside), and more. My pay was docked when I took a personal day to attend the funeral of a close mutual family friend. Day-to-day it all was too much – too much to list here. One day when you have a few days, I’ll tell you. I left that job after four years.
I opened a business with my best friend. The bullying continued with vendors who felt like they were doing me a favor to do the work and have me pay them; some customers who felt that however insane their request, my partner and I were just to “do it”; some accounts that would change the rules on the jobs we were doing right as we were finishing up. I have teenage staff members tell me that “I had a lot to learn” and I have had business associates repeatedly tell me that the work I do is passable at best – they can always find someone to do a better job for less money.
In addition to the bullying, I have been profiled as “prejudiced” because I am white; I have been spoken slowly to because I look more Hispanic than Italian in a mostly Italian area and second guessed when I say that I am one of the business’ owners.
Bullying in the NFL? A good thing he walked away. A bad thing as he may have given up the career he loves.
Bullying in schools? Try to tell a teenager that “It gets better” – it’s so hard when your world seems to be crashing in around you.
Gay bashing? Racial profiling? Sexual harassment? Why should anyone have to compromise him or herself for the stupidity of another?
It may not necessarily get better – but it does get different; sometimes, it even becomes empowering. One day you just have to realize that all that matters is what YOU make matter – small people, small minds. Realize your potential – screw everyone else. Carve out your own space in this world and have confidence in the one person who will never leave you …..
HURRICANE SANDY RECOVERY UPDATE:
This is to let you all know the status of our “recovery” as we close out the 10th month after the storm…
I just got off the phone with NYS & NYC offices for various “Recovery Programs”. My conversation with the representative of both agencies ended with this statement – “I couldn’t get any luckier if I stood in the middle of a field with a metal pole in my hands” – we applied to every program the State of New York offered and luckily, our last application went in on March 24th – the following week, the State turned over all applications for city based businesses and homeowners to NYC.
Guess what?? “Some of the thousands of applications were actually lost in the transfer” is the answer I was told. Upon further investigation and tracking of my application registration number, we have determined that our application was, you got it, LOST!
So while I harbor no animosity toward the staff at any of these agencies that go home every pay period with a paycheck, NO ONE in the State or City bureaucratic machine gets the idea that we, small and micro businesses literally swamped by this storm have been breaking our backs, going without, exhausting savings, and standing by aimlessly as we watch everything we’ve built for years, even decades, ebb away. Who cares about the year round community as long as rides are running and people can lay on a beach? Coney Island looks like a ghost town when many of those businesses never even bothered to open again. And by the way, even the few businesses that have qualified for the “Emergency Loans” have yet to see the money – 10 months later!! Some emergency!!
So our status? Contrary to what some may believe, we did not “hit the lottery:, we are not “sitting on our winnings”, and no, Sandy wasn’t “the best thing that could have ever happened to us” (all things I have heard from people who think we made out like bandits!) Disappointed by a system designed to fail the people who it was supposed to serve – you know, the ones that pay the corporate taxes, payroll taxes, providing year round jobs and stable foundations in a city we have been born into, immigrated to, raised in and supported. Doesn’t matter who is in charge – what a disappointment to not even be allowed to BORROW ourselves into oblivion to try to get back on our feet.
Here we go again….
Let me get a few things straight before we get started. I am now a lapsed Catholic – I believe everything I was taught during eight years of Catholic school – my parents both volunteered most of their time to our parish church and school, a trait they not only passed on to me but enjoyed my involvement with the church in the various roles I took. I was an altar server as a teenager (the first girl in my parish to do so), a lector, CCD teacher, Teen Club member, then leader, a Eucharistic Minister, Folk Group leader, softball and swimming coach, volunteer school aide and later, was a teacher in two different Diocesean elementary schools.
I have been “on the inside” since I was a child; my parents volunteered and brought many stories home of their dealings with the clergy and other volunteers – as a curious child, I always loved to “accidentally overhear”. I have been included with adults and their conversations when I was younger as the only kid in the room most times – “You’re smart – you understand” is what I often heard. Dinners over the years with clergy members, from nuns and priests, to pastors and Diocesean big wigs – I have had the honor to know many Bishops in later years as well as a great number of priests, sharing many conversations and a few glasses of wine with some.
All that being said, I can say to you, I am a Catholic. I believe in my faith, my love for the “Hippie Jesus”, as I like to call him, that I was introduced to as a kid – the 70’s showed us a handsome man with long hair, in a robe and sandals, loving everyone, forgiving everyone – shunning no one but the hypocrites at the Temple. I believe we are here for a reason, to do all the good we can, love one another, celebrate in the joys of a heavenly paradise when we leave this earth, surrounded by the ones we love. Based on that, I want to believe in the best in people, love conquering all, and in the end, goodness in what people do, think and say.
And as I said, here we go again….
I read an article in the Diocesean newspaper recently that began with the sentence “the June 26th decision by the Supreme Court was a tragic day for the Church and the world”. On that day, the United States Supreme Court handed down two decisions regarding marriage equality. The Defense of Marriage Act was dead, California’s Prop 8 was declared null as the people who brought suit did not have the right to do so. Finally, the United States government, the Federal level would be acknowledging same-sex marriages and all the Federal laws and statutes afforded heterosexual couples since this country was founded would be equally afforded to homosexual couples.
This decision was a landmark in the history of America – and one that the Catholic church calls “tragic”. The article seemed to be a repetitive rant stating the Church’s belief that the “truth about marriage” was that it is “one man, one woman, for life”. That is their view, steadfast and pure. But it causes me to ask one question, speaking of steadfast and pure (emphasis on pure) – why has the Catholic Church not been as vocal, passionate and condemning of their own scandal involving sex?
Today, on a New York City radio station, I heard a story of a Catholic priest,”defrocked” because of allegations, later proof of child molestation, who had lost his home because of Superstorm Sandy. As a result of him having “nowhere else to go”, a parish in a neighboring city had taken him in and allowed him to live in the parish rectory. Um, anyone see a problem here?
One of the last years I taught, the faculty was informed of a new Music Director the parish had hired – he would also be running the children’s choir. I distinctly remember another teacher and I both raised our heads up when we heard the man’s name – he had been a parish priest in my home parish where this other faculty member had also taught. We raised our heads because this priest had been in the parish leading the altar boy, sports, teen and music programs. He was there for many years and then suddenly, gone. No explanation – just gone. Now he was the new music director in the school where I was teaching. The other faculty member and I were called into the principal’s office right after the meeting – we were sat down and told that under no circumstances were we to say we knew this new music director. Much younger, more naive, we questioned once and were told we would be “let go” if anything came out about where he was from. Very strange, we both thought, but as the Church’s scandal issues had not been brought forth at that time and because we couldn’t imagine what would have elicited this preemptive reprimand, and valuing our jobs, we left well enough alone. Years later, that priest/music director’s name was in the Daily News as a priest who had been transferred from parish to parish because of child molestation accusation and charges. We were in disbelief.
But this is a M.O. the Catholic Church has used for years, time and time again, in many different parishes all over the world. It is inexcusable, deviant behavior on the part of people entrusted to lead believers, shaping their spiritual beings over lifetimes. It is an abuse of position, power and a deception, the scale of which can only be rivaled in suspense thrillers. Yet the Church not only continues to deny their actions, they vehemently chastise others. “Do as I say, not as I do”. How can even one parish priest, a pastor in charge of their parish make such a grievous decision to take in an accused/convicted child molester? Or should we look at this as “Hippie Jesus” would have – forgiveness, compassion, understanding, rehabilitation of a fallen man? Taking it one step further, if we choose to look at the actions of this pastor as compassionate, should we not, as the whole Church look at “marriage equality” with the same compassion? After all, how is it that a Church, with “Hippie Jesus” as its “front man”, if you will, can’t be all about love? That damn four letter word that has been getting men and women in trouble since Adam and Eve – LOVE!
Compassion for those who hide who they are for fear of familial shunning, societal scorn and religious ridicule – when will the Church recognize the fact that many men have grown up, victims of the Church’s scandalous behavior and have floundered as adults, some even choosing suicide as an option to relieve their pain? When will the Church who professes compassion, concern and love realize that many people in the LGBT community want to be good Catholics but have nowhere to turn within the Church only to leave an institution they grew up in and for some, choosing to end their own lives because the pain and shunning is too great? More and more lapsed Catholics lead to dwindling church attendance, less proselytizing on behalf of an ancient order and the contradiction just seems to create a wider and deeper chasm between the believers that are left.
Perhaps it is the word LOVE we should really invest our attention to – “walk a mile in another man’s shoes” – empathy for others brings about the highest level of love regardless of religious, political, economic, or lifestyle standing.
When push comes to shove, where do you stand on the “Empathy Scale”? Think about your faults and what criticism and shunning you may face as a result of your beliefs – think about being the minority when it comes to that position. Perhaps then, you can truly understand what being human is all about.